Friday, October 24, 2014

Add #7

I'm not completely on the Elizabeth Warren bandwagon, but another reason she should run (assuming she wants to. I don't think she should run if she doesn't) is because it would give the Democrats a choice in the primary.

I am not one of those people who think that Hillary Clinton must be stopped. Odds are, she will be the nominee and I will happily vote for her in November 2016. But that doesn't mean I think she is the perfect candidate and I strongly believe it is just better for the Democrats to have a competitive primary rather than an anointed candidate. Warren doesn't have to be the one to make the primary competitive (and I'm not sure if even she can pull it off), but there aren't all that many other plausible alternatives.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I hate when that happens

How does one accidentally print a picture of Hitler's face on thousands of mini-cream containers?

Young people have low turnout

This is ridiculous. Millennials "don't vote" because they are young.

It wasn't all that long ago that people wondered why my generation, the "Gen Xers," didn't vote. People floated all these reasons, we were alienated and "bitter", we listened to too much Nirvana, we were spending too much time making money from dot-com startups and didn't think that politics was relevant to our lives, etc. Now I don't read that stuff, because we are older, we vote at roughly the rates that middle aged people vote, and there's a new younger generation to fret about.

Almost every time that someone makes a point about the unique characteristics of a generation, I think it is utter crap. These are nothing more than just so stories. With a large diverse group of people like a generation, you can always pick and choose any set of characteristics to support whatever stereotype-based story you want.

Especially for voting, there's really no reason to resort to that kind of narrative. It is well documented that people turn out for elections (especially in non-Presidential elections) in lower numbers when they are young, and that their turn out rate increases as they age. That's it.

That problem with tablets using a phone operating system

Reason number 1 is essentially what I posted about in 2012.

American telecoms have convinced the public that cell phones should be replaced every two years. Cell phone makers love that idea, so they design their mobile operating systems to work only for recent devices. The problem is that iPads use the same operating system as an iPhone, which means it is subject to the planned obsolescence of iOS.

My iPad 2, for example, is the same one I had when I wrote that 2012 post. (I bought it in 2011). 2011 was two iPhones ago for me. I am currently running iOS 7 on it. I was afraid to upgrade beyond 6, but then did it anyway to get the benefits of a security patch and because I started noticing that apps that I could not run on the older operating system. With iOS 7 my iPad is really maddeningly slow. Because it performs so sluggishly with 7, I have not upgraded to 8.

I find this whole thing to be really annoying. Because my iPad hardware is fine. The device is in really good shape. And yet, it is getting harder and harder to use. I hoping that Apple will notice that people are not replacing their iPads every two years so they will stop ruining perfectly good hardware with their software "improvements," but why would Apple have any incentive to do that? I own a perfectly fine iPad hardware-wise, but I am probably going to replace it in the next few months because it performs so badly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


"This is very serious. I would even go so far as to say that it's fucked up."

-Sverker Göransson, Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chocolution 42: Antidote, Essential Gaia

This one is so dark, it tastes like barely sweetened baker's chocolate.

The (business) People's Republic of Hong Kong

I am fascinated by these remarks by Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong's Beijing-appointed leader. It is rare for a leader to say so openly that he is against more democracy in government because that would mean that the government would be more responsive to the needs most citizens. It is also interesting that he sees keeping Hong Kong "business friendly" as being directly contrary to a system that would require politicians to talk to the "half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month."1

No doubt there is a lot of fear that poor people will have a voice in government among the oligarchs of the world. But Oligarchs in democracies are well-practiced at disguising their concerns in the language of democratic values. It is refreshing for Leung to just say what he really thinks--that the private business interest of the elite are more important than having a government that is responsive to the needs of most people. It also goes to show how far the current regime in Beijing has moved from its communist roots.

1-I assume he is using Hong Kong Dollars here. $1,800 HKD equals approximately $232 US.

Kobani is still here

I must admit I am a little surprised the fact that Kobani has not fallen yet. Two weeks ago, Kobani was presented as being on the brink of destruction, a place that ISIS would take unless immediate assistance arrived. I took that to mean that it needed help in a matter of days, not weeks. That's why I predicted that Turkey would intervene to help the town.

Two weeks later and ISIS still has not fully conquered the town. Turkey is not intervening directly, but is now allowing the Pesh Murga to aid the beleaguered Syrian Kurdish defenders. But most importantly, there are still Kobani defenders to bolster.

Don't get me wrong. I am glad that ISIS has not taken Kobani yet. But I can't account for why it hasn't in light of what I was hearing two weeks ago. Was the strength of the ISIS forces exaggerated? Was the strength of the Kurds of Kobani under appreciated? Did American airstrikes make more of a difference than expected? What is the deal?

Monday, October 20, 2014


Is there any worse day at work than the first day back after a vacation?

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Arrived home from Lisbon yesterday and boy are my arms tired.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Crossing the streams

Netflix's bad growth is being attributed to price sensitivity among its potential subscribers  But I wonder if people have considered how the streaming public's price sensitivity is going to affect HBO's new stand alone streaming service. I subscribe to Netflix, but I don't pay for Hulu and Amazon Prime. Occasionally, I come across a show that I want to watch that is only available on one of those other services. But I just don't want to pay three monthly subscription fees just so I can waste more time watching videos. So I draw the line at one.

I'm not sure if others are like me. Maybe they draw the line at two, or somewhere else. But a new HBO subscription service really just means that's one more service that I probably won't buy, unless I decide I want to give up what I already have. And maybe I will, because what I already have is likely to get worse. From now on, why would HBO ever license any of its shows to Netflix if it has a competing service? It is the same with CBS's forthcoming streaming service. I expect that means that anything CBS owns will disappear from the other services. As more and more actors get into the market, it means either I will have to pay more to see what I want to see or I will see less.

And actually, this is part of a larger problem. Recently we were in a period where I could easily find and watch anything I could think of. It started with the rise of home video stores in the 1980s and lasted through when Netflix DVD by mail service killed all the local video stores. Now that the model is changing to streaming, the selection has gotten more limited. For the first time in my adult life, it is actually harder to watch whatever I feel like watching, because the streaming services are all based on licensing deals and limited availability. That's assuming I am limited to legal video streaming rather than illegal downloads, of course.

I wonder if more streaming services, with more limited options within each service will push more people into illegally downloading video content.

Closing the border to "Ebola countries" would be a disaster

That's what I have been saying. I just don't see how a travel ban could be completely enforced, and whatever help it does in slowing down the illness' spread is going to be outweighed by the amount it will make things worse in countries that already have an out of control Ebola epidemic when their economies take the hit that a travel ban would bring. Pushing their economy into further collapse is the last thing we should do if we want them to contain the outbreak.