The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

Voicemails From the Flight Path

Filmmakers Patrick McCormack and Duane Peterson III made a short film called Jet Line: Voicemails from the Flight Path featuring residents' concerns from a complaints hotline the pair set up.

This short film employs an anonymous hotline to elevate the voices beneath Vermont’s F-35 flight path, the first urban residents to live with one of the military’s most controversial weapons systems overhead.

Tranquil scenes of unassuming neighborhoods near Burlington International Airport are juxtaposed with voicemails of the unheard, those drowned out by the ear-shattering “sound of freedom.” Exploring the relationship between picturesque residential areas and the deafening fighter jets overhead, Jet Line is a poetic portrait of a community plagued by war machines, documenting untenable conditions in a small city once voted one of the best places to live in America.

The American military–industrial complex. If we thought we could keep it at bay from our communities - well all you have to do is listen.

No Such Thing as the “Invisible Hand of the Market”

Unregulated capitalism

Kathryn Baecht elegantly sums up unregulated capitalism brillianty:

Santa isn’t real, the Tooth Fairy is imaginary, and there’s no such thing as the “invisible hand of the market.”


Look, here’s the unvarnished truth. Capitalism is corrupt, craven, and continuously enriching the mega rich, further impoverishing the poor and incessantly squeezing the middle class like a python wrapped around the abdomen of a cute furry little animal. No, not Mr. Whiskers specifically, son, some other cute little animal. One that we never met.

It’s time we as a society stop believing the capitalism fairytale. Unregulated capitalism is destroying our planet, stealing our youth’s future and grinding us down for benefit of the one percenters. Unregulated capitalism makes you poor, miserable — and short.

1970s Letter From Lego

lego letter

A Lego pamphlet from 1974, unearthed and posted on Reddit, has some advice for parents that rings true 49 years later:

The text reads:

The urge to create is equally strong in all children. Boys and girls.

It’s imagination that counts. Not skill. You build whatever comes into your head, the way you want it. A bed or a truck. A dolls house or a spaceship.

A lot of boys like dolls houses. They’re more human than spaceships. A lot of girls prefer spaceships. They’re more exciting than dolls houses.

The most important thing is to the put the right material in the their hands and let them create whatever appeals to them.

My niece is a obsessed with Lego. She builds houses, gardens, rockets, planes, and robots. Lego nailed it 50 years ago - its imagination that counts. And it is not limited by gender.

What Tech Knows About Your Health

health info

Yael Grauer writing for The Atlantic:

We leave digital traces about our health everywhere we go: by completing forms like BetterHelp’s. By requesting a prescription refill online. By clicking on a link. By asking a search engine about dosages or directions to a clinic or pain in chest dying???? By shopping, online or off. By participating in consumer genetic testing. By stepping on a smart scale or using a smart thermometer. By joining a Facebook group or a Discord server for people with a certain medical condition. By using internet-connected exercise equipment. By using an app or a service to count your steps or track your menstrual cycle or log your workouts. Even demographic and financial data unrelated to health can be aggregated and analyzed to reveal or infer sensitive information about people’s physical or mental-health conditions.

All of this information is valuable to advertisers and to the tech companies that sell ad space and targeting to them. It’s valuable precisely because it’s intimate: More than perhaps anything else, our health guides our behavior. And the more these companies know, the easier they can influence us.

The existing laws on the books are nothing more than suggestions that depend on the enormous companies that benefit from having access to this sensitive data to self govern. We all know how that is going to work out. It’s time the laws designed to protect our health information caught up.

US Healthcare: Functioning Exactly as It's Meant To

So lets get the facts straight first:

  • America spends more money per capita on health care than any other nation on earth.
  • 16% of the GDP goes towards health care - to put that into perspective, we spend 2.4x more on on the military (3.1% of GDP) and welfare programs (3.6% of GDGP) combined.
  • we have more uninsured and under insured citizens then any other developed country.
  • life saving drugs often cost 10x what they cost in other countries.
  • 500,000+ citizens go bankrupt due to medical bills.
  • Life expectancy is dead last when compared to other developed nations.
  • US has the highest infant and maternal mortality rates.

Its gotten so bad that towards the beginning of the corona virus, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology requested students in the US to come home:

In accordance with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD), NTNU strong recommends that all NTNU students who are outside Norway return home. This applies especially if you are staying in a country with poorly developed health services and infrastructure ando/or collective infrastructure, for example the USA. The same applies if you do not have health insurance.

How can you expect any other outcome? The US health care system is a for profit system in a market place that does not have a true supply/demand curve. When you are sick, seeking health care is not a option. So by definition there is no competition and prices can only go up.

The US health care system is a cruel and inhumane system that priorities profit over its citizens. And it is working exactly as it was designed.

America's Advanced Manufacturing Problem

David Adler and William B. Bonvillian writing for American Affairs:

The United States was once the global leader in manufacturing, ushering in the mass production era from the end of the nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century. It is not a global leader in the advanced manufacturing of the twenty-first century. (Advanced manu­facturing can be defined as the application of innovative technologies to improve manufacturing processes and products, adding significant value through productivity advances and innovation. These would include digital technologies, robotics, 3-D printing, advanced materials, bio-fabrication, artificial intelligence, and nanofabrication.)

The United States does not currently have the correct institutional infrastructure and accompanying operational mechanisms to support ad­vanced manufacturing. Industry, government, and academia are largely unlinked when it comes to advanced production technology and processes, and there is a similar lack of interagency coordination within the government. Pathways necessary for diffusing new technologies and getting them to market are missing, including a lack of scale-up financing mechanisms. The vocational education system has withered as has the corporate lab system. The Department of Defense’s (DoD) mission has traditionally been one of military security rather than economic security and assuring a strong American industrial base. Yet economic security and military security are now inseparable, and by failing to pursue innovation in production, the DoD is putting U.S. economic and therefore national security at risk. Financial markets do not reward advanced manufacturing. They favor outsourcing and the disaggregation of integrated firms. Corporations are not rewarded for pursuing production as opposed to, say, stock buybacks. What is sometimes called the U.S. developmental state has many strengths—in basic research as well as applications in the areas of defense technology, software, and biopharma development—but advanced manufacturing is not one of them.

Robert J. Gordon, in his widely read book The Rise and Fall of American Growth, argues that recent generations of technologies are inherently less conducive to job creation, compared to earlier breakthroughs, leading to lower growth. But the real culprit may be the way in which our innovation system was designed, leaving a manufacturing focus out of the innovation equation. The result of all this has been the decline of U.S. manufacturing and the corresponding weakening of the American working class, growing economic inequality, and protracted political confrontation.

Yea - the real culprit can be traced as far back as 1968 when Victor R. Fuchs coined the term “the service economy.” And US policy over the last 4 decades has pushed the transformation of the economy to a predominate service based economy.

The problem is eventually you will hit a brick wall if the US as a country fails to create value. After all in a capitalist society - with the creation of value, all of the money will eventually filter to a tiny percent of the population.

Mitt Romney Will Not Seek Re-election

Mitt Romney

Senator Mitt Romney will not run for re-election in 2025. The former Presidential candidate will bow out of political service as a real Republican. I don’t agree with most of Mitt Romney’s policy stances but Mitt Romney did his job with honor, class and truth. For that he has my respect. And thats coming from a Democrat.

In an exclusive excerpt from his forthcoming biography of the senator, Mckay Coppins writing for The Atlantic:

Sitting across from Romney at 76, one can’t help but become a little suspicious of his handsomeness. The jowl-free jawline. The all-seasons tan. The just-so gray at the temples of that thick black coif, which his barber once insisted he doesn’t dye. It all seems a little uncanny. Only after studying him closely do you notice the signs of age. He shuffles a little when he walks now, hunches a little when he sits. At various points in recent years, he’s gotten so thin that his staff has worried about him. Mostly, he looks tired.

Romney’s isolation in Washington didn’t surprise me. In less than a decade, he’d gone from Republican standard-bearer and presidential nominee to party pariah thanks to a series of public clashes with Trump. What I didn’t quite expect was how candid he was ready to be. He instructed his scheduler to block off evenings for weekly interviews, and told me that no subject would be off-limits. He handed over hundreds of pages of his private journals and years’ worth of personal correspondence, including sensitive emails with some of the most powerful Republicans in the country. When he couldn’t find the key to an old filing cabinet that contained some of his personal papers, he took a crowbar to it and deposited stacks of campaign documents and legal pads in my lap. He’d kept all of this stuff, he explained, because he thought he might write a memoir one day, but he’d decided against it. “I can’t be objective about my own life,” he said.


“A very large portion of my party,” he told me one day, “really doesn’t believe in the Constitution.” He’d realized this only recently, he said. We were a few months removed from an attempted coup instigated by Republican leaders, and he was wrestling with some difficult questions. Was the authoritarian element of the GOP a product of President Trump, or had it always been there, just waiting to be activated by a sufficiently shameless demagogue? And what role had the members of the mainstream establishment—­people like him, the reasonable Republicans—played in allowing the rot on the right to fester?

I had never encountered a politician so openly reckoning with what his pursuit of power had cost, much less one doing so while still in office. Candid introspection and crises of conscience are much less expensive in retirement. But Romney was thinking beyond his own political future.

Road Map to Happiness

Harvard professor Arthur Brooks teamed up with TV icon Oprah Winfrey to help people find true happiness in life. Brooks sits down one-on-one with Stephanie Ruhle to talk about his new book, “Build the Life You Want.” This is one of the most powerful and insightful 12 minutes of television I have seen this year.

Key take aways:

The number one thing that we get wrong is happiness is a feeling … Wrong! Feelings are evidence of happiness.

Envy is the enemy of happiness.

The secrets - the happiness 401k plan - are faith, family, friends, and work that serves other people.


What can we do tomorrow to walk one step closer to a path to happiness?


Lets start by making a goal of reading something really heavy and wise for 15 minutes tomorrow right? Read a book by somebody who knows more than you know. About spiritual depth. They mystries of life. 15 minutes. Thats number one.

Number two - make a goal of calling someone in your family every single day.

Number three, you know your real friends and you know your deal friends. Make a list of people you come most in contact with put Rs and Ds after their name - Not Republicans and Democrats. Real, Deal. And if its all deal, and you don’t have enough Rs you need to do more work. A lot of people watching this have not had real friends since college. They have all been deal friends, transactional friends. People who could help them. You know how you find real friends by the way? They’re not useful. They are beautifully useless. And you need more useless people in your life. Like make a list of them and do the work to keep in touch. Look, when I figured out, when I started doing this research, I didn’t have real friends. Now I got my real friends. And I spent an hour on the phone with each one of them a week.

And last but not least, here is how you judge your job. You don’t judge your job in terms of your title, your prestige, or your money. Its number one, are you earning your success? Do you believe you are creating value with your life? Value with the way you are earning your living in your life and the life of other people? And do you believe you are serving other people so you can lift them up and bring them together?

Season Four: For All Mankind Trailer

The first teaser trailer for season four of the Apple TV+ series For All Mankind is out - and its a recruitment video join the space workforce. Unfortunately, no plot or character updates. Here’s the synopsis:

Rocketing into the new millennium in the eight years since Season 3, Happy Valley has rapidly expanded its footprint on Mars by turning former foes into partners. Now 2003, the focus of the space program has turned to the capture and mining of extremely valuable, mineral-rich asteroids that could change the future of both Earth and Mars. But simmering tensions between the residents of the now-sprawling international base threaten to undo everything they are working towards.

Republicans Call for Impeachment Inquiry Into Biden

Yesterday Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced he is calling on his committees to open formal impeachment inquiry on President Biden. Never mind the fact that they have nothing on Biden.

This so called serious allegations are going to lead to nowhere fast.

The Constitutional standard for impeachment is treason, bribery, or other high crimes an misdemeanors. They don’t have have any wrong doing of any kind by President Biden. The Republicans have thousands and thousands of pages of documents they have subpoenaed and received, dozens of hours of testimony and witness interviews. All of this disproves their claims - that he was not involved in in any of Hunter Biden’s business affairs.

Not to mention that the Republican party’s leading candidate and most probable Presidential nominee Donald Trump’s proven corrupt administration that the Democrates could easily haul out:

  • Trump’s egregious violation of the emoluments clause
  • Jared Kushner, while he was serving in the White House, received 2 billion dollars from the Saudis
  • Trump’s most probable disqualification of even running in the 2024 election based on Section 3, Article 14th of the Constitution.

It’s important to understand what is really going on here - the Republican’s are trying to desperately distract the American public from the train wreck that is about to happen. Its Hillary Clinton’s emails all over again.

The Republican party is a clown show.

Leica M11 Monochrom

Leica M11 Monochrom

David Rocks reviewing the Leica M11 Monochrom for Bloomberg:

If you think there’s the soul of a Robert Capa or Henri Cartier-Bresson lurking deep inside your creative heart, you might find it with Leica’s new $9,195 M11 Monochrom, the fifth entrant in the brand’s series of noncolor cameras. Leica’s sturdy bodies and sharp lenses have been the gold standard for photography since the company first released a portable 35 millimeter camera in 1925. The M11 harks back to those analog roots: It doesn’t have autofocus, and you must control the aperture by hand—though ISO and shutter speed can be set to automatic.

Err. Awesome camera and, yes, this awakens my inner hipster. But $9,195 - without a lens? And this is Leica - a simple 50mm f2 lens will run you an additional $2,895. Thats a mighty big $13,000 fashion statement if you ask me.

Instead - get the Pentax K3 Mk III and a 43mm 1.9 for less than $3,000 - spend the remaining $10,000 bringing out your inner Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Fixing Penn Station

Martin C. Pedersen in an interview for the Common Edge:

Today the busiest train station in North America is essentially housed in a basement, atop which sits the “world’s most famous arena.” The Penn Station experience has been a dreary mess ever since—and a seemingly unfixable one. Every so often there were calls for “action” on Penn Station, but these pronouncements weren’t backed with political will or money. In the past year, however, the rhetoric has ratcheted up, with competing plans floated by the MTA, private developers, and community groups. Justin Davidson, the architecture critic for New York magazine and a longtime New Yorker, has been doing some excellent reporting on these recent efforts. We talked last week, and he helped me sort out exactly where, in this tangled and still unsettled tale, things now stand.

My favorite proposa is by the Regional Plan Association and Vishaan Charkabarti:

Penn Station New

Something needs to be done with Penn Station. It is such a depressing place.

New World Record – From 0 to 100 Km/h in 0.956 Seconds

ETH Zurich reporting:

Students from ETH Zurich and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts have broken the previous world record for acceleration with their hand built electric racing car, mythen. The vehicle accelerated from zero to 100 km/h in 0.956 seconds over a distance of 12.3 metres.

Thats is crazy fast - nearly 3Gs of acceleration in 12.3 meters or 40.35 feet!

Skiing Down the Mountain

I don’t get skiing - it scares me to death. Everyone who skis has stories of torn ankles, busted knees and dislocated shoulders. I am up for anything - but this is one sport I will never do.

World's Largest Deposit of Lithium in US


Anthony King in reporting in Chemistry World:

A world-beating deposit of lithium along the Nevada–Oregon border could meet surging demand for this metal, according to a new analysis.

An estimated 20 to 40 million tonnes of lithium metal lie within a volcanic crater formed around 16 million years ago. This is notably larger than the lithium deposits found beneath a Bolivian salt flat, previously considered the largest deposit in the world.


‘If they can extract the lithium in a very low energy intensive way, or in a process that does not consume much acid, then this can be economically very significant,’ says Borst. ‘The US would have its own supply of lithium and industries would be less scared about supply shortages.’

If this holds true, the US will have a significant advantage in the race to EV dominance.

US Republic of Gilead?

Republic of Gilead

Since the 2022 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade - more than 1,500 state legislators, who are overwhelmingly white men, have voted for full or partial abortion bans.

Though lets not forget that white men in the US have always been obsessed with control of women - of which Rodney Coates, writing for The Conversation, reminds us:

This is not the first period in U.S. history when white men have exercised control over women’s right to bear – or not bear – children, including during slavery. Then, it was a matter of numbers. The more people they enslaved, the more money white male enslavers could earn either from selling the enslaved or from the forced labor of the enslaved. White men controlled people’s reproductive rights during the 20th century, too, with the American eugenics movement.

From the late 1800s until the 2000s, white proponents of eugenics – the selective breeding of people – tried to determine who was fit or unfit to have children. While the American eugenics movement affected people of other races and ethnic backgrounds, as well as men, it was particularly harmful to Black women who, data from 1950 to 1966 shows, were sterilized at “three times the rate of white women and more than 12 times the rate of white men.”

During both periods, Black women and their health bore the brunt of the consequences of white men’s control.


Thirty-two states, between 1907 and 1937, enacted forced sterilization mandates to prevent births by people eugenicists considered socially inadequate.

State-mandated procedures resulted in the coerced sterilization of women, particularly African American, Native American and Hispanic American women, and those from Southern and Eastern Europe.


Between 1930 and 1970, close to 33% of the women in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, were forcibly sterilized. In California, between 1997 and 2003, 1,400 female inmates, mostly Black, were forcibly sterilized.

Dont think it can’t happen in the United States - it is already a deeply hidden fact of Americas past. And with the new push of anti-abortion laws and diminishing of women’s reproductive rights - how long before the US transforms into The Republic of Gilead?

The Camera Is Watching

Iphone camera

Harley Turan exploring the contents of the metadata stored in your phone:

Each one of those images doesn’t just contain the photo you see as you scroll through the Photos app — it contains a wealth of information stored encoded directly into the image file itself. It details useful metadata such as where the photo was taken (so that you can view your photos on a map at a later date), the time and date the image was taken at, which lens and zoom levels were used, the exposure, ISO, and aperture, amongst many others.


This metadata is called EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) and is stored inside of the photo files themselves, appearing right at the start of the image

Every image is a dense ball of information. Not just containing captured light, but your exact position and orientation at a given moment in the time.

If you have a time machine and happen to be free August 13th, 2023 at 13:07:57, you’ll know precisely where to find me.

So what kind of information can we glean from this data set? Here are just some examples that Harley shows:

  • Which photos have the subject positioned too close to focus on?
  • What was the shortest amount of time spent after turning my phone on before I took a photo?
  • How many photos d o I have where I’m traveling over 50mph?
  • What is my fastest photo?
  • What is my fastest photo on land?

What is even more concerning is what can be gleaned from the GPS data that is encoded within the EXIF meta data of an image. Any third party app can query the location your were at, when you were there and by analyzing the image using AI classification tools - what you were doing there.

Here is the scary part - with a historical record of this information, an app with this data can predict to high degree where you are likely going to be in the future.

Are you paranoid enough yet?

Hottest Summer on Record

2023 summer spike

Laura Paddison reporting for CNN that the world has experienced the hottest summer on record – by a significant margin this year:

Global average ocean temperatures, too, have been off the charts, helping strengthen major hurricanes in the Atlantic and typhoons in the Pacific.

In July, a sudden marine heat wave off the coast of Florida saw the ocean reach “hot tub” temperatures. While in June, parts of the North Atlantic experienced a “totally unprecedented” marine heat wave with water temperatures up to 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than usual.

Every single day from the end of July to the end of August has seen ocean temperatures exceed the previous record set in 2016, according to Copernicus.

Whether this year will end up being the planet’s warmest on record is not yet clear, but it looks certain to come extremely close.


Burgess said the summer had been one of tumbling records and it would only get worse if the world continues to burn planet-heating fossil fuels.

“The scientific evidence is overwhelming – we will continue to see more climate records and more intense and frequent extreme weather events impacting society and ecosystems, until we stop emitting greenhouse gases,” she said in a statement.

In America, the Cheese Is Dead

Clotaire Rapaille was interviewed in an episode of Frontline on advertising and marketing - interesting what he had to say about the differences in how the French and Americans think about cheese.

For example, if I know that in America the cheese is dead, which means is pasteurized, which means legally dead and scientifically dead, and we don’t want any cheese that is alive, then I have to put that up front. I have to say this cheese is safe, is pasteurized, is wrapped up in plastic. I know that plastic is a body bag. You can put it in the fridge. I know the fridge is the morgue; that’s where you put the dead bodies. And so once you know that, this is the way you market cheese in America.

I started working with a French company in America, and they were trying to sell French cheese to the Americans. And they didn’t understand, because in France the cheese is alive, which means that you can buy it young, mature or old, and that’s why you have to read the age of the cheese when you go to buy the cheese. So you smell, you touch, you poke. If you need cheese for today, you want to buy a mature cheese. If you want cheese for next week, you buy a young cheese. And when you buy young cheese for next week, you go home, [but] you never put the cheese in the refrigerator, because you don’t put your cat in the refrigerator. It’s the same; it’s alive. We are very afraid of getting sick with cheese. By the way, more French people die eating cheese than Americans die. But the priority is different; the logic of emotion is different. The French like the taste before safety. Americans want safety before the taste.

Marketing research never ceases to fascinate me.

Stephen Colbert and Joe Manganiello Discuss D&D

You may be sexier than I am, but I am nerdier than you are. I gotta go with my strengths.

Death by farming, meat grinder mode, death saves and the finer points of character creation.

Yep - its hip to be a nerd now. At least thats what I keep telling myself.