Saturday, July 31, 2010

Health Care Eye Chart

Check this out:

Is this a health care system or a jobs program for bureaucrats? There is a correct answer.

One to Grow On

Great article from The Economist here:

Slides from the original presentation here:

At first glance, kids who get off to a faster start in kindergarten lose that edge by junior high. But the findings of this study appear to show that those who tested higher in kindergarten are more likely to:
  • Earn more
  • Attend college
  • Own a home
  • Have a job with a 401k
  • Afford a more expensive house
  • Be married
The ultimate conclusion is that standout teachers early in life are worth a lot more than we're paying them:
"Mr. Chetty and his colleagues ... estimate that a standout kindergarten teacher is worth about $320,000 a year. That’s the present value of the additional money that a full class of students can expect to earn over their careers. This estimate doesn’t take into account social gains, like better health and less crime."

And in a conclusion that is less surprising the more you think about it:
"Economics Nobelist James Heckman has found that the earlier one pursues efforts at remediation with underperforming students the more effective the interventions are. And studies have indicated that while the academic knowledge gained from remediation programmes tends to fade, social knowledge is more durable (and it may well be more important over the long-term). In general, it seems like the importance of educational reforms at the secondary and undergraduate level is wildly overstated, while the importance of improvements in education at the primary level (and earlier) is given far too little attention."

As for me personally, my opinion is that a kid who has good parents minimizes the effects of school. It almost doesn't matter what the outside world tells them if I prepare them properly. So that is what I strive to do. The quality of my kids' teachers won't matter as long as I do my job well as a parent.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mexican and Cuban Flags Fly at Immigration Protest

This tells me all I need to know about the so-called immigration protesters:

They don't care a bit about this country. They think that the U.S. exists to serve Mexico, apparently. Furthermore, I have no respect for anyone who thinks the brutal, ruthless murderer, Che Guevara is cool.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Skating on 400!

On Sunday, July 11, several skaters participated in what is intended to be a biking event (we do that from time to time). Due to reports of some extreme hills, we opted for the relatively short 25-mile option. You can see our route by downloading the PDF file or the KML file.

Here are some pictures from a photographer at the event. This is on Highway 400, only a mile or two into the skate:
Click "Continue" near the bottom right.
Then select "020- GA-400 Group 3" near the bottom left.
We start to show up in Picture 83 (towards the end of Set 2), and are shown through Picture 89. The order is Clarence, Brent, Robert, and me. Note that there was another photographer on an overpass we were skating towards, that's why we're looking in different directions.

One of the cool things about this event is that they closed down a short stretch of Georgia 400, one of the busiest highways in the Atlanta area, for us. For example:

Brent took a couple videos during the skate. Maybe too much of my ass in these videos, as one fellow skater commented, but you take what you can get.

River sunrise (mile 9):

Tom flying at 36mph (mile 14):

Arborwoods gatorback (mile 17):

Brent also posted some pictures here:
2010 Highway Hospitality Century

These are some of my favorites:

This is a hill we had to skate up TWICE:

Whew.  Made it!

Obeying traffic signals for a change:

After the other nasty hill climb of the day (other than the two climbs up Old Alabama Road):

Yes, there were some fast downhills, too!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Interesting Names for Sports Teams

This past week's Car Talk episode started off with a subject near and dear to my heart: names of sports teams.  Here's a brief description of the show:

Tom & Ray threw out some great names, for international teams:
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Taipei Personalities
  • Amsterdam Yankees
  • Vienna Sausages
  • Belgian Waffles
  • Manila Folders
  • Czech Bouncers
  • New Dehli Catessens
  • Bolivia DeHavillands
  • Prague Tologists
Back in the day, by buddy and I researched this topic extensively ourselves. We were thinking of U.S. based teams, though. I can't remember our complete list but we had these, among others:
  • Boston Chickens (since changed to the Boston Markets)
  • New England Clam Chowders
Recently the Seattle Supersonics basketball team moved to Oklahoma. Before they announced their new team name (the Thunder? really???), we came up with some suggestions of our own. This was a very tricky case, though, as you will see.  First suggestion was...
  • The Oklahoma Cities
But it depends on whether the team wanted to be named after the city or the state. For example, some teams name themselves after a whole state, e.g. the Minnesota Twins, rather than a city. But if the Cities wanted to be based in Oklahoma City, that would make them...
  • The Oklahoma City Cities
Of course, it is popular to name teams with collective nouns nowadays (Miami Heat, Utah Jazz, etc.). In which case, they would be...
  • The Oklahoma City City
Or if they use a collective noun as a team name, but base their team in the state of Oklahoma, rather than just one city in that state, they would then be...
  • The Oklahoma City (my favorite)
You can see how tough this is.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Deficit Anyone?

Sometimes stereotypes are created because they are true. Tax and spend = Democrat.

Did you see what the White House tried to slip into the slowest part of the news cycle (late Friday/early Saturday) last week? OBAMA'S DEFICITS ARE OUTRAGEOUS! And very few people seem to care.

Washington Post:

New York Times:

Fox News:

You have to love this crap from the Fox News article:
"History has not been kind recently to presidents who tackle the deficit. President George H.W. Bush lost re-election in 1992 after violating his 'no new taxes' promise. His successor, Bill Clinton, lost control of Congress in 1994 after pushing through a deficit-reduction plan laden with tax hikes."

Wow, you can't write a much worse article that that. The presidents mentioned were unpopular because they RAISED TAXES, not because they tackled the deficit.

Anyway, the Democrats would have us believe that there is no choice but to raise taxes--and that is exactly what they will do. We've known it all along.

Check out the commentary from the Heritage Foundation:
"The annual federal budget deficit is projected to reach 8.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020—more than three times the historical average of 2.3 percent. This dramatic increase in the federal deficit will be exclusively the result of increasing spending, not declining revenues (or the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts). Rapid growth in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid costs and interest payments on the national debt will cause virtually all of this new spending. Any sustainable fix must therefore address the source of the problem—rapidly rising entitlement spending."

The thing is, Democrats will use this as an excuse to raise taxes, all the while ignoring the fact that the tax increases will kill the economy. It is very possible (likely, in my opinion) that raising taxes won't raise government revenue at all! The increased taxes will kill the economy ... again.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Adios Nexus One, we hardly knew ya.

If you haven't heard, Google has stopped selling its Nexus One phone directly to consumers from its website. You can read the news here:

Here's another story on the Nexus One's untimely death:

Note the video after the article in which very few people actually knew what a Nexus One was. Which is a shame, because the Nexus One is a very good phone. This was a failure of marketing, not of engineering. People didn't want to buy a phone they couldn't touch and feel, nor did they want to pay $529 for the unlocked version.

Unlocked. Remember, that was the real key to the Nexus One. Few people realized it, though. Get the phone and you're NOT locked into a contract. You can pick your carrier (I can use mine on any GSM carrier). You can buy a pay-as-you-go contract. You don't have to buy an expensive data plan, just get data via WiFi (which is all over--and you can always allow pay-as-you-go data, if necessary). That's how I use mine, and I love it. Imagine a phone where you can use it if you like. Or not, and not pay. Make calls on WiFi (no additional cost, once the WiFi is paid for).

Compare that to the other options out there. Buy an iPhone and let Steve Jobs tell you exactly what apps you can and CANNOT run on your phone (Google Voice, anyone?). Or buy an Android from most any carrier and get stuck with bloatware and overwrought customized versions of the Android software.

The Nexus One could have been a game-changer. But we, as a whole, are not smart enough to realize this or appreciate it. Let me put it in terms that most of you will understand. "Baaa. Baaa, baaa."

In retrospect, I am VERY happy that I have one. I am kicking myself for not getting one for a business phone, in addition to my personal Nexus One, while I had the chance.

Let's look at some of the issues I mentioned above. This is relevant as I look at phones from other carriers.

Bloatware on Android phones in general:

Bloatware on Verizon:

Bloatware on T-Mobile:

In addition to bloatware, AT&T cripples their Android phones:

In this regard, the iPhone (under Apple's strict control) is superior to most Android phones. But not superior to the Nexus One.

As you may know, Google recently came out with the latest version of the Android software, version 2.2 called "Froyo." Nexus One owners got it as soon as it was released. All other Android phone have to wait.

Why do they have to wait? Because many cell phone makers and service providers are customizing Android to their liking. Which is another way of saying that they are screwing it up. The Motorola Droid X is the latest example.

From Gizmodo:
"Software kneecaps this phone at nearly every corner. It makes the sizzling hardware look bad in the process. Watching this phone sputter, which it does occasionally for the even most menial of tasks, like opening the apps menu, feels more egregiously tortuous than normal, given its prodigious size and weight. It's brain-stabbingly maddening if you actually know what's inside of all that."

From Engadget:
"From a hardware perspective, this phone is pretty much a bang-on execution of what a high-end mobile powerhouse should be, but Motorola clearly still has work to do in order to play in the same software league as HTC does with Sense. If it can get there -- or heck, if it can just offer this phone with stock Froyo -- you've got perhaps the best Android phone ever made."

Many people with Androids wonder when they'll get Froyo.
This post is typical. Notice this quote:
"I consider timely and regular upgrades to be part of my purchase of a Sprint Android phone. It's one of the key reasons I purchased an Android phone. I didn't drop this much money and take on a 2-year contract for an Android phone that would become outdated and unsupported in regard to upgrades within 3 months. It's bad enough that Sprint chooses to trespass on my phone's limited storage space with NASCAR and NFL apps I don't want and cannot uninstall. If Google releases an upgrade, Sprint needs to get it on my phone in the absolute shortest time possible. If it's an HTC issue, then Sprint needs to work it out with HTC, but I purchased the phone from Sprint so that's whose ultimately responsible, in my opinion. If Sprint can't handle that, then it needs to void my contract, let me return the phone, and let me move on to a service provider that can give me what I pay for."

Hear that? Just leave the Android software alone, don't force unwanted apps on us, and give us the updates in a timely fashion. Just like the Nexus One did.

August 5, 2010
P.S. There is a real advantage to being open, and getting the latest Android firmware as soon as possible. Consider these test results.,samsung-galaxy-s-compare-with-motorola-droid-x.html

The Nexus One is competitive, or even faster in most tests, as compared to the latest phone offerings such as the Motorola Droid X, the HTC Evo 4G, and the Samsung Galaxy S. There is a real speed advantage to getting the latest firmware. The Nexus One, which doesn't have to wait for phone manufacturers to customize their software builds, has a clear edge in this area.