On the American failure to keep pace with the world: Broadband

This article examining the failure of American telecommunication companies to provide better service in exchange for greater control really nails the situation. The United States is a very pro-business economy with pro-business political ideologies influenced by pro-business lobbyists support by pro-business funding.  The notion of “public good” isn’t valued or applied as a legislative metric as much as in the past, and even when it is considered, the prevailing pro-business ideologies posit that market solutions will provide public goods better than any other alternative.  This is a theoretical fact but fails in the real-world because public goods are market externalities rather than the currency (i.e. markets are not designed to maximize public goods, even though they’d be very good at it if they were).

The authors of the article point out why the U.S. has fallen behind in the development of telecommunications infrastructure and it all comes down to the hands-off regulatory attitudes driving legislative priorities. I’m not advocating for or against either of these positions here. I just thought it was a well written piece that explains a lot. We seem to spend too much time in theoretical arguments of political decisions. This article examines the actual results of a regulatory approach. It’s up to us to decide if it is an approach worth keeping.

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Drafthouse Cinema

We happened to stumble across a draft house cinema a few weeks ago while looking for a restaurant with friends and it turns out they’d been there. “It’s a good time,” they said, so we went, and I think I’m in love.

It’s a full restaurant with table side service inside a movie theater. They’ve got deep soft chairs with tables and counters and play recent as well as classic movies. We saw Catching Fire a couple weeks ago and tonight we’re going to watch Gravity. It looks like they also have classic movies from time to time as well as stand up comedy and whatnot.  My favorite part was that precisely at 7:00, the lights dimmed and the movie started.  No opening trailers, no announcements, just a movie! In spite of the service and people eating it was quiet and immersive.  Great concept, well executed.

I’ve since modified my retirement plan to a full on brewery-taproom-bar-cinema-live music club concept.

Obama Not Ruling Out U.S. Military Action In Congress

About time, really.

Merry Christmas!!

Our first family Christmas in the U.S. (of course we’ve visited for the holidays before) was a terrific success.  We had a fantastic relaxed day, enjoying the games and food we got for presents. We chatted with family online and just had a nice day. I got some Calvin & Hobbes books, a couple great cooking books, and a new LEGO Mindstorms set. I’ve been wanting one of those for YEARS, ever since the first one was released. We made a remote controlled contraption with spinning blades that the Eminent Child delighted in chasing the Eminent Companions around the house with.  Good laughs!

Happy Christmas Eve!

We just spent a fabulous evening with some friends of ours, enjoying delicious temaki-zushi, excellent whisky, and exotic teramisu all evening.  Since we punched into Dec 24th and we’re spending the evening tomorrow with friends, we decided to exploit a loophole in the Christmas Eve gift opening option. The Eminent Child got the tie-die T-shirt set she’s been wanting, the Eminent Spouse got a food chopper (not quite the food processor she wanted but not a bad second gift after a new mixer), and I got a bottle of Buffalo Trace bourbon. Clearly, I’m winning.

Because we’re having dinner with some friends tomorrow our traditional waffles and sausage dinner will be postponed till Dec 25th proper, but it makes a fitting final meal for us as they depart to Japan and I to the home grounds the day thereafter.

‘Twas a real tree after all!

I recently wrote about our family visit to the National Christmas Tree and mentioned that the tree looked just like a teepee of lights.  Apparently this was just a visual effect from all the lights on it when in fact I’ve been told itt was cut in northeast Washington, loaded on a special enclosed truck with windows in the sides so you could see the tree, and toured back to DC.  John Boehner and a young boy from Colville, flipped the switch to light it.  I thought the President was planning to light it but apparently not.

A visit to the National Christmas Tree 12.13.2013

Friday night the Eminent Team picked me up after studies and we headed downtown to check out the National Tree.  We hadn’t been downtown during normal hours and had a fun time experiencing the joys of DC traffic at night. We muddled around looking for parking and lucked out to find a pay-to-park spot right near the White House and wandered over to the south lawn to check it out. I don’t think it’s an actual tree anymore, more of a teepee of lights, but it was pretty. It had large scale model trains running all over and over 50 smaller trees representing each state and territory (and commonwealth. Apparently Kentucky is a commonwealth, not a state??) around the periphery.  There was a small stage and bleachers set up that had musical performances by visiting choirs and bands. We listened to a great set of arranged Christmas Carols sung by an out of state high school choir.

I tried to take some pictures but its quite difficult to get good images of the low light environment with a bright shining tree (and it was the spot lights on the periphery that really made it hard.  I’ve included a few but wasn’t really satisfied with any of them.  Ideally I’d use a tripod and take a few different shots, then blend them for the best result.  No tripod at the moment though.

There was also a Santa’s workshop that thankfully wasn’t crowded. We got pic of the Eminent Child (and an almost decent pic of the cute elves!). We found the Idaho tree too!

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Snow! (The Horror!)

So it snowed a little bit yesterday, not much more than a dusting, really.  It was enough for the local school district to cancel all school related activities which meant that the second ballet show had to be cancelled (it was hosted in a local school auditorium). It was disappointing for the Eminent Child as she’d arrived early in case she was needed as an understudy (she wasn’t) but most of all, she’d finally gotten some fantastic sausage curls in her hair.

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The weather did get a bit uglier at night when the temperatures dropped and freezing rain coated all the trees. The Eminent Canine woke me up around 2:30 and we went out for a constitutional break where I was impressed with the austere beauty of the iced up trees. I could hear branches breaking in the distance. If I had a tripod I would have set it up but had to settle for some high ISO handheld shots.

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This ice was enough to cancel classes for the local school district on Monday. Apparently they are still without power late into the day so I’m expecting Tuesday to be a snow day too.  There’s also forecasts of up to 4 inches of fluffy too. Considering how ill-prepared people around here are for snow (it’s almost as if I’m in Seattle!), I wouldn’t be surprised if I get the day off tomorrow.

The Nutcracker

I'm currently sitting in an empty theater watching the dancers warm up for the show. We found what seemed to be a decent ballet studio for the Emminent Child when we arrived and she was excited to qualify for an advanced class. She has rehearsal thrice weekly and was able to get a spot in The Nutcracker even though she joined in September. It's been a lot of fun for us.

They have 6 shows: Thursday, Friday, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. The EC opened on Thursday and performs early today and late tomorrow. Between when I started writing and just now I was informed the house wasn't open and I had to leave, so now I'm sitting outside enjoying the 50 degree sunshine.

This morning I made pancakes, muffins, eggs, bacon and coffee but didn't have time to drink my coffee. Sure wish I had it here now but we were rushing out of the house late (predictably).

12.05.2013 Thursday

I’ve been a member of a few different online communities over the last 15 years with 2 in particular being my main hangouts. I don’t visit the first one very often any more and its really just a shadow of itself now, but there were some great friendships forged there, some of which continue to this day in meatspace.  The other one is a tech site that I initially only posted at for information on computers, but then I spread out and started to get involved with some of the gaming and social forums.  This year I joined up in the secret santa they run every year. My Santee is in Sweden and we sent them some pepper jelly from Pike Place Market, a Star Trek onesie (he’s a fan and has a baby due soon), and one of my favorite books, Cryptonomicon, for the kindle.  It was fun putting it together but holy sheesh is international shipping expensive.  For just a small box with 3 tiny jars of pepper jelly and a single piece of baby clothing, I wasn’t expecting it to be THAT expensive.

Speaking of Kindles, I lost mine a month or so ago when it fell out of my bag on public transit.  I did have a bunch of points saved up on my credit card so I cashed them in for Amazon gift cards. It took over a month for those cards to arrive, very disappointing performance by the Flexpoints redemption service, but then again, it’s free money, so I shouldn’t complain. I finally got the point cards and ordered a new Paperwhite with a mustard yellow case.  It’s nice to have it back but I’m not looking forward to reorganizing all of my titles. The touchscreen interface on Kindle’s e-ink sucks and it takes a long time to put books into folders, etc.  I had it mostly organized the way I wanted in my old one but this new one is sure to be just a big fat open directory of stuff that I’ll have to figure out.  I’ve got some collections that I bought via StoryBundle that I like to keep together and will have to go through all of those.  But again, this is some pretty lame sauce to be complaining about considering how good I’ve got it.

Finally, I was all excited to get together with some friends tonight and only remembered at the last minute that it’s NEXT Thursday, not tonight. So now I have to figure out something to eat.