Archive for July, 2006

 

Heil Groucho

Monday, July 31st, 2006

Or something…

More here.

 
 

Emerge

Monday, July 31st, 2006

I was in Boston the other day, and returned to my car to find a flyer under the wiper blade. The title read as follows:

Emerge massage parlor does not offer a happy ending…..

“Just ask the workers!”

My first reaction was, wow, this massage parlor has been getting all the wrong clientele and has taken a real aggressive and unorthodox approach to letting people know that it’s not that kind of massage parlor. The flyer continues:

Joyce Hampers of Emerge massage parlor hired Metric Construction who does not pay area standard wages or benefits to their employees. Without area standard wages or benefits, our community’s workers are barely able to earn a living and can’t provide health insurance for their families. Workers without health insurance have nowhere to turn when their children get sick. These cheap and greedy business practices are destroying American communities and their families.

Call Joyce Hampers or Emerge Massage Parlor
(XXX) XXX-XXXX
and protest the use of substandard contractors in their building. Tell the management that:

Our workers are NOT Second-Class Citizens!

So. what seems to have happened is that in the Back Bay of Boston, one of the most expensive communities in the country, a local massage parlor, or salon, or whatever it is, used a construction company that uses non-union labor, and the union labor is pissed. So they decided to smear the Emerge massage parlor (or give it undue publicity) by making it appear to be one of those kind of massage parlors. How quaint. The flyer concludes in fine print (emphasis mine):

A message from the New England Regional Council of Carpenters – Fighting for good jobs for our community. Please do not litter. We are not asking for any individual to cease performing any services, or refuse to pick up, deliver, or handle any goods.

No, of course not. Because then where would all the carpenters go to get serviced and have their goods handled.

Really now, weren’t they kind of asking for it by placing this type of flyer on strangers cars?

 
 

Bird Man

Monday, July 31st, 2006

Not the cartoon. Pretty cool…

 
 

Missile Defense

Friday, July 28th, 2006

The primary argument against missile defense in recent years has gone something like this:

Why do we need missile defense, when it’s evident from its trajectory where a missile came from? Anyone who shoots a missile at us should expect massive retaliation. Therefore, they’ll never shoot such a missile, at least not at us.

This argument is predicated on a few premises, however:

  • The person shooting the missile isn’t in some sense suicidal

  • The person shooting the missile is acting on behalf of the government from where he is shooting the missile
  • The party being shot at has the willpower to shoot back at all.

It is entirely disingenuous to on the one hand argue against missile defense, and then at the same time argue that Israel’s response to being attacked is “disproportionate” or to whine about the loss of innocent life or of UN “peacekeepers” in the process. Israel’s response is what it should be without missile defense. To argue against it belies some other motive, probably something to do with siding against the West no matter what…

Missile defense is necessary precisely BECAUSE it tips the scales in favor of the good. It is necessary BECAUSE it eliminates having to weigh the need to obliterate areas where combatants are hiding behind innocents or countries not of their origin. As technology gets easier to produce, easier to transport, easier to deploy, we all risk Israel’s current fate. Any angry smuggler can shoot short range missiles at any of our cities, from places like Montreal or even within our own country, without fear of Mutually Assured Destruction. Scared yet?

Frankly, I don’t see the argument against missile defense. I think we need it not only on a national level, but on a local level, protecting population centers from localized attack with smuggled weapons. It’s unfortunate, but reality.

Daniel Henniger has a good column on the subject today here.
Charles Krauthammer has a related must read column on the fighting in Lebanon here.

 
 

I’m Sure Aquaman Has One Of These…

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

 
 

A Glimpse At The Future…

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

A world without Net Neutrality:

Five major telecom-equipment vendors are set to announce today major changes to their next-generation network technology to help telecom operators accelerate their introduction of features that combine phone, television and Internet services.

The companies — Cisco Systems Inc., Lucent Technologies Inc., Motorola Corp., Nortel Networks Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. — have been working for the past year to revise their systems to meet Verizon Wireless’s requirements. But they are planning to sell the new technology to other carriers as well.

Carriers rolling out new multimedia features are expected to spend billions of dollars in coming years on new Internet-based technology, known as IMS, for Internet Protocol Multimedia Subsystem. It is essentially the brains of a telecom network that directs services such as gaming or Internet TV to consumers, whether they are working in front of a computer, using a cellphone or watching TV. While existing networks can offer some of these services, IMS is designed to transfer voice, data or video signals as customers move, say, from using a cellphone network to a wired home phone or wireless hot spots, like those in airports.

Verizon Wireless also asked the equipment vendors to revise the next-generation technology to handle new services that haven’t been anticipated. “It’s like a reservation system that allows restaurants to plan for diners who show up at the door,” said Larry Lang, vice president of Cisco’s Mobile Wireless Group.

They don’t plan on putting Internet on those fiber lines they’re installing at all. Each telco will be selling private subscriptions to proprietary or licensed content. And it will cost you. Our only hope is that customers reject these services and just ask for plain old Internet instead. But of course, judging by the way people actually pay for ringtones and other silly things for their cellphones, that hope may be too much to hope for.

So, are you ready for your cable modem to become as locked down and proprietary as your cell phone? Thank Cisco.

Read more here.

 
 

Lance Bass

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

I’d never heard of him (he’s in ‘NSync). But then again, I’m not a teenage girl:

Lance BASS broke my heart in pieces.
Current mood: Lance broke my heart today

BREAKING NEWS -

Lance BASS from the former ‘NSYNC is gay. He came out of the closet today.

Thanks for fooling all the little girls that had a crush on you all those years Lance.

Thanks a lot.

In other related news – Justin Timberlake from the former ‘NSYNC has publically with NO shame admitted to using drugs. He admits to getting “wasted” on drugs frequently. By the way – his new video just premiered yesterday. (coincidence?)

I like Justin now. Anyone who does drugs and admits to doing them is really cool in my opinion.

He is in my good books.

But Lance on the other hand…

Thanks for breaking my heart. And millions of other girls who had your poster above their bed and kissed you every night before sleep, and then dreamed about having your baby. DAMN YOU.

Check it out here.

 
 

Lieberman

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

If Joe Lieberman has to leave the Democrat Party and run as a third party candidate, will he run as a “Liebertarian“?

 
 

Redistributing People

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

A surprising view from NPR, on Democrats looking to lower state taxes:

There’s an old saying that high taxes don’t redistribute income, they redistribute people. That’s a lesson that Mr. Corzine and most Democrats in Washington, D.C., can’t seem to grasp. But it’s good to see that other Democrat leaders across the country are casting aside the politics of class warfare for the politics of growth.

Read the whole thing here.

 
 

A Penny Saved…

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

is $0.014 earned?

Caught this over at Digg:

Representative Jim Kolbe wants to do away with the penny – and for a second time has introduced legislation that would effectively kill it.

The Currency Overhaul for an Industrious Nation (COIN) Act would force the rounding off of all cash transactions to the nearest 5 cents, making the penny coin useless for everyday transactions.

The move is in part a reaction to the rising cost of zinc – the penny’s main ingredient – which at current prices brings the cost of making the coin to 1.4 cents each.

Very interesting. Then there’s this from Wikipedia:

As of June 29, 2006, the price of copper is $3.42 per pound and zinc is $1.50 per pound. At these prices, the pre-1982 copper cent contains 2.204 cents worth of copper metal; it is now potentially profitable to melt them down. Presumably with the rapid rise in price for zinc (more than doubled in the last six months), the US Mint will have to find another alternative. Just the scrap zinc in a cent is worth 0.9 cents. With the costs of manufacturing and distribution, the net cost to produce one cent is about $0.0123, significantly higher than the face value of the coin.

So the rise in value from the last Wikipedia update and the CNN article is $0.0017/penny. Also from Wikipedia, the monetary makeup of a penny is as follows:

Copper-plated Zinc
97.5% Zn, 2.5% Cu
Mass: 2.5 g

Ok, so let’s run some simple math here. The latest prices of metals can be found here. Let’s assume that I bought $10,000 worth of pennies, and melted them down and sold the constituent metals at today’s market prices. Unfortunately, as per my calculations, the value of the constituent metals would only amount to $8,813. Not a profitable venture.

But let’s say we used the old pennies, the ones which ran from 1962 to 1982, which are 95% copper and 5% zinc. There are still plenty of those floating around. If I melted $10,000 in those pennies down, I would have $19,474 in constituent metals. Now THAT sounds like a plan.

I kind of have to run, but assuming you could buy tons of these older pennies and melt them down, you could make a fortune. In fact, you could short the copper and zinc metal markets in advance of your metals sales, given that you would be flooding the market with these metals. Now if only one could find a way of cycling through vast numbers of pennies, sorting out the older ones for meltdown…

In any event, my spreadsheet fooling with these numbers is here. Enjoy.

UPDATE: Ok, so there’s 12 pennies sitting on my desk. 4 of them are the old kind of pennies. If that rate held up, it would still be profitable to melt all teh pennies you could get without bothering with a sort. Pretty neat.

Also, I heard on teh news last night that nickles aren’t profitable to produce either. Each one costing $0.055 to produce. That may make for an even more profitable venture. I’ll have to run the numbers.