Thursday, August 26, 2004

Income Gap

What do you think: The Widening Income Gap at the Onion:
"What does 'rich' or 'poor' even mean? And before you start, I don't want to hear any of that 'annual household income' nonsense."
"If this keeps up, I might finally be able to hire myself a white maid."
"I realize that, historically, phrases like 'massive redistribution of wealth' are usually accompanied by rivers of blood. That said, it's about time for a massive redistribution of wealth."

More on VOIP

here. Via slashdot:
...I guess 10 years and all the old wires are gonna start to be taken down.
All I can say is: Thats my job yer talkin' about. So shut up! just shut up!

Possibly as misquote...

...certainly a misstatement. A quote from Kerry in the Times:
"The truth, which is what elections are all about, is that the tax burden of the middle class has gone up while the tax burden of the middle class has gone down,"

More Solar

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Health Care

A couple of interesting articles on health care by Arnold Kling. He basically makes the point that even a libertarian has to see that a certain amount of insurance regulation is necessary. He advocates for mandatory catastrophic insurance.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Here they are

I hope you haven't been holding your breath. Here are three photo's from my trip to Cozumel that I promised way back when.

This photo was taken during the ride back into Miami's port.

This is a coral formation on a beach on Cozumel

"When ya'll gonna let me outta here man?"

Monday, August 16, 2004


It's been a pretty good morning for me here. I had a back-log of recent stuff to post on, so I just rammed it out all at once. Anyway, a few more updates, and I'm done for a while.

First, it was Matt's birthday yesterday. He turned five. We had a pretty good party, and I've got photo's that I'll enentually post.

Second, I finally have gotten the pics from the Cruise scanned in. So I'll be posting some of those as well.

Thirdly, I saw Secondhad Lions over the weekend. It was pretty good.

Finally, I fixed the "The Commons" link on my links page.


Better Fuel Cells

Futurepundit links to a report on some tiny fuel cells being developed at the University of Houston.
Compared to the macroscopic size of traditional fuel cells that can take up an entire room, thin film SOFCs are one micron thick – the equivalent of about one-hundredth of a human hair. Putting this into perspective, the size equivalent of four sugar cubes would produce 80 watts – more than enough to operate a laptop computer, eliminating clunky batteries and giving you hours more juice in your laptop. By the same token, approximately two cans' worth of soda would produce more than five kilowatts, enough to power a typical household.
If these fuel cells could be adapted to work with the somewhat impure hydrogen from this process, then you could see an end to fossil fuel use for power in this country. If, of course, all of this could be done cheaply enough.

A more efficient hydrogen producer.

Here. I'm not a big proponent of hydrogen as a fuel, but any and all clean technologies are welcome.

Spray on Armor...

...for military vehicles here.

Flash Computer Memory

This is something I thought would be out a long time ago. I first heard about solid state memory back when I was in college in the early nineties. I thought that eventually we would see them replace Hard Disks in computers, but it's taken much longer than I thought it would. It costs around $1,000 per gig, so it's still quite pricey compared to the less than $1 a gig I paid for my current drive. So, it's not for me yet.

Low Energy Homes

An particular obsession I have is with building and underground home. Not literally for myself, of course, but as a new way for society to design it's homes to be more energy efficient. Due to the fact of constant temperature under the ground, an underground home can have inexpensive environmental controls. Also, if such a system shuts off, the temperature will drop to around 60 degrees, which would be uncomfortable, but not as bad as a house that heats up to 100 degrees.

It turns out, however, that great strides in making above ground homes virtually cost free in terms of electricity use are already here. This article talks about some Habitat For Fumanity houses that were built with special technologies(including solar panels) to make the run on much less electricity(and gas, I assume).

While the fourth Near-Zero-Energy Habitat for Humanity House was just completed, the first house has been occupied by a family of four since November 2002. The daily cost for heating and cooling this house with an air source heat pump was 45 cents. Adding the cost of operating the water heater and all of the appliances brought the total average daily energy cost for this all- electric house to 82 cents. This number takes into account $291 for solar credits that are part of the Tennessee Valley Authority's Green Power Generation program. In comparison, a conventional house in Lenoir City would use between $4 and $5 of electricity per day.

Already, builders and the public are taking notice, said Christian, who noted that many of the energy-saving features are cost-effective for all houses.

Plans call for a true net-zero-energy house to be built by the end of 2005.

I want to know how easily these technologies can be applied to an existing home, and how much they will cost. Also, I think the(rather loopy, I'll admit) underground home idea still has value in that it is more weatherproof(virtually tornado proof), and has no exterior to maintain(no painting, roofing, etc.).

Monday, August 09, 2004

For all those who google about this in the future.

It's taken me most of today to figure this out, and I couldn't tell you exactly how I found it, but if this subject is of interest to you, read on. If you have to run SQL statements into a SQL server database, and you're using ADODB and PERL to do it, then here is the syntax on how to acquire the error statement if it doesn't work.

$rs = $conn->Execute("Select * FROM generic.table");
if (! $rs) {
$ErrMsg = $conn->Errors(0)->{Description};
if($ErrMsg ne "") { print
$ErrMsg . "\n"; Die; }
else { print "Query is empty!\n"; }

That big red zero is important. Every single example of this I found today didn't have that zero there, and instead wanted me to use the Errors function to return a hash. Well it didn't F***in' work! So, after just about giving up, I've found this solution. BTW the else statement may be unnecessary. If recordset($rs) is undefined, it probably will always be in error. A successful query returning no values probably comes back defined, but with no data($rs->EOF is true).

UPDATE: upon furthur consideration, I think that the algorithm above is inadequate. Here is the new modified algorithm. It eliminates the else, but will probably give the full range of errors. I believe that the zero is an index, and that if there are more errors the value as a parameter for Function Error will increase. So....

if (!$rs) {
if($con->Errors()->Count > 0) {
for($a=0;$a<$con->Errors()->Count;$a++) {
print "Error($a): " . $con->Errors($a)->{'Description'} . "\n"; }
die; }

In this example, $a represents the index of each error up to the total count of errors.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


I rented it recently. I give it a B+. One thing in the movie that grabbed me was a verbal description of the character Kroenen, who appears to be a kind of biker/zombie/ninja guy. He can apparently shut himself down, like an automaton. He does this to infiltrate the FBI's paranormal headquarters, where his body is examined. Professor Brettenholm speaks as he examines:
"Karl Ruprect Kroenen was born in Munich in 1897. Kroenen suffered from a masochistic compulsion commonly known as surgical addiction and extended his life through mechanical means, turning himself into a clockwork monster in the process. Both eyelids (have been) surgically removed, along with his upper and lower lip."

Does this sound like anyone we know?

Big Issues

The Economist has an article on the minor progress being made on Agricultural subsidies and tariffs. It pretty much covers the topic.

Also the Economist and The Weekly Standard have articles on Oil price worries. The consensus is that we've reached a real crunch in supply. It will be interesting to see, if the price continues to increase, whether alternative vehicles (especially hybrids) begin to take off.

Finally, in not-so-big news, Marietta is selling it's internet company.
...FiberNet has about 180 customers along 210 miles of fiber-optic cable...

Monday, August 02, 2004

A Distressing article...

...on quotas. Here:

...In this new, desperate rush to hire one-eyed Central Asians from south of the railroad tracks, price and quality necessarily weigh second at best....

Set phasers on indescribable pain

An interesting article on beam weapons that already exist or are coming soon. It looks as if there is a "stun" gun in the works. The "Active Denial System" is just plain scary.