"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Monday, January 30, 2006

Interesting insight on the Oil Market

John has some interesting ideas about oil pricing and the effects of supply disruptions


Triggered a series of replys.
In any case, looks like the most likely direction is ... up

Unions Woes

Couple of pieces on unions.
Soon we'll just have public employee unions, where they can collect dues and use them to support politicians who will be overseeing public employment ...
Huh ?

Unions Pay Dearly for Success - New York Times:

"Want to hear some good news for the labor movement? The percentage of American workers who are union members remained almost steady in the private sector last year.

The bad news is that the figure stood at 7.8 percent — less than a third of the rate of the early 1970's.

Even worse for labor, the rate of unionization has further to fall, according to most labor economists and experts in industrial relations. 'In the immediate future, unions will carry on shriveling in the private sector,' said Richard Freeman, a professor of economics at Harvard. "

Then there is this bit by good friend Mike Gorman :
(which is in reply to Mel Ravitz: GM gets it wrong again Automaker had opportunity to institute single-payer health care)

Don't Blame GM

Don't blame GM

Medical trends make health benefits difficult to sustain
Sunday, January 29, 2006

I take issue with the Mel J. Ravitz Other Voices piece published Jan. 15 in The Ann Arbor News. Ravitz characterizes General Motors Corp. as targeting its own workers and retirees regarding pensions and health care costs.

Let us look at some facts.

In 1948-50, GM first began to offer health care and retirement benefits to its represented workers. The retirement age was 65; life expectancy was 68. There were about 7.2 workers age 20-64 in the U.S. workforce for each person over 65. The proportion now is less than 5:1 and will drop below 3:1 within the next 20 years.

There were no such things as MRIs, CT scans, angioplasties, pacemakers, AIDS, organ transplants, or computerized prostheses. Total U.S. health care expenditures in 1950 were about $70 billion and a modest percentage of GDP; in 2003 that had risen to $1.7 trillion and a shocking 15.3% of GDP.

Ravitz goes on to suggest that if only GM had educated Congress, our lawmakers would have taken the burden off the shoulders of the corporation and distributed that burden equitably over all taxpayers.

History offers little record of such congressional initiative.

The fact that workers are living dramatically longer in retirement and utilizing new and more costly medical interventions both during and beyond their productive years does not reflect poorly on GM, the UAW, or Congress. However, the fact pattern does change the funding assumptions necessary to provide benefits. If the life span in retirement grows from both ends through earlier retirement and later death additional funds must be obtained.

If that funding were to come from shorting new product development, skimping on product content or abandoning plant investment and maintenance, the impact on GM's ability to produce the desirable products essential to success would be very negative.

If GM were in a position to increase its margins by raising prices, perhaps it would be able to continue indefinitely to provide more-costly benefits for longer life spans. However, those margins are pressed by competitors who do not pay pensions and health care for retirees and families based on U.S. cost levels. Even those transplant manufacturers employing U.S. assemblers have the advantage of a younger workforce and negligible retiree population.

I agree with Ravitz that we need a more balanced approach to providing health care and to funding retirement living. I do not think he has made the case that GM is somehow the villain. I see GM as a company struggling mightily to meet its obligations to all its stakeholders. GM products have shown dramatic improvements in recent years, and the continued success of GM has been instrumental to the prosperity of people in Southeast Michigan as no other public or private organization.

As I see it, GM has not targeted its workers: Rather, it has helped to contribute materially to the circumstances leading to the longer lives and earlier retirements that have led us all to the present predicament. Only a successful GM can sustain such largesse.

News readers can contribute essays of general interest to Other Voices. Please call Mary Morgan, Opinion editor, at (734) 994-6605 or e-mail mmorgan@annarbornews.com

Friday, January 27, 2006

Let's just call it Pimping

The Frey Flap : Oprah/Million little pieces(lies)
Live on 'Oprah,' a Memoirist Is Kicked Out of the Book Club - New York Times

Did some checking - yup his publisher, Nan Talese is wife of writer Gay Talese.

How about publishers as pimps trying to sell writers wares to the public.

Follow the money!

NYO - Cover Story 2:

"The Awful Untruth

Nan Talese Says James Frey
Never Called Book Fiction"

"Not surprisingly, the scandal has only been good for business. According to a source at the company, Doubleday just went back to press on A Million Little Pieces in hardcover (the popular explanation is that the recent intrigue has prompted those who own the book in paperback to want it in hardcover, too)."

The vast divide between critics, journalists and nonfiction writers horrified by Mr. Frey’s unapologetic misrepresentation of himself, and members of the publishing industry who have cynically shrugged it off, was evident within the confines of Ms. Talese’s own Bermuda hotel room. As Ms. Talese was speaking, her husband was pacing in the background, interjecting the occasional remark. Before handing the phone over to his wife and temporarily leaving the room, Mr. Talese said that what Mr. Frey had done was unacceptable.
“We do not want people to intrude upon our world of nonfiction, saying they’re nonfiction writers when they want the benefits of nonfiction, and then to take off and do what would more properly be called fiction, or exaggeration or falsification,” said Mr. Talese, who characterized his own upcoming book, A Writer’s Life, as a memoir."

Gay's reaction :

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ah well, guess the the secret's out ...

Old British proverb:

"Better to keep your opinions to yourself, and let society think you're an idiot, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Trumped Up

Flap over "Trump Nation" buy Timothy O'Brian
Such as :

Independent Online Edition > Americas:
"How dare you! Trump sues writer for $5bn for saying he's only worth $250m"

Beware men of fragile egos ...

And then there's this:

Donald Trump, Tim O'Brien, Trump Nation, Trumpworld - Money Week:
"Thanks to The Apprentice, “the Trumpster’s” billionaire public profile has never been higher, says The Washington Post. But he is saddled with a paradox: “people who know least about business admire him most, and those who know the most admire him least”. This irks the man who is always complaining his achievements are overshadowed by the soap opera of his life."
(Shirley and I treat the show as a sit-com)

But what about "Daddy" ??? :

The biggest and the best

It’s not just about money, says The Washington Post. Trump has a near-pathological craving to be envied. “Everything in Trumpworld is fabulous, or in first place, or better looking, or richer, or taller, or it has bigger breasts.”

This compulsion for pre-eminence is down to nurture and nature. Trump’s father, Fred, the son of a German immigrant Klondike entrepreneur, was also a showman developer who built a $200m property empire in Queens and the Bronx. After graduating from the Wharton School of Finance, Trump Junior arrived in Manhattan in the late 1970s with $200,000 “and the dream of making the island his personal Monopoly board”, says Scotland on Sunday.

He succeeded spectacularly, emblazoning his name on buildings and businesses, including the ultimate “look-at-me” landmark, Trump Tower. By 1989, Forbes put his wealth at $1.7bn.

Or maybe it should be called "Chumped Up"

Trump resurgent

Within a year, Icarus had crashed to earth. The property crash left Trump with debts running to billions, and the great sell-off began. Trump, who was simultaneously brokering an expensive divorce settlement with his first wife, Ivana, escaped bankruptcy but was relegated to mere manager of the properties he once owned.

But the Donald retained a genius for self-promotion, writing a series of books such as Trump: The Art of the Comeback. In reality, it was the markets who rode to his rescue, says O’Brien. “In a tribute to the sucker-born-every-minute theorem”, Trump took two of his casinos public in 1995-1996, using the proceeds to unload huge amounts of debt."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Always good for a laugh or two

or many ...

A testament to human Weirdness:
NEWS of the WEIRD - Current News

and even better, less "edited" for the public
Backstage at Newza da Weird

With links to source material(s)

On the study of Religion

Interesting interview:

Questions for Daniel C. Dennett - Interview by Deborah Solomon - New York Times:

Q: How could you, as a longtime professor of philosophy at Tufts University, write a book that promotes the idea that religious devotion is a function of biology? Why would you hold a scientist's microscope to something as intangible as belief?"

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Even more NawOrleans bash-o-rama

More over the top stuff
Great T-Shirt
Mayor Wonka and the Chocolate City

Equal Opportunity bashing

We did this one
Looney Dunes: Good laugh from David
KickBack Mt.

Now we have
Mayor Nagan and the Chocolate City ...
Great little "mashup"/PhotoShop

It wasn't just the sweaters ...

While checking up on one of life's little pleasures
NEWS of the WEIRD - Current News

Spotted the following :

"Former President Jimmy Carter told GQ magazine for a January article that he saw a UFO in 1969 in southwest Georgia as he was preparing to speak at a Lions Club meeting. He recalled that it was a bright light that got 'closer and closer to us,' but then 'changed color to blue,' then to red, then back to white, and then 'receded into the distance.' However, he said, 'I've never believed it came from Mars.' (In September, Paul Hellyer, a former Canadian minister of defense, asked Parliament to hold hearings on extraterrestrials. UFOs, he said, 'are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head,' and he fears the U.S. military might get Earth involved in an intergalactic war.) [GQ, January 2006] [Canadian Press, 9-11-05]"

Ah yes
Nuke Officer and UFOligist

Amazing what the American Voter can do if he/she puts his/her mind to it ...

Sat musings

The Doc Searls Weblog : Saturday, January 21, 2006

Led to several musings
Doc finds links to ancient Irish Warlord as ancestor

Well, not sure how far back we truely go, but sister seems to have traced us back to the Mayflower.
Good enough.

Dad just tried the National Geographic DNA ancestory test.
(The Genographic Project Y - DNA test)
60K years back
I said "bet it says 'Out of Africa'" ... yup, it does.
Then off to West Central Asia and on West to Iberian Pennisula.

NatGeo has some cool tools here:Atlas of the Human Journey - The Genographic Project

Patterns to the Black Sea / Noah's Flood diasporia.
Amazon.com: Noah's Flood : The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event that Changed History: Books
PBS - Scientific American Frontiers | Beneath the Sea | Noah's Flood

Other : among collection of Google Stuff I posted interesting piece on MuSoft and it's ongoing dotage.
Big Blue of the early 21st Century.

Other : we have Hillary's "Plantation" remark.
For which she got the following rebuke from the NYTimes Op/Ed pages
Crying Much Worse Than Wolf - New York Times:
"NEW YORK'S junior senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton, joined quite a group of substance abusers the other day. In this bunch, no one is likely to even try kicking the habit.

The substance is history. The abuse is taking some of its most brutal and shameful chapters - slavery, the Holocaust, the massacre of American Indians - and exploiting them for whatever issue happens to land on the agenda.

Not that Mrs. Clinton invented the technique. She merely followed a well-worn path when she went to Harlem and likened the House of Representatives to a plantation, because, she said, its Republican leaders squelch dissident voices."

To which good ol Dick Morris weighs in with (and remember he has a book to sell):
Fears of Condi Spurred Hillary's Racial Remarks: "Sources close to New York civil rights leader Rev Al Sharpton tell me that Hillary used his annual Martin Luther King Day forum to liken the House Republican majority's conduct of the House of Representatives to a 'plantation' because she fears a Sharpton challenge in the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary.

Hillary also fears that if Sharpton were to challenge her, it could weaken her in a possible contest against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the fall, if Rice were to be the GOP nominee.

'She is afraid of Condi,' one of Sharpton's key people said."

After a day of working on taxes, I guess I'll agree with Hank Williams Jr.
"Are we ready for some Football?"


File under "Hoover wears a dress..."

Good ol' Robert S weighs in on the whole wiretap/NSA spooky stuff

Now, if the numbers bantied about of 3 dozen unauthorized taps ... not much more than a tempest in a teacup.

Brief history of Federal taping and snooping...

PBS | I, Cringely . January 19, 2006 - Hitler on Line One:

"Who is listening-in on your phone calls? Probably nobody. Right now, there is huge interest in phone tapping in the United States because the Bush Administration (through the National Security Agency) was caught listening in without appropriate court orders. What I have noticed is that, for all the talking and writing on this subject, there seems to be very little real information being presented. So this column is my attempt to share what I've learned about the topic. It might surprise you."

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Telco Troubles

Spotted the following early this AM

Hey, Baby Bells: Information Still Wants to Be Free - New York Times

Pinged a couple of my Telco/Net guru's
Knew I was going to be tied up till evening


Both have much louder (and more cogent) bullhorns than I do.

Ascent of Man

For all the women in my life ... the following may or may not ring true

I'll leave it to others to decide...

Above image is year end "double issue" of my favorite read.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Tempest in a teapot ???

If the numbers quoted below are anywhere accurate ...
30 taps over the last couple of years ?

Not quite big brother, not listening (active monitoring vs. data mining and sampling of text/word streams) to everything said.

Lexington | The paranoid style in American politics | Economist.com:

"And the proof of dictatorship? On more than 30 different occasions, Mr Bush authorised the tapping of telephone calls made by American citizens. Tapping domestic telephone calls without getting a warrant is illegal. But Mr Bush claims that his constitutional powers as commander-in-chief allowed him to do so because all these calls were international ones. He maintains that going to the courts would have been cumbersome and that his first priority was to prevent another terrorist attack.

You can pick at this reasoning—for instance, there are retrospective warrants that might have done the trick. But it is hard to claim that Mr Bush is being outlandish on any of these scores. John Schmidt, an associate attorney-general under Bill Clinton, thinks Mr Bush has the constitutional power to approve such taps; General Michael Hayden, the deputy director of national intelligence, has argued that the programme “has been successful in detecting and preventing attacks inside the United States”.

That assertion is for Congress to probe, but the real argument here is surely one of nuance: it has to do with how much freedom you should reasonably curtail in the name of security. Mr Bush may have crossed a line, but he has hardly smashed through it. Most European countries have more intrusive surveillance regimes than America's. As for impeachment, the prospect of having to defend Mr Bush against the charge that he went a tad too far trying to avert a terrorist attack is the sort of thing Karl Rove salivates about."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Retro Chuckles

Modern Mechanix � Hair Helmet - Literally
Should have been titled "Helmet Hair" ( a common malady)
Lots more where it came from : Modern Mechanix

Besides a good bit of chuckles, there is a message to take predictions and prognostications with a grain of salt, and maybe the weirder they sound, the weirder they are …

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Good laugh from David

Great "Mashup" image
Thanks David isen.blog

Diet indicators

Signs that we are dieting

1) change of mix of foods in the fridge
2) smaller loads of trash go out (less packaging I think)
3) run out of small plates in the cupboard - all in the dishwasher

and of course
4) weight down ... 3% YTD, beating last January ... so far.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Just another comment re: wiretaps vs security sieves

Frankly not as worried about taps when we have Sloppy Security

InformationWeek | Data Security | Sad State Of Data Security | January 2, 2006

Businesses and government agencies seem inept when it comes to protecting personal information, as the list of mishaps keeps getting longer
By Tony Kontzer and Larry Greenemeier

How does this keep happening? Companies have been publicly humiliated, slapped with audits, and threatened with prosecution, but sensitive personal data continues to be compromised. The U.S. Department of Justice is the latest to demonstrate its information-security incompetence. The mistake: exposing Social Security numbers on its Web site.

It's the IT problem that just won't go away. From the time early last year that ChoicePoint Inc. admitted it had been duped into revealing personal data to identity thieves, dozens of other businesses, government agencies, and schools have followed with their own admissions of ineptitude. In most cases, victims can't do much more than keep a watchful eye on their financial statements and credit reports--and hope for the best. Not surprisingly, fraud is on the rise and consumer confidence on the decline.

NYC Horror Movie ... Da 'Burbs

My first reaction was... get a life!
Desolate, lonely, boring ... we need that city action
But then when I read that you couldn't get FOOD DELIVERY

Oh the horror ...
What about "Shopping" ... or "Cooking"

The Suburbs: For Some, It's a Disaster, and They Race Back to the City as Fast as They Can - New York Times:

"After nine months, she persuaded her husband - who was enjoying his truncated commute to his financial services job in Greenwich, Conn. - to sell the house. 'Summer had come and gone and I was looking at another winter of being completely alone,' she said, citing frequent power failures as another concern, along with the so-so restaurants and lack of food delivery. 'He was very supportive, the poor man.'"

"It's like death out there," said Mr. Torossian, a fast-talking Bronx native who resisted the comparatively tempered pace, like food delivery that stops at 9 p.m. and a newspaper delivered at 7:30 a.m....

"I can't wait 15 minutes in a bagel store to get two bagels," he said. "I can't have people looking at me like I'm crazy when I walk in and put a quarter on the table to get my paper and walk out. I go home and there's, like, people doing their lawn every five minutes. They seem like normal people but they spend, like, hours working on their lawn."

or how about this ... Lyme Disease!
"We had this beautifully landscaped acre-and-a-half of land for the kids to play in, but we were terrified of Lyme disease," Ms. Sweeney said. "We lived in a cul-de-sac and it was lovely but if we biked off the cul-de-sac, we were on these beautiful country roads that were curved so that bike riding on them wasn't so safe. We realized we were far safer going to Central Park, really playing with the kids and having our picnic, especially in the summertime."

After reading through this, it looks an awful lot like a prior story on the horrors of living outside the city.
Will have to dig, but suspect it's a Times rehash

The Curmudgon in the Wilderness ...

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Must be a pretty damn special plane
Cut BUFF's, all U2's and we don't need those 117's any more.
Impressive ...
Either damn impressive plane, or damn impressive desire.

Supercruise defense against IED's ?
Not sure of THAT concept.

Defense Tech: B-52s Axed for More Raptors:
"Air Force chiefs want their new stealth fighters, bad -- so bad, they're willing to scrap some of their best-performing planes early, in order to free up cash for their controversial, next-generation jet.

raptor1.jpgInside Defense reports that 'nearly half the B-52 bomber force and the full U-2 spy plane and F-117 stealth fighter fleets' will be retired ahead of schedule, under a Pentagon budget plan endorsed by the Air Force. It's part of 'a bid to save $16.4 billion and boost spending' for the F-22 Raptor program."

Old Orbital Observations Flap

Story on Skylab photo of Area 51
Cue up X-files ...

The Space Review: Astronauts and Area 51: the Skylab Incident

"Far out in the Nevada desert, miles from prying eyes, is a secret Air Force facility that has been known by numerous names over the years. It has been called Paradise Ranch, Watertown Strip, Area 51, Dreamland, and Groom Lake. Groom is probably the most mythologized real location that few people have ever seen. According to people with overactive imaginations, it is where the United States government keeps dead aliens, clones them, and reverse-engineers their spacecraft. It is also where NASA filmed the faked Moon landings.

However, for humans whose feet rest on solid ground, Groom is the site of highly secret aircraft development. It is where the U-2 spyplane, the Mach 3 Blackbird, and the F-117 stealth fighter were all developed. It has also probably hosted its own fleet of captured, stolen, or clandestinely acquired Soviet and Russian aircraft. Because of this, the United States government has gone to extraordinary lengths to preserve the area’s secrecy and to prevent people from seeing it."

Monday, January 09, 2006

Huh? part duex

Unsure of the concept.
From our local Electric Utility (Consumers Energy) , I was checking our bill online.
Noticed a link :

"The estimated restoration time returned by this application is only an estimate and represents the best information available at this time. Actual restoration times may vary from this estimate. Changes in weather and road conditions, as well as the extent of the outage will impact when service is actually restored. The restoration estimate returned by this application is the same information that is available through our telephone Customer Service Representatives and our automated voice response system. Estimated restoration times are updated regularly as we get better information."

S000... here I am with my home computer, which runs on electricity, connected to my Cable, which runs via electricity (and therefore likely to be affected by the same outage, via Modem, Router, Hub, Wifi (all electric)... but I can get information as to when my electricity might come back on ... to power the devices that I can use to find out when it might come on.

Chicken or egg?

Sorta fits with the "routine" with Sprint LD
You go through the automated bill payment, the robo-voice gives a "Confirm Number" then asks "is this correct?" ...

What committee dreams this stuff up?

China Demographics : source material

Good stuff on the prospects for China.
In short, they only have about 15 years before they "hit the wall"
of old and still poor...

CSIS - Publications

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Corruption in High Places

From some who should know, having been amongst the halls of Congress.
Cue up Joni Mitchell ... Both Sides Now...

First, from the Washington Post, quoting "the Newt"
(maybe MC5 with "Kick out the Jams ... MF's")

The Fix - Chris Cillizza's Politics Blog - (washingtonpost.com): "Gingrich: 1994 Legacy 'Hangs in the Balance'

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich today cast the Jack Abramoff scandal as symbolic of a broader level of corruption in Washington and called on the Republican majority in Congress to adopt broad-based campaign finance and lobbying reforms.

'This is not one bad person doing one bad thing,' Gingrich said of Abramoff during his luncheon remarks at a D.C. Rotary Club event held at the Hotel Washington. 'You can't have a corrupt lobbyist without a corrupt member or a corrupt staffer on the other end.'

Quoting from the Federalist Papers and invoking such luminaries as Lord Acton and President Abraham Lincoln, Gingrich launched an unapologetic indictment of the Washington culture -- a culture he partially dominated from 1994 until his resignation in late 1998.

Among the other topics on which Gingrich heaped scorn: Wealthy individuals 'buying' Senate and gubernatorial seats, the influx of foreign money into the American political process, the ability of a single senator to place a 'hold' on presidential appointments, and the loophole in campaign finance law that allows for the creation of so-called 527 (soft money) organizations to influence the political process.

In classic Gingrich fashion, the former Speaker had a slew of potential fixes for what ails Capitol Hill. The most radical -- and seemingly impractical -- is a plan to abolish all political fundraising in Washington, D.C., and its environs.

Gingrich also advocated a lifting of campaign contribution limits on individuals living in either the district or state of the candidate to whom they are donating. In his prepared remarks, he singled out Gov.-elect Jon Corzine's (D-N.J.) $100 million personal expenditures on his 2000 race for Senate and 2005 gubernatorial bid as 'convincing proof' that citizens should be allowed to donate unlimited amounts to home-state or local-district candidates 'to offset the big rich ability to buy power.'"

Then we have Gary Hart:

Over Life on the Hill - New York Times: interview in NYTimes Magazine

"Might you consider running again for a seat in the Senate?"

I have never believed in careerism. The founders thought you ought to serve and move on. Otherwise, you become a captive of the system. You've got to raise millions and millions of dollars to stay in office, and you can get that from lobbyists, and what you trade is access. It's a corrupt system. It's massively corrupt."

Thursday, January 05, 2006

More on Data Mining vs WireTaps

My opinion, Data Mining OK, wiretaps ... questionable
Like who really wants to listen in on millions of teens on their cellphones?
Matter of fact, maybe that would be "torture" ... ?

Defense Tech: NSA Spying: Two Views:

One :
"The law says 'the search does not use personal identifiers of a specific individual or does not utilize inputs that appear on their face to identify or be associated with a specified individual to acquire information,' I take it to mean the new computer-based data mining isn't looking for an individual per se, it is looking at information about all individuals (at least all who make international telephone calls or send e-mails overseas or travel to foreign countries according to the government) to select individuals who may be worthy of a closer look."

"As best I can tell, the NSA program was not actually recording domestic Internet traffic, putting it in a database, and then 'mining' it for key words and the like," he writes. Instead, what went on is packet-sniffing -- "installing a monitoring device on a steam of traffic that looks for specific sequences of letters, numbers, or symbols... [like] phone numbers and e-mail accounts... For those with criminal law experience, this was basically a large-scale pen regsister/trap-and-trace or wiretap, depending on how the filters are configured."

Monday, January 02, 2006

Huh ?

Let's just call it a bit of a head scratcher ...

2005's Kind of Progress - Newsweek Columnists - George Will:

"Onward and upward with progressivism: In a Las Vegas suburb, the United Food and Commercial Workers union hired temp workers at $6 an hour to picket a nonunion Wal-Mart, where wages start at $6.75 an hour.

A British teachers-union official proposed that instead of bad students' receiving a 'failing' grade, their grade should be called 'deferred success.'

A Milwaukee 17-year-old and his father sued to end summer homework because the stress of honors precalculus assignments spoiled the lad's summer.

When Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of actor Will Smith, told a Harvard audience that women 'can have it all—a loving man, devoted husband, loving children, a fabulous career,' the campus Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance said its members were made 'uncomfortable' because Mrs. Smith's words were 'extremely heteronormative.'"

Heteronomative ?

OK ... I suppose

Lost in Translation

Well, we finished off the "first season" of Lost.

This morning, Shirley started digging further into the Wikipedia episode summary, the trivia and details of the episodes.

We re-watched (is that a word?) a portion of Deus ex Machina with the captions turned on to catch some of the dialog (the Beechcraft radio sequence).

Beats "Reality TV" offerings.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

We manage to get "Lost"

Not that failure to read a map or get directions ... we got "Lost" for Christmas ... and my daughters are right. It's addictive.

At first, I thought it was to "predictable" but not now.

Episodes of Lost (Season 1) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A giggle

Martha "lays bare" (whoops, not sure of the imagary there) the "truth" about "Reality TV" ... about as real as daytime soaps.

Note that in both Apprentice shows, there appears to be a situation where the "contestants" live in the same "dorm" for the entire taping, just that the loosers are edited out, and that there is an "open bar" policy (to help build "tension")

Martha Stewart: "I Consider Myself A Visionary Still": "A big part of your reintroduction to the public has been two TV shows that launched this year: The Apprentice: Martha Stewart and Martha. Which has been more satisfying to you?
It's unusual for me to take a job like The Apprentice, and it was just a job. I got paid a fee. I have no participation in the show. Generally, we're the originators. But I did it because I knew it would be a jump-start, and it would get attention.

You're getting close to the conclusion.
Yeah, we're getting close to which of those inappropriate contestants we are actually going to have to hire. I can't believe people behave like that. They're exhibitionists and opportunists, those kids. I did not choose them either, by the way. I just want you to know I had nothing to do really with the choice of the contestants. That's part of reality television.

How is your relationship with Donald Trump?
I would not say we were close friends, but we are friendly to one another. I always like people who are themselves. Donald is himself. You see it on TV. He's the same person on TV that you know in person -- the same guy. He's not an actor. He's not a fake. And his hair really is horrible. When I get close to him, I just want to [get] the scissors. But he's a nice guy, and his wife is really nice. All his other wives are really nice, too. He didn't know about me coming on [with a new version of] The Apprentice. This was as big a surprise to him as it was to me, that he wasn't leaving."

Psychohistory or Deep Data Mining in Perspective

More on the "Domestic Spying" flap...

Note the core concept that individuals are hard to track and predict, but patterns are measureable ... "...analogy of a gas: in a gas, the motion of a single molecule is very difficult to predict, but the mass action of the gas can be predicted to a high level of accuracy."

This is not to say that individuals cannot be tracked and spied upon.
Just that data mining does NOT mean that ALL inviduals are being spied upon.

Psychohistory (fictional) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Psychohistory is the name of a fictional science in Isaac Asimov's Foundation universe, which combined history, psychology and mathematical statistics to create a (nearly) exact science of the behavior of very large populations of people, such as the Galactic Empire. Although fictional, this science is slowly being brought to life through the science of Sociophysics. Asimov used the analogy of a gas: in a gas, the motion of a single molecule is very difficult to predict, but the mass action of the gas can be predicted to a high level of accuracy. Asimov applied this concept to the population of the fictional Galactic Empire, which numbered in the quadrillions. The character responsible for the science's creation, Hari Seldon, established two postulates: that the population whose behaviour was modeled should be sufficiently large and that they should remain in ignorance of the results of the application of psychohistorical analyses."

Asimov on psychohistory

On September 25, 1987, Asimov gave an interview to New York Times reporter Terry Gross. In it, Gross asked him about psychohistory:

Gross: What did you have in mind when you coined the term and the concept?
Asimov: "Well, I wanted to write a short story about the fall of the Galactic Empire. I had just finished reading the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [for] the second time, and I thought I might as well adapt it on a much larger scale to the Galactic Empire and get a story out of it. And my editor John Campbell was much taken with the idea, and said he didn't want it wasted on a short story. He wanted an open-ended series so it lasts forever, perhaps. And so I started doing that. In order to keep the story going from story to story, I was essentially writing future history, and I had to make it sufficiently different from modern history to give it that science fictional touch. And so I assumed that the time would come when there would be a science in which things could be predicted on a probabilistic or statistical basis.
Gross: Do you think that would be good if there really was such a science?
Asimov: Well, I can't help but think it would be good, except that in my stories, I always have opposing views. In other words, people argue all possible... all possible... ways of looking at psychohistory and deciding whether it is good or bad. So you can't really tell. I happen to feel sort of on the optimistic side. I think if we can somehow get across some of the problems that face us now, humanity has a glorious future, and that if we could use the tenets of psychohistory to guide ourselves we might avoid a great many troubles. But on the other hand, it might create troubles. It's impossible to tell in advance.