Updates from May, 2011 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Hober Short 6:10 pm on 26 May 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    A case study in the minimum wage: Raleigh Police Department. A rule will go in to effect in 2012 saying that officers are required to be paid $35/hour for off-duty work. Since this is an RPD policy and not a law, presumably it is a restriction telling officers that they may not accept any work that pays less than $35.

    But, as it turns out, the State Fair usually employs 75-100 off-duty officers, but they are only offering $29.35 this year. (As an aside, they are offering 10% more this year over last year; who do you know that would turn down a 10% pay raise in this economy?) So RPD officers aren’t going to be allowed to work the fair this year, and the slack will be made up by Wake County Sheriff’s deputies.

    The quotes from the bureaucrats involve are priceless. First, Raleigh Police Chief Dolan: the policy “ensures that off-duty employers are treated equitably and that our sworn personnel are compensated appropriately for the exceptionally high-quality services they perform. The rate of pay is non-negotiable in order to avoid the negative professional aspects of appearing to bid against other police and security service providers.”

    And finally, “Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen said there’s plenty of work to go around and that the officers’ new per-hour rate is competitive.”

    It astounds me that even our sworn police officers, the people we entrust to protect us, require protection from predatory employers who would offer them too little money.

    • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 9:17 am on 27 May 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Presumably this also means that a Raleigh cop who wants to take a second job as a sandwich artist at Subway will also have to insist on $35 per hour.

      It seems obvious (but apparently it isn’t, at least not to the decision-makers) that the result of this new policy will be a net reduction in income for Raleigh police officers, since there will be fewer jobs they’re allowed to take.

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 1:49 pm on 13 May 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    The New York Times (of all places) has an article about Brad Paisley’s new album, This Is Country Music, and more generally, Paisley’s answer to the question “what is country music?”:

    The latest philosopher to tackle the problem is Brad Paisley, one of modern Nashville’s biggest stars, and greatest talents. In “This Is Country Music,” the title track from Mr. Paisley’s forthcoming ninth studio album, he offers a theory: country is what other pop music isn’t. It’s down-to-earth, not trendy; it prizes realism over artifice; it’s steeped in traditional values — old-time religion, the old folks at home, Old Glory.

    I think that’s basically right, and the article goes on to cite several past Paisley songs that defied country stereotypes — including the song that made me a Paisley fan, “Welcome To The Future.”

    But then there’s this:

    What is absent from “This Is Country Music” is a big risk, like the one Mr. Paisley took with “Welcome to the Future,” the arena rock-style anthem that celebrated Barack Obama’s election. (Mr. Paisley performed the song at the White House in July 2009, one week after its release as a single.) Before “Welcome to the Future,” Mr. Paisley had had 10 straight No. 1 country hits, a record that stretched back four years. But the song stalled at No. 2, snapping Mr. Paisley’s streak. That may have been coincidence, but it’s clear that some of Mr. Paisley’s fans were turned off by a song that saluted the nation’s first black president — and, perhaps worse, a Democrat.

    Um … huh? I guess they’re referring to the third verse:

    I had a friend in school
    Running back on the football team
    They burned a cross in his front yard
    For asking out the homecoming queen

    I thought about him today
    And everybody who’s seen what he’s seen
    From a woman on a bus
    To a man with a dream

    Sure, it’s likely enough that the verse was vaguely inspired by wonder at how far we’ve come, that we live in a time where a black man can be elected president. But in what conceivable sense does the song “salute” Obama, or even really “celebrate his election”?

    In the very next paragraph, the article quotes Paisley as saying “I knew that the song would be misunderstood.” Oh, the irony.

    • penaltykillah 8:41 am on 23 May 2011 Permalink | Reply

      It may be a coincidence that WTTF stalled at #2, but what’s arguably not a coincidence? The New York Times calling WTTF “an anthem that celebrated Barack Obama’s election”.

      I liked the “Oh, the irony” btw. If it was me, however, I would end this blog post with this: “Touché.”

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 10:40 am on 13 May 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    I recall a conversation we had a while back where I was speculating about the possibility that Kindle books could be updated with corrections or revisions after purchase. I didn’t know whether Amazon ever did such a thing, but I knew of at least one example where it was needed: the Kindle version of The Lord Of The Rings, which I bought a few years ago, has some annoying textual glitches (presumably artifacts of file conversion).

    I was surprised and delighted today to find a note from Amazon in my inbox:

    We’re writing about your past Kindle purchase of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. The version you received had missing content and typos that have been corrected.

    An updated version of The Lord of the Rings (ASIN:B0026REBFK) is now available. It’s important to note that when we send you the updated version, you will no longer be able to view any highlights, bookmarks, and notes made in your current version and your furthest reading location will be lost.

    The note goes on to provide instructions on how to receive the update, which it promises I’ll receive within two hours.

    My print edition of LotR, which I bought in 1995, is still on the shelf, and as far as I can tell it still contains all the errors it was printed with. E-books win again.

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 11:56 am on 12 May 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Ben, you may have seen this, but Ars Technica has posted a review of Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal).

    As a new user, I’m just starting to become comfortable (or less uncomfortable, anyway) with Ubuntu; I think this review is spot on, and in particular it does a good job of summarizing some of the deficiencies in the Unity shell, better than I would have been able to do.

    In particular, the reviewer identified two problems that have definitely frustrated me, although I didn’t know whether the problem was me or Unity:

    • The Mac-style global menu bar. This continues to be nonintuitive for me, and I see that I’m not the only one. I’ll eventually get used to having to move my mouse pointer up to the top of the screen just to see what menu choices there are, but I shouldn’t have to.
    • The so-called “application lens,” which seems to be the nearest equivalent of the Windows Start menu. I’ve found this nearly impossible to use, but I thought it was just because I hadn’t learned my way around yet.

    It’s not all bad. The app lens does have a built-in search capability, so if I know the name of the app I want to run, I can just press the Windows key and type. (For that reason, I ended up not installing GNOME Do.) But the app lens provides no good way of exploring what’s actually there (I didn’t know I had a video editor, or what it was called, before I read about it in the review). Launching the calculator is easy enough (it’s called “calculator”), but if I don’t know the name of something, the app lens makes it pretty painful to find it.

    I’ve also been frustrated by the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any easy, UI-driven way to configure a volume to mount at startup. Each time I boot, I have to open my Windows partition just to force it to mount; creating links to files or folders that live there won’t work. I know I can remedy this problem by editing fstab, but jeez, I shouldn’t have to do that.

    Having said all that, none of this is fatal. Ubuntu continues to work well for my core tasks (Web browsing, e-mail, text editing, and word processing), and I’m continuing to learn my way around. I realize that part of the fun is tweaking the system, and I’ve actually found myself using my netbook more in the last few weeks than I had for a while; it feels like a new toy.

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