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RIP Glenn Frey

1 min read

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I read A Fatal Family Secret earlier in the year, & recommend it. (It's free right now on Amazon

1 min read

I read A Fatal Family Secret by Samantha Marks earlier in the year, & recommend it  (It's free right now on Amazon Even better, the sequel just came out.





Johns Hopkins | Reimagining Libraries in the Information Age

1 min read

It's not only great to see what's going on at the library, but to hear about where they're going in the future.


Oregon Shooting is ENTERTAINMENT!?!? Better fix this @Flipboard / @People #NotRoutine

1 min read

President Obama said that the repetition of tragic shootings like yesterday's in Oregon are becoming "routine." While I understand that there are some depraved individuals out there, I'm hoping that tragedies like this which are far too routine, are never considered "Entertainment" as the Flipboard app on my phone seems to be categorizing this article by People Magazine.

Fellow citizens and by extension, Congress, can we do something about these situations before other respected news outlets begin calling these horrific tragedies "entertainment"?


Obituary for Jerome Joseph owner of the old Brand Bookshop in Glendale

2 min read

I won't go so far as to say the literary world won't live on past him, but the last of the truly great gentleman booksellers is gone, and the world is far worse off as a result.

February 23, 1928 - August 4, 2015 Long time local book store owner, Jerome Joseph, 87, of Los Angeles, passed away peacefully early on Tuesday after a protracted series of illnesses.

Jerome was born and raised in Woodriver, Illinois, a small town of some 25 miles south of St. Louis and then practiced law for several years in southern Missouri after which he moved back to Woodriver and joined the family business at its Ben Franklin Dime Store. He was married for a short time. After a while, he became restless, pulled up stakes, and came to sunny Southern California.

In the early 1980, he established a used book store in Fullerton in collaboration with Larry Mullen, who taught him the book business. Subsequently, he opened his own used bookstore, Brand Bookshop, in Glendale in 1985. The store was closed in October 2014. Jerome was an avid fan of the Baltimore Orioles even when they were the Saint Louis Cardinals, and, in fact, he owned shares in that club.

He is survived by his adopted son, Noriaki Nakano of Los Angeles, and one brother, Howard, of Glendale. Neptune Society is handling arrangements. Jerome specifically asked that there not be a memorial service but he is nevertheless remembered and missed.

Originally appeared in the <a href="">LA Times</a>


The IndieWeb Movement and Drupal

3 min read

The IndieWeb is a growing people-focused alternative to the ‘corporate web’.

This BoF session is encouraged for all levels of Drupal users: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Developers, and particularly those working for larger corporations, should be interested in the benefits that some of the IndieWeb principles can convey to the marketing/communications departments of their clients' companies.

Haven't you (or your clients) always wanted to be the "hub" of your own online presence with ancillary social services helping to serve your purposes rather than the services' own interests? Isn't this why we all want to build and have our own online spaces in the first place?

With the rise of areas like social media, it's often the case that much of our content and material lives in corporate silos like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and a variety of other sites. Sadly, as netizens, we do not have direct control over these sites, often can't export our data from them, and they can be (and often are) bought out or shut down at almost a moments notice. Worse, comments and interaction with our content is typically also stuck in these silos and it lives or dies with them. Wouldn't you love to have the network effect and value that these sites bring without the extra work or hindrances they bring?

There is a growing and very viable alternative to this model which is being built by the IndieWebCamp community as a multi-platform and opensource project which dovetails well with the ideals of the Drupal community.

Those who are interested in learning about and discussing some of the basic principles and philosophies of the movement are encouraged to attend. We'll chat about some of the current projects and capabilities as well as open standards that help enable the functionality you've always wanted (or maybe didn't know you wanted until now) in your websites.

Moving forward, we can all build IndieWeb principles into the Drupal platform to help it remain relevant as the web continues to grow and evolve.

A wealth of information about the IndieWeb community can be found at their website, but as a brief overview some of their basic principles appear below:

Your content is yours

When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation. Too many companies have gone out of business and lost all of their users’ data. By joining the IndieWeb, your content stays yours and in your control.

You are better connected

Your articles and status messages can go to all services, not just one, allowing you to engage with everyone. Even replies and likes on other services can come back to your site so they’re all in one place.

You are in control

You can post anything you want, in any format you want, with no one monitoring you. In addition, you share simple readable links such as These links are permanent and will always work.

Category: BoF

Skill: Beginner

Duration: One hour

Session Tags: IndieWeb, social media, Open Source, web architecture, open standards

Register for the session at 2015 Drupal Camp LA at


The REAL Baltimore: "Your ex-boyfriend still lives here"

1 min read

This opinion piece in yesterday's NY Times indicates how awesome Baltimore really is. The piece is also awesome in and of itself. For those at a loss for how to describe much of the spirit of the city, this will remedy everything.

It reminded me a lot of the oddness of the hour plus conversation I had with John Waters as he recollected his heyday during the Nixon administration while he simultaneously narrated Nixon's funeral to me as he watched it on television. Fornicating with chickens was somehow the "tame" part of that conversation.

“New York is full of normal people who think they’re crazy; Baltimore is full of crazy people who think they’re normal.” -John Waters


Some Hospitals are Marking up Prices More than 1,000 Percent

9 min read

I don't often (read: never) cut and paste press releases, but I've got an itching feeling that this is going to be BIG news over the next week or so, and thought I'd forward it along so you don't have to wait for the 5 second sound bite that this story is going to be diminished to. You'll be able to get it directly from the horse's mouth. It'll also give you time to write to your senators and congressmen as well as the growing list of presidential candidates entering the ring.  

The original research can be found in the current issue of the journal "Health Affairs"

Extreme Markup: The 50 U.S. Hospitals with the Highest Charge-to-Cost Ratios” was written by Ge Bai and Gerard F. Anderson.

A brief synopsis from my friends at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health follows:

The 50 hospitals in the United States with the highest markup of prices over their actual costs are charging out-of-network patients and the uninsured, as well as auto and workers’ compensation insurers, more than 10 times the costs allowed by Medicare, new research suggests. It’s a markup of more than 1,000 percent for the same medical services.

'What other industry can you think of that marks up their prices by 1,000 percent and remains in business?’

The findings, from Gerard F. Anderson of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Ge Bai of Washington and Lee University, show that the combination of a lack of regulation of hospital charges in the United States and no market competition is leading to price-gouging that trickles down to nearly all consumers, whether they have health insurance or not, and plays a role in the rise of overall health spending. The report is published in the June issue of Health Affairs.

“There is no justification for these outrageous rates, but no one tells hospitals they can’t charge them,” says Anderson, a professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management. “For the most part, there is no regulation of hospital rates and there are no market forces that force hospitals to lower their rates. They charge these prices simply because they can.”

For their study, Anderson and Bai analyzed the 2012 Medicare cost reports from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to determine a charge-to-cost ratio, an indicator of how much hospitals are marking up charges beyond what Medicare agrees to pay for those with its government-subsidized health insurance.

The 50 hospitals, they found, charged an average of more than 10 times the Medicare-allowed costs. They also found that the typical United States hospital charges were on average 3.4 times the Medicare-allowable cost in 2012. In other words, when the hospital incurs $100 of Medicare-allowable costs, the hospital charges $340. In one of the top 50 hospitals, that means a $1,000 charge.

Of the 50 hospitals with the highest price markups, 49 are for-profit hospitals and 46 are owned by for-profit health systems. One for-profit health system, Community Health Systems Inc., operates 25 of the 50 hospitals. Hospital Corp. of America operates more than one-quarter of them. While they are located in many states, 20 of the hospitals are in Florida.

“For-profit hospitals appear to be better players in this price-gouging game,” says Bai, an assistant professor of accounting at Washington & Lee University. “They represent only 30 percent of hospitals in the U.S., but account for 98 percent of the 50 hospitals with highest markups."

Many hospital patients don’t actually pay the “charge master” or full price. Along with government insurers, most private health insurers negotiate lower rates for their patients.

But 30 million uninsured Americans are likely to be charged the full rate, as are patients receiving out-of-network care and those receiving workers’ compensation or auto insurance benefits. As a result, uninsured patients, who are often the most vulnerable, face exceptionally high medical bills, often leading to personal bankruptcy, damaged credit scores or the avoidance of needed medical services.

The impact of overcharging extends beyond hospital patients. Notes Anderson: “The cost of workers’ compensation and auto insurance policies are higher in the states where hospital charges are unregulated because companies must pay those higher rates.”

In addition, privately insured in-network patients may also end up paying greater premiums due to hospitals' high markups, which are often used by hospitals as leverage to negotiate higher prices with private insurance companies. “Except for patients with government insurance, few consumers are immune from negative financial impacts caused by hospitals' high markups,” Bai says.

In Maryland and West Virginia, the state sets the rates that hospitals can charge for services. No federal law regulates them for all Americans.

“We as consumers are paying for this when hospitals charge 10 times what they should,” Anderson says. “What other industry can you think of that marks up the price of their product by 1,000 percent and remains in business?”

For the most part, the hospitals with the highest markups are not situated in pricey neighborhoods or big cities, where the market might explain the higher prices. The most expensive hospital is North Okaloosa Medical Center, located in the Florida Panhandle about an hour outside Pensacola. There, patients are charged 12.6 times more than Medicare allowable costs.

Anderson says changes are unlikely to drop to levels closer to costs allowed by Medicare unless state or federal officials decide to legislate a maximum markup that a hospital could charge a patient. He says states could choose to have their hospital rates set by a state agency as is done in Maryland and West Virginia, which guarantees that hospitals can’t gauge their patients.

He says that price transparency could also help only to a limited extent because people cannot bargain or comparative shop when they are sick. Most hospitals aren’t required to – and don’t – publicly share how much they charge for different procedures

“This system has the effect of charging the highest prices to the most vulnerable patients and those with the least market power,” Anderson says. “The result is a market failure.”

List of 50 Hospitals with Highest Charge-to-Cost Ratios, 2012:

1.         North Okaloosa Medical Center (FL)

2.         Carepoint Health-Bayonne Hospital (NJ)

3.         Bayfront Health Brooksville (FL)

4.         Paul B Hall Regional Medical Center (KY)

5.         Chestnut Hill Hospital (PA)

6.         Gadsden Regional Medical Center (AL)

7.         Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center (FL)

8.         Orange Park Medical Center (FL)

9.         Western Arizona Regional Medical Center (AZ)

10.       Oak Hill Hospital (FL)

11.       Texas General Hospital (TX)

12.       Fort Walton Beach Medical Center (FL)

13.       Easton Hospital (PA)

14.       Brookwood Medical Center (AL)

15.       National Park Medical Center (AR)

16.       St. Petersburg General Hospital (FL)

17.       Crozer Chester Medical Center (PA)

18.       Riverview Regional Medical Center (AL)

19.       Regional Hospital of Jackson (TN)

20.       Sebastian River Medical Center (FL)

21.       Brandywine Hospital (PA)

22.       Osceola Regional Medical Center (FL)

23.       Decatur Morgan Hospital - Parkway Campus (AL)

24.       Medical Center of Southeastern Oklahoma (OK)

25.       Gulf Coast Medical Center (FL)

26.       South Bay Hospital (FL)

27.       Fawcett Memorial Hospital (FL)

28.       North Florida Regional Medical Center (FL)

29.       Doctors Hospital of Manteca (CA)

30.       Doctors Medical Center (CA)

31.       Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute (FL)

32.       Lakeway Regional Hospital (TN)

33.       Brandon Regional Hospital (FL)

34.       Hahnemann University Hospital (PA)

35.       Phoenixville Hospital (PA)

36.       Stringfellow Memorial Hospital (AL)

37.       Lehigh Regional Medical Center (FL)

38.       Southside Regional Medical Center (VA)

39.       Twin Cities Hospital (FL)

40.       Olympia Medical Center (CA)

41.       Springs Memorial Hospital (SC)

42.       Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point (FL)

43.       Dallas Regional Medical Center (TX)

44.       Laredo Medical Center (TX)

45.       Bayfront Health Dade City (FL)

46.       Pottstown Memorial Medical Center (PA)

47.       Dyersburg Regional Medical Center (TN)

48.       South Texas Health System (TX)

49.       Kendall Regional Medical Center (FL)

50.       Lake Granbury Medical Center (TX)


SOURCE: Authors' analysis of Healthcare Cost Report Information System (HCRIS) computer files obtained from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for 2012, published in the appendix of the June 2015 issue of Health Affairs.


Evolution of a Scientific Journal Article Title (from Nature to TMZ)

2 min read

It's interesting to see the evolution of the title put on a story from its publication in a scientific journal to its reportage in a science-based magazine, and then its final form in the broad-based popular press.  

Below is a chronological list of titles that moves from Nature Materials to Quanta Magazine to Wired Magazine and finally ends with TMZ. My hypothesis (or guess, for the TMZ crowd) is that almost everyone could have easily matched the title of the article to the publication. Very telling about the process is that the Wired article is an exact reprint of the Quanta story, the only change was in the title.

Curvature-induced symmetry breaking determines elastic surface patterns


A Grand Theory of Wrinkles

A collaboration between mechanical engineers and mathematicians has revealed universal rules for how wrinkles form.


The Fascinating Math of How Wrinkles Form


Pruned People -- Guess Who!


Okay, I'll admit that the TMZ article, has nothing to do with the original article, but only because it isn't sensational enough to make their publication - perhaps if Yeezy, The Biebs, or Kim K were invloved. You will notice, however, that the article is in fact genuine and actually appeared on TMZ.



Short review of "Thinking in CSS" by Aravind Shenoy

2 min read

While short, simple, and providing some useful examples, Thinking in CSS is purely for the very beginner. With this in mind it still skips some of the basics and presumes one knows something about the general format and syntax of CSS or that one will pick it up solely through examples.

Though I breezed through it fairly quickly, it appeared that one or two of the coding examples had issues in places which is more likely to confuse the beginning audience it's geared to serve. (Things like classes and ids that were in the code, but never used.) I wish it had had some more thorough explanation and some more complex examples for everyday or common usages to make it more beneficial to the beginning user. 

The overuse of examples which featured Packt Publishing (and seemed to serve more as an advertisement than examples) were somewhat grating after a while.

I far preferred the CSS chapters from Robin Nixon's Learning PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, and CSS: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Dynamic WebsitesCSS and Documents was also very good (and very thorough), but only covered a sub-portion of the broader topic.

I'll mention that I got my e-book copy for free on Amazon.


I simply say that there are really four places that have a “the” in front of their name

1 min read

Mary Higgins Clark just doesn't get it. I simply say that there are only four places that have a “the” in front of their name: the Vatican, the Hague, the Bronx — and The Johns Hopkins University, and that so much talent has come out of The Johns Hopkins University.



The "Aldrich" Font

1 min read

Apparently there's an Aldrich font from Matthew Desmond that is a

"hardworking family with roots in Midwestern ethics."

It can be found at Google Fonts. A sample appears below:

Aldrich font sample


Mathematics and Category Theory for Big History?! @davidgchristian @bighistory @BigHistoryInst

5 min read

The more I read of the introductory chapter of Category Theory for the Sciences by David Spivak, the more I'm sure there is a firm and solid foundation for potentially making mathematics a major pillar of Big History.  

The structural scheme for category theory within mathematics sounds almost like that of the structure of Big History as a whole. If nothing else it screams convergence while making very complex structures much simpler. (Big History in reverse perhaps?)

Cover of Complexity Theory for Scientists

I can't wait to delve further in. Spivak's text, though very mathematical in nature seems to have all the basic set theory (at a high school level), and the introduction indicates that he expects readers to have some facility with linear algebra, but there are no other highly daunting prerequisites.

A few excerpts:

This book extols the virtues of a new branch of mathematics, category theory, which was invented for powerful communication of ideas between different fields and subfields within mathematics. By powerful communication of ideas I mean something precise. Different branches of mathematics can be formalized into categories. These categories can then be connected by functors. And the sense in which these functors provide powerful communication of ideas is that facts and theorems proven in one category can be transferred through a connecting functor to yield proofs of analogous theorems in another category. A functor is like a conductor of mathematical truth.

We build scientific understanding by developing models, and category theory is the study of basic conceptual building blocks and how they cleanly fit together to make such models. Certain structures and conceptual frameworks show up again and again in our understanding of reality. No one would dispute that vector spaces are ubiquitous throughout the sciences. But so are hierarchies, symmetries, actions of agents on objects, data models, global behavior emerging as the aggregate of local behavior, self-similarity, and the effect of methodological context.

Hierarchies are partial orders, symmetries are group elements, data models are categories, agent actions are monoid actions, local-to-global principles are sheaves, self-similarity is modeled by operads, context can be modeled by monads.

The paradigm shift brought on by Einstein’s theory of relativity led to a widespread realization that there is no single perspective from which to view the world. There is no background framework that we need to find; there are infinitely many different frameworks and perspectives, and the real power lies in being able to translate between them. It is in this historical context that category theory got its start.

However, in 1957 Alexander Grothendieck used category theory to build new mathematical machinery (new cohomology theories) that granted unprecedented insight into the behavior of algebraic equations. Since that time, categories have been built specifically to zoom in on particular features of mathematical subjects and study them with a level of acuity that is unavailable elsewhere.

Bill Lawvere saw category theory as a new foundation for all mathematical thought. Mathematicians had been searching for foundations in the nineteenth century and were reasonably satisfied with set theory as the foundation. But Lawvere showed that the category of sets is simply one category with certain nice properties, not necessarily the center of the mathematical universe. He explained how whole algebraic theories can be viewed as examples of a single system. He and others went on to show that higherorder logic was beautifully captured in the setting of category theory... 

In 1980, Joachim Lambek showed that the types and programs used in computer science form a specific kind of category. This provided a new semantics for talking about programs, allowing people to investigate how programs combine and compose to create other programs, without caring about the specifics of implementation. Eugenio Moggi brought the category-theoretic notion of monads into computer science to encapsulate ideas that up to that point were considered outside the realm of such theory.

It is difficult to explain the clarity and beauty brought to category theory by people like Daniel Kan and Andr´e Joyal. They have each repeatedly extracted the essence of a whole mathematical subject to reveal and formalize a stunningly simple yet extremely powerful pattern of thinking, revolutionizing how mathematics is done.

All this time, however, category theory was consistently seen by much of the mathematical community as ridiculously abstract. But in the twenty-first century it has finally come to find healthy respect within the larger community of pure mathematics. It is the language of choice for graduate-level algebra and topology courses, and in my opinion will continue to establish itself as the basic framework in which to think about and express mathematical ideas.

As mentioned, category theory has branched out into certain areas of science as well. Baez and Dolan [6] have shown its value in making sense of quantum physics, it is well established in computer science, and it has found proponents in several other fields as well. 

But to my mind, we are at the very beginning of its venture into scientific methodology. Category theory was invented as a bridge, and it will continue to serve in that role.


Updating @WithKnown Past 0.7.7 and Keeping Social Media Integration

3 min read

Last night I upgraded my WithKnown installation from 0.7.5 to and was shocked to see all of the social media integration of my instance had completely disappeared!  

Suddenly POSSE wasn't POSS-I-ble!

Starting with 0.7.7, Known had taken out the old social media plugins and replaced them with Convoy. While I'm sure Convoy is awesome and makes social media integration for POSSE dead simple, something in my gut told me that it just wasn't for me.  I also didn't want to throw away the hour or so I spent configuring all of the plugins in the first place only to end up paying $50 a year for the same thing I'd already had. Those who haven't dealt with it already, will probably find Convoy a great value, though it'd probably be better billed as a one-time fee rather than a recurring one.

I'll admit that I panicked for a while and contemplated restoring the original 0.7.5 server code from back-up.

Fortunately a cooler head prevailed and some research and internet searching began.  I didn't find much immediately - the drawback of living so close to the bleeding edge of technology when still learning how all of it works.

I tried to see if I could uninstall the Convoy plugin by going into the site configurations and changing the plugin to disable it. Sadly, of the dozen or so plugins, Convoy is the only one that didn't ship with an "enable"/"disable" button. I'm sure they'll fix this shortly, but for those who want to do it manually, simply add the following line of code to your config.ini file:

     antiplugins[] = 'Convoy'

Screen capture of Plugins Settings Page

Eventually, I spent some time digging into the code and comparing/contrasting all the files.  Noticing that 0.7.6 had six or so additional folders for each of the social media plugins hiding within the IdnoPlugins folder (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, SoundCloud, etc.), I simply dragged and dropped all of those over into and voila! We're back up and running.

As a fine point, one should notice that both the FourSquare and Twitter plugins have been updated since 0.7.6, so they should be copied and dragged over from the main GitHub repository.  Following a similar procedure will also need to be watched/followed for future updates on occasion as well.

For future UX, I'm hoping that Known will at least as a minimum install and make Convoy available directly, but that disabling it will make the other original plugins viewable and configurable for the more technically minded, particularly as POSSE is one of the cornerstones of the IndieWeb movement.

As a quick recap for those doing general Known upgrades, try the following:

  1. Back up your database and your code, just in case;
  2. Download the new repository (either GitHub or on WithKnown);
  3. Delete the "dummy" Uploads folder from the new install and keep your original on the server which has all of your photos, etc.;
  4. Keep your config.ini; 
  5. Keep your .htaccess (unless it needs a serious change; the htaccess.dist replacement file can be easily copied over, but will need to have its name changed from the version with the .dist extension);
  6. Keep the social media plugin folders in IdnoPlugins that you intend to continue using; or upload newer versions which are availble from ​;
  7. Upload all the new files to the server directory.

Those with an adventurous spirit may also find some of the other available plugins fun to play around with too.


A Comment on the Academica Wordpress Theme

2 min read

In reply to:

I agree wholeheartedly with Adam, though I don't think I'd really seen any small issues except perhaps for an odd CSS issue in formatting an h2 tag somewhere. (Note: This comment applies to v1.2.3 of Academica as on 4/2/15, the theme publisher made a DRASTIC change to the theme, so take caution in upgrading!!)

I have created a child-theme with one or two small customizations (slightly larger headings in side widgets and some color/text size changes), but otherwise have v1.2.3 working as perfectly as it was intended to. This includes the slideshow functionality on the homepage. See BoffoSocko as an example.

For those, perhaps including Adam, wanting to get the slider to work properly:

  • Go to your WP Dashboard hover on the menu tab "appearance" and click on "customize"
  • On the "Featured Content" tab, enter a tag you want to use to feature content on the homepage of your site. (In my case, I chose "featured" and also clicked "Hide tag from displaying in post meta and tag clouds".)
  • Go to one or more posts (I think it works on up to 10 featurable posts) and tag them with the word you just used in the featured content setting (in my case "featured"
  • Next be sure to actually set a "Featured photo" for the post--930x300 pixels is the optimal photo size if I recall.
  • Now when you visit your home page, the slider should work properly and include arrows to scroll through them (these aren't as obvious on featured photos with white backgrounds).
  • Note that on individual pages, you'll still have static header image(s) which are also customizable in the "customize" section of the WP dashboard, which was mentioned in step 1.

I hope this helps.