Friday, June 29, 2007

Policy Before Science...

I am no fans of bio-fuels (at least in their current state).  When compared to petroleum, they are less efficient to burn, they are way less efficient to produce (that is, petroleum takes very little energy per unit to produce, whereas bio-fuels take almost as much energy to produce as you get out in the end), and finally, the whole idea of using your food source as fuel (thus raising the cost of food immensely) is just stupid.

As if rising food prices was not hard enough on the poor, a new report states that in many developing countries, the push towards bio-fuels will push poor people off of their lands, compounding their problems.

So, here we have a fuel that is highly inefficient, results in hardly any carbon savings (AAMOF, I have seen arguments that when the in-efficiencies in production are properly factored in (that is, the pollution involved in growing the base grains required), the use of bio-fuels is actually worse for the environment), drives up the cost of food, may drive up the cost of petroleum, and may start pushing poor people off of their land.

All in all, I think the last line of the linked article says it all:
"The policy on biofuels is currently running ahead of the science."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

First National Bank of Wal-Mart

I don't really have much to say about Wal-Mart providing banking services.  This will just be yet another service that Wal-Mart offers that will benefit consumers, especially those who don't make enough money to deal efficiently with normal banks (trust me, I remember how that goes, and something like what Wal-Mart wants to do would have been perfect for me at that point in my life).  And, yet again, Wal-Mart doing this will raise the ire of all those who hate it when American companies are successful (you know, those that make a hobby out of hating Wal-Mart/McDonald's/Starbucks/etc).

What I find more interesting are the seemingly disparate people who oppose Wal-Mart on this:
Nevertheless, opposition to its plans, which required the approval of federal regulators, swelled. During closely watched hearings outside Washington, dozens of groups, like Independent Community Bankers Association and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, testified for and against the Wal-Mart bank.
OK, I understand the opposition of the Independent Community Bankers Association.  After all, they are just trying to protect their place in the market.  If Wal-Mart enters their market, after all, they will be under a lot of pressure to increase their services while reducing their costs to the consumer.  However, I don't see what Wal-Mart getting into banking has to do with missing and exploited children...

Update: It is also interesting to note that the NYTimes has changed the linked article such that the paragraph I quoted no longer mentions the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which makes me wonder if that wasn't just an error in the original article (though no correction is mentioned).

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ozzfest - Second Stage

My daughter and I are going to Ozzfest again this year, and I was perusing the list of band for this year.  The second stage selection this year is far more varied than last year.  Last year, almost all of the band were metalcore or thrashcore bands.  The best of the bunch, IHO, was probably Walls of Jericho. While metalcore/thrashcore is not my favorite genre, I do like it, especially when the bad is fronted by a female singer.

The one exception from the thrashcore was Bad Acid Trip.  I would describe them as Mr. Bungle with a bit of a metal edge.  OK, so their politics are all eff-ed up, but their music still kicks ass (watch the video and you will see what I mean on both counts...):

This year, however, the second stage appears be be much more diverse.  For example, 3 Inches of Blood certainly brings back visions of classic metal bands like Judas Priest or Iron Maiden, but adds some new edge to it.

Or course, any good metal shows would not be complete without some death metal, and with Daath, they have some pretty darn good death metal (I am not a big death metal fan, but some of it (like Daath) is pretty darn good, other stuff, like Nile (which will also be there), I could live without).

One final band of note this year is In This Moment, which brings us full circle to my love of metalcore / thrashcore bands fronted by female singers.  Enjoy!


Now that Dale Jr. will finally be racing for a good team next year instead of a second tier team like DEI, it will be interesting to see if he can run as well as Gordon and Johnson.  My honest guess is yes, he will.  He is a great driver who has, up until now, just been saddled with a mediocre team.  All in all, I think this will provide him his best chance at a championship.

Heck, now that he is going to be teammates with Gordon, I just may have to like the guy!  It should be interesting to see how his some of his more backwards, hill-billy, good ol' body, beer can tossin', redneck moron fans actually take the news...

When it comes right down to it, I have always kinda wanted to like the guy, but I just couldn't stomach a certain, unfortunatly large, segment of his fan base.

Oh Mickey Your so Fine...

It seems that even the ancients liked Mickey Mouse...

I don't really have any comment on the story, just found it interesting.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Whine Time - Ozzfest 2007 Ticking Sux

Just in case you have been living in a hole (or don't like Metal for some reason), this year's Ozzfest is a free deal.  About a month ago, you went and got your code, and now today you get to turn them in to get two free tickets.  The problem is that the servers they have set up just are not enough to deal with the load.  I eventually managed to redeem my code during an extended lunch today.  Essentially, the meant waiting in a virtual line for 30 minutes, getting an error message, and then having to start over, several times.  On the plus side, I was actually able to work and do this at the same time.

My daughter was not so lucky.  Now I am trying to redeem her code for her since I am such a nice guy.

All things being equal, I would rather just pay for the damn tickets like I have in the past.  That is just so much easier.

B-I-M-B-O, and Bimbo Was Her Name-o

Up until now, I have been ignoring this Paris Hilton thing, because I just really don't care much about the exploits of such an amazingly unimportant, talentless person who is famous just because she is famous (and a bit of a skanky ho).  However, when I heard about this little nugget on the TV news this morning while working out, I just couldn't resist a couple of comments.
God has given her a new chance and she plans to stop acting dumb and put her influence to good use.
Yes, God is very good at giving people second chances.  Let's hope she actually makes the most of it.  I truly do pray that she does.

That said, I cannot help commenting on her plans to "stop acting dumb."  So, now she is no longer going to act dumb?  What? Is she just going to be dumb now?  No more acting?  Just real stupidity from now on?

On one last note, the media appears to be inflating what she is actually going through just a bit.
Walters said Hilton told her she had not been wailing, sobbing or screaming during her first three days in prison, as had been reported.
Prison?  Sorry, she is not in prison, she is in the County Jail.  There is quite a difference.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Surfin' Safari (Sorry, Couldn't Resist...)

Really bad puns aside, Apple has released a public Beta of it's web browser (Safari) for both Windows XP / Vista and Mac OS X.  I have tried the Windows XP version out at work, and I have the Mac OS X version installed on both of my Macs at home.  So far, I love it.

Up until now, I have been using Firefox on my Macs because the previous version of Safari was not properly supported by the Blogspot editor, the Gmail editor, and a few other things.  Those problems, however, have been fixed with the version 3 Beta.  There have been a few other improvements as well, but the editor thing was a biggie for me.

I'll still keep Firefox around, as some things (like MLB Gameday Audio) still work better with it than with Safari.  However, I am glad to see that I can finally switch back to Safari as my day-to-day browser now that some of the more important web apps are supported properly.

Update: Macworld has a nice First Look article on the new Safari version...

Hell Must Have Frozen Over

It is not often that I find myself agreeing with Jimmy Carter.  Normally, that would be a big red flag that one is absolutely on the wrong side of the issue.  However, when it comes to the case of Genarlow Wilson, Jimmy Carter is on the correct side.

The fact of the matter is that Mr. Wilson is no angel, and what he did was absolutely wrong, and he should be punished for it.  For that matter, why should the girls get off (pun intended), without any culpability?  These were consensual acts after all.  The 15 year old girl who was giving him a hummer should have been punished for her actions as should have the 17 year old girl who essentially allowed herself to passed around in a gang-bang.  That said, however, none of them should be put away for 10 years and certainly none of them should be labeled as "sexual predators".  Mr. Wilson may be an immoral person who was caught doing immoral things, with immoral people but he certainly is not a "predator."

Sexual predator laws are generally good laws and sexual predator lists are generally good tools that are used to protect people, especially children, from sick, twisted predators who would abuse, rape, and possibly even kill them.  However, when we lump the non-predatory people in with the actual predators, the effectiveness of these laws and tools is lost, and we lend credence to the whack jobs in our society who try and claim that such things are unfair.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Biofuels May Make Petroleum More Expensive...

OPEC is warning that investment in biofuels could send the price of petroleum through the roof. Obviously, they are just trying to protect their position in the fuel market by protecting petroleum as king. Still, this is yet another reason why using our food as fuel is an amazingly stupid idea.

The beauty of petroleum is that it is a relatively efficient fuel, that is efficient to harvest (that is, it takes very little fuel consumption to get more fuel), and its one major use is fuel (there are other uses, but mostly it is used for fuel).

The problem with biofuels right now is that they are not as efficient as petroleum based fuels (as anyone who lives in a area where they put ethanol in the fuel already knows all too well), and they are very inefficient to harvest (that is, according to many reports I have seen, it takes close a gallon of fuel to grow and process enough corn (or other source) to make a gallon of fuel).

However, the real kick in the pants with biofuels is that we are already using food as food. Even if you switch to a non-food crop, you end up taking land out of food production and into fuel production. Thus, unlike petroleum, we already have a major primary use for our crops. This does nothing but drive up the cost of food, putting tremendous pressure on everyone, especially poor people. And if OPEC has any say, which they do, it will also drive up the cost of petroleum. Nice double whammy there...

Now, if we could find a way to use our garbage for food, I would be all for that. After all, that would be perfect. There is a lot of it, and all we do with it right now is bury it in the ground.