Saturday, March 6, 2010

News Nits

"All the news that's fit to reprint."

Like a bobsled through your brain, news nits comes back with a bumper crop of new years nits. Lots of little happenings in the news these days, from business to politics to technology to women owning giant rodents as pets (doesn't this charming couple, more than a little, look like each other too?). So let's push off, jump in and see if we can count the curves.

In an alarming move, Google has announced they're leaving China. This strikes me as more than just a little odd. Google does anything they want to, and they tend to do it well. What does this say about them? More, what does this say about conditions in China? We know Chinese companies are competing well here (everything we buy is Made In China), but are we competing there?

Well, maybe we can keep inventing stuff for the Chinese to build for us. A professor at North Carolina State University has invented a kind of metal foam that can compress up to 80% of its original size and retain its structural integrity and bounce back.

The Middle East is still a big bag of doorknobs. How would you like to be Israel? Hamas is now floating bombs up to Israeli shores. Of course, this unusual tactic and attack is in response to Mossad "allegedly" killing one of Hamas's top dogs while he was on a trip to Dubai. Dubai police have identified 26 suspects in the poisoning, there's a lot of footage of this on TV, Mossad agents walking around the hotel, dressed in tennis gear and other normal looking clothes. Anyone else find it odd, that Israel is so effective at fighting wars on terror? They send 26 after a guy, we send 100,000? Another thing to ponder is that Israel is surrounded on all sides by people who hate them, and they have never had an airplane hijacked. Before we start doing naked scans in airports of each other, maybe we should ask if there are other ways?

News Nits loves new forms of transportation, when it's economically and technologically feasible. There's a proposal on the table for a 220 mph train between San Francisco and Los Angeles. California seems like an ideal place to build a high speed train, the ultimate trip should run 2 hours and 40 minutes. If they could figure out a way to provide continuous wi fi access, that would change the nature of much of west coast travel. Oddly, a similar measure has been proposed between Madison and Milwaukee, WI. Somehow, that doesn't seem like the right fit, but who knows. It would be cooler and maybe more fitting for WI to build a giant log flume or water slide between the two cities that are only an hour away by car anyway.

I keep waiting for Microsoft to use their considerable fortune and market share to buy the time it will take to redesign their OS from the BIOS up. But they don't. They seem to continually just try to remarket and reposition without any willingness to rebuild. The results of kludging your products ahead can end up with unpredictable results. Window 7 is apparently not only draining batteries but permanently altering their ability to function. I do not even have a theoretical explanation for this (and I am usually willing to hazard a guess about anything!).

Here comes the economics geek in me. In case you are crazy enough to try to follow the economic tax swindles perpetrated by our elected leaders, then this video might be for you. Looks like the "TARP pay backs" we've been hearing about aren't quite the whole truth:

If you've been getting into some of the raw economics behind the thinking of most modern economists (like Paul Krugman), then you've probably heard of John Maynard Keynes and probably never heard of FA Hayek. This video is a fairly clever and funny recap of an historical debate that came to pass between these two rival economists, with two very different ideas about proper ways to think of large economies. Keynes justifies government management of the economy through fiscal and monetary policies on the justification "in the end, we're all dead," meaning, let's get paid today, screw tomorrow. Hayek bases his theories on personal behavior and safe guarding free markets and risk vs. reward. Odder still is that if you choose to major in Economics in college, you still probably won't hear anything about Hayek and the Austrian School of economics. Why? Because Keynes won the day. He was a charming, flamboyant bisexual who out-witted Hayek, the nerdy one, at every turn. And the path of economic history has been set ever since (we're seeing some of the results). Well, here's the vid:

Wall Street is having buyer's remorse. After buying off Obama and teh Democrats, they want their Republicans back! This should be a true sign that the GOP has learned nothing from their recent demise. Is the Boy Scouts on the decline? We sure hope not. I just don't think that Xtreme Skateboarding has really been an adequate substitute for what the Boy Scouts teach.

Is anyone else getting dizzy following the Global Warming-->Global Climate Change-->Global Cooling "debate" going on? What a circus. Where's Bob Richards when you need him? [Editor's Note: News Nits searched high and low for a picture of Bob Richards and came up blank. Any help out there?] Speaking of weather, Sun's demise has finally come in the form of Oracle buying them out. Not many people ever worked on Sun Stations before, but I have and thought they were great machines. The never really evolved, but at least they weren't shoddy. Nevertheless, they have paid out gobs of money to their execs for failing. Still can't figure out how that makes sense.

For those with iPhones, check out these top-10 apps. Some are pretty funny, pretty novel, etc. Speaking of iPhones, rumors are saying the new iPhone 4G is coming out in June, maybe May. That might be my time to upgrade from 5 year old flip phone to the future! But man are these things expensive (along with the plans you need to make them useful). Netflix is considering streaming their service directly to the iPhone (and iPad), which is starting to make me reconsider the expense of cable, which I don't really watch anyway. Bad movies are better than bad TV. As for screen quality, apparently Apple has it right with their LCD beating out the new OLED screens appearing on many Android phones.

The U.S. Military just help to validate a process of Green Power, Inc, that turns trash into fuel. I guess there was some concern this was nothing more than a fancy facade over a simple incinerator, but it seems to be a legitimate technology. Cool.

Roundup: The FBI is getting involved in a case where school administrators spied on students using the little cameras built into the school-issued laptops. Thing is, the kids were at home. Nasty. Here's a concept car/thing/trike that Honda has built, and it just makes me wonder... why? And finally, air travellers at JFK airport in NYC learned a whole new meaning to the bring your kid to work day concept.

Machines take me by surprise with great frequency. -- Alan Turing


Coovo said...

Dude, so many nits, so little time. Seems like you compacted your nits from the last few months into one giant nit forum.

I'm making my way through them nit by nit.

I hope some of them say stuff like G is a socialist or babies should be given guns by the government when they are born. We need some action around here.

Ryan said...

"babies should be given guns by the government when they are born"

I'm a little upset I didn't think of that. Actually, reminds me of a similar true story, when Buck got a box of Ammo one Christmas. The From: field said, "Baby Jesus".

Doughboy said...

Great post and very nit-dense. Must say, I would have loved it if there was a high speed train from LA to SF when I lived out there. Same idea with a St. Louis-Chicago train. A three hour or less transit time opens up a world of possibilities between two places. To me, that is my travel threshold that divides a spur of the moment capable destination from one that takes more planning. If I could take a train to Chicago in less than three hours, there would definitely be times on a Saturday AM that I would wake up and think, "I have an open weekend. Why don't I just head up to Chicago for the weekend." More than three hours usually takes a significant more time investment.

Finally, although I have never held one or seen it in action, I already love the idea of the ipad. Steve Jobs could crap in a box and I'd probably buy it.

kevin said...

good post.

after a few years of microsoft bashing though, i am singing their praises now. i think bing is pretty darn good and i like windows 7 a lot. i think bing will get more popular as google makes more enemies and other big tech players team up with bing.
i don't know about the battery issue, but the new OS is really fast (on my new laptop), and supposedly pretty safe. i imagine there are some pretty good logistical reasons not to scrap the whole OS model and start over (maybe that would ruin their compatibility with all the SW they sell?)
i have not kept up the google v china story, but i don't think this points to them giving up competing in china. i thought this meant more that they weren't going to cater to a system that continually dictates what they can and can't do, and even if they comply, will still use state resources to try to steal valuable data from them. i kind of like that google says 'screw making more money, i don't want any part of this anymore'.

metal foam? the future is here!

kevin said...

Robert Richards:

Ryan said...

"i think bing is pretty darn good and i like windows 7 a lot."

I think you're right that MS keeps getting better (for awhile that wasn't even clear!). And I don't mean to harsh your mellow, a new computer and OS is exciting, but all the new features that may in fact be awesome have been standards in the Mac OSX for years. Bing is good, I use it too, but it's no better than Google. And even all the praise for Android, it's only coming sort of close to where the iPhone already is, only clear advantage is that you don't have to use AT&T, but that was a strategical decision (a bad one?) not a technological one.

We'll see how secure Windows 7 really is. It usually doesn't take hackers long to find the cracks in MS's haste.

p.s. I'm throwing the gauntlet down on Bob Richards. Can no one find even ONE picture of the man?

p.p.s. That video is awesome as that lineup is the main one I remember as a kid, with a close call second to Dick Ford before Rick Edlund. I think I liked Ford better, actually, RIck Edlund was just a little too-well put together and had really odd ear lobes. ANd also, I hated Karen Foss.

Kev, your friend's chat log that revolved around Karen Foss remains one of the funniest things I've read in years.

Ryan said...

This today:

Yeah, part of it seems to be some fight by Google, but it really is a street fight, started by China. Google was obviously willing to open up shop knowing the situation, now they are shocked that China's government will actually not back down to the interests of big foreign business, the way ours has.

Look out folks, China be comin up.

Coovo said...

Right before I clicked on the metal foam link, I was like, isn't that kind of an oxymoron. Maybe I should write for It made me feel kind of stupid though when they were like, metal foam has been around for a long time. Duh! Some video clips would be interesting to see.

Never heard of FA Hayek, but if there is realtion to Selma Hayek, I am totally on his side.

With Dayton having so many people from St. Louis, the day when Bob Richards took a nosedive in the Valley, it was big news out in Ohio. Everyone was like was sick of hearing about Bob Richards.

kevin said...

"And I don't mean to harsh your mellow, a new computer and OS is exciting, but all the new features that may in fact be awesome have been standards in the Mac OSX for years."

why are you bringing up apple? i am not saying MS is better than apple. just that their new products have all impressed me. i am familiar with macs. (you fanboys are always trying to bring this argument up!)

but speaking of macs, they may have all those features i listed before, but they did not have them available for 600 bucks...

i was curious, so i just checked up on cnet. they gave windows 7 4.5 out of 5 (and OSX 4 out of 5.)

ry - i know you're not a fanboy. i just say that in the attempt to infuriate you.
btw, you actually kind of are a fanboy.

kevin said...

another thought on MS that i read several months ago that i thought was interesting. with the failure of vista, MS was really getting railed from all angles, peaking a year ago or maybe more. despite their tarnished image and disappointing product line, their market share hardly suffered a blip.
now that they are emerging from these issues a strong, leaner company, apple will certainly have their hands full if they are trying to creep higher in the OS war.