Tag Archives: second


community-chest-you-have-won-second-prize-in-a-beauty-contestI don’t ever want to be first. Ever. The Abyss is decidedly a second-world country.

The other day I was surfing WordPress’ Freshly Pressed section and found a post entitled “How Long Are You Willing to Stand in Line? Are You Willing to Walk Away?” This was one of those times a headline really grabbed me and reeled me in. I was born to walk away.

The article was well written and thought provoking. I recommend you go read it. I was moved to comment and this is what I said:

Interesting. This is a topic I’ve been thinking about quite a bit since moving to the big city from a small town. We heard about an ice cream shop that was supposed to be really good. It’s called Salt and Straw and features homemade ice cream including the super trendy salted caramel and habaneros and things like that. Not just salt. “Sea salt.” And not just caramel. “Caramel ribbons.” That’s proof that it’s good! 🙂

We drove over one night and found a line of fedora-wearing-folk (also trendy) that was literally a block long just to get to the front door.

That’s when I realized my SBIGE formula. (Second Best Is Good Enough.) The hypothesis is that the difference in quality between best and second best is more than offset by not having to wait in an interminable line. Overall, that represents a huge gain in EE (Enjoyment Efficiency).

Good post and grats on being FP! 🙂

–Tom B. Taker, July 17, 2013

Ever put a comment on someone else’s blog and wish you had saved it for your own blog? Like I said, this was a topic I’d been thinking about. I decided to have my cake and eat it, too. Just as long as there’s no line to get into the bakery.

In the future I’ll be producing many graphs and pie charts and coming up with the exact formulae to support my SBIGE hypothesis.

The moral of the story is this: First is for the birds. If you aim for second (or lower) then at least someone like me has a theoretical shot. Besides, anyone who really is first is probably hopped up on drugs. We call this armstronging. And who among us wants to pee in neon colors?

Aim lower.

A Frisky Constitutional

RightsI thought the headline was so hilarious until I found out “constitutional” is decidedly not a word that means “enema.” Dammit!

Still, ever since colonic times we Americans have clung to fiercely held beliefs that we know to be self-evident. (Whew, that was a close one. For a moment there I almost didn’t bring this article down to the proper level.)

I may still be gin treatment but allow me to raise up my Tom Colonic and propose a wee toast:

O say NSA spying on through the night,
And so proudly assailed with your eyesight’s fast scheming,
With broad swipes and little regard to what was right,
O’er the sheeple you watched, and the porn they were streaming?

Source: Tom B. Taker, lyricist

As we all know, those rights our founders held so dear were elegantly immortalized in the U.S. Constitution. Except for the stuff they got wrong, of course, like those not “free” being counted as only three-fifths of a person and women not having the right to vote.

I don’t want to hit you with an elementary civics lesson, but we all know the primary function of the Supreme Court Of The United States (SCOTUS) is to chisel away at the rights enumerated in that great document.

In other words, it’s finally time for me to weigh in on NSA monitoring, PRISM and more.
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The NRA shoots logic

What we need: Laws that prohibit or restrict assault weapons, handguns and high-capacity magazines.

Canada, a gun-loving country, has gun control a lot like this. Citizens are allowed to own all the rifles and shotguns that they want. This just in: The universe has not imploded in Canada. You’ll no doubt be amazed to know they have lower rates of gun violence and murders than the United States.

Today I attempt a short bit of logic to rebut the nonsensical sound bites offered ad nauseam by the NRA.

The Second Amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
–The version ratified by the U.S. Congress

Yes, there was more than one version. In addition to the one above there was a version ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State. Capitalization and a comma differed between the two versions. (Source: Wikipedia.)

I have two points to make. Since I’ve talked about this before, I’ll be brief and do it using less than 600 words.

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What is time?

...Time...Sometimes you gotta think the big thoughts. Like, “What is time?”

That’s easy. It’s an excellent song on the new Elephant Revival album, Break In The Clouds. 🙂 Hint: Go to their web site. They let you listen to three wonderful songs for free. (But not “What Is Time.” I couldn’t find that online. Buy the album.)

It’s also something you sometimes wish you could keep in a bottle. Or so I’ve heard.

For me, I often wish it is something I could speed up and slow down as needed. Gimme a time throttle.

But yeah, those sorts of answer are too glib. Really, what is time?

If you want to know what Wired Magazine had to say about it, clicky the link and take a look. I tried and it made my head feel funny.

I guess I’ll take my own shot at it. With my own humble spin, of course.

Let us start by looking at a unit of time known as the second:

Early definitions of the second were based on the apparent motion of the sun around the earth. The solar day was divided into 24 hours, each of which contained 60 minutes of 60 seconds each, so the second was 1/86400 of the mean solar day.

Wow. There are 86,400 seconds per day.

As science caught up, and figured out things like the sun didn’t rotate around the earth, the definition of second was slightly updated:

Since 1967, the second has been defined to be the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom.

We needed this updated definition since the second calculated the original way was actually getting longer. This is due to the fact that the earth is slowing down.

Another unit of time is known as the work day. This measurement defines an impossibly large span of time that is usually sufficient to melt the souls of men.

A typical work day contains 8 hours, each of which are comprised of 60 minutes, each of which are comprised of 60 seconds. Therefore, 60 * 60 * 8 equals the number of seconds in a work day. That’s a whopping 28,880 seconds of time spent working by the average full-time American per day. In some European countries the work day is shorter. Yeah, we’re #1!

28,880 seconds per work day.

Let that sink in.

Oh God.

Or, put another way, that’s 144,000 seconds in a five-day full-time work week.

So if anyone ever asks you to name something you do 144 thousand times per week, you can safely answer, “my job.”

“My job.” What else, if anything, defines who we are? By one definition, pure quantity, what else compares? The only other thing that might even come close in our existence is sleep. And that’s only if you sleep more than 5.7 hours a night.

Let’s assume that the average person is getting six hours of sleep per day, seven days a week. That’s 42 hours. So sleep barely edges out “work” as the #1 thing we do with our lives.

#1 – Sleep
#2 – Work

I submit, however, that work, no matter what, is the real winner. Because you have to factor in things like time spent getting ready for work, and time spent commuting to and from work. For most of us, that’s probably another 10 hours a week right there.

As human beings in the modern American reality, our primary functions are to work and sleep. Everything else in our little lives is secondary to those two concerns. Love, family, food, recreation, reading, education, pleasure, and health all take a back seat.

Work and sleep is who we are.

Now excuse me, I have to go to work, where I’m going to start at “1” and count all the way up to “28,800.” It’s guaranteed to make you go mad.

28,800 seconds is a very long, long, long time indeed.

The Abyss 2010: Year in Review

Click image to buy your own Geek Alarm Clock

2010 was much like any other year. Like many others in the media today, we now endeavor to “review” the year.

This is an appropriate activity that is seemingly enjoyed by humans when our most favorite planetoid has completed yet another circuit around our most favorite star.

Depending on IQ, if it is low enough, most will celebrate by crashing pots and pans at what they incorrectly deem to be “midnight.” Others will blow things up and shoot their guns in the air.

Because I’m cursed with intelligence all I can do is write this post and be in bed by 8:30.

2010 started like most any other year. Jan. 1, 2010 at midnight (GMT) was the first second of the year. In “epoch time” that is also known as 1262304000.

Epoch time, also known as Unix time, is a system of used by computers to keep track of the date and time. It counts the number of seconds that have elapsed since midnight Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) of January 1, 1970, not counting leap seconds. (If you really want to blow your mind you can read the Wikipedia article on Unix time. It will make your head feel funny.)

A “second” is a unit of time most of us are very familiar with. It was originally defined as 1/86400 of a “solar day.” There are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, and 24 hours a day. So if we multiple those values, 60 x 60 x 24, we get 86,400 seconds. Viola! Therefore, 86,400 is the number of seconds in a day. Don’t believe me? Count to 86,400 and see how much time has gone by. Go ahead, try it! It’s fun!

But wait. It turns out that the rotation of the Earth, known as a day, is not always exactly 86,400 seconds. It turns out that the solar day is 1.7ms longer every century due mainly to “tidal friction” and “glacial rebound.” I don’t know about you but that scares the shit out of me. Our planet is getting slower!

The year will end on December 31, 2010 at 11:59:59 pm (GMT). This is 1293839999.

Now that we know the starting and ending epoch times of 2010, we can do the math. Simple subtraction on those two time values shows there were 31,536,000 seconds in 2010. That translates to 525,600 minutes, 8,760 hours and 365 days.

Wow, when you look at it that way, what an exciting year! I hope you all enjoyed those 31.5 million seconds as much as you possibly could.