Monthly Archives: September 2013

I happened to catch the USC-Arizona State game. It was a tough one to watch. First of all, because it was in Spanish. But second of all, because I wanted both teams to lose. Scratch that, I wanted one team to lose and the other team’s coach to lose. Nothing against Lion’s alma mater, exactly. But Arizona State is coached by Todd Graham, and Todd Graham is an unusually terrible football coach. Actually, in terms of skill, Graham is fine. He’s just a grade-A jerk and slimeball. Lane Kiffin left Tennessee for USC in a midnight press conference after one season. Todd Graham left Pitt after one season by texting from an airplane. That wasn’t even the first time that he left a job after one season. The first case being Rice, which he was specifically asked about whether or not he would leave if a job opened in Tulsa and he lied. Also, when he was hired at Rice, he demanded that everybody be fired and the athletics logos be changed because he wanted a new start from from the schools losing tradition. Graham’s slimeyness goes on and on.

But USC is USC, and I like it when USC loses.

Now, it’s one thing to watch a game when you like both teams. Or even if you’re indifferent to both teams. You can at least appreciate what’s going on. But when you want to root against both teams? It’s just no fun. Neither in English nor in Spanish.

Anyhow, after the game, Lane Kiffin“>was fired. Though I don’t hold Kiffin in the same low regard as Graham, good riddance nonetheless. On the other hand, this guy makes a good case that Kiffin was wronged:

“When you’re a sports figure and people dislike you, they’re going to look for the negatives,” Kiffin said. “Once you start rooting against somebody, you’re always going to look for the negative in everything they do.”

Haden found the negatives. USC lost the home opener to Washington State. It lost big to ASU. The program, in his eyes, had become inert. But you can’t have it both ways. In the same seven-day span, you can’t plead with the NCAA to reduce the severe scholarship sanctions that cripple your program and fire your head coach. That’s hypocrisy. And that’s what Haden did.

Kiffin had his many flaws, but he also had, through no fault of his own, those many scholarship limits. The cumulative effect of those sanctions (2015 will be the first season USC can have the full complement of 85 scholarship players) severely affected the depth chart. The Trojans have talent, but not enough of it, especially in the difficult Pac-12.

Don’t believe me? Ask Alabama coach Nick Saban what it was like to deal with NCAA sanctions when he was at Michigan State. They make a difference.

So it’s not Kiffin that’s the problem, but Carroll’s corruption and USC’s entitled fan base? I can live with that and allowing Kiffin to be the martyr.

That said, given that Kiffin was not successful at his two previous gigs (making one wonder why he got the job to begin with), it seems unlikely that he’s going to get hired any time soon. On the other hand, Louisiana Tech is having an awful season and they only hire coaches whose fathers are good coaches. So there’s always that.

Category: Theater

Category: Theater

executioninprogressThe TSA caught an agent for smuggling illegal immigrants. It gets worse: They were carrying liquid containers exceeding 3oz in volume.

A Southern Miss football player’s facemask had to be removed from his opponent’s jersey with a screwdriver. Article has a video.

The debate continues as to whether or not insurance will be cheaper or more expensive in the PPACA regime. The government says cheaper! National Journal says not. As does Avik Roy, of course.

To add to the list of potential concerns for the future of our health care system we’re having physician burnout. The article is a year old, but the situation hasn’t exactly gotten better and PPACA is not poised to help or send in enough reinforcements.

People are having dinner parties… UNREGULATED! Okay, that’s not quite a fair characterization. But many of the reasons we regulate restaurants don’t really apply here.

A long time ago in a land far away (1961, North Carolina) we almost detonated a nuclear bomb 260x the power of the one that took out Hiroshima.

Mollie Hemingway on the forces against kids mowing the lawn. This sort of thing is evidence of a culture and class divide that transcends – though does not avoid – politics.

Privacy advocates (which I have been increasingly sympathetic to, as of late) have pointed to Brazil’s decision to try to bypass the US for its internet as an example of what happens when we don’t respect privacy. It turns out, Brazil has privacy issues of its own.

Relatedly, Nob Akimoto explains why the United States must take the lead in preserving Internet privacy, looking back at Britain’s push for freedom of sea navigation.

Minnesota Gopher head coach Jerry kid had another seizure on the sideline, and at this point the only weird thing is how normal it has become for the players. Greg Couch argues that people need to just deal. Here’s more.

Human? Robot? Dogs don’t discriminate.

Category: Newsroom

The Wall Street Journal has an interview with Cristin Milioti, who landed the most enviable role ever on a television show with only one season left on it. She’s the “mother” in How I Met Your Mother. In the interview, she explains how tightly she kept the secret because her career pretty much depended on it. When they revealed her, I was really quite shocked. Not because I had ever seen her or heard of her before, but because they had actually cast her without my knowing about it.

What’s kind of odd is that the secrecy itself seems almost sitcomesque. More complicated than it needed to be. The better story would have been that yes, she was going to be on the show, but she was going to be a character who would come and go in a single episode (as many of Ted’s love interests do).

Speaking of HIMYM, Robert Charette wrote a great piece a while back about essentially unfair that show was. Even if you’ve never seen the show and have no interest in it, it touches on some of the themes discussed on Hit Coffee:

Throughout its run, HIMYM has stressed the importance of accepting signs from the universe. But the universe that Ted worships has a cruel sense of irony. At HIMYM’s outset, Ted was the most eager of the show’s five friends to marry and begin a family. Eight years later, Ted is the fifth wheel amongst two married couples. He has been locked in emotional cryogenic stasis since Barney and Robin announced their plan to marry, floundering as he sees the cad become an honest man and his college friends start a family.

It’s typical HIMYM-melodrama that Ted would finally meet the One in a scene out of Brief Encounter as he’s scurrying away from Barney and Robin’s wedding a discouraged and lonely man, a far cry from the wide-eyed dreamer we met in the show’s premiere. HIMYM expects the audience and Ted to remain obedient to love’s divine plan as the universe emotionally ravages him.

Barney – who landed the woman that Ted had been obsessing over off-and-on for eight seasons – of course being the alpha male and Ted being the beleaguered beta. Charette is on to something in that a show that theoretically indulges signs from the universe, the main sign that Ted had to heed was “Give up.”

Category: Theater

Thank You For NoticingThe science of introversion.

In Shenzhen, China, it is now illegal to miss the toilet.

The horrifying, horrifying, horrifying story of the Internet exchanges of second-hand adoption.

We talk about infrastructure as an investment, but sometimes it’s a sinkhole.

Some vegetarians are hostile even to fake meat.

Men who endured the Holocaust – and survived – lived longer than those who escaped Europe.

The voters are correct: The Blobfish is one ugly animal.

The whole going-to-Mars-as-reality-TV concept is creepy as hell. And that’s not even considering the potential psychological effects.

Peru is the world capital of counterfeit US dollars.

Captain America and Batman save the day!

First, they came for the left-brained, but because I was not left-brained, I said nothing. Then, they came for the left-handed

Texas is not producing more oil than Iran.

Category: Newsroom

Since I don’t have cable/satellite, I’ve been subscribing to CBS ULive. To say that I have been disappointed would be an understatement. It’s not that I am not getting enough for my money. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. The first problem is that I don’t really know one way or the other. I have no idea what games this service provides me access to (if any). I was hoping it was a “catch-all” for the various games that CBS’s online presence broadcasts. For instance, you can get a particular team’s games for $x/mo, and a particular conference’s for $y/mo. The subscription I got was for $x/mo, so I hoped that it covered all of them. That sounds like expecting a lot, but I did know going in that some games are hooked up and some aren’t.

(By “hooked up” I mean hooked up to the jumbotron. That’s how these games work. They’re hooked up to the internal feed and usually a radio broadcast. Which means that you get to see the plays, though you don’t get to see the graphics like the score, down, etc. In between plays, you see the sorts of ads that you would see on a jumbo tron: free carwash with an oil change and such. Or you’ll see cheerleading graphics like “GO MINERS!”)

Now, the fact that some games are hooked up and some aren’t, and CBS doesn’t have a clear idea of which, exacerbates the problems. They’ll list a video feed for a game and it won’t actually occur. Which is annoying. Made more annoying by the fact that there is no central index so that I can check the games and surf through them until I find which one works. Instead, I seem to have to go through the individual teams’ websites. Or use the site’s search function, which is less than stellar.

With access to ESPN3, this isn’t as important as it might have been. I’d like to get Conference USA games and Mountain West Conference games, which are not on ESPN3 because they have no contract with ESPN. So maybe I’ll step back and get the C*USA or the MWC package even if that means I can’t get some of the other conferences I care about (and I’d only be able to subscribe to one. The other conferences are more likely to appear on ESPN3 than either C*USA or the MWC, though there might be some games on ULive that aren’t on those services.

Which, of course, I don’t know, because they apparently want to make it as hard as possible to find out what, if anything, I am actually subscribing to.

I did get the Tulane game against South Alabama. Tulane games are the only reliable ones that are really good about making themselves available. Anyway, I watched it for a while, but then some sort of audio malfunction made that feedback screech. So off went that game.

Category: Theater

Matt Bruenig wants you to know that education won’t reduce poverty and if you think otherwise you are an enemy of poor people.

Well, okay. I personally think we might have gotten the idea that education would reduce poverty from, well, liberals. Who argued for decades and decades that we had to spend more and more on education because education was the ticket out of poverty. Even now we hear about how important it is that everyone goes to college because it’s – taDA! – the ticket out of poverty.

But wait? You want to fire teachers? You want charter schools and voucher programs? What kind of poor-hating monster are you? It was obviously never about education, you dishonest fig.

For the most part, I think they were wrong then and are right now. I think a base-level education for most people is important, but everything else is trying to grab a bull by its pinkie toe. It just took change that meant something other than money to get some people to admit it.

I probably shouldn’t have made my first post a political one, but I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to point out that they’re starting to resemble the classic Onion article about hands up and hand outs.

Category: School

Many of my liberal friends are gloating over a report by the HHS, explaining how awesome PPACA (“Obamacare”) is going to be. Lots and lots of people are going to get insurance for really cheap! Yay! This will be a success!

Meanwhile, the Weekly Standard takes issue with these numbers. They cite the American Action Forum, who claims that the data is faulty and misleading. Boo!

A few weeks ago, we were having a very similar conversation. Liberals talking about how much was going to be saved, conservatives about how that’s not the case.

In a way, you’d almost think that it would be the other way around. Because, within a year’s time, we’re going to find out whether PPACA raises or lowers consumer costs. And if people believe the liberals now, they’re going to be really disappointed to when the rates that were supposed to go down end up going up or staying about the same. But if they believe the conservatives, they’ll be thrilled when rates don’t end up going up after all.

So what’s going on here? There are three possibilities: One good, one middle, one bad.

It’s possible that this isn’t framing at all. Rather, liberals genuinely believe that Obama’s law is a good one. They believe it – or want to believe it – so much that they’re latching on to any indication that it is the case. And on the other side, conservatives genuinely see disaster. So when Avik Roy releases numbers suggesting that consumer costs will go up, that is vindicating.

The middle is that everyone is itching to be right and nobody wants to admit that they’re wrong. This isn’t ideal, because the truth doesn’t care what we think and this represents a blind spot. But neither is it all bad. Everyone is more or less lining up behind what they believe.

The depressing possibility is that since nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen, everyone still is actually trying to frame the narrative. While the dangers above are real (each side setting expectations where a middling result will make people feel the opposite of how each side wants them to feel), in all likelihood the results are going to be muddled. Some people will save money in even the most pessimistic scenario. Some people will have to spend more even in the most optimistic scenario.

So then it’s ultimately about thwarting the truth, whatever it is. Laying the groundwork so that if costs go down and people save money, conservatives will be vindicated by whatever minority of people finds themselves in a worse spot and suggesting that said minority is actually the typical case. Likewise, if almost everybody ends up having to spend more, the liberals will have laid the groundwork to argue that we shouldn’t believe our lying eyes and bank accounts.

I offer no hard prediction on what is going to happen. I am preparing for the worst. Perhaps because in the end I couldn’t get on board with PPACA and so want to be vindicated. But mostly, I think, so that I will be pleasantly surprised if I am wrong and won’t be too disappointed if I am right.

Category: Hospital, Newsroom

Windows XP Bluescreen (tall)As many of you know, I don’t have a computer. I have an army of computers. I’ve picked them up here and there. I’ve gotten some good deals, inherited them from people who were getting rid of them, and and so on. And I almost never get rid of a computer if it works (and sometimes if it doesn’t) and I am good at keeping computers working. I finally threw away two computers before the cross-country move. I purchased them in 2002. They still worked, but I needed some parts from them. My console has four computers (three operational, one requiring a LiveCD at the moment), soon to be five. I have five laptops in use (one of which with a cracked display), three working ones on stand-by, two semi-functional ones (obscured displays), and two non-functional ones (that, by combining parts, will make a single functional one in the near future).

All but four of them run Windows XP. Which means that this breaks my heart:

On April 8 2014 – exactly 210 days’ time – Microsoft will be putting Windows XP on its ‘end of life’ cycle.

This is not news in itself, yet with pressure ramping up against the near third of users still on the near 13-year-old desktop OS, the clock is ticking for enterprises unwilling to change.

Microsoft has put its cards on the table in this respect. A blog post last month from director Tim Rains warned against the very real dangers of carrying on with XP after support has ceased.

“The very first month that Microsoft releases security updates for supported versions of Windows, attackers will reverse engineer those updates, find the vulnerabilities and test Windows XP to see if it shares those vulnerabilities,” Rains explained, adding: “If it does, attackers will attempt to develop exploit code that can take advantage of those vulnerabilities on Windows XP.”

In case you think this is a marketing ploy to get you to buy new computers, this is a serious security threat. I will not be booting up a networked computer after that date. Which, given my army of computers, presents me with a serious problem. A lot of these computers are not worth what a Windows 7 or Windows 8 license would cost. And that’s if these computers can run Windows 7, which will be a challenge. I have access to Windows Vista licenses for very, very cheap.

Which I guess means that I am about to embark on a Linux the likes of which I never have before. One of the laptops already runs Linux. It’s a computer with good specs that never really lived up to them. A couple of component upgrades helped, but it still struggles. Which could mean that even getting Linux to run on some of these computers may require some tweaking. But my recent experiences have been encouraging that Linux will be the option for many of them.

Some of them are going to be a challenge, though. Mostly because they are specific-use computers. Two, for instance, are attached to television sets. All of my attempts at MythTV have failed. Which isn’t to say that it can’t be done, but it’s going to take some work. Another is on printer duty. Two of its primary jobs are printer-sharing and image manipulation. I haven’t figure out how to share Linux on a primarily Windows network, and I can’t use some of my imaging software on Linux. (Of the three I use – Photoshop,, and GIMP, only the last is available on Linux.) One of the primary functions of one of the desktops involves audio and video conversion, which I have specific Windows software for.

So for some of them, I may have to install Vista or upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 (let’s assume 7). And I’ll have to decide whether to install the 32-bit version of Vista or 7, or the more resource-intensive 64-bit*. For the others, it’s created something of an identity crisis for them. Namely, what are they for? These are questions I have not had to ask myself in a while. Typically they sit, gathering dust, right up until I need them for something. Next time I need them, I may or may not be able to use them depending on what OS they have installed.

Not that I can blame Microsoft for this. They gave it their best:

Here’s a fun fact: XP first appeared at the end of 2001. As late as 2010, computers were still sold with XP installed. Windows Vista, which arrived 6 years after XP, only lasted until 2011.
If you think about it, XP will be nearly 13 years old. Like a teenager, it’s having trouble adjusting to the world. In spite of a major overhaul with Service Pack 3, XP just wasn’t built for the modern digital age.

It’s missing key security features introduced in Windows Vista. It can’t support the latest, safest and most Web-compatible versions of Internet Explorer. It can’t take full advantage of the latest hardware advances.

It’s becoming increasingly frustrating for customers and third-party companies. Many third-party companies would love to stop supporting XP. It takes a lot of time and money to make sure programs and hardware work on every version of Windows.

Windows XP is on so many computers because it was such a long-standing, and happy-for-me, operating system. That I am having this problem so many years later is a testament to how valuable it was. Rest in Peace, XP.

* – The rub being with 32-bit, it will only recognize 3GB of RAM. With 64-bit, I will be able to use between four and eight depending on the machine and whether or not I choose to upgrade. I don’t know whether 32-bit Win7 on 3GB of RAM or 64-bit Win7 on 4GB will actually work better.

Category: Server Room

I previously wrote an ignorant American’s opinion on Canadian Football. Today I will write about Firefly, even though I am but three episodes into it.

I’ve been watching the TV show Firefly. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s basically about a bunch of people way off in outer space in an interplanetary nation. There are, from what I’ve seen, no non-human characters (like Klingons or whatever Jar-Jar Binks is) with the exception of some Earth animals. Presumably, they are our descendants gone to space, though I’m not sure about that.

Conveniently, they speak English. It is, of course, unlikely that these people would speak English. But that’s something we overlook in such programs. Because it beats subtitles.

When they’re not speaking English, though, they speak Chinese. Before I found out it was Chinese, I was actually a bit annoyed by this because I thought that having a fictitious language as the alternative only drew attention to the improbability that they would be speaking colloquial English. I thought they should have spoke Spanish or something. Knowing that it’s Chinese – even though it might be Klingon or something if I hadn’t bothered to look it up – relieves me.

That said, it’s kind of weird that the two languages are English and Chinese, but almost all of the characters are white. There’s no significant Asian population, that I have seen yet. A couple black characters on the ship are the only non-whites that come to mind.

Which makes me think that they should have gone with Spanish, German, French, or some other language of the countries that actually sent people out to wherever this is.

On the other hand, the story takes place mostly in the “outer planets.” The racial diversity may mostly be living in the central planets.

Category: Theater