Cheap thoughts: muddy paws

After spending lots of time lately wiping our dog’s muddy paws, I discovered a good way to keep the dirt out. I had been thinking that some kind of socks or dog shoes would be a good way to keep mud out of the house but I found a way that’s even better.

It seems the mud tends to stick not on our dog’s pads but inside the claws themselves. I figure some kind of treatment (like glue, perhaps) that could fill in the gaps inside the claws would go a long way in keeping the hard-to-reach dirt out of our dog’s paws.

Now, do I feel brave enough to try it?

Cheap Thoughts: kicking it

The meaning of the word “to kick” is ambiguous. Early in its existence it meant “to quit” as in phrases such as “kick the habit,” “kick the bucket.” Yet it is also used to mean “to start something,” as in “kick it.”

Kinda interesting how that happened.

Cheap thoughts: cell phones in prison

I’ve read about the problem of cell phones in prison for the past year or so and I’m not sure why this is such a difficult problem to solve. If prison officials don’t want prisoners to access the outside world, and the FCC won’t let them set up jammers, why not do the next best thing? Why not set up a small, low-power cell site in the prison itself, and lock it down?

Any phones inside the prison will automatically register themselves with the bogus cell site because the local site will have a stronger signal inside the prison. Then the prohibited cell phones could be easily identified, flagging them for later confiscation. Also, the repeater site could either monitor any transmissions from the prisoner’s phones, or block those transmissions completely. All of this would be playing by the FCC’s rules and the cost would be less than $10,000 per prison.

Why hasn’t anyone tried this yet?

Update 1:27 PM: Looks like several states are implementing the “managed access” solution I’ve suggested. (Thanks, Guus!)

Cheap thoughts: the Super Bowl revolution

I got to thinking with the protests in Egypt going on for the past two weeks how alive those people must be feeling right now. Millions of people are taking to the street, braving water cannons, rubber bullets, real bullets, whips, and Molotov cocktails – risking their very lives – to demand their freedom. They are standing up to their hated, repressive government and taking charge of their own future.

All this stood in sharp contrast as Americans everywhere spent Sunday evening parked on the couch watching the Super Bowl, during which the television commercials are often the highlight of the night. Hey, sometimes we can’t be bothered to get up to change the channel, much less march for our freedom.

Cheap Thoughts: Superhero CEFGoW

My son’s repeat watching of the superhero kids movie The Incredibles has given me an idea for a new superhero: Superhero Close Enough for Government Work (CEFGoW for short).

My superhero would mostly save the day. The damsel would be almost totally clear of the tracks when the train arrives. He would leap most of the way up tall buildings. To impressive heights, if not all the way over. Overall, you’d be significantly better off from the help of Superhero Close Enough for Government Work, if not outright saved.

I think I may be on to something here.

Cheap Thoughts: democracy and the Constitution

On my morning walk today my groggy mind became fascinated by the curious tension between “majority rules” and “minority rights.” It’s not like I’ve never considered this contrast before, but it never seemed as absurd to me before as it did to me this morning.

We have democracy, where if a majority of Americans agree on something it can become law. Then we have the Constitution, which protects the rights of the minorities. If a majority of voters decided that only beer drinkers could be citizens, the Constitution would protect non-beer-drinkers. At least, they’d be protected until said majority changed the Constitution to explicitly deny citizenship to non-beer-drinkers.

l suppose this is what captured my attention this morning: how one’s rights last only as long as the Constitution does before the majority strips it away. That huge gap between the two must be how some once conveniently considered black people and women to be non-citizens, and how other minorities are still in danger of the same treatment.

Winston Churchill said “democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried.” I can see the man’s point.