A Brit in Pennsylvania

Contributed by a British ex-patriot living in Pennsylvania, and covering world news, news about British politics and news about the USA.

The views expressed are those of the contributor.

27th February 2022     Jungholz: A ski town stuck in the wrong nation.


29th January 2022     Students' Anxiety.

This article, "Every parent I know is worried about their child’s anxiety. Here’s what 25 years of teaching has shown me", is spot on in identifying the issues.

29th November 2021     Future Proofing The Presidency.

Probably one of the most important articles to read today... here.

29th November 2021     Covid myths debunked.

Read how you will... here.

28th November 2021     Things That Really Annoy Me.

I have reached a stage in my life where certain things just plain annoy me. Things like sloppy programming in a piece of software, shopping bags that you cannot even carry a couple of mosquitoes around in before the handles break, 'easy open' packaging or packaging with a specific place for opening / cutting (e.g. the resealable packets where you have a 'cut here' or 'tear here' line right adjacent to the sealing area making it impossible to open or re-open the packet), and so on. I am sure you get the idea and have a few of your own pet peeves and annoyances.

Below are a couple of my latest ones.

The USPS has made it 'easier than ever to send your gifts and greetings' At this time of year, US residents receive the regular notification in the mail of the latest dates by which you should send post and packages to ensure delivery by/before December 25th. Previous notices have contained the pertinent information advising you of these dates on a nice little mailer so you can pin it to your refrigerator. This year it is much easier...

  1. Download QR scanner from App Store if you don’t already have one. Ask Great Aunt Ethel as she will know how to. Install the App.
  2. Scan the code.
  3. Copy short URL provided - your Great Aunt Ethel can tell you how.
  4. Open Internet browser on phone
  5. Paste short URL
  6. Finally get to USPS web site to find out December 18 is final day to send priority mail packages for Christmas (a week/several days earlier than in the past! Thank you for the notice Louis Dejoy). All of this information could have been printed on the flyer in the first place. So much easier... NOT! Happy holidays...

Another example.

With friends all over the world I occasionally get in touch with them by phone. In the past week or so I made three international calls. Each of them were made at around the same time of day (two of them oddly at exactly the same time), different days, and having very similar duration, give or take 5-10 minutes. Two of them were around $7 while the third... over $30 !!! Given that telecom companies use 'least cost routing' and that with digital switching the only real cost is initiating the call for perhaps a second or so, perhaps someone can explain to me why there is such a dramatic difference - even that the two cheaper ones were on week days and the more expensive one at a weekend, there is still no true justification for that.

22nd November 2021     With winter fast approaching....

Gamesnacks.com has over 140 simple (but overall good quality) games you can play in browser with no ads or nonsense. I've played most of them with varying degrees of success, annoyance, bemusement, and frustration. Finding good HTML5 games is relatively hard. These come from Googles Area 120. More info here.

These are the games I keep coming back to again and again. Many are ... based on other existing games.

Basketball Masters - Bubble Tower - Candy Bubble - Dunk Brush - Endless Siege - Flippy Box - Hexa Dungeon - Pin the UFO - Retro Drift - Stack Bounce - Totemia - Tower Crash 3D - Knife Smash

I also recommend Card Games. Not surprisingly this site is predominantly all about card games. This one does have ads but overall it is fairly innocuous and there is definitely a card game or three there for you.

20th November 2021     Chocolate, wine, coffee - Good or bad?

At last, with extensive evidence garnered over many decades, the proof is out there regarding whether or not these three, oft pilloried, items are good or bad for your health. I think the Daily Mail and other junk reporting will continue to use these as click bait for the ill-informed. Hint: White chocolate is not good for you. Here.

Now, what about tea?

18th November 2021     Welcome to America.

A civilized country.... here.

18th November 2021     Dead, white-man's clothes...

Since 2000, global production of clothing has doubled.

We're buying 60 per cent more clothes now than we did 15 years ago.

But we're only keeping them for half as long.

A major survey in the UK six years ago found one in three young women considered garments "old" if they had been worn just twice.

And of course the knock on effect is... here.

18th November 2021     NFT's - Non-fungible tokens.

Good grief is all I will say... here.

And I do not really need to say more than how Matthew Levine put it: "Another model is that the value in an NFT comes from a concept, and the value in a fractionalized NFT comes from, like, two concepts. “Take an object / Do something to it / Do something else to it,” Jasper Johns wrote. The essential transaction in an NFT is: Seller: I will sell you a unique pointer to an image of a dog for $4 million. Buyer: Ahahaha good one, that joke is worth $4 million to me, here you go. In a fractionalized NFT you have a slightly richer context: Owner/securitizer: I bought this unique pointer to an image of a dog for $4 million. The public: Ahahaha good one, congrats, money well spent. Owner/securitizer: Also I will sell fractional ownership interests in it for like $225 million. The public: Ahahaha another good one, that joke is worth $225 million to us, here you go. It’s two jokes so it’s worth 55 times as much. I don’t know!" The fractionalized asset would go on to double in value to about $500 million before subsiding. Note - article may be paywalled, open in incognito mode worked for me.

13th November 2021     Latest on Covid 19.

Covid cases are surging in Europe. America is in denial about what lies in store for it... the bleeding obvious is here. The world appears to be in a state of denial and carrying on as if nothing is wrong. Tonight I went to a local Rod and Gun Club to pick up a take-out order. The food there is very good. Tonight's special was pigs stomach which is a local PA Dutchie specialty (NB: I was getting it). The place was packed with around 70+ people in close proximity to each other. Myself and only one other person were wearing masks. One of the people serving me said while waving an arm in the direction of the room "You do not need to wear as mask. Nobody else is.". My response was? "Well you probably have not had throat cancer and are not immunocompromised.". Pennsylvania is experiencing a surge in delta-variant Covid.

9th November 2021     If you knew sushi, Like I know Sushi....

... twisting a line from a famous song... The Untold Story Of Sushi In America... here. A fascinating presentation about... sushi... in America... and the Unification Church.

7th November 2021     Supply Chain and Cobol.

Here. Why is this happening? Ryan Johnson, a truck driver, explains the issue in ports: drivers have to wait in line to enter the port, in another to get loaded up, and then a third one to leave. The ports have no incentive to keep these lines moving and do not even offer a restroom to the drivers as they are not employees. Independent drivers are quitting because they cannot even make minimum wage at this rate.

Ryan Peterson, the CEO of a logistics company, explains one big issue with the Port of Long Beach (Twitter): a regulation about not stacking containers more than two high means gridlock and no one has space for storing even empty containers. This one is a success story as the regulation is now on hold after the tweetstorm.

And Cobol here.

I used to program in Cobol but like SAP I foolishly decided they were either old or not likely to amount to much - in that order. I even had the option to go on free SAP courses but declined. NB: In the US a typical SAP programmer is commanding > $1,500 a day and more.....

3rd November 2021     Poison In The Air.

ProPublica has a well researched report concerning but a few of the many locations around the US which are able to bypass EPA regulations as they are notoriously lax and often based upon standards established in an arbitrary way back in the late 1908's. See here.

13th October 2021     Just when you thought America could not get any crazier...

... you have the Rod Of Iron Ministry here.

22nd September 2021     Welcome to America.

A civilized country.... here.