January 20, 2017


Well, there's been another peaceful change of presidential administrations. My hopes are not exactly high, but I also have confidence we'll get through this. The new guy doesn't excite me with his competence, but we've had no few prior presidents that couldn't carry out the law and/or didn't care to, and we've muddled through.

When I say this on Facebook, I get attacked for "showing my privilege". Sure, I get that- I'm middle-class monogamous white straight cisgender male native-born protestant healthy & employed. (I'm not sure if being a veteran is a plus or a minus in the privilege score some people like to calculate.) I think I'm viewing this as a historian, not a MCMWSCMNBPHE scumbag, but who knows.

Here's the thing, though: I'm going to make some predictions. Feel free to grade me on them in four more years.

  1. Roe v. Wade does not get overturned. First, Trump is personally pro-choice. Second, polling shows people freak out when it looks like it'll get overturned, including people necessary for the R's in congress to get reelected. So while there will be laws picking at the edges, abortion will remain legal.
  2. Gay marriage will remain legal. Again, overwhelming popular support, even more so than abortion. And the Supreme Court, even with new conservative members, hates to go back on itself. (Stare decisis.)
  3. I'm less certain about the Affordable Care Act. Congress is intentionally painting themselves into a corner to replace the popular parts, but the popular parts aren't separable from the unpopular parts. If enough of their constituents lose medical care they will either panic or get thrown out of office. So I expect there will be something closely resembling Obamacare in five years. It will probably be rough on some people over the next two years though.
  4. We won't go to war with another major power. (E.g. China or Russia). Trump's easy to manipulate. His advisors will flatter him into visions of getting a copy of Obama's and Roosevelt's Nobel Prizes if things ever get too heated, plus the warning that his overseas property would get seized or destroyed.
  5. A general trade war is unlikely. We'll probably get something like the Chicken Tax, i.e. highly distortionary tariffs on a small sector of the economy. I suspect we'll be the first major nation to sign a new trade treaty with a post-Brexit UK, because Trump likes the cut of their jib.
  6. Trump only serves a single term. First, he might get impeached. Seriously! He has no friends in Congress, but his vice-president has plenty. It looks to be easy to find grounds to do so- start with the Emoluments Clause and go from there. If, on the other hand, he completes his term, the Democrats are likely to take either the House or the Senate during the mid-term elections, if for no other reason than the president's party almost always loses seats in the midterm. He's not likely to enjoy facing an explicitly hostile Congress, and will choose not to seek re-election in order to spend more time with his family.
There you go, those are my predictions. I guess we can check back in four years.

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January 05, 2017

Insert Title Here

After a few weeks, the state DMV mailed me the fancy paper title to my new car. But there was an error! It listed a lienholder, which was kind of a shock to me since I paid with cash and as far as I know I don't own anyone any money at the current time.

The problem is that the dealer had requested a certified check. The dealer's back office presumably saw the check and assumed it was actually the bank loaning the money.

So I went to the bank, and they got in a bit of a kerfuffle because the standard lien release form specifies that loan number X has been paid off on date Y and the bank releases its security interest on the car with VIN Z. But there never was a loan, so they didn't have a X or Y to fill in to the standard form. I got passed up the chain to a person with sufficient authority to write a custom letter explaining that they never even had a security interest in the car, and if anyone says otherwise that person is wrong. (So to speak. I'm exaggerating the legal language.)

Now, I had a couple of options. I could keep the title with the fictitious lien and along with the letter releasing the non-lien, the car would be free and clear to transfer someday when the time comes. But that means two pieces of paper to track instead of one, and frankly I'm reluctant to keep around a legal document (the title) that has a clear error on its face. That sort of thing can lead to problems down the road.

The second option would be to go to the DMV. For $20, they'll issue you a clean title with documentation that the lien has been paid off. I presume that they would also have accepted the letter the bank provided for me, at least the bank assured me they would.

But then I'd be out $20. I realize that $20 is a very very small fraction of the cost of my car. The DMV is much closer than the dealership, so driving to and from the dealership probably cost me $1 in gas and depreciation. The time is probably a wash, driving time compared to time waiting in line at the DMV. But for the principle of the thing, I went to the dealership and argued until they agreed to send off the letter and the title themselves to the DMV to get a corrected one issued. They were reluctant because they didn't want to spend the $20 themselves, of course.

So I expect a nice clean title in the mail in a few weeks and I'll have the satisfaction of having wasted my time to get someone else to fix the paperwork error that they themselves caused.

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December 13, 2016

Fit for the Purpose

So, I got one of these:
Yellow Honday Fit
It's a 2017 Honda Fit. While I loved my 2004 Chevy Cavalier, it was a coupe, and getting a baby into a rear seat was not something I looked forward too. Plus this car is a lot safer overall, with ABS, traction control, airbags, and a structure that will hopefully protect the occupants during a crash.

I'm going to miss the old girl, but I got a great trade-in value for it. The dealer thought it likely that it would be sold to an "enthusiast" and would end up with a turbo- or super-charger by next summer and be tearing up the track. One can only hope. Although if it ends up as some poor single mother's commuting machine, that's an honorable retirement too. It's got a lot of miles left in it, so I hope it gives someone else loyal service.

As for me, I'm adjusting. I keep reaching for a non-existent clutch. Also, the rear of a hatchback is heated space, unlike my old car's trunk, so I'll have to put my lunch in an insulated container. I'm still figuring out where to stash all the stuff that I keep up front– sunglasses, work ID, phone charger, etc. The sound systems is better than the old car, so there's that.

Anyway, here's hoping for another decade plus of reliable transportation. Odds are the next car will be electric, and perhaps even autonomous.

Come spring I'm going to get a hitch receiver installed, and then get a hitch-mount bike rack. My current rack won't really work on a hatchback. Later I could put in the wiring harness and actually tow with it, too. The manual says not to tow, but the exact same model of car sold in Japan and Europe, made in the same factory and the only difference being the speedometer set in km/hr and the language of the owner's manual, has a rated towing capacity of 1000kg and a hitch as a factory option. That's enough for a light cargo trailer or a pop-up camper.

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October 31, 2016

Back When I Was Young

There was a time when the Simpsons was actually good.

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October 24, 2016

Surprisingly Little Blood Was Involved

Genetics testing is amazing.
It takes just a few milliliters drawn from the mother to isolate enough fetal DNA to screen for chromosomal abnormalities and other problems.
Really, we're living in the future.
Let's make sure it gets even better from here on.

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October 11, 2016


It is with great pride and some apprehension that I announce my wife and I are expecting our first child, due at the beginning of May.

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October 05, 2016

Time and Place

Turns out there's a time and a place to exercise one's First Amendment rights.

The place isn't a library, and the time isn't during a question-and-answer session with a government official.  At least according to Kansas City.

For bonus points, when the librarian objected to the off-duty cop arresting the patron, the off-duty cop also arrested the librarian. The librarian, naturally, was the one that had hired the off-duty cop to be there was security anyway. I hope he paid the invoice, or heaven knows what'll happen next.

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September 26, 2016


I haven't watched the presidential election debates for the last few cycles. Anything actually substantive will be covered by tomorrow's news. The rest of a TV debate is deceptive– I care about positions and decisions, not about body language and eye contact.

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September 13, 2016

Cool Helicopter External

Here's a fun video filmed in Buffalo earlier this year. There's some good helicopter piloting.

Also a car, if that's what you're into.

For those who haven't seen the previous videos, this guy is a professional rally driver and that's his actual rally car. There are no visual special effects– everything you see the car doing, it actually did.

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September 08, 2016

Apparently I Need Extrinsic Motivation

I've been slacking off on running and riding recently. There are a bunch of reasons, but one of them might be that I don't have a goal to be working towards, other than the ill-defined desire to be in better health.

But a little trash-talking has popped up on Facebook, so next year I'll be doing a rematch half marathon, and perhaps another triathlon. It's time to lace up the shoes and brave the summer heat.

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