Drinking Through It…


The following information came round on the Rappahannock grapevine. If you had purchased $1,000 of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49; the same investment with Enron would have left you with $16.50, Delta Airlines $49 and United Airlines nothing.

If, however, you had purchased $1,000-worth of beer a year ago, drunk the beer, and then turned in the cans for the aluminium recycling fund, you would now have $214.

This piece of retrospective investment advice is only one of many arguments to suggest that drinkers have done rather better than abstainers in the current crash. And winos have done best of all.

(Found via 3quarksdaily.)

Be Kind…

The notion of rewinding is dying.
My colleague teaches a course involving video production and editing. At the beginning of the term, he takes his students through the ins and outs of the equipment. Going through how to use the video camera, a students would record their clip, switch the camera to playback mode, and hit play.

It is there they would run into trouble: blank space. Why would this happen? Any of us who have a memory that recalls years that begin with the number 1 can explain.

The cameras being used are digital, but still use tapes. For those unfamiliar, tapes are wound up magnetic strips that have information encoded on them as they move. So in order to get back to a previous recording, one must physically rewind the tape to the spot containing the desired information.

But beyond this exercise, when would these people born around 1996 use anything on a tape? You don’t have to rewind a CD or DVD (a fact I was slow to learn about DVDs). And there is nothing to rewind on a computer. In fact, computers will soon no longer need any moving parts at all thanks to solid state hard drives.

This idea left me wondering: what will become of this word? There is nothing left to rewind. Time will forever remain still. There will no longer be a continuum. I will say to my children, ‘Woah there; let’s rewind a bit and start over.’ and they look at me and wonder if I’m talking about that stone wheel that was constructed when I was a kid or if I remember where I was when I heard Man discovered fire.

They Ain’t No Nazis…

With the impending closure of Guantanamo Bay, the question comes up of what to do with those imprisoned there. We know that they will be brought to trial, as should have been done several years ago. The rule of law is slowing being restored, though it will be a tough process.
We need to have a place to put these suspects (remember, no real charges against many of them) in the interim before trial. Maybe we should follow the process of the law for all our citizens and aliens: put them in jail.

This leads into a bigger argument that is starting to take shape. These suspect terrorists are not super villains and we should completely cease treating them as such.

The biggest failure of the war on terror has been the creation of a war on terror. First of all, terror is a state of fright. Second, terrorism is a tactic, not a nation or NGO. And third, these Islamist networks are absolutely nothing compared to Nazi Germany or the USSR. At best, Bin Laden is a rung below Jabba the Hutt.

Bringing the suspects back to reality should help us come back down to reality. If we go back to believing they are small-fries, then we can free ourselves from fear. We aren’t fighting a super-menace anymore. We just need to go out and police the parts of the world they come from. The rest of our resources can go back to being for building up economies against breeding their insanity.

There is a chance that on any given day, we could be hurt again. There is always a chance. It’s the price of being alive, really. I still fear being killed while driving or by a drunken hunter far more than terrorists blowing something else up.

If the worst should happen, we cannot let what happened after 9/11 to happen again. There cannot be panic or irrationality ruling the moment. We must be like Britain or India or any of the other places attacked by the group-o-crazies: stalwart. You get stuff cleaned up and you keep going. Too much of a moment’s pause, too much fear clouding your judgement, and the terrorist’s objective has been met. If you keep on walking, then their tactic doesn’t work. That is how you win a war against a tactic.

Only Here…

House glides across ice on White Bear Lake

A 60-ton house was rolled across a stretch of lake ice this morning in the east metro, leaving behind a few cracks but disappointing any of the onlookers who may have been secretly hoping to see a frigid splash of historic proportions.

A few hours before the move, Semple acknowledged having never tried such a project before, but, “We were able to get some insurance, and now we can try to make a go of it.”

Where else but in Minnesota can you get insurance to slide a house across a lake?

(Found via Zeller.)

Take A Ride On The Reading Railroad…

I have had One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest on my bedside table for over a month now. I cracked it open nearly two months ago, I think. It’s really good, and I’m nearly done with it.
I read recently an article about a woman who averages more than a book a day. She consumes things differently, almost taking a page in as a whole, rather than line by line. Granted, this is an extreme, and she is a professional reader and reviewer. I still envy it.

I very much wish to learn how to speed read. When reading, I hear the words and phrasing in my mind. This leaves me getting caught up on more complex or awkward lines.

Other issues come from my lack of retention. Of course with reading, same as listening, some things stick and some done. However with me, as my dear wife will attest, I seem to have a much greater amount of anti-adhesive than the average person. It’s not really through lack of trying, I don’t think. A big part of it has to come from environment and especially sound.

I am no multitasker. Frankly, I’m of the camp that believes multitasking is a misnomer. It’s more like fraction-tasking. Either way, I cannot pull it off; I have a bad filter for concentrating.

If there is noise in the background, particularly voices, it blocks my reading. Writing not as much, but definitely reading. Maybe it’s because I read with a voice in my mind. I cannot read with the television on or with someone talking to me. One will definitely get filtered out, or if I’m trying to split my attention, neither get retained.

Back to the original point: I wish I could speed read. Maybe somewhere I’ll find a program that works for that. The big trick is to take away the inner voice that translates the reading and allow the words to just go straight into the brain.

If I could do that, I think I would have more confidence as a writer. I don’t consume enough writing to know if what I do is good or not. For blogging, I feel like I don’t read through and retain enough material to make use of it. And in the blogosphere, he who hesitates is definitely lost.

Anyone with a recommendation to a speed reading program, or at least tricks to read faster and better, please do let me know.

Videos From Yesterday…

Here is Dr Joseph Lowery’s Inauguration Benection. His opening and his closing are genius.

And here is Jon Stewart speaking with Bishop Gene Robinson. Their opening riff makes me so warm and happy inside.

What We Saw…

What we witnessed has happened for over two and a quarter centuries. Every two years, our nation shifts its seats of power, and every four or eight years, the most powerful person in the world shakes the hand of their successor and simply walks away from it.
Aside from the other great steps we have taken that came to fruition today (such as my children growing up in a world where a Black man has already been President), the event itself is historic interest. Watching the swearing in of the elect and the bidding adieu of the former floored me. For over two hundred years, for essentially our entire existence, the stewardship of our country changed hands.

No violence, no riots, no revolution has come about due to a change in our executive. Nothing happens. It never has. It’s all rather dull and dry (well, usually). And it’s just what we expect to happen. Sure a great many other countries go through similar changes, but we have been at it for a very long time.

We should be quietly proud of that fact, too. Our Republic and Constitution are the oldest and longest unchanged in the world. I guess having the people be the ultimate check on government was a rather staying notion, no?

As for today’s ceremonies, I loved the music. Aretha Franklin singing before the Vice President took his oath and John Williams’ original composition performed by a circle of geniuses… it was just grand and timeless. And I thought the Benediction by Dr Lowery and his inclusion of text from the Negro National Anthem was a brilliant touch.