Monday, January 31, 2011
I believe [the Czar] has ignored the efficiency of generating the electricity that charges the cars. I can’t believe the 97% - 93% numbers include generating losses, let alone transmission and charging inefficiencies. Just looking at the thermodynamics laws that state that your efficiency (of any heat engine) is a function of the hot side temperature and the low side (sink) temperature measured in absolute degrees. Since even a gas turbine can’t reject heat into absolute zero – it’s more like 500° K or so. The efficiency is the area enclosed by the engine cycle on a temperature-entropy plot if my memory serves me right. Checking the databanks, I find 45-50% efficiencies for the most advanced coal plants. If you include a maximum of 50% to generate the electricity, that would collapse the efficiencies of electric vehicles compared to gasoline powered cars.Further research shows that nominal coal and oil-fired plants run about 33% efficient and combined-cycle gas-fired plants can run as high as 50%.
Would you like the Gormogons to move the planets around?Well, we could move Mars to LaGrange Point 4, and Venus to LaGrange Point 5. The Czar would not rule out Point 3, but since that puts it on the other side of the Sun, it would be very difficult for us to see what is going on there. And we have enough trouble with stuff going on halfway or not even quite halfway around the world, let alone the Sun. So on that note, L4 and L5 will have to do. Putting them anywhere else would eventually prove slam-bang fatal to life on earth.
Oh I do want. But what I really wantif we're remaking the Solar System to orderis for Mars and Venus moved to our orbit. Let their temperature regulate to 'close to earth' normal and hey presto: living space.
But you must realize this could change very little. Mars, for example, would certainly warm up, releasing a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere, thickening it. And there are ways to introduce oxygen to the environment. However, two problems remain: the lack of water, and the absence of a magnetic field. Water is ridiculously expensive to ship there, and trying to milk some from a comet (an image the Czar would prefer leave his head) is unpredictable: the comet could easily do serious damage. While there could well be enough water to sustain a small population, any reasonable amount of real estate would need more than Mars has to give. Also, the absence of a magnetic field would mean Mars is bathed in radiation that would be pretty unpleasant right away.
Second, there is the Venus problem. Putting her in the L5 point would be great, but would hardly cool the planet. Remember, Venus is so freaking hot that the ground glows cherry redand produces enough light to see by at night. Also, you know, you have the intense, crushing pressure, the sulfuric acid mists, and pyroclastic flows. Even if we move Venuss orbit 0.3 astronomical units for you, she wont be cooling down for a very long time. Possibly never, since the process is largely self-sustaining by this point.
So yes, we can move them on each side of the Earth, but we can pretty much guarantee your property value would plummet.
Some, like 'Puter, see this as a natural consequence of socialized medicine (i.e., ObamaCare). Others, like Czar, see this as a natural consequence of Saturday nights at the Leaping Peacock.
This morning's New York Times puts forth the following editorial regarding Governor Andrew Cuomo's (D-NY) plans to close a $10 billion budget gap. Gov. Cuomo is submitting his budget to the Legislature tomorrow. The New York Times opines:
Ilion’s [ed. -- a small, upstate school district] problems are deeper than those of many other districts, but the underlying choices are the same. Savings can be found through streamlining and other creative reforms. But with 75 percent of all local education budgets going to pay for teachers’ salaries and benefits, that is where much of the money will have to be found.
The unions may have to accept a salary freeze, and even then layoffs may be inevitable. (Last year, the state lost 9,000 of its 220,000 teachers due to the budget cuts.) Teachers will have to agree to pay more into their pensions and health insurance plans, and to raise the retirement age to 65.
So there you have it. New York's public sector unions insistence on no reduction in pay or benefits, under any circumstances, ever (WE MEAN IT!!!1!) now places them solidly to the left of the New York Times. Of course, 'Puter would prefer to freeze all pensions at the current accrual (i.e., you get what you have as of now) and transition everyone to generous 403(b) plans, but that's not going to happen anytime soon. Heck, New York's ruling class can't even agree to mandate defined contribution plans only for new hires.
But, 'Puter does take comfort that the liberals' house organ has ceded important ground on: (1) the sanctity of pensions and benefits for public sector workers and (2) the need for meaningful and significant spending cuts. It's a start, and an important one at that.
Quite a lot, as it turns out. Read through this list and ask yourself: is this any more ludicrous than Barack Obama winning the Peace Prize?
When the truth comes out, Jŏngs fans are gonna be crushed. Perhaps literally.
Question 2: Is this the sort of thing you would like the Gormogons to do? Because we will, if thats what you want. We might do it anyway, even if you dont. It is a day full of whimsy.
Anyway, some nice animation work by Brad Goodspeed. Although ironically, the video could be a bit quicker.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Yes, in fact, we do.
All-knowing and mighty Czar,
Just curious, do you have any information on the efficiency of energy conversion for electric cars? It’s been decades since I took thermodynamics so I’m having a hard time wrapping my rapidly decaying old brain around the concept of electric cars being that much more efficient since they go through more energy conversions to produce kinetic energy.
Sorry for the long response: the Czar was busy proving to his ISP that their DNS service is useless.
Well, according to the folks at Tesla Motors, the number of conversions is about the same between gas cars, gas hybrids, and electric cars:
In other words, within the car itself, the answer is four conversions: source to storage, to engine, to forward motion of the wheels. But how many total conversions it takes to get crude into gasoline, or electricity from source to grid, is immeasurable since each gallon or watt will take different routes depending on your geography, local supply, local demand, and so on. But there are ways to estimate this.
And indeed your question was on efficiency of the conversion process. Thus, the Department of Energy has come up with a plausible metric for this called ’well-to-wheel” efficiency, or the efficiency of the process from pulling up crude oil to the forward motion of the car itself.
They measure this by using a kilometers per Megajoule approach. This is computed as follows—you take the efficiencies of:
— Natural gas recovery - 97.5%
— Gas processing - 97.5%
— Transmission recovery over the grid - 92%
— Conversion of AC into DC by the engine rectifier - 60%
(These are based on interesting numbers. The first two are based on worst-case industry averages, the second measures how much electricity actually makes it to your home between source and outlet, and the final number is based on the GE H-System combined cycle generator used in almost all electric cars.)
So you take the product of these efficiencies (1 X .975 X .975 X .92 X .6) and find that only 52.5% of the total power available in natural gas makes it to the wheels of your car. Now, what happens next depends on the car.
The car’s total range at full charge is measured against this, which is based on how much power is used to overcome air resistance (drag), weight, and loss by the battery and multiply that times 52.5%, and you get your final km/MJ rating.
Interestingly, a roughly similar process can be used to compute values for internal combustion cars* and hybrids as well. And here is what you get:
— Tesla Roadster - 1.15 km/MJ
— Chevy Volt, electric - 0.81 km/MJ
— Honda Insight - 0.64 km/MJ
— Chevy Volt, hybrid - 0.61 km/MJ
— Nissan Leaf - 0.59 km/MJ
— Toyota Prius - 0.56 km/MJ
— Honda Civic VX, gas - 0.52 km/MJ
— Volkswagen Jetta, disel - 0.48 km/MJ
— Ford Escape, hybrid - 0.38 km/MJ
— Honda Civic DX - 0.38 km/MJ
— Chevy Volt, gas - 0.37 km/MJ
— H Fuel Cell - 0.35 km/MJ
— Honda FCX - 0.35 km/MJ
— Honda CNG - 0.32 km/MJ
— Toyota Corolla - 0.30 km/MJ
— Toyota Camry - 0.28 km/MJ
— Chevrolet Corvette - 0.25 km/MJ
— Ford Flex - 0.23 km/MJ
— Porsche 911 Turbo - 0.22 km/MJ
— Cadillac Escalade - 0.16 km/MJ
— Ferrari 550 Maranello V12 - 0.12 km/MJ
* The internal combustion formula is as follows: petroleum energy content is 46.7 MJ/kg (note the unit change!); production and transport to gas station efficiency is 81.7% times the km/l (mileage). Bottom line: 1 MPG = 0.013 km/MJ, if you want to see where your car falls in this list.
Higher numbers are better. And at this, the Tesla wins, with the all-electric Chevy Volt a fairly distant second...but still second.
But look what else you find: the Nissan Leaf is not much better than a Prius, and is actually pretty far behind a Honda Insight; so if you want to save gas and oil and spotted owls, the Honda is the better buy.
And let us go further: the typical hydrogen fuel cell protoype is actually less efficient, net, than a Prius, which itself ain’t no great performer. And right behind that is Honda’s FCX fuel cell, which is only a bit better than Honda’s CNG natural gas vehicle. Looks like Honda is way better at building gas engines like the 1993 Civic VX.
And take a look at the Toyota Camry, which is nearly as good or bad as a Chevy Corvette as wasting gas—and the Ford Flex is less green than a Corvette!
Manufacturers are improving their numbers, for the most part, each year. Some of this information is already out of date, but if you make an electric car right—say the Tesla Roadster or the Chevy Volt—yeah. They do win for overall energy conversion efficiency.
They sure beat light rail.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Operative MC sends a cipher on the back of a Bazooka Joe comic concerning this article in yesterday's USA Today (America's high school paper of record). The article concerns the overprescription of narcotic pain killers for our uniformed men, and the resultant addiction and dependency. MC writes:
Given your medical history I thought you might be interested in this article.
Having been subjected to the military medical system for twelve years, and watching others deal with it almost that long after, there are a lot of things here that can be extrapolated to what will happen under Obamacare. The military likes pills. You deal with the pharmacist only semi-occasionally to get the refills, and the doctor or PA may examine you now and again to make sure you're not in an absolute stupor. It's a cheap treatment. Your case goes on autopilot until something changes enough to attract their attention again.
I was fortunate my back issues came after I got out of the military system. I've seen two other people with sciatic pain and they suffered for the longest time with pills and occasional physical therapy as their (half-assed) treatment. There seems to be an extreme reluctance to recommend surgery - I don't know if cost pressure has anything to do with it or not (they probably would have been referred to local hospitals at expense to the military). Both individuals I knew were reduced to walking with canes and they were transferred before I knew whether they ever got a good resolution.
Besides the government-managed health care issue, the standout thing to me is that this Army lieutenant general was willing to go public both inside and outside of the military to bring attention to this. I was despairing of flag officer leadership in general, but then an officer like this sees a need and selflessly steps up. Perhaps he's figuring on a quiet retirement soon instead of promotion, perhaps not. But he does go out and say publicly "yes, I had a problem with pain pills, and the addiction problem is not just personal, it's driven by the way the Army treats patients."
We would do well to heed MC's first hand experience. We owe a debt to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that can never be repaid. The least we can do is not get them hooked on drugs, then cut them loose.
O Cruel and Vicious Czar,Sigh. Here we go again. The Czar is just the Czar of Muscovy. Nothing else: he got screwed out of the rest of that pack by his cousin Danny, and everytime someone brings up Moscow, Kiev, and so forth it rubs salt in a wound.
By the Grace of God, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias, of Moscow, Kiev, Vladimir, Novgorod, yadda yadda yadda—
This has got “Gormogons cover-up” written all over it….
You’ve got to be more careful.
(TBG at http://www.blogger.com/www.listen2unclejay.com)
Not the Czar is opposed to rubbing salt in wounds. Of other people, though.
Regarding the link, though, there is indeed a mildly amusing story behind that missing vial of VX. So like we’re at the Leaping Peacock, right? And Volgi is about two glasses into a bottle of port (if memory serves, he likes a Hardy’s Whiskers Blake tawny port) when he tilts forward and says “You know how ‘Puter thinks he likes hot sauce, and really doesn’t handle it well? We oughta give him some real hot sauce sometime.” And so the Czar goes “Yeah, well, we can get some real hot sauce, and put it into that bottle of watered down hot sauce he keeps in the fridge.” And so Volgi goes “Yeah?” And we go “Yeah!” And Volgi goes “Yeah?” And we go “Yeah!” again.
So then, (you’re still following this, right?) we go over to Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, and we tell Loretta that we need a bottle of VX nerve gas, and she’s like “Blah blah blah national security blah blah WMD crap.” So the Czar says “It’s for a joke on ‘Puter,” and suddenly she’s like all cool about it and asks “Hot sauce?” “You know it,” Volgi says, “We just need a little; we’ll get the rest back,” and she’'s like “Whatever, but dude, I get outta here at five,” and Volgi’s like “It’s all cool and whatever.”
Then we go to the kitchen and find his hot sauce bottle, and we pour like half the VX into it. And Volgi starts freaking out, saying crap about how we were only supposed to use a little and whatever. “No problem,” we say, “A little trick from the Mandarin when he stays at the nice hotels with the mini bars,” and we go over to the sink and put tap water into the VX bottle and fill it back up.
And ‘Puter comes into the kitchen, and we’re all laughing and shit, and he says “What’s the joke” and we don’t know, so we tell him GorT caught Dat Ho in the three-D porn stash, and ‘Puter starts laughing with us because he thinks that happened, and that the Czar is going beat the crap out of Dat, you know, and—swear to God—he finds these french fries in fridge and Volgi says they’re his from the Peacock and they’re still warm and he can have them, cuz you know ‘Puter loves their fries, right? But they’re never hot enough for him.
So ‘Puter takes the bottle of hot sauce right, and our eyes are big as saucers, and he opens the bottle and is just about to pour it on his fries when he looks at the bottle. We thought we got busted, but then ‘Puter starts going on about the effing unions this and the effing gun laws that, and he tilts the bottle...and then straightens it up and says he hasn’t been getting enough sleep and whatever because of his back. We are dying laughing, because he’s walking around the kitchen going on and on about whatever, with his bottle of sauce in one hand and the fries in the other but not putting one on the other.
Finally, he dumps the sauce and it comes out real fast, because it’s cut with the VX, you know? And he puts the bottle back in the fridge and Volgi’s thinking “Here we go,” but instead ‘Puter is walking around again telling some stupid story about a buddy of his who thinks Jesus would have let his disciples smoke pot if they wanted, and he isnt’t eating the fries. Just when we are about to start screaming at him to eat a goddamned fry already, he grabs one and pops it in his mouth. He chews it for like a second, then he makes this nasty face. He grimaces at us, and we just bust out laughing. “You asses,” he screams, “Did you put effing VX nerve gas in these fries?” Swear, we were on our knees, crying and shit. Volgi thought he popped a rib laughing so hard. “Holy crap,” says ‘Puter. “We totally got to get Mandy.” So he takes the fries over to the Mandarin, but Mandarin heard us laughing and him yelling, and when he saw the orange gunk all over the fries he told ‘Puter to go pound sand.
So now ‘Puter’s walking all over the Castle offering fries to people, but he can’t keep a straight face, so just about everybody is telling him no thanks. He found some dumbass from Fresno over by the bar who thought they were Spanish fries or whatever, and finally got the guy to eat one. He died instantly, but then nobody else wanted to try it. So he left them by the bar, but the Tcho-Tchos took them and threw them in the woods along with the dude from Fresno.
Anyway, it’s like Monday morning and Volgi says “Holy crap,” and runs into the kitchen, and there’s the bottle of VX still there on the counter by the microwave. So he takes it back to Loretta, and we heard she really hollered at him, saying that they were all over her about the missing bottle. But anyway it got back to Dugway, and apparently nobody know half of it is missing. God, we’re crying laughing still thinking about it.
Mubārak has known powerful opposition and snuffed it; however, what is transpiring in Egypt now is something new to him: a widespread condemnation of his leadership. Despite the clampdown on private communications throughout Egypt, news is still getting out of vast demonstrations and outright rioting. This might sound familiar, if you remember what happened in Tunisia.
This might also sound familiar, if you recall Iran in 2009. And in equally familiar terms, the Obama administration opts to do nothing. We sit on our hands, and pretend to be uninterested: after all, Tunisia worked out okay, right? And while we sit idle, other forcesvery real, very persuasive, and very evil forcesare not. Word is that the vile Muslim Brotherhood, among others potentially worse, is insinuating themselves and calling for reform.
This might also sound familiar, if you recall Iran in 1979. There, popular rejection of the despotic Shah of Iran resulted in hijacking of the country by a terrible dictatorship that continues to result in thousands of innocent deaths a year around the world. And just as we wrung our hands and begged the merciless to show some kindness to the Shah, who really wasnt that bad of a guy, we have our own vice-president stating clearly that Ḥusnī Mubārak is not a dictator. These sorts of comments inspire the people, all right, but not in the way that helps mankind. The Obama administration, like the Carter administration, operates under the principle that facts should be based on what is least inconvenient for you.
How does this hands-off hope-for-the-best foreign policy play out? We have four possibilities: each might not seem related, but they are.
- The Iranian Scenario. A popular uprising is led by the people. Extremist elements gain control, and direct popular anger toward the West; peace and prosperity rely on a rejection of Western values and an embrace of ancient (though largely retro-invented) traditions of oppression and control. As the famed students taught us, it takes only a few hundred of them to secure power in a land of millions. And if you know the Persian culture, you will not readily find a more independent, freedom-loving people in that region. If Iran can fail to liberate itself, what hope does Egypt have?
- The Korean Scenario. With the ousting of Japanese garrisons in 1945, (South) Korea suddenly found itself free for the first time...well, since ever. The problem was that the entire country was largely ungoverned, and the populace inexperienced at best in running things. As a result, the US attempted to foster a temporary government made up of those Koreans who had experienceunfortunately, this group consisted solely of people regarded as traitors. The result was an instantly corrupt and unpopular government. The only person who managed to bring any order or control was Syngman Rhee, who wound up being his own Ḥusnī Mubārak: rigged elections, brutal enforcement of capricious but draconian laws, and suppression of all dissent. The US tolerated Rhee because he brought actual law and order and resisted communismyet history proves leniency toward anti-communist dictators never pays dividends (Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan). Long after the communist invasions were repelled, the people of South Korea suffered under the yoke of allowing one dictator to replace another. Egypts history of popular, freedom-loving, election-loving leaders is rather slim.
- The Saigon Scenario. A young nation attempts to set up a modernized, pro-West government committed to resisting despotic rule pouring in from the North. Like Korea, except rather than put a cruel strongman, they attempt to do it themselves. Except, conflicting directions and shifting strategies from America result in rampant confusion. The first government falls, and is replaced by another. A crisis of confidence ensues with the new guys, and a series of government rise and fall: presidencies, triumvirates, juntas, committees, and partnerships. At one point, President Johnson privately wonders if there is a single, literate Vietnamese over age 30 in Saigon who hasnt been president there for at least 20 minutes. Confusion, experimentation, misdirection, and corruption become the order of the day. And what happens? Brutality and prolonged warfare resulting in the bad guys winning. Egypt is very much able to tip in a direction like this.
- The Baghdad Scenario. While still a developing scenario, some bets are already on the table. After a shaky start, a genuine democracy is starting to stretch its wings in Iraq. The people are prospering, and the country is developing. Violence levels drop below those seen in Mexico. Business are seeing a return on investment. The people are starting to speak favorably of democracy. One big bet on the table: the violence and uprisings starting to foment in the Muslim world will not come to Iraq. Terrorism will always be a threat, at least for the next ten years, but will rapidly decline. And while Tunisia, Egypt, and possibly Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, and even Jordan will see revolt and discontent, Iraq will remain an oasis of calm.
And let us hope there is no new Cairo scenario to add to the list.
None of these problems will be solved by government policies alone. They need the attention of our churches and other community organizations.
When King announced on the eve of his assassination that he had seen the "Promised Land," he could not have imagined the levels of violence, school drop-outs, drug addiction and child abandonment that have become normal in black America. To get to the Promised Land, we will need to rebuild the infrastructure of the black family, the neighborhood and the church.
How refreshing. It's up to us, not the government, to address our problems. Self reliance and self improvement is the answer. 'Puter fully expects Rev. Soaires to be marginalized for his heresy.
One of 'Puter's few conservative friends from college, and shockingly enough still a practicing Catholic, forwarded Mr. Kristof's piece to 'Puter. Being familiar with 'Puter's strong defense of the Church to others of their mutual college friends, 'Puter's friend asked for his thoughts on the op-ed.
'Puter's slightly edited thoughts follow.
First, the Church hierarchy, for better or for worse gets to (a) set Church doctrine and (b) enforce it. I don't think Kristof disputes this. I think his central thesis is that he does not like the decision; therefore it must be wrong.
Second, anyone who says they know what Jesus would have done in any given situation is full of shit. It's hubris to say otherwise. You and I have both seen among our nominally Catholic friends this trend: Catholicism is what I say it is, and what I think Jesus would have done. That is substituting your will for God's will, and it is damaging to one's soul and to one's relationship with God.
Third, the nun in this instance was plainly disobedient. The bishop gave her ample opportunity to repent (along with the hospital) and she did not. She chose to walk away from her Church, not the other way around. The bishop did what he had to do to support to the Church and to prevent confusion among the faithful: he declared that she had excommunicated herself. Thus, he removed the contagion and set an object lesson.
This quote is maddening: "One approach focuses upon dogma, sanctity, rules and the punishment of sinners. The other exalts compassion for the needy and mercy for sinners — and, perhaps, above all, inclusiveness." It is also wrong. The dogmatics, to use his term, recognized that the Magisterium of the Church, developed over 2,000 years of Christianity and drawing on 3,000 years of Judaism prior to that time, should not be lightly disregarded. In my opinion, it is the "compassionate Christianity" side that lacks any sort of grounding in history or in faith.
All of this comes from the incorrect implementation of the Second Vatican Council's directives. Hippie priests and nuns took it as an opportunity to toss off what they viewed as the fusty shackles of the Catechism and preach a new false Gospel of feel-good Christianity. At least two generations of Catholics now are inappropriately catechized (our generation and our kids' generation). An entire generation of priests grew up in this libertine setting, making up their own rules and ignoring the tried and true rites, rituals and reverence of the Church that had gone before.
To me, it's no wonder that a large portion of self-proclaimed Catholics refuse to follow the most basic teachings of the Church. They have never been taught what those teachings are or why they are important. They have never seen the beauty of a Latin Mass. They are unconnected with those that have gone before us. All that said, there is some truth in the compassionate position. But by making a fetish of perceived compassion, they have lost their way.
Sometimes, the most compassionate thing we can do is to say no. Even when it hurts us. Even when others think we are mean for doing so. Doing the right thing in difficult circumstances is Christ in action. Caving in to the demands of post-modernist quasi-Catholic self-professed theologians is not.
And, to quote noted theologian Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Although Mr. Sheen is pathetic, as most unreformed addicts are, he is not the focus of 'Puter's ire. Unlike Mr. Sheen who is seemingly unable to help himself, those around him have chosen to look the other way, as Mr. Sheen continues to function just enough to make them money. Just read the article linked and read the lame excuses.
Hollywood, CBS and everyone on Two and a Half Men can bite 'Puter's love hog. You are watching a grown man slowly but surely kill himself, yet you continue to use him to enrich yourselves. Like Natalie Cole and Ron Reagan, Jr., you are riding a corpse to riches.
Sure, you've probably had loving (or stern) conversations with him about his destructive behavior. Just enough to be able to live with yourselves. But nothing's changed. Everyone knows that cutting off Mr. Sheen's cash flow, that is, putting the show on hiatus or kicking him off altogether, is what he desperately needs. Yet you remain content to let a man die so you can make a buck.
Mr. Sheen may be gravely ill, but everyone else associated with this tragedy is morally dead.
Newsweek, the Weekly Reader for putative adults, dutifully submits a Brady Center propaganda press release as a factual news article. In this article we learn:
1. The Tucson Massacre was a direct result of insufficiently stringent gun control laws.
"But throughout the hourlong speech, he never addressed the issue at the core of the Giffords tragedy—gun control—and what lawmakers would, or should, do to reform American firearm-access laws."
2. The Tucson murderer (alleged) used an assault weapon in his rampage.
"... current laws, which now allow some mentally unstable people, such as alleged Arizona shooter Jared Loughner, to obtain certain assault weapons, in some cases without even a background check."
3. The Brady Campaign is not an anti gun group, or even a pro-restriction group. It is a gun safety group.
"... Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the nation’s largest gun-safety group."
4. The National Rifle association is EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVIL!!!!1!
"... powerful gun lobby declined to comment."
'Puter thought the article was great, if you ignored the fact that most of the reporting is either thinly veiled opinion or outright lies.
1. The Tucson Massacre was not caused by insufficiently strict gun control laws. It was caused by the deranged actions of a madman. It was caused by parents who refused to institutionalize an obviously deranged son. It was caused by hippies who shut down asylums, turned the inmates loose on the street and made it tougher to involuntarily commit even the most obviously dangerous mentally ill person. Progress.
Way, way down on the list of proximate causes of this tragedy are gun laws. One might as well rail against the lax driver's permitting laws which allowed the shooter unfettered access to a vehicle he used to transport himself across a large distance to get to his target.
'Puter writes this off as typical leftie anti-gun bias. He has come to expect it in magazines edited by people who have never owned a gun in their lives.
2. The Tuscon shooter used a Glock 19 chambered in 9 mm in his killing spree. The Glock 19, even with an extended magazine does not meet the lapsed (or proposed) legal definition of assault weapon.
In order to be classified an assault weapon for federal purposes, a semi-automatic handgun must have a detachable magazine and at least two of the following characteristics: a magazine that attaches outside the grip; a threaded barrel; a barrel shroud to be used as a handhold; unloaded weight of 50 ounces or more; and it is a semi-automatic version of an automatic firearm.
An out of the box Glock 19 meets exactly none of these arbitrary criteria. The Tucson shooter's Glock had a separately purchased extended magazine. Arguably, this meets one of the assault weapon ban's criteria, as the extended magazine protrudes below the butt end of the pistol. Still, even viewed in the most favorable light, the shooter's Glock was not an assault weapon.
'Puter assumes this falsehood was the result of ignorance, rather than outright deception. But, if we've learned anything about the anti-gun lobby, we've learned that they're willing to distort and lie to force their unconstitutional agenda.
3. The Brady Campaign is not a gun safety group. The NRA is a gun safety group. Gun safety indicates you care about making guns themselves safer and/or teaching gun owners safe gun handling procedures. The Brady Campaign is dedicated to the elimination of American citizens' gun rights, not to gun safety. Unless by gun safety you mean "no one can own a gun." If you don't believe 'Puter, spend a few moments perusing the Brady Campaign's website.
4. The NRA is a voluntary lobbying organization dedicated to the protection of Americans' Second Amendment rights. On second look, 'Puter realizes that the article's characterization, while biased, is correct. 'Puter guesses that he mistook the one correct statement in the article as erroneous, well, because everything else was wrong.
And so Newsweek continues its decades long slide to irrelevance, all in furtherance of a liberal Utopian pipe dream.
Click to embiggen, of course.
Via Greg Ransom.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
WASHINGTON (AP) - House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Joe Lieberman are introducing legislation to revive a school voucher program for District of Columbia students nearly two years after Congress began phasing out the program.
In a statement Wednesday, Boehner says the D.C. voucher program is a model that can work well in other cities across the nation.
Referring to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, Boehner says vouchers make the U.S. education system more competitive.
On Tuesday night, Boehner hosted Cardinal Donald Wuerl at the speech, along with Catholic teachers and students who are receiving public funds to attend private schools through the program.
Washington Mayor Vincent Gray opposes the voucher program as an intrusion into local government.
Apparently he has spent the last four years trying to avoid having sex with his wife because he was worried that he would not be well rested enough to go to work the next day. According to the article, “At the moment this is impossible because he says his wife keeps coming into the living room – where he has been sleeping – demanding that he perform his marital duties. He asked for police help in getting some sleep at night.”
I guess it could be worse, he could have lived in this country and dialed 911 when the cashier handed him cold fries at the drive-thru window.
And we dunno about you, but it is pretty tough to read the transcript of any SOTU address, and like hell were going to watch it later on YouTube. Not when we could be watching Worlds Best Hockey Fights. So flipping around the Web, here seems to be the upshot of the State of the Union address based on the commentaries.
- If you were a Republican voter, you found it lame, unconvincing, and worrisome.
- If you were a Democratic voter, you found it pretty much on the mark.
- If you were a Republican congressperson, you found it routine, trite, and more of the same.
- If you were a Democratic congressperson, you thought it kinda interesting, but there was too much bowing to the GOP to really get behind it.
- If you were a Republican voter or congressperson, you found Ryans rebuttal to be simply awesome, and an on-the-money takedown of the Presidents policies.
- If you were a Democratic voter or congressperson, you found Ryans rebuttal to be dreadful, dismal, and an overly dramatic (yet dry) delivery of horrors untold.
Look, it is simple. The State of the Union address has rarely been a great opportunity for any President to shine. They usually are no more colorful than someone narrating a goddamned PowerPoint presentation. You wind up focusing on whether you are on slide 17 of 20, or slide 17 of 100. And the President, generally, wants to get through it as fast as you do.
Because the State of the Union address is really a non-binding review, like those report card experiments teachers did in the 1970s where the kid gives himself a grade with a brief list of areas for improvement, the President can easily say anything to either sideand usually, he does. Get a little applause here...a little applause there, and everyone feels better. But what does it mean?
Based on the commentaries we have been reading, not a whole lot.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
All seven movies follow a similar, if not entirely identical storyline: a group of innocent 20-somethings are captured in a group, and placed in a sadistical series of traps that involve sacrifice or mutilation of some members to save others. Younger audiences really relate to this as much like their own high school experience, says film critic Eileen Dover.
Saw VIII, already in post-production, will feature the same premise, as will Saw IX, currently in filming. Sloane Gunnmann, Vice-President of Merchandising for WTF Productions, intends to emphasize this efficiency in future Saw-franchise releases. The industry term is script re-use, in which we simply use a word processorI believe its Wordto change or update character names as well as the scenarios under which they are trapped.
This last point is essential. Todays generation of movie audiences is much, much more discerning with their diabolical traps than they were two or three years ago. They expect far more sinister boobytraps and torture scenes for the victims, added Gunnmann, Based on things they see in professional sports.
This type of increasing sophistication does not dim franchise hopes, according to Gunnmann. Actually, we are working on some radically advanced software to generate Saw scripts even faster. We hope by 2013, we can generate upwards of four Saw movies per year. Experts in the field of search and replace technologies are putting together some slick stuff. You can generate a script in seconds using a fifth generation Mad-Libs-protocol: pop in words like eyeball, toaster, and Jessica, and you already have a third act.
This should prove popular to the franchises fifty or so devoted fans. Were hoping to tie in our twentieth anniversary with the release of Saw C.
Taco Bell is being sued by Amanda Obney of California for false advertising regarding the meat-like substance used to make her Chalupa. The legal complaint accuses Taco Bell of using an amount of binders and extenders in their meat mixture that exceeds the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s standards to still be labeled as beef. And if you are wondering, these binders and extenders include water, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, an anti-dusting agent (whatever the hell that is), and modified corn starch.
Now your Mandarin questions your sanity and mental reasoning if you actually believe that you are getting the highest quality and cuts of beef in a product that costs you the consumer $0.99. Having said that though, your Mandarin believes that this revelation of what is really in the “seasoned beef” will not hurt the sales at Taco Bell.
This story does highlight two points that your Mandarin has been ruminating over for a long time:
1. Most consumers are only concerned with the price and not the quality of the product.
2. Most consumers really don’t take the time to see where their food comes from and what is in it.
Your Mandarin has become almost obsessed with determining where the food he purchases was manufactured. Your Mandarin does his best to ensure that whatever food he purchases was made in the U.S. with U.S. sourced components, although in a pinch he will allow food made in Canada into the castle. Does this mean that your Mandarin pays more for his food? Yes it does, but I feel it is worth it.
Monday, January 24, 2011
There has been a disturbing trend over the last 20 to 30 years to chastise and ridicule teams or individuals for winning with too large a margin over their opponents. To illustrate this point refer to this article regarding the 108-3 rout by Christian Heritage High over West Ridge Academy in Utah.
The coach for Christian Heritage High, Mr. McGill, has instilled a philosophy of not backing down just because victory is certain. To quote Coach McGill, “Too many people in the world right now allow the youth to not be as good as they can be, allow them to be lazy. Here, I’m giving them an opportunity to live up to the best of their abilities and be proud of what they’re able to accomplish. If that’s what I’m being blamed for, then OK, I accept it.”
Well of course the coach for the victorious team has been the subject of ridicule and the school has apologized for the lopsided score. What really caught your Mandarin’s attention was this excerpt from the article regarding Coach McGill’s personal philosophy :
“That commitment to excellence comes at a cost. In this case, it was the ego of teenage girls that was affected by the effective implementation of McGill’s personal philosophy. Given that West Ridge is a school for at-risk youth, those egos in question may be even more fragile than most.”
Well it looks like what the real issue here is that Coach McGill violated the liberal/progressive doctrine that everyone is created equal and that there should not be any winners or losers. Well your Mandarin for one is glad to see that there are still individuals out there willing to instill a competitive sprit into his players. In addition, the players on Coach McGill’s team may not fully appreciate the values he is trying to instill in them today, but your Mandarin is sure that they will when they get older.
1. Union membership is down, nationally, by over 600,000 members versus last year. This downward trend continues and places union popularity back to 1930s levels (pre-New Deal!). Expect next year to get even worse for them. Good news follows good news: declines also occurred in the inexcusably unionized public sector. The Bureau of Labor Statisticsperhaps not entirely open-minded on the issueonly puts union membership for both sectors at 11.9% of the entire workforce.
2. Residents of Pima County are moving fast to recall Sheriff Clarence Dupnik from office. Residents need to produce 110,000 signatures in 120 days; however, organizers are optimistic. If nothing else, it sends a powerful STFU message.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Here are some things you should know about cell phone use on commercial aircraft, according to CNN:
- Arianna Huffington got hollered at for using a BlackBerry on a flight.
- The FCC bans their use as well as most other electronic equipment below 10,000 feet.
- A Boeing engineer thinks you should wear seat belts on planes.
- A New York lawyer survived a crash, as did everyone else, and cell phones had nothing to do with it. Even so, he is nervous.
- A study by Carnegie Mellon researchers came to no conclusions.
- Various companies offer telecommunications services on aircraft.
- An FCC spokesperson finds people who talk on cell phones are annoying.
Yes, yes, he did: any actual analysis of whether cell phones are safe to use on planes.
Allow the Czar to tell you what CNN did not. Cell phones are safe to use on aircraft, which is why most air carriers offer cell phone services on their flightsat exorbitant rates, which they pocket. And why chartered air pilots generally do not give a crap if you use your phone on a plane.
Cell phones operate within known and restricted frequencies; GPS and other aircraft instrumentation do not operate at those frequencies, so interference is not going to happen. The FCC ban about using electronic devices is quite different, however: cell phones, laptops, smart phones, iPods, XM radio receivers, and the like will never interfere with aircraft operations for those same reasons. However, there is always some idiot out there who built his own radio system to listen in on pilot conversations, or to chat walkie-talkie-style to his drunk buddy in the back, or to operate his own radio show while in the air. These unlicensed, homegrown systems could easily jam pilot systems during takeoff and landing when voice communication is essentialand rather than try to predict and list all these specific items, it is a hell of a lot easier for everyone if they just ban all electronic devices at lower altitudes and cut off all homespun legal fencing that might follow. You didnt say ham radio transmitters needed to be turned off, did ya?
So why prohibit your use of your own cell phone during flight, if safety is out of the question? Economics. First, the airlines lose out on the revenue they could capture by forcing you to use their service. But even more nasty is the FCC, who still feeds the carriers whatever they ask for.
If you use a cell phone during flight, it is quite possible for your cell phone to be picked up by multiple towers due to the speed of the phone moving through the cell as well as the height above ground; the operators of those towers then become unable to track your call. As a result, three or four towers handle your call at once, preventing two or three paying customers on the ground from accessing the tower. If thousands of people used cell phones in the air each day, it could cost the tower owners hundreds of dollars a month.
To prevent this, the cell tower operators (who are usually service providers like AT&T or Sprint) pressure the FCC to ban unrestricted cell phone use by air passengers. And the FCC simply agrees. And why studies will always prove inconclusive about the safety aspects.
Nothing more to it.
And Mr. Milbank wants us to do the same. Naturally enough, because every single goddamned attempt by the liberals to destroy Ms. Palin somehow makes her stronger. Maybe if we all close our eyes and stop believing in her, Sarah Palin will just vanish. Just like the 14-year-old girls who suddenly ignore the popular girl and cut off all contact. Because the media, you know, act like a high school freshman.
Here is an easier idea. How about 309,000,000 Americans ignore Mr. Milbank or anything he says for the entire month of February.
Yes, exactly like we have been doing for the last two decades.
(Thanks to Dr. (KN)J for the typo catches!)
For years, we've had the solution: IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). Not only does it expand on the address space (moving to 128 bits which delivers about 3.4×1038 addresses with a format like
fe80:0:0:0:202:b3ff:fe1e:8329) but it adds capabilities for additional options including security, multicasting (sending the data to multiple destinations), and others. Industry and government have been slow to make the changeover. Much like Y2K this will start getting hyped later this year but largely we shouldn't worry. The only major concern is for older and lower-end network equipment that do not support IPv6 addresses. It is unlikely that they will be able to be upgraded in place for the most part, requiring a replacement (think home routers, cable/telco routers for providing home service).
Think, though, of what 3.4×1038 addresses means: everything will be getting an address - your refrigerator, furnace, car systems (yes, individual systems within your car - some of which is already done today), phones, cell phones, televisions, etc. The changeover will be most problematic for those of us who can remember these addresses like phone numbers. The longer and more complex IPv6 addresses, even with the abbreviations allowed, will be difficult to remember.
Welcome your networked overlords now.
In case you did not know, the star Betelgeuse (α Orionis) is a really big star. So big, that if you put it where our sun is, it would engulf the distant orbit of Jupiter. It is so big, in fact, that we really have a hard time measuring how big it is.
One reason for this difficulty is because it seems to change shape: huge chunks of the star are blowing off, and this makes it hard to pinpoint its size, much as it is tough to measure the amount of soap bubbles in a sink if they keep swelling and bubbling up.
Another curious thing about Betelgeuse is that it is a young star, maybe only a dozen million years oldit would have been completely unknown to any dinosaur astronomers. Of course, to be fair, evidence suggests that dinosaurs were really bad about astronomy anyway.
Our own sun is a few billion years old, and has about a few billion years leftpretty typical, really. Nice and stable. But whenever a young star gets that big that fast, it has a tendency to explode into a gigantic supernova. They hardly ever live to see their fifteen millionth birthday.
And if you have done the math, you realize that Betelgeuse will probably blow up sometime within the next few million years. When it does, it ought to be pretty spectacular to whatever is still lurking around on our planet. A fantastic flash of light, and then a really bright star will light up the night skies, like a really big flashlight. It might be bright enough to see in the daytime sky, as well! After a few days, it will fade away fast and then disappear to a faint point of light, followed by a really cool nebula visible in a telescope.
So leave it to Time to swipe a badly researched article from HuffPo, that reports that Earth Will Have Two Suns! And adding that This Could Happen in 2012! And to emphasize the scary nature of this, they included a photo of the planet Venus transiting across the surface of our own sun. Which has nothing to do with anything.
The Czar sighs. Regrettably, while we do not know exactly when Betelgeuse will pop big time, it will not be in your lifetime. Or the probable lifetime of our species. And we will not have two suns. Just the one: and a really bright light in the sky, just as we had in 1054 when NGC 1952 blew up and lit up our daytime skies for a whopping 23 days. Yes, you are still doing the math: that event was brighter than Betelgeuse will be. And probably cooler.
Friday, January 21, 2011
From: UBN Information Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org)Dear Mr. Norman,
To: Mr. Czar Muscovy
Date: January 21, 2011
Subject: Attn: Valued Customer
We write to bring to your
notice about your pending
payment of 5.5 Million USD.
payment is now confirmed by the UN and authorized for immediate
wire transfer to any Bank
account you will provide us
For verifications, you are to
fill out your personal details
as requested below in the
plain form, and send back to
Date of Birth:
Country of orgin:
Current Home Address:
Immediately we have received
the above requested details,
verification will be carried out, and you will be notified.
John E. Norman/Payment Coordinator
For Questions, please, call
John E. Norman,
Stallion Plaza 36, Marina Lagos, Nigeria
Mobile: +234 702 939 6119,
The Czar of Muscovy is in receipt of your notification of pending payment approval. In order to expedite the payment process, the Czar is delighted to respond to your request for further information.
We trust this is enough to verify our identity and for you to send us the $5.5 million cash to us. In the event you are unable to do so, we are delighted to inform you that, for your convenience, we have your actual name through a whois search as Abejide Kayode, and that you live at 84 Ighodalo Drive, in Bodija, on the second floor. Members of our okhrana are already positioned outside that address waiting to accompany you to the UBN Bank. If you are unable or reluctant to turn over that small amount of money to us in cash, our people have been instructed to bring you to the Castle, here at the Plateau. There, you may make the payment to us in cash in person, or else you may work off this debt by participating in an experiment of The Mandarin’s, who will be most happy to have your bone marrow. We cannot promise this to be a painless experience, but you do understand the complexity of the financial transaction you proposed to us without any prior solicitation on our part.
Complete Name: Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію МЫ, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй
Sex: More often than you, probably.
Date of Birth: Масленица, 1267
Country of orgin: Rossiya, near the Dubne River
Current Home Address: The Castle Gormogon, 1 Castle Drive, Plateau of Leng, Wisconsin, USA
Job Employment: Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію МЫ, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. Also, head of tourism for the Castle Gormogon
Tel Number: 7
Office Number: The Czar’s library is on the ninth floor.
E-mail: It is evident to us you have this already
The Czar thanks you for your generosity and we assume you will make the necessary payment as described above. We hope that you come visit the Castle sometime of your own accord—without risk of the Tcho-Tchos eating your ribs while you are alive.
New York State Sen. James S. Alesi (R-55th) is a self-entitled asshole. There, 'Puter's said it. In addition to being a self-important asshole, Sen. Alesi is also 'Puter's state senator, so 'Puter's got that going for him. What, you may ask, causes 'Puter's bile to rise so early in the day? What has Sen. Alesi done to 'Puter? What's the basis for this intense animosity?
'Puter dislikes Sen. Alesi for the usual reasons. He has been in politics most of his adult life, including being a member of the New York State Legislature since 1992, and a member of the state Senate since 1996. As such, he is one of a handful of New Yorkers who presided over the spectacular flame-out that is New York's economy. No tax too high, no union concession left behind.
But what's got 'Puter really flaming angry today is that his state senator, immediately upon securing reelection, decided to sue a constituent homeowner in whose partially constructed house Sen. Alesi broke his leg.
Please read the linked article, but here's the nutshell according to Sen. Alesi (hereinafter, "Human Effluvium"):
Human Effluvium and an unnamed person entered a partially constructed residence in or about January 2008.
The house had been sold to Mr. and Mrs. John and Janet Hecker (hereinafter, "People Doing the Right Thing").
Human Effluvium, after breaking and entering and trespassing, determined he just had to see what was on the second floor of the unfinished structure.
Being unfinished, the structure had no stairs to the second floor.
Human Effluvium diligently searched and found a ladder, placed it so as to access the stairless second floor, commenced to climbing, and promptly fell, breaking his leg.
People Doing the Right Thing generously choose not to press charges for trespass.
Human Effluvium campaigns for and wins reelection, whereupon he promptly sues People Doing the Right Thing, ostensibly for negligence in not keeping Human Effluvium out of the partially constructed structure.
Human Effluvium has recovered from his injury, and can carry on his daily life.
'Puter did spend some time thinking before breaking his rules. Sen. Alesi is a public official whose actions brought the leg injury on himself. Further, Sen. Alesi's appalling lack of gratitude to the homeowners for not pressing charges in the first instance figured into 'Puter's calculus. It is yet another example of New York's entitled political class sticking it to the constituents. Accountability and personal integrity are for the little people.
And, as a shout out to any enterprising Democrat and Chronicle reporter or insurance defense lawyer on this matter, 'Puter has heard a rumor from relatively reliable sources, contemporaneously with the injury itself, which sheds a more sleazy light on this entire episode. In a fit of anger, 'Puter originally included the rumor in his post, but removed it as he does not have the time to confirm to truth of it, though 'Puter believes it to be true. To do so would be as dishonorable and despicable as Sen. Alesi has shown himself to be.
If any reporter or counsel would like to hear and to investigate the rumor, 'Puter can be contacted at the email address to the left.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Needless to say, it is the correct move. And, the Czar might add, it is refreshing to see someone taking this seriously. Normally, only Muslims get this sort of respect for their religious beliefs. Heck, there are no shortages of bad jokes about rabbis eating pork, but Holy Communion is something ya just dont mess with.
But the oddest thought struck the Czar. Catholics, as he understands it, believe that Holy Communion requires the transubstantiation of the bread into the actual body of Christ. In simpler terms, the communion wafer fully becomes the real presence of God, and ceases to become bread.
And if that is so, why couldnt a priest transubstantiate a Dorito into the actual body of Christ? No, not in the mocking way Frito-Lays did it, but in a genuine way. After all, if a priest can transform a bread wafer into God, is it that much harder to take a bread-like chip and perform the same feat?
So the Czar opted to do what so few Catholics do when struck by an operations question: ask an actual priest.* And the Czar received an answer:
A priest may only use bread made from wheat-flour and water only. The East (Byzantines and Orthodox Christians) use leavened bread, while we Roman Catholics do not. Nothing more than flour and water is allowedanything extra (besides leaven) makes it invalid matter, and so unable to become the Eucharist. Just like the wine must be from grapes and actually wine (not simply grape juice) in order to be transubstantiated.It most certainly does. And thanks!
People have tried other stuff, or suggested other things, and that's why we have these rules. Note that I said invalid and not illegalit's not only prohibited to use Doritos, it's impossible for it to become the Eucharist. This is because we use what Christ used: the Passover bread was just plain old bread and unleavened (the East uses leaven because of their theology of leaven versus ours), and the wine was just simple wine with nothing more, yet fermented (unlike Protestant grape juice).
I hope this answers your question in a dry and boring fashion.
*Alternatively, the Czar could do what Puters pals do, and simply make up an answer that goes along with their preferences and tell Puter he's wrong for relying on established theology.
As you head down Interstate 65 through Louisville, Kentucky, you pass by the tobacco shop owned by a real Mr. Cox. Yes, the photo is real: it does say Coxs Smokers Outlet. Anyway, we gather Mr. Cox is annoyed by the attention this produces, but it is tough to argue with the success it brought.
So congrats! You made the Czar and Mandarin laugh on their recent road trip.
Incidentally, our trip has concluded that the Gormogons will not be investing in a kudzu farm.
And I see one big opportunity: This is the chance to pry the parasitic government-employee unions off the body politic. They have bankrupted the states, and the resulting crisis gives us the means and the opportunity to put an end to their plunder. When those contracts get renegotiated, Republicans should insist that they address more than pensions.
Exactly correct. Let's not make the mistake our government made and let the parasites live on to ravage the host, as we did permitting the UAW to survive in the GM and Chrysler bailouts.
As they say, read the whole thing.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
First, Apple's monster quarter. Apple did an amazing job - even during a period where consumers were more cautious in spending, they were able to blow away their market estimates and sold 7.33 Million iPads. The iPhone continues to do well (and will likely be bolstered by the Verizon deal - regardless of the lack of 4G to start) leaving the iPod line as their weaker link. Weaker in that the latest generation of iPods (iPod Touch) only sold 19.4 Million units last quarter (down from 21 Million in the same quarter last year). Clearly, they've nailed the market in these areas and others are playing catch up. Regardless of what Jobs said in his conference call, the Android market share is growing and actually surpassed the iPhone this quarter (iPhone stayed rather flat at 21% and Android jumped to 28%). I expect this will shift a bit with the Verizon iPhone deal but strategically, I think the Android is better positioned. Why? Let me use Steve Jobs' own words from his conference call:
I think the most forward-looking CIOs are coming to the realization that the productivity of the person, the creativity of the employees is materially more important than everyone using the same thing. [excerpt moved below for focus] And so I think the list of ideas and places that people can go there were unimaginable just to a few months ago. And so I see an enormous potential there. The numbers are already incredible.Absolutely - if we empower people it is unknown and very powerful where they can creatively take ideas and concepts. This is part of my usual rant that we need to open, encourage, fund, etc. more R&D type efforts which will pay off in the economy in a number of years. I cut out an excerpt above that Jobs dropped in the middle of the previous quote. This is why I think the Android is better positioned and to a certain degree my main issue with Apple (and as the other Gormogons can attest - has always been my axe to grind on Apple):
And the ability to write apps in a simple and straightforward manner for the iPhone or the iPad through the SDK is an incredible thing. And you can wind up, literally, running your whole business off of an iPad or an iPhone.
Second, Steve Jobs' health. I beleive that we are experiencing a generational dearth of strong leaders - largely in the tail end of the Baby Boomer population. I think we can see this in politics, business, government and industry. Yes, there are exceptions. Steve Jobs is a leader who has largely driven Apple's success. The trouble is whether Apple is so tied to Jobs that those who can or will step in for Jobs will damage its future. Given that they are sitting on $60 Billion in cash and are well positioned in many of their markets, there is some cushion. I'll use a sports analogy - when a coach retires or quits after building a great team, it is not a given that the new coach will experience the same level of success with the same talent pool. Time will tell, but if Apple didn't have a Jobs-gets-hit-by-a-bus plan, then they are facing a tough road ahead. Expectations have been set and sometimes the market isn't so forgiving.
Third, the Comcast-NBC deal. NBC has been floundering as of late. Some of their shows are doing fine, but largely they haven't been the powerhouse that they've been in the past. I don't have a big issue with the acquisition, but consumers and the market will have to watch and see how Comcast treats NBC content versus other media providers (CBS, Disney, etc.) as well as how it approaches other cable/telco providers (i.e. Verizon, Cox, etc.) with regards to deal for NBC content. The government has stipulated that they must give up voting rights in Hulu. What one should take away from this is the market trend. There is a battle out there for the popular entertainment access to the masses. Look at the evolution of entertainment devices - Blu-Ray DVD players are now internet capable (including WiFi) and provide access to streaming internet content (i.e. NetFlix hosted movies, Pandora, Hulu, YouTube, etc.). The battle is for the merging of the internet and "television" (the medium and delivery mechanics). People still don't (largely) want to sit in front of a traditional computer to watch a movie or TV show but they'll drop hours in front of a 46" high definition flat panel with Dolby 7.1 surround sound. So everyone that has a play in the entertainment industry is pushing towards that goal: the telcos (Verizon, AT&T, etc.), the cable providers (Comcast, Cox, etc.), and even internet businesses (NetFlix, Hulu, etc.). However, here's the nugget: the ones to watch next are the social networking - specifically Facebook and the location-targeting advertisement folks (GroupOn, Living Social). Facebook will bet on consumers wanting to "connect" with friends via their TV. Personally, I'm not buying it - but then again, I'm not dropping an average of 4,050 text messages on my cell phone per month like current 13-17 year olds do (by the way, that's about 135 messages per day or 5 messages per hour). I think the appeal of Facebook is the "removed" social connection. I can passively listen to what my friends are doing, saying, etc. or just drop short status messages or selectively post certain images. I'm not convinced that more interaction from within the confines of my family room via my "enhanced" television/media center is the wave of the future.
* Yes, I know that there are some limited, alternative ways to develop Apps for Apple products. And yes, I'm aware of Jailbreaking Apple products to break out from these confines - which only bolsters my point that the power of creativity is immense.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Readers know that 'Puter believes the quality of public education has declined for decades, and that 'Puter places a large portion of the blame on the shoulders of teachers' unions. Teachers' unions create conditions that benefit their members, and no one else, except by fortuitous accident. And many of the conditions that benefit the teachers actually harm the education process.
So 'Puter was pleased to read in yesterday morning's New York Post the following editorial calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) to scrap the "first in, last out" seniority rules. The Post argues most sensibly that years of service does not necessarily correlate with effectiveness, and that school districts should be free to lay off their least effective teachers first. This is an important argument in New York State, as it is almost guaranteed that state aid to school districts is going to be slashed, and local property taxes are already maxed out. Teachers, parents and politicians all know layoffs are coming. The only questions are when and how many.
And, as if to anticipate the teachers' union's "it's for the children" multi-million dollar negative ad campaign, a group of teachers outside Chicago provide an object lesson in "seniority does not equal competence." An entire cohort of health teachers in Prairie Ridge High School forces kids to sing "The Vagina Dance" to the tune of the "Hokey Pokey." The alleged pedagogical purpose is to teach the kids the female reproductive structure and function in a kinesthetic manner. Seriously.
One brave family complained that their son should not be required to dance and sing about female reproductive organs in a classroom full of other students. That's Lady Gaga's job. Well, the parents didn't make the last point, but 'Puter thinks it apt. Rather than admit fault and shut down an ill-considered teaching method, the teachers and the district went to the mattresses. They have refused to change anything about the Vagina Dance.
'Puter asks the following rhetorical question: Is it more or less likely that the Vagina Dance would have been instituted in the first instance (much less continued for years as alleged) if teachers could be fired for performance based reasons?
We all know the answer is that the Vagina Pokey would not have seen the light of day. [ed-- 'Puter enjoys answering his own rhetorical questions]. And that should tell you everything you need to know about it. It is ineffective and it is only valuable for the shock factor.
So, 'Puter posits that cutting off seniority based retention and instituting competence based retention policies would prevent dancing vaginas from showing up in our children's health classes.
There's a time and a place for dancing vaginas, and that time and place is happy hour down at the Leaping Peacock.
Monday, January 17, 2011
The Czar has been after this for a while, and so have you: Sheena Eastons lyrics to Morning train in Danish. Get your pencils ready, because this great trip down memory lane probably will erase itself after only a couple of plays.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Meanwhile, Ghettoputer, GorTechie will be entertaining and informative, and even 孔夫子,* the Œcumenical Volgi (The Notorious ŒV) will be forced to pick up the slack. No, dont even get me started. Meanwhile, please enjoy this reprinted post from 1794.
Well, in the name of progress, the idiot progressives in France have executed one of their own. By now you know that Max Robespierre was guillotined in a most grisly fashion on Monday. What a weird, ironic end for the guy who wound up largely responsible for the death of Louis XVI.
What irks the Czardo not be mistaken, for Robespierre was an asswas the shock and surprise offered by the French government: Robespierre, a progressive, wound up being a tyrant! Why, he was worse than the monarchy! How could this happen?!!! OmonDieu!!!!
Maybe its because progressive cures start out nice but quickly wind up being worse than the illness. Seriously, its like trying to kill an infection with high voltage. How does it get that way?
Well, looking at the French Revolution as a revolution, it sort of makes sense. These guys, despite their cult of reason, reforms, logic, and rationale, really have no freaking idea what theyre doing. They are completely adrift in chaos...a chaos they started, by the way. Too many people making too many decisions about too many things...it is, ultimately, what only a tyrant succeeds at.
God help us if the progressives ever come to our shores. We might all wind up like Robespierre.
*For those who came in late, Confucius is the Gormogons Œcumenical Volgi: the Ghost Who Falks.