Sep 22, 12:08 PM: Current Events and the like
A few years ago when I was taking Economic Statistics and Econometrics at Georgetown, I remember other students talking about their awesome internships at Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs. Most of these kids had fathers or uncles or whatnot who worked for an investment bank and had gotten them that crucial summer internship. The summer interhship of getting coffee and possibly reading the Financial Times leads to getting paid to get coffee and read the Financial Times, eventually hopefully leading to lucrative career as an investment banker.
I suppose now the tables have turned, and I’m glad that I didn’t get into that rat race. For a while I thought, what if I had really pushed myself, and tried to get a job in New York with a bank, even though I didn’t want to move to New York or work for a bank. If I had, I’d probably still have a job (for now) but would be terrified and under so much stress.
It all works out in the end, right?
I haven’t really had time to pour over the specifics of what exactly is happening, and the details of this proposed bailout. I can’t help but think this is going to potentially cause more problems than it fixes, though. Gold has been rising obscenely fast the past few days, I’m guessing on fears of serious inflation.
I predicted $1000/ounce for gold last year, but that was too premature. Maybe this year, though. I really hope not, though. For everyone’s sake.
Aug 29, 01:20 PM: McCain-Palin
Eventually I’m going to move away from politics on this blog, but since this is a huge topic of conversation, let me say a few things.
First off, I really have to ask if McCain has lost his mind. Well, no, I think we already knew the answer to that question. He lost it ages ago. I suppose the better question to ask is how did he end up with Sarah Palin as his choice?
I see two possible answers:
1. McCain thinks women are stupid.
2. Everyone else said no.
I think it’s probably a little from column A and a little from column B. Does McCain really think women who supported Hillary will support him simply because Palin is on the ticket?
And just, by the way, let me pause and again ask just who the hell is Sarah Paulin? Oh, that’s right, a former mayor of a tiny little village in Alaska who somehow managed to become governor.
So this is who will take over when/if McCain is no longer able to perform the duties of President? Really?
May 1, 05:37 PM: As we all know
The war in Iraq could be over with one signature.
At 6:10PM EST, the president will veto funding for the Iraq war. He will announce that withdrawing troops would create a “cauldron of chaos.”
Mmmhmm. Defying the will of the American people, the Congress, most of the world, and the Iraqi people. Why can’t we have a Fearless Leader™ who would stand up like this for things that are actually rational, sane, and productive?
Apr 20, 05:56 PM: Evil don't look like anything
So we have debates about gun control, with plenty of people quivering at the thought that maybe they could have prevent the shooting, had they just been there, with their gun. Maybe so, maybe some of the deaths could have been prevented had there been someone with a weapon near the shooting. I don’t know. Maybe it would have been worse, with armed bystanders getting into shoot-outs with each other in the confusion. Maybe the campus should have been completely shut down after the first shooting, maybe that would have saved some lives. Maybe the shooter should have been removed from school a year ago, when there were some indications he had problems. We can second guess all day long. As the cliche goes, hindsight is always 20/20.
This whole thing is just so incredibly tragic, innocent lives lost—taken by a killer who slipped through the cracks. Maybe we’ll learn something from all of this, but probably not.
Now, with all these cameras focused on my face
You would think that they could see it through my skin.
Looking for evil, thinking they can trace it but
Evil don’t look like anything.
Apr 18, 11:12 PM: Virginia Tech
I wish I had something constructive to say regarding this week’s massacre at Virginia Tech. It’s difficult, and living in the DC area means this was sort of in our own backyard. Many of my friends know people at VT, including some of those who were injured. Thankfully, though, all of the people my friends know, and I know, made it out alive. Sadly, the same cannot be said for others. It’s tough.
In other news, last weekend I traveled around New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts with my friends in Telograph. I shot three of their shows with O.A.R. Some photos have been posted on my flickr and more will be forthcoming. Although I have never been a huge O.A.R. fan, I would like to say they are some of the nicest guys I’ve ever met while working shows. The band and their crew are very professional but also understanding and helpful to make sure we had everything we needed, even though we were only the opening band. So a big thanks to everyone on the O.A.R. crew. Also, it goes without saying, but Telograph did a fantastic job, and as always the band was very well organized and treated me as a professional, which is appreciated more anything. Kudos to everyone affiliated with the tour, kudos indeed.
Here’s one of the shots:
Feb 4, 03:23 AM: War with Iran?
I’m a bit concerned we are going to get into a war with Iran.
Now, I’m not one to say I like Iran. It’s difficult to differentiate Iran from, say, Saudi Arabia.
However, there are several problems with going to war with Iran. These include:
1. Iran has a real military.
2. Iran has allies.
3. Iran could potentially deploy weapons of mass destruction.
Now some people will make the argument that points 1 & 3 justify going to war. I’m going to be super selfish and argue that however much we don’t like Iran, it’s not worth Vietnam-sized casualties (or more), and potentially sparking a world war.
If it’s going to happen, it would most likely unfold somehow like this:
1. Israel conducts airstrikes against Iranian nuclear plants. This attack may involve the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Estimated Iranian casualties go as high as 1 million.
2. Iran, unlike Iraq, can deliver a counter-strike. The United States, as an ally of Israel, launches airstrikes against targets inside Iran, again potentially using tactical nuclear weapons.
3. We have more than 100,000 troops sitting in Iraq, right next door. Sitting ducks, if you will. Iranian counter-attacks against our troops in Iraq, and against oil production facilities all around the gulf region.
4. Within a few weeks, potentially, a million or so people are dead, and gas is upwards of $10/gallon. Terrorist attacks in the United States are likely, as well as in Britain and elsewhere.
Would China or Russia get involved as well? Most likely not overtly, but covertly certainly. There would be, of course, potential for this to spread, and we end up going to war with countries we certainly don’t want to be fighting.
Of course, the scenario could also happen that we attack Iran following a terrorist attack in the United States. I am going to say this is unlikely, but not off the table. It’s more likely we will see an Israeli led-strike, leading to U.S.-involvement.
The concerning part of all of this is that the President requires no Congressional approval to attack Iran, and even if he did, he would most certainly get it if it was the result of an Israeli-initiated strike.
It’s my understanding that going to war with Iran would be a very, very, bad thing. This reminds me of a quotation from the movie The Hunt for Red October, “This business will get out of control. It will get out of control, and we’ll be lucky to live through it.”
I’d put odds of a strike on Iran at 25% before the end of March.
Feb 2, 12:43 AM: Defeating Terrorism?
The purpose of terrorism is, by definition, to incite terror. A bombing, a shooting, or a beheading are just means to an end.
The terrorist succeeds if the result is a panicked populace.
I think it’s rather clear that by this definition the terrorists are winning. In fact, it could be argued they won a long time ago.
The funny thing is, they haven’t even attacked the U.S. since 9/11, but we are so scared we think some glowing lights are bombs.
Come on people, aren’t we tougher than that? I guess I forgot that America has no backbone anymore. We are terrorized by cartoon characters.
Truly a sad thing. I have to give my admiration to the two artists arrested for the Boston fiasco… they handled the “press conference” brilliantly.
Feb 1, 12:53 AM: Aqua Teen "Terror Threat" -- Not the first
You’ve probably heard about the Boston bomb scare stemming from Aqua Teen Hunger Force advertisements. A freelance video artist has been arrested, and will be charged with a felony for placing a “hoax device.”
That’s one of the devices in question.
Now, I think it’s a bit ridiculous that it took all afternoon for someone to realize what was going on, and that the city of Boston was brought to a halt by some cartoon characters. I realize we live in the age of “you can’t be too careful,” but this borders a bit on the ridiculous.
What’s even more unbelievable is that this isn’t the first time a marketing campaign has resulted in the bomb squad showing up.
In April of last year, a similar scare resulted from the placement of audio players in Los Angeles Times newspaper machines. Check out the story on MSNBC:
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – A newspaper promotion for Tom Cruise’s upcoming “Mission: Impossible III” got off to an explosive start when a county arson squad blew up a news rack, thinking it contained a bomb.
The confusion: the Los Angeles Times rack was fitted with a digital musical device designed to play the “Mission: Impossible” theme song when the door was opened. But in some cases, the red plastic boxes with protruding wires were jarred loose and dropped onto the stack of newspapers inside, alarming customers.
The outcome of that debacle:
The devices are to remain in the boxes until May 7, two days after the film is scheduled to open.
As far as I can tell, no charges were brought. No one’s life was ruined due to a ridiculous misunderstanding.
Of course Turner should have learned the lesson, and at least checked with the cities in question before unleashing this campaign. However, this backlash against the creators is a bit over-the-top. I hope that these charges are dismissed, or at least knocked down from a felony. Clearly there was no intension to incite panic, and these are obviously not “hoax” bomb devices.
If this incident says anything, it’s that we’ve all become too paranoid. I live a few blocks from the White House, I see “suspicious package” incidents on a regular basis. I’ve posted photos of the hazmat team setting up emergency showers outside my apartment. Of course we need to be ever-vigilant, but at some point some degree of common sense needs to be exercised.
The governor of Massachusetts, and the Mayor of Boston all want to hold someone accountable for this mess, but unfortunately for them there is really no guilty party. I hope what most people take away from this is that we all sometimes need to step back and take a breath. Sure, there’s always going to be some threat of terrorism… but in truth there aren’t bombers on every corner, and there aren’t IED’s being defused in cities everyday. There should have been coordination, there should have been better communication between units each time another one of these “packages” was phoned in.
We will see what happens to the signs that are up in other cities.
Jan 29, 11:49 PM: Confirmed, Pretty Girls Make Graves Breaks Up
You heard it here first.
From the band’s site:
28 January 2007
We are sorry to announce that our upcoming tour in May will be our last. Nick quit the band and the rest of us feel like it wouldn’t be right to continue on without him. The 5 of us feel very lucky to have met and worked with some truly amazing people over the years. Thank you all so much…
Jan 25, 10:47 PM: Pretty Girls Make Graves Breaking Up?
This could be a bunch of hogwash, but the Black Cat updated their show schedule with the following:
SUN MAY 20- PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES (Last DC Show EVER) $13 mainstage 8:00 (on sale 2/2)
So either the Black Cat has some bad information, the band is going to avoid D.C. forever to make some kind of statement, or the band is breaking up.
Given the lack of updates on the band’s web site, I’m going to speculate that indeed Pretty Girls Make Graves is breaking up.
Jan 22, 02:16 AM: Update: De Novo Dahl in Accident After DC Show
And here I was, worrying about the brightness being off on their photos. On their way back from the DC show last night, De Novo Dahl lost control of their van on a slippery interstate.
From their blog:
Hey everyone. Thanks for your concern. In case you weren’t aware, at about 7 this morning, we were returning from a show in DC (which was great, by the way) when we hit a patch of ice, subsequently fishtailing and ending up on our side in a ditch. The trailor is dead. The van is on life-support. Some of our gear is destroyed. But thank God, we are all ok aside from a few bumps, bruises, and scrapes.
We’re stranded in Christianburg, VA (or something like that) for the evening, but when we get home, I’ll post some pictures of the damage.
We appreciate the outpoor of support we have received thus far. We also want to thank everyone who came out for a great weekend of shows. Despite the ending, we had a wonderful time in Lexington, Newport, and DC.
Head over to their site and show them some support. Glad to hear everyone is okay.
Jan 18, 09:47 PM: Middle Distance Runner Gear Stolen in NYC
This just in from Middle Distance Runner:
“Some jackass(es) in Brooklyn thought it would be cute to smash the window of our van and steal a bunch of our stuff yesterday. The following items were stolen:
-Fender Jazzmaster 1962 re-issue (sunburst w/ tortoise pick guard)
-Fender American Telecaster (sunburst w/ white pick guard)
-Fender 5-string Jazz Bass, HM model (white w/ paint chipping off near pickups)
-Drum hardware … cymbals, stands, tambourine, cowbell, shaker, etc…”
As a reminder, MDR will be playing with Exit Clov this Saturday at the Black Cat. Buy a t-shirt or CD while you are there and help these guys get some new gear. At this point, I lack any kind of inside information about how much of this loss (if any) would be covered by any kind of insurance. They are still playing the show on Saturday, no worries.
That’s a bummer for them, but you know, I can’t think of a band I know who hasn’t had their van broken into while in New York. Everyone I know has their horror story of coming back to their van and seeing broken glass.
Moral of the story, uh, well, I’m not sure there is one. Don’t park your van overnight in New York City, I guess.
Jan 17, 09:45 PM: Washington Post partners with The Onion
And no, this is not an Onion article…
From the Post itself:
“The Onion, the Gen-X satiric newspaper, is coming to Washington and will partner with The Washington Post, which will produce and print the paper and sell local ads.
The Onion, which also maintains a Web site, will be distributed free in news boxes and by hawkers in Washington beginning the first week in April. The Post will be paid for its business services.”
A Washington Post spokesperson said he believes the Onion will be popular amongst young Washingtonians.
Just make sure White House staffers don’t pick it up on the way to work, they may think it’s real.
Jan 17, 03:39 PM: Science and History of Ice Storms
First of all, check out this site for some of the basic meteorology behind an ice storm. From the article:
"Whether freezing rain forms from the cold rain or not depends critically on the characteristics of the surface cold air layer. If the layer is too thick or too cold, it will refreeze the rain into ice pellets (sleet). If the cold layer is too warm or too shallow, the rain will continue to the ground as normal rain and will not freeze unless the temperature of the ground or some other surface it contacts is well below freezing. Often small temporal or spatial differences in air temperature and in droplet size result in freezing rain mixed with sleet, snow or non-freezing rain.
The sensitivity of freezing rain formation to the temperature of this lower air layer makes precise forecasting of formation, amount and ice accumulation rate difficult, particularly since sites measuring the vertical temperature distribution are few and widely spread across the affected region.
In most cases of glaze formation, the temperatures of the air, the rain water, and the surface are at or slightly below 0oC, especially in those events where icing is extensive. Glaze ice usually forms when the air temperature near the surface is in the narrow range of -4oC to 0oC (25oF to 32oF). Once the water droplet strikes a surface, the violent impact triggers a rapid transformation of the supercooled liquid water to ice."
Anyway, there's the science behind it. Now let's look at some other examples of brutal ice storms.
The first one that comes to mind is the Ice Storm of 1998. Wikipedia has a good summary of the storm that hit Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. Damage estimates from that storm ranged from $5-7 billion, and there were nearly 60 deaths reported. Damage to Canada's power infrastructure was severe, as this picture shows:
Jumping back a bit, we also have the Great Ice Storm of 1886, which hit New Hampshire. I point this one out since there is a good resource with historical photos online.
Here's one of the photos:
There was also the Nashville Ice Storm of 1951, also known as the "Great Blizzard." The National Weather Service has the history of that storm.
I'm sure there have been plenty of other large ice storms, and this is simply a quick summary. However, it is clear that ice storms are some of the most damaging and most dangerous storms.
My number one tip, if you're in an ice storm, no matter what kind of car you have (SUV, 4 wheel drive, etc), don't try to drive it. Stay put. Don't become a bumper car, as seen in a video shot in Portland.
Finally, you can check out this handy (albeit a bit corny) PDF from the National Weather Service: Winter Storms - The Deceptive Killers.
Jan 15, 06:41 PM: Death Cab's Ben Gibbard turns actor
Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard has appeared on IMDB marking his first role in a feature film. The film, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, is based on a David Foster Wallace novel.
The adaptation, written and directed by John Krasinski (Jim Halpert on NBC’s The Office) is currently in production, for a release sometime this year.
I have not read Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, but from reviews I understand the basic gist of the novel is a woman interviewing various men in order to make sense of a recent breakup. Gibbard will be portraying “Harry,” though I do not know anything about that character. If you’ve read the book, please feel free to shed some light things.
Jan 15, 05:58 PM: Updates on Sen. Tim Johnson's (D-SD) Condition
I hadn’t heard any updates on Sen. Tim Johnson’s condition for a while, so I headed over to Google News and did a quick search.
You’ll recall Tim Johnson underwent emergency brain surgery last month, to relieve bleeding caused by malformed blood vessels. The event sparked a frenzy here in D.C., and political commentators seemed to salivate over figuring out what would happen to the balance of power if the Senator had died.
The last time Johnson was mentioned in the major media outlets, he was still heavily sedated and no one was talking about how bad his condition may be, or what the prognosis was. However, it seemed he was stable enough that the political vultures circling would have to head somewhere else.
Johnson has been moved out of the intensive care unit at George Washington Hospital and into the in-house rehabilitation center. According to his neurologist, his speech center was not damaged by the hemorrhage. It has also been reported he has been speaking a few words, and is able to follow commands. He continues, however, to have a tracheostomy tube to assist his breathing.
It’s unclear how long the recovery will take, and it will be a long and difficult process. However, I look forward the first official remarks from the man whose life had become a math equation for political pundits.
Jan 12, 09:52 PM: Cingular to become AT&T, again
So lately I’ve been doing a lot of research into cell phone companies and plans, as my contract with Cingular expires next month. I haven’t decided what I want to do, but it threw me for a loop to hear that Cingular will once again be rebranded as AT&T
As you may recall, back in 2004, Cingular purchased AT&T Wireless and rebranded everything under the Cingular name. I was a former AT&T Wireless customer who unfortunately thought it would be neat to get another new phone and signed a 2-year contract with Cingular right after the merger. I got a new phone (which has since broken) but lost many of the nice features of AT&T (such as unlimited incoming text messages).
Anyhow, back to 2006, and in December the new “AT&T” (a rebranding of SBC Communications) acquires BellSouth (part of Cingular) and now owns Cingular. I realize this is difficult to understand, and at first glance it somehow looks like Cingular bought itself and changed it’s name.
I invite you to read Cingular’s entry in Wikipedia for a better explanation.
Starting next week, AT&T will begin to assimilate Cingular, starting with an aggressive advertising campaign. I don’t know what impact the change will have on pricing, and the changeover isn’t expected to be completed until mid-year. Just in time for the iPhone.
I’ll probably just end up staying with Cingular/AT&T, but we’ll see. It’s frustrating to keep track of this, not to mention all sorts of questions surrounding the dubious nature of AT&T quickly on the road to being the #1 telecommunications company in America (again).
A side note, though, Cingular Wireless has been recognized for excellence as a union employer. Verizon, on the other hand, was singled out as being very union-unfriendly.
Dec 30, 05:00 AM: Saddam Hussein is Dead
Saddam Hussein (right) shaking hands with former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
In case you haven’t read enough commentary about Saddam Hussein, here’s some more.
Around 10 PM EST (6 AM local time in Baghdad), the former President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein was hanged. Much like the “mission accomplished” speech of 2003, it is likely that this event will have little to no effect on the current civil war going on in Iraq. President Bush can pat himself on the back for turning yet another corner, and we can tout how the Iraqis are well on the way to a democracy. Or something.
It is up for debate whether or not Saddam had a fair trial, and I suppose the larger question would be if such a thing was even possible. Of course he was going to be executed, if not by a U.S. missile than by hanging or firing squad or something else. And of course some will cheer this event, and others will curse the U.S. for disgracing Iraq even more.
I don’t cheer the death of Saddam, and perhaps in some way it was good for the Iraqis to have this day. Personally I am not a big fan of using death as punishment, and I am a bit skeptical that a new mythical outpost of freedom can be borne out of an execution. Just seems like the wrong foot to start on.
The prospects for anything except more violence in Iraq are dim, and this just seems to me yet another death. Did he deserve it? Probably. More so than those who covertly supported him at the same time he was committing such atrocities? Who knows. If we are lucky, maybe the United States won’t be responsible for as many deaths in Iraq as Saddam was. But, of course, we aren’t even keeping track of such things.
One dictator down. Lots more to go. When did this become our job? As much as I wish everyone would live in peace and we could have global prosperity, how much of a price should we pay for more failed attempts at that goal—a goal which is more than likely unattainable. There’s a lot of work to do here at home. I, for one, would like to see us get started on that. The rest of the world (dictators and all) will be still be there. Those who hate us will still hate us, but maybe those who used to respect us will come around again. We may need their help again, you know.
Oct 8, 03:47 PM: Taking the barriers back to Jersey
After the 9/11 attacks, you may have noticed an increase in those hideous looking barricades placed in front of large buildings in many cities. Sometimes these barriers came in the form of the typical Jersey Barrier highway dividers, others were disguised as giant flowerpots, or just stumpy pieces of metal and concrete. The goal of these barriers were to protect structures from car or truck bombs, but as this New York Times article notes, their effectiveness has been brought into question.
In New York City, more than half of the jersey barriers have been removed, with more slated to go soon. As it turned out (surprise, surprise), the barriers would have provided little protection in the event of an attack, and also had been placed around many buildings that were never considered likely targets.
From the article:
The Department of Transportation has ordered the 30 buildings around the city to remove the planters or other barriers at their own expense. Others are expected to remain, for a variety of reasons.
The removal orders have often elicited chilly reactions from the affected building owners, some of whom paid $50,000 to $100,000 to install the planters. Removing planters could cost up to $10,000 per site, one owner said.
The Department of Homeland Security does not have an official stance on such barriers, said Joanna Gonzalez, a spokeswoman, and instead urges state and local officials to determine how best to guard themselves. “But we encourage cities to have a sensible way to protect their communities using a risk-based approach,” Ms. Gonzalez said.
None of Manhattan’s building owners were ordered to install planters or barriers in the first place. After September 11, barriers and planters sprang up at 50 to 70 sites, some with the approval of the Department of Transportation, many without. The planters and barriers came in all shapes and sizes: plastic, metal and concrete, tubby and skinny, round, rectangular and square.
The Transportation Department issued permits for many of the planters, but only on a temporary basis, viewing them as a stopgap measure. They stopped approving the renewals for planters about two years ago. Newly issued permits for other barriers could be revoked at any time.