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Name Marco Von Ballmoos
Member since
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Home page http://earthli.com/users/marco
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The (only) developer at earthli.com.

Contents

2442 Articles
99 Comments

6 months Ago

Rising above the muck isn’t even that hard

Published on in Quotes

“[in America] the general average of intelligence, of knowledge, of competence, of integrity, of self-respect, of honor is so low that any man who knows his trade, does not fear ghosts, has read fifty good books, and practices the common decencies stands out as brilliantly as a wart on a bald head.”

China vs. the US: A Global Chronology of Covid-19

Published on in Science & Nature

The article Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, The Coronavirus Chronology From Hell by Dilip Hiro (Tomgram) provides an excellent and impartial review of the four months of history we have so far. In particular, he contrasts America’s inchoate response with the measured and ostensibly empathetic reaction of China. China reacted by increasing production capacity of PPE, masks, and ventilators.[1]

“By mid-March, the Chinese government and the Jack Ma Foundation, part of the giant corporate conglomerate Alibaba Group, had sent doctors... [More]”

We’ve known for a long time

Published on in Quotes

The post Two centuries and nothing has changed referred to the image below,

 Marx on Nature and Human Beings

It’s nicely put together, but it’s also not the original quote, which someone included in the comments in a giant wall of text from an English translation.

I found the original in German:

“Die kapitalistische Produktion entwickelt daher nur die Technik und Kombination des gesellschaftlichen Produktionsprozesses, indem sie zugleich die Springquellen alles Reichtums untergräbt: die Erde und den Arbeiter.”

The... [More]

A response to a sincere solicitation

Published on in Miscellaneous

The following is a sample of the response I’ve composed to respond to the increasing numbers of solicitations to advertise on my site that I’ve been receiving of late. I’d ignored them at first, but many followed up, so I felt bad and responded. Two replied immediately and thanked me for taking the time to respond[1] and to wish me well in my future endeavors.

The extra bit about Opera was my helpful tip that the link she’d wanted me to include in my web site contained mostly incorrect... [More]

Revolution for President 2020 (Rant)

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

“If voting could bring change, they wouldn’t let us vote”
Mark Twain

In an interview of Noam Chomsky by Mehdi Hasan, Noam pleads his case for “holding your nose” and voting for Biden.

Mehdi Hasan and Noam Chomsky on Biden vs. Trump by The intercept (YouTube)

Noam’s done this for decades. We could be generous and perhaps appreciate his optimism about presidential elections—he never gives up and tells us that there’s no-one worth voting for. Instead, Noam always sees a lesser evil and votes for it—and tells everyone else to vote for it, as well.

Noam goes for the jugular

... [More]

NYT Crossword One-Year Streak

Published on in Fun

Kath and I passed a milestone today: we’ve been on a NYT Crossword-puzzle streak for one year.

 NYT 365-day Streak

You have to complete the puzzle on the day without asking for help. There is no time limit other than by the end of the day (so 24h maximum?) As you can see from the graph of average times I’ve also included, that issue doesn’t come up for us.

Maintaining a streak used to be more difficult before they improved the software for rebuses. A rebus is where you have to put more than one letter in a box... [More]

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2020.7

Published on in Movies

These are my notes to remember what I watched and kinda what I thought about it. I’ve recently transferred my reviews to IMDb and made the list of around 1400 ratings publicly available. I’ve included the individual ratings with my notes for each movie. These ratings are not absolutely comparable to each other—I rate the film on how well it suited me for the genre and my mood and. let’s be honest, level of intoxication. YMMV. Also, I make no attempt to avoid spoilers.

Jumanji: The Next... [More]

You still can’t trust Strava

Published on in Sports

People put so much stock in the records and trophies and numbers available on Strava, but it just seems so unreliable.

For example, I’d done a long ride a couple of weeks ago: about 140km with 2350m of climbing in just under six hours. Strava “estimated” my average wattage at about 144w.[1] A buddy of mine saw this and went out for one of his own a couple of days later, putting up about 150km with 2350m in about 6:15. My buddy went faster and farther, weighs at least 6-8 kilos more than me and... [More]

I’ve been talking to idiots, part II

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Ignoring so-called other experts

One friend sent me this article 8 MORE Experts Questioning the Coronavirus Panic (Off-Guardian), which includes varied citations from varied experts. The site is for people who’ve been kicked off of the comments section of the Guardian (hence “Off-Guardian”). The formatting and flow are terrible, but some of the information is OK (e.g. “He suggested that the real figure for the number of cases could be 10 to 20 times higher than the official figure. If he’s right, the headline... [More]”

I’ve been talking to idiots, part I

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

 Wondermark: Gaping at the VapidSo here we are, six weeks in to a lockdown of society and slowdown of the economy, due to a particularly nasty virus. We knew it was coming, just like Japan and California know that an earthquake is in the offing. Unlike for earthquakes, we didn’t really prepare too well for pandemics. How could you? Until one happens, you just look like Cassandra. Why waste all of that money and restrict all of those freedoms for something that might happen? We don’t know when, we don’t know how severe, so... [More]

7 months Ago

Richard Wolff on Socialism, the Economy and Coronavirus

Published on in Philosophy

Richard Wolff is the gift that keeps on giving. He’s just as brilliant talking into a laptop camera as he is giving lectures. I mentioned him recently as one of my favorite economist. The video is 75 minutes, but well-worth the time.

Richard D. Wolff − Is the Coronavirus the end of Capitalism & the Revival of Socialism? by AcTVism Munich (YouTube)

The following citation/transcript is from about 55 minutes, when the interviewer asked him what he thought of Biden vs. Trump..

“Biden is better than Trump, that seems clear to me. But, it’s almost meaningless because that’s such a low bar that the statement is,... [More]”

Favorite economists

Published on in Finance & Economy

I sometimes wonder what my younger self would think of what he’s become. I like to think that I’ve avoided a disappointed reaction, but it’s hard to say because I’ve always been a bit “judgey”. At the very least, there are several things I couldn’t have predicted. One is that I actually have a list of favorite economists. 20-year-old me couldn’t have imagined that in a million years.

In no particular order,

Dean Baker
He’s the founder of CEPR, the voice of sanity and national treasure of... [More]

Facemasks (Listening to Experts)

Published on in Science & Nature

Everybody’s talking about ‘em: facemasks. Which kind? Where can you buy them? How do you get your outsized ass to a hospital that needs them? Should you wear one? Should everybody? Which kind? In which situations?

The beleaguered CDC

The lynching party seems to be out in the States for the CDC, which is being blamed for trying to kill everyone by telling them that they don’t need facemasks. This is the same advice being given the world over by anyone qualified to have an opinion.

In the... [More]

Bernie should run as an independent

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

I titled and started writing this article on March 6th.

A lot has changed since then.

Bernie’s lead evaporates

I wrote the following at the end of March.

Bernie is now almost mathematically unable to win the Democratic nomination.

Then this article got away from me again.

A lot has changed since then.

The Democrats were always going to nominate Biden.

The country needs Bernie right now.

In light of the massive changing of the facts on the ground engendered by COVID-19, Bernie should... [More]

Blaming the Greens Nine Months in Advance

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The article An Open Letter to the Green Party About 2020 Election Strategy by Noam Chomsky, Bill Fletcher, Barbara Ehrenreich, Kathy Kelly, Ron Daniels, Leslie Cagan, Norman Solomon, Cynthia Peters, and Michael Albert (LA Progressive) gets to its point relatively quickly.

“If Clinton got Jill Stein’s Green votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, Clinton would have won the election. Thus, the Green Party’s decision to run in those states, saying even that there was little or no difference between Trump and Clinton, seems to us to be a factor worthy of being removed from contested state dynamics, just like the Electoral College is a factor... [More]”

World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler (2008, read in 2020)

Published on in Books

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Stacked Borrows: An Aliasing Model for...ng, Derek Dreyer (2020, read in 2020)

Published on in Books

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Storage Combinators by Marcel Weiher a...obert Hirschfeld (2019, read in 2020)

Published on in Books

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Why Events Are A Bad Idea (for high-co... and Eric Brewer (2003, read in 2020)

Published on in Books

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

NY Times discovers inequality

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

A few days ago, I read the article America Will Struggle After Coronavirus. These Charts Show Why. by David Leonhardt and Yaryna Serkez (NY Times), which has very nice charts showing a gaping inequality chasm in the United States. It’s really nicely done and drives the point home in a way not often discussed so openly in the mainstream media.

 420% income increase for the 0.1%I was honestly wondering what to make of it, simply because I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and for the NY Times to blame Trump and/or Russia for the whole debacle, even though their charts... [More]

W3C Web Animations

Published on in Programming

The Web Animations Working Draft (W3C) was published in October of 2018. Can I use “Web Animations” (CanIUse) shows that the only browser that supports this API 100% is the latest technology preview on iOS and MacOS. Chromium-based browsers have had (very) basic support for quite some time, but Safari has thrown down the gauntlet with full support, which I learned about from Web Animations in Safari 13.1 by Antoine Quint (WebKit Blog).

This API is intended to replace many usages of CSS Animations and CSS Transitions, which are not only... [More]

PostgreSql Drawbacks

Published on in Programming

Despite the title, from what I can gather from 10 Things I Hate About PostgreSQL by Rick Branson (Medium), the author is a big fan of PostgreSql. However, he has such vast experience with it that he can still list 10 things that don’t work as well as they could.

They seem to boil down to:

  • Default replication is still serialized and therefore not as reliable as the alternative async protocol that is much harder to configure and pretty much what every other major database offers.
  • Obsolete-data-handling requires... [More]

World-o-Meter Coronavirus Tracker

Published on in Science & Nature

I’ve settled on using the Coronavirus (World-o-meter) tracker. It seems to update relatively quickly and reasonably accurately and is also well-sourced. About a week ago, they finally added two new columns: total tested and tested/million people, which helps you compare the case numbers of countries more accurately (i.e. if a country has no cases and is testing like mad, then that’s good news; if they have few tests, then you can’t really conclude anything, but it’s probably not good news).

For Switzerland,... [More]

Dear Americans

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

An American, originally from New York City and now living in Vermont, mused in the blog post Why Has Germany Been Effective at Limiting Covid-19 Deaths? by Jason Kottke,

“I can’t be the only American whose response to the pandemic is to think seriously about moving to a country with a functioning government, good healthcare for everyone, and a real social safety net.”

No, thank you.

The world neither wants nor needs American refugees.[1]

They would almost certainly be the most entitled refugees the world has... [More]

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1719, read in 2020)

Published on in Books

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2020.6

Published on in Movies

These are my notes to remember what I watched and kinda what I thought about it. I’ve rated 1540+ movies and series (IMDb) so far, but they’re not absolutely comparable to each other—I rate the media on how well it suited me for the genre and my mood and. let’s be honest, level of intoxication. YMMV. Also, I make no attempt to avoid spoilers.

Wilder S02 (2020) — 8/10
Rosa Wilder (Sarah Spale) is back with Manfred Kägi (Marcus Signer), this time investigating a triple-murder in the fictional town... [More]

Learning from History

Published on in Quotes

The original quote is shown below.

“Was die Erfahrung aber und die Geschichte lehren, ist dieses, dass Völker und Regierungen niemals etwas aus der Geschichte gelernt und nach Lehren, die aus derselben zu ziehen gewesen wären, gehandelt haben.”

The following is my best attempt at a direct translation, which I hope imparts just how balky the original is.

“But what experience and history have taught, is that society and governments never learn anything from history and acted on lessons from which... [More]”

Six feet

Published on in Miscellaneous

According to What is the origin of the saying “six feet under”,

“The phrase “6 feet under” originated in London, England in 1665. It came about as London was being ravaged by the Bubonic Plague. […]
The mayor of London at the time issued a decree that all plague deaths had to be buried at least “6 feet under” to help halt the spread of infection.”

355 years later, another plague has made the expression “six feet” au courant, at least in those countries still using the imperial system of... [More]

The sunken cost of being conned

Published on in Quotes

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

Sanders is too good for this worldcountry

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

I found this truly excellent comment by Remember-The-Future (Reddit) on /r/bestof—and it truly is one of the best things I’ve read on Reddit.

The entire comment is well-worth reading, but I’ve liberally selected the bits I liked the most.

A democracy cannot function without actual citizens.

“I think most people would be very unhappy if Sanders supporters put the blame where it truly belonged. Because the real problem with America is, and always has been, the quality of its people.

“[…] the truth is that there is no... [More]”