Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Power of the Dark Side

A classic piece of imposing the everyday on the fantastical. This is an old one, but a very good one.

From McSweeney's:

The Death Star clearly has a garbage-disposal problem. Given its size and massive personnel, the amount of waste it generates — discarded food, broken equipment, excrement, and the like — boggles the imagination. That said, I just cannot fathom how an organization as ruthless and efficiently-run as the Empire would have signed off on such a dangerous, unsanitary, and shoddy garbage-disposal system as the one depicted in the movie.
The piece goes on to describe several issues with the system such as the inefficiency of two moving walls, the inanity of having a creature to deal with organic waste, and the danger of ejecting giant dense pieces of garbage into space.

Yet, all I could really think about was whether Darth Vader poops.

I imagine him standing proudly over the contents of his toilet announcing "I am your father!"

Monday, July 25, 2011


So the debt limit may or may not be increased, and an endless number of other possible policy implications could come out of any deal. It is at times like this that I think our ability to get an endless amount of information cripples us more than it enhances us. You can read a report on just about any solution you can think of for the debt crisis. For each of those solutions you can read pieces offering nearly every possible opinion on whether the solution is good, bad, or just implausible.

And if you don't find a piece that endorses your preferred solution, you can simply write your own. Then you can blog about it(or tweet about it if it is a short idea), and the whole world can access it. Someone might even think it is a good idea, and that you know what you are talking about. I mean it's on the Internet right?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Who Makes Your Money

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a chart out with almost every major profession in the U.S. and salary info for each one. It is very interesting.

The lowest paying job in the U.S. - Fast Food Cook.

The highest paying job in the U.S. - Surgeons

These don't mean much, of course, because the salary ranges for each of those positions aren't very large. There just aren't any highly paid fast food workers, and very few low-paid surgeons. Other occupations, like lawyers for instance, can have pay that varies quite widely.

This also, I believe, is salary only. Stock options and other such non-salary bonuses are not figured... I think.

Anyway, if you ever wondered what career you might take up next, maybe this is a decent place to start.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Point Guards are Important... Somewhat

Over the last few years I've been making the argument (only to those who care about NBA basketball) that point guard and center are the two most important spots on the floor. It makes some sense. Point guards run the team on the floor, and centers are an integral piece of both your offense and your defense. I still think this is true to a degree, but started thinking about the ideas limits in this year's draft.

The Cavs took point guard Kyrie Irving with the first pick instead of forward Derrick Williams. Now, it is important to start with the caveat that neither is considered to be a "can't miss" guy. Because of that, it makes sense that a team this is horrible would likely take either whoever they clearly thought was better or who played a position they more valued. Perhaps they were convinced that Irving was the better talent. I thought he looked good in college, but never did I watch a Duke game and feel the way I felt watching Derrick Rose, John Wall, or Allen Iverson play in college. In contrast, I did find myself blown away in a couple of games by Derrick Williams. So I feel like it is more likely that Cleveland looked at a roster and thought it made more sense to fill the most important position first. That is where my opinion would diverge.

Here is why:
old Jason Kidd
Derek Fisher
Derek Fisher
young Rajon Rondo
Tony Parker
old Gary Payton
Tony Parker
Chauncey Billups
Tony Parker
Derek Fisher
Derek Fisher
Avery Johnson
Ron Harper
Ron Harper
Ron Harper
Kenny Smith
Kenny Smith
John Paxson
John Paxson
John Paxson
Isiah Thomas

That is the list of the last 21 starting point guards for NBA champions. The only two that were among the 5 best players at their position (at the time they won) were Thomas and Billups. You don't need a great point guard to be a champion, you need a great player. I think Derrick Williams has a better chance to be that than does Kyrie Irving.

The point of all this, I suppose, is to say that every maxim has its limits. In this case, the idea that point guards are a vital position on your team is limited by your opportunity to draft a great player at any other spot.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bad News Friday

Jobs are down.

Debt limit is unresolved.

Newspapers are now spies.

Science is getting whacked.

Michelle Bachmann is still nuts.

Kansas City is getting beat up.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Word Needs Definition

There are several words out there where you can substitute a each single vowel and have a real word. For instance: pat, pet, pit, pot, and put. Unfortunately, one great group of letters is missing a single word to join this group. That group is champ, chimp, chomp, and chump. Every single word in the group is a fun word. But there is no such thing as a "chemp".

My interest is in developing some sort of definition for chemp that can make it available for daily use. The urban dictionary claims three possibilities, though the first one is a bit crude for daily use and the last just isn't convincing to me. The second definition holds possibility:

To vent frustration by riffing creatively about a situation. This is not the same as kvetching or bitching, though it is a form of complaining. A good chemp is funny. The person or people who chemp or listen to a chemp walk away feeling that the situation still sucks, but at least they can laugh about it.
Of course, most people at urban dictionary prefer the more lude definition, so this may not work either.

I also like the possibility of chemp being somewhere on the continuum between a champ and a chump. Obviously, it is much closer to being a champ than a chump, however. So the definition would have to be something like almost being a champ but not quite. Second place maybe? I don't really like that because chemp definitely does sound a little derisive. Perhaps it is more like a champ who clearly doesn't deserve it. Like the Duke Blue Devils were the chemps in 2001. Or Lance Armstrong is a seven time Tour de France chemp.

This definition also has the possibility of being used antagonistically towards friends. For instance, your buddy makes basket in a game of H-O-R-S-E and gets a little too amped up about it pumping his fist and grunt-yelling, "Yeah!" You could respond with "Nice one chemp." I think this would piss him off.

Anyway, that is where I am with it now. Other suggestions are certainly welcome.

Not Great Times for the Little Guy

As if the general business of Congress, Wall Street, and big business as a whole wasn't discouraging enough, this term the Supreme Court bascially became advocates for just about every way the average American could be screwed by our corporate overlords.

As the Boston Globe editorialized, the new rule "lets Janus and similar companies hide false information in a complicated organization chart [and] can only undermine public confidence in the mutual fund industry over time." Ask yourself whether you really want the Supreme Court to be in the business of teaching corporate giants how better to deceive you about your investments. Yet Thomas, like Scalia in the AT&T case, was more worried about Janus, and its possible exposure to burdensome new lawsuits, than he was about the investors who were deceived. The purpose of civil litigation isn't solely to redress past wrongs. It's also to encourage better future conduct, particularly in situations where the parties have vastly unequal power. When you obliterate the very possibility of civil litigation, you are, by definition, helping big business screw over the little guy. But when you teach big business precisely how to screw over the little guy, and how to do it faster, cheaper, and without detection … well, that's not even an illusion of justice anymore. It's enabling.
Sometimes it is hard for me to imagine how we dig ourselves out of this hole.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Try Not Forget You Are Overpaid

The percentage of recovery dollars going to corporate profits and to wages.

Via Kevin Drum.

Serious Leverage

This strikes me as probably one of the most effective ways I've ever heard of to get what you want:

Known as the "strike of crossed legs," 300 Colombian women have decided not to have sex with their husbands until the men pressure local authorities to repair and maintain the road that connects Barbacoas to the next town, which is about 35 miles away.

I'm betting that road gets fixed.

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