Since Ebert apparently thinks serious illness is funny, I guess that means we can start cracking jokes about his medical condition. Doctors had to remove his cancerous jaw a couple years back; now Ebert doesn't have a lower jaw, so he can't really speak, nor can he eat solid food. His mouth hangs open a lot, making him look like a moron.
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Kepler is going to mean trouble for me. What? You ask. How can that be? It's a scientific instrument dedicated to furthering our understanding of the cosmos; how can that be bad for anyone?
The colony worlds of my SF universe are built on a few basic principles. One of them is that--for most of the future history I've laid out--it takes months to travel from star to star, and the farther away your destination is, the longer it takes. (You know, like how travel works in the real world.) I chose this rather than something like Star Wars, where the farthest-flung worlds are not all that far away in terms of travel time, or like The Mote in God's Eye in which the "interstellar" part of interstellar travel is instantaneous.
In my world, ships spend a week or two getting out of a star's planetary system, and then jump to hyperspace, where they spend a few months before jumping back to normal space and traveling for a couple weeks to their destination.
This means that I've had to get information on "local" stars and figure distances and positions in space, and work out which stars could actually have terrestrial planets which could actually support human life. In a couple of spots I've had to fudge things, because the stars I wanted to use dump a lot of UV, but the fudges are within the realm of possibility. (Using real science, I mean.)
If Kepler goes and finds out that the stars I used don't have planets--or have the wrong sorts of planets in the wrong spots--what do you think that's going to do to my hard SF universe?
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In reality this article should be named "The Real Price of Illegal Labor" or something. We're meant to feel sorry for the milk farmers: milk prices are so low they have to hire illegals to do the physical labor, and sometimes they get hurt or killed.
But milk prices are low because there are too many milk producers. The entire point of a capitalist system is that the weak sisters drop out: it's survival of the fittest. The people who can't make a buck at the business go away, and the supply and demand curves adjust themselves. Sooner or later, supply, demand, and price all come into a natural balance.
Look, it's a sad thing when someone has to sell their dairy farm which has been in the family for umpteen years, and I sympathize with their plight, but there is no remedy to the problem which does not inevitably screw over the consumer. Government intervention generally focuses on keeping the price of milk artificially high. Government has to get the money from somewhere to do that; and so not only does the consumer pay more for a gallon of milk than the fair market price, but he also has to pay taxes which the government uses to keep the price of milk that high.
The article's focus on the plight of a killed illegal alien is supposed to make you feel sorry for everyone, but in fact I'm disgusted: the farmer shouldn't be hiring illegals in the first place; let alone the fact that the illegal shouldn't even have been here. Both parties were breaking federal laws.
And then? The worker who died "...had 80 extended family members and friends working on nearby...farms." How many members of his extended family are in the US? How many of them are here legally? (I suspect the number approximates zero.)
"Despite their colorful labels depicting happy cows and bucolic red barns," the article moralizes, "those inexpensive bottles and cartons come to us with an incalculably high human price tag."
Well, they wouldn't if the government simply enforced the immigration and labor laws as currently written. No new law is needed to correct this "incalculably high human price tag"; all we need to do is enforce the laws on the books. If we do that, the problem of "undocumented migrant workers" goes away, the price of labor goes up, the price of milk stabilizes at a level which allows farmers to employ documented workers, and probably something positive happens to unemployment levels in this country.
But of course the people in the article don't want that. The farmers want the cheap labor, and they want the government to ensure they don't have to quit farming and find other careers. The various advocate groups all want illegal immigrants to be naturalized without penalty, and probably unionized to boot.
Their answers are all more government, more spending, more taxation. It has nothing to do with the price of milk.
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Why an orc? I'd rather have a life-size statue of a hot night elf woman.
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So apparently the GDP growth for the third quarter of 2009 was 2.2 percent rather than 3.5. We were told that the recession is over because of all that GDP growth!
...only the growth was 33% smaller than they thought it was, and at that the growth was caused by number fixing--government moved to artificially inflate the GDP proxy data, thus making it look as if overall production was increasing.
So the recession is "over"--since "recession" is defined as "more than one successive fiscal quarter with zero or negative growth"--but there is no "recovery". I don't see it: prices are up, commodities are up, and unemployment (U3) is still hovering near 10%.
Just remember: unemployment is tracked by how many people are receiving unemployment benefits. People who are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits but who have not found a job are not counted as "unemployed" by U3.
During the Bush years, U3 was around 5% and we were told that U6 was 10% and "a more accurate measure of unemployment" than U3. And that 10% figure was dire economic news and showcased the failure of the Bush administration.
Now that Obama's in the White House, though, a U3 of 10% isn't all that bad--the economy, we are told, is in a recovery!--and we don't hear very much about U6 even though it's around 17.5%.
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Mark Steyn on the "Pantybomber". Heh.
"Janet Incompetano". Heh.
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"Nearby" star could blow up and "threaten" Earth. ...it's 3,260 light years away. That's not exactly "nearby".
"The new findings suggest the white dwarf, considered close to us by cosmic standards, could eventually go supernova. Gamma radiation emitted by the supernova could threaten the Earth with an energy equivalent to 1,000 simultaneous solar flares." But how much radiation is that? How much would reach the Earth's surface? Don't bother to tell us anything useful, guys.
"The production of nitrous oxides in Earth's atmosphere by the gamma rays could completely destroy the ozone layer, astronomers said." Oh stars (so to speak) that would be horrible. Whatever would we do? We'd have to rely on the other hundred miles of atmosphere to protect us from the ultraviolet light of the sun. (Don't even get me started.)
I think if the radiation of "1,000 solar flares" is enough to kill us, we're not going to give a rat's ass about the ozone layer. And if it's not enough to kill us, then we're going to count ourselves lucky and still not give a rat's ass about the ozone layer.
If they're worried about a type 1a supernova, why don't they worry about Betelgeuse? That thing's a hell of a lot closer than this maybe-might-be-someday-possibly supernova, and it's definitely going to blow sooner or later--and its diameter and brightness have decreased by 15% in the last 15 years, which is a sign that something major is going on with the red supergiant. Of the two, I think Betelgeuse is more likely, so why aren't they talking about it?
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Steven and I have been eagerly anticipating ChuBra. I'm off to find it.