Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Googleteer(tm) Gets Spaced Out
It's one space after period - or is it?

I learned to type in the late 1970s, on actual typewriters. My school actually had very good typewriters, IBM Selectrics, with proportional spacing. Despite the proportional spacing, I was taught to add two spaces after a period.

Now, of course, everything I learned is wrong. "To each his own" is now "to each THEIR own", even though the pronoun doesn't agree with the antecedent. My daughter informs me that it is wrong to put two spaces after a sentence-ending period. If you believe this article in, you are an imbecile if you use two spaces after a period.

I called my superhero friend, the Googleteer(tm) to search all the knowledge of the world and tell me whether it is appropriate to hit the space bar twice after a period. Here's the search he came up with. As I interpret the results, the old two-space isn't dead yet, but it is maybe pining for the fjords. I will make it my belated New Year's resolution to become one with Landru and use one space. If i slip up, I meant to do that, maybe.

Now it's time for the marginally relevant video of the day, actually, today we'll have two marginally relevant videos, one for each space after a period.

The Credit / Credit Score Paradox
Credit Card Balances Decrease - but Credit Scores Do Too

Collections and Credit Risk reports that US consumers are, in the aggregate, carrying lower credit card balances, and credit card charge offs (defaults) are going down. That would make consumers better credit risks, right? Apparently not, because credit scores are going down. Reduced credit scores might be due to increased auto debt (4%) and student loans (up 10%).

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Ford Vertek Concept
- From Escape to Departure

At the Detroit Auto Show last week, Ford showed off its Vertek concept car - compact crossover actually. Something like this is likely to replace the popular Escape model.

I hate the name Vertek, but I think the vehicle is nicely funky-looking. I googled the name. Vertek is actually considered to be a legitimate English word, an import for the word for "departure" in Dutch. I'm not sure that's what the Escape's buyers are looking for though. It seems like Escape buyers like the boxy look. The box gives them a nice place to put their dogs. I'm sure Ford has some market researchers that make more money than me, so they must know what they're doing.

Where's my Flying Wing?
Time to Repurpose NASA

Given the current status of NASA's space program, NASA could possibly be renamed "National Administration for Staying Awake". It seems like with all the pressing technological problems this country has, busy-work dead-end stuff seems to have the upper hand on NASA's things-to-do list. The latest thing is that NASA has released a bunch of conceptual pictures of new flying-wing aircraft designs both commercial and military. Here's one image.

These are beautiful designs. The problem is: there's nothing new here. Check out this Popular Science cover from 2003. I think it's great that NASA rethinks the future of aviation, as long as they aren't rehashing the same old thing. You can write a great term paper, but if you turn it in over an over again, you're still a slacker - at best. The basic flying wing design has been kicked around in aviation circles since at least 1928. Here is a link to a custom Google search of the mention of "flying wing" in Popular Science magazine. The first mention of "flying wing" that I found was in 1928, with the first cover story coming in 1933. Flying wings are useful for bombers and some heavy lifting purposes, but they have some seemingly insurmountable problems as airliner designs. They are efficient, but they are expensive to build. Not only do passengers not like having windows nearby, the lack of windows is said to contribute to airsickness. Nobody has yet found a way to load and unload a flying wing quickly, and this creates logistical problems at airport and serious safety concerns.

I think our government should seriously reprioritize how it is spending its scientific research dollars. I think we should repupose NASA and change it from from the "aeronautics and space" administration to "science" administration. In short, our smartest minds have better things to do than plan space missions that will never get funded or repackage old flying wing designs. Our best minds need to work on things like our power grid and large scale energy cogeneration. If we are going to polish old ideas, we should be throwing more money at fuel cells, ultracapacitors, thin-film solar cells. We need to double the efficiency of our cars and our houses. If you need to dangle the carrot of space research in front of an A-level scientist in order to hire the best minds, fine, cut a deal: work half the year on space projects and half the year on energy projects. It's all well and good to want to restart our manned space program, but the fact is, we have to take care of what we NEED before we spend our money on what we WANT. I think most NASA researchers would be happy to meaningfully contribute to the most pressing scientific needs of the country even of those projects aren't related to aerospace. What do you think?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Return of William Shatner

Cee Lo's performance of "Forget You" was the highlight of last night's SNL. Looking around on Youtube for the original, I came across William Shatner's astoundingly Shatnerish cover from the George Lopez talk show, Lopez Tonight. If you don't appreciate Bill's vocal talents, f- orget you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

NYT: Law School Placement and Salary Statistics are a Sham

This will probably come as a surprise to exactly no Local 3357 members, but the New York Times has looked at Law School statistics for job placement and starting salaries and found that not only are the statistics flawed, but they may actually be fraudulent. In the current recession the lack of law jobs has gotten so bad that law school may be even a worse deal than the scammy trade schools that prey on the poorly educated.

Law students are graduating with $250,000 in debt. Some schools were touting $160,000 as an average starting salaries where, in reality, jobs with this kind of salary are scarce as hens' teeth. Many graduates can find no employment, and many others find jobs paying less than the $65,000 per year that it takes to make meaningful headway on their student loan debt. Some law schools are inflating the statistics of the employment percentage of their new graduates by giving the graduates a $20/hour temporary job right before the US News survey cutoff date.

This article is a must read for anybody considering going to law school.

For Law School Graduates, Debts if Not Job Offers -

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ford to Create 7,000 New Jobs is reporting that Ford is planning to announce at the Detroit Auto Show that it will be creating 7,000 new domestic jobs in the next two years. A good portion of the jobs will be in Louisville, Kentucky and Wayne Michigan.

Time for a marginally relevant video, I guess.