Monday, April 26, 2010

Stephen Hawking: Contacting Aliens is Highly Illogical

Physicist Stephen Hawking is hawking a new documentary tha he made for the Discovery Channel, Stephen Hawking's Universe. He talked to reporters about the probability of intelligent life on other planets. He doesn't think that it's a good idea to try to contact these outworldly civilizations though. In short, he doesn't think that our neighborhood aliens would be highly evolved, moderately annoying, but basically harmless beings like Vulcans or Wesley Crusher; rather it is more likely that as a technically superior society, they would be out to conquer us and turn is into a slave race. Hawking is quoted in the UK's

We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet," he argues. "I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach

Apparently this thought is unique to Professor Hawking, and because the good professor's mind is so superior to normal humans', it's impossible for anyone else to have though of this first. Sorry H.G. Wells, we can't publish War of the Worlds, we know you went forward 100 years into the future in your time machine and stole the idea from a poor handicapped professor.

Maybe we'll get lucky, and all they'll want is our basketball players. We have ways of dealing with that.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Debt Settlement Companies Finally Receiving Scrutiny

Debt Settlement Companies under Scrutiny

ABC News is reporting that the Government Accountability Office has conducted a study of 20 companies that promise to settle your debt at a huge discount. The GAO found that the debt settlement industry is rife with fraud and deceptive practices.

I've seen a huge increase in these debt settlement or debt management companies in the past year. They sure seem like ripoffs to me. You pay them 10-15 of your debt before anything accumulates towards the pool for settlement. In the meantime, your accounts are going way in default, and your credit is all shot to hell. Virtually all of these consumers would be better off in bankruptcy, usually Chapter 13 plans.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fiat 5 Year Plan:
Bring in Alfa-Romeos, Make Money on Ferraris

Sergio Marchionne unveiled the Fiat Group's 5 year master plan. Perhaps the most controversial element is the plan to grow sales of the Alfa Romeo brand five-fold over the next 5 years, with US sales ramping up from 0 now to 85,000 at the end of the plan. Americans aren't familiar with Alfa Romeos. Jeremy Clarkson of the British car show, Top Gear, summarized the essence of the Alfa brand thusly:

Alfa build a car to be as
good as a car can be. ..briefly.

Here's a clip from Top Gear Season 11 where the three hosts race Alfa Romeos that they bought for 1,000 pounds sterling.

Father of the Cubicle Dies

Glenn M. Walters, the inventer of the cubicle died today at age 85. For efficiency's sake, he was buried in a lidless casket partitioned and shared with 4 other cadavers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Youtube Video of the Day
David Valente - Rock'n Roll Lullaby

I always wished I could really play the piano. This guy plays really well, with his feet. He's a pretty good singer, too.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Paul Krugman - Environmental Economics 101

How many newspapers would print a 7,770 word economics lesson in the troubled newspaper world of 2010? The New York Times recently did that. On April 5th, the NYT published this article by Nobel-prize-winning economist Paul Krugman entitled Building a Green Economy. It really is an Environmental Economics 101 class distilled to its most basic. So many Fox News parrots claim to be free market capitalists and are against environmental regulation, but every time I've talked to one of them, it seems like they don't have the slightest knowledge of the basic tenets of capitalism. When I tell them that capitalist theory of efficient production levels requires that the cost of an enterprise be internalized to that enterprise, they look at me like I just told them the aliens are coming or Obama is going to take away their guns. Don't even bother talking about the prerequisits of zero information costs, rational decision making and pareto optimality.

When I was a management student at Purdue in the 1980s, Purdue's economics department was solidly in the camp of the Univerity of Chicago supply-side mentality. You know, Milton Friedman, yada yada yada. It was hardly the bastion of liberalism. Nevertheless, even conservative economists would reject the notion that free markets can solve pollution problems without internalizing a cost to the pollution.

I find Paul Krugman refreshing because he recognizes social impacts and disparities and the public policy of making sure that all the wealth doesn't accumulate at the top. In the video lecture below, Krugman makes the case that the American middle class as we know it came into being in a little over a decade through the 1930s and 1940s, and it came about due to Roosevelt's social policy and the growth of the labor movement. Rarely will you see an economist defend unionized labor. Paul Krugman does.

Below is a video of Paul Krugman in 2006 predicting the bursting of the housing bubble.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Sony Disables Linux on PS3 - Pisses Off Hitler

I bought a PS3 in December. I bought the new "slim" model. I came this (gesture) close to buying an older model since I read that the slim PS3 couldn't run Linux as an alternative operating system, whereas the older models could. As the Monkees would say, that was then, this is now. On April 1, Sony issued a firmware operating system update # 3.21 that disables the feature to add alternate operating systems on the PS3.

As you might expect, this turn of events angered Adolph Hitler (because everything does). Here's the video direct from Hitler's bunker. (Subtitled language warning NSFW like usual.)

I suspect that class action lawsuits will be flying right and left over this because Sony clearly used the ability to run Linux as a marketing tool, and some users bought the PS3 specifically to use it as a Linux computer. I suspect that Sony will spend more on lawyers than they saved by not having to deal with Linux-related security issues, and in the long run, Sony will end up settling the lawsuits by re-enabling Linux. When they do, I hope they enable it for those of us who bought slims.

Personally, I think Sony ought to embrace the inner computer in the PS3. Next-year's model lineup should include a model with at least a full Gigabyte of ram and with Linux pre-installed. If they want to continue restricting access to the graphics processor to prevent Linux games from competing with their $60.00 PS3 games, then so be it.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

People Have Spent 481,624 Hours Watching This Video

That's approximately 59 years.

"You don't have to cry because you love Justin Bieber"
"Yeah you do."

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Be Cool - Join a Band

Sorry I haven't posted much lately. I've been taking a lot of time studying how to bee cool. Brett Domino and Steven Peavis embody cool with this medley of Justin Timberlake hits.