February 5th, 2010

#1926: Looks like WND is being DDOSed.

I get "504 Gateway Timeout" whenever I try to load anything. Happened right in the middle of my browse of their page, too, dang it.

So the things I wanted to comment on from there will have to wait until the DDOSing is over.

* * *

"Only responsible government agents had guns in Germany, China, Vietnam, Laos, Russia, Rwanda, and N.Korea."

What an eloquent argument against gun control that presents!

* * *

Oh, there we go. WND is back. Maybe not DDOS.

Is US bullying Toyota on its recalls? Whenever a government owns a business--as our government does with GM--it will do things to attempt to support its own business' success.

This is one reason everyone knows that BS about ObamaCare "enhancing competition" is bullshit.

* * *

I haven't talked about the sun lately.

So far this year we've had maybe a couple days without sunspots. One. There have been a few days where there were two sunspots on the sun. While this is decidedly more activity than we have seen over the past 18 months, the sun is not exactly a crackling sea of sunspot activity.

In fact, a couple of those sunspots have been counted twice due to the way they are counted: when a long-lasting sunspot goes around the sun and comes back it's counted again and assigned a new number. Thus sunspot number 100 (say) would come around again and be counted as number 101 if no other sunspots had been seen. This is so that the current sunspot number is determined the way the sunspot number was determined 'way back when they started keeping track of the sunspot number.

We've had a handful of sunspots since the year began, but it amounts to a very low sunspot count even so--not zero, but low. The sun is showing more sunspot activity than it has for the past eighteen months or so, but it is not showing a lot of sunspot activity.

So, this fearmongering about the solar maximum in 2012 may be premature. Even at solar maximum the frequency of severe solar flares which can incapacitate our television system is not all that high.

The last paragraph says that we're now seeing solar flares--that's incorrect. There have been solar flares happening all along, even while the sunspot count was zero. Solar minimum means flares are less likely to happen, but they still do, and it's possible for the sun to spit out some real doozies even when it's not supposed to be all that active. It's not likely but it happens.

* * *

This is what socialized medicine can do for you. The bureaucracy does not care if your child needs asthma medication and you cannot afford to pay for it out-of-pocket.

* * *

George Will on Obama's SuperBudget.

He also disusses a tract written by an economist who predicts that China's GDP will be $123 trillion by 2040.

I'm not so sure.

Look: China may have a huge pool of labor, but its infrastructure is largely confined to urban areas. Can China get roads and electricity and communications systems out into the hinterlands in 30 years? Can China build the infrastructure to mobilize 700 million people that quickly?

My gut says "no." I've read articles discussing the way China supports its own exports, and I don't see how that can continue to work. If the dollar collapses, the entire world economy is going to fall apart, and there won't be enough money in the world to support China developing a $123 trillion economy.

Some European nations are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy right now. Japan is in trouble. The US is printing money and some of its most populous states are either bankrupt or getting there. Unemployment in the US continues to rise and the economy is not improving except on paper.

Furthermore, 12% of the shipping capacity of the world is sitting idle. 33% of the factories in the US are sitting idle. 17% of the workforce in the US is sitting idle.

The yoke of Chinese communism will begin to chafe the necks of the Chinese people; the richer they get, the less they'll like being led around by the nose. (Rich people don't like confiscatory tax rates.) There will be social upheaval; and even if the ChiComs put it down, that will represent an enormous economic disruption.

I suppose in a best-case scenario China can have a $123 trillion economy 30 years from now; but I don't know that it's the way to bet unless gold is trading at $5,000 per ounce.

* * *

We may be looking at the end of silicon chips, eventually. WTF, is there anything carbon can't do?

Processor manufacturers are going multi-core because we can't seem to get them to run faster than a handful of GHz without overheating. My desktop computer--which is about a month shy of two years old now--has a dual-core processor running at 3 GHz, and clock speeds have not gone any higher in the intervening time. Intel (and others) have simply started putting more cores on chips; as I understand it, the top-end computers have two four-core CPUs on their motherboards. ...or maybe the CPUs are eight-core now. It wouldn't surprise me, but I haven't been paying attention.

Regardless, if you don't want to liquid-cool your processor (and you don't want it to set itself on fire) it can't be clocked faster than about 3 GHz. We're still cramming ever-more features on a die, so we can double- and quad-core the things. Four processors running at 3 GHz is about as good as one processor running at 12 GHz, theoretically.

But graphene may change that. The lab tests have been run at 30 GHz; the chip had a feature size of .24 micron, which is about 7.5 times bigger than the smallest feature size we use in production ICs (about 32 nanometers) but there should not be any reason the technology can't be used at smaller feature sizes.

It's nothing earth-shattering; but it demonstrates that the technology can be made to work in a production environment.

* * *

Speaking of state-of-the-art electronics, I'm wondering about the whole memristor thing. It was May of 2008 that I first heard of them, and the only thing I've heard since is that they can be used to build self-programming logic circuits as well as memory circuits.

* * *

Suddenly it's eleven o'clock. Where the hell did the morning go?

#1927: The economy is not getting better.

They're playing numbers games to make the unemployment figure look better, but it's not.

Item: the Labor Department added 1,000,000 additional lost jobs to the unemployment figures, so we've actually lost 8,000,000-odd jobs rather than 7,000,000 during this recession.

Item: the figure which represents the pool of available jobs has been adjusted downward by the Labor Department. This makes unemployment look smaller.

Item: the figure which has improved is U3, which is the number of people actively looking for work and collecting unemployment benefits. U6 has not changed; it is still around 17.5%. If there were jobs being created, U6 would have also decreased.

Item: U3 also gets smaller when people use up their unemployment benefits and drop off the unemployment insurance rolls.

Item: the federal government is hiring census workers right now, and will hire a total of about a million people. These are temporary jobs that won't last more than a few months but will take some people off of U3 and/or U6.

Item: unemployment is still increasing.

Sorry, Obama-troids; I don't buy it.