Sunday, December 31, 2006

Bye-bye dollar assets good-bye

Eli S. posts on David Friedman's blog
There's a great spoof of Miss American Pie here.

When I teach my high school economics class about money and monetary policy (and trade, and debt, etc.) I'm going to use it.

A long, long time ago
I can still remember
How the dollar used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
I'd sell the currency of France
And, maybe, I'd be happy for awhile.
But all our spending made me shiver
With every T-bill we deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn't take one more step.
I can't remember if I cried
When I heard our politicians lied
But something touched me deep inside
The day the dollar died.
So bye-bye, dollar assets good-bye
Sold my Chevy at the levee
cause my pension ran dry.
Them good old boys were drinking sake to try
Singing this will be the day that it died
This i'll be the day that it died.
Did you write
Or have you a Yen to fall in love
If Japan will tell you so?
Now, do you believe in oil and coal
Can China fill our import hole
And can we teach them how to grow real slow?
Well I know the country's fit and trim
Cause the jobs are in the Pacific Rim.
We all knew savers lose
Man, I dug not having to choose.
We were living off the almighty buck
We got their goods and they were stuck
But I knew we were out of luck
The day the dollar died.

Now for ten years we were sure we owned
All the stocks and bonds and mortgage loans
But that's not how it's gonna be.
When we've spent it all like kings and queens
In clothes we bought from The Philippines
The Asians pick the reserve currency.
Oh, and while the king was looking down,
Their central bankers came to town.
Our stocks and bonds were spurned
Those dollars were returned.
And while unions filled their books with Marx
The President said drill in parks
Our thermostats froze in the dark
The day the dollar died.
We were singing
Bye-bye, dollar assets good-bye

Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The equity is gone from your leveraged shelter
Fannie and Freddie are falling fast.
Crash, they landed, but in a new class
Full faith and credit have long since passed
With Congress, in denial, out of gas.
Now the Wal-Mart there has cheap perfume
With imports filling every room.
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance.
The consumers tried to take the field
The central banks refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the dollar died?
We started singing

Oh, and there we were all in one place
Our credit rating in disgrace
With no time left to start again.
So come on: Al be nimble, Al be quick!
Al, cut rates by 50 ticks
cause credit is the debtor's only friend.
Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No congressman in hell
Could buy what he would sell.
And as the rates climbed high into the night
To stem the U.S. asset flight
The IMF said, Yes, that's right
The day the dollar died
They were singing

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her if we still could choose
But she just smiled and turned away.
I went down to the Medicare store
Where we had spent our dollars years before
But the man there said those dollars wouldn't pay.
And in the streets the children screamed
The seniors cried and the workers steamed
But not a word was spoken
The commitments all were broken.
And the three men I admire most:
Faber, Rogers, and Bill Gross
Were at the forex trading post
The day the dollar died.
And they were singing

.. I'd have to bill you

Dean is right. This 'Day by Day' is damn funny.


We can't afford space. It's too expensive. We broke the bank just getting a handful of men to the Moon in 1969 - and now we want to send a baker's dozen at a time? Bah - spend that fortune on something worthwhile like social woes ..

As if
The question remains, however, "What should we afford?" In this regard, a historical perspective is helpful. At its peak, during the Apollo years, America spent 0.8 percent of its gross national product on its civil space program (Figure 2). This level amounted to about 4.5 percent of federal spending at the time (Figure 3) and, perhaps more importantly, about 6 percent of the discretionary portion of the federal budget (Figure 4). Today, we as a nation are spending about one-third of the Apollo peak spending as a portion of the GNP -- and the faction of the increasingly pressured total discretionary budget has declined to 2.5 percent.

0.8 of the GDP is nothing. We can afford that level of spending while holding our breath. It is not, then, about the money spent on space but politics and who controls the spending.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act considerd harmful

From IBD via
'Tis the season for predictions for the year ahead, something we've always been loath to do because, well, we don't like being wrong any more than the next guy. In the spirit of this special issue of IBD, however, we've come up with seven forecasts — let's call them "possibilities" — for 2007 based on what we see as key developments as '06 wound down. Herewith is our list, offered on the condition we're not held to it.

Major U.S. stock indexes were up solidly in 2006. The Dow's near its all-time high. Yet there's something rotten at the heart of America's markets, and that something is the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

SarBox has put a hammerlock on America's small-time capitalism like no other law before. It's keeping small, innovative companies from getting the capital they need to grow and thrive. Along with the growing number of high-profile lawsuits against companies for what turn out to be differences of accounting opinion, U.S. capital markets are hurting.

Loss of share to places such as London, Tokyo and Hong Kong extends even to IPOs. In the late '90s, U.S. capital markets attracted 48% of all global IPOs. This year, it's a pathetic 8%. In 2005, a shocking 24 of the 25 largest new issues were outside the U.S. We once owned that business.

The reason for the U.S. decline? As University of Chicago economist Luigi Zingales noted in a recent study, it's due to "excessive regulation and overly burdensome litigation risk" after Sarbanes-Oxley.

By the way, this can also be seen in the surge of once-public companies now going private. As the chart shows, net equity issuance in the U.S. — a measure of how much equity is actually available on U.S. markets — has gone into an alarming decline since SarBox. The trend has accelerated as more companies go private.

It's pretty simple: Company CEOs, faced with lawsuits, a growing list of SEC requirements and the costs that go with both would rather be private and not have the headaches than list on a major exchange and be harassed daily. The SEC has eased some SarBox rules, but needs to do more to restore America's competitive edge.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Thank you Sir, may I have another?

Hey, Department of Revenue
Wisconsin's revenue agency said Friday that it sent as many as 170,000 forms to taxpayers with mailing labels mistakenly printed with their social security numbers.
Thank-you-very-much-may-I-have-another? How about sending back the refund in cash, stapled to the outside.*

*tip to Dave

New Year's Eve

What I'm doing to celebrate the New Year

If you're in the area, come on down and say 'hi'.  We've got WIFI as well.

Rainy Day

Rainy day in Rockwall, Texas, October 2002

Space Pen

NASA spent millions of dollars to develop a pen that could write in space.  The clever Russians equpped their cosmonauts with pencils.  Foolish government 'crats in action.  Clever Russians.  Proves a point about how inept the space agency is or something like that.

Except it did not happen that way.

The Fischer Pen Company invested $1 million of their own money to create the space pen.  They sold 400 of them to NASA for Apollo.  The Soviets ordered 100 the next year.

They paid $2.39 each.

Not as exciting as 'crats wasting our money but somehow a more satisfying tale.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Tin ear in the PR department

NASA wants to connect with young adults.
Tactics encouraged by the workshop included new forms of communication, such podcasts and YouTube; enlisting support from celebrities, such as actors David Duchovny ("X-Files") and Patrick Stewart ("Star Trek: The Next Generation"); forming partnerships with youth-oriented media such as MTV or sports events such as the Olympics and NASCAR; and developing brand placement in the movie industry.
I wonder if anyone actually asked Patrick Stewart if he wanted to participate ...
As I get older my unease at the time and the money that has to be spent on projects putting human beings back to the moon, and on to another planet, is so enormous,

And it would take up so many resources, which I personally feel should be directed at our own planet.

Humankind has just not simply become sufficiently evolved to now leave this planet, take itself out to space and began establishing more of us out there.

I would like to see us get this place right first before we have the arrogance to put significantly flawed civilisations out on to other planets - even though they may be utterly uninhabited.
'Cause a guy who babbles on in such a vein might not be the best spokesman for a space agency.

Via the excellent Eric Berger.


From Castle Argghhh!

George Budabin - a memorial

George Budabin - a memorial.
My Dad has left an impression on me that will stay with me until the day that I die. He taught me what being a man was really about. He was the ultimate stand-up guy who you could trust to do anything he said he would do. He was loving, caring, and affectionate towards his children. He was a provider in every sense of the word. There were days when he would leave for work at 6:30 AM and not get home until 9:00 PM, exhausted. Still, he would eat his dinner, and spend whatever time he had left with his children and wife until he went to bed, rarely just getting time to himself.
George Budabin sounds as if he were what we should all aspire to be. Be a stand-up guy, take care of your family, do what needs to be done.

Would that we could live up to his example. Requiescat in pace.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


You really need to click this for the entire story.
Bee incinerator contraption:
- 30 feet of rope
- 1 large fire pit
- 1 science project board
- miscellaneous rags and a bedsheet
- gas


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

SAGE - Your Own Math Engine

SAGE: Software for Algegbra and Geometry Experimentation

SAGE is free and open software that supports research and teaching in algebra, geometry, number theory, cryptography, and related areas. Both the SAGE development model and the technology in SAGE itself is distinguished by an extremely strong emphasis on openness, community, cooperation, and collaboration: we are building the car, not reinventing the wheel. Our overall goal is to create a viable free open source alternative to Maple, Mathematica, Magma, and MATLAB.

Nifty. A practical application? Math server, says Steve Hastings via Pournell's Chaos Manor

I suggested that they should make a bootable CD image that runs SAGE in web-server mode. You could take any spare PC, boot from the CD, and your network now would have a SAGE server. I can imagine that being very popular in schools.

I can imagine it being popular elsewhere - any company that uses Mathematica can likely use a tool like this. You can't beat the price.

Respectfully Submitted,

Brian Dunbar

The Day After Christmas

Pasty wrote me a poem.

The Day After Christmas
In honor of Brian Dunbar

Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house the floor had been cluttered, with papers, twas doused.

The stockings were scattered with disarray in our lair, the candy wrappers thrown on the floor without care.

The children were playing all the games they received, while screaming at monsters and thieves that deceive.

While I in my apron and a trashcan on lap start sweeping and cleaning all the leftover wrap.

When out in their room there arose such a scream, I thought that they must have just had a bad dream!

Away to the bedroom I flew really quick, only to find they'd lost a sword to a stick.

So back to my room to clean the dishevel and make my home safe and bring it back, to some level.

The light on the floor made the packages glitter. It's amazing how lovely sunlight makes litter.

More quickly I went to finish my task, my husband was helping, and I didn't even ask.

More rapid than tigers he swept and he cleaned. I was so happy he had intervened.

In boxes, in paper, and in went the tissue. Quick as lightening he tossed them, how quickly they flew!

He saved all the manuals and tucked them away. He knew what to save, what needed to stay.

From the corner of the living room to the edge of the hall, he worked like a hero to save me from it all.

When he met with an obstacle, he took it with glee. Nothing deterred him, not even me!

With his hands full of boxes of goodies and toys, he dispersed them to rooms and then to our boys.

He took charge like a warrior ready to fight! And throw all the gloom I began to see light.

He drew in my hand to his lips he did kiss. Not once did I feel that my life was amiss.

With courage and fortitude he never once wavered, but kept on working and showing me favor.

He then did the dishes, yes, washed them all clean. Dried them with a towel until they showed sheen.

He worked like a madman, no task was too small. He worked and he worked not complaining at all.

He drew up his brow in deep concentration, making me watch in anticipation.

The steam from the water looked like it could boil, but nothing deterred him from cleaning the soil.

He put everything in it's place, no mistake did he make. And then to the garage the trash he did take.

And when it was done, he held me so close I could feel how the wind had been cold on his nose.

I hugged him so tight, for he saved me the trouble of making the day length seem more than just double.

And into the night he knew what was to be, for there is no better man then he is to me.

But I heard him exclaim as we passionately kissed, "My love for you, dear, will never desist."

Dodging a bullet

If this described a publicly-traded company, the CEO would be facing jail time

The largest employer in the world announced on Dec. 15 that it lost about $450 billion in fiscal 2006. Its auditor found that its financial statements were unreliable and that its controls were inadequate for the 10th straight year. On top of that, the entity's total liabilities and unfunded commitments rose to about $50 trillion, up from $20 trillion in just six years.
But it's our government so they've dodged a bullet. Thank heavens they're exempt from following the same rules the rest of us do.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Carl Sagan

"In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends on how well we know this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky."

Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Mighty neighborly

Hey, that is mighty neighborly of you Microsoft

Exchange 2007 includes a number of features that Microsoft says makes
the 2GB corporate mailbox not only completely viable, but desirable.

Mighty neighborly.

5,000 users x 2GB mailbox = 10,000 GB of data. Thanks Microsoft! You're making EMC (or NetApp) very happy. You're not making the IT department happy (wheee more storage arrays to mange) or the business guys who have to write a check to NetApp (or EMC) but there it is.

Pretty in Pink

From Oleg Volk

As a commenter dantheserene noted - "It's the accessories that make an outfit".


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Marine Combat Artist Sgt Kristopher Battles

Sgt. Kristopher Battles is a Marine Combat Artist on active duty in Iraq. This is his blog - Sketchpad Warrior.

Bank Naiveté

Rand's post
Drop a billion dollars worth of bullion on the lunar surface. Whoever can get up there, and bring it back, gets it. There'd be no way to pull the prize money off the table with such a scheme.
Got me to thinking. Why worry about hauling it back? You've got a stack of bullion, it's assayed - set yourself up as an offshore bank.

Okay, it's way way offshore but the idea has it's merits; you're security staff can be minimal for a few years and just getting there to steal it presents major logistical problems.

The requirements for an offshore bank ... well there don't appear to be any. Your bank needs to be trustworthy, and able to prove your assets exist which we've done.

More seriously - since the government is not about to stash bullion on the moon - why not find an asteroid, assay it's metal content and use that for your assets?

What is the flaw that keeps this from being a workable idea?

We've got jobs!

From the 'We've Got Jobs' page at NetApp
  • Network Appliance Inc. does not accept unsolicited resumes from third-party vendors associated with fees. If you decide to submit your resumes without the appropriate Network Appliance agreements and nondisclosure documents, you are providing resumes and candidates to Network Appliance free of charge, and we thank you for the resume submittal.
Italics mine. Haw.

Headline of the Day

Headline of the day from the Drudge Retort

Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention hit a snag Monday after a union leader refused to sign a no-strike pledge
As a poster in the comments noted

It is also notable that the party of organized labor is requiring organized labor to agree to not do the very thing that labor originally organized for the right to do...

Say that three times fast.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Michael Fay - USMC combat artist

Yes, the Marines have combat artists. Michael Fay is one of them, his blog is here: Fire And Ice.

"Danger Close" Oil on canvas, 20x16 by Michael Fay.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Anglican Humor

This joke says a world about Anglican sensibilities and our their ability to kick any problem the road.

The year is 2010 and two graduates of the very conservative Anglo-Catholic seminary called Nashotah House are standing in the back of the Washington National Cathedral as the church’s latest presiding bishop and her lesbian partner process down the long center aisle, carrying a statue of the Buddha aloft while surrounded by a cloud of incense.

As they watch this scene unfold, one of the priests leans over and quietly tells the other: “You know, one more thing and I’m out of here.”


Cat blogging

Pasty captured our smooshy-faced cat on camera last night.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Nearly frictionless machine

What's a Rolamite? It looks like a simple gadget made with two rollers and a steel band, but it's much more. As basic as the wheel, the lever, or the hinge, it is the only elementary machine discovered this century. Its use will be widespread --- in everything from switches, thermostats, and valves to pumps and clutches, and as almost frictionless bearings.
The paragraph above was taken from (as if you could not have guessed) Popular Science, March 1966. Nifty idea - but perhaps a few years too late to match PopSci's prose ...
... invented by a man named Donald Wilkes, who worked for Sandia Laboratories. It’s a bearing or switch with two rollers and a band around them. The idea is that by using different styles of band and different cutouts in the band, you can get this little device to do different things, to serve as an accelerometer, for example. There was a great fanfare about the Rolamite in the 1960s in both the professional engineering press and media like The New “York Times. Donald Wilkes left his job at Sandia Laboratories, raised money, started Rolamite, Inc., and hired engineers. But the Rolamite turned out to be the second best way to do everything, as one engineer said. And it came at just the time when microprocessors were beginning to do the more sophisticated work that the Rolamite was supposed to handle. At the low end it was too expensive to fabricate to the tolerances needed and still be economical. At the high end it was losing out to the lower and lower costs of solid-state control.

There were just three important exceptions, which go to show how radically unexpected technology can be. One was a postal scale you may still see in garage sales with a kind of twisted band in the front; that has Rolamite geometry in it. The second was the use of Rolamites as accelerometers in thermonuclear weapons, probably because they can’t be spooked by electronic countermeasures. The third one is the automobile air bag. Apparently just about every air bag made has a Rolamite in it, because for an accelerometer at the right tolerance, the Rolamite performs better than any alternative technology.

Air bags were probably the last thing on Wilkes’s mind—they didn’t exist at the time—yet the Rolamite has turned out to be a vital element in their design. Wilkes also told me that his experience with the RoIamite gave him ideas for other inventions with similar geometry.

Business Case

From David Farber's Interesting People mail list;
The best response I have ever heard to this kind of assertion - "no business case" - is from a stock analyst friend of mine:

a gravel pit can be a great business, and so is a grocery store. Great businesses are the result of great businesspeople, and those who are looking for a business case are probably insufficiently lazy or creative to be successful at ANY business.

Friday, December 15, 2006


This looks like a good beginning to a novel

I just stood there. I didn't even especially want to help him.

That didn't make sense. Even if he hadn't been my best friend, I should at least have empathized. I'd suffered less than Pag in the way of overt violence; my seizures tended to keep the other kids at a distance, scared them even as they incapacitated me. Still. I was no stranger to the taunts and insults, or the foot that appears from nowhere to trip you up en route from A to B. I knew how that felt.

Or I had, once.

But that part of me had been cut out along with the bad wiring. I was still working up the algorithms to get it back, still learning by observation. Pack animals always tear apart the weaklings in their midst. Every child knows that much instinctively. Maybe I should just let that process unfold, maybe I shouldn't try to mess with nature. Then again, Pag's parents hadn't messed with nature, and look what it got them: a son curled up in the dirt while a bunch of engineered superboys kicked in his ribs.

In the end, propaganda worked where empathy failed. Back then I didn't so much think as observe, didn't deduce so much as remember—and what I remembered was a thousand inspirational stories lauding anyone who ever stuck up for the underdog.

So I picked up a rock the size of my fist and hit two of Pag's assailants across the backs of their heads before anyone even knew I was in the game.

It's by a fellow named Peter Watts - he's released it under the creative commons license. So far .. it's pretty good. Scalzi claims "it's got all the hard SF goodness you'd want" which sentence alone will keep me reading for a chapter or two.

Amazing world we live in. Twenty years ago this book might have dropped out of sight no one would have ever heard of it. Bits are cheap and we all benefit.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Tulsa, Oklahoma - my home town - has problems.
After considerable study, the six determined Tulsa County fell short in three areas: the ability to attract and retain talented employees and the employers of that talent; a strong sense of community; and a sustainable tax base.
The solution? Tax breaks to encourage business and investment. Lower taxes, improving the public school system. Ha - I kid. The solution is to build this

Ain't that pretty?

Yup - they want to dam the Arkansas at 23rd street, create a lake reaching up to Sand Springs put up some buildings on a 40-acre island in the middle of the channel. All of the low-low cost of $600 million in public financing.

Oh - and they want to use the dam to sell energy from the dam (and wind and solar). This in a place where dams, yes, do generate electricity but their main purpose is flood control. Cause you don't get much energy from a river that doesn't flow so much as mosey.

Don't let the picture fool you - the Arkansas is mud-brown, sluggish and chock full of (treated) waste-water from upstream. Not the kind of thing you'll want to sit next to enjoying the twilight .. smacking mosquitos and shooing away mayflies.

A future taxpayer, stunned at what his $600 million has bought. I'm not sure what this fellow is standing on because he appears to be hovering a few thousand feet in the air over West Tulsa.


Man about town

Samuel Pepys - now in blog format. Via.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Unitek Update

I updated my Unitek (of Fremont, California) entry with a more polite - but less detailed - summary.


Wow - I'm self referencing. I hear that is the 'hip' thing for bloggers to do.

Thanks a bunch

Massive 'duh' moment today. I needed to concatenate lines of text in log file - the better to sort out when an IP accessed one of my systems.

Paste of course. Duh.

Oh ... why? Because I have an application that is nice enough to log access by IP address and date/time. Knowing that of course we need to know how many and when by subnet.

Which would be EASY but the each connection is written to the log in three lines.

*I made a connection at this date - time* message

*application specific information I don't care about in this context*

*IP Address / application assigned client ID*

' There were times when he felt like saying the gods, Thanks a bunch. '

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dated content

Dated content, not five minutes after it was delivered to my reader.

No matter how well versed you are in tech jargon, the second paragraph of Paul Venezia’s “Deep Dive into VMware’s Virtual Infrastructure” will send you scurrying to Wikipedia for clarification. The sentence in question: “[We subjected] the software ... to one of our real-world, ‘Fergenschmeir’ test scenarios.”

Yep, Fergenschmeir. And Wikipedia won’t help.

That last sentence is now incorrect.

Real Daleks don't climb stairs; they level the building

Looks like Honda is taking a page from the Dalek* engineering handbook.


Which is fine by me. We can all gather on the second floor and taunt them from above as we make our plans to recapture the surface.

Until they discover the handicap accessible ramp. As they tear apart our fleshy bodies you'll hear rising across our great nation: "Curse you ADA!"


Friday, December 08, 2006


Keats, courtesy local pol Steve Erbach

634. On first looking into Chapman's Homer

MUCH have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told 5
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne:
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken; 10
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Religious Nuts

Quoting a quote of the day

The Clinton administration launched an attack on people in Texas because those people were religious nuts with guns. Hell, this country was founded by religious nuts with guns. Who does Bill Clinton think stepped ashore on Plymouth Rock?

P. J. O'Rourke

'Cause O'Rourke is The Man.

Sitting at mom's house, eating pizza.

Analogy can be a pretty good tool.
I have to admit I've never had a lot of patience with the solve-our-problems-here-on-earth argument. To me that's like being a slacker who sits around all day at his mom's place watching Oprah, checking DIGG 20 times a day and generally contributing nothing. Should he get off his ass, go look for work and try to make something of his life? Or should he solve his problems at home first? Well, if the kid started making himself useful, started paying rent, maybe even moved out, he wouldn't have quite as many problems at home, would he?

I guess that sounds pretty simplistic, but it's a pretty simple situation that we find ourselves in. We can't stay at mom's forever waiting for the next killer asteroid or supervolcano or man-made catastrophe to wipe us out. We won't solve our problems sitting around here talking about how we should really get around to solving our problems someday. Here's a chance to do something solid and practical, something that has a proven track record for generating wealth and creating vast numbers of jobs for skilled workers. What need is there for nuance?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Call of Duty

Sometimes .. you'd think these guys are the best we have
With their seven-month rotation about to end, and 11 members of their battalion dead and 83 wounded, the Marines decided there was only one way to honor their dead brothers and that was to make sure the baby was saved.

E-mails from Fallujah shot all around the United States, detailing the risks that Walsh and the Marines had taken, the effort expended, and the blood spilled. Suddenly, the red tape loosened, and in early October Mariam was flown to Boston. The surgery was successful, and she is doing well.

These men are the finest expression of what we, as a people, are.

Jack In The Box

I'm in California, eating lunch at a Jack in the Box (which franchise I've not laid eyes on since leaving Texas) and .. they have wifi.

Life can be sweet.

Wry comment on the Iraq Study Group report

Not mine of course - it's just not in me to be this pithy.
Happy infamy day, by the way.

Month by Month

Post the first line of your first post for every month of 2006, excluding birthday greeting posts and image/video posts.

January - '60 Minutes' - The New Space Race, Sunday, January 1, 2006.
February - Liftport sure is doing a lot of research, considering we're, you know, a PowerPoint company.
March - Too bad Frank already a) leaped on the idea and b) got Hugh MacLeod to say "go ahead and use it. no worries".
April - From TJIC
May - Via Paul Kedrosky
June - I'm watching this show on Discovery: The Rise of Man
July -This is really good. New Star Trek 'Old Show' episodes, and quite well done.
August - I'm not sure where Harell is going with this.
September - New Spaceship, Same Old Rocks
October -  I do get the oddest mail. But I'm not posting it on advice from my better-half. "Be kind" she
November - From a Jane Galt poster
December - Dean's right

Not bad for a crapblog.


Things I had known but forgotten

Moby-Dick was probably inspired by real events.
There were two factual occurrences that almost certainly inspired Melville's tale. One was the sinking of the Nantucketwhaling ship Essex, which foundered in 1820 after it was attacked by an 80-ton sperm whale 2,000 miles (3,700 km) from the western coast of South America. First mate Owen Chase, one of eight survivors, recorded the events as the Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex..

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Unitek - an unhappy customer

Thinking of getting training from 'Unitek It Training' of Fremont, California?

I excised a long screen that was, perhaps, a bit unfair. In it's place, then, this.

Hardware Provider X has outsourced it's training - formerly in-house - to a vendor, Unitek. Expectations were set regarding a very high standard of instruction. The vendor did not live up to those standards due to entirely avoidable problems.

These problems included a nice but new to instructing instructor - he knew the subject from an operational point-of-view but was new to teaching which can make a difference. The lab servers failed when we tried to use them resulting in down time while IT was hunted down to restart the box. And so on.

Oh and the infamous missing trash-can. We had .. a cardboard box for waste. What's the big deal with that? It's the little things that count; for $3750.00 per student you'd think they could send someone down to Office Depot for a trash-can. It's an attention to detail item - if they can't pay attention to the small easy-to-fix stuff what does that say about the big picture?

Please note this is not passive aggressive mawpging - a more detailed gripe was sent to my boss, which he shared with the vendor who shared with Unitek who - in the person of a very nice project manager - drew me aside to ask me what was the problem.

One result was that Friday morning the trashcan box was gone - in it's place not one but three trashcans.

The key is - would I go back? Yes and no. Yes, I will be going back to them for training - they are the vendor's preferred or sole source for education. I need schooling on the vendor's hardware, I see them.

But, no. If it was a choice between the competition and Unitek .. I'd go with the other guy. It's a once burned forever shy kinda deal.

In the line of fire

Smith [the company commander] did not have to order his Marines straight into the direction of the fire; it was a collective impulse - a phenomenon I would see again and again over the coming days. The idea that Marines are trained to break down doors, to seize beachheads and other territory, was an abstraction until I was there to experience it. Running into fire rather than seeking cover from it goes counter to every human survival instinct - trust me ... In one flash, as we charged across [the street] amid whistling incoming shots, I realized that they were not like me; they were Marines.

In the Line of Fire by Robert D. Kaplan

In memory of those who
Lived the good life
Fought the good fight
And made the ultimate sacrifice

May we never forget


Monday, December 04, 2006

Bizarro World TJIC

In a parallel world, TJIC works a blue-collar job in a factory and blogs anonymously ...
The Dumb C*** That Drives an Hour and Half Each Way to work told me he was listening to public radio on the way in the other morning. Polar bears, they've discovered, dead ones at, are filled with fire retardant. Implying that there was some sort of conncection.

F***ing communist.

So the Dumb C***'s all worried about cancer meanwhile he drives home mornings an hour and half after a twelve hour night shift. That, and he listens to public radio.

Link via Frank who is not responsible for my flight of fancy.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Laser Blam

This looks pretty cool
It's the game that combines lasers with classic strategy. Players alternate turns moving Egyptian-themed pieces having two, one or no mirrored surfaces. All four types of pieces (pharaoh, obelisk, pyramid and djed column) can either move one square forward, back, left, right, or diagonal, or can stay in the same square and rotate by a quarter twist. Each turn ends by firing one of the lasers built into the board. The laser beam bounces from mirror to mirror; if the beam strikes a non-mirrored surface on any piece, it is immediately removed from play. The ultimate goal is to illuminate your opponent's pharaoh, while shielding yours from harm!
They might have have lost me here, however
Yes, the game employs two class II lasers which are lower in power than most laser pointers on the market, which are usually class III. This means that although you still get the neat effect of firing a laser to bombard your opponent's pieces, you will not get the wow effect of seeing it melt or blow holes through the playing field.
I wanted more blam.

None of your business

Via Russ Nelson, an article about unschooling - where you not only check your kid out of public school but you don't have any structured instruction
The United States Department of Education last did a survey on home schooling in 2003. That study did not ask about unschooling. But it found that the number of children who were educated at home had soared, increasing by 29 percent, to 1.1 million, from 1999 to 2003.

Experts assume that the upward trend has continued, and some worry that the general public is unaware of the movement’s laissez-faire approach to learning.
The horror - the public doesn't know! Someone, inform The Public!
“As school choice expands and home-schooling in general grows, this is one of those models that I think the larger public sphere needs to be aware of because the folks who are engaging in these radical forms of school are doing so legally,” said Professor Huerta of Columbia. “If the public and policy makers don’t feel that this is a form of schooling that is producing productive citizens, then people should vote to make changes accordingly.”
Because 'The People' are much better at deciding how to run my life than I am.

How about this, Professor Huerta - as long as my kids don't grow up to become sociopaths - how we choose to educate them is none of your business.

Nus Eht No Gniklaw

Dean's right
If this were 1971 they'd all be considered geniuses. Well yes, but they still are. They did it all just by running a camera backwards. Bravo!!
Using Smashmouth for the track was a nice touch.

Nus Eht No Gniklaw - thanks You Tube!