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.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ah Texas

I expect we will see more stuff like this.

Something often doesn't work

I don't understand why the administration did not publicize the findings of this study (maybe that is what they are doing now with this leak to the NYT). If they know that everyone's second favorite "something" whenever there are demands that we "do something" about a conflict in the world doesn't work, they should say so. Otherwise, we just are going to keep being the chief arms supplier of the ISISes of the future.

I also would like the CIA to study how effective using American air power is in achieving some positive result--bombing the hell out of people who are far away being the first favorite "something". Maybe they already have that study, in which case they should make the conclusions public.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chocolution 41: Domori, Javablond Criollo 70%

Yes, I'm keeping this up in Lisbon. Luckily, the bar I carried five time zones is a good one.

I'd say "first world problems" if I didn't dislike the phrase and I knew what world the airspace over the ocean is

It is remarkable how annoyed I get when there isn't an in-flight entertainment system with individual screens on an international flight. Or wifi. Actually, especially wifi. Not that I even want the wifi--it is always overpriced and terribly slow. But I can't sleep on planes. So on any trans-oceanic flight there is this point whenever everyone else on the flight is asleep but me. I am to tired to read or do much at all, but I just can't sleep because my body just won't on a moving plane. At that point, if there's overpriced wifi, I might just pay it. Especially if I don't have a personal screen to entertain me.

That's basically where I am right now. It's 12:35 in Philly, 5:35 in Portugal. I'm alone on a dark plane crowded with sleeping people somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, with three hours to go and not much to do. Luckily, my iPad has an app that let's me draft blog posts offline.  In other words, I'm just doing this for something to do. I don't have much of a point in writing this post. You know, like most of my posts.

If you are reading this,that means I decided to save this and then decided again to post it at some point in my near future when I have access again. You future people think you're so smart, knowing the what I'm going to decide before I decide it!

Saturday, October 11, 2014


We are off to the land of oranges tonight. So for the next week or so I will be in Lisbon, doing whatever it is the Lisbonians do. I guess I'll find out what exactly that is soon. Exciting!

Anyway, fear not! I will probably continue to put up rants here as they occur to me. In this connected world we now live in, I am going to have almost as much access as I do at home. No doubt this blog will continue to be as sucky as usual while I'm hanging with the Tugas.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Buffer the ISIS Slayer

My big question about Turkey's proposed buffer zone is: which side of the border is this zone going to be? If Turkey gives over some of its territory for a zone for refugees and maybe the rebels the West likes, then I don't see why the U.S. would be opposed to it. But if Turkey is talking about seizing the Northern strip of Syria, then that is a bit more problematic unless the U.S. wants to risk getting into a direct conflict with Assad's forces.

The Times article doesn't say, but I'm guessing the Turks want the latter.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

ISIS recognizes the Hatay province as Turkish

A series of links led me to this Vox explainer card. The thing that struck me in the second map is that the group is not aspiring to control Hatay province in Turkey.

Hatay is that little nub of territory that juts down into Syria along the Mediterranean coast (in the red circle above). It is essentially where the Roman Byzantine city of Antioch is, with the surrounding country. Antioch still exists and is now called "Antakya." Hatay is the only predominantly Arab province of Turkey. It was briefly an independent 'Republic of Hatay" in the 9 month period in the late 1930s before it was taken over by Turkey. Syria has never recognized Hatay as Turkish. The Syria map I bought in Damascus in 2005 has the entire province inside Syrian borders and presents Antakya as a Syrian city.

Anyway, even though they are not Arab nationalists like the Baathist regime in Syria, I was surprised that ISIS, with its expansive ambitions for the region, didn't claim it as part of their eventual territory.

Not the Turk's business either

While I'm riffing off of yesterday's posts, I might as well mention that I already think this post is totally wrong. The last 24 hours have made it clear that aiding a Kurdish separatist militia (and also fighting an anti-Assad group, even if that group also is no friend to Turkey) is a bridge too far for the Turks.

Which means that Kobani will fall and ISIS will control North-Eastern Syria right up to the Turkish border, much to the embarrassment of the Obama administration and its anti-ISIS strategy.


After seeing this post again from yesterday , it occurs to me that if you are going to have a direction stand in for the "developed world" vs. the "undeveloped world" a better pair choice would have been North-South. Sure, there are a bunch of countries in the developed world club that are South, and a few less developed places in the "North." But North-South would still be accurate more of the time than East-West.