Reasons for inequality

The United States is becoming more and more unequal. Part of the blame may be with the 1% rewriting the tax code and regulations to benefit themselves. But another part of the blame for poor social mobility has to lie with this:

Twenty percent of children in upper income homes have a TV in their bedroom, compared to 64% of those from lower- income homes.

How friendly are bridge experts?

Imagine that an athlete has just finished playing the quarterfinal of a world championship. He posts a quick blog entry stating that he's won the match and is headed to the semi-finals. You, a random bloke, congratulate him and, in a postscript, ask how he handled the opponents' mysterious (to me!) bidding.

So far so good. Could happen in any sport. Lots of athletes have blogs. And many of them are open for random netizens to comment.

But, here's the clincher. I got a reply to my question! In less than five minutes! It was late night in the Netherlands when he replied, and he had a big game coming up the next day. That could happen only in bridge.

Drunk and loaded

According to a Tennessee newspaper:
The sponsor of the law that made it legal to carry a gun into bars in Tennessee is facing charges of possession of a handgun while under the influence and drunken driving ... A loaded .38-caliber gun was found in a holster stuffed between the driver's seat and center console.
A police affidavit said Todd was unsteady on his feet, "almost falling down at times." Officers concluded that Todd was "obviously very impaired and not in any condition to be carrying a loaded handgun."

The police helpfully released the photograph of the state legislator at the time of the arrest.

This makes perfect sense of course. Who, other than a drunk, would want to make laws permitting the carrying of guns in bars?  What this says about the rest of the Tennessee legislature, who even overrode their governor's veto on this measure, I don't know.

HR 3012

One of the crazy things about the US immigration system (there are many crazy things, but this is one of them) is that there is a per-country quota for the number of green cards issued.  It's meant to be fair, to ensure that the US gets immigrants from a wide variety of countries.

But this is what it means in practice: if you are from a high-population country (China, India, Brazil, etc.), there is effectively a quota for you because larger countries naturally have larger numbers of anything, including immigrants.  There is now a 25-year backlog for some countries while there is no wait list for low-population countries like Mongolia or Bolivia. Why the US should prefer immigrants from Mongolia over those from China is something no one can quite explain.

Anyway, there is a bill pending in Congress (HR 3012) that would get rid of the quota system. It won't increase the number of green cards allotted in a year -- just remove the per-country quota.

To send a letter to your Congressperson, click here.

What I did in London

What would you do if you found yourself in a foreign city that you've been to before? You've done all the tourist things already ... and you can't go off into the countryside because you've got to work in the day time ...

Me? I decided to hit a couple of local bridge clubs. I went to the Acol Bridge Club on Sunday, and had quite a nice game.  You can read all about my game on my bridge blog.

Emboldened, I went to the Young Chelsea Bridge Club on Tuesday night. That was a bust, because I couldn't get a partner.
And in bridge, 50% ain't shabby.

How to make your nutritionist fall off her chair

Near the end of a dinner with some colleagues, I see one of them frantically noting down what she'd eaten for dinner. Turns out that she'd just started consulting a nutritionist (just that day!) and had been asked to keep a journal of what she was eating.

Hence, the list.  Put yourself in the nutritionist's shoes. The very first day, your new client sends over this list of what she ate for dinner.

In case you can not read that, here is part of the list:

  1. oak leaf salad
  2. duck terrine with pistachio
  3. pigeon (shown in the picture above)
  4. monkfish
  5. profiteroles
  6. LBV port
  7. pork cassoulet

To add to the insult, there is a marking in the margin. It says, in nice big letters, "1st night".

There is more of this $#@% coming?

What are the odds that somebody is going to be looking for a new nutritionist pretty soon?

Out of paper, out of mind: why e-books mean less loyal readers

I was explaining to some one why I didn't have any jet lag.  "I knew that I was arriving in London at midnight," I explained, "so I forced myself to stay awake the entire flight even though I'd barely had any sleep the night before."  Essentially, I'd had my jet lag on the plane where there was nothing much to do any way.

"So what did you do to keep yourself awake? Watch movies?"

"No, I whipped through five books."

"What books did you read?"

"Umm ... let's see. I read one of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books."  (Equal Rites) They hadn't heard of Terry Pratchett, so I explained that his books were a nice combination of sci-fi and PG Wodehouse.

"Then, I read Loser Liberalism." I summarized the gist of that book and then I struggled to recall any of the others.

This is one of the problems with reading e-books on my Nook. When you read a physical book, you see the book cover with title and author every time you open the book. But an e-book opens to the page you left it at, so that constant reinforcement is no longer there.  As a result, I often struggle to remember titles and authors.

I had to pull out my laptop and look in Chrome's Downloads directory to recall the others.  In case you are curious: Tragedy of Arthur, Buddha in the Attic and something else that has since rolled off the directory and off my mind.  Of the lot, the only one I'd recommend (in case you are not a fan of Terry Pratchett) is Buddha in the Attic. It's about a bunch of Japanese mail order brides and their lives in California, told in the collective voice. Still, discount my recommendation by the fact I couldn't even remember the title of the book until I actively looked for it.