Monday, March 30, 2009
For an out of this world travel destination, the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon is an excellent place to get away from it all.
For some travelers the lack of certain luxuries that they have come to expect at other places (air, water, cell phone reception, ect.) may be discouraging but with a little planning the heartier travelers will find the views well worth the little extra hardship.
Things to do:
Golf: With the low gravity it is possible to hit some incredible drives.
Four Wheeling: Drive over the virgin plains.
And of course there are fantastic views of Earth.
What you won’t see:
Stars, or at least not in the daytime. The suns glare makes it too bright to see the stars.
The Flag planted by the Apollo 11 crew. In the 40 years it has been exposed to the sun the ultraviolet radiation has destroyed the plastic the flag was made of.
During the day the Moon’s temperature is a balmy 107 degrees, at night it is a chilly –153 degrees so make sure to dress appropriately.
Local Culture and Cuisine:
Average Trip Cost:
Adjusted for inflation the cost to send 12 men to the Moon in the late 60s and 70s was $120 billion or $10 billion per person. That was an all expense paid round trip.
Going to the Moon is a great way to lose weight. If you weigh 150 lbs on Earth (That’s a bunch of stones, pebbles, kilos and assorted plant material in England) you can easily lose 125 lbs just by being on the Moon.
Cosmic Rays are a concern, you will tend to see flashes of light as the Cosmic Rays destroy the nerve endings in your eyes.
Solar Flares can give you a lethal dose of radiation; it is best to schedule your trip when solar activity is at a minimum.
Things to ask your travel agent:
Make sure it is a round trip. If you accidentally book a one-way trip it could be decades before you can get a return flight.
Make sure your accommodations include, air, water, food, and toilet facilities. These need to be brought with you from Earth and you do not want to find yourself without them.
Of course you will want to bring plenty of space on your media for photos.
When the founding fathers wrote the Bill of Rights they had plenty of blank space on the rather large parchment they were using, so they filled it up with some flowery language. The Bill of Rights would read entirely differently if it was done today and had to follow the rules of Twitter and be under 140 characters.
Amendment 1 (original)
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Amendment 1 (Twittered)
Gov can’t get n ur face.
Amendment 2 (original)
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
Amendment 2 (Twittered)
People can have guns 2 make gov obey Amend #1
Amendment 3 (original)
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Amendment 3 (Twittered)
Gov has 2 ask b4 couchsurfing
Amendment 4 (original)
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Amendment 4 (Twittered)
Gov can’t have ur stuff without cause.
Amendment 5 (original)
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Amendment 5 (Twittered)
Gov can’t have u or ur stuff w/o trial. They only get 1 shot.
Amendment 6 (original)
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
Amendment 6 (Twittered)
U get speedy trial by local Jury, u will no what accused of, see accusers, no rumors & u get a lawyer.
Amendment 7 (original)
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Amendment 7 (Twittered)
If b sued for a lot, can have jury.
Amendment 8 (original)
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Amendment 8 (Twittered)
No cruel or unusual punishment or excess fines.
Amendment 9 (original)
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Amendment 9 (Twittered)
Ur rights can’t deny others rights
Amendment 10 (original)
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
Amendment 10 (Twittered)
If no fed law, state law, or people rule.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
For a few years I worked in retail, and I would be reviewed periodically by Mystery Shoppers. This seemed like a really cool job. You go to a store and buy something and review how the store and the salespeople treated you.
Doing a quick search on the Internet showed thousands of places that said they hire Mystery Shoppers. Unfortunately some quick checking showed that most of these sites are total scams.
I checked with a number of them and I either got places that for $50 would send me a list of places that hire Mystery Shoppers (These places wouldn’t exist if they didn’t crowd out the real places) or places that wanted way to much personal information, then flooded my email with spam. I set up a separate account just for them and got over 100 emails a day.
I know that somewhere out there are legitimate Mystery Shopper Jobs, but breaking through the scams is an art within itself.
If anyone knows of a way to break through the scams please leave a comment.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
As the investors turned their backs on the manufacturers whose hard work, sweat and tears bathed the nation in the cleaning purity of American pride and allowed everyone to eat from the fruits of their labors, and instead embraced the bankers and smarmy pundits so they could lick their butts to receive the drops of moisture left over from Bush’s soiled and blood-soaked underwear.
After eight years of squeezing the American Workers to gain more blood for the soiled and blood-soaked underwear at the cost of their jobs making the fruits of American labor rot on the vine as the American sweat dried up and was replaced by the moisture of soiled and blood-soaked underwear.
With no fruit the American Workers blood became thick no longer supplying enough moisture to allow the bankers and smarmy pundits to bathe in the moisture of Bush’s soiled and blood-soaked underwear.
Investors continued try to lick off the moisture from the bankers and smarmy pundits butts, however their asses were dry as they got no American Workers Blood to moisten their soiled and blood-soaked underwear.
Now it is urgent we return to eating the fruit that has been grown from the sweat of American labor and no longer rely on the moisture of Bush’s soiled and blood-soaked underwear.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Power: Empathic (Ability to sense others emotions)
Why this power would make her bad at her job.
Deanna works on the starship Enterprise counseling the crew and their family members. This is a pretty cushy job as the crewmembers are supposed to be the best and the brightest in the federation. They all have had extensive psych evaluations and are pretty emotionally stable.
This stable crew leaves her time to help out by reading the emotions of stray aliens and tell Picard “I am sensing great joy and gratitude, great joy and gratitude.”
She can do her job because she is on the flagship of the federation, but what if she didn’t get that post? What if she had to start out as an intern in a federation rehab clinic, and was surrounded by individuals whose brains were undergoing withdrawal pains?
“I am sensing great joy, no deep depression, no extreme horniness, no great anger, no uncontrollable hilarity, just pick a damn emotion already!”
She would have to deal with people who have totally lost control over their emotions. The randomness of it day in and day out would overwhelm her and she would have to find a new job.
Day Job: Lt Dianna Prince of the military intelligence.
Why this power would make her bad at her job.
Two words: Security Clearances.
Although in the comic and later TV series they totally ignored the fact the Babes of Paradise Island never came in contact with the outside world since the time of the ancient Greeks they all spoke perfect English. At the very least they would have some sort of accent which might raise some intelligence officer’s eyebrow during one of the most xenophobic times in America.
Even without the accent the War Department wasn’t exactly the sort that let just anyone wander through their offices. The background checks were pretty thorough and even with divine forging skills Wonder Woman would have a tough time coming up with high school classmates for them to interview. This would launch an investigation and she would have intelligence officers watching her every move intensely. Probably quite a few would do it on a volunteer basis.
Her every move would be watched and it would be impossible for her to slip away and take off in her invisible jet.
Power: Giant Ape
Job: Feel up Fay Ray or Jessica Lang and countless others.
Why this power made him bad at his job.
He is a big Ape. Although he did manage to get the Black South Pacific Islanders to supply him with babes, I think his being a huge ape slowed down the amount of feeling up he could do.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
From Bad Astronomy:
The State Board of Education voted on the science standards — the list of basic scientific knowledge students should have at various grade levels, like knowing that atoms are the basic building blocks of matter, the Earth goes around the Sun, and — say — evolution is the basic and most fundamental aspect upon which all of modern biology is based.
Creationists on the board (and there are many) tried to water down the standards by creating a phony baloney "strengths and weaknesses" amendment, a totally bogus and arbitrary rule that says that teachers have to point out where a theory has faults. They did this specifically to weaken the teaching of evolution in biology classes. They don’t actually care if the students get a solid education on the fact of evolution, they only care to tear down real science and replace it with Biblical literalism.
Science wins in Texas.
The Texas School Board voted 7-7 on the amendment, it needed a clear majority to win.
For those who think that teaching the “Strengths and Weaknesses” of a basic scientific theory can’t do much harm, here is a few scientific theories that have some Weaknesses:
Gravity is a fundamental force of the universe. However like all theories it has some “flaws”.
Although we can observe the effects of gravity, if you drop something it will fall. We have no clue as to what gravity (as a fundamental force) is.
It current approach to account is to treat it as a form of energy couples with spacetime to create the geometries that cause gravity. This is wrong, scientist know it is wrong but until a less wrong theory comes along this explanation works (mostly).
This weakness in the Theory of Gravity shouldn’t stop kids from being taught about Gravity because these weaknesses don’t come into play until you are studying relativity/quantum mechanics and you have plenty of time learn about it in your first few years of college.
If the 7 Texas school board members still want to see if a theory that has weaknesses should be taught, they can go to the top of a high bridge and step off. I will use the “flawed” Theory of Gravity to predict the exact second they will land.
Matter and Energy
“Matter and Energy can neither be created or destroyed. Merely transformed into a different state.”
Is something I had to learn in 8th grade, it holds up in most cases until the very small. It runs into problems at the very smallest scale. Max Planck observed that energy acts like integers 1,2,3,4 and so on. So it is not a straight line. In photoelectric cells atoms happily sit there absorbing less than 1 unit of energy until they reach that magical 1unit and then they release it.
While the atom is absorbing the energy, it is gone from the universe only to reappear when it is released.
Should students be taught that it is fine to work on a perpetual motion machine because of this one little loophole in Spacetime?
For the 7 Texas school board members I’ll be happy to rig up a series of photoelectric cells and attach the electrodes to their private areas and they can tell me if they believe in matter and energy.
Naturally I could go on thinking up ways to torture the 7 Texas school board members with Theories that have “Weaknesses” in them but I think it they read this they will get my point.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The Liberal Conspiracy to unleash Komodo Dragons loose to become Gay Aborted Fetus Raping Immigrant Welfare Queens with Hip-Hop Ringtones.
During his press conference last night President Obama carefully avoided mentioning the accusations that his proposed budget would allow Darwinist Komodo Dragons free reign to rape Gay Aborted Fetuses as proposed by the Immigrant Welfare Queen with Hip-Hop Ringtones lobby (RIAA).
He did allude to the plan when he said. “…it will take an understanding that when we all work together, when each of us looks beyond our own short-term interests to the wider set of obligations we have to each other, that's when we succeed."
By mentioning the liberal codewords “Understanding”, “Work Together” and “Looking beyond our own short-term interests” he is clearly attacking Conservative Values of “Arrogant Self-Righteousness”, “Unilateral Action” and “Short-Term Selfishness”.
If he is going to attack those core values he must support the things Conservatives hate most. He is supporting the Darwinist Komodo Dragon agenda by saying he wants us to achieve Energy Independence. There is nothing that Darwinist Komodo Dragons want more than to Gay Rape Aborted Fetuses.
Naturally they are aided by the foreigners who take government welfare (RIAA) and sell hip-hop ringtones.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
How the Diet Works:
The Russians will ferry you up to the International Space Station where you will be effectively weightless.
How much can you lose:
Take your current weight and subtract zero, that is the amount of weight you will lose.
You go into space.
It costs about $20 million and it only last for a week. Think of it as a Yo-Yo diet.
#2 The Heisenberg Uncertainty Diet
How it works:
From your vantage point before getting on the scale you may or may not have lost weight, therefore if you never get on a scale you will never know if you ever lost weight, or how much you have lost. So from your vantage point any number of pounds lost is just as likely as any other so you just have to say the amount you think you lost.
This is a more refined version of the total denial diet.
Easy to Stick to.
Has zero health benifets.
#3 The Dark Energy Diet.
How it works:
You simply replace some of your regular gravity with Dark Energy (also referred to as Anti-Gravity) as other objects like the Earth exert less pull on you the pounds will drop off.
You don’t have to change your normal routine, unless you cause a rip in Space-Time causing the destruction of the Universe to be focused on the spot you are standing.
The potential destruction of the Universe is a biggie. The fact that at this point Dark Energy is just a mathematical construct makes it hard to obtain.
#4 Eat sensible meals, exercise regularly, and have illnesses examined by a doctor.
How it works:
Eating sensible meals reduces your caloric intake while the exercise increases the amount of calories your body burns. Checking with a doctor will find any health problems that can restrict the effectiveness and will help you find a way around the problem.
You will be healthier and live longer.
It’s a lot of work. Also if you are American you probably lost your healthcare so are unable to see a doctor.
Friday, March 20, 2009
The Prime Minister gave Mr Obama an ornamental pen holder made from the timbers of the Victorian anti-slave ship HMS Gannet.
In return President Obama gave him a set of 25 DVDs.
This would be a bad enough exchange of gifts but the DVDs had the DRM region coding for North America so they won’t even play in England. Engadet reports.
That is just too funny to think up a punchline.
In the “Art of War” Sun Tzu says the most important thing is to know when to fight and when not to fight. I guess CNBC doesn’t follow the Art of War any more than they follow the rules to good journalism.
For those of you who haven’t been following the latest media war, about a month ago CNBC commentator Rick Santelli had an on-air rant where he asked why the stock traders who made huge amounts of money under the deregulation of the markets should pay for the “Loser’s” mortgages.
That same week he was scheduled to appear on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”. Someone must have warned him that Stewart would use that rant against him so he canceled.
The Daily Show went ahead and ran that clip as well as some great clips from CNBC where their commentators made wildly bad stock picks, like Jim Cramer recommending people hold on to Bear Stearns stock three days before it went from over $60 a share to $2.
If CNBC had left it at that they would have had to eat some humble pie, and the whole thing would have been forgotten about. But Jim Cramer decided to make it personal. He went every NBC show he could, including Martha Stewart, saying how Jon Stewart was being unfair to him. (Just a tip if you are being accused of playing dirty tricks with stocks, hanging out publicly with someone who went to jail for Insider Trading is not a smart play.)
Naturally The Daily Show had to hit back and did an entire segment on bad advice given by Cramer. For some reason Jim Cramer decided to answer those allegations and agreed to appear on The Daily Show.
To be kind to Jim Cramer I will just say that he got his ass handed to him, after Jon put it through a meat grinder, handed off to Emeril Lagasse who fried it up Creole style with special seasoning and onions and “Bam, just like that” Cramer was humiliated. Other commentators haven’t been as nice to Cramer in their description of that interview.
Stewart was hitting him with things that no one could justify like: "Listen, you knew what the banks were doing, yet were touting it for months and months," Stewart said during his March 12 show. "The entire network was. Now to pretend that this was some sort of crazy, once-in-a-lifetime tsunami that nobody could have seen coming is disingenuous at best and criminal at worst."
The beat down was so bad that Cramer canceled all his post Daily Show interviews.
If CNBC had left it at that they would be able to slowly shift the blame of their bad journalism to the entire news industry. CNBC turned into cheerleaders for the financial industry just like the rest of the news had been cheerleaders for Bush when we rushed to war with Iraq.
Instead of quietly trying to smother the flames, NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker has decided to grab the nearest Gasoline tanker and pour its contents on the embers. At the McGraw-Hill Media Summit in New York, he said that Stewart was being “Unfair” and “…to suggest that the business media or CNBC was responsible for what is going on now is absurd."
To say that reporters should ask follow up questions and not just serve as PR flackys for companies when they are lying is absurd? I can’t wait until Monday to see Jon Stewart’s response.
Although CNBC is being incredibly stupid in their handling of this, they may be doing the nation a great service by inviting Stewart to look over the network news practices with a magnifying glass. If this war keeps on long enough maybe the entire news industry will see why people no longer find them credible and that is why the whole journalism industry has gone into the tank financially and some mainstream outlet might just start reporting the truth instead of just repeating whatever their sponsors tell them.
Original Story Here.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Space.com has reported on a disturbing trend Bats are attempting to gain access to Outer Space by clinging on to the Space Shuttle.
According to NASA they have made several attempts in the past to cling to the Shuttle but always chickened out at the last minute. During the latest launch of the Shuttle one fearless Bat pioneer, NASA withheld his name so I will call him “Bat” Aldrin, clung on to the Shuttle as it lifted off, defiantly clearing the launch tower and probably riding much farther.
It is a well-known military saying “He who holds the high ground has the advantage”. For centuries Bats held the high ground as being the highest-flying mammals, until humans invented airplanes. It is obvious that Bats resent the loss of this strategic advantage and are planning on gaining it back.
The Bats will no doubt examine the details of “Bat” Aldrin’s historic flight to gather information on the Space Shuttle’s aerodynamic properties in an attempt to build their own Spaceship fleet.
We will never be able to see what the Bats are designing as they live in caves, or Evil Lairs as I like to call them. They are likely building an Evil Space Armada in these Evil Lairs as we speak.
The answer is clear we must restart the Space Race before we lose the high ground to these Avenging Astrobats.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
This little story was emailed to me, the sad part is it is a good analogy of the financial meltdown.
I don’t know who the original author is.
The financial crisis explained in alconomic terms:
Heidi is the proprietor of a bar in Kansas City. In order to increase sales,
she decides to allow her loyal customers - most of whom are unemployed
alcoholics - to drink now but pay later. She keeps track of the drinks
consumed on a ledger, thereby effectively granting her customer’s loans.
Word gets around and as a result, increasing numbers of customers pour
into Heidi's bar.
Taking advantage of her customers' freedom from immediate payment
constraints, Heidi increases her prices for wine and beer, the
most-consumed beverages. Her sales volume increases massively.
A young and dynamic customer service consultant at the local bank
recognizes these customer debts as valuable future assets and increases
Heidi's credit limit.
He sees no reason for undue concern since he has the debts of the
alcoholics as collateral.
At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert bankers transform these
customer assets into “Drinkbonds”, “Alkbonds” and “Pukebonds”. These
securities are then traded on markets worldwide. No one really
understands what these abbreviations mean and how the securities are
guaranteed. Nevertheless, as the exchange prices continue to climb, the
securities become top-selling items.
On Wall Street the Bank’s shares climb as they have managed to rid themselves of risky loans, they look to invest the money somewhere and they see that “Drinkbonds”, “Alkbonds” and “Pukebonds” are top selling securities so they invest heavily in them.
One day, although the prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the
bank (subsequently, of course, fired due his negativity) decides
that eventually the time has come to call in the debts incurred by
the drinkers at Heidi's bar.
However they cannot pay off their debts.
Heidi cannot fulfill her loan obligations and files for bankruptcy.
Drinkbond and Alkbond drop in value by 95%.; Pukebond holds up
a little better, bottoming out at 80% of its former value.
The suppliers of Heidi's bar, having granted her generous payment
deadlines and having invested in the securities, are faced with a new
situation. Her wine supplier files for bankruptcy, and her beer supplier
is taken over by a competitor.
The bank is bailed out by the Government after dramatic round-the-clock
consultations with leaders of the principal political parties. With the new influx of money the bank gives out huge bonuses to the geniuses who saved their company by getting a Government to bail them out.
The funds required for this purpose are obtained by levying a tax on
Got it now?
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I’ve gotten some interesting comments on my blog when I commented on a story published in the Consumerist.com.
For those who haven’t read it, X-Box live is actively discriminating against people who identify themselves as Gay or Lesbian (or who have the word Gay in their name. So people with the last name Gaywood or Gaylord can’t use the service).
This is blatant discrimination against 10% of the population, but as a private company Microsoft does have the right to discriminate when they offer services to the public. However it is a really bad business decision.
So I’d like to talk about the economics of discrimination. In sales discrimination can help or hurt a company. When a company targets groups with their products it is a form of soft discrimination. Apple designs and advertises their products aimed at two groups of people, the non-techie creative type and the Super Hardcore Techie (Those who skip the GUI interface and use the UNIX core of the Mac). This allows Apple to charge a higher margin for their machines than other computer makers.
This works for Apple because they tap into a more affluent (generally) segment of the population and they have built their entire company around making computers for that segment of the population. As a result that segment of the population is more loyal to the company.
X-Box Live on the other hand is a service designed for individuals who have some free discretionary income, have free time, and like to interact with other live people while playing games (16-30 year olds).
It’s a fact that Gays and Lesbians tend to have fewer children and have them later in life than straights. This means when they are in their early adult years they have more discretionary income and more free time as they don’t have to spend it all on children.
On the other side of the scale are the homophobes, who like companies that discriminate against gays. On paper they make up about 20% of the population although I’ve found that a lot of people who fit the profile of a homophobe (Belong to an Evangelical Church or are Mormon, republican, ect.) have gay friends and have no problem with their lifestyle.
Even if they were the actual 20% amount that wouldn’t translate into larger profits for Microsoft as they tend to have children earlier thus having less discretionary income and less free time, plus the conversations they like to have like potty training, their kids marks at school ect. Don’t really fit into the X-Box Live’s chat system. “Take out that monster, BTW my kid got an A in Basket Weaving.” As a result easily half these people (the 22-30 year olds) would never become X-Box Live members anyway.
That leaves two more groups 16-18 year olds and 18-22 year olds. For the 18-22 most of them are either in college or the military, odds are they know quite a few openly gay people already and will just avoid openly gay players like they do with openly gay people in life.
That leaves the 16-18 years olds. They are too happy to be playing the game to worry about the other players life outside the game, so it’s their parents who would determine if they could keep their X-Box Live account. Any parent who thinks that the Gayness can be spread over the Internet probably thinks that violence can be spread that way too and won’t let their kid have an X-Box Live account to begin with.
Microsoft’s policy is to actively turn away 10% of the population that are prime targets for it’s services to appease a group of people that will probably not be their customers anyway. This is especially surprising coming from Microsoft since it knows it would be costly if they tried the same thing with their hiring policy it would make the labor costs to high for even them to afford.
Those of you who know me, might be wondering how any of this effect’s me?
It doesn’t directly as I own a Playstation 3 and I’m married to a wonderful woman. However I do like to have a choice, if they don’t start releasing games that can use the power of the PS3, I may have to switch to the X-Box 4 in 10 years or so. If Microsoft continues this policy then their Live service will be very slow to improve, forcing Apple to come out with a similar service to grab the 10% of the population Microsoft is abandoning.
Although I love the power of my Mac, I would hate to try and play an online game surrounded by Fanboys.
Friday, March 13, 2009
A story from the Consumerist pertaining to gays being banned suspended from Xbox Live has made the internet rounds today. Not all gays though, just those that label themselves as such. Microsoft evidently has a "don't ask, don't tell" policy hidden in the XBL end user license agreement.
A user was banned suspended from the service for stating in her profile that she was lesbian. Going by the name "Theresa", she had this to say about the matter (taken from consumerist.com)
Apparently lesbians aren't allowed on X-Box live. I don't know I'm male and have a Playstation 3.
I'd just like to say that all lesbians (Gays, straights, bi, hermaphrodites that haven't made up their minds) are all welcome at Project Savior.
BTW: If you are some other form of sexual orientation that I missed you are welcome at Project Savior as well.
I'd like to think I'm more tolerate than Microsoft.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
For anyone who hasn’t been following the diatribe of a madman, when the Dow went down after Obama’s first budget bill passed congress, Jim Cramer and most of CNBC went crazy(er) and started screaming that that was Wall Street reacting badly to the bill.
Jon Stewart gave him a lovely tribute by showing some of Cramer’s great advise, like to hold on to Bear-Sterns days before it tanked and to buy it seven weeks before it tanked.
Today Obama signed that budget bill and the Stock Market went up.
Is Jim Cramer going to use his previous logic and say that Wall Street now likes Obama’s budget?
Or is he going to admit that the Dow is just an arbitrary sampling of a few random companies and its day-to-day fluctuations don’t mean anything about the direction of the economy, it’s only a useful indicator over the long term?
I would like to see he spins this, but that would mean I’d have to watch his show.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
With the latest media fad controversy about Obama’s reversal of Bush’s ban on using federal money for Stem Cell Research I’ve noticed an interesting change in tone. The arguments are no longer about the whether it is more ethical to use these embryos (that are made up of roughly 150 cells) for research that could lead to the great advancements in the medical field and save many lives, or if they should be thrown out in the trash where the maggots can feast on them. The new argument is aimed at the entire role of science in government and society.
The big question is why should the Government pay for Scientific Research?
The simple answer is it pays. Every time the Government puts money into research that money comes back many times over.
During the Great Depression and World War II the federal government poured vast sums of money into Nuclear Physics, Aeronautics, Electronics, and Chemistry research. From this whole new industries spawned, Nuclear Medicine, the Airline Industry, Radar, Televisions, Computers, and Plastic. The change that this investment in science spawned gave Americans a lifestyle that was envied around the world.
The Soviet Union looked at how the US and the Nazis used government funded research and took that idea to go from a feudal state to a Superpower.
Where the United States got the surprise advantage over the Nazis and Soviets was using the idea of Big Science, not only for Military applications but for consumer goods as well.
Developing the science and engineering for the Jet Engine had huge military advantages of course, but giving that technology to commercial airlines opened up the entire country to air travel while the Soviets were still building their rail system.
The idea of building an indestructible communication system was a Big Science idea for the Cold War, then some guys thought up the idea piggybacking communication between computers on it and the DARPAnet became the Internet.
Faster computers were needed for the military and NASA so they invested in silicon chip research and Steve Wozniak figured out that the new chips were powerful and cheap enough to build a computer the average person could afford, and the personal computer industry was born.
In the 70s Japan took this idea of Big Science and skipped the military and put it straight into consumer goods. Knowing they couldn’t grow a company that could compete with Bell Labs and IBM they built a government run electronics research lab and turned the science over to the likes of Sony, Nintendo, and other Japanese companies as well as American companies that agreed to employ Japanese workers like Saga and Samsung (The agreement worked out so well those two companies moved to Japan).
The Japanese took their idea to all industries including the car industry. Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi couldn’t compete with America’s big three even with a trimmer management structure and (at the time) lower wages, so the Japanese Government invested in automotive science, engineering and manufacturing techniques so that Japanese car companies could have better engineered cars at a lower cost in factories that could retool in three years instead of five, making them more responsive to customer needs.
All of this brings me back to the original question of this article, if scientific research is so profitable, why should the Government pay for it?
For some of it the projects are simply too large for individual companies to do it alone, like the beginnings of the Internet. It was started in 1957 and wasn’t commercialized until the late 1980s that’s a thirty-year lead time, most managers are reluctant to take on a project early in their career that won’t pay of until after they retire.
NASA has an even larger lead time, manned space exploration started in the early sixties and private space trips are just now starting, a large profitable manned space industry is still decades away.
Some projects the scientific process works against individual profit margins. The pharmaceutical industry for example: Research into groups of drugs (like heart medicine) needs vigorous scientific debate so it is done openly by the National Institute of Health. Those findings (after 20 to 40 years of research and debate) are turned over to the Pharmaceutical Companies who spend 8 to 10 years researching the individual drugs. There is no profit for an individual company to do the groundwork, but the whole industry rises from the government research.
Finally some scientific projects benefit thousands or even millions of people but there is no way to make a profit from them.
In Bobby Jindal’s response to President Obama he railed against federal money being spent on Volcano Monitoring. The federal government monitors active Volcanoes in order predict when they will erupt. Before they erupt warnings are given out so that people can evacuate the area.
This has saved thousands of people and countless billions of dollars but there is no way that any individual could make a profit from it.
Federal money spent on scientific research is a good investment. So when Bobby Jindal makes fun of Volcano Monitoring, the people whose lives are saved aren’t laughing. When John McCain jokes about Grisly Bear DNA testing, research to determine the exact numbers of endangered Grisly Bear vs Common Bears, the ranchers who will have their land opened up because of this research aren’t laughing.
And finally when Eric Cantor says, "Why are we going and distracting ourselves from the economy? This is job No. 1. Let's focus on what needs to be done." The thousands of people with spinal injuries who will able to be productive members of society again, as well as all the specialists who will make a boatload of money from the research won’t see it as a distraction.
Many Thanks to ChristinaTM for asking that question; She is obviously not alone in not understanding why the anti-science policies of the last 30 years have destroyed the engine of our economy.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
So if cute and adorable kittens aren't spared then neither are Malia and Sasha.
And the kids might have actually been thinking this:
Friday, March 6, 2009
This is just a quick note, Obama has lifted the ban on funding Stem Cell Research. Woo Hoo.
Ignoring all the hype over whether these discarded 150 cell embryos hold the cures to every conceivable ill (They don’t) or if it is more ethical to chuck them out in the trash than study them (Its not). This represents another step forward for humanity.
By studying how Stem Cells work we (humans) will gain more knowledge of the exact processes that go on when the human body develops. This knowledge added to what has already been discovered will lead to more discoveries, that’s how science works.
So even though I don’t buy into the whole Stem Cell research (on its own) will cure cancer, make us immortal, allow us to fly, ect. I do know that science is like a jigsaw puzzle, If you take out pieces and say they can’t be used, you can still mostly solve the puzzle by filling in the area around the missing piece, but it is going to take a lot longer to get there and you’ll waste a lot of time.
So although I don’t believe Stem Cell research by itself will do the things I mentioned above they do give us one more piece of the puzzle, so we will be able to figure out how to do those things faster.
Except maybe the flying part, I think I’ll stick with airplanes for now.
A better explanation of the benefits of lifting this ban is available at Bad Science.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Brutal Cop II starts were Brutal Cop 1: The Beginning left off, with brutal cop pummeling several guys. As the fight progresses he pulls one of the thugs arms off (In a splendid digital recreation of the famous scene from Cat People) and proceeds to beat the remaining thugs to a bloody pulp with it.
After the fight is over we are treated to a flashback of the scene in Brutal Cop 1 where BC’s wife was killed when the Evil Rapper and his thugs broke into Brutal Cop’s bedroom while he was having sex with his wife.
The enraged Brutal Cop quickly dispatches the Evil Rapper’s men, one by reaching into the guys gut, pulling out his gall stone and throwing it into his eye, blinding him and causing him to fall out the window. Unfortunately while Brutal Cop is busy with the henchmen the Evil Rapper pulls out a giant dildo and impales Brutal Cop’s wife.
The Evil Rapper escapes and Brutal Cop vows to hunt him down.
After the flashback the movie proceeds with the Evil Rapper devising schemes to defeat Brutal Cop’s relentless attacks.
In one fight Brutal Cop is fighting the henchmen in a drained swimming pool, naturally as Brutal Cop pummels the henchmen the pool fills up with their blood. Not able to swim Brutal Cop outsmarts the Evil Rapper by pulling apart one of his opponent’s ribcage and using the thug’s lungs as floaties.
In another fight Brutal Cop is trapped in a pit with some of the Evil Rapper’s men, so he reaches in and grabs their intestines, uses the man’s head as a counter weight, wraps it around a beam and climbs to safety.
Then for the final fight things really get gore filled.
If you are looking for a movie with blood, guts, and flying body parts, this is the movie to see.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
As Governor Bobby Jindal pointed out in his rebuttal to the president’s speech to congress, Obama’s budget contains some items of pork like Volcano Monitoring. Obama would have the government warn people if they were going to be engulfed in molten lava, obviously having the government try an save the lives of its citizens is socialism.
A closely related piece of Government Pork is the fire departments around the country. The Obama plan calls for money to be given to State Governments, some of which will no doubt end up in local governments, which will put some money into the hands of the local fire departments. Fire Departments take money from the government and use it protecting the local residents from having their houses burn down, There couldn’t be a more tangible example of taxpayer dollars being used to help the local citizens or Socialism.
Before un-American Socialist’s like Ben Franklin started pushing for firefighters to be under the control of government as well as regulating chimney sweeps, fire fighters were part of a profitable business.
Marcus Licinius Crassus ran a very successful fire department in 1st century BC. His business model was to have his fire crews ready and when a fire broke out he would rush out and offer to buy the burning property, obviously at a slight discount as they were on fire. He would then have his men put out the fire, fix up the property and sell it for substantially more than he bought it for.
Turning the Fire Departments over to a private business venture like a modern Crassus works well with the current Republican budget plan of Johnny Isakson to give a $15,000 subsidy for Flipping Houses.This would really invigorate the housing market if someone could own the fire department and buy the burning buildings for a fraction of their value and get a $15,000 subsidy for doing that.
The great thing about this plan is the money for the subsidy could come from the money that people used to pay to have a fire department to keep them safe.
I’m not quite sure what the business model Governor Jindal has in mind for a private enterprise to take over the business of keeping people safe from Volcanoes, but I’m sure it is similar.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
This thing is a complete joke but unfortunately numerous companies use them.
The problem with them is they don’t look to see if you would be a good employee, the old fashion looking over a persons resume and checking their references is a better way to do that. They check to see how well you fall for the corporate propaganda.
In order to do that they separate people into two types. The best example of the two types of people they look at would be the Dave Lettermen/Bill O’Rielly interview. In that interview Bill asked Dave, “Do you want to see us win in Iraq?” Dave gave a thoughtful answer comparing the cost to the US of continuing the war vs. the impact of the US withdrawing would mean.
Bill asked him the same question again, “Do you want to see us win in Iraq?” and followed it up with “Yes or No.”
Dave replied, “I can’t give you a Yes or No to a question that requires some thought, because I’m a thoughtful type of guy.”
Now you would think that a company would be looking for someone like Dave that would carefully think over their actions to make sure they aren’t costing the company huge amounts of money, but from what I’ve read they seem to be looking for the Bill O’Rielly type, someone who just reacts with no thought to the costs of that action.
Disclaimer: I have taken the personality tests over 50 times in the past few months and haven’t passed.
From what I’ve read (and what some companies have told me) they measure the speed of the test and the Strongly (ratio) giving people who strongly agree or disagree with a statement very quickly more weight than someone who carefully reads the question and then gives a measured answer.
If this is the type of person companies have been hiring over the past decade due to these tests, you would think that American Companies would just follow whatever the latest fad was that offered short term profits and not look at the long term costs that it could cost the company. With an attitude like that you would expect those companies to cheerfully join the charge and run at full speed right off the nearest cliff with no one taking the time to think for a second if it was a good idea.
As they run head long off that cliff I can picture them saying to each other, “How did this happen? The fundamentals of the economy are strong.”
In case you couldn’t guess I really hate those tests.