katy perry, barack obama, and orange juice (frozen vs fresh squeezed)

The other night I was wasting a few minutes idly surfing the internet – something I do far too often, it turns out. I happened upon this link about Katy Perry’s performance at an Obama campaign event. Obviously the prospect of seeing Katy Perry in a latex dress was worth further investigation, so I naturally clicked on the link and read the article.

Then, much to my chagrin, I started reading the comments at the bottom. As you might expect, this being the internet, the comments fell into one of a few camps:

  1. Katy Perry is hot.
  2. Katy Perry is dumb/an idiot/blonde.
  3. I wish I was in X/Y/Z position on that dress.
  4. Katy Perry is a stupid girl, doesn’t she realize that Obama is going to raise her taxes?

It’s the 4th point that I want to focus on here. Now, I should bring up the obvious point that Katy Perry, being a self-made millionaire, has proved to be extraordinarily talented at image and brand building, something that is less likely to be true for the average internet commentator. But there’s something a bit more subtle I want to point out here:

Katy Perry knows that re-electing Barack Obama could result in a tax increase for her, and she’s okay with it.

The same applies to me, and a lot of other relatively wealthy people. I can’t claim to be unbiased here – I view the current health care system as a complete market failure, and while I don’t think Obamacare is the perfect solution, I do want every American to have access to reasonable healthcare. But the point I keep letting slip away here, and I’m really getting to it now is – we’re okay with paying more, because we’re getting more as a result.

It’s like orange juice – you can get frozen orange juice for say, 1/5th the cost of fresh squeezed. But they aren’t the same thing. They taste different, they are different, and yes they cost different amounts. You get what you pay for. So yes, I’m voting for Obama, not because I’m an idiot who is unaware of taxes, but rather because I value the difference between frozen and fresh squeezed.

IPython notebook

I’ve recently started making more use of the IPython notebook mode to run simple calculations. It effectively adds the behavior you get from a Mathematica notebook to ipython.

Suprisingly (in light of how cool it is), I couldn’t find too much use for it at first. I normally use ipython as a one-off scripting tool, and starting a notebook and popping open the web-browser for this kind of task was over the top. Fortunately for me, I found a simple change in my behavior has made for a much more effective tool.

I simply started keeping a notebook open all the time, and continuously updating it with my little experiments over the course of the day. (Yes, this should have been the obvious way to go about it in the first place.) Not only does this allow me to run my one-liners, it also lets me re-execute and copy-paste from previous work in the day trivially – something I’m really enjoying as I iterate on problems.

Automatically loading nvidia-settings at xstartup

I’m running the NVidia driver on Linux, and find that the default brightness on my monitor is set to “OMGZ -burning my eyes out”.

As my monitor is a POS bare-bones model, it doesn’t actually support adjusting the brightness in hardware.

The nvidia-settings command allows me to adjust the brightness (thank you), but it doesn’t properly save it, and I have to start it each time X crashes I log out.  This is inconvenient, and since I am lazy, it results in me often subjecting my eyes to the equivalent of several atom bomb detonations by the time I get around to changing the settings again.

Fortunately, as I discovered today, there is a command line mode for nvidia-settings – if I invoke it with:

nvidia-settings -l

It applies any settings in the configuration file. It doesn’t actually save the brightness information correctly into that file, but that’s easy to adjust with these lines:


My eyes are already thanking me.