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TVs with USB Mon, Nov 29, 2010
I got a new TV recently, and it accepts a USB input.  On a whim, I decided to stick a thumb drive in to see what would happen, and I was blown away by how it simply showed my pictures and played my movies.  There was no installation or setup or drivers or hardware configuration.  I just plugged it in and it worked.  The same thing happened with a family member's new TV.  I don't know why it worked, and I don't understand how it could be that simple, but I wish all my other gadgets worked that easily. #technology

NJ man Wed, Nov 24, 2010
The license plates for the great state of New Jersey feature a solid-color graphic of the state.  When I was a kid, I thought it was a picture of some guy.  I even asked my mom, "Who's that guy on the license plates?" 

Turns out, with some rudimentary computer drawing skills, you can make the state of New Jersey look like an awkward, frumpy policeman with a witch's nose. 

You'll never look at New Jersey the same again.  You're welcome. #entertainment

Missing pieces Wed, Nov 24, 2010
Name this famed work of art: 

Unless you're from another planet, you can fairly easily recognize it as the Mona Lisa. 

I'm a firm believer in the idea that you don't need all the pieces to recognize the big picture.  I often have lots of questions and doubts about God, but this is when I need to step back and focus on what's clearly there. #religion

But-heads (1) Wed, Nov 24, 2010
A "but-head" is a phrase at the beginning of a sentence meant to "preemptively deny a charge that has yet to be made" and is usually followed by the word "but."  For example: 
  • I hate to be the one to tell you this, but...
  • With all due respect
  • I hear what you're saying, but...
  • I'm not trying to hurt your feelings, but...
  • It's not about the money, but...
It's similar to a non-apology apology like "I'm sorry if you feel insulted" and a non-denial denial like "I'm not here to talk about the past."  We talking primates have many different methods of lying.  (via Kottke) #language

Nothing is free Tue, Nov 23, 2010
MetaFilter commenter: 
"If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold."
(via Lifehacker) #money

Funded ignorance Tue, Nov 23, 2010
Upton Sinclair: 
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
From I, candidate for governor: and how I got licked. #psychology

Radio editing Mon, Nov 22, 2010
On The Media recently re-aired a segment about all the editing that's done before one of their shows is released.  Very interesting behind-the-scenes stuff. #entertainment

Taxpayer receipt Mon, Nov 22, 2010
The think tank Third Way suggests (via PDF, which is an extremely stupid way to convey information on the internet IMO, but alas) that the federal government should supply taxpayers with an itemized receipt to show how much of their money went to which government-funded causes.  Top of the list:  Social Security.  Translation:  We need a national age limit.  (via Ezra Klein via On The Media)

Update:  Ask and ye shall receive:  Official Federal Taxpayer Receipt #money

Used shoes Wed, Nov 17, 2010
I can't figure out if this eBay listing is a joke or not: 

The seller claims to have "way more shoes than closet space" and that "If you like your shoes very worn and very broken in, you absolutely won't be disappointed by these."  I guess my question is, who would buy well-worn used shoes?  What kind of person is this listing geared towards?  I think I'd very much like to avoid someone who purchases used shoes. #products

What I can control Fri, Nov 12, 2010
I'm a control freak, which takes the following forms: 
  1. I'll drive, because I don't trust anyone else with my safety.
  2. I'll rake the leaves and shovel the driveway, instead of paying some teenagers to do it, because I do a better job than they would.
  3. I'll design my own website, because I don't like the way anybody else does it.
It was only fairly recently that I realized I was a control freak and admitted it could possibly be a negative thing.  Control-freakery is sometimes good because it's often accompanied by perfectionism, which means certain tasks like cleaning and organizing get done, and get done well.  But it's bad in pretty much every other aspect, as evidenced by the primary side effect of being a control freak:  Getting angry about everything. 

The thing is, most things are out of my control.  Things like election results, cable TV outages, and people who leave their blinker on after they make a turn, are all things that are outside of my control, and since I can't control them, it makes me angry.  What's worse is that a lot of times there's an illusion of control.  Like with elections, I can exercise my right to vote, which makes me feel like I'm part of the process, but in the end the final decision is not in my hands.  It's similar with people who can't drive:  Maybe if I can just tell them they forgot to turn off their high beams, it'll make everything alright.  But in the end, that person can still decide to high-beam me, and that's not something I can control. 

The more I think about this topic, the more things I add to the list of things I can't control.  I thought I had it pretty well summarized by saying the only thing I can control is me.  But then there's the issue of my health:  Even if I eat well and exercise, there's still a chance I'll get sick or develop a disease.  So my own health is outside of my control.  But at least I can control my actions, right?  Wrong, if I happen to have muscle spasms or a seizure.  Surely my speech is under my control.  Nope, not if I have Tourette's.  My thoughts?  Sometimes.  But sometimes not. 

So in the end, I can pretty much control nothing. #psychology

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