Saturday, 30 June 2007

In Passing

JayReding gets his new iPhone, starts "Jobs for Emperor" committee

It's amazing how Apple can make anything work well. Activating the thing took less than 5 minutes, including the time downloading all the data. Activating my last smartphone took about half an hour, and that's with a Cingu... err... AT&T drone frantically typing away. At this point, I'm ready to vote Steve Jobs in 2008. Imagine how easy it would be if Apple ran the IRS. First of all, it would be the iRS, and all the relevant information would already be filled out, and the whole process would take less than a minute. A geek can dream, can't he? - linky

UPDATE 070702 17:28: Unfortunately, some folks (38%?) are having issues with AT&T.   More (last added 070714).

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Friday, 29 June 2007

In Passing

My bill wuz pwnz0red by teh internets!

Note:  This post represents the worst of internet "inside baseball" stuff.  Readers who are not geeks or obsessive usenet denizens should probably avoid...

Mary Lu Carnevale's post-mortem on the immigration bill at the Wall Street Journal's "Washington Wire" weblog included– and later modified– this rather paranoid (and silly) comment:

Hot Air Network’s Web ad, viewable at left, urged “conservatives fed up with Republican scheming on this bill, [to] do something about it...” Just who sponsors Hot Air’s ad, and other similar ads popping up across the Internet, is unclear. [Note: Original text, later changed. Bolding and preservation by Ace.]
Needless to say, this raising the possibility of some dark conspiracy behind Hot Air's "expensive" production met with much amusement [see the "Important Update"] and derision, including some (worthy of a Tim Blair thread) in the WSJ post's own comment thread.

Well, at least I found them amusing. So knowing that WSJ links tend to disappear, I've preserved the relevant comments below the jump.

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Wednesday, 27 June 2007

In Passing

Bring in the engineers

Laura Landro's "Informed Patient" column in today's Wall Street Journal[no link, I read the hard copy] is all about "crossed-tube" connection errors, and how hospitals are scrambling to do something about them.

...the risk that someone will inadvertently hook the wrong line to the wrong device or medication is a nightmate scenario: An air hose accidentally connected to an intravenous line can create an air bubble that leads to a fatal embolism, or an infant's feeding solution inadvertently infused into the bloodstream... can cause severe brain damage and death.
Further into the article, there's this shocker:
The main concern... is the use of a universal connection system known as a Luer fitting... to join together a broad range of devices with totally different functions... Patients are at risk, for example, if they are receiving fluids through a vein, feedings via a stomach tube, and getting air through an oxygen mask. 'Nearly all tubings have the same connection...'" [bolding mine - o.g.]
The hospital's situation is analogous to what you'd face at home if manufacturers used the same two-blade connector to hook up your table lamp, your ethernet cable, your telephone, your stereo speakers, and your air conditioner. Recipe for disaster, or at least for releasing lots of magic smoke.

It appears the medical-care industry has been slow to take action for the "usual" reasons:  Denial+convenience+ cheap+ "we've always done it that way"+ bureaucracy.  Doctors and nurses are trained to check and re-check ("we don't make mistakes"), the Luer fitting is common and readily available (so it was  convenient to use it in new applications), bean-counters don't like having a lot of different inventory items to track, and suppliers have been reluctant to rock the boat by producing products that don't match with existing items. Then there's the usual problem of getting federal ("even if you want to do something, you still have to get it past the feds first") approval.

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Tuesday, 26 June 2007

In Passing

More Republican fun in California

Now it's illegal aliens, too:

Michael Kamburowski, an Australian immigrant who served as the California Republican Party’s chief operating officer, abruptly resigned Sunday — less than 24 hours after The Chronicle reported he had been ordered deported in 2001, jailed in connection with the order, and now has a $5 million wrongful arrest lawsuit pending against U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials. -- San Francisco Chronicle
Note that Kamburowski is not the H1B Canadian mentioned in my earlier post.
HT: Michelle

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Saturday, 23 June 2007

In Passing

Something I'd forgotten

"writerchick" responds to this post at The End of Elite Media Empires:

[Senate Minority Whip Trent] Lott should have been kicked out the day he decided as the Majority Leader to ’share’ the committeeships with the minority party. After all, what did he get for his bipartisan efforts? Kicked in the head and called a racist. Still, he don’t get it.
And Mick replies:
A lot of people don’t remember Lott’s stupid shraring idea. Why aren’t the Democrats sharing now? Their one person majority is still in a coma. Notice we don’t get any progress reports on him?
One more reason...

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Wednesday, 20 June 2007

In Passing

Congressman invents perpetual motion machine, film at 11

It's all about earmarks, of course:

Last week, while Republicans were busy fighting [House Appropriations Committee Chairman David] Obey’s [(D-Wis.)] proposed earmark policy, [Rep. Jeff] Flake [(R-Ariz.)] was taking issue with the chairman’s earmarks to a group known as the Wisconsin Procurement Institute (WPI), whose main purpose is trying to help the state’s businesses obtain more federal contracts and grants.

To Flake, the idea of providing federal money to subsidize the process of trying to obtain more federal money is absurd. --, June 20, 2007 [bolding mine - o.g.]

It's only absurd to normal people.  Inside the beltway, it's a stroke of genius!.
HT: Insty

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Monday, 18 June 2007

In Passing

More signs that the end of the world is nigh

Life imitates Scrappleface again (from June, 2003):

Episcopal Church Appoints First Openly-Muslim Bishop
by Scott Ott
(2003-08-04) -- Bishops in the Episcopal Church today approved the election of the first openly-Muslim bishop in the church's history...

A spokesman for the Episcopal Church said the move demonstrates, "Our church is open to all people, regardless of their beliefs, or whether they accept the teachings of the Bible."
Seattle Times, June 17, 2007:
Shortly after noon on Fridays, the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding ties on a black headscarf, preparing to pray with her Muslim group on First Hill.

On Sunday mornings, Redding puts on the white collar of an Episcopal priest.

She does both, she says, because she's Christian and Muslim.
Redding's bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting. [bolding mine -o.g.]
[posted by Mark Steyn at The Corner, who warns, "It's never wise to satirize the Episcopal Church."]
And then there are the Republicans:
The California Republican Party has decided no American is qualified to take one of its most crucial positions — state deputy political director — and has hired a Canadian for the job through a coveted H-1B visa, a program favored by Silicon Valley tech firms that is under fire for displacing skilled American workers. -- San Francisco Chronicle

via Bill Quick, who wonders, "Wasn't a Mexican available?"

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Friday, 15 June 2007

In Passing

Yes, I know that blogging has been slow

This is one reason:
view from the deck
(View from the deck, about 8 pm.)

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Tuesday, 12 June 2007

In Passing

For our literary friends

cover artGlen Cook's first Garrett, P.I. book is back in print.

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Monday, 11 June 2007

In Passing

Could using ethanol lead to a sweeter outcome?

Instapundit links to a Popular Science article that explores one unintended consequence of increased ethanol production, higher feed grain prices. The article's second paragraph:

Corn is a mainstay of American agriculture— it’s an important ingredient in cereals and baked goods, and corn syrup is used to make processed foods like candy, chips and soft drinks. ... [bolding mine - o.g.]
Interesting little factoid there. Corn syrup is a sugar substitute.  Why is corn syrup so important in U.S. food production?  Because the United States keeps sugar prices artificially high, both through subsidies and tariffs.

The U.S. sugar program is a long-time sore point with a lot of different folks. Libertarians dislike it because it's a classic example of the government screwing up the market. Internationalists blame it for unfairly locking  third-world sugar producers out of the American market.  Candymakers hate it because they can't substitute corn syrup. The high sugar prices make them uncompetative, leaving them a choice of moving out of the country or going out of business. Food purists, horrified by the idea of substituting corn syrup for real sugar, say, "You may say it's the same, but I can taste the difference."  Environmentalists object because the program's production subsidies have encouraged increased sugar beet farming in unsuitable areas, resulting in environmental damage to the Florida Everglades. Populists point out that forty-two percent of the subsidy benefits go to just 1 percent of sugar producers, including $65 million to companies owned by just one family.  And then there's the everyday consumer, who pays more for anything that's sweet-- from a can of Coke to this morning's cinnamon roll.

With all those objections, you'd think the sugar program would have been dead along time ago.  But it's also the classic case of a small group of beneficiaries buying support from both political parties to insure continued existence of a program that benefits them a lot by extracting a little from everybody else.  And along the way the program itself has created a new group of supporters:  The corn syrup producers, who know they'd be out of business if forced to compete without the artifical barriers the program enforces.  As administrations have come and gone, and as different parties have controlled Congress, one constant has been the lack of interest by both Republicans and Democrats in driving a stake into the heart of this Count Dracula of government programs.

The rise of ethanol may signal a new opportunity.  The ethanol-driven corn price increases, with the associated price hikes for corn-based sweeteners, may finally lead enough people to say, often enough and loud enough, "Hey, if it wasn't for this program-- we could be using cheap sugar  instead of expensive corn syrup.  Time to kill it!"  Which might shift the political balance just enough to the the government to do the Right Thing, even if for the Wrong Reason.  Stay tuned.

Posted by: Old Grouch in In Passing at 14:32:41 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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