Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Slingbox

More than likely, this is the first place you will learn about a new device called a "slingbox" which I hope to have by nightfall. As I understand it, you take your $250 to Best Buy and get the little silver box which allows you to control your home TV and digital recorder from anywhere you can get on the internet. It sits between your cable receiver and your home broadband internet connection and then it pumps your TV programs out via the internet. It works with standard Windows PCs running Windows XP. There are no monthly fees or hookup fees of any kind. What is the virtue you might ask? Well, if you are traveling you can get online and watch shows you have recorded on you DVR or you can watch live shows with all the ease of sitting on you sofa at home with the TV remote. Now when I get stuck in a casino hotel which wants you playing slot machines rather than watching Fox News or golf, I can just use my laptop to turn on my home TV. If I am sitting in an airport, I can log on to the WiFi network and watch CNBC live to keep up with the markets. As I understand it, however, things can get sticky if someone is at home watching TV and you start changing channels from afar. Another problem I see is cruise ships don't yet have broadband access and TV on dial-ups at 60 cents per minute would not be satisfactory. Otherwise, count me in.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Journalists to Jail

The liberal elite at the New York Times and Time magazine are all upset that two of their reporters are going to jail rather than conform to a grand jury request that they tell who the sources are on specified aspects of a legitimate criminal investigation. If reporters didn't make up sources so often, perhaps more of us would sympathize. I say throw them in jail.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

10 Commandments

It would be difficult to imagine a more ridiculous splitting of a baby than the two decisions handed down yesterday concerning the 10 Commandments. Displaying them in certain places may be a violation of something, but it is not the Constitution which forbids the establishment of religion. The justices must certainly realize this or they would not have contorted their decisions so grotesquely.

File Sharing Ruling by SCOTUS

By a vote of 9 to 0 the Supreme Court huffed and puffed and found that companies like Grokster which provide software which allows internet users to share music and movies can be sued by companies like MGM, Disney and Time Warner. What does this mean for those who share music and movies over the internet? Nothing. Technology will win and the sharing will continue despite all of these legal pronouncements. The reason is the software used by Grokster is easy for anyone to provide and someone will make it available for others to use. They may be in the U.S. or not. They may have assets to sue for in the courts or not---probably not. The content providers should just quit fighting it and learn how to make money off the technology like Apple did to some extent with iTunes. It will not be easy, but reality should be faced by these big companies.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Children in Iraq

I was just reading an E-mail from a soldier in Iraq :

Laurie Strange
Attn: Any Soldier
HHD, Task Force Cerberus
APO AE 09354

She was asking for small toys for the troops to give out in their area. Here is her justification for this request which was accompanied by a picture of a young boy holding a stuffed bear.

This notation is to update my information, this young boy is holding a heart and teddy bear from a nice gentleman and his family from Germany. This gentleman and his family were inspired by my e-mail to your website and decided to write me, I'm tremendously Blessed and I look forward to hearing from other great americans.

The gentleman asked me to give this gift to a child, because another soldier recently served in Iraq, met a child there and had given this child a gift and when the soldier and his convoy was approaching the same area where the little girl had received the bear from the soldier previously. The young girl stood in the street and would not allow the convoy to pass, the soldiers later found out that there was an IED (Explosive) up ahead of the convoy.

That sure sounds like a good reason to send toys to troops. You can do that to the address given above and read about other such requests here.

The Airbus A380

The new A380 airbus has long fascinated me. It should go into service soon and was flown at the Paris Air Show last week. The reviews are in and I am not sure I am interested in flying on it. The plane is really two large planes stacked on top of one another. The thing that I am looking forward to is to see how it is configured by the airlines which buy it. If they put in a bar and piano lounge and double beds and a casino, which is advertised to be in the works, I will be surprised. Here are the numbers. The Boeing 747 can fly 416 passengers and the A380 if generous with passenger comforts can fly 555 passengers. That to me is daunting if you think of getting that many folks on with all the carryon baggage and then think of the lines as you all try to go through customs upon arrival. The big problem is the company will pay $292 million for each plane and the possibility for them to go all-coach and fly 800 passengers will be tempting. That is a nightmare.

Friday, June 24, 2005

More Madness

I really should stop reading this nonsense, but here is another example of education gone terribly wrong.

Philadelphia schools will require all students to pass a yearlong African-American and African history class in order to graduate. In theory, studying "their" history will lead black students, who make up 65 percent of enrollment, to feel pride and will boost achievement and reduce violence in schools.

I guess the idea is that 21st century people should feel proud of what people who looked sort of like them did centuries ago, maybe.

Rove drives them crazy

Boy, the liberals hate Rove more than they do Bush and Delay and that is saying something. Now Karl Rove has suggested that liberals favored a legal response to 9/11 and conservatives wanted something more appropriate. This has brought all the Dems with mouths frothing out from under rocks to demand that Rove take it back and resign and that Bush fire him and maybe even have him executed by firing squad. Let's look at the facts and see whether the Rove statement has any basis in fact which could have justified such a statement. Here is one:

Here is a petition offered less than 48 hours after the collapse of the Twin Towers (emphases mine):
Petition 1: "We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of the United States of America and of countries around the world, appeal to the President of The United States, George W. Bush; to the NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson; to the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi; and to all leaders internationally to use moderation and restraint in responding to the recent terrorist attacks against the United States. We implore the powers that be to use, wherever possible, international judicial institutions and international human rights law to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks, rather than the instruments of war, violence or destruction."

Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), 10/1/01, Roll Call: "I truly believe if we had a Department of Peace, we could have seen [9/11] coming."

Al Sharpton, 12/1/02, New York Times, on the 9/11 attacks: "America is beginning to reap what it has sown."

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, 3/1/2003, Toledo Blade: "One could say that Osama bin Laden and these non-nation-state fighters with religious purpose are very similar to those kind of atypical revolutionaries that helped cast off the British crown."

I think the impetuous outrage now being advanced by the liberals will force us to review what was actually said and that will be just fine with me.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Live Longer?

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article today on longevity and how to achieve it. Since I am getting to the age where it seems prudent to look at how long the future is and how to make the most of it, I read it pretty well. Basically, it says you should avoid stress and maximize control over your life. Of course, the nags always want you to eat right, watch your weight, and excercise. Some of the most important things I learned are as follows:

1) at my age, 66, I can look forward to another 17 years of life on average.
2) only 1/3 of your longevity comes from heredity (I was hoping for more)
3) a waist line over 40 inches produces a dramatic increase in risk for a heart attack (hooray for my current 38)
4) 63% of men 80 to 102 years old are still having sex (that's nice)
5) excercise helps a lot, but only if you like it because if you don't like it, you get stressed
6) married men have less stress and a longer life span than single, but women only need close relationships (guess husbands don't relieve stress much)
7) an active family life and social relationships improve physical health in both man and animals
8) a good night's sleep is very helpful and allows stress to dissipate (hope naps help, too)

One thing not covered in the article is how a man is supposed to maintain any control over his life and be married at the same time. Could that be why a woman my age will live 3 years longer than I will? Probably.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The BiDil Debate

There is an interesting situation developing with the FDA considering an approval of a drug (actally two drugs in one pill) called BiDil which has been shown during trials to be effective in persons who said they were African-American but was not effective in treating congestive heart failure in Caucasians. Several aspects of this are causing controversy. First, there has never been a drug so convincingly shown to be effective against some disease in one race versus another. Some say this is because nobody has looked at clinical trials in that way before. One group of blacks is insisting that some other basis aside from race must be responsible and we should not look for biological differences between races. This position has always been advanced to counter any attempt to suggest that intelligence might have such a genetic distinction. Another group of blacks has reacted to the news as if it is evidence that the medical community for decades has ignored racial differences and failed to consider specific treatments of blacks to the detriment of the entire ethnic group. No wonder the FDA is tip toeing through this minefield and you will have to look really hard to find this situation discussed in the main stream media.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Report from Iraq

More towns in Iraqi's "wild west" are being pacified. The usual drill is not another Fallujah, but a government official meeting with local tribal and religious leaders, where an offer is made. Iraqi and American troops are coming. Neighborhoods that support the government will see little or no fighting as a search is made for weapons, bombs and the like. Neighborhoods that wish to resist will be hit hard. By now, everyone knows how smart bombs work. Increasingly, Sunni Arab leaders are being told, by their followers, that all this violence is not worth it. After Saddam fell, Sunni Arabs continued to believe in fantasies. For the last two years, the collective delusion was that the Americans had no stomach for guerilla war, and the Kurds and Shia Arabs could never get a government together. Today, Sunni Arabs who can get away on a little vacation, go north to the Kurdish north, or south to Shia Basra. In both places you can sit in an outdoor cafe without fear of a suicide bomb going off down the street. The Kurds and Shia have more jobs, more reconstruction and less crime. The Sunni Arabs don't want to live in their own mess any more. They don't want to live in a combat zone, especially while the Kurds and Shia are not.
Read the whole report from Iraq here.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Thinking vs. Feeling

First thing this morning I ran across an essay in a blog that seemed to cogently capture the ideological split in America today. Persons who arrive at positions on matters through "thinking" are certainly different from those who get there through "feelings". You can see for yourself if this is true by going here.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Social Security for Rent

I almost always get upset when I reach for the New York Times first thing in the morning, but today my gastric mucosa is being irritated by an article without any liberal bias that I can detect. As a matter of fact, if the NYT could be getting on the trail of the abuses resulting from our complete lack of border control. You can read the article here, but it primarily documents the practice whereby Mexicans work here for a few months a year and then go back to Mexico for a few months while drawing unemployment compensation. Then, while on the dole down there, they rent out their Social Security numbers to illegals who work here using them for a few months. Since they don't make enough to actually pay taxes, the one who rents the card out gets the tax refund claimed by the other person. Since legal American residents can lose their green cards if they stay out of the country too long, the practice is not likely to stop.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Gore is still at it

Al Gore has asked the international group of mayors (I didn't even know there was such a group) to fight for lower emissions of almost everything to prevent global warming. You almost don't have to know anything else about the subject once you realize this nonsense is being propagated by Al Gore. Here we have an idiotic idea being advanced by an idiot.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Here come the Indians

I was trying to watch the golf tournament yesterday afternoon on ESPN, but the national spelling bee was being covered and golf was delayed. It was down to the last 4 contestants and hard for me to miss the fact that they all seemed to be from India. Each spoke flawless English, however, and could really spell. Good for them. Each had a complete set of parents there with them and each student got a big hug from them when they were eliminated. Obviously, they were being raised right.
This morning, Tom Friedman who writes for the New York Times had an opinion piece connecting the recent rejection of the EU constitution with the exploding move of young people in India to the top of global competiveness in technology. As he says, the French are trying to preserve a 35 hour work week at a time when highly educated and motivated Indians are willing to work 35 hour days and they don't even expect 6 week vacations. As Friedman says, this is a bad time for France and friends to lose their appetite for hard work - just when India, China and Poland are rediscovering theirs.

Advice for Graduates

I just ran across a blog written by Mr. Sun. He put up some good advice for graduates that you can read here. An example is:

Contrary to what you may have heard about business, you should not think outside the box. You should get your green-as-grass self back in the box and don't come out unless it's to bring me some hot coffee and do my work so I can take credit for it. Welcome to the working world, Rookie.

Disproportionate Giftedness

You can read more about this ridiculous situation here, but in essence the Davis, California school board is upset that the procedures used to identify kids as gifted result in too few black and latino students being so named. Asian students predominated (surprise?). Despite such efforts as tinkering with the testing procedures and adding a teacher "reappraisal" which added students from the underrepresented groups, the problem persists again this year, the school board remains perplexed and one member was quoted as saying,"We have to come up with something better." Pathetic.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Medical Care for Mexico

Let's consider the case of Cristobal Silverio. He emigrated illegally from Mexico to Stockton, Calif., to work as a fruit picker. With him came his wife and three children, all illegals. His wife, Felipa, soon gave birth to a fourth child who was born prematurely and spent three months in a neonatal incubator. That cost San Joaquin Hospital more than $300,000. The Silverios are just one example of the hidden costs to American citizens of allowing an uninterrupted flow of “cheap” labor. There are other costs as well. “The influx of illegal aliens has serious hidden medical consequences,” writes Madeline Pelner Cosman, author of the report, adding that “many illegal aliens harbor fatal diseases that American medicine fought and vanquished long ago, such as drug-resistant tuberculosis.” Faced with what is becoming a national medical emergency caused largely by borders it has failed to secure, the federal government has announced a plan to reimburse hospitals for up to 30% of their unpaid bills for such care through 2008. Even that plan may have the perverse effect of attracting even more illegals. We are a compassionate nation. But in a world of limited resources, we cannot afford to be the emergency room for the whole world while U.S. citizens remain in need.

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