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17.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The hell? Permalink to this item

Unknown name Unknown number calls me up and wants to know if I consider myself a Republican, a Democrat, or an independent. I said "I don't discuss that with strangers over the telephone." (Did I really say "telephone" instead of "phone"? I hope so.)

I should've got all indignant and stuff and said Do You Know Who I Am?! I'll try that next time and let you know how it goes. Or maybe I should play along and see what U-N U-N is up to. "Let's say... Republican. What do you think about that?"

But then he probably wouldn't get the allusion.

Forced arbitration Permalink to this item

Just when you thought your corporate overlords' scrutiny and control over your life couldn't get any more intrusive, this comes along: never mind a Facebook "like," downloaded coupon or a sweepstakes entry, General Mills hath now decreed that "all disputes related to the purchase or use of any General Mills product or service to be resolved through binding arbitration."

Because they say so.

And wouldn't you know a 2011 U.S. Supreme Court ruling from Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito helped enable this "more efficient" means for resolving disputes.

"A growing number of companies have adopted similar policies over the years, especially after a 2011 Supreme Court decision, AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, that paved the way for businesses to bar consumers claiming fraud from joining together in a single arbitration. The decision allowed companies to forbid class-action lawsuits with the use of a standard-form contract requiring that disputes be resolved through the informal mechanism of one-on-one arbitration."

Vincent and Liza Concepcion sued AT&T Mobility over deceptive advertising... which General Mills knows a thing or two about:

"Last year, General Mills paid $8.5 million to settle lawsuits over positive health claims made on the packaging of its Yoplait Yoplus yogurt, saying it did not agree with the plaintiff’s accusations but wanted to end the litigation. In December 2012, it agreed to settle another suit by taking the word 'strawberry' off the packaging label for Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups, which did not contain strawberries."

Three finger salute, then? Permalink to this item

The laptop I'm using with a fingerprint sensor is so old that its brand has been sold to a Chinese company; news of the iPhone 5s having a fingerprint sensor didn't catch my attention. It seems very clever, and has at times been quicker than the old ctrl-alt-del and type a password, but I never thought much about how secure it was. I'd have to assume all the data was subject to theft along with the hardware, one way or another, if it ever came to that.

Phones go "missing" more often than laptops, I imagine, and cloud-based backup and "remote kill" features are probably more relevant than fingerprint-scan-as-security. Fingerprints have been around a long time after all, and combining a camera phone photo of a latent print from a smartphone screen to make a good-enough fake "finger" turns out to be relatively easy. But that's if one uses the same digit for pointing as for the ID scan, right? The right index comes to mind (for righties), but most of us have 10 choices we could make. And if you used a permutation of three fingers... P(10,3) = 720, and you can at least make the miscreant lab melt a lot more latex before they find a way to poke into your PayPal account.

16.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Rally 'round the trespass cattle Permalink to this item

It's not clear if or when Bunkerville will be added to the militia lore that includes Ruby Ridge, Waco, and Oklahoma City but the arresting photo from Jim Urquhart atop The Atlantic's piece on the irony of Cliven Bundy's make-believe understanding of state's rights might give us pause. Some Yahoo from central Idaho ready to shoot someone to defend the right to let cattle run for free, wherever?

Cows on a road

The BLM, for its part, has shown rather remarkable constraint in backing off the enforcement action after two decades of theft and damage and failure to comply with federal court orders. It doesn't seem too much to ask that "all parties in the area remain peaceful and law-abiding," but of course if they had been, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

"Ranching has always been an important part of our nation’s heritage and continues throughout the West on public lands that belong to all Americans. This is a matter of fairness and equity, and we remain disappointed that Cliven Bundy continues to not comply with the same laws that 16,000 public lands ranchers do every year. After 20 years and multiple court orders to remove the trespass cattle, Mr. Bundy owes the American taxpayers in excess of $1 million. The BLM will continue to work to resolve the matter administratively and judicially."

While Bundy's lawlessness and militia crazies make their stir, hundreds of allotments in the state of Nevada, and thousands of grazing permits and leases nationwide are not making the news.

Fact and Myth provides a relatively comprehensive rundown of (and a dozen links for "further reading" about) the stuff and nonsense swirling around Bundy's contemptible dust-up.

Update: the tributes to Bud Purdy on the occasion of his passing at age 96 provide some relief from the excess of Bundy publicity. Joan McCarter's is a good entry point.

Failed purity test Permalink to this item

Idaho's Republican Party platform is notoriously whacky, but a lot of the faithful act as if nothing's wrong. After a preamble affirming its belief in motherhood and apple pie, and the but-of-course statement for smaller government equals fiscal responsibility, it diverges into the highly suspicious.

What does having Social Security "stabilized, diversified, and privatized" mean, exactly, and how in the world would that "allow expansion of individual retirement options"? Lower taxes all around, of course, cut spending and let the good times roll.

Abolish inheritance tax (which Idaho doesn't have). Reform Congress, by repealing the 17th amendment, because... having state legislatures appoint Senators will work wonders? And let's go back to the good old gold and silver standard and abolish the Federal Reserve.

It's an Easy Bake Oven recipe book of half-baked ideas.

Out here were the deer and the antelope play, it's an act of moderation to the point of liberality to actually point any of this out, and backlash from the extremities can be expected for our Governor and one Congressman having the temerity to refuse to checkbox the whole set. Governor "Butch" says that neither checking the boxes nor "a brief statement cannot fully encompass my positions on these issues." Congressman Simpson said it's the "nuance that is inherent in the legislative process," don't you know.

15.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Shoveling while black Permalink to this item

It would not surprise me to find out the suburban village I grew up in has an ordinance prohibiting door-to-door solicitation, and I've reached the ripe old age where I like the idea of a "NO SOLICITORS" sign and can imagine saying "hey you kids, get off my lawn." I can not imagine having a policeman see me shoveling my driveway (or my neighbor's driveway) and ask me "So, you trying to make a few extra bucks, shoveling people’s driveways around here?"

I suspect Doug Glanville worked his way through more indignation than I felt reading his account of having that happen to him before arriving at the graciousness of a possible teachable moment.

Tacks day Permalink to this item


Regardless of whether you agree with Robert Reich's answer to the question "Is our tax system fair?" you can be entertained by the artistic talent of Jacob Kornbluth, Rick Symonds and Abby Van Muijen. The proximate goal is "petition" signatures... and what's the petition, exactly?

"It's time for higher taxes on the super-rich to pay for what America needs."

at least. Is there more? Can I see before I click-sign? You'd think the full information would disclose that, but oh say I can't see.

"Paul Ryan's new budget doesn't just slice Medicare, education and food stamps; it also lowers the top federal tax rate to 25%."

Among the facts I did not know off the top of my head is that state and local tax rates account for 40% of all government revenues. They're particularly regressive, amounting to 11% of the income of the poorest 20%, and only 5.6% of the income of the richest fifth.

What could possibly go wrong? Permalink to this item

William J. Broad, for the New York Times last month: Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science.

“For better or worse,” said Steven A. Edwards, a policy analyst at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.”

The Allen Institute for Brain Science, started with a $half bil from Microsoftie Paul G. Allen sounds like a perfectly wonderful thing. Similarly, the Ellison Medical Foundation with Larry's $half bil spinup sounds more worthy than a yacht race or tennis tournament. It's hard not to like Bill Gates a lot more than I used to after he's put $ten billion into global public health.

It adds up to better funding and possibly better effectiveness than the "traditional" world of government-sponsored research, alphabet soup agencies with their "panels of experts pore over grant applications to decide which ones get financed, weighing such factors as intellectual merit and social value."

"By contrast, the new science philanthropy is personal, antibureaucratic, inspirational."

The father of fracking has chipped in for "particle physics, sustainable development and astronomy," if not water quality and environmental science. The National Institutes of Health are awarding fewer grants and cutting programs, never mind the history of backing reasearch that led to 100 Nobel Prizes. David Koch's interested in food allergies, medical research and prostate cancer, after he got that.

"Admirers of the new patrons — and the patrons themselves — say that, over the decades, the surge in donations will probably result in economic growth that helps the United States fend off global challengers. The private gifts, they emphasize, will become especially important if Washington funding continues its downward spiral."

Instigated by some of those same billionaires (yes David, I'm talking to you) who are pumping their wealth into "social welfare" PACs to make it happen. Think of it as cutting out those pesky bureaucratic middlemen and women; it would be cheaper to have billionaires run big science directly rather than have to launder their contributions through politicians, wouldn't it?

We just need one of those workshops or dating games to fine-tune the elevator pitch for some funding to deal with unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution threatening the collapse of our industrial civilization and we'll be fine.

My business has fallen and it can't get up Permalink to this item

We went on a little vacation and stopped our paper with the Idaho Statesman's automated phone interface, and the stop went OK and the re-start went OK on Saturday, but Sunday no paper, Monday no paper, and no help from the automation to make that up. The robo-response on Sunday acknowledged my complaint. The robo-response on Monday acknowledge my complaint and said my subscription would be extended.

So that was interesting, why were Sunday and Monday different? I looked at the online account info and saw that it was inadequate (but not as completely inadequate as it used to be) and didn't show an adjustment for our hiatus, let alone the two-day outage. So I wrote a little email to circulation, kind of expecting a perfunctory apology and make-up of some sort. But no. "Regretfully" their economic situation has required some changes in their business model.

They've noticed that "cable companies, phone services, magazines and most subscription services like Netflix and internet access don't provide credit for short term vacations," and so why can't they? They stopped doing it as of May last year (about the same time they raised their price, I think). It's a "growing practice within our industry" don't you know.

"We are a 24-7 newsroom. From reporter to delivery we have a substantial investment in generating the news every single day. This news is available on many platforms including mobile digital access while you are on vacation.

"Subscribers can still choose to donate the vacation proceeds to Newspapers In Education, tip your carrier, or our local charity program, or you can have the papers saved and delivered on your return."

Let's just say that boilerplate response was not timely, and I'm not currently in a mood to tip my carrier, or be otherwise charitable. The carrier did manage to find our house today, thus staving off the end of our subscription for a little while longer.

"We want to keep billing you whether or not we provide the service you've subscribed to" does not actually seem like a viable business plan, does it?

14.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Excessive postcard campaign Permalink to this item

giant Simpson postcard excerpt

Today's is a full 8½x12"; that's right, they went the extra inch to spell it out in nice, large font, with footnotes. Number 1, on the obverse is to DES v. Garcia in Ada County Magistrate Court, 7/3/13, which I wasn't able to find from a the court's website. But Simpson for Congress is paying for in addition to giant postcards, and you can go fetch cool stuff like a spreadsheet of "all cases" of Medical Recovery Services LLC and Diversified Equity Systems LLC, with no fewer than 10,227 rows. That's a lot of legal enterprise.

It's like a bad joke: who do you want to represent you in Congress, a dentist or a debt collecting lawyer?

Not that I'm pro-Simpson, but I can still be impressed at how he's turning his sizeable campaign warchest into a barrage of negative advertising about an opponent who deserves some of it, at least. And it's making checking the mail a lot of fun. For more than a month to come!

13.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Campaign follies Permalink to this item

Sven Berg's feature for the Sunday Idaho Statesman has all sorts of interesting tidbits about the political neophyte the Club for Growth has stood up to challenge incumbent Congressman Mike Simpson, but I pulled up short on this one:

"Smith, 51, was born in Boise and raised in Nampa. His family traces its roots to the settling of Canyon County. He said the Johnston brothers, three heavily bearded bachelors whose home was a cabin that still stands in Caldwell's Memorial Park, are his ancestors."

You don't say.

Downplaying Smith's business in personal injury lawsuits, we're left to upplay his business as a debt collector, specializing in medical debt. Thousands of cases of people who got sick, ran up medical bills and can't pay... so, hey, let's repeal Obamacare, as we push these people into bankruptcy, right? Countering accusations of aggressive and bullying tactics, Smith plays the old "nothing could be further from the truth" card.

"In fact, what I would tell you is one of the reasons our business has grown is because of how benevolent and cooperative we've been."

That's about as likely as three bachelor ancestors.

But whatever the virtues and faults of the candidates, there are some quaint snapshots illustrating politics in Idaho (and probably a lot of other places):

Fonya Morris' home on Holmes Avenue is one of the few in the city with yard signs promoting Smith or Simpson. Morris said the only reason she has a Smith sign is because the bishop of her LDS ward asked to put one there.

"I told him he could do it. I have no idea who the guy is," Morris said. "I'm not going to vote in this election. I just vote for presidents."

12.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Dueling postcards Permalink to this item

We returned home to find our mail included a somewhat overgrown baby bear postcard, a quite sizeable mama bear postcard, and a REALLY big daddy bear postcard for our ID-02 congressional race. The baby was paid for and authorized by Bryan Smith for Congress, Inc., which is to say the Club for Growth challenger to the sitting moderate Republican, Rep. Mike Simpson. He is (and they are) for "Repeal Obamacare entirely," which yeah, Simpson voted for 4 dozen times already. He and they are for a "permanent ban on wasteful earmark spending" and "promote job growth through smaller government."

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

It's actually mostly calm and positive and sure, there's the Brigham Young University wink and nudge, and a nice view of the candidate with ripe wheat in the background, because he's... well, a lawyer. There is the obligatory family picture, showing that after being married 30 years you start to look like your spouse.

Big mama postcard emphasizes that Bryan Smith's stock in trade is not just being a lawyer, but a personal injury lawyer, OMG. He's filed over 10,000 lawsuits? Wow, that's a lot of work. This one is paid for by Simpson for Congress.

Big daddy postcard came from Club for Growth Action, features ugly colors and a really big photo of Nancy Pelosi.

Bunkerville Permalink to this item

Christi Turner's report on the rancher v. BLM dustup for High Country News seems like the calmest and most rational story I've seen, which is not to say it's the most accurate, but who knows?

There is the link to the U.S. District Court order talking about how Bundy was permanently enjoined from grazing his livestock on the Bunkerville Allotment back in 1998, and that uncontested evidence demonstrates his continued violation of the injunction.

The right wing is calling to send in the militia, for a genuninely crazy and inappropriate cause.

Something called The Dana Show claims "The Real Story Behind The Bundy Ranch Harassment" and stuff about the tortoise, which seems sort of beside the point. But supposedly the real reason is that the BLM "want[s] his land" which can't be quite right, mostly because it's not his land, this land is OUR land, and old Cliven and his beeves have been freeloading.

But hey, Harry Reid. Probably some Nancy Pelosi in there, too.

Judging by our state's response to wolves mutliplying, the Idaho solution would have been to shoot cows from helicopters, but now the latest news is that the BLM has backed down, because the situation was overly dense. There was the wife saying "people are getting tired of the federal government having unlimited power," and the Operation Mutual Aid gearing up, "just in case things got out of hand again." Because nothing keeps a confrontation with law enforcement in hand like a national militia.

11.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Sagebrush rebellion redux Permalink to this item

Don't tread on me may be going to a new level, thanks to a Nevada rancher who sees 600,000 acres of federal land as his "birthright" by virtue of having run his cows on them for lo these last two decades without paying even the sub-market grazing fees the feds charge.

The tabloid view from the UK is strange and wonderful and maybe the same as what Fox News and the Washington Times is emitting, replete with (imagined) snipers and (black, I assume) helicopters, 75 miles outside Las Vegas, and a call to arms. "[Cliven] Bundy said he doesn't recognize federal authority on land that he says belongs to the state of Nevada." He's got "preemptive rights" don't you know.

For real? Sure as shootin'? There are plenty of "state's rights" wingnuts north of the Idaho/Nevada border, and some of us are wondering how many are ready to lock and load and drive south to start the revolution.

"Bundy estimates the unpaid fees total about $300,000. He notes that his Mormon family's 19th century melon farm in the Virgin River bottomland and ranch operation in surrounding areas predates creation of the federal Bureau of Land Management in 1946."

Yes, and there were some people living there before it became the United States of America (let alone Nevada), but they don't get to run their cows for free any more either.

You can follow the story on Fox News, I'm sure, and on the Bundy ranch blog. Or the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog. If you can believe CNN, all 900 of the guy's cows will not add up to the $1 million+ he owes.

Handed down from on high Permalink to this item

You don't need God to have Commandments. Penn Jillette demonstrated, thoughtfully, way back in October, 2011, and with no sleight of hand. For example:

"1. The highest ideals are human intelligence, creativity and love. Respect these above all."

And this:

"3. Say what you mean, even when talking to yourself. (What used to be an oath to (G)od is now quite simply respecting yourself.)"

Bringing it up to the present day, there's this, about a survey by the Integrated Innovation Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, that says 62% of men and women aged 18 to 34 "talk to God." How many of them does God talk to? It doesn't say, and I couldn't track down the actual III at CMU study.

7.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

In a nutshell Permalink to this item

Where the four Republican candidates for Idaho's next Governor stand on our prison system encapsulates the problem. C.L. "Butch" Otter owns the faults here at the end of his second term, and he's manned up, slightly.

"It's no secret that my default view of the world generaly favors the market over government actions and private over public management," he wrote. "But facts on the ground can't be ignored..."

That sets him apart, momentarily, from the Republican status quo.

His challenger on the right, Russ Fulcher is more than happy to enumerate Otter's faults in addressing the festering problems. He has no personal responsibility to answer for, as a member of the legislature. "It was generally believed," he writes, "the move could save taxpayers money and protect public safety."

So this would be a good time to discuss that disproven default view, and that contradicted general belief, would it not? Fulcher's bill of particulars is good enough, as far as it goes, and his generic call for reform is the least he could say. Let's do it like other states? Well, that's part of how we came to where we are. Let's do it like Maine and Minnesota, say, rather than like Louisiana and Alabama.

Also-runner Walter Bayes stakes out the theocratic high ground, calling for Bible and less public education, none of that "teach[ing] evolution and sex ed, in direct opposition to the word of God," damn it. Women should know their place, and it jolly well is not in the workplace and competing with men. Wife, and mother, got it?

Perennial candidate Harley Brown rounds out the quartet, in his initimable style. He's the only candidate arguing from his experience as an inmate, so give him credit for that. (His nonviolent, non-drug related felony was "subsequently reduced to a misdemeanor," so he's OK. "I can even run for president. God bless America!")

4.4.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Politics on my doorstep Permalink to this item

Nice young women handing out doorhangers for Mike Simpson, I wondered, but didn't ask her why she was a strong-enough supporter to go door to door for him. Was I going to vote for him? Hell yeah, I said, I'm going to vote. For him? Well, I for sure am not going to vote for the Club for Growth stooge, but I haven't decided which primary I'm going to vote in yet. It depends on where all my vote is needed.

"Are you 'conservative?'" she asked, expecting me to say yes, and while I thought about the answer, tentativley appended another choice, "liberal?" Yes, that's it. Do I support the Tea Party? Ah shoot, that's when I should have said, "what, do I look like I'm crazy?" but she might have said "actually you do" because I hadn't checked my hair before I answered the door, and I've been out riding my bike around on errands today.

She had a small supply of the doorhangers in one hand, and a very small phone with tiny chiclet keys on it in the other, and I said "are you going to put my answers in your little database?" And she smiled and said "yep."

Like Mike Simpson should need a freaking database to know my opinions about anything: I've written him at least half a dozen times in the last year, and his staff pays enough attention to select the boilerplate to use for a reply, at least. Hey, I'm ready to talk, any time, Mike. I'm in the phonebook. And you know my email. Just don't send any robots, I don't talk to them.

I didn't notice the fine print at the bottom of the doorhanger until much later. It (and I'd guess the woman's time as well) was paid for by the Defending Main Street Superpac, Inc. and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. Open Secrets reports they've spend $200,000 on Mike Simpson's behalf, out of their $1 million+ from unions, mostly. The plot thickens!

Hang on to your wallet Permalink to this item

Yes, the class war is still on, and it's no mystery who's winning. A long overdue increase to the minimum wage? Can't swing it, some states already have their own and that's good enough for them. Them what's got shall have... tax break extensions, and yes, that trip to the Cayman Islands is "business" wink wink nudge nudge.

Paul Ryan's budget cum campaign slogan looks to whack Medicaid, food stamps and of course the total repeal of the Affordable Care Act because maybe someone misunderstood the last 50 times that chestnut was put forward. Let's have a supply-side party like it's 1984:

"[T]he budget would balance in 2024 only because Mr. Ryan is assuming his cuts would prompt a burst of economic growth to raise tax revenues above what independent economists forecast."

3.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Not my family's values Permalink to this item

Russ Fulcher's running for Idaho governor, sort of, but mostly he's running like crazy against the Affordable Care Act. He calls it "Obamacare" because he and the people who surround him think that's a swear word.

He also likes to wear his righteousness on his sleeve. One billboard he's just put up features "Idaho Values" and "Family Values," for example. But this one:

Image of Fulcher's billboard, used in his campaign publicity

has nothing positive about it. NO! to affordable healthcare insurance for the people of Idaho and NO! to Butch Otter for his roll in promoting an Idaho healthcare insurance exchange, rather than just accepting the federal exchange. (It's not that Fulcher wanted the federal exchange either, he just wanted our state government to say NO! because see how well that's been working for the U.S. House of Representatives or something.

But today's question is not about the Commandment that says "Thou Shalt Disdain Ceasar" but rather the one that says Thou Shalt Not Steal.

Fulcher's billboard is not for purposes of comment and criticism (as my use of his image is here), but for his self-promotional purposes in his attempt to win elected office. He and his campaign staff are too devoid of ideas of their own to come up with an attractive logo, so they're stealing Obama's, and hoping it will work to bring more people to his cause.

Dishonest, ethically wanting and stupid; Fulcher's opening drive-by salvo hits trifecta of antithetical "Idaho values."

April Fools Permanent URL to this day's entry

Some stubborn facts Permalink to this item

NYT graphic

Ten key questions—and answers—on health care enrollment on New York Times interactive is bite-sized and interesting. (It's just a ten-item web presentation, but "interactive" to open one at a time if you look at it with a small enough screen.) A nice line graph shows "how many people enrolled" without that deranged bent that helped Fox News make the viral graphic rounds in recent days. Below expectations, yes, but trailing due to the technical problems in the rollout more than any other factor. The difference may never be made up this year (or it may be), but it's not material.

Then "which states fared best," combining whether states had their own exchange or used the federal one, the percent of the market for private insurance that went through an exchange, and the party of the state's governor. Not that that should matter, really, but it does. Here in Idaho, we have a fulminating Tea Party opponent for our current Republican governor who wants to make the latter's enabling behavior for anything related to the Affordable Care Act the centerpiece of his campaign. Russ Fulcher's kind of people have no problem with making stuff up, I gather, and his errant notion that "Idaho become the only Republican-controlled state in the country to implement the president's health care law" pales in comparison to some of his other foolishness.

Look no further than 8th place Michigan, two points short of Idaho's 5th-place 22% enrollment for another Republican-controlled state that's not only "implementing" the federal law, but doing it pretty well. Fulcher would apparently prefer us to be in the sub-10% laggards, bringing up the rear with the Dakotas and Oklahoma. In Tea Party bizarro world, it's better to have fewer people get health insurance, because Obama.

Combinations and permutations Permalink to this item

First of all, somebody made up the name Crittercism which I think is brilliant. (And, Twittercism? Came and went years ago already.) Second of all, the privately held company issued a report last week "that claims to monitor performance on thousands of mobile applications inside one billion phones." Third of all, one can count up 2,582 phone models, 691 carriers, and 106 versions of operating systems, which would amount to 189 million combinations if they all worked together, which of course they do not. Quentin Hardy deemed this "100 million possible permutations of how a signal might be processed" (following Crittercism's error) but phone + carrier + o/s doesn't depend on order, so combinations will do. As for how signals get processed... the "691 carriers" and all the network interconnections they comprise make for a lot more than hundreds of millions of permutations, I'd guess.

All we know for sure is that most everything routes by an NSA tap, sooner or later.

But so much of the traffic must be mundane and uninteresting, don't you think? It's of interest to marketing and "service providers," though:

"Crittercism says that 46% of apps rely on six or more different cloud services, like Facebook’s login system, ad placement businesses, or Amazon Web Services, to function. 3% draw off more than 20 different cloud services to deliver, say, that music app or that mobile game."

Hobie Cat Permalink to this item

The NYT obit for Hobie Alter informed me first of all that Hobie was a real "cat." I hadn't thought to wonder about the boat's name, even though it was familiar (if not ubiquitous) on Lake Mendota, where my "professional" sailing career started. That was in Tech dinghies, suitably enough for the collegiate setting, and when the first Windsurfers were flopping around in the lake. I've sailed on Cats a couple times, but nothing as exciting as "leaping over a breaker in the Southern California surf," nor even to the point of "skittering over the surface" or "skimming the waves, not unlike a surfboard."

Those seem somewhat curious descriptions from the point of view of boardsailing, much more literally skittering and skimming than those (comparatively) big boats do. I'm sure I just didn't get out on a windy enough day, or find any of the "scene" described in Hobie's interesting sendoff.

“It was so superfun to sail that it became the largest multihull class in the world, with its own lifestyle and culture,” Steve Pezman, the publisher of Surfer’s Journal, said in an interview in 2011. “Not only did they race the boats, thousands of people would go to the lake and party.”

Pete Melvin, a multihull designer and top America’s Cup catamaran designer, said in an interview on Monday that he sailed in Hobie Cat events in Florida as a teenager. “It was more of a cultural get-together with a different feel to the yacht club scene,” he said.

He added that it was “like going to a rock concert instead of a regatta.”

Also did not know Hobie "became known inside the sport as the Henry Ford of surfboard manufacturing," that Hobie was the number one surfboard brand in the world, or that he and his sons have a still-going "multimillion-dollar sports empire." The company's website has a lovely obituary for him too.

"In discussing the future with friends as a young man Hobie declared that he wanted to make a living without having to wear hard-soled shoes or work east of California’s Pacific Coast Highway."


Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007