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

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Weed Wacker

I happen to like bike racing, esp. "Big Bikes."
Ben has been quoted as having Fritz Kling as one of his "hero's" as he came up through the ranks.

Fritz has a similar build (tall for a racer) and style, as well as a great winning record. Fritz also is the son of my good friend, partner, and lead rider when we won a National Championship back in mid 70's.

This shot is from Superbike practice, Fontana, CA. superbikeplanet.com.
Copyright Tim Huntington.

Last week Ben won both Sat and Sun Superbike races
did it again this weekend.
Kid's on a roll...

Friday, April 28, 2006

As Paul Simon use to sing ... Slip Slidin Away

Visited sister Nancy in Montara just over a month ago
Guess it was "timely"

Highway of Heavenly Views Turns Commute Into Hell:

"MONTARA, Calif. — Living in a state prone to earthquakes, wildfires, floods and mudflows, many Californians would consider a road closed by rock slides a minor nuisance. Unless they live near Devil's Slide, a coastal bluff along Pacific Coast Highway known as much for its precarious pitch as for its panoramic vistas."

Break time

Just for some good chuckles
Maybe a play on the whole - real vs unreal worlds of game playing ...
See prior posts on WofW

YouTube - Game abuse strikes back

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Still higher than Congress

Ya get what you pay (whoops, vote) for...

WSJ.com - U.S. Home:

"Spiking gas prices have intensified discontent with Washington. A WSJ/NBC News poll found 77% of Americans uneasy about the economy. Bush's approval rating fell to 36%, with Congressional approval at 22%."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

That "Green Glow"

Ex-Environmental Leaders Tout Nuclear Energy - New York Times:

"WASHINGTON, April 24 — The nuclear industry has hired Christie Whitman, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, the environmental organization, to lead a public relations campaign for new reactors."

Yet more on Rummy and the Generals

Should have picked this up earlier ... just getting caught up on some reading.


"The United States is not Turkey, Guatemala or Pakistan. Uniformed soldiers in this country - and these generals are eligible to be recalled to duty - do not get to pick their civilian chiefs; they do not get so much as a veto. That remains the sole perogative of the President of the United States and the upper house of the legislative branch and no other."

And don't forget, some of these generals may be unhappy that Rumsfeld was/is pushing for massive transformation of the military, often taking away "toys" (read big systems and big expenditures) which can also upset politicians who want the related jobs in their districts.

Yet more : some links to others arguments
Note that these tend to be to the right of me (on most matters) but seem to bolster my thinking on this topic.

Maybe the best is:
The Generals' Dangerous Whispers:
"The civilian leadership of the Pentagon is decided on Election Day, not by the secret whispering of generals."

The American Spectator: "Generals Behaving Badly"

"...it's important to keep in mind that those who retire from active duty as generals are career military officers who -- if they attended one of the military academies, as many did -- have been insulated from the private sector since the age of 18. Moreover, most are accustomed to getting almost whatever they want, when they want it, since the day they pinned on colonel.

What this all boils down to is that retired generals are typically not the citizen-soldiers of The Greatest Generation lore, the youths lionized by Tom Brokaw for answering the nation's call and then returning "home to lead ordinary lives." These are highly skilled power brokers who, having chosen a life of service, went on to reach the pinnacle of an enormous and daunting bureaucracy."

Discussion on Tom's (Barnett) blog here :
Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog: Tom (and Mark) on the generals who are speaking out

Then I found this, comments section appears to have some that served under Zinni
Austin Bay Blog : UPDATED: The Marine Sends (and the subject is GEN Zinni)
Worth browsing

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Egan Again

Wrapped up Peter's Leanings 2 this evening
Seemed to have wrapped up recovery too (mostly)

Last Entry
Dec '04 "A Minor Odyssey" about local travel post 9/11, beautiful places close to home.
With another couple, on bikes of course, took ferry Milwaukee to Muskegon then Western Mich...

"Sunday's loop around the Leelanau Peninsula was of the nicest rides I've ever had. The twisting and dipping coastal road took us past huge sand dunes, hight cliff vistas, fishing villages and deep woods that reminded me, alterately, of California's central coast and parts of New England, but with their own wild, northwoods flavor."

Home for us
Such a perfect closure to a damn nice book.

It's not just the Oil


Europe is slip sliding away (aging populations) as is Japan.
China will hit the "demographic wall" hard and fast.
By about 2020 China will be both old and poor (in relative terms) due mostly to the "one child" policy.
Instead of younger workers able to support the "retired" there will be more old than young.

Therefore, the ongoing population growth of the middle east makes it a critical focus in EurAsian affairs. This is where the workers will come from.

The Youth Factor: The New Demographics of the Middle East and the Implications for U.S. Policy:

"The Middle East region is rent by a complex set of problems. These challenges include dictatorial and failing regimes, lack of socio-economic progress in the last generations, political violence, warfare, growing Islamist opposition, and terrorist activity. However, it now faces a less well-known, but perhaps even more difficult predicament: demographics."

Update on Generals vs Rummy

Update on Generals vs Rummy

From Jim Dunnigan's pages:
Information Warfare "Six Generals Shot down by the Internet"
Boots vs Brass and good stuff on troop to troop communication via net, email and internal chat.

(ignore the ads)

Background earlier on Dunnigan
The REAL World of Warcraft

Doc took the handoff and ran with it ...

Monday, April 24, 2006

More on Driving

Posted this Sat
Looney Dunes: I always thought so ...

Now there is coverage in WSJournal:
WSJ.com - Eyes on the Road:
"The basic thrust of the study's data, including the grainy videos of people nodding off or looking over their shoulders just before rear-ending a car ahead, is that most drivers behave as if driving a car is a task that can be delegated to the reptilian regions of the brain that regulate such automatic behaviors as breathing and blinking. Thus, the motorist is free to process information or perform tasks that aren't related to the driving chore, including using a phone, having lunch, or, in the extreme, taking a catnap.

The study's findings make a persuasive case that drivers are wrong to think they can get away with this. The VTTI's work shows that any distraction, including getting behind the wheel when you should be getting more sleep, greatly raises the odds of an accident or a gut-wrenching near-miss. NHTSA released a reminder of the stakes last week, saying that 43,200 people died in highway accidents last year, up from 42,636 in 2004. The fatality rate also rose to 1.46 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled from 1.44 in 2004, which NHTSA says was the record low.

That said, the VTTI study data suggest not all drivers are equal -- some are really bad. A chart included in a long version of the study shows that two drivers were responsible for a disproportionate share of accidents. One 18-year-old woman was involved in three crashes, 53 near-crashes and 401 "incidents." A 41-year-old woman was involved in four crashes, 56 near-crashes and 449 incidents.

Pause and take that in. In the space of a year or so, two people were involved a total of 116 crashes or near-crashes, and a combined 850 incidents that involved some sort of swerving or emergency avoidance maneuver. Consider that this track record of bad driving was compiled even though the motorists knew that they were being watched by a camera. This makes you wonder what the world would be like if really bad drivers could somehow be taken off the road."

So how about inventing some sort of Idiot Detection.
Throw away the radar detectors, skip "points" for speeding tickets, get the bad drivers OFF THE ROAD.

But that can't happen, it would make too much sense.

Egan Excerpt

Factors that influence my enjoyment at reading Peter's writings

Similar age
Similar interests (bikes, travel, beer, Midwest,blues)
Similar collections (Ducks, Guzzi's, the right Honda's, and of course Norton's)

Sample : "An active life, as nearly as I can tell, is nothing but a long series of errors and overcorrections"
Riders, some drivers, pilots may know about this...

Joi's been involved with WoW for some time

Joi Ito's Web: World of Warcraft Archives

Logging off

Shutting off services after Thelma’s Passing

Kept some notes:

Comcast Cable: Need for copy of death certificate to discontinue service
I’d toggled off the autopay
They are suppose to call back with procedures for discontinuing service.

Multiple tree choices, needed to key in phone number more than once (this makes absolutely no sense, once keyed in this tag should remain for the rest of the call)
Going through the tree choices took about 5 min.
Finally got connected to an extension for service cancellation
I gave up after the line rang for 5 min!

Tried again later – into AT&T service, again 5 min to get into the system and an “autovoice” message that they were busy but to please wait.
When I got a “real live” person, I was told that the service was scheduled for disconnect, then it turned out that this was part of transition from SBC, and that the person would transfer me to SBC … back to “autovoice” identifying itself as AT&T !

Finally, lost track of time, got a real live person who could disconnect the service.
(of note : customer service phone numbers were not easy and intutive to find on the website)

Local Newspaper : 9 min from call in to real person who could discontinue delivery.
Note that death notice was published in the same paper this AM.
At least they did not need Death Certificate and will be refunding unpaid balance.

Consumers Energy was the best of the lot.
3 Min from dial in to order to disconnect the gas THIS AFTERNOON!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Essential Tool Definitions

Sample of Peter Egan's mindset

Automotive Humor - Tools: Definitions of mechanic's tools by Peter Egan.

Been reading "Leanings 2" this weekend to
1) maintain semblence of sanity
2) generate desire to get back on a M/C soon
3) relax after some of the events of the week

I do find his humor sometimes risky for my stiches


More from Cory's interview with Ray Kurzweil
Important stuff on a key idea of Ray's ... the rate of change is accelerating

"Thought Experiments":

"'Progress is exponential–not just a measure of power of computation, number of Internet nodes, and magnetic spots on a hard disk–the rate of paradigm shift is itself accelerating, doubling every decade. Scientists look at a problem and they intuitively conclude that since we’ve solved 1 percent over the last year, it’ll therefore be one hundred years until the problem is exhausted: but the rate of progress doubles every decade, and the power of the information tools (in price-performance, resolution, bandwidth, and so on) doubles every year. People, even scientists, don’t grasp exponential growth. During the first decade of the human genome project, we only solved 2 percent of the problem, but we solved the remaining 98 percent in five years.'"

Then there is this piece... from March 23rd issue

The scientific method | Computing the future | Economist.com:

"What makes a scientific revolution? Thomas Kuhn famously described it as a “paradigm shift”—the change that takes place when one idea is overtaken by another, usually through the replacement over time of the generation of scientists who adhered to an old idea with another that cleaves to a new one. These revolutions can be triggered by technological breakthroughs, such as the construction of the first telescope (which overthrew the Aristotelian idea that heavenly bodies are perfect and unchanging) and by conceptual breakthroughs such as the invention of calculus (which allowed the laws of motion to be formulated). This week, a group of computer scientists claimed that developments in their subject will trigger a scientific revolution of similar proportions in the next 15 years.
That claim is not being made lightly. Some 34 of the world's leading biologists, physicists, chemists, Earth scientists and computer scientists, led by Stephen Emmott, of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, Britain, have spent the past eight months trying to understand how future developments in computing science might influence science as a whole. They have concluded, in a report called “Towards 2020 Science”, that computing no longer merely helps scientists with their work. Instead, its concepts, tools and theorems have become integrated into the fabric of science itself. Indeed, computer science produces “an orderly, formal framework and exploratory apparatus for other sciences,” according to George Djorgovski, an astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology."


We got the call at 4:44 this AM
Shirley's mother had passed away.

I guess we all knew that it was coming.
Shirley's brother had spent the night with Thelma.

Puts my minor surgery in perspective.
Minor with capital M

At least she died at home, as she had wished.
All her children had gotten to see her yesterday, going over family scrapbooks.

She was the antithesis of the "Mother-in-law"
Sweet and kind, always with a smile, a chuckle or laugh, never a complaint.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I always thought so ...

Not speeding, but talking on your phone, applying makeup, reading ...
But then again, a radar gun is so much easier to use.

Salt Lake Tribune - Business:

" Overall, drowsy or distracted drivers accounted for eight out of 10 crashes by the 241 drivers who were videotaped for a year by researchers at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., and at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in Washington. "

Singularity...or "Stuff to think about"

More from Cory's piece on Kurzweil

"Thought Experiments":

"'It is a sleight of hand in Spiritual Machines,' Kurzweil admits. 'But in The Singularity Is Near, I have an in-depth discussion about what we know about the brain and how to model it. Our tools for understanding the brain are subject to the Law of Accelerating Returns, and we’ve made more progress in reverse-engineering the human brain than most people realize.' This is a tasty Kurzweilism that observes that improvements in technology yield tools for improving technology, round and round, so that the thing that progress begets more than anything is more and yet faster progress.

'Scanning resolution of human tissue–both spatial and temporal–is doubling every year, and so is our knowledge of the workings of the brain. The brain is not one big neural net, the brain is several hundred different regions, and we can understand each region, we can model the regions with mathematics, most of which have some nexus with chaos and self-organizing systems. This has already been done for a couple dozen regions out of the several hundred."

Then I was catching up on "The Economist" and ran across book review of
"In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind" by Eric R.Kandel

Science of the mind | Proustian moments | Economist.com:

"Dr Kandel's life's work has been to try and learn how events are recorded in the brain: the biological basis of “never forget”. Half-autobiography, half a popular account of advances in neuroscience, “In Search of Memory”, his new book, tells the story of his research and how it led to the Nobel prize for medicine in 2000."

Coincidence is weird.
Sensitized to some of this, in part, by having my first "real" experience with anesthesia yesterday (for incarcerated hernia work).

Stuff to think about ...

Words Words Words

Cory Doctrow's interview of Ray Kurzweil on "The Singularity", a word is worth a thousand pictures :

"Thought Experiments"

"'Turing had the right insight: base the test for intelligence on written language. Turing Tests really work. A novel is based on language: with language you can conjure up any reality, much more so than with images. Turing almost lived to see computers doing a good job of performing in fields like math, medical diagnosis and so on, but those tasks were easier for a machine than demonstrating even a child’s mastery of language. Language is the true embodiment of human intelligence.'"

Friday, April 21, 2006

This stuff is going Mainstream ... fast

Virtual World, Real Money
She's fictional, lives inside an online game, but earns thousands of actual dollars there. And she's not alone.

My Virtual Life:

"A journey into a place in cyberspace where thousands of people have imaginary lives. Some even make a good living. Big advertisers are taking notice "

This piece, the cover story ... carrys well into 2nd Life,
Worlds of Warcraft and the like.
Some folks are making real money and advertisers are lurking.

I guess, for me, the author sums it up with "Oh yes, this is seriously weird"

But interesting ...

Insight on change

Doing some light reading while recuperating (minor surgery)

One of my favorite writers (for Bike Stuff)
Leanings 2: Peter Egan

Story about riding in South Dakota
Coming upon a "retired" Minuteman Silo and it's proximity to Wounded Knee.
"Touring this place makes you realize what the Lakota were up against technologically speaking. Less than one human lifespan after Wounded Knee, the wasichus (whites) placed ICBMs in South Dakota...The age of the Winchester was over"

Wounded Knee : Dec 29, 1890
Deployment Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota : 1963


Democrats Eager to Exploit Anger Over Gas Prices - New York Times:

"WASHINGTON, April 20 — Democrats running for Congress are moving quickly to use the most recent surge in oil and gasoline prices to bash Republicans over energy policy, and more broadly, the direction of the country."

and :

Al Gore controversies - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Democrats to decry high gas prices while a leading spokesperson is on the record with his book "Earth in the Balance" as questioning the use of internal combustion engines, "it ought to be possible to establish a coordinated global program to accomplish the strategic goal of completely eliminating the internal combustion engine over, say, a twenty-five year period."

Seems like a disconnect to me.
Wonder how it will be played out.
Which is it ... phase out IC and likely cars, or keep prices down so we can burn more oil?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Not Quite Alan

Well, his "Ad Name" is Alan, but real life, he's the son of good friends of my folks.
Congrats to ...
Tay Nichols

Boomer Mashup idea

So here goes
While at PC Forum I saw demo of Riya - Photo Search

Neat product, but I shoot landscapes so doesn't apply to me

But then had this thought.
Sometimes (maybe often?) some of us have "senior moments" where we can't place a name on a face. Someone we met before, had some conversation or whatever, and even if they have a nametag, we don't place the connection.

What about tie to a device like this

Motorola Bluetooth headset.

Build in a "pinhole" camera, much like on the new Apple Powebooks on the mike boom
Scratch your ear (trigger the camera) and you likely have an iPod sized device in your pocket ... software searches the database of images and whispers in your ear who/where/when/why you know this person.

Just consider this to be a "wish list" item

Family Warcraft

WashPost on families "bonding" via online games.

Far-Flung Families Unite in Cyberspace -- And Kill Monsters

Follows a topic I've pondered since PCForum

Still not convinced, but open minded.

More on Jeff

Good profile piece on Jeff Jonas or Why Big Brother isn't really Watchin You.

IEEE Spectrum: Vegas 911:

"A sin city programmer busted some of the biggest swindlers of all time. Now he's helping the Feds nail terrorists."

The piece discusses how his new work with IBM helps sort anonymized data.

But looks like there is plenty of work available:
GAO Faults Agencies' Sharing of Terror Data
WashPost on failure to share data among agencies...

Interesting stuff from Jeff Jonas

Posted yesterday:
Jeff Jonas: Trust Has a Half-Life

To which I wonder ... does information importance decay over time as well.

Some secrets are more important than others, while some have more rapid decay than others.

Headline news today becomes a “so what” story over time.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Dis Bud's fer You

Spring be sprung
Magnolia coming out

One of the oldest flowering plants
Magnolia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia :

"Fossilised specimens of M. acuminata have been found dating to 20 million years ago, and of plants identifiably belonging to the Magnoliaceae dating back to 95 million years ago"

This dating puts Magnolias back well into the Cretaceous which means time of the good ol dinosaur's

Will try to post more later
This is our second tree, first succumbed to rare insect infestation

Really nice to be "stuck" here at the same time he/she blossoms

Accountablity ... ???

All of this despite the fact that I read it every day (or as much as possible) and even popped for "Times Select" ... which makes it easier to dig through the archives.

The "Grey Lady" gets paler

28% of Votes Are Withheld at Times Company Meeting - New York Times:

"Investors holding more than a quarter of the shares of The New York Times Company withheld their votes for directors at the annual meeting yesterday, registering their dissatisfaction with how the company is performing."

"Mr. Elmasry of Morgan Stanley said the two classes of ownership fostered "a lack of accountability to all of the company's shareholders," and he questioned the salaries of top management when the stock was performing poorly.

"Despite significant underperformance, management's total compensation is substantial and has increased considerably over this period," he said.

While the newspaper industry as a whole has been buffeted by stagnant advertising, flagging circulation and competition from the Internet, the Times Company's stock has fared worse than the industry's average in the last two years.

Since January 2004, the company shares have fallen 47 percent; an index of industry stocks has fallen 35.8 percent. In the same period, stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500 index have climbed more than 17 percent."

Monday, April 17, 2006

Matter of Perception

Review of "The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing the Climate and What it Means for Life on Earth" by Tim Flannery, Atlantic Monthly Press.

Climate change | Cold comfort | Economist.com:

"Mr Flannery's most intriguing thought, though, is almost a throwaway point. But it is one that only an evolutionary biologist would have come up with. He suggests that if humanity were facing the threat of cold, rather than heat, the talking would have been over long ago and a strong plan of action would be in place. His point is that Homo sapiens is a tropical species which, having only recently spread to temperate and frigid climes, still thinks like a tropical species. It really fears the cold, but rather likes the heat. The word “warming”, therefore, has positive overtones. So perhaps the underlying problem is not so much, as in the case of staying slim, that you have to trade a real sacrifice now for a potential benefit in the future, but that a lot of people who are perfectly willing to believe that global warming is happening don't really see it is a problem at all."

The piece also talks about how his analysis takes apart H2 ideas as "probably technically unfeasible."
He suggests abandoning coal, the "most carbon-intensive fuel around" for solar, geothermal, wind and ... nukes.

He does think hybrids can work (not do, but can).

And the whole thing on "warming" being well, all "warm and fuzzy" ...
Maybe it fit with:

George Lakoff tells how conservatives use language to dominate politics:

"Conservatives have spent decades defining their ideas, carefully choosing the language with which to present them, and building an infrastructure to communicate them, says Lakoff.

The work has paid off: by dictating the terms of national debate, conservatives have put progressives firmly on the defensive."

Thanks to Doc for prior comments on George's work.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Thumbs up for Wikipedia

I've found it improving lately

Encyclopedias | Battle of Britannica | Economist.com:

"It is difficult to avoid concluding that the Nature study was comparing apples with oranges. In any case, most people don't need an expert to tell them that, while Britannica is readable and reliable, Wikipedia is a fantastically useful source of rough and ready information. And, on top of that, it's free."

Maybe it wasn't such a great idea after all

Prior posts

Tom goes over the top

Off the wall piece about "Going Green"


More on Hybrid Hype

Now this
Honda could cut hybrid production:

"Slower sales of several gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles have forced Honda Motor Co. to consider cutting production.

With only Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co. committed to a wide deployment of hybrid technology, a number of automakers at the New York International Auto Show sounded lukewarm about the prospects for future models.

Dick Colliver, executive vice president of Honda's U.S. sales arm, said the company was considering cutting production of its Accord hybrid sedan and had made no decision on building a new version of its two-seat Insight hybrid sedan. Sales of the Accord hybrid are down 51% through March compared with a year earlier.

"We've had to reevaluate our position with the vehicle," Colliver said."

And this ran in BusinessWeek last month (March 20th cover)
Are Hybrid Sales Running Out of Gas?

"High fuel prices created a buzz around the efficient vehicles.
But as consumers do the math, the cars are becoming a tougher sell<

Every car company hopes for hit models that are in high demand, and long windows of time in which it doesn't have to offer sales incentives. Hybrid cars and SUVs have been among that exclusive club. But auto makers investing in the vehicles are seeing some cracks in consumer demand as more people question hybrids' financial payback."

Bikes in the garage

Besides assorted Norton's and Ducks, I do manage to have a few Honda's
Among them ...
1965 S90

1983 Interceptor (this one sat in our livingroom for about 2 months between delivery and first good riding day)

and ...
1985 Sabre Modified with wider rims.

I had a 1000 Interceptor, but swapped it, even up, for the Sabre
Saber is quicker, and less "attention getting"

More on Europe's dim prospects

Not just the French.
Add this to the demographics ... lack of offspring.

Vive La Dolce Vita - New York Times

"Italians, too, are unhappy with the advance of 'precariousness.' This is still a society where a central goal is to be "sistemato" — secured in a paid position, preferably not too labor intensive, that can be held for life and, if possible, passed on to the children."

More on Hybrid Hype

Urban fleet use - yes
Otherwise - nope

Is even the NYTimes starting to "get it" ?

Life in the Green Lane - New York Times:

"The car that started the hybrid craze, the Toyota Prius, is lauded for squeezing 40 or more miles out of a gallon of gas, and it really can. But only when it's being driven around town, where its electric motor does its best and most active work. On a cross-country excursion in a Prius, the staff of Automobile Magazine discovered mileage plummeted on the Interstate. In fact, the car's computer, which controls the engine and the motor, allowing them to run together or separately, was programmed to direct the Prius to spend most of its highway time running on gasoline because at higher speeds the batteries quickly get exhausted. Indeed, the gasoline engine worked so hard that we calculated we might have used less fuel on our journey if we had been driving Toyota's conventionally powered, similarly sized Corolla %u2014 which costs thousands less. For the owner who does the majority of her driving on the highway, the Prius's potential for fuel economy will never be realized and its price premium never recovered.

For years, most of the world's big car makers have shied away from building hybrids because while they are technologically intriguing, they are also an inelegant engineering solution %u2014 the use of two energy sources assures extra weight, extra complexity and extra expense (as much as $6,000 more per car.) The hybrid car's electric battery packs rob space from passengers and cargo and although they can be recycled, not every owner can be counted on to do the right thing at the end of their vehicle's service life. And an unrecycled hybrid battery pack, which weighs more than 100 pounds, poses a major environmental hazard."

Friday, April 14, 2006

True stuff

This is a shot (sorry it's a bit dusty) from my
1982 Honda V45 Sabre

Swing Arm data table

OK ... read the second Tire Brand ...


BTW, may do the ton, but big hinge in the middle...

My first of several Honda V4s
Nice motors, smooth and nicely balanced
Like my favorite bike's ... Ducati's, with more piston surface (read easy power)

Making Social Sites work

BizWeek on monetizing social sites
Fits as follow-on to PCForum
FaceBook/LinkedIn Ect.

Advertising or Subscription models

Socializing for Dollars:

"Sites that link up users in affinity groups are wildly popular. Even better, they seem to have figured out how to make money"

Just in the nick of time ...

Spent time yesterday morning going over bills, checking offerings ... contemplating dropping all Long Distance, going bare bones landlines.
Noted that rates were't bad ... maybe $5/mo but were almost doubled by taxes.

Only question being how to get the refunds?
Guess I'll double check the math and weigh chances.

Telco's will likely try to keep it to themselves...

WSJ.com - U.S. May Stop, Refund Excise Tax On Phone Service:
April 14, 2006; Page A2

WASHINGTON -- The Treasury Department, following a series of hostile court rulings on the way it assesses the federal excise tax on phone service, is working on a plan to stop collecting the levy and refund billions of dollars to consumers and businesses, according to people familiar with the matter.

Government officials are holding closely guarded discussions on how to best handle the repayment process as well as mitigate the impact of about $60 billion in potential refunds and lost federal revenues over the next five years. The surcharge would likely disappear from long-distance and wireless bills, but local-call levies could remain.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Did the "self install" of new DVR box today.
(clueless installer - me - goofed and hooked up the wrong damn cable, but got that straightend out during basic step by step troubleshooting)

Comcast - DVR

Back home, we use Charter DVR aka "Moxi"

Inital reactions

Charter interface is superior
Multi-dimensional graphics

Horizontal for catagories such as channels, recorded/recording selections, then vertical for sub-sets and horizontal again for detail choices and deeper info.

Comcast seems to be "flatter" more like a spreadsheet, and search functions "clunkier"

With both, the "instant recall" feature is killer.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Flawed Thinking

Something wrong with this analysis
There is an assumption that labor is not paid for R&D work, nor that R&D may be contracted to outside firms, innovators are not rewarded.

Bottom line, raw manual "labor" is a shrinking share of work that is being done, of economic activity. This is a fact of economic development. Those with better education, and are more creative, get compensated better. Those without education, have to compete with 100's of millions overseas.

R&D, advertising (for brand building) other forms of IT and media are, according to the author, not counted. The author himself is not part of the input to GDP and therefore should not be paid.

As for the benefits of economic growth acruing only to the owners of capital ... this happens to include workers with retirement plans and pensions.

Further, there is no calculation of the benefits of lower prices due to improved productivity.


Seizing Intangibles for the G.D.P. - New York Times:

Economic View

Seizing Intangibles for the G.D.P.

Published: April 9, 2006

THE plain fact is that when it comes to measuring how much the American economy produces and who gets what share of the pie, the federal government's most celebrated statistic — the gross domestic product — leaves something to be desired.

The G.D.P. is useful, as far as it goes. It tells us how much value — often called national income — is generated each year from the production of goods and services in the United States. The G.D.P. also breaks out how much of that income goes into profits and how much into wages and salaries.

This is where the trouble is. The numbers show that the profit portion of the gross domestic product has risen mildly in recent years, while the wage-and-salary share has shrunk slightly. There is evidence, however, that because of the way the G.D.P. is calculated, the actual shift is much more pronounced."


"The Bureau of Economic Analysis, which issues the G.D.P. reports each quarter, is on the case. So are two prominent economists at the Federal Reserve. They all seem to be finding that the current methods for calculating G.D.P. undercount the dollar returns from research and development. What's more, this payoff is not showing up in workers' paychecks.

The approximately $300 billion spent each year on R & D is a big concern of the bureau's economists. Until now, it has been counted as an expense, reducing the profit total within the G.D.P. Starting in September, however, the bureau will publish an experimental G.D.P. account that parallels the standard quarterly report, except for one change: R & D will be counted as capital investment rather than as an expense.

There is logic in this change. Consider the process of making and selling a dress. The cloth and thread — the raw materials — that go into the dress are an expense that must be subtracted from the sales price of the dress, once it is sold, to arrive at a profit. The automated sewing machine that makes the dress, on the other hand, is counted in the G.D.P. accounts as a capital investment because, once installed, it makes dress after dress, generating a stream of revenue. It is an investment drawn from retained earnings to generate more earnings.

Similarly, the research and development that made Prozac possible generates revenue for years, just as the sewing machine does for the dressmaker. Successful research and development yields long-term returns, and the bureau's experimental G.D.P. acknowledges as much, by classifying R & D as capital investment in the satellite account. Capital investment, in turn, counts as a contribution to profit in the G.D.P.

This reclassification leaves no doubt that workers are being left behind as the G.D.P. expands. When R & D is counted as profit, the employee compensation share of national income drops by more than one percentage point. In a $12.5 trillion economy, that's big money."

Big big caution ... Big Brother knows what's good for you

Soft paternalism | The state is looking after you | Economist.com:
Apr 6th 2006
From The Economist print edition

"A new breed of paternalists is seeking to promote virtue and wisdom by default. Be wary"

Some may makes "sense"
Such as ...
"For instance, in many countries plenty of workers fail to enrol in pension schemes and suffer as a result. The reason is not that they have decided against joining, but that they haven't decided at all—and enrolling is cumbersome. So why not make enrolling in the scheme the default option, still leaving them the choice to opt out? Studies have shown this can nearly double the enrolment rate. Lord Turner, head of Britain's Pensions Commission, is the latest soft paternalist to recommend such a scheme (see article)."

OK, this is a model that I can accept, esp. if it allows people to provide for themselves and not turn to the state (everyone else) to bail them out in their old age.

This topic was discussed at PCForum
Gary Bolles covered some of it here :
Conferenza: Barry Schwartz: The Paradox of Choice

and here

Conferenza: Blind Choice & Intelligent Design

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Chickens come home to roost?

France | France faces the future | Economist.com:

"The country's politicians need to level with the French people on the need to embrace change"

“THE French constitute the most brilliant and the most dangerous nation in Europe and the best qualified in turn to become an object of admiration, hatred, pity or terror but never indifference.” Thus did a young Alexis de Tocqueville describe his motherland in the early 19th century. His words still carry a haunting truth. Over the past few years, as other western democracies have shuffled quietly along, France has by turns stunned, exasperated and bemused."

"...the striking feature of the latest protest movement is that this time the rebellious forces are on the side of conservatism. Unlike the rioting youths in the
banlieues, the objective of the students and public-sector trade unions is to prevent change, and to keep France the way it is. Indeed, according to one astonishing poll, three-quarters of young French people today would like to become civil servants, and mostly because that would mean “a job for life”. Buried inside this chilling lack of ambition are one delusion and one crippling myth.

The delusion is that preserving France as it is, in some sort of formaldehyde solution, means preserving jobs for life. Students, as well as unqualified suburban youngsters, do not today face a choice between the new, less protected work contract and a lifelong perch in the bureaucracy. They, by and large, face a choice between already unprotected short-term work and no work at all. And the reason for this, which is also the reason for France's intractable mass unemployment of nearly 10%, is simple: those permanent life-time jobs are so protected, and hence so difficult to get rid of, that many employers are not creating them any more."

Probably my favorite read ...

Summary of where they come from

and one reason I like it: "...a paper whose scepticism about government drips from every issue..." (reference to position on Iraq)

Valedictory | A long goodbye | Economist.com:

Bill Emmott, who stands down as editor on March 31st, offers his parting thoughts

"It seems fitting to begin with the ancestors. One of the exceptional characteristics of this newspaper is the degree to which it still follows the principles and methods begun 163 years ago by its founder, James Wilson, and perfected by his son-in-law, Walter Bagehot. The Economist was launched to campaign for free trade and all forms of liberty, what proponents and detractors alike today call globalisation, blended with what George Bush likes to call “the freedom agenda”. It did so with a formula that was three parts factual description and one part strongly held opinion or argumentative analysis. That is what we continue to attempt today."


The unstupid economy

To a degree, it is hard even now, in 2006, to recognise the world of 1993: a time when the Soviet Union was fresh in the memory, when China's development remained in the shadow of Tiananmen, when America was thought militarily powerful but economically passé, when few had mobile phones, e-mail was in its infancy and the internet was strictly for nerds. Yet the potential was there for the spread of economic development to what were newly known as “emerging markets”, emerging from communism, autarky, war or hyperinflation, and also for the spread of democracy to those same benighted lands. It was there too for a wave of technological innovation analogous to that brought by the railway boom, the electric telegraph and the steamship in the early decades of Wilson's Economist. The phrase “irrational exuberance” may not have been familiar to him, but the word “bubble” assuredly was. Just as early editors devoted thousands of words to a 19th-century version of Arthur C. Clarke's famous observation that the effects of technological innovations are typically overrated in the short run but underestimated in the long run, so did we.

read on...Valedictory ...Economist.com


Note that politicians of both parties voted against "Green Power"

Committee Acts to Doom New England Wind Farm - New York Times:

Published: April 8, 2006

"A Senate-House conference committee has approved a measure that would effectively kill a proposal for the first large offshore wind farm in the United States, in Nantucket Sound south of Cape Cod, Mass.

The measure, an amendment to a Coast Guard budget bill, gives the governor of 'the adjacent state,' Massachusetts, veto power over any wind farm in the sound. Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, opposes the wind farm, and most of the candidates running to replace him in the election for governor this fall have also come out against it, as have most of the state's prominent politicians."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Akin to WW3 "Bouncing rubble"

A closer look at the Katie Couric soap opera - Apr. 5, 2006

"As for the effect that Couric could have on the prime time schedules of CBS and NBC...that should be minimal too. My favorite shows are spread out across all the top networks and has nothing to do with which morning news show that I watch....or in the case of the nightly news, don't watch.

Do you honestly think that someone who's a 'Today' show fan who's never watched 'CSI' or 'Survivor' is now more likely to watch those shows because Katie Couric is heading to CBS? CBS already is doing a fine job in prime time. It's hard to imagine how Couric can improve what's already working.

Likewise, even though NBC has the best-rated morning show, a show that presumably is a good outlet to promote NBC's other shows throughout the remainder of the day, that hasn't prevented NBC from plunging into a prime time ratings abyss. Watching the 'Today' show doesn't mean you're then going to want to watch dreck like 'Joey.'

So why is there such hullabaloo about Katie's new job? The networks – and advertisers -- simply don't like the unknown. 'Would NBC prefer that Couric stay? I'm sure they would. Nobody wants to mess with success,' Magel said.
That may be true. But there's no reason why 'Today' can't continue to be a hit or to suggest that CBS will suddenly vault into the lead of the nightly news ratings."

OK ... lets go back to J.Fred Muggs

Hell Freezes over

Not all that big a deal as apps go to the web
That said, interesting.

Likely boost for Apple, hurts Dell and others.

Apple Allows Windows on Its Machines - New York Times

"Turning a decades-long rivalry on its head, Apple Computer introduced software today that it says will easily allow users to install Microsoft's Windows XP operating system on Apple's newest computers."

Puttin Puns to Profitable Purpose

Great link from David (isen.blog)

Cook up Clever Copy, donate proceeds to cause of your choice.

Not for me
My bumper is "clean" (only road grime) but great for those urban dwellers stuck in traffic.

Patch of Blue

Good to see a bit of deep blue
Clouds earlier, gone now

Rapture ?

Well, considering this...

Boing Boing: A moment in time: 01:02:03 04/05/06.:

"A moment in time: 01:02:03 04/05/06.
This Wednesday, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06"

Woke up this morning and all seemed normal ( a relative term )
Although Tom Delay hasn't checked in yet ... maybe he was "taken" and I've been "LeftBehind"

Doubt if the bit of numerology applied to those who follow calendars of the Jewish, Moslem, Eastern Orthodox faiths, or many in Asia ...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Almost really springtime

Almost tempted (if I would ignore the price)
Just the thing for a quick run to the grocery ... maybe up in Northport!

(M22 Empire to Northport is one of the great summer drives:EIGHT AUTO TRIPS: FROM BACK ROADS...TO TOWERING MOUNTAIN PASSES; Michigan: Between the lake and the bay, the Leelanau Peninsula - NYTimes June 5 '88)

Zany Prodigy - AutoWeek:

The Ariel atom is light and fast, and light. Very very light...


AutoWeek | Published 02/19/06, 11:21 pm et

BASE PRICE: $35,000 (est.)
POWERTRAIN: 2.0-liter, 205-hp, 200-lb-ft I4; rwd, five-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: 1005.5 lbs
0 TO 60 MPH: 3.0 seconds (est.)

Sign of the DaTimes

Following is copyrighted material, but no permalink provided, so I'm posting it in full.
First reaction is that I think that they over shot.

Font too small for my small screen (preferred machine is 12in PowerMac)
Maybe I'll get use to it ... We'll see.

All media is in trouble facing "the net" and the upset of their models.

A Letter to Our Readers

Published: April 2, 2006

To Our Readers:

Our goal when we set out to redesign The Times Web site more than a year ago was to make experiencing The New York Times online simpler and more useful. We hope you conclude that we have done that on the new pages appearing for the first time this month.

We have expanded the page to take advantage of the larger monitors now used by the vast majority of our readers. We've improved the navigation throughout the site so that no matter what page you land on, you can easily dig deeper into other sections or use our multimedia.

We also wanted to give our readers a greater voice and sprinkle a little more serendipity around the site by providing prominent links to a list of most e-mailed and blogged articles, most searched for information and popular movies. A new tab at the top of the page takes you directly to all our most popular features.

Another new tab takes you to a list of articles as they appeared in the newspaper, section-by-section.

Five years ago, when the prior design debuted, multimedia was in its infancy and video quality was poor. Now, video and multimedia are fundamental elements of our Web presentation. We now have video presentations prominently displayed on our home page and a tab at the top of the page to take you directly to all our video offerings.

We are also introducing thousands of topic pages about people, places, organizations and subjects. A topic page collects a rich selection of material on a topic — news, photos, multimedia — and houses it on single page, providing an ideal reference for readers looking for the breadth of Times information on a single subject.

Finally, we are very excited about a personalized page called MyTimes that will let you organize your favorite Web sources of information — from NYTimes.com and elsewhere — and view them at a glance. Personalized pages aren't new on the Web but ones offering the guidance of Times editors, reporters and critics are. More than two dozen Times journalists are offering their picks of sites that should engage you, whether you're interested in baseball or climate change, politics or recipes. MyTimes is currently under development but will be opening to a wider audience later this month. You can sign up now to be among the first invited to try it.

There's so much more included in this redesign that I hope you will take a few minutes to explore the site and find new features for yourself. You can also take a guided tour or visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Leonard M. Apcar
Editor in Chief, NYTimes.com

Bit o'Sunset

Just the last few moments of color

Tried to get the brilliant reds of the direct set, but the dynamic range was too much for the sensor.
So far, have been unable to adjust in iPhoto to do it justice

Hoo-Ray ... DeLay Departs

Good move
Maybe others will have to join him

Time to clean out the stables, get it done well before mid-term elections.

DeLay Decides to End Career in Congress - New York Times

Published: April 4, 2006

WASHINGTON, April 4 — Representative Tom DeLay, the relentless Texan who helped lead House Republicans to power but became ensnared in a corruption scandal, said publicly today that he had decided to leave Congress."

"REal World" as in Real Estate vs Virtual

Ongoing thougths about the topic
"Virtual Worlds"?

Just over a week after we got back from Calif, we attended the local township Annual Meeting.
There are about 300 voters in the township, but the Clerk noted that she is proud of the 85% turnout for elections! (2000 Census numbers 788)

Even in the "off season" there was a good turnout for the meeting, 75+ would be a guess.
Not that anything earth-shattering was on the agenda, but it is good to hear local officals talk about issues.

Then, last night, I attended a neighboring township Planning & Zoning board meeting (we own property in that township, although we vote here). Issue on the Agenda was a (poorly thought through in my opinion) request from a developer for a Zoning change (to more dense development).

Again, something less than 500 voters in the township (my guess, total population under 1.5K).
This time the room was packed, SRO, with over 100 citizens.
Presentation by the developer, followed by public comment lasted almost 2 hours.

This is Real World stuff.
Citizens involved in local issues.

Monday, April 03, 2006

April Fool(ish weather)

Maybe make that April Fooled-ya Weather

Started with rain this AM
Shifted to snow

Merganzers cruzin the shore, two females and a male.
Last of the ice floes

But later in the day it cleared up

This is about 6hrs later ...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Last Ice ...

Last ice on the lake
Had blown out of the cove just yesterday

Wind shift
Brought it back

All will be gone soon

Is this how "Virtual Worlds" will play out?

Virtual Visa's ?

Still a skeptic, but maybe this will come to pass.
Esp. if you consider other activities that are ephemeral or intangible, such as the whole Hollywood/Entertainment environment.

MAKE: Blog: The Future of Credit Cards:
"The Future of Credit Cards - Earning virtual currency for spending in the real world & other world bridging"

Got the link from :
Joi Ito's Web: The future of credit cards

All of this constitutes a bit of follow on to Looney Dunes: Worlds of Wierdness ?


No Vista, but Vista Capable stickers coming soon

Of note : this was dated April 1

"No fooling, Microsoft is prepping new Windows Vista Capable stickers for PCs, in anticipation of the release of the 50 million lines of Vista code to business users (end of 2006) and consumers (beginning of 2007 if all goes well). Given the shifting ship date for Vista, some reassurance for PC buyers was in order."

Yeah ... will believe it when I see it ... but I'm Mac biased

Editorial Note

Going foward (and if I find time and inclination, I'll work back) I'm going to try to put quoted material in italics.

Operative term : Try

Good news on Conservation Easements

Deals Turn Swaths of Timber Company Land Into Development-Free Areas - New York Times:

"Timber companies and conservation organizations have been working to arrange and announce a cascade of deals transferring large, unbroken swaths of forestland into the hands of government, nonprofit — or even commercial — groups that are committed to keeping them free from development."

Press picks up "Users in Charge" (theme of PCForum)

Note that there IS a model ... build a community, then sell ads.

Death by Smiley Face: When Rivals Disdain Profit - New York Times:

"THE tectonic changes facing media companies are by now the topic of an often-recited sermon. Put briefly, digital technology is placing control over much information squarely in the hands of consumers and creating all kinds of opportunities for new entrants who can push the revolution forward.

Understandably, attention in this race is focused on the companies that are, as the management consultants like to say, transferring value from conventional outlets to new disruptors that deliver personalized media more efficiently and hence with greater profitability. In other words, to the victor go the spoils. "

and ...

These are new-media ventures that leave the competition scratching their heads because they don't really aim to compete in the first place; their creators are merely taking advantage of the economics of the online medium to do something that they feel good about. They would certainly like to cover their costs and maybe make a buck or two, but really, they're not in it for the money. By purely commercial measures, they are illogical. If your name were, say, Rupert or Sumner, they would represent the kind of terror that might keep you up at night: death by smiley face.

Probably the best-known practitioner is Craigslist.org, the online listing site. Although it is routinely described as a competitor with — and the bane of — newspaper classified ads, the site is mostly a free listings service that acts as a community resource. When the company contemplates imposing fees for using its site in a particular city, as it has recently in New York, it does so cautiously and thoughtfully, as a means to weed out real estate brokers who are abusing the site by posting their ads over and over."

And the cover story of Newsweek: (note: copyrighted material)

The New Wisdom of the Web - Next Frontiers

Why is everyone so happy in Silicon Valley again? A new wave of start-ups are cashing in on the next stage of the Internet. And this time, it's all about ... you.
By Steven Levy and Brad Stone

April 3, 2006 issue - A little over two years ago, even the most sensitive entrepreneurial radar could not pick out two pairs of people on opposite ends of the West Coast starting companies that would make plenty out of nothing. In Santa Monica, Calif., dot-com survivors Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson were hatching the idea of taking on biggies like AOL and Yahoo with a Web site consisting only of stuff that people would bring to it. And up in Vancouver, B.C., married collaborators Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake were just figuring out that the online game they were developing might work better as a way for people to share their digital photos with each other.

Now both fledgling companies are leading a charge of innovators making hay out of the Internet's ability to empower citizens and enrich those who help with the empowerment. The southern California guys head MySpace, the prime hangout for 65 million (mostly young) people, and thousands of rock bands, movie stars and marketers begging for their attention. Canadian-born Flickr, by building a 2.5 million-member community solely around a passion for sharing photos, has become a poster child on how a well-executed Net effort can make big changes in people's habits. Welcome to the new tech boom.

Oh, and unlike the old boom, where entrepreneurs couldn't get to the IPO broker's office quick enough, these crafty duos have already taken the money and stayed. Yahoo has snapped up Flickr to bolster the portfolio of services it offers to its half-billion users. And the new owner of MySpace is that wild and crazy (like, um, a fox) digital punkster, Rupert Murdoch—hedging his bets on what might be the next Net-powered media upheaval.

The massive success of MySpace and the exemplary strategy of Flickr are milestones in a new high-tech wave reminiscent of the craziness of the early dot-com days. This rebooting owes everything to the enhanced power and pervasiveness of the Web, which has finally matured to the point where it can fulfill some of the outlandish promises that we heard in the '90s. The generic term for this movement, especially among the hundreds of new companies jamming the waiting rooms of venture-capital offices, is Web 2.0, but that's misleading—some supposedly Web 1.0 companies like eBay and Google have been clueful about this all along. A more fitting description comes from Mary Hodder, the CEO of a social-video-sharing start-up called Dabble. (Since Dabble has not yet launched, I can't explain exactly what that means.) "This is the live Web," she says.

Continued Here