Sep 6, 2019

Death Row

The United States has the 7th highest execution rate in the entire world, behind China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, and Egypt. Since 1976, 1,500 people have been executed in the United States.
Texas, US has executed the most prisoners. In 2018, the 13 men that the state executed was over half of the total executions in the entire country (25). Last year, Texas had almost double the amount of executions compared to the previous two years, as 7 men were executed in both 2016 and 2017.
Twenty Two juveniles were executed between 1976 and 2005 for crimes that they committed while they were underage. In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to execute juvenile offenders.
As of April 1, 2019, there were 54 women living on death row. Since the death penalty was reinstated during 1976, a total of 16 women have been executed.

Incidentally, Bathsheba Spooner became the first woman to be executed in the United States on July 2, 1778.

LEO and the Internet

Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites are much smaller and orbit closer to Earth than traditional satellites. The lower orbit dramatically reduces the time lag that usually comes with satellite broadband internet. The purpose of these satellites is to blanket the earth and provide wireless internet service everywhere.
Elon Musk's SpaceX has plans to launch as many as 12,000 satellites as part of its Starlink constellation. Each Starlink satellite weighs about 500 pounds (227 kilograms) and is about the size of an office desk. They will deploy into orbit about 273 miles (440 kilometers) up. After the first successful launch, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved Starlink’s formal request to offer broadband service. That service will take a few years to get enough satellites in place for a viable network. Starlink’s ultimate goal is to launch 4,425 satellites by 2024, but it will likely start offering service before then.
Amazon plans to launch a constellation of 3,236 satellites into low Earth orbit in order to provide internet to “unserved and underserved communities around the world.” Amazon confirmed that Kuiper Systems is one of its projects.
Telesat successfully launched a test LEO satellite in January 2018. Telesat announced during July 2019 that it had partnered with the Government of Canada in a mission to provide affordable high-speed Internet connectivity across rural and remote areas of Canada through the development of Telesat's LEO Satellite Constellation. Blue Origin will launch the next Telesat LEO satellites using its New Glenn rocket, which is currently under construction. Telesat plans to launch 120 LEO satellites by 2021, all with Blue Origin.
OneWeb has an initial 600-satellite constellation currently being built out to provide global satellite Internet broadband services beginning in 2021. The first six satellites of the constellation were launched in February 2019 and plans to launch 900 LEO satellites by the end of 2019 using Virgin Orbit and Blue Origin. OneWeb is considering nearly quadrupling the size of the satellite constellation over time by adding 1,972 additional satellites.
Jeff Bezos’s rocket company, Blue Origin, is not building a satellite network, but is building reusable spacecrafts to launch satellites for a variety of companies. Telesat, the largest satellite internet provider in Canada, is one such company.
Loon, started by Google and now run by parent company Alphabet, is slightly different from the other companies. It is not building a satellite constellation, but it is using similar concepts. Instead of an orbiting network in space, Loon uses weather balloons to float transmitters high in the atmosphere, essentially creating a floating network in the sky.
Facebook, filed a request with the federal government to fly a single experimental satellite in low orbit. It has not committed to deploy a full-fledged network or revealed much about its strategy. Other smaller companies with smaller wallets have also begun to join the race.

All will also require a network of Earth stations for the satellites to communicate with. There is much competition, many dollars to spend, and much work to do before we see the results in our living rooms.

Aug 23, 2019

Happy Friday

Get up and decide it is time to celebrate a Happy Friday.

I celebrate every day, especially on a Happy Friday!

New NFL Roku Channels

Here are the teams with a free Roku channel:

The NFL is not the only sport to launch Roku channels. Increasingly teams and even full leagues are launching free streaming channels on Roku to make it easy for their fans to enjoy free content from their favorite teams and sports.

Staying Young

Received this from a friend recently and thought it is good enough to share.

1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight, and height. Let the doctors worry about them.

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning.  Learn more about computers, crafts, gardening, etc., and never let your brain idle.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long, and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. Tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on.

7. Surround yourself with what you love. Whether it is family, friends, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever.

8. Cherish your health. If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Do not take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, to the beach, to a park, but not to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

Stop Signs

Stop signs are the only octagonal (eight-sided) road signs. They are like that because the government wants them to be easily distinguished from other road signs, even when viewed from the back.

The first stop signs appeared in 1915. At the time, they were square with a white background. “STOP” was written in a black font. The sign worked until more cars began to crowd the roads during the 1920s.

The American Association of State Highway Officials came up with a new eight-sided 'STOP' sign that drivers could easily recognize, even if they did not understand or could not see what was written on it.

The old eight-sided stop signs had yellow backgrounds with black lettering and outlines. The background became red with white lettering during 1954. They changed to a red background, because traffic lights were using red to mean 'STOP'.

Egg Substitutes

Catering to vegans and vegetarians these days is popular and profitable. However, the purity of vegan and current concocted substitute offerings seem to be at odds. Reminds me of the purist greenies who decided bottled water is better than natural water and are now running away from the consequences of millions of pounds of trash plastic bottles their cause created.

Like with plant based burgers, new vegan does not mean cheap. In fact, Just brand vegan eggs suggested price for 12 oz (about 7-8 eggs) is $7.99 vs. $1 to 1.20 for a dozen real eggs. So, 10 cents per egg vs. about $1 per mung bean egg equivalent.
JUST egg's is a plant based egg substitute. According to its website, Just eggs are made from: "Water, Mung Bean Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Dehydrated Onion, Gellan Gum, Natural Carrot Extractives, Natural Flavors (sic), Natural Turmeric Extractives, Potassium Citrate, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Sugar, Tapioca Syrup, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Transglutaminase, Nisin, and contains soy."
According to Food Navigator, JUST's process for extracting the protein is: "the raw mung beans are de-hulled and milled to produce flour, which is mixed with water and a food-grade defoaming agent to form a slurry, the pH of which is adjusted with a food-grade sodium hydroxide solution for solubization of the target protein into the aqueous solution.”
A serving of JUST Egg contains 5 grams of protein and zero carbs, similar to a real egg. It works for scrambled eggs, omelets, stir-fries, French toast, and crepes. It does not mimic the properties of an egg in baking nor will it emulsify when it is raw, meaning it is no good for something like a carbonara or a salad dressing.

Mung beans originated in India and are typically found in many Far East and Middle Eastern diets. When bean sprouts are called for in recipes, it generally refers to germinated mung bean or soybean sprouts. About 7 ounces (202 grams) of boiled mung beans contains 212 calories. Generally speaking, mung beans, but not necessarily Just Eggs are healthy for us.

Mmmm, going to gas up with some mung bean eggs for breakfast.


OTA is an acronym for Over the Air, meaning antenna. OTT means Over the Top and refers to watching TV using the internet (also called streaming). Millions of people around the world have been replacing cable with OTT monthly offerings, due to cable's extremely high fees and multi-year no-cut contracts. All of the OTT offerings have a free period, usually seven days to test and see if you like the service.

Many people are also discovering antennas today are not like the old days and offer many more free channels. Additionally, antennas produce a better picture than any of the cable or OTT services (excluding 4K) because they do not compress the signal coming into your house. Also, there are many relatively inexpensive (less than $20) indoor antennas that can be attached to a window, so no need to climb up on the roof as we did in the past. Unfortunately rural areas still mostly lack local service.

There are eight OTT players with live TV vying for your TV dollars: PlayStation Vue, AT&T TV NOW, AT&T Watch, Hulu, Sling TV, Philo, FuboTV, and YouTube TV. Each has a curated list of offerings, with some catering to sports fans, or families, or variety. Most offer multiple options to use and pay for more or less channels.

They all stream live TV and selected movies over the internet and require a smart TV or a box, like fireTV, Roku, Chromecast, etc. Luckily, each device is a one time purchase, some as low as $24.95. Some services do not play on all boxes, so check before you buy. Almost all offer addons, like Netflix and Prime purchased through them or separately. Many, but not all offer live sports.

Disney+ is coming this fall, but will not offer live TV, just movies, old TV reruns, and some original content, like Netflix and Prime. Incidentally, Netflix will have 158.8 million viewers of the 182.5 million people using OTT services in 2019. Amazon Prime Video is the second most-popular service behind Netflix, with 96.5 million subscribers.

AT&T TV (not to be confused with
AT&T TV NOW or AT&T Watch) is a new service that is meant to eventually replace satellite services AT&T Uverse and AT&T DirectTV. It is sold as a two year bundle and prices like traditional cable. Also, like cable, has penalties for early termination, requires a box like cable, and extra fees.

The major benefits for considering OTT is to save money, as much as $100 per month or more by not paying for all the extra channels on cable that you do not watch. Some people switch out one service for another, such as for those that provide sports in the fall, then switching again in spring or adding Netflix to watch new series, then dropping when the series is over. This adds variety and still keeps costs down. Services begin as low as $15 per month and can go as high as close to $100 per month.

Many seniors especially, have found that an antenna alone provides enough entertainment and is totally free of monthly payments. Others have added an antenna as a backup for OTT sports blackouts or when there are contract disputes and local channels are temporarily unavailable. Many places have over thirty channels available for free with an antenna. You can find more info. Use the search box for 'antenna'. 

Aug 16, 2019

Happy Friday

He who smiles most, loves best.

I always try to share both, especially on a Happy Friday!


On Aug 12, 1981 (38 years ago this week) IBM launched its IBM Personal Computer (IBM 5150) at a starting price of $1,565 for the base model with 16K RAM, a color graphics adapter, and no disc drive. It had 40K of read-only memory and 16K of user memory. Options included a display, a printer, two diskette drives, extra memory, communications, game adapter, and application packages, including text processing. The operating system was from an unknown company at the time, Microsoft.

It was not the first personal computer, but it revolutionized business computing by becoming the first PC to gain widespread adoption by industry and for personal use. It was designed, developed, built, and sold within 12 months - at that time faster than any other hardware product in IBM's history. We have come a long way in a short time.

Thought for the Day

Beyond Burger vs. Impossible Burger

Traditional meat products usually have one ingredient, meat. These new meat free products are more complicated. They are touted as good for the environment, but neglect to publish whether they are good for us to eat.

The Impossible Burger has 21 ingredients, and the Beyond Burger has 22. These burgers are highly processed foods, which generally get a thumbs-down from nutritionists and dietitians alike. Just because a product is plant-based, does not mean it is automatically healthy. French fries are plant-based. However, like so many other things, marketing trumps science and good sense.
“My main concern is the questionably high sodium content of these veggie-based alternatives, which can rank up to five times the amount of a regular burger patty. Beyond and Impossible burgers are very different," said Cynthia Sass, a New York-based performance nutritionist.
Impossible's main protein source is soy, one of the big eight most common allergens. Soy is high in phytic acid, also known as phytates. These phytates prevent the absorption of minerals like iron and calcium (among others). This can be particularly harmful, especially for children. Additionally, soy is high in phytoestrogen. This can block normal estrogen, which leads not just to hormonal imbalance, but possibly breast cancer. Impossible Burgers also include coconut oil, which supplies a significant amount of saturated fat,” according to another nutritionist. Because coconut oil contains more saturated fat than butter or lard, many nutritionists recommend using it sparingly.

Impossible Burger 2.0 ingredients include: Water, Soy-protein concentrate, Coconut oil, Sunflower oil, Natural flavors (sic), Potato protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast extract, Cultured dextrose, Modified Food Starch, Soy leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy-protein isolate, Mixed tocopherols (vitamin E), Zinc gluconate, Thiamine hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium ascorbate (vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), Riboflavin (vitamin B2), and Vitamin B12.

The Beyond Burger uses pea protein isolate, which most people find easily digestible, but can cause increased gastrointestinal discomfort if people are not used to it, said Vandana Sheth, a registered dietitian nutritionist.  "This is a source of saturated fat, and you will see that one burger contains 30% of the recommended daily value." Beyond Burger is using that ingredient for a marbling effect. The American Heart Association advises that we be wary before choosing coconut oil due to its high saturated fat content.
Beyond Burger ingredients include: Water, Pea protein isolate, Canola oil, Refined coconut oil, Cellulose from bamboo, Methylcellulose, Potato starch, Natural flavor (sic), Maltodextrin, Yeast extract, Salt, Sunflower oil, Vegetable glycerin, Dried yeast, Gum arabic, Citrus extract, Ascorbic acid, Beet juice extract, Acetic acid, Succinic acid, Modified food starch, and Annatto.
Beyond Meat's 4-ounce patty is listed at 270 calories, while Impossible Foods' is listed at 240 calories. There are 246 calories in 4 ounces of Ground Beef (90% Lean / 10% Fat). Four ounces of extra-lean ground beef (95 percent lean, 5 percent fat) contains 155 calories.

A real burger made with lean beef has about the same calories, fat, and saturated fat as a Beyond Burger, but more protein, less sodium, and less calories. Caveat Emptor!

"It's Greek to Me

In a wide-ranging number of languages, major and minor, from all different branches of the language family tree, there is some version of “It’s Greek to me.”

One theory ties it to medieval monks. In Western Europe, the predominant written language was Latin, but much of the writing that survived from antiquity was in Greek. The theory holds that these monks, in transcribing and copying their texts, were not necessarily able to read Greek, and would write a phrase next to any Greek text they found: “Graecum est; non legitur.” Translated: “It is Greek; it cannot be read.”

This and other idioms all seek to describe one person’s failure to understand what the other is trying to say, but in a particular, dismissive way. It is not just, “Sorry, I can’t understand you.” It is saying, “The way you are speaking right now is incomprehensible.” It specifically compares that incomprehensibility to a particular language, a language agreed upon in that culture to be particularly impenetrable.

To Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian, and Dutch - Greek serves as an indecipherable tongue and not understandable. Baltic countries think Spanish is impenetrable. People from Greece, Philippines, Poland, France, Albania, and in many other places, say some variation of, “That’s Chinese to me.”

NFL TV is Confusing

NFL makes it difficult to watch football games. In its effort to maximize profits, it has split who can broadcast what games and when. Of course, most sports leagues still sell their biggest rights packages to live TV networks, because that is still where the largest live audiences are.

There are five channels you need to access to if you want to watch the NFL. You need broadcast channels like ESPN and NFL Network either on cable or various streaming services. For local channels, you need CBS, NBC, and FOX. These channels can be accessed through a streaming service depending on your location, or using an antenna.

  • Most local NFL games will be broadcast over the air on network channels like CBS, FOX, and NBC.
  • Sunday football games air on CBS and FOX during the afternoon and on NBC for Sunday Night Football.
  • Monday Night Football airs exclusively on ESPN.
  • Thursday Night Football airs on different channels, depending on the week. The NFL Network will host 5 exclusive games that will only be found on it. The other 11 games will be simulcast on NFL Network, FOX, and Amazon Prime.
Bonus - It is long overdue, but the first time the NFL will be available in 4K on any service, including satellite and cable is from FuboTV, the only live streaming service that offers live sports in 4K. This LINK has the dates and various sports that will be broadcast in 4K on FUBO. Why not try a seven day free subscription to see the difference of 4K for live sports.