RexBlog.com http://www.rexblog.com Rex Hammock's RexBlog.com Fri, 10 Aug 2018 17:10:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Interesting Pew Survey (2016 vs 2018) http://www.rexblog.com/2018/08/10/52506 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/08/10/52506#respond Fri, 10 Aug 2018 17:09:57 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52506

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(Update: Also see, “How Broad and How Happy Is the Trump Coalition?” Nate Cohn’s article mentioned below.)


Here are some fascinating Pew Research survey findings in the run-up to the “mid-year” 2018 election and backward look at 2016.

Why is it interesting?

The 2018 findings are from a tracking poll of the same individuals who participated in the 2016 Pew American Trends Panel. In other words, the same people who participated in 2016 also participated in this year’s panel. (Let me try again: It’s not a random sampling. It’s a survey of the same people who participated in 2016.)

While the write-up of the Pew findings is comprehensive, today’s NYT “The Daily” podcast has guest Nate Cohn of @UpshotNYT diving deep into the role of educated suburban women in both the 2016 and 2018 races.

Bottomline

Before this survey, the conventional wisdom has been that a core of “uneducated white rural male voters” is the key to Trump’s 2016 victory. While the Pew survey concurs that that demographic was a key member of the Trump “core,” it also reveals that educated women in the suburbs who were against Hillary Clinton were what sealed the deal for Trump. And, as this Pew chart shows, this cohort is the most likely voter to have become disenchanted with Trump.

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Question of the Day: What is the Best Bicycle Rain Gear for Commuters? http://www.rexblog.com/2018/06/07/52461 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/06/07/52461#respond Thu, 07 Jun 2018 20:34:10 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52461

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Recently, a friend of mine started commuting to work by bike. (That’s one more Nashvillian down, another 691,242 to go.) As it had been raining in Nashville for the past 40 days and 40 nights, he texted me to ask if I had a suggestion regarding rain gear. After trying to answer with a text message (something like, “just enjoy getting wet”), I realized that bicycle rain apparel is a highly personal and technical topic. Not quite up there with whether or not wear a helmet (I do), but still an existential matter that can’t be addressed in anything less than a few hundred words.

So here we go.

First, follow my grapefruit rule

No matter what style or brand of rain gear you get, you should be able to compress it into a nylon bag the size and shape of a grapefruit. That way, you’ll put it in one of your pair of yellow Ortlieb bike bags (or “panniers” ) and always have it handy. Now that I think of it, everything you have when cycling to work (except a laptop) should be able to compress into something the size and shape of a grapefruit (even better, a tangerine).

Rain cape or rain gear?

I. What is a rain cape? 

In Britain, the word “cape” means “expensive poncho.” As in, “Those Yanks will pay twice as much for a poncho if you call it a cape.”

Option #1 Rain Cape | Brooks | $120-$160 

| Brooks Cambridge Rain Cape |

I have a Brooks rain cape. Before doing ten minutes of google-research for this post, I  thought my Brooks cape was ridiculously expensive.

However,  my wife gave it to me as a birthday gift and threatened to divorce me if I ever again used a Hefty 55-gallon leaf bag (sometimes called, a Tennessee rain cape).

Brooks is the British brand of a company that makes leather “saddles” (which translates into American as, “expensive seats”).

Some people think Brooks saddles are over-rated and too expensive. As I’ve used a Brooks saddle for the last 5,000 miles or so, I have discovered that after about mile 4,000 of getting broken in, the value of a Brooks saddle starts revealing itself.

On the other hand, a Brooks “cape” seems to me to be a licensing deal with an Italian company — not something that is manufactured by Brooks. Nevertheless, it can keep a person dry in most situations. While I haven’t been in most bicycle situations many times, I have been in nearly every bicycle commuting situation at least once. For example, since my commuter bike (Jamison) is made of steel, I try to avoid the situation of lightning. (It only took one near miss.) Because my Brooks cape has kept me dry but not sweaty, I think it would be a good option, unless I was from Rhode Island (see next cape option).

Option #2 Rain Cape as a Lifestyle Brand | Cleverhood | $250

Note to my friend who asked for advice about rain gear. Don’t look at the rain cape on the right. I’ve advised people not to pay this much for bikes. But when you click over to Cloverhood, you’re going to discover they are a Providence, RI, product. As you are also a Rhode Island product, perhaps you know someone who knows someone. Ask for the RI native discount. There can’t be that many of you from such a small state. Perhaps they are having after summer sale?

II. Rain Gear

Rain gear is for serious lobstermen and all-weather bike commuters. It comes in various colors (black and yellow) but should always be yellow. According to this article in a long-ago Bangor Daily News about what real lobstermen wear, Tom Martin of Mackerel Cove on Bailey Island starts his day on the docks in $5,289 of lobsterman gear.

As this Flickr album will prove, I am no stranger to Bailey Island and the humor of its natives. (A native being someone who has at least two great-grandparents who were born there.) I can only imagine that Tom Marting of Mackerel Cove is still laughing that a “not from here” writer believed him when he said his rain gear cost $5,289.

However, I do suggest that New Englanders try out traditional lobster-person rain gear in the way I imagine real Mainers get theirs — as cheaply as possible.

Option 1 | Find some lobsterman gear in a garage sale and make up a story about it being the only thing to survive the Andrea Gail back during the “perfect storm” of 1991 — perhaps you found it after it floated to shore near Gloucester, Mass.

Option 2 | Turns out (according to Google) that there is Louis Vuitton rain gear that cost thousands of dollars; perhaps for those Mainers (or more likely, New Porters) who own a  Hinckley Picnic boat.

Option 3 | Or, (and this is my actual advice) Search for “Commercial Rain Wear” on Granger.com (like an industrial REI). They have hundreds of yellow rain stuff priced from little to a lot.

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Bicycle Commuting Calculator http://www.rexblog.com/2018/05/06/52453 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/05/06/52453#respond Sun, 06 May 2018 23:31:39 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52453

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For the past five or so years, the phrase “transportation and fun (but not exercise*)” has been my standard answer to the question, “Why do you commute to work on your bike”?
 
After checking out this Kiplinger “bike commuting calculator,”** I’ve decided to add, “to save $2,000 a year” to the list.
 
*I’ve found that calling something “exercise” sucks all the joy out of it.
 
**While their methodology for calculating upkeep and bike depreciation seems accurate, they don’t include the cost of the baseball (or playing) cards you’ll need to motorize the back wheel spokes of your bike. Confused? See: “spokecard” (https://goo.gl/MdLc1y) Gallery of 500+ spoke cards: (https://www.flickr.com/groups/spokecards/)
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YouTube’s Video Pickers http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/24/52445 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/24/52445#respond Tue, 24 Apr 2018 21:22:56 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52445

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If you’ve seen any of the early episodes of the TV series Babylon Berlin, you might understand why I thought of the character Charlotte Ritter’s temp job as a photo reviewer at the Berlin police station when I first saw this article about YouTube’s AI helping the company pull down 6.5 million videos in Q1 2018.

YouTube said the videos were “mostly spam or people attempting to upload adult content.” (Another 1.5 videos were removed, but not before they had been seen by a few YouTube viewers.)

Before introducing AI into the review process, YouTube said it would take 10,000 people to review and remove such a volume of videos.

Why did this make me think of the character on Babylon Berlin?

Even though the series is set in 1929, Ritter has the exact same job as YouTube’s Artificial Intelligence.

(via recode)

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HQ-2 Miss Congeniality http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/20/52436 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/20/52436#respond Fri, 20 Apr 2018 18:26:09 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52436

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Conference Board research suggests Boston and Washington, D.C. metro areas are the “most likely candidates” to win Amazon’s proposed second headquarters (HQ2).

They based their prediction on “real-time labor demand and advertised online job vacancies among the 20 cities vying to land.”

Quote from MassLive.com:

Communities on the 20-city shortlist that ultimately do not win the $5 billion economic-development prize can still market themselves as tech-friendly cities, The Conference Board report states.

“All cities on the shortlist likely possess many of the key attributes Amazon seeks,” the report concludes. “Win or lose, they are able to promote and advertise themselves as a good location for start-ups and technology companies looking to expand or relocate.”

Also called, “the participation award.”

My prediction is Northern Virginia.

I don’t predict Nashville.

However, I do think Nashville is a good location for start-ups and technology companies looking to expand or relocate. (See quotation #2.)

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It’s a Big World, Afterall: Earth View from Google (Chrome, Firefox Extention) http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/17/52428 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/17/52428#respond Tue, 17 Apr 2018 12:26:12 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52428

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Via Lifehacker | Visit New Places Every Day in Your Browser with This Google Earth Extension.

“Not every Chrome or Firefox extension you use has to be one-hundred-percent dedicated to productivity or utility. Sometimes, it’s just nice to look at something pretty. And in the case of Earth View from Google Earth (Chrome, Firefox), I don’t really care if it eats up my browser’s memory or otherwise impacts its performance in any way. It makes me happy, and it’ll make you happy too—exactly why this is our Extension of the Week.”

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National Geographic’s Most Significant Redesign in Two Decades http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/16/52422 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/16/52422#respond Tue, 17 Apr 2018 02:46:24 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52422

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Quote | via Folio:

National Geographic’s May issue (on newsstands April 24) will mark the unveiling of its most significant redesign in nearly two decades, increasing the quality of its paper stock, introducing a brand new front-of-book section, and creating even more room for the photography and visual storytelling that have long made up the brand’s DNA. Far from being born out of a desperate desire to survive in print—newsstand sales are actually up 16 percent this year, bucking industry trends—creative director Emmet Smith prefers to view the changes as a “proper evolution,” rather than a full-scale redesign.

More | Foliomag.com, National Geographic Unveils Redesigned Print Edition

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Looks like Facebook is cutting back on my user profile data http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/12/52417 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/12/52417#respond Thu, 12 Apr 2018 14:58:30 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52417

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Looks like Facebook is cutting back on my user profile data. 

However, I’d like to attend that session on the fundamentals of vacuum physics.

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Tale of Two First-time Senate Testimonies (and One More) http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/10/52409 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/10/52409#respond Tue, 10 Apr 2018 21:41:35 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52409

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Today (April 10, 2018), Mark Zuckerberg testified before a Senate committee for the first time. “His performance will be critical to the company’s future,” writes Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times

Twenty years ago last month — on March 3, 1988 — Bill Gates made a similar first-time appearance before a Senate committee, described by the Times’ Steve Lohr as “a spirited defense of his company’s business practices…and portrayed Microsoft as the standard bearer of the nation’s high-technology economy.”

Unlike Zuckerberg, Gates, who was 42 at the time, left any corporate remorse in Seattle.

If you can recall that era, it was during the time when Microsoft was defending itself against an antitrust suit by the Justice Department and a rising chorus of criticism that it was abusing its considerable power in the marketplace.

Quote from Gates to the Senate Judiciary Committee:

“Will the United States continue its breathtaking technological advances? I believe the answer is yes — if innovation is not restricted by the government.”

Compare that quote to Zuckerberg: “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry.” Zuckerberg said. But pressed on whether Facebook should be regulated more, Zuckerberg said only the “right regulations.”

A lot has changed since March 3, 1998.

For one thing, Gates became a full-time philanthropist and seems to have become a more likable guy. And the specific sins of Microsoft that brought about that hearing — and a later settlement — seem less important considering that Microsoft wasn’t a very good creator of browser software.

But history doesn’t seem to recall all the startups Microsoft killed on its journey to becoming, well, Microsoft. Those companies could have taken us in all different kinds of journeys. Or who knows?

Zuckerberg says that regulations will be okay as long as they are the right regulations.

That’s sort of what Gates said, but without that part about regulations being okay.

And how about this for an absolutely irrelevant sidebar

It’s easy for me to recall the day Gates first testified before a congressional committee. That’s because it was my first time to testify before a congressional committee, also. And it was the same day in the same building. And yes, I wanted to leave the hearing I was in to go see the hearing that was getting the same kind of coverage Zuckerberg is getting today. There was no line waiting to get in our hearing room.

I testified before the Senate Banking Committee. (See photo below.)

I was speaking as a small business owner who couldn’t understand why a small business couldn’t earn interest on money in a checking account. At the time, banks could pay interest on individual checking accounts, but not on a business checking account.

I don’t think Bill Gates had ever heard of my issue. Frankly, not too many small business owners had either.

I’m holding that stack of papers — nice touch, huh? — to show that it was easy to “sweep” money back and forth from checking and business accounts, but the accompanying mailing and paperwork was ridiculous.

I don’t recall exactly how that issue was ever resolved but I think it had something to do with Microsoft software.

March 3, 1998, Senate Banking Committee

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Is Amazon Bad for the Postal Service? (Spoiler Alert: No) http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/06/52392 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/06/52392#respond Fri, 06 Apr 2018 17:01:31 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52392

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If you are reading this sometime in the future (say, anytime more recent than April 4, 2018), you may recall a week in 2018 when, as described by NYTimes.com reporter Nick Wingfield, “President Trump has pointed his Twitter arrows at Amazon over what he insists is a bad deal for the United States Postal Service.”

Trump, who, granted, is never a stickler for facts, has been blasting the U.S. Postal Service for the way they charge Amazon, “(that costs) the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy.”

While the details about the Amazon-USPS deal are not public, some of the available evidence suggests that Amazon has been a boon to the Postal Service.

As Hammock Inc. has managed, on behalf of our clients, the mailing of millions of individual magazines and other material during the past 27 years, I have been an interested observer of the challenges and woes the USPS has faced across that era.

Ten years ago, the USPS handled the shipment of 212 billion pieces of mail. Last year, that number had dropped to 149 billion. (Look in your email inbox or text message client and you’ll understand why.)

The reality is that the specific deal the USPS has with Amazon is a winning proposition for the Postal Service. Bloomberg has one of many articles that explain why.

The short version is this: While email has crushed snail mail, the business of package shipping, including Amazon orders, grew to 5.7 billion packages last year from 3.3 billion in 2008.

Several years ago, the Postal Service added Sunday delivery for Amazon packages. Do you think the USPS loses money on this? No way.

But there is no doubt that the USPS loses money — like $2.7 billion on revenues of $69.6 in revenues in its last fiscal year.

Moreover — and dating back as far as I can recall — the USPS faces mind-boggling obligations related to its retirement pension. In effect, it is bankrupt.

Most analysts view Amazon’s use of the USPS to ship its products as a boon for the service.

Quote from NYTimes.com:

“It is one thing to demand better financial performance from the U.S.P.S., but something very different, in our view, to equate the U.S.P.S. financial struggles with the rise of Amazon,” Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Baird, a stock research firm, wrote in a research report on Tuesday. “If nothing else, the U.S.P.S. was already generating billions of dollars in operating losses well before Amazon became a large customer.”

The Postal Service says all such deals it makes are profitable — and must be by law.

But in one of his tweet attacks, Mr. Trump seemed to dispute whether Amazon was covering the Postal Service’s costs, saying that “it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon.”

Where did Trump’s claim come from (other than his hatred of the Washington Post and, thus, its owner, Jeff Bezos.)? See Snopes.com.

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