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Posts posted by PennDrago

  1. I was reading an article today which states that Bono (from the band U2) and Carly Fiorina (the ex-CEO of HP) are up for the job.

    Frankly-- I think this is disgusting......I don't know if I can say anything else about it....

    for all you who care to read: Bono

    (edited for broken link)

  2. I was always told Hydrogen power couldn't be done-- that is was a myth.

    GM's Billion-Dollar Bet

    The hydrogen car has been a long time coming. GM is betting $1 billion that the end of internal combustion is near.

    By Dan Baum

    VIEWED from the proper angle, Detroit's Renaissance Center — six medium-high office towers surrounding a cylindrical 73-story giant — is a mighty glass hand giving the finger. Hulking by the iron-gray waters of the Detroit River, this is the führerbunker of the tired old industrial economy: the headquarters of General Motors.

    These days, the company is on a PR tear to tell the world it is "reinventing the automobile." At the Detroit Auto Show in January, the company rolled out a radical prototype called the AUTOnomy, and a drivable proof-of-concept version debuts in September at the Paris Auto Show. How radical is it? It dispenses with just about everything that makes a car a car, such as the engine, transmission, steering wheel, and gas tank. Rather than spitting out carbon monoxide and other smog-causing gases, it emits nothing but water because it runs on hydrogen. With few moving parts, it will last for decades. It will generate more electricity than it uses and be equipped to apply the surplus to power the owner's house. Manufacturing will cost a fraction of what it takes to build a traditional car, because the AUTOnomy will contain many fewer components. And it will be ready for mass production by the end of the decade, which in the automotive world is a week from Tuesday.

    I park my rented Pontiac Sunfire in the Renaissance Center garage and open the trunk to retrieve my laptop. As I do, a slab of snow slides down the rear window and straight into the open trunk. I stand for a minute contemplating this. The same people who are promising to reinvent the automobile can't figure out how to design a car that doesn't dump snow into the trunk. I'm reminded that, out of bullheaded arrogance, GM has lost more than half its 60 percent market share since the 1960s by making ugly, often slipshod vehicles. It missed the rise of the small car in the '70s and the SUV in the '90s. Now ponderous, elephantine General Motors is claiming not only to be able to read the post-gasoline future but to accelerate it as well. What's going on here?

    WHAT'S GOING on is that after decades of tinkering with nonpolluting cars in a desultory, "chump change budget to satisfy the enviros" kind of way, GM is getting serious. To be sure, there is cause for skepticism. The hydrogen fuel cell has long been the miracle that remains perpetually 10 years over the horizon. Wired itself wrote in 1997, "Fuel cell momentum is now so great that its emergence as a predominant technology appears just short of inevitable." GM CEO Rick Wagoner is fond of calling the fuel cell car "the Holy Grail," which may be a truer assessment than he intends. "The Holy Grail is something you spend your entire life looking for," grumbles David Redstone, editor of the newsletter Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Investor. "The whole point is that you never find it."

    Detroit's eco-car efforts have been largely a matter of public relations. As they cynically wrap themselves in the Earth Day flag by promising hydrogen-powered cars, automakers have been using their muscle to keep federal fuel-efficiency standards exactly where they were when enacted in 1975. Freed of stringent regulation, the Big Three have reaped billions selling high-profit, gas-guzzling SUVs. Look at the window stickers on GM's current crop, arrayed in the Renaissance Center lobby - Chevrolet Avalanche: 13 city, 17 highway. GMC Denali: 12, 15. Cadillac Escalade: 12, 15. My Pontiac GTO got better mileage than this 33 years ago. Individual engines have become more efficient, but because "light trucks" (SUVs, pickups, and minivans) constitute half of all vehicle sales (54 percent for GM last year), national average fuel economy is at its lowest since 1980: 20.4 mpg.

    In January, the Bush administration scrapped a $1.5 billion Clinton-era program to develop an 80-mpg car by 2004. Instead, the White House launched FreedomCAR (the "CAR" stands for cooperative automotive research), promising $125 million next year plus more later to help automakers in pre-competitive hydrogen power research. The initiative set no hard goal or deadline for producing an H2-powered car, so environmentalists see it as a Big Oil/Big Three/GOP plot to distract the public from the need to mandate immediate, radical increases in fuel efficiency. The New York Times wrote that the only freedom that FreedomCAR will bestow is on "the manufacturers, now relieved of the obligation (absent strong new fuel economy standards) to produce serious breakthroughs in the next few years."

    Which may be true. Point is, though, it doesn't matter. Even if Bush's hydrogen-car initiative is a cynical ploy, even if the Big Three are hiding behind hydrogen promises to prolong the reign of the V-8 and oilmen secretly want to strangle the fuel cell in its cradle, simple geology is carrying us toward a post-gasoline future. Petroleum's days are numbered. GM executives themselves understand that. Some say the oil will last 20 more years and some say 50, but nobody says forever. "The internal combustion engine is an incredibly efficient source of power, but we've wrung the towel," Wagoner concedes.


    Dan Baum ([email protected]) wrote about intelligent transport systems in Wired 9.11.

  3. The mayor of Philadelphia wants to cover the city with government-funded WiFi access. The idea is that access to the internet is becoming a necessity of life -- much like water or electricity.

    Some counties (e.g. Oakland County, Michigan) have announced similar plans.

    On the opposite tack, a legislator in Texas wants government to stay out of WiFi..

    Now -- before attitudes and laws are formulated -- is the time for activism on this issue.

    So, get out your pen and write your favorite newspaper today.

    This will be a death blow to a huge industry. Yet, I can safely say I saw it coming when that project in NYC started making noise.

  4. When Greenspan testified last week before the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, the notoriously obtuse chairman was quite succinct. According to Greenspan:

    "Why did corporate governance checks and balances that served us reasonably well in the past break down? At root was the rapid enlargement of stock market capitalizations in the latter part of the 1990s that arguably engendered an outsized increase in opportunities for avarice. An infectious greed seemed to grip much of our business community. Our historical guardians of financial information were overwhelmed. Too many corporate executives sought ways to "harvest" some of those stock market gains. As a result, the highly desirable spread of shareholding and options among business managers perversely created incentives to artificially inflate reported earnings in order to keep stock prices high and rising. . .

    . . . It is not that humans have become any more greedy than in generations past. It is that the avenues to express greed had grown so enormously."

    I am going to go out on a limb and say that Greenspan is not an Objectivist.

    Mr. Greenspan (since I know simply telling you won't do)

  5. The historical veracity of the Bible I cannot much comment on, because I don't know how many different accounts have existed that corrobrated its general "plotline", i.e. its lineage of Abraham, etc. The Catholic Church has standardized its book, so at this point we don't have many competing versions remaining I'd assume.

    The only sort of "competing" verisons of the bible come from difference sects of chirstianity (minor differences within the wording of the text...not really all that important to outsiders) or the "gnostic gospels" which may or may not have some sort of historical backing to them....historians tend to say no.

  6. Well, you caught my attention with that--math was my favorite subject at school and I write software for a living. I figured the game out after one wrong guess, though. (So much for my dream of making billions selling software... :);))

    I did the same thing...and I am in the same boat....apparently we are screwed. The answer wasn't nearly as difficult as I expected it to be.

  7. According to a website (www.wrongdiagnosis.com) the life-time risk of clinical depression is about 8%. From this (admittedly unscientific) poll it would appear that 45% of people answering have had depression!

    That's a huge difference. I wonder if it is because so many people on this board have experienced clinical depression (I doubt that), or because the people answering are classifying the wrong symptoms as being clinical depression, or a lot of people who have never been clinically depressed did not bother to answer the poll.

    I was in the process of putting together a series of thoughts on this -very- scientific method. And, I had come across that statistic (8%) as well. I was amazed at the response of people as well.

    and Elle (and other mods),

    so far as my posts go if I have made an error and you correct it-- it isn't going to hurt my feelings.


  8. I just checked the link and it worked fine and I am on a different server and computer then before...so I would persume that your computer hates you.

    Nigeria getting 60% seems high. Also what baffled me about it is the multicorporation team involved has the right to inspect for Oil for the next 8 years...then has to give up 50% of the territory.

    What is strange to me about all this was (according to an article I read...and can no longer recall where) was that a few years ago Sao Tome was literally BEGGING companies to come in and drill and then as opposed to being thankful for the jobs and economic growth that come with a devoloping plant and site they squeeze the companies for everything they can. Yet, then, companies were weary of the idea of Nigerans (I presume this is the correct form for a citizen of Nigera) would swim out to the platforms and kill people in their sleep. I guess 60% is "be nice money. Keep your citizens in check) Yet #3 on the worlds most corrupt country list...well...we'll see.

    Yet, still, it will be nice to have a large basin of oil that isn't controlled by the Arabic world. Hopefully, Nigera and Sao Tome don't try to pull the same sort of nationalization of the plants as we saw in the Arabic World.

    Edited to Answer Hal's question.

    From what I understand, Sao Tome and Nigera was debating who owned the maritime rights (the oil basin is at sea).

    Another factoid I've picked up since posting this is that, apparently, 5% of Nigeras oil supply disappears each year (people of influence using that influence to steal the oil and..well..obviously sell for a profit) so I don't know if I would personally want to be involved working with such a government.

  9. Any thoughts?  When you consider that at least e-mail spam imposes a monetary cost on another party (your ISP and you), it does seem that spamming could be regarded as a trespass to chattels once it has been established that an e-mail recipient has explicitly requested not to receive marketing e-mails.

    The issue of the monetary cost upon others is something I hadn't actually considered. Though, with glossy ad via the mail, is the entire cost of the mailing covered within the 50 cents of postage? I realize that the postal service is set up in such a way that it can make a profit, but is a 50 cent mailing enough to cover the cost of say...a new york based business sending me mail about great mortgage rates (note: I live in saint louis) I don't actually have a cost sheet for the postal service but I would suspect the cost of handling the mail (in new york), sorting the mail (for interstate delivery), shipping/flying mail to saint louis, sorting the mail again (for delivery to my address), and then the delivering of said mail to my house-- would cost well more then 50 cents. The rest is subsidized by tax dollars.

    I hadn't actually considered the cost burden placed first upon my ISP and then upon myself.

    (from spam.abuser.net)

    The free ride. E-mail spam is unique in that the receiver pays so much more for it than the sender does. For example, AOL has said that they were receiving 1.8 million spams from Cyber Promotions per day until they got a court injunction to stop it. Assuming that it takes the typical AOL user only 10 seconds to identify and discard a message, that's still 5,000 hours per day of connect time per day spent discarding their spam, just on AOL. By contrast, the spammer probably has a T1 line that costs him about $100/day. No other kind of advertising costs the advertiser so little, and the recipient so much. The closest analogy I can think of would be auto-dialing junk phone calls to cellular users (in the US, cell phone users pay to receive as well as originate calls); you can imagine how favorably that might be received.

    We can't emphasize this strongly enough - the receiver pays for the spam, not the sender. "Well," you might argue, "the receiver doesn't really pay any money, because they have a flat-rate ISP account."

    But, that's not true. The big online services have metered rates, and so do many ISPs. Furthermore, in some major cities in the U.S., all phone calls, even local ones to an ISPs dial-in modems, are metered.

    On top of that, the spammers are exporting the problem to Europe, Australia, Asia, South America and Africa. Many countries around the world have no flat-rate services whatsoever, and in Europe, for example, phone rates are often much higher than in the U.S.

    No matter how you stretch to justify it, the recipients of spam are getting the shaft from spammers.

  10. We all get it-- everyday. Spam. But is it a violation of our rights? It is a form of advertising not dissimiliar to telemarketing or even commericals.

    I tend to think that so long as Spammers give us honest information and the ability to remove ourselves from their lists that it is just another industry.

    Any other thoughts or ideas on the subject would be fantastic.

  11. I thought the Compaq merger was a misguided decision from the beginning, and if Fiorina’s championing it led to her being axed, she got what she deserved.

    From everything I have read the Compaq deal was a big part of her being fired. The company didn't grow in the tech field as they had hoped to (as she had promised to do for them.) I suppose I can understand her reasoning for pushing the deal (synergy....I guess?)

    I mean Compaq did just hire, supposedly, a fantastic cyrptographer and that may help them in the years to come but for the most part their R&D teams...well...just aren't doing anything all that great. Open Source Handheld Computer OS? Open Source Web Programing language? I don't think these are things I would sink money into. Not that I don't apperciate open source (for the sort of work I do-- the power of Linux and Unix is an added plus) but I don't expect large corporations to produce this work for me.

    The things their R&D department have been up to:


    Corporate Research Headquarters

    250 University Ave.

    Palo Alto, CA 94301

    Major Focus

    Planetary Scale Computing

    Internetworking Beyond Today's Internet

    Personal Computing in Post PC Era

    The first I am not qualified to speak on but the Personal COmputing in a Post PC era is...well...we are still in a PC era and with available technology I can't really see that ending anytime soon (at least not in the handheld PC sort of way) I think Bill Gates has a -much- more realistic approach to the future of the computer industry, as he always has.

    Also, HPQ's spending to buy back stocks (about 4% of the available stock) outpaced any money made of their dividend...not a very good strategy.

    (the following is from newsfactor.com)

    Switzerland of Technology

    Another interesting point in HP Services' favor, DiDio says, is the wide range of partnerships and alliances the firm has developed with such companies as Microsoft, Computer Associates, Red Hat, Novell -- even the SCO Group. "To a very large degree, they are the Switzerland of high tech," she says.

    HP won't be able beat Dell on the hardware side, DiDio notes. Indeed, Dell is going after HP's sacred cow -- its printer division -- with the formation of its own product line and sales team.

    "The future money for HP, as far as I can see, is in software and services," DiDio says.

  12. From what I can understand, I think it was a silly and rather costly mistake for Fiorina to push forward in the Compaq deal.

    (the following is from thestreet.com)

    Fiorina, of course, lost her job as chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ:NYSE - commentary - research) Wednesday, amid growing dissatisfaction with her performance. H-P's stock is worth about half of what it was when Fiorina took control of the tech giant in 1999. Not only that, but the company's 2002 merger with Compaq -- a deal that Fiorina championed in a close and bitter proxy contest -- has failed to live up to Fiorina's promises for it.

    (end quote)

    Compaq as a company wasn't doing well to begin with and honestly it was probably (I cannot know for sure but within my limited experience) a silly buy. The reasoning behind this is that at the time within the world of computer geeks (see: me) Compaq had no cred. as a producer of good computers. HP would have probably been better of simply "going it alone" and manufucturing their own machines-- and offering their own helpdesk support.

    If a company looses half its value in such a short period of time (and I am keeping the dip of 2002 in mind) it seems only necesary and right that she should pay for her mistakes.

    (this is the edit)


    (the street again)

    Just over a month after Hewlett-Packard (HPQ:NYSE - commentary - research) blindsided Wall Street with a stunning two-quarter earnings shortfall, the Palo Alto-based giant is aiming to regain investor confidence by buying back billions worth of its own stock.

    The company said Monday it expects to buy back $2.1 billion in stock during the fiscal fourth quarter, amounting to a hefty 4% of total shares outstanding. The repurchase will likely use up the remaining buyback authorization approved by H-P's board in May 2004.

  13.   The Altruistic Personality and Prosocial Behavior Institute was founded in 1982 by Dr. Samuel P. Oliner and Dr. Pearl Oliner, who recognized the need for more research into the areas of altruism and prosocial behavior.  The Institute was founded with the dual purpose of studying specific examples of heroic and conventional altruism and seeking out ways to enhance altruism and prosocial behavior in society.  The institute's founder and director, Samuel P. Oliner,is a native of Poland and a Holocaust survivor. He is also a Professor of Sociology at Humboldt State University. The Institute's Research Director, Pearl Oliner, is a Professor of Education at Humboldt State University, Arcata, California.


  14. Today, I received a phone call claiming that I have won a large sum of money through a contest (one that I know I actually filled out information for while shopping at the local mall). Now, I suspect it is a scam but since they asked for no information about me-- (ie: SSN or anything else for that matter) I can't really see any purpose for the scam-- but that isn't really the issue at hand.

    But what I am wondering is how would an O'ist view winning this money (if it were true), is it moral to accept money that hasn't been earned-- unless you count the act of filling out a small piece of paper "earning" money. Does it simply fall under the same category as inherited wealth? Or was it immoral of me to fill out the piece of paper to begin with?

    I think that it would fall under the same category as inherited wealth, as stated in AS, (paraphrased because I do not have the book in front of me) that there is nothing wrong with inherited wealth because those who did not deserve it will not keep it for long. (see: lottery winner study turning the 1980's where the majority were on welfare only a few years later.)

    Any other input?

  15. Architecture as a career? NO!

    Architecture as a profession? Better.

    Architecture as a passion/a discipline? YES.

    You mentioned that you can't be sure if it's a passion...only you can determine that. No chef would be  unsure of his passsion for food and no man should be unsure of his passion for the woman he's going to marry.


    That is a fantastic quote and (obviously) applies to all professions.

  16. You know what is sad-- I am sure there are worse things then that.

    As far as the same boat (math), At the community college in my city-- the majority of students do not test into college Alg. 90%+ test into Elementary Alg. While I am sure a lot of people will say Community College shouldn't be the benchmark-- I would say that is probably wrong. These are average (C, C+, B-) students and thus represent what our public (and I suppose some private) schools see as the acceptable or the status quo. It just disgusts me.

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