Sunday, December 04, 2022

Wordle 533 Hint

Hint: O Come, let us solve today's Wordle Christmas Carol style.

Not Enough? Get the first letter of today's Wordle after the ads below.

New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: A

Saturday, December 03, 2022

This Sounds Very Familiar ...

I wish I could give credit to whoever mentioned Balaji Srinivasan's The Network State: How To Start a New Country (not an affiliate link) within my field of vision on the Intertubes, but I can't because I can't remember who that may have been.

From the description at Amazon:

This book introduces the concept of the network state: a country you can start from your computer, a state that recruits like a startup, a nation built from the internet rather than disrupted by it.

The fundamental concept behind the network state is to assemble a digital community and organize it to crowdfund physical territory. But that territory is not in one place -- it’s spread around the world, fully decentralized, hooked together by the internet for a common cause, much like Google’s offices or Bitcoin’s miners. And because every citizen has opted in, it’s a model for 100% democracy rather than the minimum threshold of consent modeled by 51% democracies.

Sounds like panarchy -- which long-time readers will know is one of my hobbyhorses -- doesn't it?

One of the great joys of Amazon Prime membership is being able to accrue credits toward digital goods by choosing "just in time" shipping versus the normal "two-day shipping" membership benefit, so I just got The Network State at a deep discount.

I'll start reading it at my earliest convenience ... but I think it may deserve more than just a review. This looks like "online book club" material. Anyone else interested in reading it and, here on the blog, discussing it chapter by chapter?

Wordle 532 Hint

Hint: To solve today's Wordle, don't go out on a limb -- rummage around in your trunk instead.

Not Enough? Get the first letter of today's Wordle after the ads below.

New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: T

Friday, December 02, 2022

Solar: The Travails and Compromises Begin

My Howeasy 330 Watt / 300 Watt-Hour Power Station (not an affiliate link) arrived today. The Dokio 160-Watt Solar Panel (not an affiliate link) won't be here for a few days, but since the power station can also just plug in for AC input, I decided to get started.

My original plan was to run my router and modem entirely on solar (and stored solar) power. Then I started doing some calculations and thinking hey, if I get 800 watts of solar panel, I can run my router, modem, Raspberry Pi 4B computer, and two 19" LED monitors on solar (and stored solar).

I forgot one thing: The power station itself uses power. Not a lot of power, but somewhere between 10 and 15 watts with nothing plugged into it, which means as many as 360 watt-hours per day, which means at least I'd need an additional 100-watt panel to account for it.

At the moment, I'm running the Raspberry Pi (AC) and a second-generation Echo Dot (USB DC) on it, and drawing anywhere from 14 (idle) to 23 (talking/listening to Alexa while loading a bunch of browser tabs) watts.

In the meantime, I've plugged my router, modem, and both monitors into an Amazon Basics UPS (not an affiliate link) I got on sale some time back, which I expect will give me half an hour or so of non-interruption-due-to-power-outages.

If I'm really wanting to power my entire office on generated and stored solar, I'm starting to think I should:

  1. Plan on at least 1000 watts in panels; and
  2. Do a real "panel to controller to deep cycle batteries to inverter" setup instead of using something really more intended as an emergency or camping power supply.
None of which really makes a great deal of financial sense in terms of cutting my utility bill -- it would take a long time to pay for itself. But it would keep me rolling right along work-wise during extended grid outages. And it's just another one of those "sounds like fun" kind of things, because I'm weird that way.

KN@PPSTER -- Thanks For Asking!: The Final (Podcast) Chapter?

The latest AMA episode is up at Callin here (yes, that means "click the graphic"):


Should be up at Apple Podcasts and Spotify within 24 hours or so if you prefer those venues.

It may (I haven't really decided yet) be the final episode.

Why?

Well, it's not getting very many listens or much participation. I can talk to myself all day long without using a computer, phone, or application. It's talking to you that requires those things.

If I knock off the AMA podcast, I'll probably still try some other stuff out with Callin. Maybe a very periodic interview show? Who knows? It's a cool service with really good support. I like it.

And I'm planning at least four more episodes of The KN@PP Stir Podcast, at my convenience, so I at least get up to a prime number of episodes, because reasons. Those will likely appear at the Soundcloud channel where I've always done them (episode 145 is there now -- episodes 144 are available at archive.org thanks to Joel Schlosberg).

I'm also looking at one or two services where (as with Soundcloud) I can record audio at my leisure and upload it rather than doing things live, and some other live possibilities (e.g. Zoom).

I'll never possess the talent or voice quality of the late, great Jeff Riggenbach, but I'm considering one or more "limited series" podcasts where I produce, say, five episodes on a subject, issue, historical period, or whatever that interests me and might interest you.

Another possibility that I'm both itching to do and dreading doing is "getting regular" with a (weekly, maybe?) "Tom rants about some news cycle thing that's on his mind" show not entirely unlike The KN@PP Stir Podcast at its kinda sorta "height."

Hell, maybe I'll just do TikToks of myself falling off skateboards or something.

The possibilities are endless. I just need to find myself excited/obsessed with some particular thing for long enough to get started.

What do you think I should work on audio or video wise? Let me know in comments.

Wordle 531 Hint

 Hint: Sorry to be so irritable this morning, but today's Wordle just rubs me the wrong way.

Not Enough? Get the first letter of today's Wordle after the ads below.

New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: C

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Wordle 530 Hint

 Hint: You might do this to yourself if you're a fighter pilot, or have it done to you if you're a rowdy bar patron.

Not Enough? Get the first letter of today's Wordle after the ads below.

New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: E

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Just Sayin' ...

On one hand, I don't think teachers should have to apply for "licenses."

On the other hand, if teaching is going to be "licensed," "prone to murdering people during irrational panics" seems like a reasonable inclusion on the list of potentially disqualifying characteristics.

Wordle 529 Hint

Hint: To solve today's Wordle, try getting in a brown one.

Not Enough? Get the first letter of today's Wordle after the ads below.

New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: S

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

There's No "Cryptocurrency Bubble." There's a "Custodial and/or Government-Regulated Businesses That Are Involved in Cryptocurrency" Bubble

Following the collapse of FTX, which was either a gigantic scam, a gigantic pile of amateur hour, or a mix of both, several other cryptocurrency-related businesses are shutting down, filing bankruptcy, etc.

While that's bound to affect cryptocurrency prices, I don't see it as indicating any kind of problem with the fundamentals of cryptocurrency.

When you hand your crypto, or control of your crypto, over to someone else, what they do with it -- stupidly, criminally, or because they're trying to operate in the government-regulated sector of the market (but I repeat myself) -- is not in and of itself a problem with cryptocurrency. It's a problem with 1) your judgment and 2) their judgment and/or morals. If you had handed the same people gold or fiat, the same things would have happened.

Good crypto, kept in your own non-custodial wallet, is still good crypto. The "store of value" hit it's taking at the moment is indeed a bubble busting. That bubble was caused by too many people entrusting too much crypto to fundamentally untrustworthy people and institutions.

I'm still bullish on sound cryptocurrency. That doesn't mean all coins or tokens, but it does mean quite a few.

If you're not bullish on cryptocurrency anymore, there are addresses in the sidebar so that you can send it to me and not have to worry about it ever again.

NFL Week 13 Picks

Well, now, Week 12 was very very good to me. I picked 11 of 16 games correctly in the FiveThirtyEight NFL Forecasting Game, for a positive score of 97.3 points (the FiveThirtyEight model picked 10 of 16 correctly for 78.6 points), and am now ranked in the top 32% of players. Up from the cellar!

This week's picks:

Buffalo Bills beat New England Patriots -- 59%
Cleveland Browns beat Houston Texans -- 91%
Baltimore Ravens beat Denver Broncos -- 91%
Chicago Bears beat Green Bay Packers -- 53%
Jacksonville Jaguars beat Detroit Lions -- 53%*
Minnesota Vikings beat New York Jets -- 59%
Pittsburgh Steelers beat Atlanta Falcons -- 53%*
Philadelphia Eagles beat Tennessee Titans -- 61%
Washington Commanders beat New York Giants -- 53%**
Miami Dolphins beat San Francisco 49ers -- 53%*
Seattle Seahawks beat Los Angeles Rams-- 61%
Kansas City Chiefs beat Cincinnati Bengals -- 100%
Las Vegas Raiders beat Los Angeles Chargers -- 53%
Dallas Cowboys beat Indianapolis Colts -- 79%
New Orleans Saints beat Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- 53%

Single asterisks represent picks of mine that differ from the FiveThirtyEight model's. The double asterisk on the Commanders/Giants game means that FiveThirtyEight left that pick at 50/50 instead of predicting a winner.

My picks could change if I notice e.g. an important injury or whatever, but they'll change before game time and be noted in updates to this post.

Some thoughts:

  • I've given up my "never bet against Tom Brady unless he's playing the Chiefs" rule. The Bucs are falling apart and nothing's likely to get better until Brady retires so they can start building a team around The Next Guy. Unless they're playing the Texans, I'm probably going to pick them to lose.
  • While I've never had a "never bet against Aaron Rodgers" rule, it's the same situation. That team is a wreck and needs to move on from Rodgers.
  • FiveThirtyEight has San Francisco picked to beat Miami. I disagree. The 49ers are a good team this year, but I'm starting to think that Tua (especially in combination with Tyreek Hill) is the real thing and that the Dolphins just may take the AFC East.
  • I always pick the Chiefs to win with 100% likelihood. If you tell anyone I seriously considered breaking that rule for the Bengals game this week, I'll call you a liar. But I seriously considered breaking that rule for the Bengals game this week.

Building My "Outage-Proof" Solar Office ...

I'm trying to be conservative here by over-estimating my power needs (based on averages) and not expecting too much from my solar panels.

The goal:  A system that can power my cable modem, router, computer, and monitors 24/7 relying solely on solar panels (and battery storage thereof). Which would mean that I could still work when the power was out, as long as the cable was not also out. Or, if the cable was out, use the stored power to run other household stuff during/after a storm.

The consumption:

Average cable modem usage -- 55 watts, but I'm going to say 60 in case I'm above average.
Average router usage -- anywhere from 6 to 20 watts, so I'm going with 20.
Raspberry Pi usage: The maximum I've seen asserted is 9 watts, but let's call it 10.
Average 19" LED TV usage: The biggest number I found was 32 watts. Let's call it 35, and I run two of them, so 70 watts.

That's a total of 160 watts. So, running all of that at full tilt 24 hours per day would be 3,840 watt hours.

The generation:

According to Solar Info World, "[i]n a location with an average of 5 hours of direct sunlight per day, a 100-watt solar panel will generate between 280 and 450 watts per day."

In Gainesville, this year, we had 14 hours and 3 minutes of daylight around the summer solstice (longest daytime), and will have 10 hours and 14 minutes of daylight around the winter solstice (shortest daytime). Obviously that doesn't automatically mean that much direct sunlight on the panels, but I'm going to assume toward the high end because I believe I'll manage more than five hours per day of direct sunlight.

I'm guessing I can get 400 watt-hours per day from each 100-watt panel.

Wow ... I'd need TEN PANELS to meet my power needs.

BUT:

I'm not running all that stuff full-tilt 24/7, am I?

The router and modem are always on and doing their thing.

The computer and monitor are inactive eight hours a night while I sleep and could be turned completely off during that time. And probably for another four hours a day, they're idle and on standby or, under some circumstances (I'm leaving the house and know they'll be unused) could be turned off.

Since I've tried to be expansive about usage and conservative about generation, I think it's reasonable to say those things are only used 12 hours per day. So instead of 80 watts, I'm down to 40, which halves their watt-hour needs to 960, and brings total usage down to 2,880 watt-hours.

So I could probably make do with seven 100-watt solar panels, and eight would almost certainly do the job.

But I also want to overbuild, in case my math is bad or my expectations unreasonably high.

And while I do have a 160-watt panel already on the way, I'm not wildly sure about whether it would easily wire into another set of panels.

My solution: An 800-watt kit with two 400-watt panels, charge controller, cabling, etc. for $349.99.

I'm already $300 into solar at the moment, and not planning to throw another $350 at it immediately.

But in case anyone thinks keeping me chained to this desk even when the power is out is worth $350, I've added the thing to my Amazon Wish List.

Wordle 528 Hint

Hint: Today's Wordle is unwarranted and uncalled for!

Not Enough? Get the first letter of today's Wordle after the ads below.

New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: U

Monday, November 28, 2022

My Cyber Monday Bite: Going (Very Partially) Solar

I've blogged now and again about how I'd like to "go solar" to at least some degree.

One problem with trying to do full household solar is that we don't own our home, so we can't get the "we install it, tied into the grid, and it's paid for by the money the power company pays for your excess power generation" deals.

Most of the "not tied into the grid, so you don't need permissions, etc." systems were more than I wanted to pay for the equipment to cover all our power needs.

So, I'm starting small.

Not as small as I did when we first moved here, which was just basically putting some cheap solar lamps outside to charge during the day, then using them to e.g. light my office at night.

But relatively small.

I took a Cyber Monday Amazon deal on a 330-watt / 300-watt-hour "power station" (not an affiliate link) and added a 160-watt solar panel (not an affiliate link) that comes with the right connector, etc. (and with a charge controller, which I may not need -- there may be one built into the "power station"). Total cost, about $300.

My plan is to build a frame for the panel that holds it at the optimum angle for gathering max sunlight through the day -- that is, I'm not going to mess with any gizmos to move the panel for constant optimization -- and put it in front of the house (the house faces south).

Then I'll run the cable through some pvc or conduit and up into the house via the same hole in the floor that the cable coax comes in through, and plug it into the power station.

I'm pretty sure that the power station is capable of drawing from the solar panel with outlet power as backup if the solar doesn't keep up, so I can run a few devices off of it without worrying that they'll go dead.

What I want to do is run my cable modem and router (maybe another device or two if the generation vs. consumption works out) on solar-generated, rather than grid, power.

The economics don't look that great. Rough guess, it will save me $2-3 a month on the electric bill.

But I consider the power station a good thing to have anyway, in order to keep our phones charged, run a minor appliance or two off of in the event of an extended power outage, etc. And for short power outages, I'm not waiting several minutes for stuff to reboot every time the lights flicker.

If it all goes swimmingly, maybe I'll invest in more panels and in a higher-wattage station at some point. If not, well, I will have finally scratched my solar itch.


Midway Between Milestones

This is the 499th post for the year on KN@PPSTER.

Milestone #1: The previous post, the 498th, made 2022 the most post-replete calendar year so far in the blog's 19 calendar years of publication. The previous record of 497 posts was for 2005, its second year (and first full year).

Milestone #2: The next post will be the 500th of 2022.

The obvious factor in the big post count for the year is that I've been doing daily Wordle hints since July. I plan to keep doing those, which makes my previous goal of averaging one post per day, 365 posts per year, seem kind of lazy.

At the same time, I don't want to double the goal. I'd like to give myself a little bit of a break. So my goal for 2023 will be 550 posts -- 365 Wordle hint posts, plus another 185 posts of other kinds (basically one non-Wordle post every other day, minimum, but I'll try to do better than that).

Wordle 527 Hint

Hint: Some days I'm all fired up to do Wordle. This morning, I'd say I'm more lukewarm.

Not Enough? Get the first letter of today's Wordle after the ads below.

New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: T

Thanks For Asking! -- 11/28/22

December's AMA podcast is scheduled for noon on Friday, December 2 here. It's a call-in show on, um, Callin, so you can ask me anything (yes, anything) live at the time or pose your questions in the comment thread below this post and I'll answer them in comments, "on the air" Friday, or elsewhere (linked from comments).

I await your questions.





Sunday, November 27, 2022

Wordle 526 Hint

Hint: Today's Wordle should put a smile on your face.

Not Enough? Get the first letter of today's Wordle after the ads below.

New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: H

Saturday, November 26, 2022

I'm Surprised It's Not Even More Lopsided

The Democrat-to-Republican spending ratio in the Georgia US Senate runoff between incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker, that is.

According to Newsweek as of last Wednesday, Democrats were in for $36 million on Warnock while Republicans were putting $20 million into Walker.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago (when I was still just four for five on my Senate predictions; my record has since improved to perfect):

If Cortez Masto does win Nevada, I don't expect big GOP funding for Herschel Walker in the Georgia runoff. Even if he wins, that won't get the Republicans a Senate majority, and there are big down sides to giving the Democrats six years of great scandal/mockery opportunities vis a vis US Senator Herschel Walker.

Cortez Masto did win Nevada, and on net there's nothing the Republicans could get out of a Georgia runoff victory that seems worth much spending or effort.

The only real up side for Republicans would be slowing down some committee approvals on e.g. judicial appointments -- appointments that the Democrats will still have enough votes to confirm on.

As long as the Republicans have 40+ votes in the Senate, they can still block passage of actual bills by voting against cloture to keep them from coming to the floor for votes. Walker in that seat wouldn't really do anything for them.

And the Republicans have a tiny House majority, too. So no bills are going to Joe Biden's desk for signature or veto without at least some Republican support.

The down side to having Walker in that seat is that he spends six years making Republicans look like idiots both nationally and in Georgia.

Looking like idiots in Georgia is proving costly for Republicans in presidential elections.  After going GOP six times in a row (Dole, Bush the Younger twice, McCain, Romney, Trump), the state returned to the Democratic fold with Biden in 2020. Those six GOP victories are six of the total of ten time Republican presidential candidates have ever carried Georgia. The other four are Goldwater in 1964, Nixon in 1972, Reagan in 1984, and Bush the Elder in 1988. Prior to that, the Democrats carried the state 24 presidential elections in a row going back to 1868, and another six of nine elections prior to the Civil War going back to Andrew Jackson in 1828 (it went Whig three times during that period). It even went for segregationist Democrat/Dixiecrat George Wallace, running on the "American Independent Party" ticket, rather than for Nixon (or Humphrey) in 1968.

It might be a little much to expect the GOP to overtly throw this runoff, but they have good reasons to not be that interested in winning it. Walker antics in the Senate could quite conceivably keep Georgia in the Democratic presidential column, which seems to be its natural home anyway, in 2024.

What do the Democrats get out of winning the runoff? Well, they get that slight amelioration of inconvenience when it comes to confirming appointees by getting committee majorities rather than tied committees. They protect an incumbent. And that one additional vote in pocket makes it just a little bit harder for e.g. Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema to game a single "balance of power" vote for special favors or hometown political points.

The Senate seat just seems like it should be worth a lot more to the Democrats than to the Republicans.

Wordle 525 Hint

Hint: Today's Wordle made me feel all washed up.

Not Enough? Get the first letter of today's Wordle after the ads below.

New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: C

Friday, November 25, 2022

I Wonder if it's a Patent Thing or What

I prefer espresso. Tamara prefers regular drip coffee.

A few years ago, we went from a drip coffee maker with a big pot to a cheap Keurig-style single-cup brewer, and then (when the el cheapo stopped working) to a real Keurig (a low-end, single-cup-only type I found on sale). We have the little baskets to use our own coffee with instead of buying expensive pre-made K-cups.

In the meantime, I've gone through a succession of cheap yard sale espresso machines. I understand that the average life of those low-end, nine-bar machines is two years. Since I buy them used for $5-10, less than that before (my best guess) the gaskets/seals go and they no longer do their thing.

So I was looking at Amazon Black Friday deals this morning, and even outside the "Black Friday deal" categories, and was surprised to not find what I was hoping to find:

A single machine that will brew either espresso or regular drip coffee, and that will accommodate both K-cup and Nespresso and/or Dolce Gusto container shapes.

Press a different button and it either drips hot water through coarser grind coffee in a loose basket or puts pressurized water through espresso grind in a tight pack.

Yes, I know you can buy K-cups that are supposed to approximate espresso in terms of flavor, etc. But I prefer the real thing, and she prefers her regular coffee.

My guess is that there are lots of people/couples/families with varying coffee preferences between them (or with one person at different times). Seems like one machine to do it all would be a big seller if the price was right. But I'm not seeing anything like that at the high end, at the low end, or otherwise. I found a couple of Dolce Gusto machines for less than $100, but both of our current machines are still working so unless I can find some kind of dual-use thing, I'm in no hurry to buy.

It's not a big huge hairy deal. I can continue picking up low-end espresso machines as needed. Even new ones can be found for ~$40. And it's not like having the two machines uses lots of extra counter space or anything. But it just seems like a market niche that someone could make money by catering to.

Wordle 524 Hint

Hint: Sometimes you just have to start from scratch. Today's Wordle, you finish with scratch.

Not Enough? Get the first letter of today's Wordle after the ads below.

New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: I

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Wordle 523 Hint

Hint: If you live in the United States, there's a good chance you'll be doing this today (before napping and/or watching a football game).

Not Enough? Get the first letter of today's Wordle after the ads below.

New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: F

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Wordle 522 Hint

Hint: If you're going to grandmother's house for Thanksgiving these days, you'll probably do this to get over the river and through the woods.

Not Enough? Get the first letter of today's Wordle after the ads below.

New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: D

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

So, Whodunit?

It's the 59th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

I'm not overly confident in any particular theory of precisely what happened, but among the theories that don't involve space aliens, etc., I'd say I'm probably least confident in the "one lone gunman who happened to be far-out in various ways that tend to call the 'acting alone' story into question" theory and most confident in the "elements of the national security state arranged it" theory.

Jacob G. Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation, who's done quite a bit of writing on the subject (including three books) has a piece up on why it's still an important question.

Chris Spangle ran a special edition of his show today, consisting of an interesting interview with a guy who runs "JFK Custom Tours" of Dealey Plaza.

What do you guys think happened? Hit me with your comments, including recommendations for good source material.

Week 12 NFL Picks

Ah, Week 11 turned out to be a good one for me: I picked 11 of 14 games correctly and picked up 98.4 points (versus the FiveThirtyEight model's 89.7 points) in FiveThirtyEight's NFL Forecasting Game. I'm still doing terribly for the season with a score of -38.5 points versus the model's 216.9 points, but at least I'm in the top 59% of players ... for the moment. The games I blew: I picked the Vikings to beat the Cowboys, the Bears to beat the Falcons, and the Giants to beat the Lions. The model picked the Falcons game correctly, but also blew the other two games, as well as mis-picking the Broncos to beat the Raiders, which I got right.

This week's picks:

Buffalo Bills beat Detroit Lions -- 100%
Dallas Cowboys beat New York Giants -- 91%
New England Patriots beat Minnesota Vikings -- 53%*
Washington Commanders beat Atlanta Falcons -- 53%
Jacksonville Jaguars beat Baltimore Ravens -- 53%*
New York Jets beat Chicago Bears -- 71%
Tennessee Titans beat Cincinnati Bengals -- 79%
Denver Broncos beat Carolina Panthers -- 53%*
Miami Dolphins beat Houston Texans -- 100%
Cleveland Browns beat Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- 53%*
Los Angeles Chargers beat Arizona Cardinals -- 59%*
Seattle Seahawks beat Las Vegas Raiders -- 59%
Kansas City Chiefs beat Los Angeles Rams -- 100%
San Francisco 49ers beat New Orleans Saints -- 83%
Philadelphia Eagles beat Green Bay Packers -- 91%
Indianapolis Colts beat Pittsburgh Steelers -- 73%

Asterisks mark games where I disagree with the FiveThirtyEight model on outcome (most or all of my picks assign different percentages to likelihood of outcome). If I make any changes to my picks, those changes will be made before game time and noted in updates to this post.

Wordle 521 Hint

Hint: I'm trying to decide whether to order 1, 2, 3, or 5 five standing rib roasts using my paid Amazon membership for fast/free shipping/delivery.

Not Enough? Get the first letter of today's Wordle after the ads below.

New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: P

Monday, November 21, 2022

Steve Kubby, 1946-2022

I hear from several sources (including his son, Sky Sierran Kubby, on Facebook) that Steve Kubby has died at the age of 75, "surrounded by his family." I've not seen any mainstream news stories, so I'm just passing on the sad news myself. His family and friends have my deepest sympathy for their loss.

Steve was a great man, a great libertarian, and a great friend. His work on California''s Proposition 215 counts, in my opinion, as the starting point down the road we've since followed to legal medical and recreational marijuana across much of the US. Marijuana, as he told everyone who would listen, saved his life; his efforts  to end the war on it, and his explorations of its medical potential, have since saved thousands of lives, thousands of years people might otherwise have spent in prison or in chronic pain, etc.

And his work, let me add, was not just on marijuana, or even broader drug policy, although those were his main focuses. If you haven't read his first book, The Politics of Consciousness: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, it's a classic and well worth your time (that link is to the book's Amazon page; it is not an affiliate link).

Managing Steve's campaign for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination was one of the privileges of my life. My only regret on that count -- as much for the party's sake as for his -- was that he didn't win it as he should have, and that my feeble efforts couldn't make it so.

As more "mainstream" stories on his passing and life appear, I'll update this post with links. In the meantime, his Wikipedia entry is a good place to start for more information on who and what we've all lost.

Wordle 520 Hint

Hint: Today's Wordle is self-evident, but mostly just a starting point.

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New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: A

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Wordle 519 Hint

Hint: Don't let today's Wordle scare you off.

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New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: B

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Word PSA

A small, but representative, selection of recently published statements:

"A failure to convict on the electioneering charge may encourage others to flaunt the law going forward."



Flaunt, n. the act of displaying something ostentatiously ... v. display proudly; act ostentatiously or pretentiously

The word these writers are looking for is:

Flout, v. treat with contemptuous disregard

Wordle 518 Hint

Hint: Maybe I can't prevent today's Wordle, but I can refuse to make eye contact with it.

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New to Wordle? Here are some thoughts on how I go about solving each day's puzzle.



First Letter: A

Friday, November 18, 2022

Wordle 517 Hint

Hint: Whoever said "nothing's written in stone" wasn't thinking of today's Wordle.

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First Letter: G

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Week 11 NFL Picks

Well, another no good, very bad week for me in the FiveThirtyEight NFL Forecasting Game ... mostly from the late games. I mean, who would have expected the Eagles to lose to the Commanders? I ended up with -54.9 points, including losing 75 points on the Eagles (I picked them 100%). I can take comfort in the fact that the only bad bet I made that FiveThirtyEight's model didn't make was picking the Chargers to beat the Rams, and I only lost 3.1 points on that since I only put their chances at 53%.

This week's picks:

Tennessee Titans beat Green Bay Packers -- 67%
Baltimore Ravens beat Carolina Panthers -- 91%
Chicago Bears beat Atlanta Falcons -- 53%*
Buffalo Bills beat Cleveland Browns-- 91%
New York Giants beat Detroit Lions -- 91%
New Orleans Saints beat Los Angeles Rams -- 61%
New England Patriots beat New York Jets -- 91%
Philadelphia Eagles beat Baltimore Colts -- 67%
Washington Commanders beat Houston Texans -- 71%
Las Vegas Raiders beat Denver Broncos -- 53%*
Cincinnati Bengals beat Pittsburgh Steelers-- 59%
Minnesota Vikings beat Dallas Cowboys -- 61%
Kansas City Chiefs beat Los Angeles Chargers -- 100%
San Francisco 49ers beat Arizona Cardinals -- 59%

Asterisks mark the games where I disagree with FiveThirtyEight's model (although my percentage predictions differ from the model's on all games). If I make any changes (based on e.g. injury reports), they'll be before the games start and I'll note them in updates below.

Wordle 516 Hint

Hint: Today's Wordle isn't here, and it's over.

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First Letter: T

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Well, I Guess That's Progress of a Sort

Yesterday, Donald Trump publicly admitted that he lost the 2020 presidential election.

He didn't put it exactly that way, but that's still the ultimate effect of his paperwork filing / announcement that he's seeking election to the presidency in 2024.

By announcing and filing, he's claiming to be eligible for election, and per the 22nd Amendment "no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice." If he was elected in 2020, he can't be elected in 2024.

So I'm glad that's finally settled, anyway.

Wordle 515 Hint

Hint: Someone with the ability to turn 13 into a dozen.

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First Letter: B

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Wordle 514 Hint

Hint: This morning's Wordle had me baring my teeth and growling.

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First Letter: S

Monday, November 14, 2022

Wordle 513 Hint

Hint: Today's answer is kind of sappy and syrupy -- dismiss the forest and focus on the particular tree!

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First Letter: M

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Wordle 512 Hint

Hint: Today's Wordle left me feeling silly and insignificant.

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First Letter: I

Saturday, November 12, 2022

If You Thought the Hilarities of Military Bureaucracy were a post-WW2 Development ...

... I have an old family tale to tell. I don't know for sure that it's true, but I heard it from a parent and grandparent about a great-great-grandparent, so apparently there was some kind of impression that has carried down for four generations now.

Supposedly one of my great-great-grandfathers was discharged from the Army of the Tennessee after being wounded in Mississippi (for some reason I've long believed it was during the Meridian campaign, but I don't know if that was ever actually said), and had to walk back home to Missouri.

Supposedly he was arrested on suspicion of desertion as he made his way home, and held for a week until it could be verified that he was actually discharged.

And supposedly the wound he had received was that he had lost one leg from the knee down, and was hobbling home on crutches.

They arrested a one-legged man on crutches, on suspicion of desertion, and held him until the paperwork could be straightened out. And that was 150 years ago.

Wordle 511 Hint

Hint: If today's Wordle was a car, I'd park it for you instead of making you do it yourself.

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First Letter: V

Friday, November 11, 2022

Senate Prediction Update

So, how are my October "final predictions" of US Senate "tossup" states faring so far?

In Pennsylvania, I predicted that Democrat John Fetterman would defeat Republican Mehmet Oz (no incumbent, open seat.

 In Wisconsin, I predicted that incumbent Republican Ron Johnson would defeat Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes.

 In Georgia, I predicted that the election would go to a runoff between incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

 In Arizona, where I predicted that incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly would defeat Republican challenger Blake Masters, Reason now reports that Kelly's lead in the vote count has become insurmountable per Cook Political Report.

? In Nevada, incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto has closed the gap between her and Republican challenger Adam Laxalt to less than 1% with the outstanding votes mostly coming from Democratic-leaning Clark County.

So I'm four for five now, and looking pretty good to go five for five.

Wish I was this good at predicting NFL outcomes. And that online sports betting was legal in Florida.

If Cortez Masto does win Nevada, I don't expect big GOP funding for Herschel Walker in the Georgia runoff. Even if he wins, that won't get the Republicans a Senate majority, and there are big down sides to giving the Democrats six years of great scandal/mockery opportunities vis a vis US Senator Herschel Walker.

If Laxalt does pull off an upset, well, then, it's on. Not that 51 seats would really give the GOP any more power than it already gets with 40+ seats to use for filibustering, especially since a handful of Republicans will always peel off if they have "centrist" reasons to. But "give us a Senate majority" is good read meat to keep the Republican base motivated.

Trump and the Margins

When discussing my election outcome predictions (and, let's admit it, I'm pretty damn good at those), I often emphasize sentiment "at the margins" as my basis for predicting close races.

Sometimes my predictions match those of people who think this or that issue makes a bigger difference than it does. Sometimes they don't. But what's important to understand here is that a small percentage of voters (in some cases even a fraction of 1%) who are extremely motivated to vote in a particular way, or for that matter at all can decide those close races.

This year, abortion seems to have had a bigger impact than I expected, but not much bigger. Polls saying that X% of likely voters consider it a top issue tend to obscure the fact that most of that X%, being likely voters, were already going to vote, and that they were probably going to vote for the candidates they voted for anyway. What changed outcomes was the much smaller percentage of voters who bothered to vote when they might not have otherwise, or whose sentiments on that one issue were opposite the way they usually vote. That is, the marginal voters.

So, let's talk about Donald Trump. Every time, and nearly everywhere, an election turns into a referendum on Donald Trump, Donald Trump's party loses races it would otherwise have won.

The 2016 presidential election was a referendum on Barack Obama, on the Democratic Party, and most of all on Hillary Clinton, which is why he won. But Republicans lost congressional seats in 2018, lost the presidency in 2020, and saw a "red tsunami" shrink to a "red trickle" in 2022, because Democrats, Trumpists, and Trump himself were able to turn those elections into referendums on Trump.

This year, just like in 2018 and 2020, many partisan Republicans, and not a few analysts, are 1) calling for the GOP to "move on from Trump," and 2) talking themselves into believing that it can do so.

That whole idea ignores the big impact Trump is going to continue to have at the margins.

Even if most Republicans "move on from" Trump, some are never going to (there are still Republicans claiming that Nixon was great and just got screwed).

As often, I'm just going to throw out a number with no evidence to back it up, because we're talking hypotheticals here.

Let's just suppose that a measly 10% of the Republican base of "likely voters" is going to remain Trumpy for the foreseeable future, and that they're going to remain particularly motivated to vote, campaign, and run for office, as the Trump base has continued to be.

Ten percent is not enough to win a Republican primary or a general election.

But it's enough to change the outcome of a Republican primary or a general election that's closer than 9.999x%.

For the foreseeable future, Trumpist candidates will continue to contest Republican primaries and (often with a "boost" from Democrats) win some of those primaries -- the ones that are close races, anyway, because if even 1/10th of that 10% turns out, that's a 1% edge right there.

And for the foreseeable future, Democrats will turn close general elections featuring Trumpist GOP candidates into referendums on Trump.

Trump is going to be a gift that keeps on giving to the Democrats for some time now. That's true even if he doesn't run for president in 2024. It's true even if he goes to jail or keels over and dies from a heart attack or stroke. It's even true if he makes a speech about how completely wrong and bad he's been and urges Republicans to forget him (this year in Pennsylvania, much of his own voter base supported the "Trumpier" candidate for US Senate in Pennsylvania even though he had endorsed someone else -- and his endorsement of the primary winner, Mehmet Oz, probably made the difference for Democrat John Fetterman).

It's not necessary that 51% of Republicans to be Trumpy for elections to continue being referendums on Trump to the detriment of the GOP. A handful will do. The margins are important.


Wordle 510 Hint

Hint: Solving today's Wordle should earn you an award of some kind, perhaps like the ones they hand out at the Olympics.

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First Letter: M

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Abortion as a Factor in the Midterms

According to an NBC News exit poll, 27% of voters ranked abortion as the top issue going into the midterms, and their votes went for Democrats over Republicans by a 3-to-1 margin.

That impact is not as big as it sounds from just citing those numbers, but it's still huge.

Why is it not as big as it sounds?

Well, it's a safe bet that almost all of the people who ranked it as their top issue and voted for Democrats or Republicans would have voted the way they did anyway ... if they voted at all.

Where the issue of abortion had its real impact was at the margins, on turnout.

Let's be extremely expansive here and say that of the voters polled, 90% always vote, and 10% came out to vote this time only because of abortion. The numbers are probably smaller than that.

So, that would translate to 2.7% increased turnout just because of abortion, with a 2.025% turnout bump for Democrats and a 0.675%turnout bump for Republicans. The differential: 1.35%.

In races that otherwise are very tight -- for example, last time I checked, pro-life US Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) trailed pro-choice Democratic challenger Adam Fritsch by 0.02% in a nail-biter of a race -- abortion could well make the difference even if the numbers are smaller than that 10% bump I suggested..

It may decide the US Senate outcome in Nevada an the US Senate run-off in Georgia, too.

Wordle 509 Hint

Hint: Like Marx said, workers of the Wordle, get together as a whole! Or something like that.

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First Letter: U

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Week 10 NFL Picks

Well, I finally had a decent week with Week 9 -- ten correct picks from 13 games, for a positive score of 87.1 points and moving up to performing better than 28% of players in FiveThirtyEight's NFL Forecasting Game. I don't think very many people expected the Jets to beat the Bills or the Lions to beat the Packers (two of the picks I blew; the third was that I had the Rams picked to upset the Buccaneers).

Week 10 Picks:

Atlanta Falcons beat Carolina Panthers -- 59%
Seattle Seahawks beat Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- 53%*
Miami Dolphins beat Cleveland Browns -- 79%
Tennessee Titans beat Denver Broncos -- 91%
Chicago Bears beat Detroit Lions -- 53%
New York Giants beat Houston Texans -- 91%
Kansas City Chiefs beat Jacksonville Jaguars -- 100%
NO PICK FOR Minnesota Vikings vs. Buffalo Bills**
Pittsburgh Steelers beat New Orleans Saints -- 59%
Las Vegas Raiders beat Indianapolis Colts -- 71%
Los Angeles Rams beat Arizona Cardinals -- 71%
Dallas Cowboys beat Green Bay Packers-- 61%
Los Angeles Chargers beat San Francisco 49ers -- 53%*
Philadelphia Eagles beat Washington Commanders -- 100%

A single asterisk identifies games where my prediction disagrees with the FiveThirtyEight model's prediction.

The double asterisk "NO PICK" could -- in fact, probably will -- change. The Bills' quarterback, Josh Allen, may be out with an elbow injury, in which case the Vikings probably have a real shot. If he's good to go, I'll pick the Bills. Check back later in the week if you're that interest. For now, I just left that game 50/50, which means I'd neither lose nor gain any points on the outcome.

Senate Outcomes, and the Mystery of the Missing Column

Things are still up in the air in some places, but so far I look reasonably good in my "toss-up state" Senate predictions:

In order to pick up a Senate majority, the Republicans needed to win three of those five races. It looks like the Democrats will win three of the five, picking up rather than losing a seat.

And then there's Georgia. Assuming it does go to a runoff, I can't see the Republicans investing a lot of money in trying to save Herschel Walker. If him winning or losing made the difference to a GOP Senate majority, yes. But right now it looks like all a Walker win would accomplish would be leaving the GOP in the Senate minority and saddling them with Walker's scandals/antics for the next six years. So I think they'll mostly write it off and hope for a better candidate next time around.

So, I did not write a Garrison Center column yesterday. I'm genuinely sorry about that. I experienced a confluence of intervening events that included very little sleep (my family was traveling; I waited up for them Monday night and they arrived home about 11:30pm instead of the expected 9pm) and then some kind of bug, which I'm not yet over, along these lines:


Combined with Election Day overshadowing everything and leaving me without good "news hooks," everything just screamed "take a day off." So I did. And instead of making it up today, I'll be doing the tropical storm (or maybe even hurricane) prep bit and shooting for getting back on schedule tomorrow.

Wordle 508 Hint

Hint: From where Wordle is at today, you'll have to find a crosswalk to get to the sunny side of the street.

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First Letter: R

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Wordle 507 Hint

Hint: Did you know you can use witchcraft to correctly arrange letters?

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First Letter: S

Monday, November 07, 2022

Quick & Dirty Review: Amazfit Band 5

Because I'm once again trying to "get healthy," I was recently in the market for one of those new-fangled "fitness bands."

Short version: If you're looking for a wearable fitness tracker, you could definitely do worse -- and I have.

TL;DR:

I've experimented with the $5-$10 jobs from discount stores and garage sales in the past, and they tended to be 1) reliant on sketchy phone apps that go missing or stop functioning, and 2) not really reliable for anything beyond basic step-counting, even though they advertise otherwise.

My first inclination was to get the Amazon Halo (not an affiliate link), but then I noticed the Amazfit Band 5 (not an affiliate link).

The first thing that jumped out at me was the price difference -- $70 for the Halo, $35 for the Amazfit (with a $5 coupon -- but the base price has dropped to $27.99 in the two weeks since I bought it).

The second thing was the differences in feature sets:

  • The Halo does steps, heart rate, sleep time, and sleep tracking.
  • The Amazfit does steps, heart rate, sleep time, sleep analysis, blood oxygen,  various workout tracking (cycling, running, etc.), works as a watch (to get that from Halo you need their more expensive "view" model), can pass on notifications from my phone (text messages, "hey, your phone is ringing in the other room where you can't hear it and this is who's calling," app notifications), "women's health" (if you're a woman I guess it can track your periods for you or whatever) and ... it says it works with Alexa!
I'm big on Alexa, and beyond price that was probably the big sell for me.

The bad news: I don't know if I haven't figured out the authorization correctly or what, but no, I can't yell "Alexa, what's the square root of 321?" at my wrist and get an answer.

The good news: It does pass on my Alexa reminders, etc.

It seems to be reasonably accurate at counting steps.

It seems to be reasonably accurate at measuring how long I'm asleep, detecting and reporting wake-ups in the middle of the night (bathroom breaks, kids arrive home loudly and startle me awake, etc.), and the "sleep analysis"seems to track my experience (e.g. when I wake up groggy and un-rested, it reports that I didn't get very much deep sleep; when I wake up feeling well-rested, it reports that I got more deep sleep).

On a few quick counts, it seems to measure my heart rate pretty accurately.

I haven't dug out my pulse oximeter to check the accuracy of its blood oxygen measurements, but they seem to be in the same range (95-97%).

It advertises a "two-week battery life." I'm getting more like one week, but that's probably due to me setting it up to pass on phone notifications, etc., and sample my heart rate every ten minutes. The two week claim is probably based on just counting steps and nothing else.

I did have a little scare right after buying it, a scare that probably has to do with the price drop:

The Amazfit Band 5 is made by a company called Zepp, which is supposedly reputable, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, etc. In other words, not some fly-by-night operation in ShenZhen that will close up shop the next time rent comes due.

When I opened the thing up, set it up to charge, and download the app, I go notified that instead of downloading the Amazfit app, I should download the Zepp app. Uh-oh ... was my tracker about to be obsolete before I even got it charged up and put on? As it turns out, no -- they're just unifying all their products (including smart watches, fitness trackers, etc.) under a single Zepp app. And it's all worked quite well.

They sell additional services (Zepp Aura to improve sleep, Zepp Coach for workout plans, etc.), but I haven't tried any of those.

I really like the thing. Other than it not being as Alexa-cool as I had hoped, my only complaint is that the silicone band isn't the most comfortable thing in the world. So I just ordered an after-market pair of cloth bands ($8.99 for the pair).

I Guess Twitter Really DOES Have a Disinformation Problem ...

I just got this on my "home" screen:


It's only one day until "Election Day."

Are they trying to fool me into missing my opportunity to vote? If so, that didn't work (I voted early by mail).

Personally, I blame Russia.

Wordle 506 Hint

Hint: Ready for today's Wordle? You can't finish it until you get started!

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First Letter: B

Sunday, November 06, 2022

Wordle 505 Hint

Hint: Today's Wordle isn't particularly fresh.

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First Letter: S

Saturday, November 05, 2022

Wordle 504 Hint

Hint: To sleep, perchance ...

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First Letter: D

Friday, November 04, 2022

KN@PPSTER: Thanks For Asking! Podcast, 11/04/22

Here it is (on Callin -- you can wait a day or three for it to show up on Apple Podcasts or Spotify if you prefer).

My headset mic sounds way to hot on this episode. Sorry about that. In the future, I may switch to my good mic w/pop filter.

Content: I cover the questions from the month's Thanks For Asking! thread, with the most emphasis being on the Arizona race for US Senate.

Wordle 503 Hint

Hint: Shed a little light on today's Wordle first. Then you'll get the picture.

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First Letter: P

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Week 9 NFL Picks

Well, I finally got back into positive points territory with Week 8 -- I picked nine of 15 games correctly for a total of 56.9 points. But for the season I'm still in the cellar,  with -179.1 points and only doing better than 16% of other players in FiveThirtyEight's NFL Forecasting Game.


My picks for Week 9:

Philadelphia Eagles beat Houston Texans -- 100%
Buffalo Bills beat New York Jets-- 100%
Cincinnati Bengals beat Carolina Panthers -- 100%
Green Bay Packers beat Detroit Lions -- 53%
New England Patriots beat Indianapolis Colts -- 100%
Los Angeles Chargers beat Atlanta Falcons -- 59%
Miami Dolphins beat Chicago Bears -- 100%
Minnesota Vikings beat Washington Commanders -- 100%
Jacksonville Jaguars beat Las Vegas Raiders -- 53%*
Seattle Seahawks beat Arizona Cardinals -- 53%*
Los Angeles Rams beat Tampa Bay Buccaneers-- 53%*
Kansas City Chiefs beat Tennessee Titans -- 100%
Baltimore Ravens beat New Orleans Saints -- 61%

Asterisks note where I disagree with the FiveThirtyEight model's prediction.

As you can see, I'm making some big 100% bets. As terrible as I've been doing this season, I figure I might as well try to either undo that in a big way, or go out in a blaze of poor prediction glory.

These picks are pretty much off the cuff, based on the season so far and what I happen to hear. I didn't have time to e.g. look at injury reports and such this week. I guess we'll see how I do.

Wordle 502 Hint

Hint: Don't try to do today's Wordle silently, or even in a whisper. You need to actually say it.

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First Letter: A