Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ricky Jay

via kottke

Ricky Jay: "

Can you resist reading an article that starts off with an anecdote this interesting? I couldn't.

The playwright David Mamet and the theatre director Gregory Mosher affirm that some years ago, late one night in the bar of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Chicago, this happened:

Ricky Jay, who is perhaps the most gifted sleight-of-hand artist alive, was performing magic with a deck of cards. Also present was a friend of Mamet and Mosher's named Christ Nogulich, the director of food and beverage at the hotel. After twenty minutes of disbelief-suspending manipulations, Jay spread the deck face up on the bar counter and asked Nogulich to concentrate on a specific card but not to reveal it. Jay then assembled the deck face down, shuffled, cut it into two piles, and asked Nogulich to point to one of the piles and name his card.

'Three of clubs,' Nogulich said, and he was then instructed to turn over the top card.

He turned over the three of clubs.

Mosher, in what could be interpreted as a passive-aggressive act, quietly announced, 'Ricky, you know, I also concentrated on a card.'

After an interval of silence, Jay said, 'That's interesting, Gregory, but I only do this for one person at a time.'

Mosher persisted: 'Well, Ricky, I really was thinking of a card.'

Jay paused, frowned, stared at Mosher, and said, 'This is a distinct change of procedure.' A longer pause. 'All right-what was the card?'

'Two of spades.'

Jay nodded, and gestured toward the other pile, and Mosher turned over its top card.

The deuce of spades.

A small riot ensued.

That's from a 1993 profile of Ricky Jay, who is probably more well known now for his acting (Magnolia, Boogie Nights, Deadwood, The Spanish Prisoner, The Prestige) than his magic scholarship. Check out a couple of Jay's tricks on YouTube: Four Queens and Sword of Vengence. (via df)

Tags: magic movies Ricky Jay"

Monday, August 17, 2009

Losing Weight

Ok folks. Life or death thing to talk about. I've been trying to lose some weight and the pressure on my health has kicked it up a notch on the urgency scale. I'm going to try public humiliation as a strategy and see how that works. At the top of the blog you'll see a weight tracker. It's a bit coarse, but if you click through you'll see my daily data in all of it's graph-o-licious detail.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Death

Pictured here is the stump of the Former State Champion Cottonwood tree, just south and west of Ozawkie, KS. The two girls in the picture below are standing on a picnic table and are around 11 years old. It was about 30ft in diameter and well over 100ft tall. Nothing I can type can impress upon you the silent presence of something like this tree. Majestic is a close adjective.

Apparently it was struck by lightning sometime in the 5 years since this was taken, and all that is left there now is a stump. The park was simply abandoned and lays in ruins. Park benches tossed in the woods, historic marker absent.

It makes me heartsick.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jaywalking with the Times

This article in the NYT about Google's new OS is stunning in it's ignorance. Look at this one paragraph as an example:
The software, called the Google Chrome Operating System, is initially intended for use in the tiny, low-cost portable computers known as netbooks, which have been selling quickly even as demand for other PCs has plummeted. Google said it believed the software would also be able to power full-size PCs.

Newsflash "technology reporters"...the OS doesn't power the PC, the PC powers the OS. They go on to talk about how Vista was "designed for more powerful machines". It was designed to run on machines that did not exist, with the arrogant assumption that we would all just run out and buy new computers and put 4GB of RAM in them because Vista needed it.

Then the economy collapsed, netbooks happened, and low and behold Windows 7 is coming soon and it doesn't need all of that hardware to run.

The whole article reminds me of the old timers that used to wander in to Home Depot asking which tool had more horsepower. They'd buy a $19 drill that drew 3.5 amps over a superior model that only drew 3 amps all day long.

"Amps is like horsepower right?"

"Yeah sure. The plastic wall anchors are over on aisle 10."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bubble Machine

Looks like this article (link broken) by Matt Taibbi on Goldman Sachs is starting to generate a little bit of a kerfuffle around the wonkier corners of the Internet.

John Cole over at Balloon-Juice has some reaction as well.

Edit - this link works but it's only a summary

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Science of Persuasion

This is compelling stuff. I havent finished it but the excerpts I've read are pretty interesting.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cool Game

Try this game out. Requires very little skill...soothing music. I find myself unable to stop playing.

Available for the iPhone too.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What Manufacturing Collapse?

Hit this link's a real level setter.

It reminds me of people screaming about defense spending. We could cut it in HALF and still dominate the world. We could cut it by a factor of TEN and still annihilate any one country on the planet.

Looks like our manufacturing sector is just fine. It aint what it used to be...and we can look at the trend line and worry if we want...but seeing that we're still number one with a bullet against the 2nd and 3rd place COMBINED....well that's just not what you've been trained to think.

Real Question: Whose interests does it serve to have us think this? Who is plucking our nationalist heart strings here? Is the tool there and it just gets used by whoever needs it over the years? Right? Left?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dont Eat the Marshmallow

Article in the New Yorker about the ability to delay gratification and how it is an effective predictor of future success in life.

The best thing is that the skills a person needs to succeed in these tests can be easily taught. My takeaway is "give the kid what they want, but make them wait for it..and teach them to be patient while they are waiting".

Inchersting read.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Long Time, No Post

Digging out still. Here's a tasty tidbit to tide you over though. New film from Peter Jackson (think he's the producer).

Monday, May 4, 2009

TED: Sixth Sense

via SaylorNet.

Watch as the MIT media lab demonstrates $300 worth of hardware that can turn the world into an internet display screen. All you need is an internet enabled cellphone.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Uncle Ron, What Should We Do?

Ronald Reagan, May 20, 1988, transmitting the Convention Against Torture to the Senate for ratification:

The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention. It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called "universal jurisdiction." Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.

It's getting harder and harder to deny the inevitable conclusion that there is going to be a messy shitstorm in this country. The excerpt above is from Glenn Greenwald, in an atypically short piece shredding of Charles Krauthammer's column from The Washington Post today.

Obama isn't helping either. Every time he opens his mouth on this subject things get muddier and muddier. The only good I see coming out of his comments is that there is no real news to talk about, and yet there is a huge story hanging out there called 'Torture'. The media abhors a vacuum, and so the digging goes on and new information continues to come to light.

As long as Obama keeps feeding the beast and the e-ink is spilled in commentary, the real world will sit and wait.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat

David Brooks actually had an interesting column yesterday on the subject of genius and high achievement. The column is basically an exploration of the ideas in two books: “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle; and “Talent Is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin.

In short it's the 10,000 hours of practice, a will to approach the practice methodically, and an adult to push a person at a young age theory of genius.

Interestingly though, his example is a young girl that is working to become a great writer. You get the feel that it's a Harveyesque "rest of the story" type of column but he never closes the circle on his story.

That's because he's not a genius I guess.

All snark aside...I've added these two books to my reading list.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I'm Tubin'

And it aint the Ichnetuchnee.

My first foray into uploaded video on YouTube. I like the annotation feature.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Zuckerman's Famous Pig

...or "Why this Swine Flu crap is crap"

Fact: Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 infected 28 percent of the population worldwide and 2.5% of them died.

Wisdom: If it happened again today, at worst, 7 out of 10 people would NEVER GET SICK...and the 3 out of 10 that did...97.5% of them would survive.

This is given the ground rules in 1918. Needless to say, the public health infrastructure of 2009 is much improved.

Oh...and there arent entire continents at war with one another now either.

Nothing to see here folks...move along.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Michael Oher

Remember this name. I circulated this NYT article in 2006 when it came out, about the superhuman giant homeless kid that was being groomed into being the next big thing in the NFL.

What I didnt realize is that the Left Tackle is the second highest paying position on the field, after Quarterback. Apparently it's part of the arms race with the Defensive Backs and a reaction to the likes of Lawrence Taylor etc.

Michael Oher was drafted 23rd in the first round by The Baltimore Ravens this weekend.

Tunnel Index - Schott’s Vocab Blog -

Tunnel Index - Schott’s Vocab Blog -

A show biz angle on the woes of the Auto Industry and by extension the advertising business.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Honey, Does this Les Paul make me sound fat?

I don't have the closet space now, but this might just inspire me to change that...or at least make sure there's a spot in a future closet for my guitars.

The Guitar Hanger

I'll update if there's ever a way to buy it online or a know...any USEFUL infromation.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Let's Get One Thing Straight

For anyone that is concerned with Civil Liberties, this week's release of the OLC memos is an important victory. My choice of words is deliberate. It's a victory, which implies a battle.

Folks, the Obama Administration was COMPELLED to release these documents as a result of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU. As a reader of Glenn Greenwald's blog, I can tell you that the Obama administration has been fighting the release of this stuff tooth and nail, using the very same specious arguments that the Bush administration used before it.

They claimed state secrets, and when that failed they said, "give me a minute" over and over, extension after extension after delay.

These memos contain NO Intelligence information. Only the legal framework for justifying the means to gather intelligence. Now Dick Cheney is on the TV saying that we ought also to declassify other memos with DO detail intelligence and lay out in great detail what information was gained and how we averted 9/11 Redux.

Can you see how stupid this is? Dick, can I call you Dick?...if you want these memos released, you can sue just like the ACLU did. Give them a call. They are a principled bunch and will take your case if it has merit, even if you dont.

Dont count on winning though. You know...because they are classified for a very good reason.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


This video is nuts, crazy, amazing. I had to rewind it in several places because I didnt believe my eyes.

The Pulitzer-winning investigation that dare not be uttered on TV - Glenn Greenwald -

The Pulitzer-winning investigation that dare not be uttered on TV - Glenn Greenwald -

Just in case you thought anything on television was actually informative and not purely agenda driven.

They'd better watch out. It's just a matter of time before software and bandwidth break the monopoly for TV like it did for print.

Recently MSNBC decided not to fill their 10pm time slot, and instead continue to air a repeat showing of Countdown. Interestingly, a video blogger was on the short list of possible entrants into this time slot.

"Cenk Uygur, one of 'The Young Turks,' said he believed MSNBC would do even better in the ratings with a new show but he understood the decision.

'I'm not put off by that,' he said. 'We're in a good position. We're almost certain to get on TV one way or another.' "

Almost certain. Until then he'll continue to broadcast from the Internet. Maybe it wont be him, maybe GE will twist Rachel Maddow's arm too hard someday, or maybe an up and comer at CNN will bump up against the Blitzer ceiling and take his career freelance, but it'll happen. Someone will set up shop online and start poaching.

It's Almost Certain.

Friday, April 17, 2009

High Speed Rail

Color me disappointed, and not just for personal geographic reasons. Take a look at this map. Sure the Coasts are served, but they are disconnected. "You cant get there from here" spots all over this map. The big thing for me though is the nice, long, straight shots are gray or "other passenger rail".

Wouldn't it make more sense for these multi hundred mile stretches between cities to be spanned by something like a 300mph bullet train? Is Denver not a major city? Why are the Mountain West and the Great Plains not linked to the West Coast like the Midwest and Mid-South are to the East Coast and the Upper Midwest?

Kansas City to Dallas? No. Miami to Atlanta or points North? No. Anywhere to Orlando or Vegas? No.

I mean Tulsa has that half scale replica of the World Trade Center, but seriously...

Read the rah rah here.

Copper Standard - Schott’s Vocab Blog -

Copper Standard - Schott’s Vocab Blog -

Watch out folks, China is like the Baby Boom of the International Marketplace. Anything they do, any shift they make has enormous implications. The nightmare of China dumping our debt will never come to pass (it would kill them as surely as us), but once there is a reliable and politically palatable place for them to park their money things could get interesting.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Earl Grey, Hot

Ok. I'm going to say I've had enough of the scrotum innuendo (now I'm doing it) that is all over the liberal media. We get it. Tea bagging is slang for something sexual.

Can we please move on? Ha said something "dirty" on TV with an almost-straight face. Aren't you clever.

Rachel Maddow, and David Schuster....I'm talking to you.

What next? Fart jokes?

Moon Trailer

This one looks good. It's shaping up to be a pretty good summer. Let's hope this one gets a wide release.

Monday, April 13, 2009

President Obama...You're My Heeeeeerooooo!!!

Please people. This whole Pirates of Penzance drama is being completely blown out of context.

No, it wasnt a test of Obama's resolve or whatever. Anyone that thinks anything beyond their next meal was in the minds of the Pirates needs their head examined.

No, this doesn't reflect on the President's military prowess in any way either. All he did was authorize the rules of engagement and get out of the way. If shooting three half starved and illiterate Somalis floating in the middle of the ocean required the direct involvment of our President, then we might as well mothball the Navy.

Folks, this was professional guys doing what they do. These pirates never had a chance, and it was an act of kindness to put them down with....get this...three simultaneously fired shots. Nobody knew anyone else was hit. One pop, three dead pirates.

So the reality challenged folks on both sides of the political spectrum need to go back to criticizing the First Lady's bare arms or lobbying for marijuana legalization or whatever and let the SEALS go back to cleaning their weapons and waiting on orders.

Not Presidential crisis, not averted by President, not test not passed. Nothing to see here....move along.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Amazon Prime

My wife signed us up for a one month trial of Amazon Prime, and I must say that when paired with the one click shopping it is almost scary how easy it is to buy stuff from Amazon. Free shipping on everything, and $3.99 overnight shipping.

Granted, we are in an occasion-heavy time of the year, but we've made 4 purchases in the two weeks since we signed up and have probably utilized a sizable portion of the $79 annual fee already.

If you get a box from Amazon a dozen or so times a year, I think that taking the shipping costs out of the buying equation will make a lot of sense for you.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sally Struthers Never Mentioned This

I just came across a clarification of just how poor the world's poor people are.

The World Bank defines extreme poverty as not having enough income to meet the most basic human needs for adequate food, water, shelter, clothing, sanitation, health care, or education. One widely quoted statistic is that a billion people are living on less than one U.S. dollar per day. That was the World Bank’s poverty line until 2008, when better data led to a new poverty line of $1.25 per day. As a result, the number of people whose income puts them under the new poverty line is 1.4 billion.

On hearing the “$1.25 a day” figure, the thought may cross your mind that in many developing countries it is possible to live much more cheaply than in industrialized nations. But the World Bank has already made that adjustment in purchasing power, so those it classifies as living in extreme poverty are existing on a daily total consumption of goods and services — whether earned or homegrown — comparable to the amount of goods and services that can be bought in the United States for $1.25.

Emphasis mine. I'm not one of those "feed the children" types by any means. I think that aid, especially in Africa has done as much harm as good. As a matter of fact I am friendly with an Ethiopian guy that will say as much to anyone that will listen.

But I know I always said to myself "yeah, but $1.25 will get you pretty far in Africaland". I had no idea this was an adjusted number.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

No Such Luck

Nothing like a line of thunderstorms followed by snow.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Superbowl of Weather

Here's hoping that the weather holds up at least half of the weekend. I hear mutterings of "wintery mix" in the forecast for Sunday so I wont get my hopes up.

Any excuse for ELO though....

Only in Horseshoes

Further our conversation about competence vs going through the motions....

I just watched a clip of Levi Johnston on Tyra Banks adamantly saying that he practiced safe sex every time.

every time?
every time.
EVERY time?

(wait for it)

Most of the time.

**BUZZZ** Wrong answer. You see only has to fail ONCE for it not to work. As you are about to learn in your career as a semi-skilled worker...things cannot be "mostly" level or "almost square" or "pretty much" grounded.

It's not enough for load chains to be in place on a tractor trailer load of pipe, they have to be secure and inspected every 100 miles or so. "What??...there were chains on the load" isn't going to fly when people end up dead. Physics doesn't give a shit if you tried. No "A" for effort.

If you decide to work with food it cannot be stored in "cold enough" coolers or cooked until it's "almost safe" to eat either.

This is the mentality of the "give me credit for trying" culture...and it's painful to watch them suffer the consequences. Amusing...but painful.

All Hail Our New Robot Overlords

Couple of interesting articles about the impeding annihilation of the human race.

The first is about a robot which has been programmed to employ the scientific method and identify scientifically interesting results. Basically all the human "scientist" has to do is restock reagents and do general housekeeping periodically. Where is Isaac Asimov when you need him? Given enough computing power and sufficient time, could a machine like this derive new life or develop a biological shell for itself? I know it's just doing yeast experiments now, but wow.

The second is a computer that can derive the laws of physics simply by being given real world data as input. Show it the apple falling, it tells you about gravity....sorta.

Again, not to belabor the point, but given sufficient computing power, could these things tell us stuff that Hawking can't?

Next up, Ray Kurzweil's singularity and computers designing better computers. Once that happens, we're off to the races.

The Tyranny of the Majority

Or "Why I would rather not live in Kansas"

This morning my daughter walked in with a Lunchable in her hand. As I was getting her a bag to carry it in (good job mom...loser) she explained to me why she was bringing what they call "a home sack".

For you people on the coast, it's Lent. And as we approach the day when the Holy Easter Bunny laid a chocolate egg and the Jesus Zombie™ clawed his way out of his grave, Catholics don't eat meat on Friday. My theology might be a little mixed up there, and the whole no meat on Friday but transubstantiation on Sunday thing is simultaneously gross, inconsistent, and fascinating...but I digress.

The PUBLIC Schools out here dont serve meat on Fridays during Lent. If you are a secular kid that would rather not eat what passes for "fish" from a school cafeteria (and my pre-foodie kids fall into that category most certainly) then you are out of luck. Instead of the Catholic kids packing a PB&J on Fridays, my kids have to acommodate them.

Nevermind that I had NO idea this was going on and our other two children are going to have to just deal with the fish today. I'll be sure to pack them a lunch next week...we'll call it a Darwin Sack just to be obstinate.

Could somebody PLEASE explain to me how this is even remotely allowable under the First Amendment?

Now if I could just get one of this kids to have as bad of an attitude as I had at that age and say to the lunch lady, "Im not Catholic, I'll take the normal lunch" and cause a life would be complete.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Give it to Tesla

In another offline conversation, I've discussed this idea before. We should give GM and Chrysler's billions to companies like Telsa.

This is an under capitalized company that is on the cutting edge of technology and getting hammered by the economic downturn...and they can put a thing of beauty like THIS on the road for $50k?

A properly wired home charging set up (480V) can recharge this baby in 45 MINUTES, and with the enhanced battery pack it can go 300 miles. That's a tank of gas people.

0-60 in less than 6 seconds, and the battery is easily accessible so battery swapping stations are possible.

Dont worry though. If Tesla fails to catch on, the Chinese will be happy to lead the way.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome exercises that really work - Boing Boing

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome exercises that really work - Boing Boing

Great demonstration and explanation of these stretches. We've all seen them before but this put them in a context for me that was useful. I feel better after ONE stretch, never mind hourly for a couple of days.

Dr. Demento has fallen on hard times.

Dr. Demento lives on.....barely.

Im on a mission to see if I can't get a little social networking love for the Good Doctor. Digg it, Reddit what you do.

All I know is Weird Al should be sending him flowers...with a check.

Commentary: Is Obama skidding or crashing? -

Commentary: Is Obama skidding or crashing? -

Short post. I loves me some Penn Jillette. Nothing like someone firmly grounded in the rational world looking at crap, but having the personality to call it Bullshit. I'm guessing a lifetime spent hustling people tends to reinforce the idea that most of them just aren't very smart.

To continue his metaphor though, I think that Obama is skidding...but I fear that he might be a formula one guy trying to control a funny car on a wet track.

Google Shares its Server Design

Google drives innovation in Server Efficiency

What is this geeky nonsense and why am I blogging about it? Well off the grid yesterday I shared this article with a few buddies. Some gearheads had turned an old VW into an 84mpg medium high performance vehicle for about $7,000.

This article from Google makes me wonder why the large consumers of transportation technology arent demanding the same sorts of innovation and efficiency. What sort of clout does an Avis or a Hertz wield with GM? Could FedEx lock in to a multi-decade, multi-thousands of vehicles agreement with whoever makes their trucks and demand better fuel efficiency and lower costs?

Sure, you and I as consumers dont really give a crap about the cost of gasoline. Even when it's $4 a gallon our pain is mostly psychological. I buy about 750 gallons of gas a year. Incremental increases in cost really arent that meaningful. Sure, I hate seeing $60 go into my gas tank as much as the next person but it's REALLY not that much more money. Doubling a small number is really just a slightly larger small number.

But what about UPS or a chain like Marriott with their courtesy vehicles? Surely every penny in increased fuel costs tightens their belts....around their NECKS like a noose.

Google did this and innovated in an environment where electricity was relatively inexpensive. So why didnt "Cheap Electrons" cause the same sort of anti-innovation lethargy for their business that "Cheap Gas" does for transportation?

I know it's not apples to apples and the R&D on a new car is a lot more expensive than a server made out of 5 or 6 components, but I think this speaks more to the real problem in Detroit...the culture problem.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stuff about Fluff

Stuff about Fluff

Behold....all you folks that grew up thinking Kennedy talked funny...the Fluffernutter. Contrary to what you might have thought as you watched me eat this sandwich icon and politely said, "I'll pass" is the Best. Sandwich. Ever.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Elsewhere: Movie Jargon Preservation - Schott’s Vocab Blog -

Elsewhere: Movie Jargon Preservation - Schott’s Vocab Blog -

I'd like some feedback on this movie jargon...does it ring true, or does it ring like your dad visited some showbiz guys and picked up some odd expressions and loves using them out of context?

I will say, that "The Rake Bit" is a Simpsons standard...Homer wouldn't be funny without it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New NYT Blog for Wordies

This is going to be delicious. A Primer on new or unfamiliar terms buzzing around because of current events.

Interview without Coffee

Maybe I just love the irony of brusque military-speak paired with droll British humor.

Echos from Email

This sounds like something I read in a Saylor email once or twice. Who is keeping track of the predictions and prognostications of our "experts" and rating them on the ONE thing we value them for...their expertise?

Sounds like a great idea for a blog. You 'd need three groups of staffers to watch CNN, FOX, and MSNBC all day, and then probably 1 or 2 more to read and highlight the major editorials. From this you could glean a pundit's position, evaluate it's consistency (i.e. have the changed their tune to suit the reality on the ground) with perhaps a mitigating "mea culpa" factor for honest mind-changers, and then follow up on the positions as concensus forms around an issue.

You could rank them numerically and begin to weed out the dopes.

Foxes and Hedgehogs

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Man survived both atomic bombings

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Man survived both atomic bombings

This is crazy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I read an interesting analysis of the Geithner plan over at Ezra Klein's blog and it conforms with everything I've said about the "wait for it" factor with Obama.

In a nutshell, it took Geithner 6 weeks to come up with this plan not because he didnt know how to fix it, but because Obama is a master politician and needed to overlay a complex set of political imperatives over a very gnarly financial problem.

It's a Public song in the key of Private enterprise, with the Nationalization-ettes as backup singers.

Check out the theory...I'm willing to buy it for now.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

Is there an Accountant in the house?

FASB's new standards

Can somebody please explain this to me in the snarkiest, most sarcastic, and understandable way possible. I think the "Other than terminal cancer, Patrick Swayze is fine" example is good...maybe one of you could get creative?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Verizon Fails Math

Hold Please.....

I cant imagine why anyone would want to listen to 30 mins of endless customer service idiocy...but this is truly pathetic.

In a nutshell...this guy was quoted .002 CENTS per kilobyte for data usage while he was in Canada. He has an unlimited US plan and therefore no context. Is this a high or low number or whatever. He recognized that math idiots might be confused by this and had someone quote it to him in writing. .002 cents per kilobyte.

Well sure enough he's billed .002 DOLLARS per kilobyte.

This is where the hilarity ensues. He's on his third tier of mgmt by the time I couldnt take it any more.

"do you recognize that there is a difference between 1 dollar and 1 cent?"

"do you recongize that there is a difference between half a dollar and half a cent?"

"do you therefore recognize that there is a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents?"

What do you even say to someone like that?

Military Spending

Thought I was going to get through the day with just games.

How is it that we need to spend this much on the military? I mean I get wanting to have overwhelming superiority, and I get that as a share of GDP it's probably not as bad as this graphic. But c'mon. We have to make choices in this country because of this?

We could have free healthcare, with complimentary massage on the way out, and a return to housecalls for this much money.

Bullet train depots in our driveways maybe? 5:1 student teacher ratios?

One more time...I get this. I dont want to be second place, I dont want it to be close either, but this is just silly.

US vs World

Another Game

Not new to some readers, but worth another hat tip.


Ball Droppings

This is a nifty little doodlegame. No instructions, just fun.

Ball Droppings

The Daily Me

Is there an echo in here?

I try. I really do. I read Krauthamer and Will, Brooks and The Sullivans. I try to stay away from the Huffingtons and stick to Krugman and Greenwald. I get a little balance fom, but only if you consider reading both idiots in an idiotic and polariazed shouting match "balance". (memeorandum appears to pull in discussion related to newsarticles from both 'sides' in an effort to present the news and then all of the commentary on it)

This issue of wrapping ourselves in a coccoon of self affirming ideas it really new? Is the Internet so different? Have we always aligned ourselves along Buckley vs Vidal lines?

Should we worry?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009


That's your exposure in the derivatives market. This is the exposure of every man, woman and child on the planet to the derivatives market. Every Soccer mom, every Tokyo hipster, every Bengali goldsmith, every Ethiopian taxi driver, every Highland shepherd....

$190,000 x 6.7 billion people is a number that starts with a Q.


Someone Has to Stop Them

This put a smile on my face. I love geeks.

Alternative Energy Revolution - xkcd

All The News That's Fit to Link

I'm just going to post directly to Kottke's link on this because I dont have a lot to add.

Steven Johnson ("The Invention of Air") takes a look at Technology coverage on the web as a model for how the rest of the news will look in the future (aka "Next month")

The Future News Ecosystem

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dead Tree Media Roundup

It's almost too much to keep up with on a Saturday Morning.

NYT - Major City Paperless by 2010

Define major city in this economic environment. If Detroit loses their paper does that count?

WaPo Shutters Biz Page

There isnt enough NEWS going on in the biggest meltdown in 80 years? I guess this is illustrative of Jon Stewart's point. The Business Media is a cheering section and the party is over. Now it's "news" so they dont need a business section.

Sad. Business pages all over the country should be like the Politics section on Election Year.

TMZ grows it's Business Business

No more Britney's panties or lack thereof. Now the Paparazzi are after the big shots. Every big bottle of wine and every take off of a private jet is now fodder for the gossip pages. Can't say I'm sorry to see some of these guys fed to the beast, but do we really want to demonize these people?

Did you know ALL drugs were legal in Portugal?

Glenn Greenwald looks at Portugal and a Public Health Drug Strategy

Why is my first reaction to this, "Never Happen."?

It's like abstinence education writ large, with machine guns. We all know it doesnt work, people get hurt because of it, and yet we cant have intelligent conversations with our kids about it.

I think our foot is in the door on this one with the trend towards decriminalization..if not outright legalization..of marijuana. Take the issue off the table for the 99% of casual users that would NEVER touch a drug like heroin or cocaine and then look at the data. My guess is that things have settled down in parts of Massachusetts and that once people can point to the numbers there and see what it really means we just might start being sane about this. might "Never Happen".

Friday, March 13, 2009

Big Red Truck

$29 at Sam's Club is what I'm hearing. It's a solid wine for about $7.50 a bottle. To paraphrase a wise man, you know what's wrong with that?


Wine Barrels for Everyone

Better Batteries

Batteries that charge in seconds

Lithium batteries that can recharge in seconds, utilizing existing materials and technology. Granted, you'd be limited by how much juice you could pump through a given wire but that's still a heckuva lot faster than today's trickle rates.

One estimate said that in order to "charge a cellphone in 10 seconds" you'd need to pull 180 amps of power. I dont like standing next to things that can move that much current, let alone interacting with them.

I'd take a 15 minute charge at 1/100th the amperage though. And assuming some heavy duty infrastructure in the garage or at the "power station" you could get a battery powered car up and at'em in no time.

Think about that for a minute. There's a reason why gas stations arent REALLY everywhere. They are dangerous and environmentally problematic. In a world where cars run on electricity, the smart retailer would have swipe and charge terminals in their parking lots. The juice is there already, they could extract a convenience premium.

The range of the vehicle in normal commuting or errand running becomes even less relevant then.

There are huge bucks to be made electrifying our transportation grid if we can just get over the first hump.

More thoughts on Cramer

There's nothing unique about Jim Cramer

I was thinking this exact thought while I was squirming in my seat watching Jon Stewart dismantle Jim Cramer last night. Glenn Greenwald of course has been lambasting the media almost daily, on the run up to the Iraq war, their almost universal lack of support for any accountability for crimes committed during the Bush Administration, and most recently for the abuse of anonymity with official sources.

What some people don't realize is that Jon Stewart is passionate about the role that journalists should play in our civic discourse, and he's kicked up a shit-storm over this issue in the past.

Watch him on Crossfire back in October 2004. 3 months later it was off the air.

The World at a Glance

14 Front Pages

Take in the front page of 14 major newspapers including several English language papers from other countries.

In reference to our ongoing conversation about the relevance of the dead tree media, I think this gives a concise snapshot of the industry's product.

Did you see it Grandpa?

Where were you the night Jon Stewart won his Pulitzer? This might be hyperbole, but last night I witnessed a cosmic reversal of the sort that brings the universe IN to focus. You remember Katie Couric's interview of Sarah Palin that she just won the Cronkite Award for? THAT was the farcical comedy. This...ladies and the journalism.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Where is the PR Industry?

I think they've been abducted by aliens. How else to explain yet ANOTHER clueless billionaire running his mouth in the press saying anything other than "I'm sorry, thank you for the billions, we are rebuilding and will be back stronger and smarter."

Leave Britney Alone!!

(that observation is from the comments, but I think it's an apt one)

We've discussed this before, but could somebody from politics or even sports please counsel these idiots on the whole mouth/foot thing?

When a blogger can simply rattle off a dozen REALLY good reasons for this guy to, as Jon Stewart would say, "Shut the fuck up"....then they really need an intervention.

A Better Star Wars?

Defensible Missile Defense

This is an interesting read about a new idea in Ballistic Missile Defense. The weak link in the whole concept has always been the "hitting a bullet with a bullet" problem. A globally deployed defensive system would necessarily have to intercept in outer space, when velocities and dummy warheads would pose insurmountable problems.

Additionally, put yourself in the Russian's shoes for a moment. Imagine they had an impregnable shield against us and could still launch and destroy us. Setting aside for a moment the stupidity of it from an ecological point of view, in a war scenario, having the ability to reach out and take out a city would give the Russians or the Chinese a ton of leverage over us.

The same applies in reverse of course, which is why Putin has been so grouchy about the missiles in Poland issue.

What Professor Postol describes here however is a paradigm shift that I agree would satisfy all parties. Read the article for details, but his solution leverages our existing competencies with launch detection, while putting the deterrent in place ONLY where it's needed so as to not threaten China or Russia.

Furthermore it would bring the defense to bear before the missile could really get going, thus destroying it easily at lower speeds and raining down the radioactive debris on the launch site.

Let's hope this is the beginning of this new respect for science meme that's been touted this week.

Plus...remote controlled bombers? How cool is that?


Google Reader Blog

New feature in Google Reader....Comments!! It really does "close the loop" as they say in this write-up.

I've hit up against the Blogger's Paradox this morning. I've spent more time fiddling with the technology than I have with reading the news and commenting on the good parts. Hopefully this phase will be past soon and I can get back to what I like about this the most, which is sharing my thoughts with my friends and family, and now, just about anyone I guess.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Princeton Bitters

Recession Cocktails from The NewYorker

I think I've had this one in the Keys....

Broke & Tan
Fall asleep in yard on weekday, wake up sun-burned and so dehydrated that anything tastes good.

It's Not Insurance - It's Just A Sticker in The Window


Hey...remember the good ol' days when the banks were making money hand over fist and everything looked like sunshine and blow@#$%'s for as far as anyone could see?

Yeah, well the FDIC didn't collect premiums for 10 years between 1996 and 2006. Banks said our money was "insured" when it was in fact no such thing. It was guaranteed by the FDIC, sure. But it sure as hell wasn't insurance.

No worries, they'd reached the Congressionally mandated limits and heck...banks dont fail all that often. The banking lobby argued that the premiums should stop and their lapdogs in Congress were only too happy to oblige.

I'm speechless.

It's So Conservative it's Revolutionary

Reich's take on Obamanomics

Reich points out an interesting thing about how Obama's economic policies can be seen both at being a very conservative and truly revolutionary at the same time. Both a return to the policies of Reagan and an utter refutation of them.

More interesting for me, and missed by Reich is how this shouldn't surprise anyone. What is happening here is a synthesis of left and right....meeting in a place I like to call "common sense".

He is Gulliver in a world of big-enders and little-enders and Reich can't see that it doesnt matter which end of the egg you crack, the goal is to get it open.

Just Lie Until You Are Right

Retraction? Don't hold your breath.

So the "Ack...It's Socialized Medicine!!" crowd is out earning their paychecks and Bloomberg runs a couple of stories about Obama's new “National Coordinator of Health Information Technology.”

Problem is, the post was created by Dubbya back in 'ought four'.

Spin I get. But when someone publishes something that is simply incorrect, is there any accountability? So now the bobble-heads go on TV and repeat it citing Bloomberg (an august publication to be sure) and folks on the (D) side of the table are left refuting things that are false rather than arguing the merits.

10 years ago this might have worked...just like it did during the Harry and Louise flap. But now it's just dumb, and dangerous. We NEED someone to act as a check against some of the stuff that is going to get into this new Health Care Reform bill. But the reform is coming. There is no stopping it with a cloud of lies and nonsense.

Who is going to make sure that it ISNT like going to the DMV? Certainly not the Republicans. Again, this IS going to happen. But now, instead of it being an honest compromise with some thoughtful people advocating based on genuine concerns about limiting bureaucracy, it's going to be whatever Pelosi wants with some concessions to Arlen Specter and Olympia Snowe.

I enjoy watching the idiot brigade twist in the wind as much as anyone, but we still need balance. Someone with some sense is going to have to stand up and call themselves a Liberal Republican and go fight the fiscally responsible fight or we're going to have a mess on our hands.

Chuck Norris Doesn't Sleep...He Waits

Batshit Crazy

According to the Hallmark Channel's favorite lawman, there is a heavily armed group of insurgents organized in cells all across this country waiting to rise up and destroy the Guvm'nt.

Terrorists you ask? No. Patriots.

I wrote off the endorsing Huckabee thing as simple minded religiosity. But between having Wesley "the IRS is unconstitutional" Snipes on his infomercials and now this nonsense, I'm going to throw a flag.

To paraphrase Captain Perry, Chuck Norris has met the shark, and jumped him.

George Washington Carver

Did you know that George Washington Carver developed 118 uses for the sweet potato?

GWC Wiki

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Maybe the Banks are alright?

The Opinionater

A semi-dense look at how the banks problems might not be so dire as we all imagine.

Some Real Estate is Always in Style

Frank Lloyd Wright home for sale 2 hours southeast of San Francisco for $2.7million. 3700 sq ft on 80 acres of land.

Is it me or did they leave off a zero on this listing?

Jet Packs and Cities in the Sky

Oh....this really brings back memories of the Retro Future of Tomorrow.....

I can see the Disney Exhibit now...where everyone get's a tax refund based on borrowed money and we all invest it in Mutual Funds which invest in securitized investments of debt we have with the chinese and nobody has to work. It's a future of luxury and good health....

We sure were silly back then huh?

Watching the Ripples

Frank Rick puts a moral spin on the crisis, invoking both "Our Town" and Jon Stewart. That CNBC rant from last week has made quite the splash on The Internets.

It's longish...but a good read.

It does fail, ultimately, to inspire me though. There seems to be too much depression era symbolism going around. We can't dig our way out of the mess we're in now by playing the same notes FDR did. I mean we can borrow from the melody...but the country needs different things now.

"Build Roads" that the best we can do? "Build schools". Look to playwrights from 3/4 century ago? Evoking the imagery of rural New Hampshire in contrast to the moral rot of modern (at the time) Wall that really what we need?

I think there is a set of NEW problems today. FDR didn't look at all of the stuff around us in the 30's that was 50 years old and put a new coat of paint on it. He built NEW things...MODERN things. Giving electricity to the Ohio Valley and the Appalachians must have looked completely INSANE at the time. Why not improve the thriving ports in NYC where all the commerce was? Surely the Erie Canal could have been modernized.

Transcontinental highways? Nobody lived in California for chrissakes...and if you did you were just as likely to get around on horseback in the early part of the 20th Century as you were during the goldrush in some places. Nevermind the land in between Chicago and Denver (if you could even find it on a map).

I look even at the proposed High Speed rail map and shake my head. You dont connect two things that are already built up and fully developed. Put some rail between Minneapolis and Omaha....then down to Wichita and Oklahoma City. Connect NEW things and watch something different happen.

Rebuilding WWII America isnt the answer now any more than rebuilding the America of the Gilded Age was then.

Just my two cents.

Dow 36,000 Guy Trashes Obama

This just boggles me. Nature abhors a vacuum right? Well there is a sucking credibility hole here that demands to be filled. Since this moron lost his credibility TWO bubbles ago....who will pay the debt to Newton's Second Law here?

In my opinion, Bloomberg takes the hit for giving this moron a street corner and a sandwich board.

"repent...the end is nigh"

someone put a quarter in this guy's tin cup and direct him to a shelter.

A small, multiple person example of common sense

So I read this one just for the "outrage" value, expecting to read a typical story reinforcing why Oklahoma is not a place I'd want to live.

Instead I got a whole bunch of people reacting to an awful situation in a really unsterotypical way.

Sure...the fanatic throws the liberals out of the hunting class. That much is per the script.

But the Father of the kid is a liberal Obama voter who relocated from California...and a Marine. He made his son get his grades up to deserve the hunting license.

The Department in charge let the fanatic go AN HOUR after the call, and held a private class for these folks so this kid could get his reward for good grades and spend time with his grandpa. I mean jesus h can you get any MORE American. Present and Involved father pushes son to get good he can spend time hunting with his grandfather? Talk about family values. Brings a tear to my eye.

Here's the part that struck me though. The family has one response to all of this...they are appreciative of the dept for going above and beyond. The department went above and "we dont comment on volunteers" boilerplate nonsense about being impartial. And NOBODY is trashing the old man they had to let go. Years of exemplary service...but we had to let him go.

It's like someone detonated an empathy bomb above Tulsa.

Walking and Chewing Gum

I love how the latest "insight" in the media is building and gathering steam. "Obama is too ambitious.." "The Economy isnt a part time crisis..." "The American People can only handle so much change...." "Stem Cells are not a national priority right now...."

Do they imagine that the man sits in the Oval Control Room...immediately adjacent to the Oval Office of course (pay no attention to the man behind the curtain)...and is furiously fiddling with dials and controls like some sort of Executive One Man Band?

The dude had TWO years to hone a policy position on just about everything he felt was important. He had HOARDS of people working on them. These people are now implementing his policy FOR HIM. Sure...he shows up and signs...he takes reports etc along the way...but c'mon.

His mind was made up on the Stem Cell thing the day Bush announced it. He said, "that's crap" like the rest of us. He told his science wonks to fix it...they said, "it's fixed but we had to do X or Y"...he said, "fine but I really dont like Y, try Z" and that was it.

15 minutes of Presidential time...30 max and that includes the photo op.

The man sets an agenda and wields the bully pulpit. Just because he does 5 things at once does NOT mean that each of them takes up 20% of his time. He can still be spending 99% of his time on Banking Crisis....and split the other 1% along an almost infinite list of fully delegated "other" issues.

There's this whole other guy that everyone got all pissed off about...Rahm Emmanuel. You might have heard of him? He swats down the stupid stuff...brings important issues to the President....and squashes anyone that wastes a millisecond of Obama's time. tell me how many "initiatives" and "projects" are currently in the planning or implementation phase at GE? I dont mean silly stuff. I'm talking about major things that need Executive sign off. The economy is taking for GE think they stopped EVERYTHING? Hell no. If anything, every project is now taking up MORE bandwidth as they decide to stop, go or postpone.

Every Exec VP in that company has his own slate of initiatives (like the Cabinet in governmnent) and is managing them and reporting back to the CEO. That's why they are there. Our President can't do the same?

It's a farce to listen to these people. I mean it's EVERY bit as insulting as dealing with Jeremiah Wright or Shandra Levy or listening to Mooseburger jokes during a serious newscast.

Here...I'll 'seed' another rant and just let it bloom elsewhere. Right hand: "We need stimulus to get our economy mooving again...and we need it NOW", Left hand:"What is all of this stuff that Obama is doing in this Stimulus bill??? He needs to focus!!"

Hello? You stimulate by spending. You spend on silly things or you spend on thoughtful things. This guy is spending on thoughtful things...agree or disagree....but dont mistake it for anything other than what it is....Stimulus.

He could have simply rounded all of the budgets up and begun hiring for Federal Jobs and called it Stimulus. I, for one, am glad he didnt....and I think every other "less govt is better" person out there should agree.