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Week of 29 March 2010


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Monday, 29 March 2010
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08:14 - Everyone badly missed the forecast yesterday. When Barbara checked the Weather Channel web page and the TV weather early yesterday afternoon, the only thing in the forecast was rain for yesterday evening and overnight. No mention of severe weather. As it turned out, we spent most of the evening and early morning hours under a tornado warning. Fortunately for us, the most severe weather was along and to the south and east of a NE-SW frontal boundary 20 kilometers or so to our southwest. We got a few spectacular lightning flashes, some loud thunder, and heavy rain, but that was it. High Point, to our southeast, had a tornado touchdown that brought down lots of trees and power lines and ripped the roofs off several houses.

One thing I will give our local NBC affiliate, WXII, is that they go into emergency mode and stay there as long as there are any tornado warnings active anywhere in their viewing area. Lanie Pope and Michelle Kennedy were on-air continuously without commercial interruptions from dinner time until the early morning hours. WXII has a heck of a Doppler radar system, and they obviously know how to interpret it. It's pretty amazing to watch them use it to narrow down the most dangerous areas, not just to towns or even neighborhoods, but to individual roads and streets and even blocks on those streets.

I'm working heads-down on the PC book this week, so I won't be posting much here.


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Tuesday, 30 March 2010
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07:44 - Via Jeff Duntemann, here's a fascinating little device with some real possibilities. The AirStash is a wireless b/g USB thumb drive that accepts SD memory cards up to 32 GB. In effect, it's a tiny, portable file server with wireless connectivity. If this thing becomes commonplace, big media's war against P2P ends decisively in a rout. Half the kids walking around the mall will be serving files, and all of them will be downloading them.

Although transfer speed is limited to 54 Mbps or about 5 MB/s, my first thought was that I could use this little dongle for daily backups. Barbara's and my home directories and my working data directory usually total 250 to 500 MB in compressed form, so it'd take only a minute or two to copy them to this device (assuming that it allows files to be uploaded to it as well as downloaded from it; that's not clear from a quick glance at the specs). A 32 GB SD card would give me room for a couple months' worth of daily backups.


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Wednesday, 31 March 2010
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08:02 - The morning paper had a big article on attempts by the Catholic Church to avoid taking any responsibility for institutionalized child rape and to shield the Pope from being required to testify in a civil lawsuit. Civil lawsuit, hell. The Pope and every bishop in his church should be facing criminal charges, along with many of the priests. The management structure of the RC church is rotten to the core. Even those who didn't actually rape children personally were well aware of what was going on and conspired to shield these serial child rapists from justice. The RC Church is a criminal organization, in which it is no longer possible for any moral person to remain a member.

Pat Condell's take on this is worth watching.



Their defense is simply bizarre. Basically, the Catholic Church argues that they're not alone. Children have been raped, they say, by teachers and businessmen and doctors, and yet no one considers teachers or businessmen or doctors generally to be guilty of child rape. Well, Mr. Pope, let me explain the difference. When a teacher or businessman or doctor rapes a child, that rapist's colleagues don't attempt to cover up the crime. As soon as they become aware of it, they report the crime to the civil authorities and do everything possible to make sure the criminal is prosecuted and punished and will have no opportunity to repeat his crime. The fact that you apparently don't understand that difference speaks volumes.


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Thursday, 1 April 2010
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Friday, 2 April 2010
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10:07 - I'm still cranking away on the new edition of the PC book, taking a break periodically to script and shoot some video segments for YouTube.

Barbara and I just finished watching the first three seasons of Cold Feet, a British comedy-drama starring the adorable Helen Baxendale. It wasn't until we were well into the series that we realized that series 4 and 5 weren't available as Region 1 DVDs. The first three seasons were released about 8 years ago, and my guess is that they didn't sell enough copies to make it worth publishing the final two seasons. It may be bittorrent time.



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Saturday, 3 April 2010
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08:05 - Jeff Duntemann just broke some stunning news about ObamaCare.

The law mandates universal coverage, requiring health insurers to issue policies to all comers, regardless of pre-existing conditions, and forbidding them to charge higher premiums to those with pre-existing conditions. On that basis, no one would buy health insurance until they actually needed it to pay medical bills and the health insurers would quickly go bankrupt, so the law also requires everyone to buy health insurance whether they need it or not, or pay a penalty of 2.5% of their income. Few people will buy health insurance on that basis, because 2.5% of income is typically much less than the cost of health insurance premiums.

But, as Jeff points out, it gets worse. No one will pay the penalty, either, because the law itself specifically forbids the government from punishing anyone who simply refuses to pay the penalty. If you refuse to pay the penalty, the law says the government can't fine you or arrest and jail you or put a lien on your property. In other words, the law is entirely toothless when it comes to enforcing must-buy provisions against individuals. But the law does have teeth, big ones, for insurers who refuse to issue policies to all comers.

The outcome is predictable. Healthy people will refuse to buy health insurance or pay penalties. When someone becomes ill, he'll immediately apply for health insurance, which the insurer must issue at preferred rates. Within weeks or months, every health insurer will be bankrupt and health insurance will longer be available from private parties. The government will be forced to step in as the single-payer health insurer of last resort.

Was this whole thing a mistake? I don't think so. Unless Congress fixes this problem immediately, private health insurance ceases to exist. Which was the intention all along.


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Sunday, 4 April 2010
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Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 by Robert Bruce Thompson. All Rights Reserved.