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I recognize this is over a month after it went up, but I just saw it, and maybe you haven't - John Oliver's bit on charter schools.

Even if you're not a huge fan of Oliver, I implore you to watch this... because it's absolutely spot-on.

Due to a lot of circumstances - being in the military, children with special needs - I've had the opportunity to experience (as a parent) four public school systems and four charter school systems - including one that utilized distance learning, and a private school system, and also homeschooled for a while.

There were public schools that were great - and ones that sucked ... though public schools usually sucked was almost always due to a lack of funding - ironic, since the trend is to shuffle money away to charter schools.

And there were charter schools that were amazing... and a hell of a lot that sucked.

In my experience - and again, see above; I've directly experienced more school systems than most people - the variation between charter school to charter school is much much greater than the variation between public school and public school. In one case, the difference between two schools run by the same company went from "amazing" to "okay, I guess, maybe?".

I'm not saying that charter schools or public schools are all bad or all good. In fact, that's really the point here. They're treated as a huge monolithic ideological entity, and we need a lot more realism and nuance whenever we talk about them.

Because the ultimate thing that gets lost whenever you start talking about treating education like a competitive business - and Oliver nails this - is that when you get a bad pizza... you can just order another one right away.

You cannot do that with a child's education.

Take the time to watch.
Bye bye, Pikachu.

After two months or so playing the game - and being one of the people who has actually spent money to support the game (and get extra stuff), I uninstalled it yesterday.

I didn't want to - I enjoyed having something to do while walking my dog. I played just enough to stay competitive, but little enough that I hadn't gotten burned out.

But that also means that I was a casual enough player that I didn't follow Niantic's Facebook posts, so I didn't realize the new update would completely make the game unplayable.

Like this:

Not my phone, but could be.

Yup, after two months of no problems, suddenly I discovered that having rooted my android phone meant that I could no longer play the game.

I rooted my phone a while back - before I ever thought about installing Pokemon Go - mostly so I could use applications to be able to fully use my SD card after the Lollipop update. That functionality is something I kind of need on my older phone in order to have space to... oh, play things like Pokemon Go. (I also use it with Tasker to automate some other things that should be able to be automatic, but aren't.)

Yeah, yeah, I get it. Some people used GPS spoofing in order to cheat. I actually ran into that - while at a gym in an otherwise empty park, someone kept fighting me for it, even though there was no-one else in sight.

As annoying as that was, not being able to play is a far sight more annoying.

Add in the assumption that I must be cheating because I could be cheating, and I'm righteously pissed off.

Nevermind that you can easily find ways to spoof your GPS without rooting. Nevermind that literally days after the ban on jailbroken and rooted phones was rolled out, there's already ways to make it so you can play the game on your rooted phone or jailbroken phone.

It's too much trouble for me to jump through those hoops myself. And I shouldn't have to.

I'm one of the people who spent money on this game, and was still playing and enjoying it.

Now? I can either uninstall this NON WORKING game, or tweak a bunch more stuff to pretend my phone isn't rooted.

Niantic has made a lot of mis-steps with this game, and I've forgiven them all so far.

Treating me like a cheater when I'm not was the last straw.
Note that when I say "relationships", I mean any relationships, whether it's romantic, friendly, or otherwise.

It's a fairly simple rule, and one that shouldn't be too big of a deal for anyone to agree to. But it's vital.


If anyone starts getting upset in text or e-mail, stop immediately and switch to voice or face to face.

It's simple. It's also super important.
I've pointed out in the past that encryption based on PGP (or GPG) is something you want - if for no other reason than to sign digital documents. Three years later, there's a site/service called keybase.io that's wanting to make this a lot easier for you - and I've got 20 invites!

In addition to providing a nice way to make encryption easy (including sharing encrypted documents or digitally signing them), keybase.io incidentally does something pretty cool: It verifies you as the owner of your twitter account, website, github, and more. For example, you can know that I'm really the guy behind @uriel1998 on Twitter:

This seems like a nice and neat way to help make encryption a lot simpler for folks. (Don't think you need encryption? Mail me your bank statements, bills, or credit card statements. I'll make sure they go where they need to go. Yeaaaaah.)

Since I have 20 invites (apparently the queue is over 25,000 people, and this jumps you to the top of the line), the first twenty people to e-mail me at

with a subject line of "I want encryption" will get an invite!
I've found various types of music to be helpful when I'm either working or
writing, and I've tried to highlight some of them here. There are other
times that you might just want to have just enough background noise -
whether that's what you need to concentrate, or because you just need a
change of pace.

That's where myNoise.net comes in.

To quote their website: "myNoise will never produce music in the
conventional sense. Music is usually meant for active listening, and our
goal — our specialty — is to provide passive sound choices: these will help
our listeners to settle down, switch off external solicitations and devote
their intellectual resources to a given task, such as working or

Check out this video demonstrating how it can easily block noise without
sounding like it's blocking noise:

I've found myNoise.net to be a great thing when I'm working, writing, or
reading, and definitely worth throwing a few dollars toward. Want to feel
like you're on a starship? In a Tibetan monastery? Perhaps guitars are more
your thing? Or somewhere in our distant past? There are SO many options
that it'd make this blog post seem like a link farm if I tried to describe
them all.

Seriously, if you've ever been distracted while working, writing, or
reading, check out myNoise.net. And if you even find a few moment's peace
or inspiration from it, toss five or more dollars their way.

A while back, digitally imported, one of my two favorite streaming sources of music (the other is Soma.fm, give them some love) decided to restrict ad-supported streaming to only their mobile app due to "licensing agreements". The only way you could get the regular stream was to become a Premium member at $7 a month.

Now, I do kick in money to Soma.fm annually, but usually around $25 a year. (And you should support Soma as well - they're worth supporting.)

And while I'd be willing to do the same for di - or listen to ads - they insist that only counts if I'm using my phone or tablet to listen.

Which is stupid.

(Please note, you folks at digitally imported, that I'm not only saying that I would pay $25 a year for a low-quality premium service, but I'd encourage others to as well. But alas, we can't.)

So some enterprising person posted a workaround on CommandLine-Fu. I took that base (which relies on the cross-platform mplayer) and created a quick way to peruse the current stations available by just scrolling down and playing it by pressing enter.

Technically, it will register for di as if you're listening from an Android device - which in my case, would be true, except that I just don't want to unplug my speakers and plug them into my phone. So they should still get whatever credit they would originally, so we're not stealing anything. I just heard an ad for Verizon, JC Penny, PetSmart, and Progressive insurance, so they should still be getting the ad revenue they'd get otherwise.

And should they change the format of the icecast directory or the version of the Android app, it should be a simple substitution to fix.

You can snag my script at https://github.com/uriel1998/simple_listen_to_di. It should work for anyone who has bash - so OSX and Linux folks. (Windows folks, check out the CommandLineFu link so you can plug it in directly.)

And again, if someone from digitally imported stumbles across this, give us an option to subscribe for less and have low-quality streams.
I really enjoy delving into the aspects that we don't question around relationships. The problem then is that there aren't really any good terms - or sometimes even concepts - to describe what's going on.

This is a Big Problem, as far as I'm concerned - when expectations and needs are kept unstated, they're probably going to be unmet, and therefore at the root of waaaaaay too much drama.

In particular, I want to talk about "primary" partners and "anchor" partners...and how they might be unidirectional.

These are terms that have come up in polyamory, but they definitely apply in monogamous relationships as well, and are arguably more important concepts in that framework.

Wikipedia gives one definition - and yes, the definitions vary a lot depending on who you're talking to. Some people use the terms interchangeably. Some people use one to talk about emotional attachment, and the other to talk about lives being intertwined (paying bills, living together, etc).

In my experience, it doesn't matter which term you use, or even how you use it, as long as the people you're in relationships with agree with you on that definition (or at least, are aware of how you use it, and can "translate" to their definition).

The problems come in one of two ways - and the problem that hits monogamous folks is far worse. Polyamorous folks run into problems when one person is using terms differently than the other partner(s) in the relationship.

So what's worse in monogamous-land?

Not realizing that this is a thing at all.

I had a relationship where I could have said that my amour's best friend actually filled the role of a primary partner more than I did. There wasn't physical attraction between my amour and her friend, but that's irrelevant.

That was perfectly fine, by the way. Sometimes that's what happens - and if you're able to parse out the different threads in relationships, it's not inherently bad. But when you're ignorant that there can be different roles for different people in your life... well, it just feels like something's wrong, but you don't have the words for it. And our brains being the way they are, you find things that are wrong to complain about. Too bad they're not actually what's bothering you... so the cycle continues. You can see how this could get really toxic fast.

The other thing is that I've come to realize that these labels can be unidirectional - and not inherently destroy a relationship or a person.

Yeah, that sounds a lot like unrequited love. Bear with me for a second.

We're not talking about where an emotion is unreturned; instead, I'm talking about where the level of intensity may be unequal. (There's an adage that it's always unequal in any relationship, so monogamous folks need to stay tuned too.)

Remember junior high, when it was a huge trauma if you said someone was your best friend... and you were not their best friend? It didn't matter how close you were, or how good of friends you were. You weren't their best friend, and felt slighted.

How childish.

Your time, attention, and affection are a gift, just as another's is a gift to you. Ideally, we strive to give gifts that will make the people we care about happy. Period. It's not about getting a gift or thank-you note back; then it's a barter system, not gifting. 1

So someone can be my emotional 2 primary, even if they are not mine.

That doesn't mean their love and affection for me is any less; if anything, I'm valuing their gift of love and affection more by recognizing it for what it is.

I can hear some of my friends already wailing "but it doesn't work like that!" They're right - because we don't take the time to make it work like that. These are learned behaviors, and they can be unlearned so that we can live happier and more fulfilling lives.

1 Boundaries need to be mentioned here, of course; I'm presuming that one isn't giving to the point that it hurts themselves, for example. If you're giving gifts of your time and attention and affection and it's hurting you... then yeah, something's wrong. And as already stated, unrequited stuff is a WHOLE different ball of wax.
2 I suppose this could happen with other "types" of primaries as well; it's clearest with emotions, though.
I'm sure there's more guys (and gals? Are there women doing this? I want to know!) covering things in a metal style, but these three are currently my favorites, and I'd like to share them with you. If you like 'em, consider backing them on Patreon (the links on their names are to their Patreon campaigns).

First, Eric Calderone (or ERock), who I first mentioned back in 2012. He's still going strong, covering mostly (but not just) theme songs from pop culture. He'll arrange them so that they're with a guitar. It sounds like that wouldn't be a big deal, but... well, check these two out:

Next up is Leo Moracchioli, who runs Frog Leap Studios. He does full-on covers - both metalizing songs (and they're a bit brutal, but good), and doing acoustic covers of previously metal songs. Here's a good example of each:

Finally, Anton did me the service of introducing me to Jonathan Young, who does a lot of great work with Disney songs (and some other fun pop culture stuff). Check this out:

These tickle the same neurons that the best mashups do for me. Like these kids covering "46 and 2".

What awesome covers have you run across on YouTube?
Really, there is no need for setup. It was a finalist for Australia's TropFest 2013, but that's really irrelevant. Just watch. It's only seven minutes.
I never really grokked why people emphasized "love yourself" and made such a big deal about self-worth. I mean, I guess I kind of intellectually got it, but it didn't make sense to me.

If you already understand why that's important at a fundamental level, this post may not be for you. Everybody else...

This came up in a conversation with a friend of mine, who's in a bit of a tough spot with his new boyfriend. He said, "With him it's never enough. I can never do enough. I'm not enough. So I'm not sure how much I am worth, really."

There was something about the starkness of the way he said it that clarified the whole thing for me; the rest of this is an expanded version of my reply to him.

This is Economics 101, really, along with a bit of crappy linguistic bleed in the way we use language.

So first, language, and using "worth". We're using the same word that we use in economics to talk about markets and exchanges. While it's a bit (okay, extremely) tacky for us to talk about the economic worth of different people, and the whole discussion totally discounts the idea of love and affection, this is the word we use in our heads to describe our sense of self-value, even if that's not how we'd describe the way we care about the people we love.

Right. Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about "worth" and "value".

Those are both relative and subjective terms - fundamentally, inherently, and always.

I mean that the value of anything varies hugely from person to person, and sometimes even moment to moment. I am not talking about market fluctuations, though those make things even even less uniform.

In the global West, it's easy to forget that "worth" and "value" do not have some concrete value. We put stickers with the price (or "value" or "worth") on most things, but that's simply an illusion.

The value, worth, or price that we see is the highest price that the maximum number of people will pay (or alternatively, the price that maximizes profit if a lower price has more people buying the item). But that's an aggregate valuation.

Take a candy bar. When you're hungry, it's worth a lot - you'd pay more. After you've had a bunch of candy bars? You would pay less.

This example is often used to illustrate how demand curves change, but its most important aspect here is reminding us that demand curves are individual.

Let's illustrate: I am not a small guy. I am fairly hairy. I am a nerd and a geek, and a bit of a goof. I describe myself as a cross between a tanuki, a bear, a golden retriever, Ben Wyatt from Parks & Rec, and a bit of Silent Bob (without the silent parts).

For some people, that means I'm... well, repulsive. Not just "unattractive", but downright gross. For some others (thankfully, though I don't understand it!), I'm really attractive. My worth as a sex object to the first group is a negative number. My worth to the second group is a positive number.

And if you try to reconcile those both into how to value yourself... well, good luck with that.

So for your life - because you do have to recognize that the only person you have to live with is yourself - trying to base your self-worth on other people's valuation of you simply doesn't make economic sense.

Your self-worth has to be based on, quite literally, your self-valuation of yourself.

Amusingly, doing that - and then identifying how to increase your satisfaction with yourself - will probably raise your value in other people's eyes as well.