Predictions for 2013 NFL season

Before it’s too late, I wanted to post my predictions for the 2013 football season. I think the Seahawks will go at least 12-4, but I really believe they will go even higher 13-3 or 14-2. My money (and my homer heart) is on 14-2. It’s fun to look back at these little time capsules.

  • I think it’ll be between the Seahawks and the Packers in the NFC championship.
  • I think EJ Manuel will emerge as a more breakable version of Cam Newton, but will use the read option more than Newton.
  • Geno Smith will be the slightest of upgrades over Mark Sanchez.
  • Russell Wilson will get even better, and laugh at the fallacy based only on alliteration known as the “sophomore slump”.
  • Bruce Irvin will finally start to show signs of his full potential in the latter half of the season.
  • The Panthers will have a breakout year as the Atlanta Falcons’ luck runs out.
  • Other teams’ records.

I can’t believe I’m blogging about football.

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Nokia Lumia 920 Review

I bought this phone primarily to have a badass camera at all times. In that regard, this phone delivers. The camera is great, especially for nighttime shots and indoor shots. Daytime and outdoors are also high quality– but the quality doesn’t stand out versus competition like the previously mentioned categories.

I also love the home screen. It makes the best use of space of any camera I’ve seen, and allows you to allocate the proper amount of real estate to your various apps. Live tiles are an awesome feature which allow your apps to be widgets too. All very nice.

Badass camera notwithstanding, this phone is a horribly frustrating experience. Things that should be simple– like syncing music– are needlessly difficult. The software is buggy and often did not work for me at all. I don’t know if that’s because I’m using Windows 8 (sigh…) or if Windows Phone 8 simply hasn’t worked out the kinks. Regardless, syncing was hit and miss for a long time, with inexplicable duplication and inexplicable un-syncable items, and album art weirdness, and seemingly random album names… Ugh. I could go on. Syncing, the most basic function of all, is needlessly difficult. This is the most egregious sin because it is the most basic functionality needed for every smartphone. (This counts against the ecosystem score.)

The next basic function that is lacking is in the navigation department. Luckily the phone seems to be getting better in this department, with the release of Nokia’s HERE software. However, for inexplicable reasons, I am at random times unable to reach GPS… which is kind of a big deal. The reason why I bought my first smartphone years ago was precisely for navigation. Besides not being able to connect to GPS at random times, sometimes I would connect to GPS, and the phone would believe I was approximately 10 blocks forward and to the right. That makes navigation a bit harder. Usually a reboot would fix these issues, but that’s awfully hard to do whilst driving in a car, especially if you don’t know that your GPS is leading you astray. In addition, even when the GPS is connected, and knows your real location, the phone will give ridiculous routes; routes that are in no way optimal, and sometimes not even possible. Oh, and it doesn’t know how to show what to do in a roundabout. Yeah, navigation is a fail. (This counts against the software score.)

Next fail is easily LTE reception. At random times I’ve been unable to connect. Don’t know if that’s AT&T Seattle’s fault or the phone’s, but I fault the phone because iPhones don’t have this problem with AT&T around here.

The next largest problem is the lack of apps, although this is less of a problem than people make it out to be. Most of the important apps are available– though many are obviously in a state of disrepair, or stripped of features. There’s only been a few times when I’ve really wished I had access to the Android or Apple app stores. It’s a problem, but again, not as big as everyone makes out. (This counts against both software and ecosystem.)

Lastly, there are just a WHOLE BUNCH of things which could’ve been done better:

  • Why is the Bing search app such a piece of crap compared to the mobile Bing site? Searching Bing from an iPhone yields a better experience.
  • In the email app, there is a small but very annoying feature: Left and Right arrows to navigate to the next and previous messages. But the LEFT arrow means NEXT in this case. Despite 15 years of precedent for the left arrow ALWAYS MEANING BACK. Hell, the left facing “Back” arrow is built into the hardware. How dumb do you have to be to have a left arrow mean forward?
  • The software depends too much on the hardware back button.
  • The hardware back button functions differently depending on context. However, it’s fairly unpredictable.
  • The hardware buttons are too sensitive. They are not actual buttons in the sense that they get depressed. They are just electronic buttons (same as Android phones). This leads to stray fingers taking you away from what you want to be doing quite often. iPhone is the only phone that gets this right.

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On marriage and Objectivism

Sometimes people who claim to be Objectivist make it hard for me to claim to be Objectivist. Case in point: This guy claims that the mere concept of same-sex marriage is impossible; it would no longer be a marriage.

That is, of course, ridiculous.

The argument from epistemology is entirely wrong because the definition of marriage is not dependent on gender, but on role; specifically the role of a spouse as a mutual lifelong provider, lover, and supporter. Procreation is not a pre-requisite, and it certainly could never be the defining pre-requisite since many children are born out of wedlock, and many married heterosexuals never procreate. Same-sex marriage is not some new concept trying to usurp the label of marriage. There are many precedents for gay marriage, and polygamy. If somebody was trying to marry their car or their dog, well then that would be a new concept since cars and dogs are incapable of love or making decisions.

Even if this argument had merit, it doesn’t even remotely address the practical reasoning behind the legalization of same-sex marriage– namely equal protection under the law. I’m referring to the difficulty of hospital visitation, end of life decisions, and, in many cases, different tax levels. Most of these cases can be alleviated to some extent, but not always fully, and rarely without a lot of unnecessary legwork. Legalizing same-sex marriage, regardless of your opinion that it violates the concept of marriage, would be the quickest and easiest way to solve this problem for the most people.

Lastly, during the little rant about the left, there is a big collision with hypocrisy. Here it is: “The Left opposes consent and favors force.”

Yes, and sometimes the pot calls the kettle black. Marriage has no business being regulated as a legal institution. It should be an independent contract, regardless of contracting parties. Opposing the legalization of same-sex marriage, even for high-filutin’ epistemological reasons, uses force to keep consenting homosexual adults from getting married. Come on, this stuff is obvious!
But the most laughable part of this article is summed up by this quote: “When in doubt, remember this: The political Left is wrong about everything.”

Really?! You’re going to sink this low, when almost all of the Left’s arguments fail based on their own lack of merit? I thought rationality was supposed to be the hallmark of Objectivism. There’s no shortcut. You can’t proclaim to be Objectivist and brand your arguments as rational. This is as bad as half-assed Republican Objectivists (or “admirers”) like Paul Ryan, who don’t understand that rationality and religion are mutually exclusive. If you’re going to call yourself Objectivist, then at least try to be rational.

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Home Shopping Saga: Price Update 7

Yikes! Prices are still falling

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Best Salsa Recipe EVER

Ingredients:

  • Two large tomatoes
  • One medium white or yellow onion
  • One bunch of cilantro
  • Sea Salt
  • Crushed black pepper
  • White Vinegar
  • Chili powder
  • Paprika
  • Two cloves (not to be confused with two bunches) of Garlic (or one spoonful of minced stuff)
  • One lemon
  • One can of stewed tomatoes, preferably Italian recipe
  • One medium Pablano pepper (should be waxy, without too many wrinkles)
  • 4 Serrano peppers (should be waxy, not too many wrinkles) – less or more depending on spice level

Directions:

  1. Dice the onion, pablano, and Serrano peppers.
  2. Mince one generous handful of cilantro leaves (not stems).
  3. Cut tomatoes in four, and remove the slimy seeds. Dice the remainder of the tomatoes.
  4. Pour the juice of the stewed tomatoes into the salsa, then dice the stewed tomatoes.
  5. Add a tablespoon (or so) of vinegar. (Not a problem if you add a little more.)
  6. Add a couple tablespoons of paprika. (Being generous is not a problem.)
  7. Add about a tablespoon of chili powder.
  8. Add about 1 ½ tablespoons of black pepper
  9. Add minced garlic.
  10. Add lemon zest (using a microplane)
  11. Squeeze the lemon, with the opening facing your palm, over into the mixture. (NOTE: The lemon juice will help remove some of the Serrano “spice” from your fingers.)
  12. Add the salt last. Use one palm’s worth– about 2 Tbsp. DO NOT add too much at once!

After you add the salt, mix everything together thoroughly, then taste it. If you need to add more salt, do so sparingly, and continue testing until it’s good.

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I just listened to “Misquoting Jesus” (from Audible).

This book is ostensibly for the layman of Bible history, but it has a big, fat, midsection that should have been better distilled. However, it will give you loads of very good arguments against those annoying evangelical friends who believe that Jesus dictated it word-for-word, stamped “King James” on it, then published it through Random House.

The premise of the book is interesting– how centuries of scribal copying of the Bible have altered its contents from the original manuscripts. However, the author belabors his points to excess. What was at first interesting became redundant and boring. After more than four hours of the book, I was happy that it would soon be drawing to a close… or so I thought. Much to my chagrin, there were another four hours left!

It starts with a good introduction of the author’s beginnings as an Episcopalian to born-again “fundamentalist,” believing the Bible to be the inerrant word of God. It is that belief that compels him to investigate the roots of it, ultimately finding just how inconsistent all the available manuscripts actually are. He then wraps up with an insightful point that, for true comprehension, all reading must be interpreted– just as the Bible was by centuries of scribes. In essence, we are all imperfect scribes of the Bible.

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Home Shopping Saga: Update 6

Whew! Looks like prices are back to dropping like a rock.

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Home Shopping Saga: Update 5

It appears the brief pause in falling prices is over. My index property is now valued at $192,000, according to Zillow.

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Home Shopping Saga: Update 4

According to Zillow, prices are now beginning to rise on my price index property.

Today’s price is $194,000– the same as it was in February, but according to Zillow, it is up $500 in the last 30 days.

Well, I am surprised by that, and frankly still skeptical. We’ll see what happens.

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Free Currency Converter API in Perl

Here’s a handy little way to convert currency using the iGoogle Gadget API. It’s free… until they decide they don’t like it.

Enjoy!

#!/usr/bin/perl -w
use strict;
use LWP;
my $browser = LWP::UserAgent->new;

my @currencies = qw(
KWD BHD OMR LVL GBP JOD EUR
KYD CHF AUD CAD USD BND SGD NZD
TND BGN TRY BRL ANG FJD LTL PGK
PEN PLN MYR RON QAR AED ILS SAR
ARS HRK DKK NOK EGP TTD SEK CNY
BWP BOB NAD ZAR HKD UAH MAD
);

for my $currencycode (@currencies){
	my $result = currencyConvert($currencycode,"USD");
	print "$to,$result\n";	
}

sub currencyConvert {
	my ($from,$to) = @_;
	return 1 if $from eq $to;
	$response = $browser->get('http://www.google.com/ig/calculator?hl=en&q=1'.$from.'%3D%3F'.$to);
	my @contents = split(',',$response->content);
	$contents[1] =~ m/rhs: "([0123456789]\.[0123456789]*) (.*)"/;
	return $1;
}

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Private