Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lions >> Fish

Saw Big Fish and Secondhand Lions with Michele Saturday night. Lions, I thought, was better than Fish, if only because anything having to do with lions will always be better than anything having to do with fish.

Heard good things about Saturday's Spanish Town parade. It certainly seemed to take its toll on the Saturday-night party crowd. I might go see it next year. Don't tell Michele.

Monday, February 23, 2009


The Cato Institute's Brink Lindsay has a new paper (PDF) out in which he savages a Nobel-winning economist like only His Brinkness can. Fun for the whole family. Speaking of family, the family in the cover picture ... shouldn't there be Negroes or Communists menacing the young daughters' virtue? Or something?

By the way, another one for the liberal types who equate social justice mainly with income egalitarianism: Do you prefer another "Operation Wetback"? It would lower the competition among low-skill workers for low-skill jobs, thus boosting wages for those jobs (some equality-focused commenters, most notably Mickey Kaus, make this argument explicitly in supporting strict anti-immigration reform). If so, why are citizens of the USA more entitled to the rights to sell one's labor than non-citizens?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cringely Breaks Up Microsoft

Bob Cringely, one of the tech world's more grizzled commenters, exposes his plan to cut 'n' gut Microsoft into a leaner, more focused, and, presumably, more efficient tech provider. I agree with most of what he says, especially regarding positioning the Xbox as a non-family, high-octane, high-kickass, all-testosterone gaming system-to-the-xtreeem (it even has an "X" at the front of its name!).

But what I found most interesting was his take on MS's opening its own stores, which I dutifully hammered a week ago. Cringely sees it less as an attempt at real retailing than as a marketing ploy designed to bypass press coverage of the Windows 7 rollout by getting the new OS and various other MS tools and toys out into the public where people can kick the tires on them themselves (all in an environment tweaked just so) without their opinions' being influenced by Walter Mossberg and other doomsayers. That's the plan anyway, at least as conjured up by Cringely.

I'm still, to say the least, underwhelmed. If this is mostly a marketing effort of Redmond's part, why is it spearheaded by former Wal-Mart exec Kevin Turner, a hard-core retailer's retailer? If MS was hoping to get real Wal-Mart expertise in hiring Turner, than it could not have been thinking in terms of propaganda over retailing success, since Wal-Mart, Turner's only professional home to date, is a thousand times better at actually selling stuff -- and the logistics of moving around stuff to be sold -- than winning hearts and minds.

Log Rollin'

Da gubmit wants you to keep your home wi-fi logs so police can go through them if they think they need to. This is why > /dev/null is your friend. And there is, as always, an economic consideration: As one Slashdot commentor posts, "Who is going to pay for the storage costs, backups, etc.? I'm not going to foot the bill for it or get fined because my cheap Linksys router dies after six months of use and I lose my logs."

My default thinking has always been to purge, purge, purge because you don't need to secure data that do not exist. The idea that home users' logs might be trolled only reinforces that view. How long before altering a device's log settings -- not trashing or altering logs, just changing how often something is logged, or where those logs are stored, etc. -- is itself a crime?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Apocalyptic Doom Rescheduled for Later

The effects of global warming have been postponed. The National Snow and Ice Data Center regretfully informs the public that its prediction of a "quite possible" ice-free North Pole for the 2008 melt season was wrong because of unreliable sensors. The NSIDC apologizes for any inconvenience.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hornets 100, Thunder 98

Kevin Durant scores 47. For the year he is scoring 25.9 points per game (fourth in the league) on .481 shooting with an Offensive Rating (points per 100 possessions) of 111. This is at the age of 20. By comparison, Kobe Bryant scored 19.9 on .465 (106) in his age-20 season (1999) and LeBron James scored 27.2 on .472 (114) at 20. Durant will never be the passer James is and his rebounding is a bit disappointing, but we are witnessing the birth of a marvelous and graceful scoring machine. Watching Kevin Durant play basketball is a gift.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Morning News

This is good news.

The allure of protectionist/nationalist trade policies in difficult time is quite understandable and difficult to resist. But understandable or not, they still reduce people's standard of living by reducing their economic options and in many cases forcing them to buy goods and services from low-efficiency and/or low-quality producers. This, added with 1) the moral problems inherent with telling people who they can and cannot do business with, 2) the enforcement costs required to ensure that all the populace's buying and selling is happening with only state-approved entities, and 3) the creations of black markets that are an inevitable response to (2) and (3), all conspire to make them a bad idea.

The G7's pledge this weekend is a step in the right direction ... or, at least, a pledge to not step too far in the wrong one.

One Strike Away and One Swing of the Bat. The Tale of Donnie Moore

Every baseball fan remembers the 1986 World Series, when the New York Mets' Mookie Wilson rolled a ground ball through the legs of Boston first baseman Bill Buckner, giving the Mets, who were baseball's best team during the season but were down to their last gasp in the Series, extra life and denying the Red Sox their first world's championship since 1918. Most fans also remember New York's playoff win that year against the Houston Astros, when their sixteen-inning win in Game Six of that series pushed the Mets into the World Series without their having to face Houston pitcher Mike Scott, to whom they had already lost twice in that set, in a loser-goes-home Game Seven.

What most fans do not remember, though, is the other playoff series that year, Boston's win over the California Angles in the American League Championship Series.

The Angels opened the 1986 season having won just two division titles in their 25 seasons of existence and had never been to the World Series. After having finished in second place in the AL's Western Division the prior two years, the Halos were sluggish at the start of '86, and woke up the morning of June 16 just a .500 ball club through the season's first sixty-two games. But they started a five-game winning streak that day, propelling them to a 61-39 finish and they won the West by five games over Texas. On October 7 they opened the best-of-seven AL Championship Series against the East champ, the Boston Red Sox. The two teams split the first two games in Boston's Fenway Park, then headed to Anaheim Stadium for the next three. The first two of those three were tight ones: California got a couple of seventh-inning home runs to turn a 1-1 game into a 5-3 win in Game Three, then the next day scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings before winning in the eleventh. The win put them up three games to one in the series, a lead only a small handful of teams in the game's history had ever blown.

Then came Game Five, about which, more later.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pitchers and Catchers Report to Spring Training

As beautiful and descriptive a seven-word phrase as there is in the English language. I'm sitting here watching ESPN Classic's showing of the Bucky Fucking Dent game.

51 days left in the Dark Time. Opening Day is April 6.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Great Moments in Bad Ideas

Microsoft is opening its own retail stores. PCWorld identifies the top ten ways that the MS stores will differ from Apple's. #2 is probably my favorite.

My first thought was to put this under "Great Moments in Bad Ideas" and poke fun, but a nagging voice in my head said to not be too hasty; this could work and really surprise some people. Then I thought it through further and, no, it won't work. Under "Great Moments in Bad Ideas" it will remain.

News From the Freezer

The Cryonics Institute has added 17 new members in the 2009's first 42 days.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Magic Buttons

The "polls" have closed on this, but I really like the "Magic Button" style of questions. I haven't seen those before, although I'm sure they've been around. And I'd be curious to hear the logic of people who chose differently on questions three and four.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Robert Higgs is Smarter and Crazier than I Am. I Like People Like Robert Higgs.

I thought this was really interesting. I hope to write more about that this week. Ditto the Will Wilkinson post that brought Higgs's to my attention.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mental Radio

The mental radio has locked in firmly on KC & the Sunshine Band's "Play that Funky Music". Ordinarily I would complain, and loudly, but this is actually a respite from the mental radio's previous selection, the Guess Who's "American Woman", except with "weeble" replacing "woman". I'm rooting for some AC/DC or at least Pantera or Machine Head to kick in at some point, but experience has taught me that I don't fully control this thing.

Friday, February 6, 2009

More on the Kissing of 18-Year-Olds' Asses

Rivals has LSU being passed up by the Nick Saban Athlete-Collection Machine at Alabama. Florida is tenth, but only because Urban Meyer prefers quality to quantity; 12 of the Gators' 16 commits do their partying in the four- or five-star suites, and UF's 3.94 average is #1.

Future & Freedom for a Friday

Freedom: The feeling of loss that Ms. Sepich endures to this day is beyond words. What happened to her daughter is beyond imagination. But taking DNA samples of the merely accused instead of convicted? I have very mixed thoughts on this, probably mixed enough to have the Libertarian Party take away my membership card, but I'm still working through various pros and cons.

Future: It was forty-five years ago that Dr. Robert Ettinger published The Prospect of Immortality, the book that kicked off cryonics. Thank you for your foresight, Dr. Ettinger, and best wishes for your continued good health and contributions. We still need you, 'cause we ain't there yet

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bullet, Ye Be Dodged

And the Western World is spared the ignominy of a seven-loss team's being hailed as pro football's world's champion. Whew! Now Civilization can move its attention to more pressing matters, such as weather the Kansas City Royals have a shot at centending in the AL Central (yes), whether LeBron James really could average a triple-double (no), and whether the global economy will be faced with the boa-constrictor that is protectionism (almost certainly, if mostly in the form of those imbecilic buy-local/buy-American campaigns).

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Where We Do Not Predict, We Foretell

To put it bluntly, the Arizona Cardinals are lucky to be here. First, they were lucky to play in a junk division; their three division mates, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Seattle, were a combined 13-35. Including their postseason run, the Cardinals are 6-7 against non-NFC West teams, and have been outscored by 43 points. They were lucky to be the beneficiary of Jake Delhomme's historic meltdown in the semifinals, and they were lucky that Philadelphia upset the Giants in that round, giving them home-field advantage for the championship game.

It stops here. Lots of things have come together to put the Cards in the Super Bowl, and now Pittsburgh will tear them apart. Ben Roethisberger goes 19-31 for 285 yards and two scores, Kurt Warner is intercepted twice and sacked three more, and Larry Fitzgerald has big numbers, but most of his 130+ yards come in catch-up time. The Steelers become the first franchise to win six Super Bowls, winning 28-10.

Two Short Hits

1) Today is Jackie Robinson's 90th birthday. Anyone who thinks his Hall of Fame status hangs on only his breaking major-league baseball's color line needs to look at his career again. Robinson was a truly breathtaking ball player. Branch Rickey, the man for whom bringing Robinson to the big leagues was only one bullet point on a magnificent resume, would never have made such a move were it not true.

2) lowered the Super Bowl line to Steelers -6.5. 88%(!) is on Arizona to win straight up, lowering the price on that bet from +200 ($100 bet wins $200) to +190. I find this 'Zona love stunning. Are people falling for the "recency effect", and focusing on only the Cardinals' last three playoff games while ignoring the mostly-lackluster sixteen games that game before them. I'm ready to acknowledge that the Cardinals aren't as bad as their horrid late-season slide -- doesn't anyone remember this team losing consecutive games to Minnesota and the Patriots by a combined 82-21 count, with those two drubbings coming all of two weeks after a 48-20 Thanksgiving Night humiliation in Philadelphia -- but even when they were playing at their best they still found time to cough up a 56-35 hairball at the hands of a Jets team that missed the playoffs.

The Cardinals are the worst team to reach the Super Bowl since at least the '79 Rams (who were promptly dispatched in Super Bowl 14 by, coincidentally, Pittsburgh), and probably ever. I say lay the six and a half, sit back, and watch the Steelers roll.