Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rant about no-win situations, and gay rights

Miss California vs. Perez Hilton, who will win?Image by feastoffools via Flickr

Who the **** is Perez Hilton? What gives him the right to ask a deeply divisive question on national TV, forcing a contestant to choose between which portion of the nation to alienate, and thus, her fate in the pageant?

There is no doubt in anybody's mind (certainly not mine) that Perez Hilton set up Miss California, Carrier Perjean, for the question. Any way she answers, she's doomed. She's in a no-win situation.

Read the whole situation here:

Please keep in mind that Perez Hilton is openly gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, I personally support gay marriage. However, that is NOT the point. Think about it. This is on national TV. Either way Carrier Perjean answers, she'll alienate a large part of the public. At the end, she chose to speak her heart, that her family upbringing states that marriage is between a man and a woman, so no, she does not support gay marriage personally.

It's a choice between "Yes, I do" and it'd be a lie, or "No I don't", and get a ZERO from Perez Hilton, which may be enough to cost her the crown, esp. when she's the front-runner in the contest.

Say "Yes I do", and alienate the majority of the people who passed Prop 8, not to mention the religious right. Not to mention it'd be a lie.

Say "No I don't" and alienate the entire nation's LGBT population. However, that's still a minority.

Heck, Perez Hilton even claimed after the event that he will personally run up stage and RIP the crown from Miss California's head had she won the crown. What a ****ing grandstander. You call THAT "standing up for gay rights"?

Why don't YOU, Perez Hilton, "gay bigshot", ask Miss North Carolina what's HER stance on gay marriage? There's no plan to legalize gay marriage any time soon in NC, and AFAIK it doesn't recognizes gay marraige done in other states either. But no. He had to pose the question to his own state's rep, Miss California, and thus pretty much denying her the crown. To Mr. Perez Hilton, that opinion alone would make her unfit to be Miss California, much less Miss USA, never mind the selection committee and all the work that came before that. He doesn't like that answer, and with that divisive question, he destroyed the chance of Carrier Perjean becoming Miss USA.

What a ****ing... poo for putting her in that ****ing situation.

Technically speaking, there is a THIRD option... She could have added a statement that while she personally does not believe in gay marriage, as Miss California she is neutral on the issue, neither for nor against. After all, entire California is decidedly conflicted on this issue.

But then she would have sounded too much like a politician.

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Rant about driver license

Current EU driving licence, German version  - ...Image via Wikipedia

Did you know that in GB the average rate of passing the driver license test is a mere 48%? And that in outer towns, it can go down to the 30's?

I don't know what the stats are in the US, but I'll bet it's a lot higher.

So that can mean two things: either our tests are too easy, or theirs are too hard.

I'll bet that ours are too easy though. Only a couple hours of self study, and we let our KIDS on the road. In GB, they need 40+ hours of PROFESSIONAL instruction.

How about Finns? In Finland, you need A YEAR AND A HALF of training to even take a test.

How did you think they produced all these Rally Champions?

(Oh, and Brits call Demolition Racing "Bangers")

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Rant about environment, and environmentalism

A diesel particulate filter (top left) in a Pe...Image via Wikipedia

When it comes to global warming, I'm somewhat ambivalent. I believe that it does exist, but I don't believe it's as severe as some people seems to think it is. And legislating changes *would* kill some business.

Just take the bus charter business for a while... CA already have one of the most stringent smog and particular emission standards. Smog for cars, particulate for diesels. However, CARB is considering forcing all diesel trucks and buses to convert to "clean diesel" in a few years.

Do you know how much a conversion is? I've checked. A particulate filter, "ballpark figure", is $12000 plus maintenance fees. Those filters needs periodic "cleaning".

Or I can buy a bus already equipped with such an engine, except this technology only came out in 2006, and since then CAT has gotten out of motorcoach engine business. And a new coach is 350,000 dollars. Yes, 350000. They haven't been on the market that long for used coaches to be discounted much.

Which brings me to the complaint about environmentalists... They are very active... as long as it doesn't cost them personally. While I agree it's nice to save the environment, have they consider the cost to the people? Especially in THIS economy? Sure it doesn't cost the people directly, but if it cost businesses money, and businesses have to get the money from either employees or the public.

Take the bus charter business for example... do you have any idea what I have to do when "clean diesel" are required "by law"?

I'll have to sell at least two of my buses in order to retrofit the rest with the filters. That means at least three (more like 5, my buses are old and aren't worth much) of my drivers will be laid off, and my business will SHRINK, which means LESS taxes for the government. Right?

But you're saying "but we're saving the planet!" Sorry, I don't buy that. Not when the times are bad. Especially not when the times are bad. When times are bad, government should not tax. Government should SPEND, and hope the dollars spend goes into people's pockets, which then encourages further spending, thus creating demand and jobs.

Sure requiring something increases demand... But not when retrofits are required. Airbags are now required, but that stuff is BUILT INTO CARS, and there are no rules to require older cars to be retrofitted with airbags that don't have them.

No, the problem is the spending plan. Such spending should be done in GOOD TIMES, and there should be plenty of incentives to encourage people to go along. Something like the hybrid or clean air car rebates. Except in nice and BIG amounts to companies. Heck, you're giving $2K to $4K tax credits to hybrids. Why NOT $10K to $20K tax credit toward clean diesel retrofits or new clean diesel purchases? A new hybrid is like what? $25K to $35K? (The new Honda Insight is $20K base, about $25K in CA trim w/ options and add sales tax and reg) Perfectly reasonable when a new bus is 300K to 350K (about 10 times cost of a vehicle). And we carry a lot more people than those equivalent cars.

I'll gladly help the environment if the conversion is free or low cost. But asking me to spend $12000 on each of my six buses is simply out of the question. Environment be ****ed (sorry for the blasphemy). A few thousand (say, maybe THREE) can be discussed. But TWELVE? Gimme a break.

Personally, I'd say the budget office should determine if the year is a "good" year, or a "bad" year. In a "good" year, part of the tax income should be dumped to a reserve fund. When year is bad, you pull frm the reserve fund. When reserve fund exceeds a certain number, you pull the excess and use it on "bonus" programs like this sort of incentives.

Forcing people to spend is a good way to get them to do something else instead. You need to ENTICE them instead. Remember, carrot AND a stick.

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Solving the Somali pirate problem... forever

AGM-114 HellfireImage via Wikipedia

How to solve the Somali pirate problem

The problem cannot be solved with military alone. Pirates are willing to take the risk because the insurance companies are chicken and pay up too quickly in the past. However, they would as they have several reasons to...

1) each ship represents a significant investment for the owner
2) they don't want to be accused of being stingy with human lives
3) a few million dollars is nothing, they can just jack up the insurance rates for the other ships
4) compared to pirates in the Pacific, Somali pirates are downright PEACEFUL. Some ships are known to have completely disappeared and their crew gone, only to have the ship shown up a few years later, under new name, new paint, and new ownership, in the Pacific.

However, if you give them lots of carrots, they will demand even more. From a few ships the year before, to MAJOR escalation in 2008 and 2009, Somali pirates evidently decided that they can make even MORE money from piracy. That must be discouraged.

To fix the problem, you need to do a multiprong approach... You need to attack the SOURCE, both from the motives and the means. In other words, offer both a carrot, and a stick. Then you address the vulnerability of the ships to make the less susceptible.

First, you need to address the situation in Somalia... The government is usless. Ethiopian "peacekeepers" are gone. Due to Clinton's cowardice after "Black Hawk Down" we pretty much left Somalia to its fate, and now we're seeing the consequences. UN is not going to do anything useful. What needs to be done is provide some sort of economy to Somalia, to substitute for piracy. Education is for the long run, but what's for the short run? And how do prevent a backslide?

One short-term possibility is deputize the best group of the bunch as "Somalian Maritime Patrol". You pay his VILLAGE X amount of money if they chase away the OTHER PIRATES. The village will get money, but if any more ships get attacked, they get less. If they let too many through, the village gets nothing. Yes, they can divert some of their own money to pay off the other pirates, but the result is the same: less piracy.

The stick will basically harsh treatment of anyone caught as a pirate. However, there will be a one-time amnesty. However, in the future pirates will be killed ON SIGHT.

So how do you do harm to pirates? Several ways...

1) Send in some Q-ships... Basically cargo ships that are actually manned by military and armed with disguised weapons... AND jam the frequencies so the pirates won't be able to coordinate their moves. The interior is actually disguised and easily isolated (it's all a big trap).

The pirates will be extremely cautious when their brethrens stop coming back.

And you have to send in more than one, or else the pirates may figure out which ship it is and either attack it with overwhelming force (unlikely) or avoid it.

2) Send in unmanned drones, long duration such as Predator and so on and maintain patrol over ships in the area, with automatic warnings. If a ship can be warned, they may get a chance to increase speed and run for it, and at least call for help. The drones may even be armed.

Imagine this scenario...

Three speedboats are on approach to this freighter, under the cover of darkness.

When they pass the 5-mile radius mark from the ship, the drone that's monitoring the ship automatically alerted the on-duty operator.

Two automated hover drones take off from the freighter and head for the potentially attack force. Ship's captain is automatically alerted. Each are similar to the Cypher drone in GRAW, and are NOT armed. Instead, they are equipped with a small searchlight, loudspeakers, and noise-canceling microphones.

Upon reaching the leader of the unknown force, both will assume a retrograde. One will shine the spotlight on the lead boat, with loudspeakers issuing a challenge, such as:

"This is UN Navy. You are approaching UN protected ship. Stop and state your intentions. You have 30 seconds to comply."

The challenge will be issued in English and local dialects. The other drone will watch the enemy for hostile actions. Increase of speed, brandishing weapons, or etc, and the Predator hovering higher will unleash its Hellfire missiles, with one of the drones doing the laser illuminating.

Or you can use Firescout drones with a gunpod loaded with tracers, firing AHEAD of the boat.

"This is your final warning. Stop the vessel or turn away, else we will assume you are hostile, and lethal force will be used."

If the boats stop or turn away, they will not be pursued. If they choose to call the bluff, when one of their boats are lifted out of the water and disintegrate under the Hellfire they will change their mind.

3) Limit ships to shipping lanes, and form small convoys escorted by minor combatants, either frigates or even corvettes. This should allow combatants to protect several ships at once, and the drones can cover the rest.

4) Create a rapid response group out of hydrofoils and hovercrafts... something VERY fast basically. AND mobile gunship platforms, similar to the Nightstalkers used aganst the Iranian Boghammers.

The Pegasus hydrofoils should still be around... They are just big enough for a small LAMPS chopper, I think, and plenty for several drones. Add a floating base, something similar to an oil platform, and you should be able to control most of the area, along with existing NATO and UN forces.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cynic, vs. skeptic

SILVER SPRING, MD - MAY 6: Ted Koppel (C) host...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

First, here is a poll:

Cynic: (n) A person who believes all people are motivated by selfishness.

Skeptic: (n) One who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted conclusions.

Given the two definitions here (which are both from, you can check yourself), which would you prefer a news reporter to be? A cynic? or a skeptic?

I am sure most of you would prefer skeptic, as a news reporter is supposed to be neutral, and should have no "beliefs" when it comes to reporting the news.

However, both of the following quotes are attributed to the Ted Koppel, formerly of ABC News, now working for NPR:

My function is, as objectively and accurately as I can, to present reality to people out there, and doing that as quickly as we do is quite difficult enough, thank you. -- Ted Koppel

My level of cynicism about the reasons that took us to war against Iraq remain just as well-developed as they were before I went. -- Ted Koppel

(both from

If the quotes are accurate, and not taken out of context (and it's pretty hard to imagine how these complete quotes CAN be taken out of context), it means that he had always reported about the Iraq war with preconceptions, even when he promised to report objectively.

And it is interesting to note that both ABC and NPR are often accused of being too liberal. However, it is quite rare for a news reporter and news anchor to admit his own bias, isn't it?

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rant about notebook gaming

My Windows Vista BenchmarksImage by jauhari via Flickr

What is it about notebooks that makes it so... business?

Yet when you try to find games that will run on it, you will find that unless you pick a specific that has the latest and greatest video stuff (and even then, you'll often to be told that laptop chispets are NOT supported by the game box) you won't be able to run anything at all.

While it is understandable that laptops may not have the best and the brightest of chipsets (after all, power savings is a must), it shouldn't be so anemic that one is reduced to puzzle games.

Yet, I can tell you that 3 out of 4 games I find at local stores won't run on laptops nowadyas, namely mine.

And I don't have a very exotic laptop either. What I got is a Sony VAIO VGN-NR420E, Pentium M Dual Core inside, Windows Vista Home Premium pre-loaded, ready to be a entertainment machine right off the bat... DVD player, Firewire (i-link in Sony terms), 4 USB ports, built-in Wifi (A,B, and G), not a powerhouse but not a wimp either... Except the graphics: Intel 965 Express. The problem with Intel is they don't believe in "hardware rendering", which has been on NVIDIA video chips since year 2001 (GeForce 256). Thus, Intel chips have always been considered "weaklings" compared to the two juggernauts of video: NVIDIA, and ATI. The only reason Intel is still in the video business is because Intel can sell the video along with their CPUs and chipsets at a discount, making it too irresistable for the system makers to pass up who are under pressure to build a machine CHEAP, cheap, cheap, never mind the video is useless for anything that demands even a modicum of true video processing power.

And what does this do? It will do Aero for Windows Vista, and that's about it.

Yet, SOME games do run on these chipsets, interestingly, namely, OLDER games based on certain video engines. LucasGames' Republic Commando runs fine though you have to reduce the resolution and graphics details to keep the frame rate up. And also Elite Soldiers: Vietnam will run on this chipset, and produces some of the best jungle yet seen in a PC game.

The problem is nothing produced in the last few years will likely run on this laptop, and that cause a LOT of support problems overall.

Too bad the hardware and software makers can't designate hardware and software levels, like "level 1", "level 2", etc. All level 2 hardware will run all level 2 software games, and below, you get the idea.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The illogical hope of good news... and faith

Those who keep up with the news may have heard already... Sandra Cantu out of Tracy, 8-yr old girl missing for a week, has been found... DEAD.

The honest truth... If it's a stranger abduction, the child is usually dead within 24 hours, if not 48. After a week, there is virtually NO hope of the child returning home alive, unless the perp was looking for long-term enslavement, and most aren't dumb enough to take the chance.

So why do people keep on hoping the impossible? It's known as "faith", or "trust in superior being", if you will, that there really IS a higher purpose, even though we may not understand it, everything DOES happen for a reason. And you must hold out hope for the best outcome UNTIL it is no longer possible.

If you have no hope, and thus no faith, then why live a life at all?

Which brings up another interesting point... Faith the word is derived from Latin, Fide and similar forms. Remember the Marine saying "Semper Fidelis", or "Always Faithful"? It's interesting that faith doesn't quite translate into Spanish... It's simply "fe" in Spanish, like "Santa Fe".

Makes you wonder if the monks made up the word "fe" to teach the masses?

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