Job Appraisal

I see that the previous governor of the Great State of Alibam has been handed a seven year prison term by the Yankee government. [Link] The former chief executive officer of the corrupt HealthSouth corporation was given a lesser sentence but a greater fine.

There seem to be several lessons in this affair that appear to be rooted in politics. The most obvious of these is the greater sentence handed down to the former governor than to the corporate oligarch. The rationale for this will likely be that the crime was greater for the former governor as an elected official enjoying the public trust.

One has to question that attitude. I remember viewing a television address by an Alibam governor, who was clearly inebriated at the time, declaiming that he was a crook but he was the peoples’ crook. I fear that the young age when I saw this and what I have seen since have ingrained this into my view of state and lower, if not federal, government. The issue is not whether elected politicians will steal and do wrong, but whether they will do so in the execution of their duties.

Sadly, this latter qualification is often difficult to ascertain. The former state chief executive claims that he took a “donation” from the former CEO so he could retire a debt incurred in association with the governor’s attempt to enact lottery legislation. A vision that an education lottery will benefit the state is one of the former governor’s core concepts that has been consistently rejected by the superstition and mysticism ridden electorate of the state. The matter has nothing to do with any logic or analysis but has been solely determined by often hypocritical religious beliefs that one makes an individual decision whether one gambles but imposes a ban on all others doing so. Hence the popularity of other states’ lotteries throughout Alibam.

In this regard it is unclear whether there is any substantive difference between the current and former governors other than political party. That the current governor has engaged in questionable contracting practices that have enriched the state’s corporate oligarchs is common knowledge. There is also little doubt that the incumbent has spent more taxpayer money on advertising his improvements than has been spent on the improvements themselves. It is thus unclear if he has been as diligent in fulfilling the public’s trust as his predecessor. The most obvious difference is their political affiliation.

It also seems noteworthy that the corporate oligarch received less incarceration but a greater monetary penalty. Given the holdings of the two however, the greater fine was a lesser one fractionally. Hence the obvious criminal here receives the lesser sentence overall. Aside from the clear criminal or at lest, self serving, intent, the only obvious differences here are political affiliation and personal wealth.

There may be some lessons to be learned here. The obvious one is that health care needs to be divorced from the profit marketplace. The second is that perhaps we need a law somewhat akin to that of the English that an elected official cannot be held liable to petty legal offenses committed during their term?

Or maybe we need a way to dispose of political parties entirely?

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IT Mumbles

PHYSORG has a noteworthy article [Link] on whether one should buy an iPhone. I was especially taken by one statement:

Maybe, but using it mainly as a phone seems like a waste.

Apparently the iPhone is not a very useful nor cost efficient phone. In fact, the only folks that the articles suggests should purchase the beast are streaming video and fashion addicts.

In other words, sort of a pacifier for the chronologically adult but mentally immature.

Meanwhile the Yankee government’s Federal Trade Commission has issued a report urging the congress critters and furniture lords to proceed cautiously on the matter of network neutrality. [Link] What this appears to mean is that the situation with network neutrality is too complex for their analysts to make any headway on. At least we hope it is that and not an exercise of them washing their hands over the two warring sides of corporate interests in the matter. Surely we cannot expect any agency of the Yankee government to consider the welfare of the citizenry?

Nonetheless this is welcome news after all the trumpeting of the increasing totalitarianism of government, especially that in the Yankee republic.

On a somewhat more interesting note, there is announcement [Link] that a beta version of Google Desktop for Linux is being released. While I have to admit to having only recently come to Linux and am still learning, I have to admit to no great emotion here. Linux is already fairly well fleshed out with calendars and RSS aggregators and the like. What does this offer?

I also have to admit to having seen a demonstration of Google Desktop for the PC. Luckily I had brought a book along and had something to occupy my attention from the presentation of non-features. But maybe there is more to the Linux version?

And in an improvement over this effort by Google we see a report that Australian zoologists at U Adelaide are extracting thylacine DNA from stercus. [Link] For those who don’t recall, thylacine is not a biochemical, as one might expect, but rather a variety of marsupial carnivore, the so-called “Tasmanian tiger” that was last observed in the wild in 1918 and in captivity in 1936.

If the DNA is indeed that of the tyger then this will indicate their continued existence into the 1960’s and hence offer some hope for a few still surviving in the wild.

We expect an announcement from the Alabama Polytechnic Institute – aka Auburn U – that they will undertake a cloning effort.

And for those who mumble that DNA has nothing to do with IT? You need to think on it before you engage your vocal cords.

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Road Trip!

Despite objections by the Smithsonian over fragility, the remains of the Australopithecus Afarensis Lucy will be making a tour of the Yankee republic.[Link] Sadly, the tour will be limited to large city museums in places that are hard to get to and costly of travel. All of the stops haven’t been finalized according to the reportage, so one can hope that they will be coming somewhere closer to Greater Metropolitan Arab than Houston.

Since the Smithsonian quailed Lucy won’t be coming to the District. This probably won’t be noticed since australopithecines are fairly common. They can be found wherever politicians and political appointees are.

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Not News

There are some things about global warming that are obvious enough that one has to wonder how anyone can make hay out of them, much less news. Apparently some Town Planner in England has come up with the idea that freedom will be curtailed by the development of a more totalitarian government in response to global warming. [Link] Sorry, but its obvious enough that I wrote about it in rThe Metaphysics of War when I considered but a cold and a hot phase. But apparently the current trend to reduced freedom resulting from terrorism has escaped the view?

Closer to home, a researcher at fair Harvard has come up with the pronouncement that the heat itself will result in greater incidence of death. [Link] Sorry, again not news to anyone who pays attention to the demographics of heat effects, concentrated among the elderly and poor – those least able to spend money on air conditioning and other ameliorations.

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Stercus Phone

The Greater Metropolitan Arab Computer Club meets twice a month – maybe. This may sound rather pedestrian, but in Greater Metropolitan Arab this group is about all that exists in the way of any intellectual association. There are several service fraternal organizations, and several recreational groups that dance (yes, even with all the Baptists about,) sing, play cards, and do other brain dead activities, but nothing that passes for any pretension of cogitation or knowledge. In fact nothing more modern in terms of programs than the ’50’s. Evidently the whole idea of baby boomers hasn’t crept into local government’s consciousness yet.

Indeed, the urbs has a bright new (relatively) senior center that evidently cost so much that the government is unwilling to spend any money on it. It has a web page that hasn’t been updated since it was first posted; there is no way to contact the center management, and no calendar of events is published. When I go there for club meetings I have this feeling that I should watch my step for horse apples.

I can’t speak to the programs for the young or middle aged (mature adults?) because they aren’t any more accessible to view. But the lessez faire attitude is comfortable to a lot of folks so my mentioning will probably be taken as criticism.

Anyway, the conversation during and after the meeting turned to the greed of information providers. This came to be concentrated on cellular phone providers and the division of the group into those who wanted a cellular phone that provided them will access to calendar and e-mail as well as conversation, and for some, internet access, and those who merely wanted conversation and another device for internet access. The only thing the two sides could agree upon was the exorbitance of instruments that either did too much or too little – the standard paean of standardization – and service that seemed ridden with parasitic fees.

No mention was made of the wondrous three horse shay – um – iPhone. And having seen the cost of ownership estimates today, [Link] I somehow doubt that the beast will be seen as beneficial. Does the device have any positive features? Or is it just another piece of meaningless bling for people who lead meaningless lives and when they think, which isn’t often, think meaningless thoughts.

I suspect my first sight of one of these marvelous devices will be in the  grocery isles at MalWart where every other person, distribution density by age inversely proportional to age, is conversing while either searching for some grocery that has almost assuredly been discontinued because its cash flow rate was too low, or displaying their inability to be cognitive enough to have made a list of groceries to buy, assuming that they are literate enough, of course, which is becoming a rather substantial assumption in Greater Metropolitan Arab. But that has to do with parent apathy and education system intransigence and autarky.

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I have previously mentioned the informational and intellectual bankruptcy of various Six Sigma programs, notably the Yankee army’s Lean Six Sigma program. Their very foundation, assuming unproven stochastic behavior for everything, and their questionable maths is sufficient to serve in the office of a rigorous starvation diet coupled with a vigorous program of involuntary enemas. I was however taken by this cartoon, slightly modified to make the point:

Actually this is a simplification as the net effect of most Six Sigma programs on productivity, effectiveness, efficiency, … is Negative!

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Tuesday Twinklings

The arch villain , criminal Paris Hilton,  was released from durance vile early this morning after the Las Angeles penal system declared bankruptcy as a result of costs incurred during her incarceration. [Link] The high point of her incarceration was a statement made to one of America’s most notorious journalists,

“I used to act dumb.”

which definitely demonstrates that heiresses are not taught the difference these days between “dumb” and “stupid”.

In a related article, [Link] researchers at the Max Planck Institut for Evolutionary Anthropology have announced plans to reconstruct the genome of homo neandertalensis. Given the deterioration of fossil DNA over time, the importance of the criminal Hilton’s assistance in this matter is obviously central.

And on a more exciting note, the debate over whether the dinosaur extinction that may have resulted from a meteorite strike 65 MYA did or did not give impetus to the rise of mammals is still raging. [Link] This should give us an alternative to the heated bickering over whether neandertalensis extinguished or just reproduced itself into indistinguishability with sapiens.

If this effort is successful, we may likely expect Lee Baca and Michael Sauer to be called upon to assist a similar project to reconstruct the genome of habilis.

But we still wonder what all this has to do with physics? Its a shame Max isn’t around to explain why an institute engaged in biology is named after him?

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