Thursday, January 23, 2014

A New Definition of 'Worldwide'

I was looking at tablets on eBay -- I'm not at all certain I'll buy one, but I was browsing out of curiosity (somewhere in Phoenix or Chicago, someone has a charger they don't recognize -- it's mine; and I have a tablet with no charger).

Anyway, I saw this one, which looked like it might meet my needs, and which, the seller says, can be shipped worldwide. With a few exceptions:
Shipping to: Worldwide 
Excludes: Africa, Asia, Central America and Caribbean, Middle East, Southeast Asia, American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna, Western Samoa, Bermuda, Greenland, Mexico, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Switzerland, Ukraine, Vatican City State, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela
That's quite a list of exceptions, isn't it?

If you look at the dropdown menu that lists the few places to which they do ship, it appears that they define 'worldwide' as the US and Canada, parts of western Europe, Brazil, and New Zealand.

Ebay ought to police their sellers a bit and impose some standards of honesty. Lies of this sort will damage the credibility of the whole marketplace.

How Many States Could There Be?

This is an interesting map exercise. The idea is that there could be as many as 124 states if all secession proposals ever advanced had been completed (also, if we had added Cuba and several pieces of Mexico, and all outlying areas had been given statehood).

Most of these, of course, were probably only semi-serious proposals. I recall the idea of Baja Arizona being floated a few years ago, but other than a few lefties at UofA I don't think anyone even paid any attention to the idea, much less supported it.

On the other hand, while I don't know how the locals feel about it, I've always thought a State of Delmarva makes a lot of sense, geographically at least. Dividing a relatively tiny peninsula into three pieces strikes me as pointless.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

One Hundred Years Ago Today ...

... my father was born in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania, a little suburb of Pittsburgh.

Happy birthday, Dad!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Obama's Secret Courts

Today we have seen the 'leader of the free world', speak forcefully in favor of having a secret court decide which rights Americans are permitted to have (no need for an outdated document, such as a two hundred year-old constitution).

It is a good day to remember the words of Freidrich Hayek:
Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one's government is not necessarily to secure freedom.

Life in the Andes -- Running

Because of the rotten weather in Chicago, I couldn't run the last week I was there. I've been here two weeks and hadn't found a place, but finally I found a park nearby. 

I don't know if it was due to the three week layoff or because it was my first time running at 9300 feet (probably both, but mostly the latter), but I was really hurting. I barely made it 1km before I had to quit. 

It's going to take me quite a while to get even close to the distances I used to run.

I Am Much Comforted

I am sure that all right-thinking Americans feel much better now that The Beloved Leader has told us that the secret police are just our 'friends and neighbors'

Those who continue to complain after such a reassurance are undoubtedly Enemies of the State and must be watched closely.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Menestras del Negro

I ate lunch today at Menestras del Negro in Plaza Grande (the main square in Quito – it contains the presidential palace and the cathedral).

Menestras del Negro is a popular local fastfood chain (they have a dozen or so outlets in Quito, and more in other cities around Ecuador). If they should decide that they have ambitions to enter the US market, though, I think they will have to do a bit of work on their marketing. Here is their signage:

I looked up menestras in Wikipedia, by the way, and they define it as a sort of vegetable stew (apparently the word may be related to minestrone) -- that appears to be the Spanish version. What this place offers, though is a plate of beans and white rice with a choice of meat. It's pretty good, about what one would expect from a cheap ($3.99) fastfood place.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Worst Book Cover of the Year?

It's still early, but this one is definitely in the running.

What I especially like about it is that the opening words of Amazon's product description are: ""This carefully crafted ebook ..."

Not exactly the words I'd choose to describe a book that not only has a superfluous apostrophe in the title, but also has the apostrophe turned backwards.

Fearless Prediction

Sometime in the middle of next summer, President Obama will announce a new series of delays of portions of Obamacare.

The reason?:
When millions of health-insurance plans were canceled last fall, the Obama administration tried to be reassuring, saying the terminations affected only the small minority of Americans who bought individual policies. 
But according to industry analysts, insurers and state regulators, the disruption will be far greater, potentially affecting millions of people who receive insurance through small employers by the end of 2014. 
While some cancellation notices already have gone out, insurers say the bulk of the letters will be sent in October, shortly before the next open-enrollment period begins. The timing - right before the midterm elections - could be difficult for Democrats who are already fending off Republican attacks about the Affordable Care Act and its troubled rollout. 
The basis for my prediction is is the last quoted paragraph – Democratic candidates up and down the ticket (but especially senate and house candidates) will be in a panic, and Obama will delay implementation until sometime in 2015, safely after the elections.

Further fearless prediction: The announcement of the changes will be made late on a Friday afternoon, probably on a holiday weekend. Fourth of July would be ideal, because Labor Day would be too late – Republicans would already be scoring points with it and even Obama's most loyal media supporters would be forced to admit that the timing was a bit obvious.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Steven Seagall for Governor?

He is qualified because he recently completed a TV show called Steven Seagal – Lawman: Maricopa County.

I guess in a world where a show like that is called 'reality' programming, then it's not too big a step to consider it a qualification for political office.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Ranking Service for Colleges

Mitch Daniels, who should have been the Republican nominee for president in 2012, is now the president of Purdue University, where he has already started introducing the same sort of innovations he was noted for as governor of Indiana (most notably, a freeze on tuition rates).

This one is really interesting to me. He has formed a partnership between Purdue and Gallup to create a new system for ranking colleges, to replace U. S. News & World Report. It will be based in large part on how well the schools' graduates do in their careers.
Purdue University is working with polling company Gallup to develop a new college rating system. 
Right now US News and World Report publishes the most closely-watched list of top schools. But Purdue President Mitch Daniels has criticized that system. He says what students really need is a measure of how a college’s graduates do in the workforce.  
Daniels says Gallup’s decades of public-opinion research give the company the ability to quantify subjective questions such as whether graduates feel productive on the job or whether their work is important. He says research shows a correlation between workers who feel engaged on the job and the profits they generate for their employers. 
The Gallup-Purdue Index will combine those measurements with data on how many of a school‘s graduates are employed and how much they earn. The new rankings will debut in the spring.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Soccer Has as Much Scoring as Baseball and Football

A common complaint among American non-soccer fans is that soccer doesn't have enough scoring. This is nonsense.

The average score of a game in the English Premier League is 2-1 (there are roughly three goals scored per game). The average score of a game in the National Football League is 4-3 (there are roughly 47 points per game, which divided by seven equals seven). Since an American football game is about twice as long as a soccer game, the rate of scoring is similar.

Yeah, I know some of those are field goals, but field goals are boring anyway. The point is that American football tricks you into thinking it has more scoring than it does by assigning multiple points to each score.

Baseball in the past season had 8.3 runs per game, but since up to four runs can be scored on a single play, there are probably only about five scoring plays per game. That's comparable to American football and soccer when considering the length of the games.

Only basketball, a game for people with ADHD, actually has more scoring.

More to the point, I don't understand why people think a lot of scoring is ipso facto good. A high-scoring game, in whatever sport, might be a good game. Or it might not. Same with a lack of scoring.

If you are a baseball fan, consider this scenario: The lead-off batter in the first doubles to the gap in left field and advances to third on a passed ball. The next batter pops up to short; then there's a strikeout after the batter hits a couple long fouls. With two outs, the clean-up man hits one into the right field stands just foul. On the next pitch he hits one almost as far to almost the same spot, but just inside the line; it looks like it will drop in for extra bases until the right fielder makes a diving catch on the warning track to end the inning.

At which point you would no doubt turn to your friends and say, "Looks like this game is gonna suck -- no scoring."

Of course you wouldn't. You would have been on the edge of your seat with excitement throughout the inning. Scoring is fun to watch, but so is good defense.