Wednesday, October 22, 2014

QOTD

"This is very serious. I would even go so far as to say that it's fucked up."

-Sverker Göransson, Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chocolution 42: Antidote, Essential Gaia

This one is so dark, it tastes like barely sweetened baker's chocolate.



The (business) People's Republic of Hong Kong

I am fascinated by these remarks by Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong's Beijing-appointed leader. It is rare for a leader to say so openly that he is against more democracy in government because that would mean that the government would be more responsive to the needs most citizens. It is also interesting that he sees keeping Hong Kong "business friendly" as being directly contrary to a system that would require politicians to talk to the "half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month."1

No doubt there is a lot of fear that poor people will have a voice in government among the oligarchs of the world. But Oligarchs in democracies are well-practiced at disguising their concerns in the language of democratic values. It is refreshing for Leung to just say what he really thinks--that the private business interest of the elite are more important than having a government that is responsive to the needs of most people. It also goes to show how far the current regime in Beijing has moved from its communist roots.

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1-I assume he is using Hong Kong Dollars here. $1,800 HKD equals approximately $232 US.


Kobani is still here

I must admit I am a little surprised the fact that Kobani has not fallen yet. Two weeks ago, Kobani was presented as being on the brink of destruction, a place that ISIS would take unless immediate assistance arrived. I took that to mean that it needed help in a matter of days, not weeks. That's why I predicted that Turkey would intervene to help the town.

Two weeks later and ISIS still has not fully conquered the town. Turkey is not intervening directly, but is now allowing the Pesh Murga to aid the beleaguered Syrian Kurdish defenders. But most importantly, there are still Kobani defenders to bolster.

Don't get me wrong. I am glad that ISIS has not taken Kobani yet. But I can't account for why it hasn't in light of what I was hearing two weeks ago. Was the strength of the ISIS forces exaggerated? Was the strength of the Kurds of Kobani under appreciated? Did American airstrikes make more of a difference than expected? What is the deal?


Monday, October 20, 2014

Drowning

Is there any worse day at work than the first day back after a vacation?


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Back

Arrived home from Lisbon yesterday and boy are my arms tired.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Crossing the streams

Netflix's bad growth is being attributed to price sensitivity among its potential subscribers  But I wonder if people have considered how the streaming public's price sensitivity is going to affect HBO's new stand alone streaming service. I subscribe to Netflix, but I don't pay for Hulu and Amazon Prime. Occasionally, I come across a show that I want to watch that is only available on one of those other services. But I just don't want to pay three monthly subscription fees just so I can waste more time watching videos. So I draw the line at one.

I'm not sure if others are like me. Maybe they draw the line at two, or somewhere else. But a new HBO subscription service really just means that's one more service that I probably won't buy, unless I decide I want to give up what I already have. And maybe I will, because what I already have is likely to get worse. From now on, why would HBO ever license any of its shows to Netflix if it has a competing service? It is the same with CBS's forthcoming streaming service. I expect that means that anything CBS owns will disappear from the other services. As more and more actors get into the market, it means either I will have to pay more to see what I want to see or I will see less.

And actually, this is part of a larger problem. Recently we were in a period where I could easily find and watch anything I could think of. It started with the rise of home video stores in the 1980s and lasted through when Netflix DVD by mail service killed all the local video stores. Now that the model is changing to streaming, the selection has gotten more limited. For the first time in my adult life, it is actually harder to watch whatever I feel like watching, because the streaming services are all based on licensing deals and limited availability. That's assuming I am limited to legal video streaming rather than illegal downloads, of course.

I wonder if more streaming services, with more limited options within each service will push more people into illegally downloading video content.


Closing the border to "Ebola countries" would be a disaster

That's what I have been saying. I just don't see how a travel ban could be completely enforced, and whatever help it does in slowing down the illness' spread is going to be outweighed by the amount it will make things worse in countries that already have an out of control Ebola epidemic when their economies take the hit that a travel ban would bring. Pushing their economy into further collapse is the last thing we should do if we want them to contain the outbreak.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ah Texas

I expect we will see more stuff like this.

Something often doesn't work

I don't understand why the administration did not publicize the findings of this study (maybe that is what they are doing now with this leak to the NYT). If they know that everyone's second favorite "something" whenever there are demands that we "do something" about a conflict in the world doesn't work, they should say so. Otherwise, we just are going to keep being the chief arms supplier of the ISISes of the future.

I also would like the CIA to study how effective using American air power is in achieving some positive result--bombing the hell out of people who are far away being the first favorite "something". Maybe they already have that study, in which case they should make the conclusions public.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chocolution 41: Domori, Javablond Criollo 70%



Yes, I'm keeping this up in Lisbon. Luckily, the bar I carried five time zones is a good one.


I'd say "first world problems" if I didn't dislike the phrase and I knew what world the airspace over the ocean is

It is remarkable how annoyed I get when there isn't an in-flight entertainment system with individual screens on an international flight. Or wifi. Actually, especially wifi. Not that I even want the wifi--it is always overpriced and terribly slow. But I can't sleep on planes. So on any trans-oceanic flight there is this point whenever everyone else on the flight is asleep but me. I am to tired to read or do much at all, but I just can't sleep because my body just won't on a moving plane. At that point, if there's overpriced wifi, I might just pay it. Especially if I don't have a personal screen to entertain me.

That's basically where I am right now. It's 12:35 in Philly, 5:35 in Portugal. I'm alone on a dark plane crowded with sleeping people somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, with three hours to go and not much to do. Luckily, my iPad has an app that let's me draft blog posts offline.  In other words, I'm just doing this for something to do. I don't have much of a point in writing this post. You know, like most of my posts.

If you are reading this,that means I decided to save this and then decided again to post it at some point in my near future when I have access again. You future people think you're so smart, knowing the what I'm going to decide before I decide it!