Too Much Travel
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Happy Thank-God-We-Are-At-Home-Week everyone.
Skype for Mobile Phones
Thank you Skype.
Not that this makes you worth several billion dollars to eBay (what *was* Meg drinking? I'll have a double!) but you're worth a lot more to me.
I already use Skype in hotel rooms (assuming nominally non-crappy wifi) to avoid horrific cell phone charges overseas or ear-rot from too-long conference calls. This will allow me to login to a wifi location in an airport overseas and make calls for pennies.
Yes, 19 quid is a lot for an all-day connection at Gatwick, but it's a 19 minute phone call away from break even. Plus, assuming you have a decent cell phone you can use your cell phone as a "modem", thereby doing a dirty double to the wifi guys.
Seems only fair to screw them after all the times they've screwed us with low bandwidth wifi and obscenely high costs.
Couldn't Have Said it Better Myself
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
"A well-schooled electorate, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and read Books, shall not be infringed." Is the grammatical structure and usage of this sentence, and the way the words modify each other, identical to the Second Amendment? Could this sentence be interpreted to restrict "the right of the people to keep and read Books" only to "a well-educated electorate" — for example, registered voters with a high-school diploma?This shows an interesting point about human cognition. A liberal can read the 2nd Amendent:
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.and because they feel that somehow guns are evil and should be restricted to the distasteful military, their brain puts an emphasis on the first phrase and is able to turn that into acceptance of all sorts of "reasonable" restrictions. But take the exact sentence structure and replace education and books for militia and arms and they can clearly see that any restriction on the right of the people to read books would be barred in the first sentence. This isn't a slam against liberals, it just shows that the perspective that people approach things from has a dramatic impact on their understanding of "clear" english.
This explains why two people with different agendas can look at a powerpoint bullet and get completely different meanings. Except that the 2nd Amendment isn't a powerpoint bullet. It has a very clear meaning -- the liberal brain just has to go through more gymnastics in order to believe that it doesn't say what it says.
Now, none of that is going to help if the thief can spoof the magazine subscription guys out of your home information plus the last four digits of your social plus changing your email address - which is what happened to a friend of mine.
Can you imagine being on a business trip to Prague and having to cancel all your credit cards and then come home to the US and being arrested at immigration control? True story about identity theft. Let's be careful out there....
Monday, February 26, 2007
First, Zumbo's original blog entry:
Assault Rifles For Hunters?
As I write this, I’m hunting coyotes in southeastern Wyoming with Eddie Stevenson, PR Manager for Remington Arms, Greg Dennison, who is senior research engineer for Remington, and several writers. We’re testing Remington’s brand new .17 cal Spitfire bullet on coyotes.
I must be living in a vacuum. The guides on our hunt tell me that the use of AR and AK rifles have a rapidly growing following among hunters, especially prairie dog hunters. I had no clue. Only once in my life have I ever seen anyone using one of these firearms.
I call them “assault” rifles, which may upset some people. Excuse me, maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity. I’ll go so far as to call them “terrorist” rifles. They tell me that some companies are producing assault rifles that are “tackdrivers.”
Sorry, folks, in my humble opinion, these things have no place in hunting.
We don’t need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them, which is an obvious concern. I’ve always been comfortable with the statement that hunters don’t use assault rifles. We’ve always been proud of our “sporting firearms.”
This really has me concerned. As hunters, we don’t need the image of walking around the woods carrying one of these weapons. To most of the public, an assault rifle is a terrifying thing. Let’s divorce ourselves from them. I say game departments should ban them from the praries and woods.
I read this article and my first thought was "What was he thinking?" Calling assault rifles "terrorist weapons" wasn't a very good idea. And rubbing salt in the wound that is the divide between shooters and hunters was a bad concept for an article.
My second thought was that maybe he has a point. Anti-hunters would get a lot of mileage out of pictures of hunters with scary looking black rifles. Imagine if the Hmong hunter in Wisconsin had been using a black rifle. Hunting gets attacked from all sides -- from within over divisions between dog hunters, Sunday hunting, night hunting, game farms, etc, and from the outside by animal rights groups and soccer moms that buy their meat at the grocer but think hunting is cruel. The attack on guns is pretty much in the background for hunters. Even John Kerry felt he had to buy a brand new goose hunting outfit in 2004 and go on a hunt. The lefties pander to hunters to get elected because they're seen as separate from the assault weapons that they're so willing to ban. So the argument that perhaps hunters shouldn't let themselves get grouped in with the assault weapons crowd doesn't seem so unreasonable.
The floodgates in the blogosphere opened up. Zumbo issued a couple of apologies, but he was basically forced into retirement. He misunderstood the key concept that the things you can say with friends around a campfire or in an anonymous forum or blog entry are entirely different than what you can say when you make your living by what you say and what people think of you. He generated a firestorm and ended up effectively becoming unemployed because sponsors wanted nothing to do with him.
I'm not in the camp that feels bad for Mr. Zumbo. He should have known not to poke the bear, and he shouldn't have been surprised when it slapped him. But I also think that this discussion should never have turned into a 2nd Amendment issue. He never suggested that assault weapons should be banned. He merely stated that he thinks they look bad for hunting and hunters shouldn't be allowed to use them. He was misinformed about the state of hunting, and he stumbled into a very sensitive area.
Assault weapon owners are rightfully touchy with a Speaker of the House named Nancy Pelosi. The assault weapon ban is coming back. I'm worried too, although I wonder how many of these gun owners that are screaming stayed home last November and didn't vote in order to teach the Republicans a lesson? It was a bad time for Mr. Zumbo to step in this particular steaming pile.
My experience with hunting celebrities is that they're pretty much idiots. They're writers and TV personalities, not expert sportsmen. My defining experience with the genre was when I was working as a guide in a remote Canadian fishing and hunting camp. We got a visit from a famous hunting celeb that did a show on moose hunting. The celeb was insufferable. He thought he knew everything. He had read a book on moose hunting on the plane, and he decided that the best strategy would be to drive the moose. While that method may work just fine in an organized hunt in neatly divided European farmland, the muskeg forest doesn't lend itself to it with just two hunters. He spooked every moose in the area. Finally, on the last day of the five day hunt one of the guides got up early and killed a moose at the far end of the lake while the celeb was sleeping off a hangover. If you watch the TV show, it looks like the celeb did everything and killed a moose on his first day.
So the idea that Zumbo, too, is an idiot shouldn't surprise anybody. From his world view, he took a somewhat controversial stand. He didn't take into account the current anxiety in the shooting world, and what he actually said got twisted around quite a bit. His apologies didn't fix the damage. Instead of saying "I never meant to say that people don't have the right to own assault weapons" (which he didn't), he talked about how he was learning that assault weapons are indeed becoming popular in hunting. It didn't matter. The gun nuts wanted a scalp and they got it.
At an amazing $15, who couldn't afford (or expense) this nifty gizmo. You plug it into the wall (natch), then plug your power bar full of printers and what-not crap into the bottom socket. Then you run a simple common USB cable from the plug to your computer/docking station.
Then when you power down your laptop it shuts off the bottom plug. Off go all your peripherals.
When you power back up and the USB comes alive, the power comes back on.
Sweet! And it might even save you some coinage....
Rental Car Woes
Sunday, February 25, 2007
So I figured that if I got downstairs at 6:20am and headed to the airport that I would make my airplane easily. At six I called downstairs for my car, hopped in the shower, and was dressed and downstairs at 6:15.
Yes, I dress like a man, no hair product, etc, etc.
Anyway, the valet didn't have the car out. He looked at my tix, poked around the keys, asked for my name, poked around the keys. He got his manager, they looked at my tix and asked my name and poked around the keys.
Then they brought me a Lacrosse. Not mine.
I described the stuff on the front seat and he went and found the car.
No keys anywhere. The valet lost my keys.
So I hopped the shuttle after they promised to "take care of it with Avis."
I can't wait.
Update: they found the keys that morning (somewhere) and took the car back, even filled the tank. I got a FedEx on Saturday with all my stuff in it, along with a (hilariously mis-spelled) note apologizing for the problem(s).
Labels: Rental Car Hotel
Saturday, February 24, 2007
I'm also a fan of profiling in general, but that is not what I want to talk about.
Guys, let's do a little math.
According to these guys at ATW, around 262, 000,000 people flew in the US last year.
So let's assume that there were 2.5 security screenings per passenger as people make multi-stop trips, etc, etc. So the TSA handled 655M people last year, or 1.8M people/day.
So the FlyerTalkers should put that in their pipe and ponder running that organization the next time they bash Kip and his minions of Satan (or "millions of Satin" as one clown put it.)
Anyway, let's assume that TSA is 99% effective at screening (they're not, but assume) - we now know that there are 6,500,000 people per year who *could* fly badly screened. (Remember the US Air Imam? There were six of them - care to take your chances there?)
Further shall we assume that 5% of passengers mis-pack their bags with forbidden materials and are not caught. We now have 32M passengers who are running around with jars of honey, accidental steak knives, etc, etc.
If Murphy is in charge of the world, all 32M of those passengers will meet the 6.5M open slots and merrily fly on. That is 18,500 per day, or a heck of a lot.
The actual number, according to the statisticians is, of course, 327K, which is the 5% of passengers meeting the 1% of open slots, but it ain't as interesting, and since these numbers are guesses, who knows.
But my point is that of course some stuff is gonna get through, it doesn't prove that security doesn't work, just that it behaves like every other system in the world.
Gotta Be A Good Shave
Everyone knows that all your gizmos should charge via USB, but here is something quite cool and new:
But don't take our word for how nice this $22 shaver is:
Wake up, brush teeth, dressing and then go out! Wait! Seems missing a step!! Yes! Shaving! But time is hurry, you are not allowed to return home and shave. So? What can you do? Well... a Rechargeable USB Shaver can help you! ItsYes, of course, couldn't have said it better!
lightweight and portable design lets you enjoy convenience wherever you go! No battery? Don't worry! Just charge it by USB port!
Labels: Gadget USB
Bringing the Troops Home
Friday, February 23, 2007
As they say: Heh.
Under increased pressure to announce an exit strategy from Iraq, President George W. Bush revealed plans today to bring U.S. troops home on the budget airlines JetBlue.
Mr. Bush received praise for his decision to withdraw American troops, but his choice of JetBlue to transport them raised more than a few eyebrows.
According to most official estimates, with its recent spate of scheduling problems and flight delays, JetBlue could take up to seven years to bring U.S. troops home, and possibly ten years in the event of inclement weather.
But at a press conference at the White House today, the president argued that the selection of Jet Blue was “crucial” to the success of his latest exit strategy.
“Setting an exact timetable for a withdrawal from Iraq would be playing right into the enemy’s hands,” Mr. Bush said. “By going with JetBlue, our enemy will have no idea when we’re leaving.”
To emphasizes his point, Mr. Bush added, “And neither will we.”
Across Iraq, U.S. GIs were hopeful that the news about JetBlue meant that they would be home by Christmas, or at least by Easter 2012.
Did You Know USA Today Has a Blog?
Neither did I. Probably contains a lot of silly graphics from they guys what got fired from PC Magazine and not too much content, but still.
An alert reader sent us a link to a story about Homewood Suites giving you online reservation tools so you can pick your room.
About freaking time.
Now you can get a room NOT by the elevator and NOT by the ice maker. If only there was a radioactive marker for honeymooning couples next door, or the Ohio State Boosters Planning Meeting.
In any case, why did this take so long?
Labels: Blog USA Today Hotel Reservatoin
Oh, Please Let It Be True
Thursday, February 22, 2007
I am not a big fan of communist central planning, in general. I mean, name one great product that came out of the USSR?
The AK-47 doesn't count.
Ok, but, frankly, pick one d*mn phone, laptop, and router plug format and let's just use that until someone comes up with a new set of physical laws to govern transformer size.
Thank, you, comrades.
House Votes to let TSA Employees Unionize
A Camera You are So NOT Getting on Board
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Imagine getting that through security? Nahhhh....
For sale at auction now if you act soon.
Please NOT in an Airport Near You
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
I just do not want to dodge people wearing these things, nor watch them take up 2X the normal overhead room, fight with gate agents about checking them, etc, etc.
The only worse thing I can imagine is cell phones on airplanes.
More Things to Worry About on a Plane
This flash light is capable of lighting things on fire and roasting whatever you
can think of. “Its a 12V bulb which is being overdriven to 14+V, to about 140
watts, with an estimated light output of about 4000 lumens. Compare that to a
regular 2D MagLight, which is much, much less than 50 lumens”
Why Is It?
Monday, February 19, 2007
So how about free speech? Search and seizure? The First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments all apply to "The People" or "Persons". Why is it that people of the liberal persuasion are stringent in their insistence of the rights of "The People" in the Bill of Rights, except for the 2nd Amendment? By their interpretation, the First Amendment merely requires that Congress make no law restricting the right of the States to peaceably assemble and petition.
If you think the societal context has changed and the 2nd Amendment should no longer be in force, then let's have a debate about that and you can try to get the 2nd Amendment repealed. There's a mechanism in the Constitution to do that. But let's set aside the silly argument that "The People" refers to the States in the 2nd Amendment, but refers to individuals for the other Amendments.
And if you still want to persist in that argument, how about citing a single writing from someone contemporary to the founding fathers, a founder, an early Supreme Court case, anything, that supports your interpretation. As far as I can tell, this moronic argument didn't rear its deformed head until about 1950. For bonus points you can tell me where in these hallowed words:
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.there's any room for licensing, registration, or banning of guns in certain jurisdictions.
To quote a line from Real Genius: Which word didn't you understand?
Rollable Display on the Way
Saturday, February 17, 2007
And just as predictably people started smacking the TSA. Look, you gotta read these ding-dongs to believe it, don't ask me. Apparently the connection is obvious if your whole world revolves around how stupid Kip Hawley is, how it would be easy to secure the airports with a different and less intrusive set of security measures, etc, etc. Basically it's a reprise of the usenet phenom - everyone's an expert in their mom's basement.
So, I saw something today that I wished I'd been wise enough to write. I'm copying it wholesale into this blog because I can't stand the idea of it getting lost. (I had to reformat the post because of blogger's limitations.)
I've also sent it to a half dozen Instapundit type folks in the hopes that this will be a DuToit'ian essay running around the web.
Originally Posted by justageek
Good thing we're wasting tens (hundreds?) of millions of dollars on the FAM program here in the US, when it has been obvious ever since 9/11 that passengers/FAs would thwart any future terrorist attack that a FAM could thwart... This case is a great example.
Replied Law Dawg
Really? It is? I think its kinda different.
How so, you ask? Well, let me tell you-
On this one you have a yahoo waving two pistols around that obviously has less than a clue as to what is going on. They are alone and looking for a free ride. They are stupid and lackadaisical.
al Qaeda, on the other hand, operates in teams. They train, incessantly, on achieving their tactical and strategic goals. They have a plan and they execute it ruthlessly. They are smart and not the least lackadaisical.
Next time you fly imagine a hijacking happens. Most likely it'll happen up front, so if you're in the back you're out of the fight before you can even get in it. It will be all over but the shouting by the time you 1) even know what's happening and 2) can get up front to leap into your remarkable action.
But, let's assume you're close enough to the action to do said leaping - are you going to? By yourself? Or do you somehow envision that everyone will jump up at the same time? You better hope they do, because if they don't you'll be conspicuous, to say the least. And conspicuous in this kind of event generally means "target." Ask the poor Israeli guy that jumped up on 9/11 by himself. He got hisself killed within seconds. It took United 93 25 minutes and a vote to get rolling. They had to plan, get pumped up, talk each other into action, etc.
If I was a bad guy I'd never let anyone talk, plan, plot or conspire. I'd kill several people from the get-go to get everyone down. Anyone looks funny, execute them. Anyone talks, executed. Anyone moves, executed. Whisper? Executed. And done so in a brutal, bloody manner. People have no experience with that. When it does happen they tend to shut down.
That kind of directed violence has yet to happen again since 9/11. A bunch of EDPs and hijackers not using violence is not an accurate methodology to determine how normal people will respond in the middle of a violent hijacking. Much like people jumped on EDPs on planes prior to 9/11 (they even beat one to death) but once faced with 9/11 they got their heads down. Because they were scared, and rightfully so.
Intellectually everyone says they'll fight back, but intellect goes right out the window under adrenal stress, which is why the military and LE spends millions of dollars and thousands of hours training people to react instinctively.
To say it'll never happen again because people know what will happen is to ignore the lessons of history. You can watch videos of Jewish prisoners walking into the gas chambers, knowing what was happening, but not really believing it. Over and over again.
You don't rise to the level of your expectations, you fall to the level of your training.
That is somewhere between super-wow and I-am-amazed.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Thanks for all the emails, which I think I can summarize as: WTF are you doing?
Well, obviously what we're doing is NOT posting. We started noticing some trends we didn't like on the blog - good traffic, but shorter and fewer page views. Plus the emails were were getting were changing from "right on, here's my story" to "where did you buy that?"
So, perhaps we got a little focused on our gizmos and gadgets and how to (legitimately) have "big daddy" buy them for you.
We've also been in contact with some regular readers who want to contribute, but couldn't figure out how to make that work inside the blog structure.
So we're revising the format, adding some new contributors, and possibly gonna change the layout to help it all be more readable.
Comments and suggestions are always welcome - stay tuned for a new FTB!
Hillary: The Privacy Candidate
Hillary Clinton gave a speech outlining her new stance on privacy. She'd like us to believe that she wants to roll back the assault on our privacy rights.
A couple of thoughts come to mind:
1) I find it hard to believe that the candidate that wanted socialized medicine where the government would have all of our medical records is really serious about privacy.
2) I wonder if she'll start talking about the rights that the right to privacy come from: the right to be secure in your person and the right to defend yourself. I'm sure she's about to release a position paper describing her now strong support of the 2nd Amendment!
I just can't take her seriously. All her new position means is that a focus group told her staff that privacy rights are important to them.
Walmart Facing Biggest US Sex Bias Suit
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Here's the quote I find most interesting:
"Not everybody wants to be a Wal-Mart manager," he wrote. "Those women who want to be managers may find better opportunities elsewhere."While this seems a bit callous on first examination, if you ponder it a bit it's easy to see what he's talking about. A job at Walmart is not the apex of a young go-getter's career. If you're a woman and you're qualified to be a manager, you can probably do quite a bit better than Walmart.
Take the high tech industry. The ratio of men to women in high tech is about 10 to 1. It's just a fact that more geeks are guys. But look at the distribution of the sexes at any of the desirable, large tech mega-companies and you'll see about a 50-50 split between men and women. Why is that? It's because women are highly sought after in tech (HR wants those quotas filled) and they gravitate towards the good jobs. It's not that the smaller tech companies discriminate against women, it's that they can't hire them because the women would rather work at a large, successful company that has a cafeteria and huge benefits.
I suspect the same thing is going on at Walmart. If a woman is store manager material, she can get a better job than working at Walmart.
SNL and the TSA
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Of course the point isn't that our ports are under protected (they probably are), the point is that it's easy to bash the TSA because they're visible.
There is a tremendous amount of non-visible security going on, which, lukily, has not become the target of the NY Times. Yet. Because I think we all know that if the Times or Post found out that there was a fundamental flaw in US security they would publish it in a second.
Getting Paid In Miles
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Buried in a New York Times article about celebrity chefs and how they actually earn their money is this item about Michelle Bernstein, the chef at Michy’s in Miami and a consultant to various restaurants, television shows, etc.:She is probably scrambling like crazy to amend her tax returns, we can know that for sure.She is also the consulting chef for Delta Airlines (she, like most
chefs consulting for airlines, is paid in air miles).
I'd take that deal.
I used to earn a grand a day for consulting, so figure that at a half cent/mile (YMMV) that is 200K miles/day.
Couple that with executive superdeluxe chairmans platinum double dog bollocks for getting actual seats and you have two r/t first class domestic tickets at a moments notice.
Value of said ticket can easily exceed $3K each, minimum of $1,500 figure.
So she pays taxes on $1K, procures $3K to $6k in benefits. And since she'd pay for those benefits with after tax dollars (if personal, not business - fly your mama around) that is more like $5K to $10k per day in take-home-equivalent.
I could do that deal, not exclusively, but a few days a month. Sweet!
And, frankly, my solution for food on an airplane would be to put a small subway franchise in where the so-called galley is right now and give eveyone a 6" sub, a bottle of water, and a bag of Sun Chips. Every other month they can rotate the franchise.
Where Have The Old Posts Gone
Monday, February 12, 2007
We extended a number of people invitations to group-blog with us (be patient, it's gonna happen but we all travel so getting time to Skype is tough!) and, somehow, all my old posts ended up being owned by several other people.
Luckily a quick call to Blogger tech support solved the probelm immediately.
I had to go through and save-as-draft all the cross-posted stuff. I'll get to putting it all back later this week as time permits. Lucky me, I have to note the date, copy/paste, change the date, republish, and then delete the old entry. 100 times. Yee-hah. Good thing this is a hobby - it'd be a terrible job!
(PS - the word verification on this post is, and I am not making this up, fugscuzp. Hello!)
More Nanny State Hijinks
"Government has an obligation to protect its citizenry," Kruger said in a telephone interview from Albany, the state capital. "This electronic gadgetry is reaching the point where it's becoming not only endemic but it's creating an atmosphere where we have a major public safety crisis at hand."
In the old days, if someone did something stupid like wander away from the campfire in their underwear during a rainstorm they either froze to death or were eaten by wolves. I'm convinced that the current state of the gene pool is a result of the last hundred years of the government protecting stupid people from themselves. We've killed off most of the wolves and gore-tex is widely available, so about the only thing we've got left is city buses.
It would be a lot safer if they would just ban crossing the street. Think of the children! Or maybe we should require a special permit, education and licensing to cross the street. Or a limit on the number of times someone may cross the street in a month.
I guess I should shut up. I might be giving the government ideas...