September 2012 Archives

Corning imagines "A Day Made of Glass":

Pretty cool video, but not very plausible in my opinion. The video mostly just extrapolates modern touch interfaces and applications onto giant pieces of magic glass -- essentially turning every surface into an iPad. I think it's much more likely that future displays will take forms like Google Glass or networked contact lenses. We'll each be immersed in our own personal augmented realities and there will be no need for giant pieces of glass everywhere (much to Corning's dismay, I'm sure).

What's more... touch interfaces? Puh-lease. Fine for browsing the web or playing casual games, but terrible for almost anything else.

Datechguy uses numbers to show why it matters that the party affiliation of poll respondents doesn't match reality.

Short version: pollsters are weighting their polls as if there are more Democrats than Republicans, when the opposite is true. Without this inaccurate weighting Romney would show a significant lead.

This poll shows that have been more Republicans than Democrats for all of 2012:


This chart shows that pollsters consistently weight their polls with more Democrats than Republicans, and thereby skew their results towards Obama and away from Romney.


I know my trash man has been angry at me in the past when I've piled trash high on the sidewalk. It was all bagged or boxed, but he stopped me as I was leaving for work and told me that it was too much for one day. I got out of my car and helped him throw everything into his truck, and since then I've had many conversations with him in my head.

There have been several subsequent occasions in which I've thrown out huge amounts of trash, and I'd like to think that by now my trash man as built a grudging respect for my disposal ability. Sure, he'll sometimes leave a note on large, clumsy objects, but in those notes I detect hints of admiration. Yes, I can disassemble the deck swing so it fits in your truck!

Even when my trash doesn't exceed the capacity of my can I hope that he notices how heavy it is.

Here are a ton of Nakoula arrest photoshops at QuickMeme, and here are some of the best. My favorite:

presidential oath.jpg

It's the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam and NPR has a good summary of the battle.

Let's remember our past and pray that we don't repeat it.

Anyone who loves the Constitution should see this picture as the ultimate disgrace of Barack Obama:

disgrace of barack obama.jpg

Writes Glenn Reynolds:

Here's the key bit: "Just after midnight Saturday morning, authorities descended on the Cerritos home of the man believed to be the filmmaker behind the anti-Muslim movie that has sparked protests and rioting in the Muslim world."

When taking office, the President does not swear to create jobs. He does not swear to "grow the economy." He does not swear to institute "fairness." The only oath the President takes is this one:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

By sending -- literally -- brownshirted enforcers to engage in -- literally -- a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration, President Obama violated that oath. You can try to pretty this up (It's just about possible probation violations! Sure.), or make excuses or draw distinctions, but that's what's happened. It is a betrayal of his duties as President, and a disgrace.

He won't resign, of course. First, the President has the appreciation of free speech that one would expect from a Chicago Machine politician, which is to say, none. Second, he's not getting any pressure. Indeed, the very press that went crazy over Ari Fleischer's misrepresented remarks seems far less interested in the actions of an administration that I repeat, literally sent brown-shirted enforcers to launch a midnight knock on a filmmaker's door.

But Obama's behavior -- and that of his enablers in the press -- has laid down a marker for those who are paying attention. By these actions he is, I repeat, unfit to hold office. I hope and expect that the voters will agree in November.

Government persecution of a person for their religious speech, however offensive, is disgusting and embarrassing and disgraceful. This is the United States of America and we don't have to put up with a government that tramples on our rights as free citizens. It's a good thing there's an election coming up.

The President spends most of his time campaigning for his re-election but his cabinet secretaries aren't supposed to.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) said Wednesday that Sebelius violated the law when she publicly endorsed Obama's re-election and North Carolina Lieutenant Gov. Walter Dalton's gubernatorial primary in a multi-way race during a taxpayer-funded public event on Feb. 25, 2012. The standard penalty for violating the Hatch Act is termination. But, the White House has suggested that Obama will offer Sebelius special treatment and let her keep her job.

According to OSC, any "employee who violates the Hatch Act shall be removed from their position, and funds appropriated for the position from which removed thereafter may not be used to pay the employee or individual."

But whatever, it's not like Obama is a Republican or something.

Will these bloody handprints be the images that define President Obama's foreign policy legacy?

bloody handprints.jpg

Caption: There will be blood: A Libyan man explains that the bloodstains on the column are from one the American staff members who grabbed the edge of the column while he was evacuated, after an attack that killed four Americans on September 11th

President Obama bears ultimate responsibility for our poor preparation for these attacks. America should respond to these attacks with force.

(HT: Gateway Pundit.)

So is foreign policy supposed to be off limits for presidential candidates?

There is no end to the chutzpah of the Obama administration and its enablers in the press. In the wake of violent attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo and consulate in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in the line of duty in 33 years, Barack Obama tries to pretend that the real story is Mitt Romney's criticism of the statement that the State Department released after the Cairo attack. And, incredibly, the press shows little interest in the September 11 anniversary attacks by al Qaeda members or sympathizers, and instead follow's the administration's line: it's all about Mitt! ...

Nevertheless, when Romney held a press conference to talk about these events, what happened? Reporters collaborated to make sure that appropriately hostile questions were asked, "no matter who he calls on." The Right Scoop picked up reporters planning their attack on Romney on an open microphone. (What is it with liberals and open microphones?) You really should watch the video; I would put it up here, but it doesn't appear to be embeddable.

This is quite remarkable: when Democrats alleged foreign policy failures during the Bush administration, do you remember hostile questions from reporters along the lines of, how dare you question the administration's foreign policies? Don't you know politics stops at the water's edge? No, I don't remember it that way, either.

Well, isn't it obvious? An American embassy looted and an American ambassador murdered. This is a huge embarrassment for President Obama. Embassies are sovereign territory, so when one is ransacked it is literally an invasion of American territory. The media simply can't allow Romney to draw attention to Obama's failure.

A cool in-class experiment that shows students the value of property rights and free trade.

... I go around allocating trinkets to students at random.

I then ask students to assign a value to the trinket they have just received ranging from 0 to 10, with higher values meaning cooler trinkets.

We then go around the room recording those values. Because students often bring their laptops to lecture, it is easy to find a volunteer to record those values, but you can have a teaching assistant do it. Once all values are recorded, total welfare (i.e., the sum total of the values students assign to their trinkets) is announced.

I then tell students that they have five minutes to trade voluntarily between themselves, insisting on the fact that trades must be voluntary (i.e., no stealing) and cannot involve dynamic aspects, or credit (i.e., no "I'll give you my cool dinosaur if you give me your awful trinket and you buy drinks on Friday night.")

Once students are done trading, we once again go around the room recording the values they assign to their trinkets. Once all values are recorded, total welfare is announced once again.

And that's usually where the magic happens. When I ran the Trading Game last week, my class' "aggregate welfare" went from 128 to about 180, if I recall correctly, and you could just see that it had become obvious to students that (in this context of well enforced property rights) trade not only left no one worse off, but it increased aggregate welfare.

This is a great game that should be demonstrated to every elementary school student in the world.

(HT: Greg Mankiw.)

New research shows that due to our circadian rhythm West Coast football teams beat the spread against East Coast teams 70% of the time!

Now, a few times each NFL season, an Eastern team plays a Western team in a night game. For television reasons, all the games start around 8:30 p.m., Eastern Time.

That means for an East Coast home game, the West Coast players still have their body clocks set at 5:30 -- ready to perk up, as the Eastern boys will soon run down. If the West Coast team is home, same thing: It's 5:30 for the Pacific boys, but the Atlantic guys' body clocks say it's 8:30.

Follow me? It doesn't matter where the game is played. The West Coast bodies are coming to life as the East Coast bodies are feeling nature's circadian cues to sleep.

And guess what the researchers found? Over a quarter-century span, the West Coast teams beat the East an amazing 70 percent of the time against the spread. Hello! Seventy percent!

That's pretty astounding, and I'm sure that gamblers have known this and profited from it for a long time.

It's been eleven years since America was attacked on 9-11 and the world is a very different place. For Americans, I'd say it's a much safer place thanks to our amazing armed forces as well as to Presidents Bush and Obama. Let's not grow complacent.

More than anything, let's not forget to make the the most of each day that God gives us.

James 4:14: "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

So I've decided to write a review of Guild Wars 2! Some background on my perspective: I haven't played a ton of massively multiplayer online games. In World of Warcraft I made it all the way to level one. I played Lord of the Rings Online for a few months and enjoyed it, and the same for The Old Republic. Both turned grindy and I lost my interest.

Ok, so, GW2: it's awesome. Let me count the ways!

1. The graphics and visual content are gorgeous. Exploration is a blast, and there's always something new to see. The cities feel populated and live.

2. The dynamic events are fun. Sure, some are just "protect the caravan", but not all. Once I logged off in a friendly NPC fortress and when I logged back on it had been taken over by centaurs and burned to the ground. So we had to take it back over and rebuild it!

3. Character skills and abilities. I'm playing an elementalist and the mechanics are just plain fun. There are ability cooldowns, but they don't govern combat. It's hard to understand why without mentioning:

4. Mobile combat! Most abilities can be used on the run. You have to keep moving to dodge enemies and to get them into the hitboxes of your abilities. When an ability comes off cooldown you can't just use it unless you're in the right position. Combat isn't just a rotation of abilities in an "optimal" order because a lot of effort goes into positioning. Some enemies are fast, some are slow, and sometimes your movement abilities change based on your skills.

5. Instant travel. Once you have visited a place you can instantly travel back to it for a handful of copper. This means that there's a lot less running around, and all your foot travel is to new and exciting places, which leads to:

6. Exploration! The exploration system is excellent. You get rewards to visiting new places, killing a wide variety of creatures, seeing new vistas, and completing maps. The game deliberately rewards you for spreading your activities out. For example, monsters that have been alive for a long time give bonus experience points -- if you want to get the bonuses, you have to venture off the well-traveled routes.

7. Conditions and boons. These are the debuffs/buffs that are common in many games, but their mechanics are tweaked and more interesting in GW2. For example, elementalists can cause both bleeding and burning to do damage over time, but the effects stack differently. Bleeding stacks on intensity, which means that the more stacks of bleeding that you put on a target the more damage the target takes each second. Burning stacks on duration, which means that adding more burning doesn't increase the damage per second, but does lengthen the amount of time the target burns for. These distinctions make a huge difference when you're cooperating with other players to take down a boss. Which brings us to:

8. Ad hoc grouping! You get to work with whomever you're close to. You don't need to intentionally form a group to quest together, you can just go wherever you want and start walking next to whoever you want to team with. Rewards are automatically shared to everyone, so there's no competition between players and no reason to begrudge someone joining your group.

Those are my impressions after the first week of play. I plan to continue, so I may have more to say later on as I advance. I haven't tried much PvP or World-vs.-World play yet, but I plan to.

Despite what the Democrats would have you believe the bailout of General Motors was not a success.

GM is once again flirting with bankruptcy despite massive government purchases propping up its sales figures. GM stock is rock-bottom. Losses continue to be revised in the wrong direction. According to The Detroit News, "The Treasury Department says in a new report the government expects to lose more than $25 billion on the $85 billion auto bailout. That's 15 percent higher than its previous forecast."

The claims that GM paid back its taxpayer-funded loans "in full" -- a story peddled in campaign ads narrated by Hollywood actor Tom Hanks -- were debunked by the Treasury Department's TARP watchdog this summer. GM still owes nearly $30 billion of the $50 billion it received, and its lending arm still owes nearly $15 billion of the more than $17 billion it received. Bailout watchdog Mark Modica of the National Legal and Policy Center adds: "In addition to U.S. taxpayers anteing up, Canada put in over $10 billion, and GM was relieved of about $28 billion of bondholder obligations as UAW claims were protected. That's an improvement of almost $90 billion to the balance sheet, and the company still lags the competition."

GM basically got $90 billion for free. If Americans wanted to pour money into a successful car company we could have started one from scratch for a lot less cash than that. The GM bailout should be understood for what it was: a bailout of the United Auto Workers union at the expense of shareholders, bondholders, and taxpayers.

I know that "Spring Cleaning" is all the rage, but I tend to get more into cleany-fixit mode when Fall rolls around. Yeah, it's not Fall yet... but the leaves are falling in St. Louis, so what the heck. Anyway, here's a seasonal home maintenance checklist that I'm adding to my Google calendar to help me stay on top of my tasks.

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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