Saturday, 30 January 2010

In Passing

What pit bulls and “No Trespassing” signs are for

State-sponsored busybodies  Dept
Just what I need:
More than 150 high school sophomores from around the state have been enlisted as part of the so-called “Green Corps.” The students are part of the 1st and Green initiative, which aims at encouraging Hoosiers to reduce their carbon footprint by recycling and altering other personal habits.
...some whiny high-school sophomore bitching at me about “being green.”  Sorry, the name is not “Kermit.”

Via:  Roberta, who has a suggestion for them.

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Friday, 29 January 2010

In Passing

Finally... an upgrade

Appears that AT&T has finally heard its customers:

...the company is... allocating an additional $2bn or so to upgrade its network in 2010.
The AP also noted that during AT&T’s conference call with reporters and analysts after the announcement of the company’s financial results for the fourth quarter of 2009, Big Phone execs spent “an unprecedented amount” of time and effort defending their beleagured network and talking about how they plan to improve it.
So maybe by the end of the year we can expect its 3G network to be as pervasive as its advertising?

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Thursday, 28 January 2010


Minor difference

Can you tell C major chord from c minor chord?
A lot of people seem to have problems.  See this fascinating post on “modal deafness” by Mark Liberman at Language Log.

Via “Mætenloch” in (believe it or not) the AoSHQ overnight thread

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Wednesday, 27 January 2010


A tepid reaction to HD receivers

Ever been tasked with turning out a glowing report about something that, when you looked into it, just didn’t quite manage to pique your enthusiasm?  I suspect that’s what happened to Katherine Boehret during her survey of three HD radios, as reported in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Boehret spent a week testing the sets- one a straight table radio, one which included an iPod dock, and a portable. She also talked to the technology’s developer, iBiquity Digital, and her piece includes the usual iBiquity talking points- that HD means improved sound quality, and that there’s no extra cost (beyond hardware) for HD reception. She clearly describes how HD radio works, but also makes the common mistake of calling it “high definition;” the “HD” - supposedly - has no special meaning.

In short, she likes the sound (and some of the additional programming), is intrigued by the tag-songs-for-purchase capability of the docking set, but is less than enamoured with some of the technical wrinkles:

Washington, D.C., where I live, supposedly offers 41 HD Radio channels, but I couldn’t find as many as that...

Tuning in each HD station takes longer, like the way changing channels on a digital TV takes an extra second.  But in my tests, this process took five seconds or more per change of channel...  While a radio was tuning in... an “HD” logo flashed on each radio's display.  This logo turned solid when the station was found and finally started playing...  This kind of delay is enough to try anyone’s patience.

Each of the radios I tested offered an HD Seek feature—a way of skimming through all stations to find and play those that could be heard in HD.  But HD Seek didn’t stop on multicast channels; to get to those on each radio, I had to press buttons to tune up or down while already listening to to a main HD radio channel.  Some HD Radio models have HD Seek tuning functions that find HD1 stations as well as HD2 and HD3 channels.
Aside from the delay in acquiring signals (which is inherent in the system and apparently can’t be fixed), these all sound like new-technology teething issues.  The problem is, HD radio has been around for five years or so, and one would think that by now the sensitivity problems[1] and interface awkwardness would have been worked out.

The praising-with-faint-damns moment actually comes in the fourth paragraph, when Boehret nails HD’s chicken-and-egg (or elephant-in-the-room, if you prefer) problem:
Overall, I didn’t hear enough incredibly great content or sound quality to want to run out and replace my old radios.
And she’s in a major metro area.  ’Nuff said.

[1]  iBiquity’s representative made apologies for the performance of the Coby Electronics model tested, saying it “uses an older... technology that doesn’t offer as much reception sensitifvity.”

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Tuesday, 26 January 2010

In Passing

Latest revision - replace your encyclopedia pages

Oh, NOW I see...   Dept
Well, now we know why there hasn’t been any “global warming.”  It’s because of the ozone hole:
...There is mounting evidence that the ozone hole above the Antarctic has been protecting the southern hemisphere against global warming.

The bizarre side-effect of ozone depletion has been studied by scientists at the University of Leeds.

The ozone hole, caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) released into the atmosphere, is now steadily closing, but the research has suggested this could actually increase warming.

Scientists discovered brighter summertime clouds had formed over the area below the hole, which reflect more of the sun’s powerful rays.

“These clouds have acted like a mirror to the sun’s rays, reflecting the sun’s heat away from the surface to the extent that warming from rising carbon emissions has effectively been cancelled out in this region during the summertime,” said Professor Ken Carslaw, who co-authored the research.
So lessee, we spent untold billions in eliminating CFCs to put the ozone hole back, and now...
“You can’t correct two wrongs in that way,” he said.  “The ozone hole was potentially a major catastrophe for the planet that was only stopped by the Montreal Protocol, so we can’t go back on that.”
Why am I unsurprised?

Now I suppose this could make sense.  Could.

But the convenient emergence of this report (in the midst of the “WHAT global warming” uproar), leaves me wondering.  And, even if true, what does the discovery of a hitherto-unknown (but important) factor say about the certainty of those doom-and-gloom predictions that we’ve been getting from the warmingists this last decade.

Climate “Science:”  Making it up as we go along?

Via:  Kathy

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Monday, 25 January 2010

In Passing

Rule 42, ya know...

Played hookey on Sunday and missed posting, so I’ll catch it up this way

Now statistics prove
Prove that you’ve
One Birthday,

(aside: 'magine that!) Just One Birthday
every year.

But there are
Un - Birthdays!

Precisely why we’re gathered here to cheer!
Und zo, A Very Merry Un-Birthday to Tam!

Rumor hath it that she’s 42.

Which I guess means she’s either the answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything— or one of those people who must Leave The Court at once. Inquiring minds, etal...

Later:  Road Trip Report

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Saturday, 23 January 2010


Gov. Christie rolls up his sleeves

The “new” New Jersey?  Dept
[Newly-elected New Jersey] Governor [Christopher] Christie on Thursday promised to eliminate a number of New Jersey boards and commissions where political appointees are... able to pad their public pensions, in some cases mostly for attending monthly meetings.
[In] the outgoing administration’s final days, ... Gov. Jon Corzine appointed dozens of Democratic aides and department heads to government boards overseeing such professions as marriage therapists, contact-lens dispensers and veterinarians...
Most, if not all, of [the appointees] will have no [other] job in the new Republican administration.  As board appointees, however, they can add service years toward a pension — meaning they can earn credit toward the 10-year minimum to qualify, or increase their retirement payout if they’re already vested.

“This is stuff that’s been done by previous governors and previous administrations to keep their friends in the pension system in order to accumulate the number of years they need to get the maximum amount of payoff they can get from the taxpayers,” Christie said.  “It’s wrong.  It’s wrong when Republicans do it.  It’s wrong when Democrats do it.  In the end we are fleecing our own state.”
And he has landslide-level public support for going after public-employee pay and headcount:
Gov. Christopher Christie enters office with a 33%-27% approval rating and a go-ahead to cut state spending, layoff state workers and freeze their salaries, and continue his fight on corruption, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today [January 20].
By a 58%-35% margin, New Jerseyans support layoffs or furloughs of state workers.  In union households, the total is 50%-44%.  Freezing wages for state works also gets statewide support, 71%-23%, including 62%-38% among union households and 64%-30% among Democrats.
Keep an eye on the Garden State...

Bergen County Record:  editorial: Parting Gifts

Both via The Coalition of the Swilling: 1, 2

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Friday, 22 January 2010


The purges (and threats) commence

Thunderheads to port  Dept
And the public reacts:
When men like me are absolutely convinced that there will soon be blood in the streets, and are perfectly willing to personally take part….when we start to fill our basements with amunition and canned food…..when we go so far as to have a well driven from inside the basement itself….when men like me do those things and even further….when my wife admits I’m not being a lunatic

there is a problem.
... to this post.


Via:  doubleplusundead

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In Passing

“PR nonsense”

Terrorists? What terrorists? Dept
Ace is tired of it:
I have seen this time and time again, where the first statement, provided mere hours after an incident, when people are still in triage and there has been not enough time to even begin an investigation, let alone conclude one, is the rote repetition of the claim that it’s not terrorism, there is no foreign connection, etc.

And if they’re saying that out of the box, then we know for a fact they are actively avoiding lines of questioning that would contradict that claim...
If we’re to have genuine confidence in our government at all (is that still a goal they aspire to?), they need to be straight with us, stop giving us PR nonsense, and admit their failings alongside their trumpeting of their successes.

If they keep claiming that every successful terrorist attack is not terrorism, we have every right to suspect they are not taking this seriously, and that they are covering up their failures, and that they are, of course, not dealing with the lapses that caused the failures, and that more of us will be killed just so they can go up in front of the microphones and make pissing-on-our-backs claims like “There is no evidence this was a terrorist attack.”

What scares the hell out of me isn't that terrorism is being treated as a law enforcement issue.  If only.  That may not be the best possible response to terrorism, but at least it would be barely-adequate response...

What scares me more than that is that terrorism is being treated solely as a public relations issue.


Elsewhere:  Politico’s coverage

January 15, 2010:  Ability is insufficient.
March 20, 2009:  More nuance, please!

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A famous painting, a famous warship

J.M.W. Turner painted it on the way to its breaking; it fought to relieve Nelson’s Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. 185 feet long, 205 feet from keel to masthead, its statistics are amazing. Sam Wills has scoured the Admiralty archives to produce a new book about it, and The Daily Mail has an excerpt.

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