atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2097: What's he going to do? Make a movie about it?

James Cameron is going to D.C. Supposedly he's going there to help with the BP oil leak.

...correct me if I'm wrong about this: Cameron is a movie director. Right? He's got tons of experience with making underwater movies and perfected many techniques for doing same...but unless I miss my guess the problem BP has is with a leaking pipe. Cameron's not a plumber, not even of the undersea variety. Is he?

How is all of Cameron's underwater movie-making experience supposed to help with a highly technical engineering problem?

* * *

So the feds are going to open criminal investigations. You can count on said investigations exonerating whatever government agencies gave BP a pass and laying all the blame at BP's feet.

* * *

Have you ever gotten a 21.6% raise for the same job? Even spread out over the course of a few years?

I certainly have not. The biggest single raise I ever got was from $9.50 an hour to $10.50 an hour, a bit more than 10%. (This was after I'd been in the job for a couple of years and put up with idiocy like bounced paychecks. It wasn't that the business didn't have the money to pay me; the boss had just put payroll in the wrong account. Several times. But it was also the only raise I ever got in that job, even though I was there for at least another three years.)

Half of the raise in D.C. is retroactive: they're getting a lump-sum for about half the raise applied retroactively to prior years' paychecks. The rest is to come over the next two years to reach its peak in 2012.

It's such a shame my politics are conservative and my temper so fragile. If I weren't so ill-suited to being a teacher I could stand to make even $67,000 per year for nine months of work.


* * *

Ah, I hear the sweet drone of the municipal mosquito fogger. Excellent.

I'd extinguish every single mosquito on Earth in a heartbeat, given the chance, and I wouldn't think twice about it. Fuck biodiversity--those things are disease-ridden parasites.

* * *

Amtrack is a solution in search of a problem. Do you know why the federal government had to form Amtrack in the 1970s? Because passenger railroad service is a money-losing proposition, that's why.

Amtrack has never shown a profit in its entire existence, because it costs more to provide the service than people are willing to pay. It costs more to take a train across the country than it does to fly!

And like all government-run institutions, Amtrack provides--at best--mediocre service. Try taking a look at its on-time service statistics; they're abysmal. (They are improving from where they were five years ago, but they are abysmal.)

Because of the serial nature of train tracks, and because of long-established safety rules which have been essentially written in blood, trains have to have a certain amount of distance between them when they occupy the same piece of track. A typical Amtrack train can hit 90 MPH but not if it's behind a unit coal train going 35. Amtrack owns little of its own track; most of its "network" consists of contracted leases of privately-owned track. And the people who own those tracks make a hell of a lot more money from moving their trains over that track than they do from allowing an Amtrack train to occupy that real estate.

"Written in blood": the federal railroad regulations are the result of over 160 years of trial-and-error in railroading. When accidents killed or injured people, a new rule was written or an old rule was changed to prevent future occurrences of similar accidents. The rules we have now are pretty good, but a lot of people died in the process of writing them, so we do not lightly waive them.

Intercity rail is a relic of a bygone era. There is no economic need for it; if there were, Amtrack would not need to exist.

* * *

Ann Coulter is awesome and you should always read her, but I'm linking today's column because of the following quote:
The New York Times' Linda Greenhouse recently compared the Arizona law to Hitler's policies toward the Jews. You remember how Jews were constantly sneaking across the border into Nazi Germany?
Whenever a liberal doesn't like something, it's always fascist or something like Nazi Germany. Always-always. Even if the comparison doesn't make a lick of sense.


* * *

Blago and Obama and Chicago politics are going to make for an interesting summer.

* * *

Mom had some tests this morning so I had to hie her over to the medical center at 7 AM. On the way back I picked up my two prescriptions, and as predicted the diruetic made me pee like a fire hydrant.

Nothing like immediate confirmation that your pills are working.

On the plus side, the total cash outlay for my prescriptions was $25, which I can live with. Both are generics, which helps.

Breakfast: Egg McMuffin. (One. Normally I'd eat two.)
Lunch: Peanut butter sandwich, two slices of bread. (Normally when I eat this it's a PBJ on three slices of bread.)
Dinner: a bowl of Hamburger Helper.
HS snack: probably either a PBJ or more hamburger helper.

("HS" is long-term care speak for "hour of sleep", ie "midnight snack".)

...looking at what I eat I can tell that it's as much a problem of portion control as it is what I eat. It took longer for one McMuffin to shut off my hunger reflex than two would have; but it shut off all the same. I need to get out of the habit of eating until I feel satisfied, and instead eat what I know I need to eat. ("Need" as opposed to "want".)

Today I probably ate about half as many calories as I normally eat, and I feel fine. If I can keep this up long enough to change my habit (it takes an average person three weeks to change a habit) then I will have accomplished part one of my plan to eliminate about 1/3 of my current existence.

(Ideally I'd like to be 200 lbs. I would also like to go to the moon and own a Lamborghini. We'll see how I do.)

I'm not going to set an unrealistic goal (such as, I don't know, "lose 50 lbs by September") because A) it won't work; and B) it's not safe. What I want to do is to set up the conditions for losing weight--eliminating excess calories from my diet, increasing my physical activity--and then see how that effects my weight over a period of time. If I am right, making some necessary changes should result in a reduction of my weight. Perhaps I won't drop to 200, not even in a couple years' time, but I'll lose some weight...and if my weight on average holds steady or drops a bit year-on-year I can accept that. Especially if my overall physical condition (cardiovascular etc) improves.

As far as I can tell from what I've heard over the years, being fat itself is not a risk factor for chronic conditions so much as the lack of good diet and exercise are: eating crap and not exercising is what causes heart trouble and diabetes, IMHO, and the obesity is a side effect of the diet and lack of exercise. It's an indicator, not a cause. Again, IMHO.

* * *

Although the weather today was pleasant enough, we had the AC on. It was just a bit too warm and humid; and at 9 PM it's still just a hair uncomfortable outside. In a few hours I'll probably shut off the AC and open windows because I expect it to be nice out. But not yet.

We got almost an inch of rain over the past 24 hours. I bet I won't be able to cut the grass until Friday.

* * *

Having burned through Juggler of Worlds in one day, I had to resort to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya when I needed a book to read at the doctor's office yesterday and today. I couldn't find anything else I wanted to read. I'm going to have to dig into that morasse of crap downstairs and find my books so I have more available to me than a handful of b-list paperbacks and my collection of manga tankobon.

This is ridiculous: I've got half a ton (quite possibly literally!) of reading material stashed all over the house and none of it is accessible.

(Okay, maybe a literal quarter ton. Still.)

* * *

...I saw that Borders is selling an ebook reader for $150, and I thought about it. If I wasn't certain that the price of the things is going to drop still farther than it has in the past year, I'd probably already have written the check.

But what I want is a reader with an 8.5x11" screen, so it can show such pages at 1:1 without scrolling. Nearly everything I have written or drawn is formatted to that page size. Said reader must be able to display PDF, TXT, and JPEG at a bare minimum, and it must have SD card support. I'd prefer it to have a touch screen and cost $200 or less.

It's coming; I just have to bide my time.

* * *

You think it's unreasonable? Look: in 1999 a DVD player cost $250. Now they're $50. In 1985 a laser printer cost as much as a good used car; the one on my desk prints three times faster and at four times the resolution...and it cost $100.

My cell phone! It cost $40. If I wanted, I could get a replacement for it that costs $10.

Ebook readers are going to get cheaper. As more people adopt them, they'll come down in price and the selection will expand. There are at least four companies which are marketing a large-format reader, and I expect that number to increase, and competition will lower the price.

Other examples: my Toshiba XR-40 cost $200 in 1985 (1985 dollars), and the least-expensive component CD player I've seen ran $85 in 2008 (2008 dollars). Hard drives, portable CD players, cordless telephones, car stereos--every consumer electronic device I've ever had any use for has dropped drastically in both price and real cost to a certain practical minimum, and there's no reason to believe that ebook readers will be any different. It's just a question of how long am I willing to wait?

I have no idea what that "certain practical minimum" (CPM) is for ebook readers; it's different for every device. But although inflation has happened the price of car CD stereos has not increased significantly; in 2000 I paid $100 for the CD player in the Escort, and ten years later you can still get a decent CD player to stick in your dashboard for around $100. (Name brand, too.)

$70 seems to be the CPM for hard drives, at least at Best Buy, as the lowest nonsale price for any HD I've ever seen there was around that price. (Yeah, CPM varies by store, too. I know you can find HDs cheaper than that on the web.)

$30 looks to be about the lower limit for MP3 players, particularly those with video screens rather than LCD segment displays.

How low can it go? We're not there yet, I know that much...and so I wait.

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