Somewhere between Manchester and Wetherby, UK.
This might sound odd, but I've always wanted to visit Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean for vacation..
..this is why
I also like birds.
Manchester. UK. January 26th. '08.
Gah.. yah know I like trees, right? Yah yah, okay.. so you're sick of it. So what. It's my blog.
Portland. Autumn. 2007.
Just before sunset.
On the Western Promenade.
With a non-tree photo thrown in for good measure.
Whoa, it has been a whirlwind week of travel - planes, trains, and automobiles. But now that I have reliable wireless I should be able to get some pictures up this evening, Greenwich Mean Time (EST + 5hrs).
What's wrong with US Healthcare? Well, many things, of course.. but here is an interesting take on things
[The Mayo boys, in 1907] joined by a friend, they set up a waiting room, hired a receptionist to greet patients and phone prescriptions to the pharmacy, and streamlined health care so that a nurse would take temperatures and blood pressures, give injections, and do other basic tasks, freeing the doctor to see many more patients.
By far the biggest innovation was the medical record. Before then, doctors had a personal relationship with patients that resembled that between clergy and their parishioners. They might jot a few notes in a journal or on index cards, but it was a private as a diary. The Mayo brothers developed a patient chart in which they all wrote notes. They shared with other doctors, as needed. It was a revolutionary way to do medicine-and led, eventually to the renowned institution still known as the Mayo Clinic.
A hundred years later, the American medical clinic is... pretty much the same. The typical clinic of today still uses paper charts, telephone contacts with the pharmacy, and a receptionist presiding over a room of coughing and sniffling patients, bored out of their minds and flipping through old magazines.
Let's put this into perspective. Three years before the Mayo boys started the clinic, another couple of brothers fired up the first functional airplane. In a century, aviation went from a flimsy open-cockpit airplane to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Aviation and medicine have a lot in common. Both services involve highly trained professionals and support staff, they can be dangerous if not done properly, and they are services that we pretty much take for granted as part of modern life.
The article goes on to compare the "human factor steps" - a "step" can be an interaction with a person, changing location, or filling out a form - of international flight versus a doctors visit: 9, and 31 respectively. Ugh.
This is worth reading, if simply for juicy tidbits such as:
Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?and
Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
Ever wanted to see your public transit operating on top of a map in realtime, online? Well, if you're Swiss, now you can
. It's built ontop of Google Maps, and maintains options such as satellite view. If that's not a good - and actually useful - application of gmaps, I don't know what is.
that's an amazing HDR image. I've discussed High Dynamic Range imaging before, but for a run down, check Wikipedia's HDR page
"Time for change" is a bit of a cliche marched out every 4 years by yet another crop of marginally useful presidential candidates, both democratic and republican. So, of course, someone made a mashup
I'm really not much of a dooms-dayer, even if I sometimes sound like one. I actually prefer to acknowledge, discuss, and debate current shortcomings with an eye towards improving future outlook.. the desired end result, of course, would be preventing any doom.
Not all doom can be prevented, of course, most of all short term. See: The Great Depression. By now we should all know and realize that economies operate as natural systems and, therefore, exist in a certain state of chaos - complexity beyond our means to grasp - even Keynes. No matter how much interest rate finagling the Fed may do, they can't promise to completely smooth out economic cycles. And, indeed, perhaps like a shark who pauses mid-swim, a linear economy will surely die? Who knows, that is pure conjecture.
What I've come to tell you today, however, isn't about sharks. It is about the lacklustre performance of the U.S. economy in the role of preserving (forget about increasing) the average American worker's standard of living. In any given year or time or era, if you look around hard enough, you'll find someone complaining that things used to be better, that things are going into the shitter. I'm not hear to tell you that, I'm just here to point out that the politicians that insist things just keep getting better aren't the only game with an opinion in town, and it is always worthwhile to look at both sides of the coin. Otherwise, how would you know that there is any heads at all?
From the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) comes this November 2007 report - The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: Job Quality in the United States over the Three Most Recent Business Cycles
This report looks at the evolution of "good jobs" over the last three business cycles (one each in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s), where a "good job" is defined as one that pays at least $17 per hour (the inflation-adjusted median male earnings in 1979) and offers employer-provided health insurance and a pension.
A review of annual data from the March Current Population Survey covering the years 1979 through 2006 finds that the 2000s business cycle underway (2000-2006) has consistently under-performed comparable periods during the preceding two cycles (1979-1985 and 1989-1995).
Major findings include:
- Over the current business cycle, the share of "good jobs" fell substantially (2.3 percentage points), following much smaller drops over the same period in the 1980s (down 0.5 percentage points) and 1990s (down 0.1 percentage points) business cycles.
- The deterioration in good jobs in the 2000s business cycle has been particularly sharp for men -- down 4.4 percentage points, compared to a 3.4 percentage-point decline in the 1980s and a 1.9 percentage-point drop in the 1990s.
- Over the 2000s business-cycle to date, the share of women in good jobs fell (down 0.2 percentage points), reversing the solid positive trends over comparable periods in the preceding two business cycles (up 3.3 percentage points in the 1980s cycle and 2.0 percentage points in the 1990s cycle).
- The 2000s cycle has done relatively well when it comes to increases in the share of jobs that pay at least $17 per hour (up 0.6 percentage points overall between 2000 and 2006). The share of jobs paying at least $17 per hour, by contrast, was essentially flat in 1980s (up 0.1 percentage point) and fell slightly in the 1990s (down 0.2 percentage points).
- The driving force behind the decline in the share of good jobs in the 2000s is the sharp deterioration in employer-provided health insurance (down 3.1 percentage points) and employer-sponsored pension and retirement-savings plans (down 4.9 percentage points).
- The fall off in health and pension benefits has been sharper in the 2000s than it was over comparable periods in the earlier two decades. Health insurance coverage declined 3.1 percentage points in the 2000s, compared to a 0.7 percentage-points drop over a comparable period in the 1980s and a 1.5 percentage-points fall in the 1990s.
- Pension coverage trends have also been worse in the current decade (down 4.9 percentage points) than they were over corresponding periods in earlier cycles (down 3.1 percentage points in the 1980s and up 1.6 percentage points in the 1990s).
The take home message here is highlighted in the fourth bullet point above. Not only has average worker productivity severely increased
since 1979, but the benefits given to those workers has fell, significantly in this decade. Meanwhile, wages have remained basically stagnant.
So who is benefiting from this increased productivity? It's murky. We need to remember that products such as computers and cell phones have consistently come down in prices since 1979.. but we must also remember that the average consumer's need for a computer and a cell phone has only gone up.
Like I said, it is a chaotic, complex economy out there.
As if HDTV wasn't enough, enter Japanese Super Hi-Vision, coming in ~2015
With its 33 megapixel (7,680 x 4,320) resolution and 22.2 channel surround sound, challenges so far have included building a camera that can record it, and equipment to transfer the 24Gbps uncompressed stream.
If those numbers boggle the mind, consider that they should. The proposed resolution is ginormous
next to HDTV's 1080p (dark blue versus light blue):
Certainly, we would hope that technology will be much further along in 2015, but 24Gbps is an awful lot of throughput. Consider it this way: to get that sort of performance out of current consumer technology - and we're speaking very theoretically here, under optimal conditions that never exist in the real world - you'd need ~4800 cable modems operating at their maximum down stream rate of 5Mbps to keep up with one Super Hi-Vision stream.
To take it one step further, your average two hour movie would be roughly 5760GB in size, requiring the equivalent of 115 Blu-ray discs (50GB) for storage.
After catching some of the new Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
last night on Fox, and then stumbling upon Terminator 3 on FX, I had to ask myself: would I want Arnold controlling my thermostat
..a proposal set to be considered at month's end could allow the state of California to "require that residents install remotely monitored temperature controls in their homes next year." The Programmable Communication Thermostat (PCT) would feature a "non-removable" FM receiver which could be controlled by Big Brother in "times of emergency" to drop load in order for "utilities to meet their supplies [when] the integrity of the grid is being jeopardized."
Personally, I like the idea of the Hollywood elite being forced to forego frigadaire-like temperatures in their mcmansions during the summer heat waves, don't you?
To be fair, my apartment has been about 50 degrees for months now, so I'm doing my part - even if at least 50% of my decision to freeze is miserly.And
before all you folks who can't hack it without your A/C start hiding behind excuses like "what about a medical condition that requires certain temperature limitations?" - I can say, from having worked with utility billing software, situations like this exist and they are properly dealt with.
1 to 100
, kind of puts things into perspective a bit, eh?