Smoke alarm with wireless access point for hotels?

Our April trip to Florida and back entailed a bunch of stays at Hilton-family hotels with crummy Internet. The WiFi networks at Embassy Suites and DoubleTrees seem to be throttled to about 5 Mbps when they work, but coverage was spotty. Working remotely would have been impossible in most of our Embassy Suites room in Atlanta (at right), for example.

When we looked up to pray to the WiFi gods, however, we inevitably saw smoke alarms in the room. These were hard-wired back to a central station. If each device needs to be connected to power and signal, then mounted to the ceiling, why not have that device also provide WiFi service? It couldn’t add more than $20 to the cost of a smoke alarm to have it serve as a wireless access point, right? Maybe the wires back to the central station would need to be beefed up.

Something vaguely along these lines exists for the home: “First Alert Has Its Own Wi-Fi Mesh Router That Hijacks Every Connected Device With Smoke Alarm Warnings” (Gizmodo, January 2018).

Every new hotel by law must have a smoke alarm in each room, right? And every new hotel for commercial reasons must have WiFi coverage. Why isn’t there an off-the-shelf solution combining these two requirements?

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Joe Biden’s mask order meets Florida

The Florida Free State ends at the border with federally-owned land, e.g., Everglades National Park. See “Biden’s first executive order will require masks on federal property” (CNN). The order isn’t quite as stringent as what we have in Maskachusetts. It is legal to be in the middle of federally-owned woods without a mask on, for example, but you’re supposed to wear one if you can’t maintain a 6′ social distance.

How much difference in individual behavior occurs when there is effective leadership in Washington, D.C.? Last month both Floridians and out-of-towners mingled on the Anhinga Trail boardwalk, politely sharing information regarding alligator and bird sightings. Although a few folks sported chin diapers, nobody actually wore a mask, despite this being the most crowded part of the park, even when coming close to another person (every few minutes).

The #Science-informed Federales want you to stay healthy by drinking nothing but Coke. At the trailhead:

(#Science says protect yourself against an airborne virus by washing your soda can, a behavior that would previously have earned you a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. See also Does disinfectant theater contribute to coronaplague?)

Government experts remind us that immigrants from Africa, Central America, and South America are “unwelcome” and “crowd out their native neighbors”:

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Why is there no repentance in the religion of diversity, equity, and inclusion?

A reader sent “Apple fires Antonio Garcia Martinez after employee backlash” (Apple Insider):

Apple has reportedly fired Antonio Garcia Martinez after an employee backlash over sexist comments that he made in his book “Chaos Monkeys.”

The newly hired engineer is “gone from Apple after employee backlash,” the company confirmed to Bloomberg on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, Apple employees began circulating a petition that called for an investigation into Garcia Martinez’s hiring.

“At Apple, we have always strived to create an inclusive, welcoming workplace where everyone is respected and accepted. Behavior that demeans or discriminates against people for who they are has no place here,” Apple said in a statement to Bloomberg.

In their petition to Eddy Cue, the Apple employees said that Antonio Garcia’s hiring “calls into question parts of our system of inclusion at Apple, including hiring panels, background checks, and our process to ensure our existing culture of inclusion is strong enough to withstand individuals who don’t share our inclusive values.”

This is interesting first for revealing how little Apple employees must read. Garcia Martinez’s book was a big seller in 2016. If writing something 5-6 years previously is a disqualifying offense, why wouldn’t the folks hiring him, including in HR, pick up a copy before making the offer? Most of what they object to could be found right here in this blog, e.g., quoted in Chaos Monkeys: Relations between the sexes in Silicon Valley.

More interesting to me is that the religion of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, at least as practiced by Apple, does not include Repentance:

Repentance is a stage in Christian salvation where the believer turns away from sin. As a distinct stage in the ordo salutis its position is disputed, with some theological traditions arguing it occurs prior to faith and the Reformed theological tradition arguing it occurs after faith. In Roman Catholic theology repentance is part of the larger theological concept of penance.

The most beloved Christians are those who previously succumbed to temptation and error. Why wouldn’t Garcia Martinez have been given the opportunity to repent? To say “I wrote that in 2015. After exposure to all of my neighbors’ ‘In this house we believe…’ signs, however, I realized that almost everything important in the world of computers and electronics was developed by women and LGBTQIA+ individuals. Please forgive me for my past sins.”

If the DEI religion accepts only those who have been pure in thought and deed since birth, what incentive is there for someone who has harbored wicked thoughts to come over to the side of Light?

(Considered and discarded headlines for this post: “Apple fires its Hispanic Employee”; “Not every Hispanic is a good Hispanic”)


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Can our golden retriever get a COVID-19 vaccine before elderly humans in poor countries?

From our government-funded media, “CDC Says Kids As Young As 12 Should Get The Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine” (NPR):

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine be given to adolescents ages 12-15.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky issued a statement saying, “The CDC now recommends the vaccine be used among this population, and providers may begin vaccinating them right away.”

An independent federal advisory committee on Wednesday had voted — 14 in favor with one recusal — to recommend that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine be quickly approved for those as young as 12.

Here in Massachusetts, prior to deaths-by-age data being withdrawn from public view, nobody under 18 had ever been killed by COVID-19 (see Maskachusetts: When people aren’t scared enough, change the Covid-19 dashboard). Due to the minimal impact of COVID-19 on the young and the non-FDA-approved status of the vaccines, the physicians whom I’ve talked to say that it would be against the Hippocratic Oath to inject vaccines into young adults, much less children. See Is it ethical for a physician to vaccinate a healthy 20-year-old against COVID-19? and We love our children so much we will give them an investigational vaccine

Even if we believe that a 12-year-old will somehow benefit from getting an “investigational” pharmaceutical, do we think that he/she/ze/they will benefit as much as a 65-year-old in a vaccine-poor country? If we believe our lawn signs (“Black Lives Matter”) and our statements (#StopAsianHate and Brown Lives Matter), why wouldn’t we ship Pfizer doses to India or Colombia to be injected into old (vulnerable) people we refer to as “brown” rather than into white American 12-year-olds?

The map from Our World in Data (“Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people”):

Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, India, Costa Rica, et al. all have higher case rates than the U.S. and presumably plenty of people we would regard as worthy vaccine charity cases. Here’s the map of vaccination rate (percent of people who’ve had at least one dose):

India is at only 10 percent. Why does a white American 12-year-old get a vaccine before a 60-year-old in India? At the rate we’re going, is it fair to predict that Mindy the Crippler (our golden retriever) will be eligible for a vaccine before a 50-year-old in India can get one?

Separately, comparing the above two charts shows high vaccination rates in Chile, Uruguay, and Canada, for example, and also fairly high coronaplague “cases”. Considering deaths, the statistics for which are less dependent on testing zealotry, Chile and Uruguay have both a high vaccination rate and a high death rate:

If they’ve vaccinated the old/vulnerable, how is it that these countries are experiencing a significant wave of coronadeath? Are these old/vulnerable folks who got infected months ago and have been in the hospital for a long period of time?

To close on a cheerful note, the plague in India does seem to be subsiding in accordance with Farr’s laws. From the NYT:

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Kristi Noem and support for small business

Kristi Noem, famous or notorious (depending on your perspective regarding governor-ordered masks and shutdown) for saying that people who didn’t want to get COVID-19 should stay home and not rely on the government, a bandana, or a 3-cent paper surgical mask to protect them from a respiratory virus, is being talked about as someone who might enter national politics.

A recent CATO analysis of the small business environment in the 50 states has Ms. Noem’s South Dakota at #2 for business freedom:

Note that New Jersey, which if it were its own country would have the world’s highest COVID-19 death rate (ranking), is almost dead last! Also, states that you might expect to be free, e.g., Montana, aren’t. It is interesting to look at correlations with how easy it is to make money via pregnancy and child support. Georgia, where the government wants you to set up a business, has a soft cap on child support profits (so does South Dakota). Connecticut, on the other hand, is the nation’s most difficult state in which to start a business, but is a paradise for alimony plaintiffs and also offers unlimited child support.

Readers: Now that the Republican Party draws its support primarily from those who operate small business (everyone else is on the government gravy train either through welfare at the low end and crony capitalism at the high end), is Kristi Noem a likely future presidential candidate?


  • states ranked by COVID-19-tagged death rate (unfortunately not adjusted for percentage of population over 65), in which we see #Science-following Maskachusetts right near the top and give-the-finger-to-the-virus South Dakota at around #10.
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Tesla Solar Roof (the price is not the price)

Back on December 9, 2020, I signed what I thought was a contract with Tesla for them to install a solar roof within 180 days (by June 9, 2021) and two Powerwalls for a total of $71,533. Somewhat more than a regular roof, of course, but we’d have bragging rights, would be saving the planet, would have backup power in the event of a grid failure (a regular event here due to trees plus an apparent unwillingness to put the powerlines underground), and would have the joy of maintaining yet another household system (not like those dumb people who rent and let the landlord take care of everything that breaks!).

After months of silence, on April 23, I received an email:

We have increased the price of Solar Roof and have added adjustments for individual roof complexity. Learn more 

We’d like to offer you one Powerwall at no additional charge when you proceed with your Solar Roof installation. You will receive an email when your new agreement is ready for your review and acceptance before moving forward. Please make sure to keep at least one Powerwall on your order to take advantage of this offer. If you have not already done so, please complete any outstanding items in your Tesla Account.

On May 5, 2021, I received a text message telling me to check the web site, which shows that the price has gone up to $84,137. Battery prices are supposed to be on a downward trend, but it looks as though Powerwalls have gone from $7,000 each to $10,500 each?

One interesting aspect of this design is that there are power-generating tiles on both the north and sides of the house:

(the legend is a little confusing, but I think the tiles surrounded by white are the solar tiles; the top of the drawing above is the north-facing side of the house)

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What infrastructure did we build for the Americans added between 2010 and 2020?

From our Census Bureau:

  • U.S. population on April 1, 2010: 308,745,538
  • U.S. population on April 1, 2020: 331,449,281

That’s an increase of 22,703,743 people (unclear how many of the new undocumented Americans are included in this count by friendly government agents; see “Yale Study Finds Twice as Many Undocumented Immigrants as Previous Estimates”).

22.7 million is roughly the population of Illinois and Michigan combined. Those two states have 563,237 lane-miles of road (source). Were 563,237 lane-miles added between 2010 and 2020 nationwide? Here’s a chart from the U.S. Department of Transporation:

In case you’re wondering why you’re always stuck in traffic, the above chart shows that lane-miles have barely budged since 1980 while vehicle-miles actually traveled have grown by roughly 50 percent. The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics offers finer-grained data: 8,542,163 lane-miles in 2009 and 8,785,398 lane-miles in 2019 (243,235 new lane-miles over 10 years, but essentially flat since 2014; the growth over 10 years was only 2.8 percent, less than half the 7.4 percent growth in population).

It is more difficult to get statistics on other elements of infrastructure, e.g., square footage of school buildings, capacity in water and sewer systems, capacity of the electricity grid, etc. But my sense is that none of these are being expanded at the same rate as population.

If roads, schools, water/sewer, electric grid, etc. remain constant while the population grows, doesn’t that mean we’re turning the U.S. circa 2030 into India circa 1990?


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IKEA spare parts

Back in 2012, I paid IKEA to deliver and assemble some furniture. That led to the following Facebook post:

“You didn’t build that” (Ikea came to assemble some stuff starting yesterday at 1 pm. They left at 9 pm and here is the state of affairs…)

The two guys returned today at 945. We will see how far they get! So far I have not had to do anything other than watch in amazement at how much work is entailed even for two experts.

Friend: I don’t get it. Been buying IKEA stuff all my life. Always put it together myself, never any missing parts and always quick to do. A couple of hours at most for a complex wardrobe. Maybe these professionals aren’t that at all; bunch of random guys plucked off the street to go put together stuff for people?

Me: The guys seem to speak Portuguese better than speak English, but I wouldn’t say that this impairs their ability to unbox and slam the stuff together. They have electric screwdrivers and they have done enough of these before that they need not refer to the instructions in most cases. On the other hand, they put a Besta wall system door on a Stuva kids’ bookcase.

Folks: To close out this epic tale… IKEA sent two Mandarin-speaking recent immigrants from China back to the apartment today with a few boxes of spare parts. They were able to fix the remaining issues that I had not managed to fix on my own/with friends. IKEA customer service is amazingly well trained. I would call them and wait in a phone queue for about 45 minutes. The person who answered would invariably make me feel like the most important customer in the world. They’d promise to call back or send someone out. They never did these things, but I didn’t mind calling again because I felt so good after every conversation.

(One thing that I did learn from the experience, after attempting to sit in a dining chair after the two-day visit of the Brazilian crew, is that there is apparently no translation into Portuguese for “torque that bolt down”.)

Currently I’ve got a set of six IKEA chairs and enough hardware for perhaps three chairs. M4 and M6 machine screws/bolts have fallen out over the years and were apparently thrown out by the cleaners. I found an IKEA replacement parts site where screws and bolts are sent out “within a few days” for free, but it seems to be only for customers in the Netherlands. [Update: the Google couldn’t find the corresponding U.S. page, but a reader posted it in the comment section below.]

A lot of IKEA hardware isn’t standard. Where does one find replacement bolts for out-of-production IKEA stuff?

Separately, we visited IKEA recently. The 68 governor’s orders so far here in Maskachusetts have been boiled down by IKEA to “wear a mask at all times, even when outdoors and more than 6′ away from anyone else”:

(I personally disagree with this interpretation of what our laws would be if the Legislature had passed these restrictions as laws. The very latest from MA is that masks are not required outdoors unless you’re closer than 6′ from another human.)

The good news is that you can “do your part”:

Looking up an item’s warehouse location requires waiting in line to use one of the terminals that hasn’t been decommissioned, thus forcing you to spend more time in a crowded indoor environment (but bandanas and simple paper masks will prevent viral transmission!).

The CDC says that COVID-19 is not spread via surfaces, but the restaurant is closed for three days per week for a good scrubbing:

You’ll wait roughly 1.5 hours in the middle of the afternoon to be seated for lunch at this restaurant, from which many tables have been removed and the remainder are mostly vacant:

They’ve made special multi-tray trolleys so that a single authorized person from each group can go up to the cafeteria line.


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How does shutting down water fountains prevent COVID-19?

One thing that I have noticed in the Shutdown States is that public drinking fountains are nearly always turned off or blocked off, e.g., in hotels, in government buildings, outdoors near playgrounds, etc. To the extent that this is explained, it is #BecauseScience and #StopTheSpread. But what is the science of COVID-19 spread via water fountains?

From June 5, 2020 (includes an actual “Rationale”!):

So the CDC said the risk was low as of June 2020. Has #Science changed? “CDC: Risk for catching coronavirus from surfaces is low” (April 12, 2021):

The risk for catching the new coronavirus from surfaces is low, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week in what some experts say is a long overdue announcement.

“People can be affected with the virus that causes COVID-19 through contact with contaminated surfaces and objects,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., said at a White House briefing on Monday. “However, evidence has demonstrated that the risk by this route of infection of transmission is actually low.”

“Finally,” Linsey Marr, Ph.D., an airborne virus expert at Virginia Tech, told The Times. “We’ve known this for a long time, and yet people are still focusing so much on surface cleaning.” Marr added that there is “really no evidence that anyone has ever gotten COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface.”

If #Science v2020 and #Science v2021 both say that coronavirus is not spread via surface contamination, how does shutting down water fountains help Americans achieve superior health?

At Temple Karen (reform) in Washington, D.C.:

At the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina (“due to current state health and safety mandates”), April 26, 2021:

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Why aren’t vaccines available at highway rest stops?

We visited a friend’s 12,000 square foot house the other day in an all-white suburb of Boston (what I learned: don’t buy a 12,000 square foot house unless you want to pay about $75,000 every time it needs paint). After passing all of the Black Lives Matter signs put out by his rich white neighbors (they adore low-income BIPOC but will keep their one-acre zoning minimum, thank you very much!), we got on the state-run highway. During the 40-minute drive, every 5 minutes we passed a state-run sign urging us to get vaccinated. The person reading the sign, quite possibly a driver all by him/her/zir/their self, is told to visit a web site and begin a cumbersome appointment process, We also passed a couple of state-owned state-run rest stops in which health-promoting food, such as donuts, are available.

Wouldn’t it make more sense if the signs said “Get vaccinated right now at the next rest stop”? If the government wants people to do something unpleasant and, in the case of younger folks, quite possibly against their personal interest (since the median age of a COVID-19 death in Massachusetts was 82), why not make it easy? Add an incentive too: “free coffee, donut, and vaccine, next right”.

Given that the government itself owns these highway rest stops, why isn’t there a vaccine tent at every one?

(The Florida Department of Transportation runs similar signs, but the messages that we saw in April were all related to driving, e.g., “check your tire pressure” or “road work scheduled”, rather than coronapanic.)

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