Updates from August, 2008 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Hober Short 1:02 am on 30 August 2008 Permalink  

    Now that I look at it, though, the way that the “average” is computed is misleading, I think. It doesn’t look like the averages are weighted by number of people in a given tax bracket.

  • Hober Short 1:06 pm on 29 August 2008 Permalink  

    This is an interestingly characteristic diagram:

    From TaxProf

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 10:38 am on 29 August 2008 Permalink  

    I’m speechless:

    Informed of the selection, a senior official with Barack Obama campaign questioned Palin’s executive experience.

    Isn’t “some” still greater than “none”?

  • Hober Short 9:05 am on 27 August 2008 Permalink  

    The AP has a mockingly-toned article about an “Army prep school” to help would-be recruits achieve their GED before entering enlisting (a requirement for service).

    But the U.S. Army, eager to fill its ranks amid wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, doesn’t see them as dropouts. They are recruits who only need a GED before they’re ready to begin basic training.

    Of course the Army sees them as dropouts. That’s why its helping to educate them.

    The soldiers work in small classrooms outfitted with simple desks, chairs, and dry-erase boards. In-desk computers are used for test-taking.

    Since when were desks with computers in them “simple”?

    Anyways, I’m meandering. My very favorite part (which is to say, the most intellectually dishonest) is that the article throws out the statistic that only 71% of Army recruits graduated high school. Sounds pretty low, right? They’re just backdoor drafting all the dropout burger flippers who can’t get a job in this economy, right?

    Except that 71% is the national graduation rate. Which is to say that the Army is, in this statistic, a representative cross-section of America.


  • Hober Short 1:00 pm on 26 August 2008 Permalink  

    Battlestar Galactica’s Nielsen ratings are apparently circling the drain. But it’s still a huge success. Who would have thought that Sci-Fi fans would be eager to use new tech (TiVo, Hulu) to watch this stuff?

  • Hober Short 12:08 pm on 26 August 2008 Permalink  

    Via Slashdot comes an article about the Bay Area’s “FasTrak” toll system. The idea is that you have this transponder in your car. When you pass a toll booth, it asks the transponder’s identifier number, which is tied to you. You get billed. Pretty straightforward, right?

    Except this article nails the system to the wall by pointing out that it is trivial to impersonate the toll booth and collect identifiers, trivial to build clones, and possible “to send messages to the device to overwrite someone’s ID, either wiping it or replacing it with another ID”.

    And what does the spokesman for the company say? ” … We also believe that significant effort would need to be invested in cloning tags. If any fraudulent toll activity is detected on a customer’s account, the existing toll-enforcement system can be used to identify and track down the perpetrator.”

    Basically: problems? What problems?

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 9:57 am on 26 August 2008 Permalink  

    One can only hope that the people behind Hulu are aggressively pursuing deals with various providers of media-streaming boxes (game consoles, Roku, TiVo). I’ve maintained for some time that adding Hulu and Netflix streaming support to TiVo would be a real killer app, and now that the TiVo HD supports YouTube streaming, that means the technical underpinnings are already in place.

    What’s missing is ubiquity. As much as I love my TiVo, I recognize that TiVo owners are a tiny (but disproportionately opinionated) fraction of the TV audience. Even fewer people, I’d guess, own Roku boxes. What’s really needed is to build streaming support into cable boxes and next-generation tru2way devices, making services like Hulu available alongside other on-demand video services. Unfortunately I don’t see how that could happen, since it would require the cable companies to support their own competition.

    Maybe it will eventually be settled by content. Dr. Horrible was remarkable: a new TV show premiered exclusively via Hulu, unavailable to anyone watching cable or OTA broadcasting. Suppose a compelling TV series (not just a one-off) were to be distributed similarly? That might actually sell some set-top boxes.

  • Hober Short 9:46 pm on 25 August 2008 Permalink  

    In a post that goes on to lament Hulu’s lack of media center ability (i.e. watching it via a set-top box on your HDTV), Penny Arcade’s Tycho discusses it thusly:

    I had never heard of Hulu until Dr. Horrible, and even then the site fell entirely out of my mind. When I saw it mentioned on Kung Fu Monkey, it became clear that Hulu had at least two different shows on it. It was at this point that I visited the site proper and became synchronized with the modern world. I immediately stopped whittling on my crude spear.

    I’m a little afraid to explain it, because you almost certainly know it, but here: it’s essentially free, digital, on-demand television, interleaved with the standard commercial breaks. This happens sometimes already, usually only for specific shows from specific channels, but Hulu is agnostic in that regard. It’s as though YouTube grew up and got a job.

    As I keep saying, it’s the future of Television.

  • Hober Short 9:40 pm on 25 August 2008 Permalink  

    Actually, the dining hall I ate 150 meals at per semester last year (about 11/week) ended up going to not using trays during the height of the drought. It was pretty inconvenient for a while, but eventually we just got used to it. (This was during a program with our rival college to see who could reduce their water usage the most, as a way to turn conservation into a sporting event. I presume there were keggers.)

    I got used to carrying the plate with utensils in one hand and a cup in the other. But on the days when they had the good lasagna and mac & cheese, I just made a second trip. Your mileage may vary.

    (Of course, the laughable tone of “Let’s make the choice for their own good” invalidates their argument by default.)

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 3:48 pm on 25 August 2008 Permalink  

    I don’t know what our universities are coming to. No cell phones in Statistics, and no trays in the cafeteria.

    I especially like the way the greenies advocating the no-trays policy dismiss the inconvenience, and indeed claim it’s a good thing:

    Advocates of the trayless cafeterias say if students can’t pile on the food as Bluto did, they might consume fewer calories and keep off those unhealthy pounds often gained in college.

    Ben said it best: Good luck with that.

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