It has begun. School that is. The class is quite boring, in contrast to my other Finance classes so far. Plenty of number-crunching and multi-part valuation formulas that take up a quarter of a page. I was having drowsiness issues during the fourth hour on the first night (which was my seventeenth hour of the day).
The Shins album is outstanding. I don't know how to make comparisons; but it's a little folky, very clever, always tuneful, nice and velvety throughout. Most songs are strong, though it loses focus a bit two-thirds through, but the recovery is excellent. Okay, here: a sweet amalgam of Mother Hips, Pooh Sticks, and Sloan, with a little dash of Three Mile Pilot and Olivia Tremor Control thrown in. If anyone besides me owns and/or listens to stuff by those bands, I'll be shocked.
I opened the mailbox yesterday and four magazines spilled out--Road & Track and three motorcycle mags. They'll last me a week or two. The most important thing in any of them is news that the US Grand Prix is coming back! That's right, MotoGP is making plans to race an American round in Birmingham, Alabama next year. Now there's a ticket I can't be without. I mean, the chance to see MotoGP!
Eyes snap open while every other bodily orifice snaps shut, profanity inadvertently spills from the mouth and survival instincts force nonvital sensory functions to briefly retreat from the scene in a combination of terror, awe, terror, awe and probably some more terror. And some more awe.The other story is the Road & Track test of the Ferrari Enzo, which, after MSRP and tax, will set you back around $700,000 'out the door' (most "normal" Ferrari owners need not apply). Not the most expensive street car ever (ask price for the McLaren F1 was more six years ago, and the 1000 HP Bugatti Veyron will be quite a bit more), but the best-performing "production" car they've ever tested. The thing's 60-100 time is 3.3 seconds. Top speed is "only" 218 (compared to 240 for the F1), but it does everything else--skidpad, braking, slalom, quarter mile, acceleration, etc. better than anything with four wheels that's ever been put on the street (again, in stock form). This one'll be the gold standard for a few years, at least. I'd still rather have the Mclaren: the central driving position would make all the difference.
In other bike news, Triumph scored an impressive victory in the Isle of Man Supersport TT when Bruce Anstey rode the fastest race ever for the 600 class on the all-new Daytona 600 (which is always happy to see you). Nice job. If they can bring home some more Supersport victories aroung the world, that'll bode enormously well for the company's fortunes. (Win on Sunday, sell on Monday, remember?) Found an electric motocross bike that looks like fun. And I found this FAQ for the Segway to be quite honest and refreshing. My favorite bit:
Q: About the "lifestyle" bit -- what lifestyle is it exactly that this device is intended for?Cycle vids, we have cycle vids. First, I think you'll get a kick out of the scooter version of Ghostrider. The guy can handle his 80cc, that's for sure. Check out the impromptu stoppie and the dismount at the end. Second, there's a new documentary on MotoGP called "Faster" being produced. They've released an exciting trailer. There seems to be a little confusion about MotoGP vs. GP 500, and there's footage of both. But it's good stuff. Can't wait for the full-length film.
I got tired of the sand. There's sand everywhere on the roads around here! Those of us who use two-wheeled transportation (motorized and otherwise) don't appreciate it. I even called the police department to complain. I took my broom out there and swept for a good thirty minutes, got an area in front of my apartment cleaned up so I can at least turn into my complex without landing on my hands and knees.
Karl Malone has said that Dallas is number one on his short list of teams he wants to play for next year. I don't like it. This guy just wants to use us to win a trophy? But we don't need him, we need somebody *under* forty years of age, someone who'll grow with the team over a few years. Malone was great, but this year he was merely above average. He couldn't jump like he used to. It's just all wrong.
As I predicted, Ford has told Dallas to fuck off. Ford already has Dallas' money for years and years worth of Crown Vics. It's absurd for Dallas to try and coerce Ford into redesigning an ancient vehicle like the Crown Victoria. It's absurd for Dallas to expect a vehicle capable of absorbing extreme impacts to the gas tank without any mishap. Dallas needs to move on. There's no engineering defect here--Ford ALREADY provided a "firewall" of sorts as a retrofit. Dallas should pick a new car for future police cruisers, but should also accept that you aren't going to have zero risk, barring some sort of alternative motivating technology (hydrogen, diesel, or "hybrid" won't do it, maybe electric will, but then officers could never have fun engaging in high speed chases).
Charley Jones poses this question: Which of the following, if any, do you think is most likely and least likely to be true: Martha Stewart didn't act on insider information and subsequently lie to stakeholders; Hillary Clinton didn't know anything about her husband's affair with Lewinsky before he told her about it; Sammy Sosa made a genuine mistake in picking up the wrong bat; or NASA didn't know something was wrong with the shuttle while it was still in orbit, and if they did, they couldn't send another shuttle up to rescue the astronauts. By the way, I'm working on an idea for a "Hillary Survival Kit", a way to safeguard ourselves against all the bad policies, the massive redistribution of wealth, the explosion in the bureaucratic and coercive size, scope and power of government that will inevitably come once the Smartest Woman in the World fulfills her destiny in 2008. It's not too soon...
Consider the following two articles: One and Two. Well, which is it? I think Jason Della Rocca is right on the money when he mentions the "chilling effect" the Washington ban will have on developer and publisher decisions. But the court opinion that there is nothing to support the position that violent video games have a negative effect on children is a nice victory for the industry. Most of all, they've reversed an absurd earlier ruling that games are NOT protected by the First Amendment.
A couple of interesting developments in the field of tobacco. I have this feeling the cigarette industry's days are numbered, at least in this country. I've already talked about the $1/pack state cigarette tax which is coming for all Texas smokers. Now, the American Society of Clinical Oncologists has recommended a $2/pack federal cigarette tax be adopted. That was followed by the Surgeon General saying he supports the "abolition" of all tobacco products. It's soon going to be a bad time to be a smoker. Wait... is it ever a good time to be a smoker? The cigarette issue, like the celphone issue, challenges me. It's a test of how committed I am to the ideas I preach sometimes. Because frankly, a part of me would be quite satisfied if cigarettes were dropped. A part of me would be glad to see driving-while-celphoning outlawed all across the country.
But what if they were going after sportbikes or video games (or guns) as fiercely? See, it's not good enough to be against something (or for the banning of something) simply because you don't like it personally. That's simple-mindedness. Consider: we already have laws against doing all the things celphone-using drivers are alleged to do--so why is another law needed to stop the use of celphones in cars altogether, even for those who can handle the responsibility? We already have laws against murder, so why try and take guns away from ALL gun owners, the vast majority of whom have no intention of murdering anyone? To smoke is a choice made by those who partake of tobacco products, so why are we deciding to take away that choice? To protect us from our selves? To sum up, much as I dislike smoking, I feel I have to support smokers' (and tobacco companies') rights. If you ban cigarettes, only criminals will have cigarettes.
The Curmudgeon wrote another short, smart essay (I noticed a problem with linking to the article, the one I'm pointing out is called "Counterforce Targets" from June 03, 2003). On healthcare:
If Smith benefits from Davis's services, but Jones pays for them, Smith has an incentive to get quality but none to control costs. Jones has an incentive to control costs but none to get quality. The two parties are at war over Davis's profession -- a war that will end only when one of them has been removed from the tableau. All too often, it's Davis that's removed, as the outflow of medical professionals from Britain and Canada to the United States has demonstrated....instead of treating the underlying disease, as our physicians are supposed to strive to do, government-provided medical insurance would merely slap a bandage over its principal symptom. The cure for this disease will require cutting out the cancers -- Medicare, Medicaid, the pervasive, income-tax-driven practice of employer-provided health insurance.On President Bush's moves in Europe during the G8 Summit:
...the American public appears displeased by Bush's apparent willingness to forgive and forget. If taken at face value, the President's cordiality would indeed be disturbing.But your Curmudgeon remembers a few other incidents in which Bush appeared to be backpedaling and then landed a haymaker. The April 2001 EP-3 incident over the Taiwan Strait, though it appeared to be a net loss to the United States, ultimately made the Red Chinese very sorry indeed. It caused Bush to cozy up to Taiwan both rhetorically and practically, declaring an unlimited commitment to protect Taiwan's right to self-determination and approving the sale of major weapons systems to the Taiwanese on very favorable terms. A similar observation could be made about our contretemps with North Korea, which thought to frighten Washington into propping up its collapsed economy, but now faces utter disaster as a result of its bluster and perfidy. Dubya has displayed moves his opponents never expected. Don't misunderestimate him.
When is your Tax Freedom Day? When do YOU stop working for all the big government programs and start earning for yourself and your family? I won't mention my own Tax Freedom Day, ahem, but geez, for my father, including payroll taxes and social security taxes for all his employees... probably some time in June. He worked the first five or so months of the year for everyone else. Meanwhile, those who receive the majority of the entitlement money and benefit from the social engineering programs may get their Tax Freedom Day some time in January. At least Texas just passed a tort reform intended to severely cap malpractice damages. Insurance is through the ROOF. Doctors are paying for all the rich lawyers, in effect subsidizing their sometimes frivolous lawsuits and almost always bloated compensatory damage claims. TIME magazine this month has an extensive article on the high cost of malpractice insurance. Read it and weep. It's not about spoiled rich doctors having to settle for a *non*-turbo Porsche. It's about substantial numbers of doctors not even being able to stay in business at all, and being forced to leave the profession, to the detriment of society.
Ariel Sharon sure has pissed off the settlers. Let's see, Israel gives up hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, removes all its people from the settlements, gives up its claim to certain lands (which it won, by the way, in a WAR)... What are the Palestinians giving up in return? Oh, they'll stop sending over suicidal teenagers with bombs strapped to their chests. Wow, what a spirit of compromise! What a message to send! Please. The favorite sport of the Palestinians is suicide bombings of Israeli folks. They're not going to give it up so soon. The relative deprivation the Palestinians feel, together with a religious hatred that goes back eons, cannot be quelled so easily by a "roadmap".
I've been spending much of the last two or three weeks dumbstruck by the blog community. Oh, I've dabbled in reading blogs in the past, but this has really been the first time I've made the effort to find the best blogs and read them daily, including all their links and the comments that often accompany each story. I feel... deficient. There are so many vastly well-read, well-written folks who write spectacularly good essays, make brilliant points, have gorgeous or at least competently-designed blogs, and seem to have unique qualifications that I can't hope to approach. I'm up/down to about nine bi-daily blogs (that doesn't include stuff like Firingsquad, Gamers.com, MotorcycleDaily, and Fool.com, of course, to name a few daily niche-news stops, nor does it include the sites I actually get my world/national/local news from).
I'm a lot better than I was at the beginning, though that was admittedly a far-reaching regression from where I was at the height of my UD years. (See the priest in the leftmost picture? That's Father Lehrberger, who taught me Aristotelian logic.) But I'm only in my twenties. I will get better. I will read more books. I will have time to think, to consider all sides, to draw on wells of knowledge that run deeper than watching the ABCNews talking heads on Sunday morning or debating by the water cooler at work. I will have a more serious, legitimate blog, one which means something.