The inimitable Don Boudreaux responds to one of his correspondents, someone who seem to believe the sort of nonsense some of my relatives seem to think, and gives his correspondent a very nice Gedankenexperiment.
Question: if corporations can so easily “manipulate customers needs and demands with advertising and marketing,” why doesn’t McDonald’s simply serve raw celery? Celery being much less costly for McDonald’s to buy than ground beef and chicken patties, a raw-celery-only menu at McDonald’s would slash that company’s costs. And with its nefarious facility at using “advertising and marketing” to hypnotize consumers into buying whatever it peddles (even “nasty killer foods”!), that fast-food behemoth will keep consumers spending as much on McCelery stalks as consumers now spend on Happy Meals and Egg McMuffins. McDonald’s profits will zoom upward!
Boudreaux writes so well it is worth reading the whole thing.
Ashbridge's Bay, May 30, 2011 around 8:15am after overnight rain.
So sadly there seems to be now a solitary swan swimming around. Redwings, Robins, and sparrows of various sorts were all heard. Gulls, terns, swallows, and black-crowned night herons all to be seen. And, of course, lots of humans and dogs, walking each other, were also out in force. And never forget the Canada Geese, very vocal this morning.
Comparing the speeches was a great idea from one of the commenters.
President Bush's speech is completely outwardly directed. He speaks of the momentous occasion and gives all credit to the military and the intelligence community. There is no attempt to highlight his part in the story. Quite a contrast.
It is like the contrast between a real adult and a juvenile.
Cameron's waffling on the question made Obama's clear statement that the UN cannot create a Palestinian state look very sensible, and my guess is it made Cameron look like a real waffler to a lot of Brits who are not utterly thrilled at the UK's subjection to the European Union, and the resulting loss of national sovereignty.
Now I DO know that BHO has no choice - the Congressional response to Netanyahu's speech makes it clear that if the US voted for such a resolution, I suspect BHO would find himself subject to impeachment proceedings.
I did not watch most of it, as I lack the necessary interest in the various performers they bring on to fatten the show up to two hours.
I did watch all the competing dances, and was very impressed by all, and touched at the relationships between the dancers and celebrities. It was great to see three perfect scores out of three from the judges.
Hines Ward s a worthy winner, and it amazes me that two NFL players have now won a season. On the other hand, NFL football asks for a lot of dancing from its players, particularly wide receivers and running backs. I would have placed Chelsea second, but she is young and has gained a ton from this show; I had no idea who she was before seeing her here. And second was a nice spot for Kirstie Alley, who has used the season to great effect, again losing a lot of weight, and gaining a ton of fitness.
Ward's run over to kiss his Mom was a nice reminder of his Asian ethnic background (a la Tiger Woods).
I did not watch enough episodes this season. I promise to do better in the future.
Maybe he needs a pocket-prompter with an idiot vibrator. Then one of his aides can press a button and give him a jolt when he's making an ass of himself.
There is a problem with this; his staff does not have anyone smart enough to trust with such a job. It's clear his staff did not prepare him. Or, he thinks he is so smart (as we know he does) that he does not bother to listen.
I tried to suss out Prince Philip's facial expression (aand Camilla's) but cannot confidently guess at what they are thinking.
Yes he was quoting Shakespeare, but everything he had praised earlier about the 'special relationship' (yes he said it) applies equally to the Welsh, Scots, and Northern Irish.
So add those to the Israelis and Palestinians he has pissed off this week. In their case, the problem is essential, but I think the slight to the non-England parts of the UK was avoidable with a small amount of good advice.
Poor little guy - could his advisers not have found a better closing quotation? It was moving me until that clunker.
Alex Eames, leaving her father's apartment with Bobby Goren, to Goren:
He has Irish Alzheimers - forgets everything but the grudges.
Much as I quite liked Jeff Goldblum and Saffron Burrows, it is nice to have them back, and the Goren-psychiatrist theme looks as if it might prove interesting, and I will not complain about them having added Julia Ormond as a bit of a regular. Their last little confrontation, about Goren's problems with intimacy, made me wonder whether the psychiatrist was referring to herself or to Eames.
I have been remiss this year - not watching 'Dancing With the Stars' weekly, and so not reporting on it. Almost by accident, I benefit this afternoon from the fact that CTV owns almost all Canada's TV stations (this is not ALWAYS a benefit) and so Monday's DWTS gets replayed on Saturday afternoon on a basic cable channel.
And what an episode! I know because CTV also own the channel that has the Canadian licence for Regis and Kelly that Ralph Macchio I can ignore. And I have, happily. Seems like a nice guy, though.
But what drama and pleasure and enjoyment! Somehow I suspected Kirstie Alley and Maksim would work brilliantly together, and it seems they have; I do not mean smoothly. Maksim will never be smooth but Alley seems very ready for interventions in her life, and is obviously able to refuse them when she does not want them. It is wonderful that she has got this far.
I had forgotten how much I like this show, among the various reality shows. People here with some public face have to do something uncomfortable and get measured. Their courage to allow this is great. And it is not just the celebrities; the dancers make quite a commitment (of course with a great opportunity too). Having seen Kym's injury in rehearsal, I like Carrie Ann teared up in her dance with Hines; their planned moves had to be compromised, but this NFL player was so gentle and supporting. And I have NO idea who Chelsea Kane is but what great legs!
So it should be a LOT of fun Monday!
I wonder sometimes who vets the celebrities. Each year by the end we seem to have moderately likeable people in the running.
Norm suggests an alternative. I am not quite convinced, but he is right to emphasize the degree to which POTUS slowly becomes the last POTUS. (Though I an coming to believe that W was smarter and vastly more visionary than BHO, who seems to me deeply limited intellectually - where are those Columbia transcripts?)
First and foremost, this could be called Obama’s George Bush speech. The intention was to find some way to make the main priority of U.S. policy the support of democracy in the Arab world. This is precisely the theme that Obama’s supporters ridiculed when Bush did it. So Obama had to find some way to approach the issue without anyone realizing he had copied Bush. He succeeded! No one seems to have caught on yet.
Second, this was not a speech about Israeli-Palestinian issues. On the contrary, he was trying to find a framework for pushing that question onto a backburner. Here he failed completely. Since Obama has such low credibility with Israel and its supporters, some relatively bland statements blew up into such a huge crisis that some are describing it as the end of the traditional U.S.-Israel alliance.
Rubin's last point catches some of where I think Norm and I departed early.
And the little windbag does not get one key thing:
As I’ve said before, a basic concept of this administration is that al-Qaeda is the enemy because it attacks America. Yet the much larger strategic threat posed by revolutionary Islamism — Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, the Muslim Brotherhood, smaller groups, and with Turkish government cooperation — is not perceived as a threat.
In other words, the president took an incident where the cause was unclear and blamed Israel for it. And of course the tragic deaths of these girls took place because the United States did nothing to help prevent Hamas from taking over the Gaza Strip and then Hamas broke a ceasefire and attacked Israel.
Since then, the Obama Administration has pressured Israel to reduce sanctions on Hamas to an absolute minimum and provided $400 million to pay salaries in the Gaza Strip, which benefits Hamas’s rule.
What a schooling! Of course Netanyahu has been around for a long time, and has a brother he lost in the greatest analogue to the SEAL Team 6 project ever at Entebbe. And this is SO visible as the silly little man is struck speechless - no teleprompter, no prepared speech! Struck utterly dumb. Amazing for a great windbag.
If Netanyahu could do this in public, now I REALLY wish I had seen the private meeting. What courage to phrase it so carefully and make it so clear. I loved 'after your important speech yesterday', with the very smart reference to democracy in the Middle East, from the only country there that vaguely bears a resemblance to it.
OK I saw the dumb press release in the morning and planned to blog about it. Mike Munger, in North Carolina (how did he see it?) beat me to it so I will just outsource the effort.
The actual performance of the solar roof? Likely to be 7% of the "capacity" numbers. We are talking about generating power at a cost of 20 cents / kwh, or more, and even then most of the time there won't be any power. If you include the cost of the panels when they are not generating power (Night. Winter. Clouds. That sort of thing.), the cost is probably nearly 50 cents per kwh. (Canada generates power at about 10 cents per kwh, on average, btw, from coal and nuclear plants).
In fact Ontario, the part of Canada involved, rides heavily on hydro and nuclear, clean and pretty effiicient, and increasingly on gas generation; this makes the brain-dead renewable subsidies even stupider.
A line from House MD Season 7 Episode 22. I think that may have been the best 43 minutes of television I can recall; soap operas have the great advantage of building to something like this, and the great writing over seven seasons, and wonderful acting, let the writers get to this kind of point. They can criss-cross themes to make for a very rich and deep story.
That there is SO much competition in US television is a fact not recognized often enough for what seems to me the enormous improvement in the quality of TV drama. Sure I liked the Mary Tyler Moore Show, but it was way beyond anything else offered back then. Now there are many shows per week much tighter and smarter.
House MD features such good writing and acting from so many places
Can they top it next week when they have to write Cuddy out? I will miss Lisa Edelstein's cleavage next year, and I will also miss the great character she played so brilliantly. I look forward to seeing her elsewhere, cleavage or not.
Well, he demoted pretty much nobody! Maybe nobody at all. (Of course on later reflection I am not sure why we would.)
Tony Clement, who has proven wonderfully able to make inane arguments and stick to his guns, gets Treasury, and his skills seem to fit perfectly the dirty job he will get, cutting costs.
Bev Oda, some of whose apparent behavior seemed to get Ignatieff into such a state that he triggered the election, is back untouched. No doubt this is a reward for getting the election to happen!
John Baird goes to Foreign Affairs. The CBC speculated that maybe the plan, because Baird is so central in the Harper team, means they had to do something after the 'embarassment' of not getting a Security Council seat. This is SO CBC. The embarrassment would have been getting a Security Council seat by sucking up to the Arab countries, a form of tribute willingly played by the other candidates, but not by Harper. Baird will not be a different actor.
Jason Kenney, who has miraculously shifted the 'ethnic' vote out of the Liberal camp so trickily created by Trudeau, stays on Immigration, but also gets a central organizational role.
And Maxime Bernier, he of the 'leave my sensitive papers with my cute mistress', is back! And actually, he is on the small business portfolio, which makes sense for a libertarian. He showed up on his own today, not with the date in the wild outfit he came with last time he was sworn into cabinet, the lady with the motorcycle gang buddies. Hey, he is FRENCH-Canadian. And I know of NO rape allegations.
We have our first Sikh cabinet minister, maybe. Natural Resources - he's from Edmonton - that seems to me a signal of some future policy. Good!
Fantino Associate Minister of National Defence. I'd like to think this is a demotion after Harper read 'Helpless'. I'd also like to think that taking care of seniors is more important than helping out the guy who actually makes decisions about National Defence.
Harper knows what he is doing; the Liberals can hardly complain about diversity in the cabinet!
And I have never seen him look so happy.
For those of us who recall 1993, when it has become since clear that the right government got elected, this is amazing. And there is no way I would ever have believed that the Stephen Harper I saw until maybe five years ago or so would have got here. Congratulations. I love surprises!
UPDATE: I left out James Flaherty, who remains in Finance. Look, after he seemed to be a maniac in Ontario, as Federal Finance Minister has steered a pretty steady ship, and it is THAT success through the recent recession that surely got most of the votes, if not the marginal ones.
UPDATE 2: The CBC seems to think that the size of government is measured by the size of the cabinet! Look! The cabinet is ornamental. We will see whether Harper continues to allow government to grow. Ceeb will whine if he does, and whine if he does not. The CBC is also inanely on about the fact that Harper is happy to have his cabinet tell reporters to fuck off when they want to do interviews. I hope they tell Rosemary Barton (however much I like her) to fuck off.
Matt is of course appalled by the love of the elite, and the dismissal of the weak (a theme of BHL's perhaps even more appalling defence of Polanski). BHL seems to find it equally appalling that the US justice system would take seriously a young Senegalese Mulisim immigrant working on the cleaning staff of an elite New York hotel, to the point of actually arresting his pal DSK. And yes it is a 'he said, she said', but I'm pretty sure the New York SVU did some plausibility assessments, and guessed that maybe this immigrant Muslim woman was not terribly likely to succumb to the 'charms' of someone known in large parts of the world to be pretty much a dirty old man of the worst sort. As someone tweeted in the last few days, it is a source of prode to me to live in a culture that can make such decisions.
I don't know if he's guilty, and it would be imprudent not to consider the conspiracy theories in a case involving someone who until this week was the single biggest political threat to the sitting president of France, but the only decent way you can arrive at "nothing in the world can justify" Strauss-Kahn's treatment is if you oppose all perp walks equally. Short of that, it's just special pleading for a powerful dick. And another reminder that BHL is 10 times the national embarrassment to France than Jerry Lewis or even Johnny Hallyday ever was.
I knew this a while ago but it was really only last night I accepted it. I was watching one of those Canadian government-funded-godawful soft-core porn shows that turn up nowadays only on Telelatino (or Showcase or IFC). There was an actress who seemed vaguely familiar to me.
A short amount of web research identified her as Gina Wilkinson, who appeared in two of my favorite Canadian Stage productions of the last few years, Patrick Marber's 'Closer' and Edward Allbee's 'The Goat'. I think it was mostly her Anna in 'Closer' that made the superstars in the movie seem small to me by comparison. She was wonderful in 'The Goat'. But I was stunned to find IMDB document her death late last year.
I suspect I saw a few of the shows she directed but I would have been less aware of her role and her charisma with her behind the scenes.
I wish I had posted on this on the days; I did not, it seems.
I find it terribly sad we lose such a star so early. No doubt I feel it less than her family and friends, and partner, who it seems married her just before she died (a theme for another post, on the wonderful movie 'Aberdeen').
The lesson? Praise good/great performances as you see them! The Internet is there. Their names will never disappear.
As for Gina Wlkinson, I hope at least those who were close to her can benefit.
UPDATE: Richard Ouzounian's memoir is great too especially for the beautiful photograph. And it does speak of another girl who would not quit and so improved my life, while she never knew who I was. It is why I love markets.
Even without knowing much Italian, even I can get the message.
Maria Sharapova wins the Italian Open. After her so early Wimbledon victory, she has struggled.
What is so admirable, is that she HAS struggled! And I have never seen her quit; in a point, in a game, in a match, in a tournament. It is hard to imagine her frustration after such early success, fighting to beat players who were no challenge in her early days.
She seems ready now for the French Open.
I am really looking forward to those two weeks!
(Meanwhile Djokovic beats Nadal again. A few years ago Nadal used the Italian Open in a final against Roger Federer to announce his claim to the French Open, which he won.)
Maybe the question is not utterly fair as I have never paid Adobe for any software. But I often tend to judge by their free stuff.
Acrobat Reader is not too bad. But it is application software, whose failure is rarely of much importance for a cautioned user (as I deeply am), who will just rely on crazy backup frequency. (Well it is a Reader so that does not even matter!)
But Flash is Internet infrastructure; get it right or go away. I just lost about three things I was following I am starting to think Steve Jobs is a lot smarter than I thought.
Well, it's not all that hidden; human beings figured the basics out a pretty long time ago. But some of the photography is pretty cool; I really liked the bats in front of the full moon.
And the Monarch swarm at the end; luckily a few years ago I walked into a roost during the fall migration, and while it was of a much smaller scale than the one in the video, it was no less impressive to me. Green trees turned orange!
You can see it here. (ASIDE: If this blog management software had half a brain, I could have the video inlined here. My sister, who manages this site, will no doubt fix this soon. But why has Joomla designed a so-called WYSIWG editor that allows seamless insertion of ONLY YouTube videos, that is not even seamless? When I was in software we KILLED ourselves trying to make sure we did not create nonsense like this. Where does Joomla get its free pass? Part of my exasperation is that having worked to fight this as an implementer I am EXTREMELY unwilling to expend time as a user avoiding the stupidity of the implementers.)
There has been a lot of overwrought hand-wringing over the threat to pollination in recent years. I wonder. Last year, for reasons I never understood, I rarely saw a bee at my apple tree and it produced tremendous amounts of rotten fruit (I do not spray). And now as the apple blossoms are just coming out, we have several days of rain predicted. I saw a fruit fly today (inside), and a housefly yesterday (outside) but I wonder about the timings. The lilacs are about to bloom, with the Spiraea far behind.
The speaker keeps tallking about us being part of nature; what a funny legacy of our very odd religions. With the amusing result, I was reading yesterday on a science blog (Southern Fried Science) that the Florida Senate has banned sex among humans. Well, almost; the law bans sex with animals, or at least allows it only after consultation with a veterinarian. Given that humans are anaimals, I have my concerns about enforceability.
I also wonder about Osama bin Laden's compound's porn tapes. What casting director chooses the goats and sheep?
I am not sure how long his unbeaten streak in 2011 is but it is long, and I loved one of the broadcaster comments today "He does not know how to lose this year".
Well, Nadal will have a different view tomorrow, but did not impose it last week in one of the greatest punching matches I have ever seen in tennis. I expect more tomorrow. Can we get back to that crazy year of the exhausting semis at the French Open? Hope so - we have a couple of weeks.
Djokovic beat Andy Murray and he had to; Murray played wonderfully. It was a privilege to watch them.
Well, I am not missing the voting, nor the peevish social tweeting about the voting.
It has been a day of being overly moved, from seeing 'A Walk to Remember', to some really great tennis, and then to this mad institution, certainly an improvement on the 20th century. And it really IS weird. Israel and Azerbaijan in Eurovision? Well, whatever - inclusiveness has its merits, and the whole institution is a delight. (And annually you get to see how awful the Francophones are in terms of basic courtesy. We have them in Canada too. Perpetually grieved and jealous. The French discourtesy this year was really palpable.)
Wildly, Azerbaijan wins this year Someone should look at a map. Maybe me? I will say that hot lead singer looks pretty Euro to me. And Lena hands the trophy over to the blonde Azerbaijani. There are many things I love about this world, and I hope we can preserve them.
And sometimes it thrusts someone deserving into the public. As it did last year. A sweetie: and here she is: I fell in love in the first twenty seconds.
The fundamental point is the key thing wrong in Canada (not just Quebec):
If private treatment had been allowed, my friend would have paid for it. He would have received better service and in doing so, allowed Dr Useless to get to the woman with no face or ecstasy boy more quickly. Though I suspect he would have used our absence to spend more time sitting down.
Our ridiculous health care system is pretty much unique in the world this way. Almost all the others run on something like a sort of Obamacare. They are also somewhat silly but less so.
But do we need this nonsense from the author?
“Is anyone coming to look at my son?” asked my friend politely. “Quoi?” said the haughty doctor, who had suddenly forgotten how to speak English. “Je ne comprends pas.” And with that, she was gone.
Now this is what the Brits make fun of Americans for and it is not pretty and pretty much depletes all the outrage from what might have seemed like sincere outrage. For Heavens' sake you choose to party in a French-speaking piece of the world and then whine that people around you expect to speak French? (Whatever their sincerity.)
(It is of course true that had the health care system sensible incentives, doctors would be ready to deal in English for the extra income it would bring them. But of course in Canada there are no such incentives.)
My Ontario emergency room experiences have been chracterized by utter courtesy and no extreme waits, though I can imagine Quebec has a worse situation, with its apparently extreme statism.
But if you want some criticism let a Quebecer deliver it as Denys Arcand does in the brilliant Les Invasions Barbares, though watch Le Declin de l'Empire Americain first. These two movies tell one a lot more than what broke in Quebec society 40 years ago, not just health care, though it is part of it.
And it does generate a lot of mirth watching the outcomes.
Via Norm, who rightly wonders why anyone listens to Noam Chomsky with any expectation other than busting out in laughter, I see also that Christopher Hitchens cannot fathom his stupidity; Hitchens also mentions his ignorance, which is wide and deep, and is likely the main problem with many of his acolytes.
It does take deep stupidity to learn what Hitchens sees the buffoon as having learned in a decade:
In short, we do not know who organized the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, or any other related assaults, though it would be a credulous fool who swallowed the (unsupported) word of Osama Bin Laden that his group was the one responsible. An attempt to kidnap or murder an ex-president of the United States (and presumably, by extension, the sitting one) would be as legally justified as the hit on Abbottabad. And America is an incarnation of the Third Reich that doesn't even conceal its genocidal methods and aspirations. This is the sum total of what has been learned, by the guru of the left, in the last decade.
Of course the stupidity is willful, as is the ignorance (and possible stupidity) of his acolytes.
Norm also points to this wonderful analysis, in which the use of one word explains almost all the willfulness of the stupid ignorance.
Uncontroversially? Uncontroversially? Really? You can see right there the basic flaw in Chomsky’s public personality. If he believes something to be true, he believes that there can be no argument, no evidence, not even a controversy against it. If he thinks it, then it must be true, obviously true, even uncontroversially true; no opinion of his, no matter how far removed from reality, can be anything other than an obvious and elementary fact.
It's the problem with talking to Chomskyheads. They don't really have heads that get used much.
I can only assume that it’s due to his being steeped in the deeply parochial and insular culture that is Western academia: if he had more extensive life experience then he’d know that the Army honors Native American nations by naming its military helicopter classes after them, and makes it a point to have representatives of said nations participate in solemn rituals involving those helicopters. The next example of same will take place in May of 2011, involving Lakota Light Utility Helicopters; as the link shows, representatives of the Oglala Sioux Nation…- that’s a Native American nation associated with the Lakota, Chomsky; I only mention this elementary detail since you apparently don’t know anything about the original inhabitants of this continent -…have been involved as respected participants in the acquisition of the helicopters from the beginning. And why should they not be respected? Their ancestors were brave men and women and renowned warriors, and their descendants have shown – REPEATEDLY – that they have not forgotten how to fight with valor and skill; it is no insult to honor their nations by naming our war machines after them.
Who could Obama kill next week to get this joke to open his mouth again in public? The irony is that I expect Obama actually had some respect for this outdated clown once. It will be harder for him to have it now.
Recently I found myself, on any computer in my house, being unable to connect to a server run by an organization I work with, a server I rather need to get to to be useful there.
As they had just moved offices, and were having a little difficulty recently getting up and going again, this did not strike me as a concern.
But it began to in the last couple of days, as I realized I seemed to be the ONLY person in the organization who was not able to connect to the server. Every attempt timed out.
Only this morning did is strike me to check domain name resolution, and discover almost immediately that the address their name was resolved to was erroneous, and has been for a while.
Somehow Rogers' name server at 220.127.116.11 was not updating its tables as it should. Rogers provides my wireless router with a name server address every morning (I reboot everything daily), and they provide me with one that does not work.
So I thought this should be easy - I will call Rogers and tell them what their problem is, having worked it out with the help of some other smart people, and will save them a lot of time. And of course we get the usual bafflegab - we cannot send anything to engineering until your computer is directly connected to the cable modem etc. etc. Perhaps I would have to uninstall half the applications on that computer as well, which is just as logical.
So I demurred, and now have hard-coded Google DNS into my wireless router. I do not like this solution; I believe my ISP should be responsible for my name resolution, but if they are this useless, I don't feel I have much of an alternative.
And if you have the misfortune to also be a Rogers customer, and cannot connect to a site, consider name resolution, and that Rogers seems not to know how to manage DNS.
The point of the post is the economic question. Is it really cost-effective for front-line support to put up such barriers in front of the (level 3) engineering support team when a customer has done a lot of the analytic work and sorted out exactly what the problem is? At the moment, as far as I know, Rogers does not know it has this problem, and it will show up a few more times as key servers change their IP addresses and their DNS fails to be updated. I am not sure of the answer.
I do not want to extend it beyond that, as both the journalists in question I often respect. But he does indeed catch them in pathetic behavior. They really ought both to be fired, but I cannot imagine the CBC management recognizing that fact.