Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Book Sale

I am selling a number of my books and this is just the first part of what I'm doing. Some information about the first batch for sale is below.

Title Author Condition Signed Edition Price
All the Lies That Are My Life Harlan Ellison Fine/Like New NO First Edition, Second Printing $50.00
Armageddon Rag, The George R.R. Martin Fine YES First $300.00
Assignment in Eternity Robert Heinlein Near Fine YES First $400.00
Deathbird Stories Harlan Ellison Near Fine YES First $125.00
Eros Ascending Mike Resnick Fine/Like New YES First $50.00
Eros at Zenith Mike Resnick Fine/Like New YES First $50.00
Essential Ellison, The Harlan Ellison Fine YES First $150.00
Green Hills of Earth, The Robert Heinlein Near Fine NO First $300.00
Leiber Chronicles, The Fritz Leiber Near Fine NO First $40.00
Mefisto in Onyx Harlan Ellison Fine/Like New YES Hardback in slipcase $300.00
Methuselah's Children Robert Heinlein Very Good -Ex Libris label on inside front cover NO First $100.00
No Doors, No Windows Harlan Ellison Fine/Like New YES First $60.00
Pornucopia Piers Anthony Fine NO First $100.00
Robots of Dawn, The Isaac Asimov Fine/Like New YES First $275.00
Rocketship Galileo Robert Heinlein Very Good NO First pending
Ship of Shadows Fritz Leiber Fine YES First $65.00
Stranger in a Strange Land Robert Heinlein Near Fine YES First Edition, Fifth Impression $750.00
Tramp Royale Robert Heinlein Very Good NO Uncorrected Proof $20.00
Unpleasant Profession of Jonathon Hoag, The Robert Heinlein Good - DJ has some wear and tear on spine YES First $425.00
Vault of the Ages Poul Anderson Very Good -some wear on DJ edges NO First $75.00
Watching Harlan Ellison Fine/Like New NO First $30.00 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Is Charles Murray trying to prove his ignorance?

Charles Murray: Why Capitalism Has an Image Problem - WSJ.com

Not only does this column not reflect well on the WSJ op-ed pages, which of course bothers them not in the least, but it should make one wonder if Murray is in some kind of contest to show how little he understands of modern America and what its people think. First, he constantly refers to capitalism as some kind of monolithic system, which it is not, and praises it as an unmixed blessing. Wherever people critique it, it's because they don't understand it. No mention of shadow economies of unregulated derivative systems that dwarf many country's budgets. The crash caused by many bad practices in the financial sector apparently doesn't exist in his mind. There is not one mention of the corruption represented by Enron, Dennis Kozlowski, Bernie Ebbers or Bernie Madoff, among others. What blame he does recognize as "legitimate" lies with the government. Oh, and of course he never mentions the fact that modern businesses work as hard as they can to eliminate every job possible. There is no such thing as offshoring jobs to cheap labor markets. And no, I freely admit that I don't buy into the arguments that offshoring is another unmixed blessing of capitalism, which is not uncommon among economists, especially those of the right wing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

No, A Former Publisher Doesn't Know More About the Internet Than Techies

Vint Cerf is a well known name in computer geek circles for very good reasons. If anyone knows the events that led to the internet as we know it, he does. Yet a former publisher of the Wall Street Journal decided to revise history a bit in a column for the WSJ that once again shows why those pages have so little to do with facts, even when compared to other op-ed sections. In it he tries to claim that the role of the government was limited to a modest contribution backed by ARPA. He admits that Vint Cerf developed the TCP/IP protocols but claims that "the Ethernet", developed at Xerox PARC, was in fact the invention that first connected different computer networks and served as the basis for the internet. He bases his claims, which contradict everything I ever read about the history of the internet, on a book by Michael Hiltzik, who was at Xerox PARC back then and a quote from a former top official of ARPA that he doesn't understand.

He made a very foolish mistake, though, by getting his "facts" flagrantly wrong while some of the people involved are still alive. And they're not very happy with Mr. Crovitz for hosing history. Vint Cerf refutes Crovitz's column in an interview with CNet. Michael Hiltzik corrects Mr Crovitz in a column in the L.A. times. In fact, Cerf points out that not only was ARPA involved in the development of the Internet but so were the NSF, NASA, DOE and other government agencies as well. Hiltzik points out how Crovitz misinterpreted the quote from his friend, Robert Taylor.

I think that Crovitz, like far too many who drift too deeply into an ideology, interpreted things he found to support what he wants to believe and ignored the larger body of evidence that contradicted him. Think of him and others trying to revise the history of technology to minimize government involvement for ideological reasons as the David Bartons of tech history.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Oil Drum | Ruthless Extrapolation

This site is about energy and our future, as per the subtitle. I really enjoyed this article and the physics discussion the comments thread turned into.

The Oil Drum | Ruthless Extrapolation

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fortune, that liberal rag, investigates Fast and Furious

The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal - Fortune Features

The long and short of it is that most of what's being said, especially on conservative blogs, newspapers, radio and TV is flat-out wrong. If you're interested you really need to read the whole article.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Is the rest of the GOP as reactionary as Texas?

I saw some posts on Twitter about how reactionary the Texas GOP Party Platform was and thought they had to be exaggerating. They weren't. You can find the platform here. The emphasis below is mine.

Consider where they get their ideas on strengthening the economy.

We support the principles regarding the public economy as stated in the Republican Party Platform of 1932 to wit: 
Resolution Regarding the Public Economy  
Whereas, constructive plans for financial stabilization cannot be completely organized until our national, State and municipal governments not only balance their budgets but curtail their current expenses as well to a level which can be steadily and economically maintained for some years to come.We urge prompt and drastic reduction of public expenditure and resistance to every appropriation not demonstrably necessary to the performance of government, national or local.The Republican Party established and will continue to uphold the gold standard and will oppose any measure which will undermine the government’s credit or impair the integrity of our national currency. Relief by currency inflation is unsound in principle and dishonest in results. The dollar is impregnable in the marts of the world today and must remain so. An ailing body cannot be cured by quack remedies. This is no time to experiment upon the body politic or financial. 
Source: Republican Party Platform of 1932
Then there's their ideas on teaching critical thinking skills.

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.
Under the heading "PROMOTING INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM AND PERSONAL SAFETY" you'll find gems like this.

We oppose the monitoring of gun ownership, and the taxation and regulation of guns and ammunition.  We collectively urge the legislature to pass “constitutional carry” legislation whereby law-abiding citizens that possess firearms can legally exercise their God-given right to carry that firearm as well.  Until such time we urge the state to re-introduce and pass legislation easing current restrictions on firearms such as open carry and campus carry. 

State MilitiaWe support the establishment and maintenance of a volunteer Constitutional State Militia with assistance from County Sheriffs.
Militia versus Paid Army – We recognize that the original meaning of the word “militia” in the Constitution refers to an armed citizenry, not the formal paid professional military.
Freedom of Access ActWe urge repeal of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Law. Those who assault peaceful protesters acting under the Constitution should be vigorously prosecuted. Picketing and literature distribution do not fall under the RICO Act.
Judeo-Christian Nation – As America is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principles, we affirm the constitutional right of all individuals to worship in the religion of their choice.
Safeguarding Our Religious Liberties – We affirm that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity and strength. We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state. We urge the Legislature to increase the ability of faith-based institutions and other organizations to assist the needy and to reduce regulation of such organizations. 
That isn't all, of course. But how typical is this extremely reactionary belief system in the GOP? How many state parties would agree with these desires to roll back the clock? 

Friday, June 8, 2012

R.I.P., Ray Bradbury

One of the great things about being an "active" science fiction fan is that you get to meet the writers whose works you read. I did get to meet Ray Bradbury at an Archon one year and he was one of the really big names in the field that most would be at least a bit intimidated by the idea of getting to meet. But if that did happen to you, he would be pretty effective at taking care of that. He was a great writer and a good man. He was blessed by an amazing talent and the strong drive to write that enabled him to do what he loved for almost his entire life.    Good for him. Rest in peace, Mr. Bradbury.

EconoSpeak: The Long-Term Budget Outlook - It's not what the GOP claims.

EconoSpeak: The Long-Term Budget Outlook

The actual long term outlook assuming current law stands, including the expiration of the Bush era tax cuts and the Affordable Care Act isn't overturned by the Supreme Court or repealed by a President Romney and his fellow Republicans has been improving lately. That having been said, there are way too many factors that can't be foreseen for it to hold up. It's still interesting given the opposing claims being made.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Austerity Uber Alles

According to the German government, the IMF and the European Central Bank there is one and only one solution to every economic problem in Europe today. Austerity. Cut back. Cut drastically. Throw thousands of government workers out of jobs and any private sector folks who depend on their spending. Don't worry, it'll all work out in the long run.

So picture an editorial cartoon with an American sensibility about the current European debt crisis. Take Angela Merkel and put her in a white cowboy hat and domino mask. Give her a gun in one hand. A really big gun. A bad video game sized BFG. In the other hand she holds proudly an outsized bullet to fit such an outrageous weapon. Silver, of course. Label the bullet "Austerity". Before her stands the villain of the piece, hard-bitten, looking mean and wearing a dirty black outfit. Label him "Depression". Next to him is a prime example of the innocent townfolk of this Western frontier scenario. A middle-aged woman wearing homespun gingham who looks at the villain with terror on her face as her children grip her skirts. Label her "Economies", with a design in her dress of the names of European nations. Label her children as "Jobs" and "Standard of Living". Next frame, Angela's done her best, smoke is rising from the barrel of her gun and the children are staring in horror at the body of their mother lying on the ground. Oops.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

RealClimate: Evaluating a 1981 temperature projection

The next time a climate change denier spouts off about how they've never come close to accurate projections of future temperature trends or says that James Hansen is just playing politics instead of doing science keep this in mind. In 1981 Hansen and some associates published a paper that so far has been fairly accurate. 100% accurate? No. But in fact they slightly underestimated the warming trend. Given the uncertainties at the time concerning particulate and aerosol pollution they didn't do badly at all.

RealClimate: Evaluating a 1981 temperature projection

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What Did the SC Think Would Happen

When the Supreme Court handed down the Citizens United decision I wonder how much thought the justices in the majority gave to the consequences of what they'd done? I don't think they had a clue.

Mitt Romney and His Rivals Are Running Short on Cash - The Daily Beast

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Charles Murray is at it again

In the WSJ Charles Murray is at it again. In an attempt to deflect the criticisms he's received because of his book, "Coming Apart". He attempts to claim that he is right and his critics that say there are more causes than just cultural changes, including numerous changes in our economic infrastructure, are just plain wrong. It seems to me, though, that his arguments can be described at best as sloppy. Consider this excerpt.

It is true that unionized jobs at the major manufacturers provided generous wages in 1960. But they didn't drive the overall wage level in the working class. In the 1960 census, the mean annual earnings of white males ages 30 to 49 who were in working-class occupations (expressed in 2010 dollars) was $33,302. In 2010, the parallel figure from the Current Population Survey was $36,966—more than $3,000 higher than the 1960 mean, using the identical definition of working-class occupations. 
Large numbers of well paying jobs in unionized industries didn't affect the wages that non-unionized employers were offering? Whatever happened to competition? What is an identical definition of working-class occupations? Murray doesn't say and apparently expects us to take his word for it. Another interesting omission is the question of how many of those jobs still exist. He states that he uses an identical definition of working-class occupations. How relevant is an identical definition that was used in 1960 to the job market in 2012 when the overall number of manufacturing jobs has dropped like a rock and millions of women have entered the workforce?

Murray attempted to make a claim that many changes over the last half century were purely cultural and could be reversed by "easy" cultural changes such as denigrating and shaming the white males who have purposefully abandoned the responsible path of marriage and hard work at jobs that still exist if they would only look for them. These changes had nothing to do with jobs being shipped overseas and new technologies that drastically reduce the number of people needed in manufacturing jobs. It has nothing to do with an almost complete collapse of the construction trades after the housing bubble burst several years ago. The fact that we aren't building out new infrastructure like the highway systems or doing a good enough job of maintaining our existing infrastructure is in no way related to these problems.

Then Mr. Murray wonders why there are so many critics of his work. If this article reflects the book, which I admit that I haven't read, then I'm surprised there aren't even more critics.

Inhofe Tells the Truth?

Inhofe's Stunning Admission To Maddow on Global Warming: 'I Thought It Must Be True Until I Found Out What It Cost" | ThinkProgress

Once upon a time a man named James Inhofe ran for mayor of Tulsa. He seemed to be a nice, sane moderate Republican. What a difference a few decades make. The man is a loon nowadays. It's just hard to tell exactly what kind.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Is it still talent if it's hopelessly corrupted?

I've read in several places from people who step back and view these things objectively that Rush Limbaugh is, whatever else he may be, a truly talented radio personality. But look at what he chose to do with his career. The incident with his treatment of Sandra Fluke is just the latest case of his mouth producing utter garbage spewed in the direction of those who dare to be put into the position of opposing his political viewpoint for whatever reason. Because she thinks that employers, whether religiously affiliated or not, should have to provide coverage for birth control medication she was called a slut, prostitute and round heeled. And those were the most tasteful things he said. So as my title asks, is he really still a talent? Sure, those who share his viewpoint will never quit listening no matter how outrageous his language or statements are. But wouldn't someone who was still a real talent be able to hold onto an audience, even broadening his audience, without this kind of disgusting display of coarseness?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Couple of Windows XP Tips

There are a lot of people still using Windows XP out there. Here are a couple of ideas for tweaking performance of your system.

The first one might seem a bit counter-intuitive but yes, fixing something in Internet Explorer can help with your whole system. First step, I cannot recommend enough that if you are using IE and haven't upgraded to version 8, please do so. Lots of web sites don't play nice with IE6 now and IE8 offers noticeably better performance than 7 does. Then open your browser and you'll see a menu item on the upper right toolbar that says Tools. Clicking on that gives you a drop down menu that has as its last choice Options. The dialog box that opens when you click on that has a section with the title of Browsing History that includes a Delete button. Clicking on that button brings up another box with multiple choices that you choose with check boxes. Looking at the choices under the horizontal line you'll see Temporary Internet Files, Cookies, History, Form Data, Passwords and InPrivate Filtering Data. Above that horizontal line I mentioned earlier is an option to keep all of that data for any web sites in your favorites list. Personally I just worry about the Temporary Internet Files option since that accounts for the really big data items such as every single graphic on the web sites you browse to. I just choose that one item and click on the Delete button. But if you're worried about privacy or want to wring every last bit of space out of the process you can go ahead and delete them all. Just remember that getting rid of the cookies and passwords can cost you some convenience on web sites you use so much that you don't want to log in every time you go back.

Another tweak is to get rid of some of the graphic  bells and whistles used by Windows for all of their menus and dialog boxes by default. Find your My Computer icon, whether you have it on your desktop or in your Start menu. BTW, if you use it a lot it's convenient to have it on the desktop and you can have it there just by right clicking on it in the Start menu and choosing Show on Desktop from the menu that appears. Another option that appears is Properties. If you right click on the Properties selection a dialog box pops up with multiple tabs. Click on the Advanced tab. Click on the Settings button in the Performance section. What I do is click on the radio button for Adjust for Best Performance, which clears all of the radio buttons and then adjust the details by scrolling down and checking these options: smooth edges of screen fonts, use common tasks in folders, use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop and use visual styles on windows and buttons. This gets rid of lots of "special effects" while not changing the appearance very much at all. And it does improve performance noticeably, though not by a huge amount. Things are just snappier when using menus and when Windows many windows pop up.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rep. Darrell Issa Bars Minority Witness, a Woman, on Contraception - ABC News

Rep. Darrell Issa Bars Minority Witness, a Woman, on Contraception - ABC News

It's not about conscience, it's about misogyny and control. If God was as offended by birth control as these men seem to be then I think he'd let us know quite directly.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This Is It

I tried an experiment that turned out to be very short term. I thought it might be best to have two blogs, one where I'd post political comments and related  things and the other where I would post the geekier/nerdier/technical things that interested me. But after doing this for a little bit with no one noticing at all, of course, I've decided that while the things I read about focusing on a narrow range of subjects so readers know what they're getting when they come to your blog might have a point doing two blogs just won't cut it and that if anyone ever starts reading what I write what they're going to have to realize they're getting is just whatever the heck I feel like linking to or writing about. This will include things like politics, economics, computers, comics, science fiction, science fact, fantasy and mysteries. So if anyone ever reads this, hopefully you'll have fun and learn something.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Some Europeans Are Trying to Be More Like the U.S.

NHS health reforms: Extent of McKinsey & Company's role in Andrew Lansley's proposals | Mail Online

See, American Conservatives, the British at least are moving in our direction. Conflict of interest, major parts of laws being written by the corporations who will benefit from them and other great benefits of our version of capitalism are being exported successfully.

Scientists discover molecular secrets of 2,000-year-old Chinese herbal remedy

Scientists discover molecular secrets of 2,000-year-old Chinese herbal remedy

This is really interesting and holds a lot of promise for future treatment development. A molecule capable of blocking the bad effects of an enzyme that has both good and bad effects. Notice, the research is not being done by a pharmaceutical company, it comes from an academic environment.

Businesses Do Not Run Balanced Budgets

Businesses Do Not Run Balanced Budgets

This is one of the constant lies that many modern Republicans use that irritate the heck out of me. If businesses weren't constantly borrowing money the effects of the financial crisis wouldn't have hurt so many of them when it locked the credit market.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Early Issues of Amazing Online

Read The Very First Issues of ‘Amazing Stories’ Online Right Now - SF Signal – A Speculative Fiction Blog


Just stumbled across this via Wil Wheaton on Google+. I think I'll enjoy reading through them.


Romney Barely Beats Ron Paul in Another "Beauty Contest"

Romney Wins Maine Caucuses - NYTimes.com

Romney only beat Ron Paul by 194 votes and the Paulistas will trumpet this as a great "victory" showing that even more voters are being persuaded by Ron Paul's message even though the vote represents only 2% of registered Republicans, not even 2% of the voting public. True Believers and reality, never the twain shall meet.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Republicans See Politics in Chrysler Super Bowl Ad - NYTimes.com

Republicans See Politics in Chrysler Super Bowl Ad - NYTimes.com


Someone hasn't been paying attention. Ads that have a variation of this theme have been running for a while now. This one was just a bigger one with a big celebrity as would seem appropriate for the Super Bowl.

Amateur Hour Turns Into Amateur Day...and Still Counting

So here we are, over 24 hours after the  Nevada caucuses closed and they still haven't come up with a final count. Sound familiar? Iowa lost the results from several meetings completely. Politico has a nice turn of phrase, Nevada caucuses: State GOP rolls snake eyes. When I read that my first thought was "Again?!?!?!". Volunteers and complete amateurs have their place but shouldn't they be better trained and given better tools at a minimum? Error after error taking place in two states that we know of in something as important as the process to determine one of the nominees for president of the United States shouldn't be acceptable. In either party. I hope there are lots of people paying attention to this and it doesn't continue. Heck, a laptop that could read barcodes to let people scan a code next to their choice's name isn't too much to ask and would be easy to set up.

For Ron Paul, a Distinctive Worldview of Long Standing - NYTimes.com

For Ron Paul, a Distinctive Worldview of Long Standing - NYTimes.com

OK, folks, here's an honest straightforward article about Ron Paul. After reading it my opinion of him hasn't really changed. He is a narrow minded, mentally inflexible person who hasn't changed his mind on an issue in over 50 years. His ideas are based on fears of his elders generated largely in the 19th century. He ignores or refuses to believe anything that doesn't fit his world view that was generated all those decades ago. None of these are characteristics of someone we should have as president or someone who has significant influence over our nation's policies.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Gas prices to spike 60 cents or more by May

Gas prices to spike 60 cents or more by May – USATODAY.com

Prices going up because of demand are one thing. Prices going up because of a carbon tax that directs resources to starting to work our way out of the oil trap are another. Prices going up because of pure speculation that could be boosted by the most fact free of rumor mongering are something we just shouldn't have.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot - NYTimes.com

Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot - NYTimes.com


Since when is insanity considered a mainstream political position? The Republican National Committee has an actual resolution based on paranoia. It states:

The United Nations Agenda 21 plan of radical so-called ‘sustainable development’ views the American way of life of private property ownership, single family homes, private car ownership and individual travel choices, and privately owned farms; all as destructive to the environment.

This is a serious national political party in our country in the 21st century?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Obsidian Wings: There is no barrel bottom to scrape Friday open thread

Obsidian Wings: There is no barrel bottom to scrape Friday open thread

The story shared here is very cool. Clock geeks! The response of the administrators and government was idiotic, though.

Funny How That Works | The Agitator

Funny How That Works | The Agitator


This is one of my favorite recent political stories. One of the things I can agree with Ron Paul on is the utter futility of the "War on Drugs" and how much of our country's resources are being wasted by it. The trend towards virtually everyone being tested is part of that. Notice how a politician attempting to come across as a hard-ass, no nonsense, tough on those lazy welfare bum kinds of Republican suddenly just wasn't all that interested in mandatory testing when the tables were suddenly turned.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Unemployment is also an uninsurance problem

Unemployment is also an uninsurance problem | The Incidental Economist

The incidental economist looks at unemployment and uninsurance. It should be obvious to more people than it is that given our current economy causes many to not have access to health care except for when they have absolutely no choice, which means the ER. Our current rate of un/underemployment is 15.2%. That number still doesn't include those who are employed but their jobs don't have health benefits or they don't make enough to spare their share of the cost from their pay check. That's a lot of people who are uninsured not through any choice of their own.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Planets Just Keep Rolling In

11 New Alien Solar Systems Crammed with Exoplanets : Discovery News

The Kepler telescope and the scientists using it are just an ongoing source of amazing discoveries. The variety of systems is fascinating.

Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China - NYTimes.com

Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China - NYTimes.com

I actually just came across this companion piece to the one about how American can't produce the iPhone.

Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China - NYTimes.com

Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China - NYTimes.com

I actually just came across this companion piece to the one about how American can't produce the iPhone.

5 Fascinating Comments by Chinese Readers About Apple and Foxconn - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic

5 Fascinating Comments by Chinese Readers About Apple and Foxconn - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic

I posted before about the article concerning Apple and Foxconn. Here's an interesting follow up.

5 Fascinating Comments by Chinese Readers About Apple and Foxconn - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic

5 Fascinating Comments by Chinese Readers About Apple and Foxconn - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic

I posted before about the article concerning Apple and Foxconn. Here's an interesting follow up.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Apple, America and a Squeezed Middle Class - NYTimes.com

Apple, America and a Squeezed Middle Class - NYTimes.com

Basically we are being told that the wonders of 21st Century technology depend on a string of factories that depend on working conditions similar to what the U.S. had in the late 19th Century. Look at this recent example of the view from the top of Foxconn. These problems aren't just a problem for Apple, of course. Foxconn makes things for a number of other companies such as Microsoft. But make no mistake, the flexibility that Apple admires so much comes at a real human cost. This is just as true now as it has been in the past. Those who praise Asian companies for what they do never point out one very obvious fact. The working conditions that make it possible for Apple, Microsoft and other businesses to get what they want how they want it are illegal in every First World economy. Do we want those working conditions? How can we possibly compete with them? Even if we followed the suggestions that Steve Jobs made just before his death and that other leaders in the tech field have made would they really hire people here? Frankly, I don't think so. I think you'd still see them begging for H1B immigrants because while they are supposed to be paid the same as Americans and treated the same the system is gamed constantly. But of course this complex problem has no easy answers because for the foreseeable future large publicly held companies in this country view their only mission as maximizing profits no matter the human cost.

This is also posted over at my other blog.

Apple, America and a Squeezed Middle Class

Apple, America and a Squeezed Middle Class - NYTimes.com

Basically we are being told that the wonders of 21st Century technology depend on a string of factories that depend on working conditions similar to what the U.S. had in the late 19th Century. Look at this recent example of the view from the top of Foxconn. These problems aren't just a problem for Apple, of course. Foxconn makes things for a number of other companies such as Microsoft. But make no mistake, the flexibility that Apple admires so much comes at a real human cost. This is just as true now as it has been in the past. Those who praise Asian companies for what they do never point out one very obvious fact. The working conditions that make it possible for Apple, Microsoft and other businesses to get what they want how they want it are illegal in every First World economy. Do we want those working conditions? How can we possibly compete with them? Even if we followed the suggestions that Steve Jobs made just before his death and that other leaders in the tech field have made would they really hire people here? Frankly, I don't think so. I think you'd still see them begging for H1B immigrants because while they are supposed to be paid the same as Americans and treated the same the system is gamed constantly. But of course this complex problem has no easy answers because for the foreseeable future large publicly held companies in this country view their only mission as maximizing profits no matter the human cost.

This is also posted over on my other blog.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"Oozing" Planet, 55 Cancri E, Seen With NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope

"Oozing" Planet, 55 Cancri E, Seen With NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope

The things that our newer scientific instruments are letting us discover are really just amazing. If we ever do discover a way to have "easy" interstellar travel scientists will be salivating over the idea of an expedition to this planet. However, I do suggest it be automated. :)

Scientists Accidentally Discover Rare Monkey Previously Thought Extinct

Scientists Accidentally Discover Rare Monkey Previously Thought Extinct | NewsFeed | TIME.com

This is great. Can't you just imagine the sense of wonder that these scientists felt when they saw something that they never expected from their simple little research project?

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Megaupload Case Isn't As Simple As Some Say

The Mega empire: Details of the MegaUpload indictment — Tech News and Analysis

There's been a big uproar about the bust of the huge file sharing site called Megaupload today. Many are standing up for them and saying that this is a potential threat to other file sharing sites such as Box and Dropbox. But GigaOm cites the actual indictment in their article and if the claims are true then it's pretty obvious what it takes to get nailed. Emails discussing the transfer of files from YouTube, emails discussing cash rewards for users who upload certain DVDs, executives looking for copyrighted material to upload personally and a programmer who was uploading copies of his own DVDs does not exactly scream "Honest business model.". There's lots of rational debate about copyright, the ability to stop piracy and how much economic harm piracy actually does but it looks like the folks running Megaupload were standing up and screaming "Bust us!!!" as loud as they could.

Omnivoracious: George R. R. Martin Interviews Bernard Cornwell

Omnivoracious: George R. R. Martin Interviews Bernard Cornwell

Now this is a great read, IMO.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What the Right Gets Right - NYTimes.com

What the Right Gets Right - NYTimes.com

This is a pretty good article. What I find interesting is the dichotomy between what the people the writer contacted say the conservatives get right and what I see the current Republican Party actually doing. Not saying, doing.

Paul Krugman Asks "How Fares the Dream?"

How Fares the Dream? - NYTimes.com

Many people don't remember that Martin Luther King not only campaigned for racial equality but economic justice for all. Krugman reminds us of this and looks at how both of these issues stand now. The racism situation is vastly improved but for many Americans their economic situation has declined and there is little sign of that trend changing, unfortunately.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Rise of the New Groupthink - NYTimes.com

The Rise of the New Groupthink - NYTimes.com

Much of what this article points out resonates with me. I do a lot more planning, trouble shooting and support than programming nowadays but when I'm trying to track down a weird glitch on someone's system, actually programming or debugging when conversations are going on in three cubicles surrounding me it can make it tough to focus. If it's difficult to keep a train of thought going or trace what's going on in my own code much less someone else's if there's constant conversation or frequent interruptions.

Black Hole Caught Pulling Trigger on Gas "Bullets"

Black Hole Caught Pulling Trigger on Gas "Bullets"

Let's see...large masses of gas shooting from a black hole at about a quarter of the speed of light. I wonder what would happen if that gas happened to hit a planetary nebula that hasn't collapsed into a star yet. Or how it would affect a system like ours.

Murdoch Does Twitter - Badly

Who is winning SOPA? Read Rupe Murdoch's Twitter feed | Media Maverick - CNET News

When Murdoch rants like this it becomes a bit obvious how completely out of touch he and his empire have become. While it's true that IP holders should be able to protect their rights, they just haven't come up with a decent way to do it. Most of their attempts (if not all) show an amazing disregard for their legitimate customers and/or innocent people who just might get trampled on by over-reaching laws.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

If cutting CO2 is too hard, start with something easier

Scientists Say Cut Soot, Methane to Curb Warming - ABC News

Now this makes a great deal of sense. If one approach is much more difficult but doing something else will help the situation, go ahead with the more feasible action. Cutting soot and methane is easier than cutting CO2 and will help slow the rate of warming.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why Aren't Computer Programming Languages Designed Better?

Why Aren't Computer Programming Languages Designed Better? | Co.Design

I always find articles like this interesting, in large part because fairly often the comments are entertaining.

Code readability can be a real issue but often it's because of the coder, not the language. Many years ago I worked on a project in Clipper, a compiled language derived from dBase's programming language. If done properly it made for very readable code that had some syntactic resemblances to Basic. When I came in they'd tried hiring an accountant and teaching her programming since it was an AR module being written. After trying for several days to make sense of what she'd done I went up to the supervisor and showed him the code and told him that it would just be faster to start over than try to make sense of the hash she'd made. He approved it. I honestly hadn't realized you could make Clipper that unreadable.

The idea of Quorum sounds interesting but it is an interesting question as to how some of the more complex structures that programmers have to create to solve some problems could be translated into something resembling English.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The quasicrystal that fell to Earth

The quasicrystal that fell to Earth

This is really interesting. I'd read before about the creation of quasicrystals though I still haven't read anything with real details (That I could still understand, of course.) but this is the first time I heard of the discovery of natural ones. Thinking about it I'm not very surprised that it would be found in meteorites. I wonder if they could also be formed at great depths in the earth.

MLK Day Fact Check - Ta-Nehisi Coates - Politics - The Atlantic

MLK Day Fact Check - Ta-Nehisi Coates - Politics - The Atlantic

Oh, noo-o-o-o! An actual fact concerning some of the rampant inaccuracies that float around the Internet. Ron Paul did not, in fact, vote even once in support of the MLK holiday. It doesn't mean he's a racist but at least it's accurate.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Report says Romney, Gingrich and Perry tax plans add billions to deficit, favor the rich

Report says Romney, Gingrich and Perry tax plans add billions to deficit, favor the rich - Political Hotsheet - CBS News

Is anyone really surprised by this? Their policies fall in line with every other Republican proposal in terms of the inevitable results.

Cogitamus: The Folly of the Paul Apologists

Cogitamus: The Folly of the Paul Apologists

Sir Charles at Cogitamus really nails it when it comes to the problem with some of the presumed liberals like Glenn Greenwald who rage at Obama while claiming that anyone who really cares about civil liberties should actually be supporting Ron Paul more than Obama. First, the arguments against President Obama are exaggerated to the point of caricature. And Paul just isn't really as interested in individual liberty as he tries to pretend.

Silicon wire created 10,000 times thinner than human hair | DVICE

Silicon wire created 10,000 times thinner than human hair | DVICE

The big question, as per usual, is whether they can actually mass produce it to work in devices. But yes, just creating it is very cool.

Gingrich defends food stamp comment – CNN

TRENDING: Gingrich defends food stamp comment – CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs

Gingrich says jobs instead of food stamps even as he fails to put forth a plan that would actually result in more jobs that would pay enough to accomplish that. Does he really not know that there are people who are working at the only jobs they can find that still need food stamps, can't afford a place to live without help and don't get health care benefits?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Microsoft Replaces 'Flight Simulator' with Free, Fun 'Flight' | News & Opinion | PCMag.com

Microsoft Replaces 'Flight Simulator' with Free, Fun 'Flight' | News & Opinion | PCMag.com

Now this ought to be interesting to watch. Bringing a free-to-play model to a flight game while making it more accessible to the public than its more hardcore simulator predecessor is certainly an interesting twist. I'm going to let them work on it a bit more and then give it a try.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Read - Santorum booed in contentious exchange over gay marriage

First Read - Santorum booed in contentious exchange over gay marriage

If anyone had any doubts about how out of touch with the 21st century Rick Santorum and those who share his views on social issues are consider his reception at a college in New Hampshire.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Picturing Winter, a Solstice Celebration | Tor.com

Picturing Winter, a Solstice Celebration | Tor.com

I stumbled across a link to this wonderful post while reading some comments on RealClimate. I really enjoyed looking at these paintings.

Gingrich: Mitt Romney is a liar - CBS News

Gingrich: Mitt Romney is a liar - CBS News

Pot, meet kettle. There isn't one of the GOP candidates who isn't lying about their current opponents, President Obama, or both.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Doctor Who Theme as never heard before

Doctor Who Theme as never heard before

I liked the Doctor Who I was first exposed to in the early '80s with the Tom Baker episodes on PBS. I consider the revival to be some of the best television anywhere. For this incarnation of Dr. Who I have become a fanboy, or darn close to one. I love what this performer did with the theme music in the Comedy Proms. If you like Dr. Who and haven't seen the two times they've done Dr. Who at the Proms as a full show you've really missed something.

WTF? Monthly pet horoscope: January 2012 - NY Daily News

Monthly pet horoscope: January 2012 - NY Daily News

Google, Please explain to me what the hell this is doing under the science category on iGoogle.