Updates from May, 2009 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 10:06 pm on 27 May 2009 Permalink  

    If you guys didn’t happen to see the premiere of Mike Judge’s new animated series The Goode Family, you need to. (ABC’s site doesn’t have full-episode video, at least not yet, but I assume that won’t be an obstacle.)

    The show pokes fun at the hybrid-driving, organic-produce-buying, “What Would Al Gore Do?” crowd. Sample dialogue (yes, one of the characters is named Ubuntu):

    UBUNTU: Sorry I used so much gas, Dad.

    GERALD: That’s OK, Ubuntu. What’s important is that you feel guilty about it.

    I don’t expect it to last long.

    UPDATE: ABC now has the full episode online.

  • Hober Short 12:20 pm on 27 May 2009 Permalink  

    Zune HD:

    16:9 touchscreen with HD outs. Looks pretty swank.

    Personally, one feature in Zune vs. iPod for me has always been the Zune’s radio. HD Zune, HD radio? Yes, please.

  • Hober Short 9:43 am on 27 May 2009 Permalink  

    WRAL ran an article a few days ago titled “N.C. unemployment rate stays at 10.8%” which I originally thought was a pretty vague way of putting things, and I turned out to be sort of right. Taking the unemployment rates for the last year of our state vs the national average (numbers from NC Employment Security Commission ), we get the following:

    Looks pretty bad, right? Well, let’s take the derivative of each graph:

    The higher the line, the more unemployment rose in a given month. So that spike in January on the second graph is mirrored by a rather large jump on the first graph. But notice: on the second graph, NC’s line is below the USA’s, and on the first graph, the NC line seems to have almost flattened out.

    In other words, things are looking better here, more so than the rest of the nation. That’s newsworthy, right?

  • Pat 12:08 am on 27 May 2009 Permalink  

    A global warming study just released by MIT offers a startling new prediction:

    Published this month in the Journal of Climate, the MIT-based research found a 90% probability that worldwide surface temperatures will rise at least 9 degrees by 2100.

    According to the Telegraph, this means we’re all going to die.

    Global temperatures could rise by more than 7C this century killing billions of people and leaving the world on the brink of total collapse, according to new research.

    Not so fast, says Steven Goddard. In an article at the Watts Up With That? blog, he points out that the alleged 9-degree rise is more than double what was being predicted in 2003. Has warming accelerated since then? There hasn’t been any. Global temperatures are falling. Arctic ice, Antarctic ice, and snow-covered area in the Northern Hemisphere are all expanding. “So,” asks Goddard, “what has changed since 2003 to cause the scientists at MIT’s ‘Centre for Global Climate Change’ to believe the world is going to boil over this century and send billions of us directly to a toasty demise?”

    I believe I can answer that. What happened is that the 2003 predictions did not achieve the desired result. The population of the United States did not panic and demand that their leaders implement draconian measures to cut carbon dioxide emissions. So the purveyors of global warming have decided that it’s time to turn up the volume, ramp up the hysteria, and SCREAM EVEN LOUDER THAN BEFORE. If their warnings become more shrill and more exaggerated, eventually they’ll reach a level that we can’t ignore, and we’ll have to do what they want. Right?

    It apparently hasn’t occurred to these people that we’ve been hearing their apocalyptic rhetoric for decades, and the real-world climate data hasn’t backed up their claims. Their credibility is eroding fast, and many of us have simply stopped listening.  Making their warnings louder and scarier will just accelerate that process.

  • Pat 11:16 pm on 26 May 2009 Permalink  

    I believe I can summarize what Mr. Lynton wrote. In essence, he said: “We don’t think the Internet is evil; we think you are evil. We believe that all of you are pirates and thieves at heart, and you’ll steal everything we want to sell unless the government puts restrictions in place to stop you.”

    UPDATE: TechDirt has an excellent rebuttal.

  • Hober Short 1:03 pm on 26 May 2009 Permalink  

    From WRAL: Nine killed on N.C. highways over holiday. Isn’t there a special circle of hell for those who cite statistics without context?

    Taking the CDC’s most recent count of 19.2 motor vehicle deaths per 100,000 people, and the estimation of 8.857 million people in North Carolina (i.e. 88.57 * 100,000), we get an average of 4.6 deaths per day. Nine deaths for a three day weekend? That’s statistically abnormally low.

    Edit: Even extrapolating given data to 2009 gives similar numbers. A best-fit line on the annual motor vehicle death rate gives a 2009 rate of 18.5 deaths but a population of 8.857 million in 2006, at 1.683% annual growth rate (as given at Wolfram Alpha) gives a 2009 population of 9.312 million. More people, fewer accidents, same result.

  • Hober Short 12:38 pm on 26 May 2009 Permalink  

    Michael Lynton, the Sony rep from a few days ago is back in the news, this time with an editorial in the HuffPo:

    To be clear, my concern about piracy does not obscure my understanding that the Internet has had a transformative impact on our culture and holds enormous potential to improve the prospects of humanity, and in many instances already has. I am no Luddite. I am not an analogue guy [sic] living in a digital world. I ran an Internet company and my studio actively uses the web to market and sell our movies and television shows. We create original content for new media.

    . . .

    But, without standards of commerce and more action against piracy, the intellectual property of humankind will be subject to infinite exploitation on the Internet. How many people will be as motivated to write a book or a song, or make a movie if they know it is going to be immediately stolen from them and offered to the world with no compensation whatsoever? And how many people whose work is connected with those creative industries — the carpenters, drivers, food service workers, and thousands of others — will lose their jobs as piracy robs their business of resources?

    And so on.

  • Hober Short 10:46 am on 21 May 2009 Permalink  

    Via WRAL: Congress votes for major new credit card rules

    The practice of charging higher rates and fees to cardholders with risky credit was devised as a means to protect lenders against the risk of default while keeping costs low for consumers who paid their bills on time, said Edward Yingling, president and CEO of the American Bankers Association, which opposes the legislation.

    Yingling says the new rules will limit the card companies’ ability to price according to risk. The result, he says, will be that every card holder will have to pay a higher interest rate to cover the cost when other customers default. Lenders also will be more reluctant to issue cards in general, he adds.

    “Less credit will be available generally, which means some consumers and small businesses will not be able to obtain credit cards at all, particularly younger people and startup small businesses,” Yingling said.

    Sure credit card companies do some scuzzy things, but charging people more when they’re more of a risk is just plain business. It’s like, say, making everyone pay the same thing for insurance. Forget the fact that some people will cost the company more and the company, being a business, will need to charge them more.

    Hilariously enough, though, this passed with huge bi-partisan support because the Dems all voted for the credit card measures and the Republicans all voted for the measure making national parks the same as anywhere else for the purposes of carrying firearms (as opposed to the current outright federal ban).

    And if Obama vetoes based on the gun thing, he’ll be seen as an anti-consumer elitist. What’s not to like?


  • Pat 12:20 am on 21 May 2009 Permalink  

    This commercial makes my brain hurt.

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 6:49 pm on 19 May 2009 Permalink  

    Regarding Nielsen: I agree that inclusion of DVR viewership is long overdue, but the criticism of Nielsen is misplaced. In fact, Nielsen offers many different kinds of viewership data, and DVR viewership has been among the available data for years. (See, for example, this 2005 press release.)

    But Nielsen has no control over what data the networks use to make their programming decisions, and the networks have never cared about DVRs. Of course, there’s a long tradition of stupidity among network programming executives (see, e.g., Roddenberry et al., 1969).

    But they’re not all idiots. TiVo does, in fact, collect detailed viewership data — including second-to-second ratings of both TV shows and commercials — and some networks have been quicker than others to pay attention. I only wish CBS had been among them back when Jericho was struggling.

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