Charles Pillsbury III

Geek. Dad. Writer?

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Archive for June, 2008

Kelo Day and Eminent Domain (From Chad Perrin)

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Chad has a very good piece on the Kelo vs New London case and the atrocious Supreme Court ruling on it. Read and spread the meme please.

Instead, the wholly inexcusable explanation is that the Supreme Court simply decided that the fact the private developer’s resort would generate tax revenues, create new jobs, and contribute to a substantive “improvement” of the community in some way was sufficient “public use” to satisfy the eminent domain clause of the Fifth Amendment. This, despite the fact that the qualitative “public use” consisted of nothing more than selling the property to a private developer. This is all founded, at least partially, on an 1832 Supreme Court decision indicating that “public use” meant “public benefit”, and not solely “public occupation” of land. Personally, I think the Supreme Court Justices in 1832 might have been confused about what the word “use” means.

[From Chad Perrin: SOB » Kelo Day and Eminent Domain]


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June 18th, 2008 at 4:40 am

Posted in Misc

Stossel on Govt Spending (hint: it’s bad)

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Another good Stossel column. I don’t think it’s any surprise that our government spends too much money. And it’s sadly not surprising that we’ve continued to push off the tough politics/economics/decisions on our kids and grandkids.

If you add in all other spending, including interest on the debt, federal spending under the CBO’s scenario would eat up an astounding 75.4 percent of GDP in 2084.

If taxes don’t keep pace, the CBO says the “additional spending will eventually cause future budget deficits to become unsustainable …”

And if taxes were to keep pace? The CBO says, “[T]ax rates would have to more than double.”

One alternative to raising taxes would be to cut other spending. But at current spending-growth rates for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, all other spending would have to be reduced to zero in 2045. How likely is that?

Rep. Ryan is understandably alarmed. In The Wall Street Journal May 21, he wrote about a bill he’s proposing that would: give individuals tax credits with which to buy their own health insurance in a competitive national marketplace, let the states have flexibility in running Medicaid, give workers under 55 money to buy insurance rather than rely on Medicare when they retire, permit younger workers to invest up to a third of their Social Security taxes in private accounts, increase the retirement age and temper the growth in Social Security benefits.

[From RealClearPolitics - Articles - The Entitlement Mess]

Some day the piper will have to be paid. I hope we, as a generation (or two), become willing to make the sacrifices & changes now before the problem compounds much more.

*Yes, you can tell when I’m catching up on all my RSS reading because you start to see multiple posts about articles from the same people. I don’t think I claimed to be entirely original here did I?


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June 16th, 2008 at 6:41 am

Posted in Misc

I find your lack of caffeine disturbing

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Thank you Boing Boing for this link.

My kids recently brought home a reprint of the first issue of the Star Wars comic — a quickie affair, obviously drawn from storyboards instead of the movie itself — and the scene is even better.

Darth Vader — Sith Lord, Jedi killer and what remains of the broken soul of the hope of the galaxy — uses his mastery of the elemental force of the universe to summon a hot cup of joe.

[From An Entirely Other Day - Don't Talk to Him Before He's Had His Coffee]

I would TOTALLY use the force to get my coffee if I could. I recently posted on twitter that my feeling toward coffee time in the morning is something akin to that of the crabs in Finding Nemo: “Sweet Mana of life! Nectar from HEAVEN”… or something like that.


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June 15th, 2008 at 6:46 pm

Posted in Misc

Stossel in the cage

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I love John Stossel. I don’t always agree with him (I don’t always agree with ME, let alone somebody else), but often I do. I like this recent piece on McCain’s stance on governmental intervention in MMA (less as to how it relates to McCain and more for some of the quotes). The mentality of a certain (rather large) segment of elected officials is reflected here by a Mayor who wants to ban something because it might be dangerous.

Correia wants MMA banned in his town and the gym shut down. It teaches kids the wrong things, he says.

“It’s telling them, look, the best thing to do is hurt someone.”

“Nonsense,” said moms at the gym. They told me the mayor was clueless and that MMA is little different from karate or judo classes.

The mayor replied that some parents just don’t know what’s good for their kids. He’d heard that MMA is unsafe.

It’s not surprising that he’d heard that, since predictably, the media hypes every danger.

Parents aren’t responsible enough? The politicians need to make these decisions for them?

He replied, “Parents do have a chance to decide that through their elected officers. That’s what a democracy is all about.”

Really? I had no idea democracy was about voting on who gets to tell you how to raise your kids.

[From RealClearPolitics - Articles - Will McCain Let Us Fight?]


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June 15th, 2008 at 6:33 am

Posted in Misc

Linked from BBC: Web users ‘getting more ruthless’

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Success rates measuring whether people achieve what they set out to do online are now about 75%, said Dr Nielsen. In 1999 this figure stood at 60%.
There were two reasons for this, he said.
“The designs have become better but also users have become accustomed to that interactive environment,” Dr Nielsen told BBC News.
Now, when people go online they know what they want and how to do it, he said.

Beating Google requires someone to do search better
This makes them very resistant to highlighted promotions or other editorial choices that try to distract them.
“Web users have always been ruthless and now are even more so,” said Dr Nielsen.
“People want sites to get to the point, they have very little patience,” he said

[From BBC NEWS | Technology | Web users 'getting more ruthless']

I’d love to hear a smarter person expound upon this idea more. How can I make my sites more “to the point”?


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June 14th, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Posted in Misc

Can I plead the 5th on the food eating thing too?

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Have you ever tried eating better but still had forbidden foods in the cabinet and refrigerator? You probably thought, “I don’t want that food to go to waste!” I’ve done it every time I’ve recommitted myself to healthier eating … until now.

[From Unclutterer » Archive » Strategies to clear food clutter in your kitchen]

I enjoy Unclutterer, even when it makes me feel like crap. I’ve done this too, and also as Dad eat whatever is left from everybody else’s plates when the meal is done… this may have something to do with my weight going from 180 after kid #1 to 235 now after kid #3 is two and a half. They propose a “putting it in a bag” to eat in moderation later… I’ve got a few years of historical data showing that if the food is in the house I am going to eat it. I think the better option for me is to get rid of it, or at least get better motivated to leave it for others to eat.


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June 14th, 2008 at 6:04 am

Posted in Misc

More Disney? (on Google Earth this time)

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A virtual version of Walt Disney World has launched today on Google Earth, featuring 3D buildings of most of the major points on Walt Disney World property, including attractions and resorts.

To enjoy the virtual Walt Disney World, download Google Earth here and navigate to nearly any area throughout the resort.

[From Orlando Attractions Magazine Blog » Virtual Walt Disney World Launches on Google Earth ]

Interesting looking use for Google Earth (and I presume the Google Sketch-up that lets you make these models.


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June 13th, 2008 at 10:38 pm

Posted in Misc

Disney again?

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I know I JUST had something on Disney, but this is a different point of view on them.

Lessons on the brave new world of citizen journalism via cell phones are coming from the unlikeliest of places: Disney World. Using a new website called, anyone strolling around a Disney park can upload live updates and images from their phone.

Believe it or not, Twisney is not a Disney project nor the work of a venture-capital incubator. Rather, it was created by a 34-year old software developer with two kids who was taking his son to Disney World on a guys-only trip, and wanted to be able to update his wife and daughter back at home.

[From US: Cit-J lessons from Disney World - editorsweblog]

I love the idea here, and I think it has a great marketing potential for Disney and a great “I couldn’t go to Disney this year but I got to “see” it” for others.


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June 13th, 2008 at 5:59 pm

Posted in Misc

Disney and Pixar happily ever after

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It’s not news that I’m a big fan of Pixar, not as big a fan of Disney as a corporation, but I am a Disney fan as a creative culture (or at least the “ideal” Disney). NY Times has a great piece on how the two companies have merged and are working together now. I’m not sure how I feel about Pixar being “willing” to do more sequels, but until Lasseter convinces me he doesn’t know what he’s doing I’m going to trust him (he’s done pretty friggin great so far). At least he says the right things.

IN a subtle but important shift, Pixar has matured, allowing its strategic thinking to evolve inside a sprawling corporation. For instance, some of the studio’s executives once resisted sequels and direct-to-DVD efforts, arguing that quality and the brand could suffer. While sequels were not out of the question, they said Pixar’s hot streak hinged on pushing boundaries with original material.

But at Mr. Lasseter’s presentation in April, Disney’s first such event in 10 years, he announced “Cars 2,” a 2012 sequel that will take Lightning McQueen and his pals on a tour of foreign countries. Also in the works are four direct-to-DVD movies built around Tinker Bell.

“We are definitely planning on doing more sequels, just as we are more originals,” Mr. Lasseter said in an interview. “We talk with Bob Iger about which ones make sense to do from a business perspective. But each movie has to be absolutely great or you will snuff out a franchise.”

[From Disney and Pixar - The Power of the Prenup -]


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June 13th, 2008 at 5:56 am

Posted in Misc

Bring me the Koan

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I recently finished reading “Bring Me the Rhinoceros: And Other Zen Koans to Bring You Joy” by John Tarrant, and wanted to share a couple bits from it.

First off was a great quote talking about somebody in the administration wanting the statue of lady Justice “covered” during talks post 9/11 because he wasn’t comfortable with the semi-exposed view behind him in press conferences.

“Justice without breasts is a bad sign for mercy.”

I don’t have much to say on that, I just liked the quote.

Next was a helpful thing to remember about our beliefs, whatever they may be:

Beliefs have consequences; they build their own fictional world.

The last is related and likewise insightful:

Everyone operates from a map, and the map is always getting out of date. Life, the territory described by the map, moves quickly. This means tha tthe map drifts away from the territory, eventually becoming more of a freestanding artifact than a useful guide. When there is a wide gap between the map and the world, the person who made the map feels discomfort.

“Bring Me the Rhinoceros: And Other Zen Koans to Bring You Joy” (John Tarrant)


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June 12th, 2008 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Blog Entry, Misc