Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Theft of Cultural Treasures

Neil Brodie et al (2000), Stealing History: The Illicit Trade in Cultural Material, Commissioned by: ICOM U...

This is a wonderful article, and I think it fits here precisely because exploiting the desperately poor nations of the world to make money off of antiquities is an age old problem. This is not a recent phenomenon--there are well-to-do museums all over the world that still feature the looted valuables of cultures that will never get them back unless someone starts to address the issue of what constitutes theft and what constitutes preservation.

Are the High Class Endorsements History for Tiger Woods?

In the days before scandals and cheating and divorce lawyers became part of the day to day coverage of Tiger Woods, he used to appear in some pretty tastefully done ads for prominent companies. Now, not so much:
Tiger Woods has signed a three-year deal to promote a Japanese pain reliever, his first endorsement since he was caught in a sex scandal toward the end of 2009.
The deal with Kowa Company Ltd. is geared only toward the market in Japan. Woods already has filmed commercials for "Vantelin Kowa," a heat rub used to relieve muscle and joint pain. The commercial is to be shown in Japan starting next month.
"When looking for a person for a new TV commercial for the Vantelin Kowa series, Kowa determined that Tiger Woods, with his No. 1 accomplishment as a golfer and his overwhelming presence, matches the promotional direction of the Vantelin Kowa series," the company said in a news release. "And we asked Mr. Woods for his cooperation in our new TV commercial."
Rolling out the marketing smarts for muscle rub goop is an honest day's work--I'm not trying to be an elitist here. But, note how far Tiger keeps falling. He's not even able to compete right now, and he's dropping further and further off the golf tournament radar. The people who put on golf tournaments don't even bother wondering if Tiger is going to return to form. The golfing world seems to want to move on. He had better take these endorsement deals while he can.

But, yes. I did do a double-take at the idea of a three year deal. Selling this stuff? Wow.

We're All Eleventh Cousins With Somebody

Jane Austen
This is a little ridiculous:
Jane Austen wrote the ultimate fairy tales, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is living one herself. But that's not all these two women have in common. 

The famed romance author (1775-1817) and the newly-minted royal, 29, have family ties, according to findings from
The ladies are eleventh cousins, six times removed, according to the site, and they are linked through Henry Percy, the second Earl of Northumberland, who was born in 1392. 

We all have family ties with royalty or the historically famous or both. I don't think this is newsworthy at all.

The very nature of modern life dictates that we all come from common ancestors and a bloodline that traces back to someone notable in history, and this is true for all of the cultures of the Earth as well. This is not a white European fact; it's true for people from all over. The fact that they had to go back to 1392 to find a common ancestor is enough for a good laugh. And I don't know what's funnier--going back 619 years or expecting useful information out of People magazine.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Celebrating Ignorance and Selectively Edited Wikipedia Pages

John Quincy Adams, by John Singleton Copley

Somewhere out there, one of the bleary-eyed followers of Michelle Bachmann has decided that the only way that her presidential candidacy can survive is by buttressing her public statements by editing Wikipedia to conceal her errors:

Bachmann's ideology gets in the way of her ability to communicate with the American people. She has painted herself into the corner where extremists end up. There's almost no where for her to move, and so she ends up handicapped by the rabid following that thinks it can operate as if this is 1998 and vandalize the Internet and make things up.

When faced with the fallout from making such a ridiculous statement--John Quincy Adams was President of the United States, yes, but he was certainly not a "Founding Father" of this country--all Bachmann has to do is say, "I misspoke and meant John Adams, of course," and all is well. 

On the heels of her official entry into the Presidential campaign in Iowa yesterday, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann came to “GMA” today.  I gave her the opportunity to clear up some of her past statements that caused Chris Wallace to ask if she is a “flake” and the Pulitzer-Prize winning website Politifact to find that Bachmann has made more false statements than any of the other GOP contenders.  
Top of my list – Bachmann’s contention earlier this year that the Founding Fathers “worked tirelessly” to end slavery. And her 2005 argument that eliminating the minimum wage could “virtually eliminate” unemployment.

No politician is free of such errors. The problem is, Bachmann's staff has to be the worst of the worst--ignorant, poorly-educated ideologues who cannot serve the Congresswoman in a capable manner.

Where have we seen this before? With Sarah Palin? With others? I can't keep track of them all. Mistakes happen for a number of reasons, but decent, competent staffers help alleviate those mistakes. Bachmann needs more people on her staff who come from a position of actually knowing something about this country. John Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa. That's all right there for people to look up on the Internet, right? Well, how much do you want to bet that someone was tempted to change Winterset to Waterloo last night?

If your candidate can't survive without the help of amateur defacers and the like, don't expect to be on the winning team come November of 2012.
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In the upper left corner of my windshield, I have a parking dial that allows me to park in timed parking spots. Today, that sucker melted. It's 88 degrees, Fahrenheit, in Stuttgart and it is hawt. Don't ask me to convert to Celsius. I'm too hot to move.

It's like wearing three wool sweaters while being basted by the devil while he shoots napalm at you while you turn on a spit that someone has rigged up on a barbecue made out of liquid hot magma and basted in chili sauce and Icy Hot topical creme.

There's almost no recourse from this since the vast majority of places in where you can go in Germany to get a break from this don't have air conditioning. Air conditioning is all but unheard of in Europe because there's no real need for it (at least, there used to not be a need for it) and because of energy costs.

Can I just say that it's hot and leave it at that?

Rain is on the way. This is the summer cycle we're in, I guess.

Defunding Planned Parenthood is Insane

Via Political Loudmouth

The tragic impact this will have on the reproductive health of women is staggering:

A judge handed Planned Parenthood a victory against the state of Indiana, restoring the right of Medicaid patients to seek care there, but that's just one battle in the wave of attacks on the health care provider.
In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker signed a budget Sunday that included cutting funding to Planned Parenthood. Republicans argued that the $1 million cut didn't go far enough; said one state senator, "There's a very ugly side to this organization, and I regret that they're going to take such a tiny cut in this budget."
He may be comforted that Texas is about to become the biggest state to cut family planning funding to Planned Parenthood. An omnibus health reform bill includes a provision forbidding the state from "contract[ing] with entities that perform or promote elective abortions or affiliat[ing] with entities that perform or promote elective abortions."
Meanwhile, the organization is fighting back on a separate front: the intentional roadblocksset up in Kansas to chase abortion clinics out with "trap" regulations.
Health care costs are going to go through the roof when these states begin cutting back on the assistance that Planned Parenthood offers. This should be a major, major campaign issue in the coming months, one that is driven home in community after community that will see the suffering that this imposes on women.

Ideology is getting in the way of common sense. When that happens, make certain that your vote counts. The only way to defend an organization like Planned Parenthood is to be ready to take to the polls and defeat politicians who are prisoners of their ideology.

I have to believe that this is a losing issue for Republicans and social conservatives. Somehow, there's a disconnect between what people believe is important and what Planned Parenthood actually does in communities all over the country. Television ads would certainly help rectify this situation.
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Monday, June 27, 2011

There's Always a Backlash

If you truly have something to say, watch who you say it to.

If you think what you're saying matters, someone will come along and convince you otherwise.

If you can withhold an opinion, yeah, you should.

I like to test boundaries on occasion, and blogging is the perfect place to do that sort of thing. It can manifest itself in a test run inside of a comment thread (pull pin, throw, see what happens when the denizens awake) and it can happen when I'm out and about on the other projects and responsibilities that I have (school? work? fun? relaxation? what are those things?).

It's always better not to demonstrate that you can rant. I can rant quite well here in my old age. I can tee up on a subject and have fun with it. The fallout from that is, there's always someone with a counter-rant that allows them to tee up and try to have a go at you. I'm fine with that. My thin skin keeps getting thicker by the day. Oh, embarrassing as it is to say it, I used to get really bothered. Now? I get bothered when I misspell something or get a fact wrong. That bothers me to no end.

The ease at which I could put on a mask and hide behind a character gave way to this thing called maturity, and wanting to own what it is I write and also the ideas and the baggage that goes with whatever it is I try to do around here. So, the fundamental nature of blogging is, to do it right, you occasionally have to say things that would cause others to look at you funny (or fire you, or not hire you, or just look at you like you have a potted plant on your head). You have to throw around a few "F" bombs and the like.

Can you get away with an opinion in a day and age like ours? Every opinion can and will follow you, and the more people try to escape this, the more likely it is that all blogging will cease and all social network interaction will either be made by the deranged or the timid. If your honest, immediate reaction is something that runs the gamut of embarrassing, ridiculous, forgettable, or awe-inspiring, why does that have to follow you around forever and attach itself to you? Can't you change your mind?

I change my mind. I try to change my ways, change whatever it is that makes sense to change at that moment. There's a little learning and all that mixed in. Are we in a "no learning" phase where no one is supposed to improve themselves? I say, go for the improvement. Find the weird that comforts you.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Are You Going to Preach To Us?

I love animated films, and I am a huge fan of WALL-E, but something about this doesn't sound quite right:

Even the animated world of Lightning McQueen and Mater the tow truck is testing new energy sources to replace fossil fuels.
Pixar Animation mastermind John Lasseter says the company has no environmental agenda, but with "Cars 2," the blockbuster outfit does tap into today's eco-mindedness with a plot driven by oil vs. a cleaner alternative.
Debuting in U.S. theaters Friday, "Cars 2" sends race car Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) on a World Grand Prix circuit whose organizer fuels the vehicles with a green alternative called Allinol, prompting the bad guys to try to discredit the new power supply that threatens traditional gasoline.
Oh, come on. This is an abstract argument--a mythical fuel that is better than traditional gasoline? Are we supposed to conjure up images of ethanol? Isn't ethanol effectively dead now that we know that the corn that goes into making it comes out of the food supply and that the process itself can be more environmentally detrimental?

This story line strikes me as being preachy and lame. I have to admit that I had a pang of disbelief. Really? They used their chance to make a sequel to make it about this? And that's uncharacteristic of Pixar. I just don't know why I would have that reaction. Maybe it's just me.

The larger and broader theme of WALL-E was much easier to understand and relate to. It had an abstraction in that we saw what happened hundreds of years in the future. But it told the story of all of mankind and brought everything around full circle. This story line takes something fairly wonky and tries to make it a story line, and my first reaction to it is to pass on it as something to get excited about.

In fact, I am now a lot less excited about Cars 2 than I was a moment ago, and it actually has me pining for the Incredibles sequel.

Chelsea Said What?

Oh, come on now:

Chelsea Handler may have forgotten all about a few jokes she tossed out during a taping of her show earlier this week that touched on Amy Winehouse’s botched comeback tour kickoff in Belgrade, but tens of thousands in Serbia have not.
People of all ages in the country appear outraged at her comments, and calls for a boycott of Handler and advertisers of her E! show Chelsea Handler Lately is now up on a Facebook page calling for her to apologize.
Serbia is a country worth making fun of. All countries are worth making fun of. Serbia needs to get over itself--no one was even talking about Serbia last week (well, except for the vicious war criminal that was captured and taken to The Hague) so, what's the big deal? It's not like people are actively engaged in reminding the world that Serbians still deny that they carried out campaigns of outright genocide in the early 1990s. There isn't a single party in the Balkans that is entirely innocent, except for those machine gunned into ditches and left to rot. And if Chelsea Handler can remind people that there even is a Serbia, well, what's the harm in that?

Give the lady credit for being right about Amy Winehouse, though.

And you self-denying bullies who are arriving at my site from Serbia? Hello and welcome. It's the 21st Century, and it sucks when you can't organize a hasty militia to go wipe out the people who make you mad, isn't it?

Now That's a Dress

This is a very stylish dress. The design caught my eye when I was scrolling through a few things on Etsy (which is one of my favorite sites) and I just had to investigate what this was about.

♥ Spicy mango vintage fire chandelier print dress!
♥ Basic style.
♥ Metal zip up the back.
♥ Pointy collar!
♥ Slightly thicker material, textured!

Now that's design! Brilliant!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Unseemly Display of Public Grief

I'm not sure what it is about the death of Jackass star Ryan Dunn that has me confused. These are supposed to be a bunch of tough, crazy, but creative guys who stage dangerous stunts that are filmed so that people can sort of live vicariously through them. One bad thing happens and they go to pieces.

Roger Ebert made a flip joke about the man's death and that caused the Twitter world (and a few other worlds) to turn on Ebert and force an apology out of him. Dunn's friend, Bam Margera, pictured above, has had a public breakdown over the death of Dunn that would seem to suggest that this was an unforseen, senseless tragedy.

How senseless was this?
"Jackass" star Ryan Dunn was drunk and speeding up to 140 mph when his 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 crashed and caught fire on a Pennsylvania highway early Monday, police said Wednesday.
Dunn and Zachary Hartwell, a 30-year-old West Chester, Pennsylvania, man who once worked in one of Ryan's movies, died from "blunt and thermal trauma" in the fiery crash, according to the autopsy report released Tuesday.
"The initial crash reconstruction investigation determined that Mr. Dunn's vehicle was traveling between 132-140 mph at the time of the collision," West Goshen Police Chief Michael Carroll said in a statement Wednesday.
Now, compare all of this to how Henry Rollins has handled the death of his friend in an armed robbery.

Every time I have seen or heard Rollins talk about what happened, I say, there's a man who knows how to express his public grief. We should aspire to be so eloquent. If you watch those two videos and absorb what Rollins is saying, there's no way you can look at the death of man and the friend who sat next to him in the car from something as stupid as drinking and driving and not feel revulsion at the idea we're supposed to feel sorry for them. I don't feel sorry for them.

All I've seen so far on the death of Ryan Dunn is an extended pity parade. Dunn got drunk, drove his expensive sports car recklessly, and got himself and his passenger killed. Do I feel bad for their families? Absolutely. Do I feel that this was a sad fate for these two young men? Absolutely. Their tragedy is real and their grief is real. But their moral authority, when it comes to shaming people who have an opinion, does not exist.

Since when do we pity drunk drivers who kill with their vehicles? When did that start? Doesn't this set a dangerous precedent? Should we feel sorry for people who get drunk, get behind the wheel, and cause not only their own death but the death of someone else? What if, on that same stretch of road, someone who isn't famous and rich enough to drive a sports car were the victim of their decision to drive drunk and ride with a drunk?

The correct response is not being given here. The correct response is fuck you, dude. You got what you had coming to you on the surface of the tree that stopped your Porsche. And the running buddies you've left behind don't have any moral authority to shame anyone into silence since they obviously knew about your issues and did nothing.

That's right. Fuck you, Ryan Dunn. You drink, you drive, you die.

It's Not Your Opa's Army Now

The poor Bundeswehr. Based on this item, it sounds like the Prussian militarism and tradition has really been beaten out of the German people:
The Bundeswehr is in danger of failing its mission in Afghanistan because German soldiers cannot use their weapons, drive their armoured vehicles or take care of their wounded properly, according to classified internal documents.
Bundeswehr officers complain in the reports obtained by German daily Bild that, “The soldiers’ proficiency in small arms and their command of the weaponry does not correspond to the requirements of the territory.” 
“The soldiers generally have no mastery over their weapons,” the report added. “There is a need for more intense firearms training in the preparatory stages of foreign deployment.”
The reports also alleged that German soldiers have “little to no instruction and experience” in driving armoured vehicles. In Afghanistan’s difficult terrain, this has resulted in too many accidents and damaged equipment, putting additional lives at risk.
Now, back in Opa's day (or in Great-Opa's Day, if you will), the German soldier was proficient, trained, and professional. Yes, he was a little given towards trying to take over the world, but, in Europe, they tend to forgive such things so long as there are bank bailouts and fine consumer goods to trade.

The wars of the 20th Century are fading so fast in the European consciousness that there really isn't anything to do but look at a demilitarized, almost pacifistic future. What European power is going to start a war nowadays? Ukraine? Spain? Serbia? It's as if history has actually ended. There are tens of millions of military aged men in Europe and there are no standing armies, nothing. There are polite, poorly-trained and poorly-equipped constabulary forces where once stood some of the toughest fighting formations on the face of the Earth. To hear about German soldiers who are incapable of going about their mission if it involves and armored vehicle is to truly appreciate the post-war dream of Europe: there are no more soldiers. Only young men and women who, if asked, will go to far flung places and die for lack of tradition, training, and equipment.

A soldier not being able to handle a weapon is akin to a race car driver not knowing how to work a steering wheel. And what's really sad is that Europe actually has a very robust law enforcement community. The Europeans love their riot police and their internal security forces. That's where the disciplined professionals are, I guess. The militaries of Europe have lost their traditions and now they just get whoever they can get.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The McCain-Graham Bromance is Unbreakable

Aw, this makes my soul feel at ease:
The decisions of Republican senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to support President Obama's sending of military aid to America's NATO allies in their air war against Libya's dictator Moammar Gadhafi are acts of political courage in a time of intense partisanship.
In speaking out, the two senators have put themselves at odds with their party's presidential contenders, a number of whom voiced strong criticism of Obama's Libya policy at last week's New Hampshire primary debate.
But in challenging the growing isolationism in today's Republican Party, McCain and Graham have also borrowed a page from history. Their actions harkens back to the choice a small group of key Republicans made in the early 1940s, when they supported America's first peace-time draft.
One of the things that can make a bromance flourish is a love for war. When two men love war, they can join hands and accomplish great things.

I Wish I had Said This

Bob Schieffer said something over the weekend that I think is a brilliant observation:
Experts cited various reasons, but Education Secretary Arne Duncan said it best: We are failing to give our children a well-rounded education, which may be the understatement of the year.
Our schools are a mess, and have been since the days when we got good teachers on the cheap, because teaching was one of the few professions open to women.

When other opportunities opened to women, they took them, but teacher pay stayed low. There were some wonderful exceptions, but for the most part we got what we paid for.

I certainly don't want to rollback America's workforce so that we can find a cheap supply of teachers, and I think that Schieffer is right when we can say that we are getting what we pay for when it comes to getting poor teachers because education cuts usually leave teachers with low salaries.

That may be simplistic, however. If a school district were organized properly, teacher salaries would be more than taken care of. There would be a regular schedule of raises and there would be bonuses for excellent performance built into the structure of the school system. That would mean that facilities, staff, administration, and extracurricular activities would see cuts BEFORE the salaries of teachers. So, where are the issues here?

Well, the main issue here is, where are you going to find a school district that says that teacher salaries are off the table in terms of discussing budget cuts? Is there a single one out there? Is it even feasible to organize a school district around such a principle? How is it that we hear so much about wanting to cut pensions and benefits instead of cutting administration, overhead, sports, and facilities? I would put pensions and benefits outside of the possibility of cuts as well--what incentive does a good teacher have to stay in a school district when there's no guarantee of retirement benefits?

Is there too much of an emphasis on sports in this country? Are sports really that important? I would say yes, if only because I can't think of a reason why you would cut out the heart of the school's actual mission of teaching children in order to fund something that doesn't go directly towards teaching children in a classroom. Yes, a child can benefit and learn from sports--our country is certainly too fat to say otherwise--but where are the priorities? Starting with basic education and hiring qualified teachers is what each and every school district should be organized around.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tracy Morgan Puts His Sincerity Up Front

Tracy Morgan showed up to take his lumps. His evident display of sincerity has done him a world of good:
Tracy Morgan returned to Nashville on Tuesday to deliver an apology to gay advocacy groups and fans offended by his homophobic comments made at a stand-up routine earlier this month. Sitting at a GLAAD-sponsored panel table with Kevin Rogers, the man who sparked the controversy with a Facebook post, the '30 Rock' star tried to make amends for among other things, saying that he would "stab" his son if he were gay.

"I want to apologize to Kevin and people that were at the show for bummin' em out," Morgan began at the event held by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. "I want to apologize to my friends and my family and my fans and everyone in every community that were offended with this. I didn't know. I didn't mean it."
Few, if any, stars would turn around and go back to the scene of the debacle. Tracy Morgan had the courage to go back and face the music. I had said that it was time to let him go. It may come back to haunt me, but I think Morgan has done himself a world of good and he should stay where he is at.
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Stateless Players and the Ethics of Going After Sociopathic Hackers

Does the United States government have a right to seek out and eliminate threats from stateless individuals (or citizens of other countries who act in a manner which is "stateless")? Does the United States government have a right to look at irrational, destructive acts as warlike? Should we use traditional or non-traditional means to fight this kind of thing?

Somehow, I just don't think the people involved here quite know what they're doing:
The LulzSec group of rogue hackers are threatening to steal classified information from governments, banks and other high-ranking establishments, in what would be an escalation of their cyber attacks.

So far LulzSec's publicized assaults on Sony Corp, the CIA, News Corp's Fox TV and other targets have mostly resulted in temporary disruptions of some websites and the release of user credentials.
But now, LulzSec says it is teaming up with the Anonymous hacker activist group to cause more serious trouble.
"Government hacking is taking place right now, behind the scenes," LulzSec said on Monday in a message posted on Twitter, the microblogging site where the group has cultivated more than 210,000 followers.
LulzSec had said last Friday that it hacks to have fun and to warn people that personal information is not safe in the hands of Internet companies. But two days later, Lulz said its top priority was to leak "classified government information, including email spools and documentation."
It's great that they are good with computers and can exploit networks. This fundamental belief that they can just act in this manner without having to face the consequences is what troubles me. We have a highly-skilled group of individuals trying to do serious damage to the infrastructure of companies and governments. The idea that these governments and companies are going to remain bumbling fools and are not going to obliterate these people (legally or otherwise) is laughable. Nothing terrifies a bureaucracy more than an irrational actor. Nothing affects the bottom line more than humiliation. The reactions that we might see could very well remain within the rule of law, which is fine. I don't think we need to go beyond that.

Here's what the various hacker organizations (if they really exist as organizations) are good at--exploiting weaknesses in computer systems and networks. They're very good at it, and they have come to believe themselves capable of doing tremendous acts of note. The media fuels the attention paid to them, and then the need to top their last act takes over.

Here's what the United States government has gotten really good at over the past decade or so--paying people large sums of money for information on how to find and kill people. Look it up.

I hope it doesn't come to such a thing, but it very well could.
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Green Lantern FAIL

Don't shoot the messenger. The film hasn't actually tanked but it sure has underwhelmed. And leave it to Conan O'Brien to have a good take on it.

Sorry About That, Norm

This is just sad:
After launching two sports news shows this year, Comedy Central is not continuing with either. The cable network has decided not to go forward with a second season of Sports Show With Norm Macdonald, which ended its freshman season June 7, or Onion SportsDome, which wrapped its first season March 15.
Macdonald did a great job at the U.S. Open. What a shame.

At some point, I'll gather together my reasons for hating Comedy Central. Another time, another blog, perhaps.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A History Geek Wins Miss USA

I don't think there's any way people can put a negative spin on an affinity for Mary Queen of Scots, do you?
Beating out 50 other contestants, an auburn-haired beauty from California who was a favorite among Vegas odds-markers was crowned Miss USA at the end of the pageant's 60th anniversary contest on Sunday in Sin City. 

Alyssa Campanella beat out her good friend, Miss Tennessee Ashley Durham, who was named first runner-up by a panel of celebrity judges. The other finalists were Miss Texas Ana Rodriguez and Miss Alabama Madeline Mitchell.

Campanella replaces Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih and will be America's representative at Miss Universe in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on September 12.
 After revealing on the show that she was a "huge history geek" with a special interest in the Tudor and Stuart periods, Campanella added that her favorite monarch was Mary, Queen of Scots, who was beheaded in 1587.
I believe the politically correct affinity would be for Elizabeth, but oh well. What British Queen didn't have a lot of heads removed for minor offenses? If she succeeds in getting people to actually care about history, good for her. When was the last time the scantily-clad winner of a beauty contest came into power with good press anyway, right?

It's important to note that she was only one of two contestants who said that we should be teaching evolution in schools. I wonder when we'll hear about that particular piece of information.
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Not Everyone Who Owns a Wireless Phone Is Going to Fly

I cannot fault the marketing hype behind this "info-graphic" presentation. The idea that the airlines are going to cater to people who use cell phones is kind of a no-brainer. Anyone who understands that flying is really getting to be more and more of a rich person's endeavor already knows this.

I would predict that, as more and more airlines begin to realize that their product has such enormous costs built into what they do, they'll begin to price potential customers out of using their services. By charging more for a flight, fewer people will be able to afford to fly. The airlines will then structure their services based on getting just the right number of people to pay the right amount of money to keep them in business. That will mean that fewer people will fly, and those that do will pay just enough to make the airlines profitable. It could totally go the other way--what with cattle calls and all. But security nightmares, cost overruns, and labor costs are eventually going to make flying in a passenger plane a rich man's fancy, I would guess.

Anyway, the arrow points to a part of the info-graphic that bothers me. It says that "73.4% of the Earth's Population Subscribe to Wireless Services." I think it should have read "subscribes," but I'm nitpicking.

No, the real issue here is, so what? 73.4% of the Earth's population is not going to be flying on planes, ever, probably not even one time in their lifetime. That's because many of those "subscribers" actually use a pre-paid wireless phone and live at or below the poverty line. You see, wireless providers know that they can make money off of pre-paid handsets. There are just enough people who make just enough money to afford the basic luxury of having a phone with 50 or 100 minutes of service per month, and those people number in the millions. Are any of them ever going to fly on a plane? No, sadly they will not be able to afford to fly.

This is why I like to question the statistics that are out there. Sometimes you find things like this, which are minor, but do misinform.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Norm Macdonald at the US Open

Norm Macdonald

Norm Macdonald

Norm Macdonald

One of the reasons why I have added Twitter is to catch a lot of the breaking news that is going out over Twitter these days. And, in addition to this, I've discovered that there are some great feeds from people who are at various events or are "tweeting" about things (I have no idea if Macdonald is actually there at the U.S. Open, so I should add that caveat).

I've caught dozens of his missives so far this weekend. He's done a great job on his Twitter feed.