Episode-1701- Listener Feedback for 1-4-16 — 20 Comments

  1. Jack, I don’t think you’ll take offense to this. You tend to be pretty thick skinned. Also, I enjoy and support the show. With that said, I think you’re off when it comes to the metric system comments in the history segment.

    I’m a big proponent of switching to the metric system for a lot of reason but the main reason is the ability to convert very easily. The temp is not a big deal but measuring length, volume, and weight is SO much easier in your head than our current system.

    I think to paint people with a similar mindset as government loving is hyperbole. I agree that boycotting or even getting really upset about it is over the top but it seems illogical to have to convert odd measurements when the rest of the world uses a very functional system that works.

    Anyway, I figured that I’d add my 1 cent. Thanks for the show!

    • I could be wrong, but my takeaway from the rant is that Jack is not criticizing the people who prefer the metric system, but rather he’s pointing the ridiculousness of the (very?) small but absurdly vocal number of people who consider converting the country to the metric system to be an important pressing issue or want to use government to mandate it against the preference of the people.

      That being said, even though I didn’t grow up with it I much prefer the metric system (mostly because of the clumsy nature of our current system of measurements). I learned to better appreciate the metric system (and dislike our current one) while studying engineering in college, and became even more acclimated to it after spending time overseas. Yes it’s more sensible and logical for the US to adopt the metric system, but ultimately if people in the US don’t want to do it I don’t see a big problem (most of the engineering and scientific work in the US I’ve been exposed to uses SI/metric units of measure anyway). Yeah it’s inefficient, but if I let every inefficient or slightly annoying thing like the average American’s resistance to using the metric system take up more than a few seconds of my thinking, I’d be pissed off all the time. But really I’ve met very few people who said they had very strong feelings about converting the US to the metric system. One of those was a person involved with the ill-fated Mars Climate Orbiter, so I can understand why at least THAT guy took this issue personally 🙂

    • I get what you’re saying Zach. However, even the metric system is imperfect, and not suitable (or practical to be more accurate) for many scientific uses. All numbers are a conceptual construct, and there are many systems which all have strengths and weaknesses.

      Considering Math isn’t taught properly in public schools (and hasn’t been in my lifetime), it’s irrelevant to change. Nobody is doing complex math in their head anymore, they’re pulling out their phone and asking Siri or Google, lol.

      For measure, the most efficient system would be one based on prime numbers, as any integer can be expressed as the sum of non-repeating primes. That’s why they’re used for gauge blocks, virtual currency calculations, weights etc. However, binary is more efficient for expressing large values in the fewest number of characters. The metric system is useful for mental math, as everything is an order of 10. The English system has the advantage of already being printed on speed limit signs, measuring tapes, used in existing building codes etc. Conversion away from it would mean we still need to do conversions to work on things which were built under another system. Hell, we’d have to relabel 2×4 lumber to 38×99… It’s costly and would just confuse people. Or do lumber mills retool to cut 40×100 boards for easy math, at greater cost, and then adjust building code for the increased structural tolerances of the new size? Why assume the effort and expense?

      Jack’s not too far off with the government concerns. While it may not be an accurate description of all advocates of the metric system, the reality is government would exploit the hell out of the change. States padding their budgets to change road signs over is just one example. The proponents who would pass legislation to this end are motivated by money. The proponents with no power to enact the change (like every math teacher since 1960 who’s been fantasizing about the change for decades)… their motivations are not exploitative, but in my view, they are not worth the cost.

      You can do mental math with the english system without any problems (barring some mental impairment at least). Conversions are a matter of memorizing a few constant factors, but remains fairly simple. Yeah, 1,000mm to meters just requires you to drop the zeroes. In that sense it’s “easy”, you don’t have to do any math at all. 1,000in to feet is still pretty easy to do in your head, but you must actually do math. 1,000″ ÷ 12 = 83 1/3′. The problem is not that metric is “easier”, the problem is people in the US can’t do simple arithmetic in their heads, lol.

      This is the real problem, you could be an A+ student with a 4.0 GPA, and a math major in college… yet still have no idea how to perform simplistic calculations mentally.

      As it stands right now, you can switch your phone and computer to Metric, you can buy metric tools and measuring devices, set your weather service feed metric… Speed limits are listed on your GPS, which can be set to metric. You can get all the benefits of that system right now if you want to. No government mandate is required.

      • I think the bigger point is, it really doesn’t matter, if YOU want to use the metric measures go nuts.

        Sockets and wrenches come in millimeters, every ruler, square, tape, etc I have ever owned is marked in Standard and Metric measure. My digital scales shows ounces, pounds, grams and kilos.

        There is NOTHING preventing any individual from using metrics if they choose, at all, period.

        If you look at what does sell in metric measures, it is always things you see that seldom ship, like water and soda. People will buy a 2 liter soda bottle because they SEE IT. We don’t sell gasoline by the gallon because think about it you NEVER SEE IT.

        Frankly how people measure anything from their penis to their board lumber is their own business and no one has ever been forced to do one or the other. If a government code specifies a minimum or maximum distance you are FREE to convert it to metric and use it in your own planning. The inspector doesn’t and won’t care what side of the tape you used.

        Medicine is injected at rates of millimeters to the kilogram in US hospitals.

        This is one of the most pointless issues of all time. No one really getting shit done really cares. We certainly don’t need a mandated switch.

        Frankly go ahead and market a product in centimeters or liters instead of inches and quarts and the results of your marketing will tell you how people view this issue.

        As for not wanting the government to mandate it, that is the only way the entire nation would ever switch and even then they would not. I can see it now, “I marked it in inches, come arrest me”.

        • FYI…

          Gasoline was sold by the liter during the Jimmy Carter gas shortage. The older mechanical gas pumps could not handle the three-digit-price-tag-per-gallon, so they were set for the two-digit-price-tag-per-liter until the pumps could be replaced.

          That was the opportunity to switch to liters but it never caught on. It might catch on today but there is no motivation to do so.

          I find it amusing that the USA has not switched to the metric system after all these years, but enough has changed to metric that it is easy enough to use metric if one wishes to do so (as Jack has pointed out).

          Forcing a complete switch is no longer a reasonable option.

          Alex Shrugged

  2. Storms, when the sirens went off all of my kids, grandkids, and most of their spouses where in for the holidays. Everyone moved away from windows, unplugged their laptops and we turned on the weather to see where the funnel cloud was spotted.
    The tornado near us was miles away, not headed directly here, in the woods instead of populated area.
    As some of my kids were at their brother’s and not near a siren, I called to let them know to stay off the roads, stay away from windows, and to watch the weather. No need to call as their phones were all going off with alerts.
    No trees down on property, no power loss although some people where without power and several trees down various places from the storm itself.
    Driving into DFW a week later, just past Rockwall, we were surprised to see warning signs of storm damage ahead. Although the lanes were clear, you could see debris on the shoulders, homes missing their roofs and more, national disaster truck and other vehicles in the area.
    I can imagine how bad I-30 was right after the storm right in that area. Reminded me of the reason to not drive immediately after a storm.

  3. Jack,

    Thanks for the mention of Save Our Skills on today’s show. My comment about fruit liqueur turning bitter is after years (4 or 5) and while not un-drinkable, just not what it was the first year it was made. I’ve found this to be the case in all my DIY adult beverage endeavors with the notable exception of the first meed I made in 2008. I thought it was a failure for the first several years, but it definitely got better with time. I attribute this to my beginner status in home brewing in that I have been doing it since 2008, the number of times I’ve done it is on the low side.

    If anyone has any good ideas on what to do with 50 gallons of wine that has turned vinegary, please let me know. I need to drink it faster or get some friends to help me.

  4. Re: Cross-species Cucurbita pollination.

    Different Cucurbita species don’t really cross-pollinate in nature, but C. moschata is actually a species that might be crossed with C. pepo. Many of the crosses will have sterile seed, but not all.

    I read up on this once to figure out if cross-pollination was anything to worry about in my own garden (it’s not, you do have to do the forced pollination thing). Doing it on purpose seems to require a pretty large-scale effort to give any results worth the time, if creating a new line of genetics is the goal. Creating a F1 hybrid might be easier, depending a lot on the varieties crossed.

    But, it is indeed possible to try!

    A paper with quite a bit of info of what breeders have been trying:

    • Good find! A lot of 3-way crosses, and sterility issues, but it proves it at least possible. Doesn’t look like it’s really stabilized out yet, but that just takes time. In the meantime, hybridization is possible. You would just need several separate patches of squash to control pollination. Bed 1 gets you your first cross, bed 2 for your second, bed 3 for back crossing or to a sibling, bed 4 gets you your hybrid seed, bed 5 is your finished product. It would take 5 times the room, and 5 years minimum (assuming no crop failure along the line), but it’s doable. A 10 bed system would be better, and 10 greenhouses would be ideal. I didn’t think it could be done, but if this paper is accurate, I stand corrected. Thanks for the link!

  5. A year ago Halloween, we had some sleet and freezing rain. We lost power while the kids were out trick-or-treating w/neighbors. I was coming down with influenza, so I was figuring we’d just plug my heated mattress pad into the inverter/marine battery rather than firing up our propane heater. It was at that point that we discovered that our heated mattress pad won’t run off our inverter. We haven’t discovered whether or not it’ll run off our generator, but it won’t run off the inverter. That’s frustrating, but now we know.

  6. Crossing Squash as stated would require gene insertion. Isolate the specific genes, insert them into some microbe which can exchange genes with a plant, like agrobacterium, grow the culture, then infect the plant’s seeds with the bacteria. It’s very basic GMO work. Would probably take a decade of work, but it’s not beyond the grasp of a beginner. To be clear, I’m not advocating DIY genetic modification, lol (though it’s a growing hobby with public lab access for novices in many states).

    A cross won’t work for the reasons Jack mentioned.

    Your best shot would be to selectively breed your longislands with nothing else to cross, or a cross in the same species with something closer to the desired characteristics. Look for squash which ripen smaller, with a more solid body. Take seed from those, and keep selecting the tightest body fruit every generation. You’ll need a few hundred plants every year at minimum to complete the work in your lifetime. Proceed with Jack’s hand pollination advice in your selection each year. It’s a lot of work, but extremely effective if you’re patient.

    To accelerate selective breeding programs, reach out to other hobbyists. Selective breeding groups are growing in popularity. You send them your seeds (which are distributed to members for free of with some minimal dues to cover postage etc). The members grow the plants, take notes and photograph the fruit, seeds etc. Most of the seeds are then shipped back to the group administrator for selection and redistribution. This way you have many growers, and a professional botanist doing the selection work. You get many more plants to select from in each generation, accelerating the work.

    The easy method would be to start importing seeds. You can likely find a squash with the properties you’re looking for. There are tens of thousands of cultivars around the word, not the 12 you see in seed catalogues. Romania has awesome squash, hundreds of different types, mostly unnamed cultivars unique to specific regions. Turn on Google Translate, and start searching in other languages for seed dealers. Communicate with the dealer via email, with it in English and whatever language they speak (side by side, pre-translated for them). You’ll make some good contacts this way.

  7. Jonathan pumpkin aka Cushaw winter squash are a very large (20-40+ lbs) vine borer resistant maxima variety. I’ve grown them the last three years, and never had a vine borer though they are problems with most every other type.

  8. Good for you for taking the government’s money when you can (and appropriate). Between my personal property and the father/son business that I co-run I pay an amount that is easily in the 6 figures annually. And it’s often more than the balance on my mortgage. My cousin and a friend from high school on Facebook criticized me heavily when I used a contractor that, legally BTW, used various subsidies available by Federal, State, County, and utilities that paid for my solar panels and a significant portion of the energy upgrade I had done. I told them I’m not going to apologize for using existing programs to get a small fraction of MY money back and eventually just got so sick of explaining myself that I just told them that I hope one day they get it, and left it alone

    • From the tenants that this show was based on from day one.

      “Tax is theft, the best way to combat it is to understand every legal deduction you can take or create”.

      The only difference in using these programs vs. a deduction is you get the money back after they steal rather than preventing them from stealing it.

      This is tenet number 4 of the 12 part modern survival philosophy. Full article here,

      I likely need to update it to include getting stolen money back!

  9. I did the “state not involved marriage” for well over 1o years, and recently made the switch to a state recognized marriage. Remember Jack’s advice on deciding on type of business structure? CPA and Tax Attorney. If you want to do a no-marriage marriage, you need to work with your CPA and Family Law Attorney on the implications. I recommend starting with to get a sense of the many possible issues. Everything from the obvious income tax, to inheritance tax, child custody, social security, medical care, visitation rights, testifying in court, retirement plans, etc.

    After living together in a committed relationship for a number of years, we decided that we wanted to be recognized as a couple by family and friends, but for a number of personal reasons (financial, support for the gay community, belief that the state shouldn’t be involved) did not want to be legally married. So we held a commitment ceremony, and invited friends and family to witness our relationship vows. It was wonderful. I confess the wedding videographer, photographer, catering, etc. community that we requested bids from and even the folks we chose to use were a bit confused /surprised.

    While being “unmarried” by the state was a financial plus in our younger years, as we look later in life there are some significant government distortions that influenced us to change our status. Mostly related to death of a spouse. While we will take a noticeable hit on current income taxes, the potential Social Security survivor benefits can be significant, and state level inheritance tax as well. Again YMMV – check with your CPA / Attorney.

  10. Hey Jack, use a step bit for drilling in the buckets. I don’t know what size hole saws you were using. They are sized from 1/8″- 1 1/4″. Harbor freight has cheap bits. They work great.

  11. I don’t know about agencies with mandated body cams, but due to storage limitations, I can’t imagine many agencies holding onto all the digital files for any length of time, unless they are pretty small.

    Our cops use the body cams currently as discretionary. Some have them turned on for all interactions, and others only if they think the interaction is going south. They all upload all that will be evidence for prosecution. They can flag any interactions with “don’t delete, delete in 7 days, or delete in one month, delete in one year…”.

    They still have discretion on writing tickets and verbal warnings. Whether there is a body cam/dash cam running or not. Running wants/warrants is logged into the system for vehicle stops either way.

    The officer who said he had no wiggle room wanted to write the ticket, and was using a third party to try and redirect the wrath.

    As far as FOIA, privacy laws trump, unless it’s just the officer and the involved party, especially with juvy bystanders or actors.

  12. I also listen to a podcast by Penn Jillette and he commented before about marriage. He said he looked into it and he couldn’t find a lawyer who could guarantee that if something happened to his wife that he would get custody of his kids if her parents went crazy and decided to try for custody. Just one more thing to consider.

  13. Story from fruit liquers:

    Back in college, I made a couple of batches of cordial using fruit from our bramble patch. I didn’t use the same method; rather just, fill a jar with fruit, sugar on top, then fill with vodka. Let it sit in a cool dark spot for a couple months.

    Turned out well. When I explained the infusion process to my roommate, he was intrigued, and wanted to try it himself.

    And so he did. With the produce he’d grown himself – namely, the habanero plant he’d been growing on the porch.

    …Yeah, that didn’t end well.