Just One State – immigration lies

My grandmother recently forwarded an email that has been going around the internet. Snopes is my usual source of fact-checking but it, along with about a half dozen other debunking sites, didn’t do this particular chain justice, despite this chain having been around for ~15 years. This was the best of the bunch, which makes sense as the LA Times was, inaccurately, listed as the source of the statistics. So I checked every statement myself. Below is my letter to my grandmother:

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Chicago Bus App

Chicago Bus App

Chicago is a Big Data city.

https://data.cityofchicago.org serves 914 distinct, publicly accessible data sets including Beach Water Quality, Rat Infestations, Employee names and salaries. Chicago is “dedicated to promoting access to government data and encouraging the development of creative tools to engage and serve Chicago’s diverse community”. They have a Github site, video tutorials and sample API code. It is an immense data store!

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0.6% of my Income

Something tickled my pattern matching circuits while reading the countless articles analyzing the pricing of the Apple Watch and Apple’s strategy behind it.

Of the 38ish distinct Apple Watch models there are, to me, only five major style variations (ignoring size): the basic aluminum Sport, at $399, less or more depending on sizes and bands. The $699 steel Watch with classic, leather or modern bands. Upgrade to a steel link band for $999 ($1099 in black). Then there is the gold Edition starting at $10,000 and going all the way to $17,000.

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Solar Panel Analysis

I like solar power. I’ve purchased over a dozen consumer solar panels from Brunton to PowerMonkey to Goal Zero in a search of a favorite. Goal Zero’s older Nomad7 (purchased at a nice discount from TheClymb) is the newest leader.

But this isn’t a review of the Goal Zero; others have written excellent solar panel reviews, notably The Wirecutter and OutdoorGearLab. What I want to know is how to get the best performance, how to use it most effectively, to characterize it. What conditions produce best charge? What charge is produced under average conditions?

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No moon, no stars, only blackness. Freezing, failing headlamps reveal only a couple of meters of terrain around me. The 60kmph wind howls, cutting off speech and chilling us through to the core; it supports my weight when I lean into it, threatens to topple me if I don’t. The bitter cold begins to affect me: My fingers, my nose are frozen and it creeps into my arms, threatening my core. One foot in front of the other, I trudge onward.Only a few days ago it was sunny and hot; beautiful flowers, trees, birds, monkeys. Then, I could talk to my friends, chat about inconsequential topics, learn Swahili, point out the landscape and features to one another. It was nice in the rain forest. Now there is only rock: black, pitted and dusty lava rock from this sleeping volcano. Now I can hear nothing but the howling wind; we do not attempt to speak for the effort required. Only a few words at the occasional rest stop, mumbled breathlessly through cracked and frozen lips. We must keep our rhythm, must keep moving to stay warm. We must keep moving.

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Burden of hope

Ice, extending behind us as far as we could see, crunched under our crampon laden feet. It had been a long day — 12 km across the glacier – but now the edge was in sight, and just beyond that a boat bobbed in the ocean awaiting our return.

We stripped the crampons off, stowed our ice axes and walked across the dirty glacial edge to the pier, then down to the boat. The wind picked up on the water but we couldn’t tear our eyes from the massive 20m cliff of ice to head below decks.

Our guide had disappeared, leaving us to meditate the sight, but soon reappeared bearing a small tray with glasses. Handing one to each of us, he explained: “Argentine Whiskey, the best in the world. That ice – it is 300 years old and taken from the center of the glacier we just crossed.”

As we sipped, Stefanie’s eyes met mine with the same thought: it couldn’t get better than this. The next two weeks would prove us wrong.


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