Tuesday, 4 February 2014

07:55 – Barbara got home about 6:15 p.m. She and Frances had finally gotten their mom back to her apartment and settled in with her caregivers. Sankie is not doing very well. Barbara commented that she’s no better than she was when she went into the hospital. She’s still confused and rambling when she’s responsive at all. We’re all hoping that being back in her familiar environment will help her bounce back, but as Barbara said, Sankie has to do this herself. No one can do it for her. All anyone can do is wait and hope.

I just shipped our last biology kit, so my top priority today is to get another batch of those assembled. February is starting out pretty well. If the pace of the first three days holds up all month, we’ll triple sales versus February 2013.


10:58 – I’m starting to get annoyed with Netflix streaming. When I check their “New Arrivals” section, I find many titles that were first available on Netflix streaming several months ago and that we finished watching three or four months ago. That’s not “New” by any reasonable definition of the word. It’s probably no coincidence that Netflix doesn’t allow one to sort by availability date. If people could see only what’s been added in the last seven days or even the last 30 days, a lot of them would start wondering why they’re paying for the subscription. Making matters worse, most of what they’ve added in the last six months to a year has been garbage. Dubbed Pacific Rim and Eastern European titles, cartoons, crap reality shows, and so on. I’m sure they’re doing the best they can, given the $8/month subscription rate, but it’s pretty clear that they’re being outbid for a lot of newer material.

We’re watching a lot more stuff on Amazon Prime nowadays than we are on Netflix streaming. Part of that is because we’re new to the Amazon Prime catalog, but it’s also nice that Amazon Prime almost never crashes out of the program and re-buffers, which Netflix does frequently. On the other hand, I’m annoyed at Amazon for starting to charge sales tax to North Carolina residents, and I hear they’re thinking about increasing the price of Prime from $79/year to as much as $120/year.

Netflix and Amazon are both making a huge mistake by competing to license content exclusively. All that does ultimately is to drive up everyone’s costs and they gain no real competitive advantage by doing so. If Netflix and Amazon would both simply refuse to pay for exclusive rights and insist on the lowest possible fees for non-exclusive rights, both of them would end up with a lot more content at a much lower price.

33 thoughts on “Tuesday, 4 February 2014”

  1. I kinda liked Netflix at first, a year or two ago, but now it’s like you say; crappy selections, old stuff, and not even any good old stuff. Haven’t tried Amazon streaming yet, though; I have a backlog of stuff saved to disk.

    Just watched the two seasons that were made of “Carnivale,” which I liked, though it was a little uneven with so many different directors. Now for seasons two and three of “Game of Thrones,” I guess. And then maybe “Boardwalk Empire.” I’m about three or four or more years behind the times with this stuff, but that doesn’t bother me. Not impressed with the latest and greatest I’ve read about, either on tee-vee or in the movies.

    26 today and Mrs. OFD tells me it’s supposed to hit 70 down in Orlando. We’re expecting a little snow tonight and tomorrow but nothing much; of course if it hit the southern states there would be mayhem and chaos, apparently.

  2. I’m debating buying some Marlin 60 .22 autoloaders. The Ruger 10/22 gets most of the press, but I owned a Marlin 60 back 40+ years ago, and it was a very nice rifle.

    Of course, there’s Barbara to consider. I remember years ago when WalMart (I think) was selling Chinese SKS carbines for $29.99 each, with a 1,000-round can of Chinese 7.62×39 ball for $29.99 more. I told Barbara I was thinking about buying some of them, since they were only $60 each with a thousand rounds. She asked me how many “some” was, and I told her maybe 40 or 50. She gave me the wife-stare, and I ended up not buying any at all. Oh, well. If I had, they’d probably have ended up lost in the Pecos anyway.

    But I just talked to WalMart and found that they’re selling the Marlin Model 60 for $167 each. I was thinking about driving over and buying a dozen, but when I asked about bricks of .22LR she said they were completely out. I think I’ll wait until they have both in stock. Presumably they’d let me buy at least one brick of 500 or 550 rounds for each rifle I buy, but they might ration me if I’m not buying a gun with the ammo.

  3. The ammo supply must vary a bit around the country; I was seeing plenty of .22LR around here recently, and even some .40 and 9mm, plus a couple of rifle calibers. The Marlin 60s are good rifles and that’s a good deal; I’d get a dozen and as much .22 ammo as they’d “let me” have.

    Also still tons of shotgun ammo available; given a choice between shotguns and .22’s I’d pick the former, but not by much.

    Shame you didn’t get those SKS rifles back then, but of course we all kick ourselves for stuff not done when we had the chance. I’m still kicking myself for not taking the math and science and foreign language courses seriously forty-five years ago.

  4. Yup, I have a stainless Ruger 10-22 Takedown I got a coupla years ago, “used,” but barely so, like new, really. Not a fan of drum magazines, though. If I was gonna do the BOB thing (bugout bag), I’d take this, with a scope, a decent handgun, and a .30-type bolt rifle with a selection of various caliber inserts for it, and scope. But I live in northern New England, close to Kanaduh; YMMV in an urban setting, drastically so, in fact. There I’d do the .308 AR rifle, semi-auto shotgun and the handguns.

    We have a heat wave in progress here now; it’s up to 31. Time to ditch the flannel shirt.

  5. We are 49 F and won’t be back into the 60s until Saturday at best. Somebody needs to close the door to the North Pole!

    Those 10-22 magazines are not drums, just long mags with 25 shot capacity. The 50 shot is a double 25 shot that flips.

    Hey OFD, you are bugged out already in your location! Are there even 1,000 people living in a 25 mile radius of you?

  6. I also owned a Ruger 10/22 many years ago. My objection to the 10/22 is that it uses a box magazine. In my experience the Ruger magazines worked reliably, but aftermarket magazines were spotty. The Ruger magazines are extremely expensive.

    The current Marlin Model 60 has a 14-round tube magazine, so you can make all the “clips” you want from 16″ lengths of rigid 5/16″ ID tubing, plugged on one end and taped on the other. Reloading takes literally five seconds.

    A .22 LR is obviously not the best choice of defensive firearm, but on the other hand that 36- to 40-grain bullet at 1,200 fps or so is equivalent to two #4 buck pellets. Most of our friends have either riot shotguns or .223/.308 sturmgewehren, so I’m thinking about these more as an inflation hedge or, if push comes to shove, to pass out to unarmed friends.

  7. Inflation hedge, and nice to have for small game, although that won’t be plentiful for long in a Max Max scenario. Also good to train neophytes with no experience in firearms.

    “…Are there even 1,000 people living in a 25 mile radius of you?”

    Oh hell yeah; the “city” three miles to our east has about 7,000. But our little village here has maybe 50-60 people, tops, with more strung out north and south along the lake shore. Most of the latter, though, are summuh cottages. We’re also only thirty miles north of Burlington, the “Queen City,” population of around 50,000. And only ninety minutes south of Montreal, the greater metro area containing around four-million souls. Also thirty miles north of the VTANG fighter-interceptor squadron, and with other Army installations in the area, too.

    We ain’t bugging out but if we did it would be to our northeast, through the western Maine mountains and then up into Noveau Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Labrador and then Greenland. Cool if we were thirty years younger. Nope, gotta make our final stand right here in the village.

  8. I read the article, and my impression was that this guy has no clue what he’s talking about.

  9. My Dad and I tried to watch the movie “2012” Sunday afternoon before the stuporbowl. I mentioned the great action sequences (and the total suspense of physics) and he mentioned that he had never seen it. So we went looking for it: DirectTV – no, Netflix – no, Amazon Prime – No, Amazon Instant Video – Yes but $9.99. We passed.

    Netflix needs a super viewer category where they have every single movie ever made but you pay $15/month for all you can eat. That might fly.

  10. Well, I admit to not paying much attention to that scene. But the central idea that snazzy algorithms can’t make up for lack of content seemed reasonable enough.

  11. I don’t know, that article pretty much matches up with what I read in the broadcasting trades. Exactly what is going on with the algorithms they use may be a guess, but Netflix is treading a fine line trying to keep subscribers. As with print newspapers and restaurant food, cost is a much bigger factor for most of the population than a comfortable middle-class imagines. Netflix did not know TV when they decided to enter that fray, and they made big mistakes getting into it (like trying to kill the disc business all at once before even turning on the TV tap—really stupid), but they have recovered. No one—Netflix included—can afford to spend big time and money on the niche of those who demand quality—like the folks here.

    From all that I read, every area of the media is losing ears and eyeballs—including TV and movies. Not sure how it is going to end, because owners of ad-supported systems are on a suicide mission—increasing commercial loads to beyond aggravating. Looks like Netflix is actually heading down that same path, by ignoring those who gave them their start. Just a perusal of complaints about Netflix show there are many, many.

    Creating good TV is a near impossible task, and Netflix has nothing to make it better than anybody else. As Grant Tinker said when taking over NBC after a super-successful run at his wife’s production company, where every show they produced was a hit: in response to the question, “Will every show on NBC be as good as what came out of MTM?” His reply was, “There aren’t enough good people on the planet to make that many good shows.” There are even fewer now, because the pay does not match the everyday fights and struggles. Look how thin the best producers in movies and TV are spread. And it almost never fails that when the initial creative team moves on to another creation, the first one falls apart. The British somehow know how to do those handoffs, but oddly, Hollywood has never learned.

  12. I note my recent prediction that degrees would become more and more important for people at the top of US companies. In naming Satya Nadella as the new chief of Microsoft, among his credentials, they list degrees in: electronics; computer science; and business administration.

  13. Well, if it were just me, I’d be happy just to watch Heartland over and over and over again. I have the DVDs for the first six seasons and I’ll buy season 7 once it’s available. I’m hoping it runs for at least another 25 seasons, but that may be optimistic. I would love to be watching Amber Marshall when she’s 50, though.

  14. We are getting plastered with another snowstorm. Tail end stretches out to Nebraska, but hopefully that will be pushed south by the jetstream instead of tracking straight east for us. Predictions are for 10 inches total before it is over, but I have a sneaky suspicion that is media hype. From looking at the maps, I am guessing it will likely be just half that.

  15. Well, if it were just me, I’d be happy just to watch Heartland over and over and over again.

    What, no Walking Dead?

  16. That snowstorm is scheduled to start hitting us here late tonight and into tomorrow, supposedly, and with us being a border strip of the pattern, we could get anything from zero to a foot, but most likely just a couple of inches. We have a microclimate here on the bay; in winter it’s ten degrees warmer than just a mile inland, but that gets offset a lot by the frequent strong winds off the lake, thus the wind chill. In summuh it’s ten degrees cooler than a mile inland.

    As for watching TV series more than once, not here; I see ’em once and they’re gone for good, although I did recently get ahold of the complete PBS Sherlock Holmes series with the late Jeremy Brett and the complete X-Files, including the three movies made from it. But that’s it.

  17. When it comes to fiction, I’d much rather re-watch or re-read something I liked (or more) than watch or read something new. It’s one aspect of Asperger’s that I exhibit in spades.

    I’ve watched the 1oo+ episodes of series one through six of Heartland several times since I started watching it in April 2012. That’s (IIRC) seven times each for series one through three, six for series four, five for series five, and four for series six. I’m currently on pass eight of series three (having just completed pass eight for series one and two) and will probably make it through this and at least one more pass through all six seasons before season seven finishes in April or May.

    Even I have my limits. I doubt that I’ll watch the entire series more than 500 times. Maybe a thousand.

  18. That is more-or-less what I do. Have a couple movies, like Office Space, that I keep for laffs, and The Firm, which is one of the best-acted movies I have ever seen. Otherwise, whatever I watch is gone shortly after watching. I really, really have problems watching a movie I don’t enjoy. Watched the latest Hunger Games at the theater before the holidays, and had to keep my butt planted, because if I were by myself, I would have been outta there after about 15 minutes. Two hour movie that was nothing but pyrotechnics aimed at scaring the hell out of theater goers. Ender’s Game, which we saw the next day I loved. It did not do well, which bodes ill for a franchise trilogy. Actually, the book is my favorite of all time, and I liked the movie more than the book. Well cast, characters wonderfully developed, email superceded letters in the movie, and wonderful communication of that loner feelling that I know most teenage boys begin feeling with the onset of puberty; Ender handles that so well, every teenage boy should see it.

    Anyway, time passes and the boy in this article was apparently taken by his mom from greater Indianapolis to Guadalajara in 1995 when he was 5. Last week, he went to the US Consulate in Guadalajara and asked to come back to the US to live. His siblings are apparently still in Mexico, but are free to return if they want. Difficult situation, because now those siblings are a country away from him. Divorce is ugly for kids.

    http://www.wthr.com/story/24633846/c-indiana-man-back-home-18-years-after-abduction

  19. [snip] A .22 LR is obviously not the best choice of defensive firearm, but on the other hand that 36- to 40-grain bullet at 1,200 fps or so is equivalent to two #4 buck pellets. [snip]

    Still, that’s much superior to harsh words.

  20. The deterrent effect of firearms is hard to measure, but all but the most hoplophobic retards admit that non-shooting defensive use of firearms exceeds shooting defensive use of firearms. Has anyone studied the relative defensive merits of a .22 versus a .45, taking into account non-shooting use? I’m guessing not, because even if someone came up with the money for the study, it would be about impossible to quantify.

    Purely anecdotally, I can tell you that I intimidated a couple guys (separately, in two encounters) with a Spas-12. However, how much of that was the shotgun in and of itself, how much was the fact that I was holding it like an over-sized pistol, how much was my attitude and body language, and how much was the fact that my partners were rushing up to assist? Impossible to quantify. (Though it would make for an interesting questionnaire. I can even see offering the bountyhead some concession, like a cigarette during the drive to the police station, in exchange for answering a three-question survey.)

  21. Firearms – buy them while you can get them, especially anything military-surplus, as when they’re gone, they’re gone. I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t buy a bundle of Swiss K31 carbines during the short period when they were not subject to licensing requirements here in Belgium. As usual, the necessary funds didn’t coincide with the window of opportunity.

    A .22 in the pocket beats a .45 left at home.

    On the .22 Marlins, the price point is attractive but why not treat yourself, and buy a CZ for a bit more? A lot of rifle for the money…

  22. A .22 in the pocket beats a .45 left at home.

    Yes! And a revolver does not have to be racked. But you only get five to eight shots. BTW, Ruger’s new 22 LR LCR holds eight in the cylinder. I’m thinking that eight .22 LR shots are better than five .38 shots.
    http://ruger.com/products/lcr/models.html

    I would like to have a few of these, say a dozen or two, sprinkled around the office, home and cars. I just do not want to carry but I would like to have something close by.

  23. If I was gonna do something like that, I’d prefer the six shots of the .22 WMR in those LCRs to the eight of the .22LR. But even bettuh, the five or six shots from the .38+P and .357s. And for keeping handy around the office, home and vehicles, shotguns, cut down to minimum legal size.

    Although there are some pretty hot .22LR loads out there nowadays…

  24. Boy, one thing for sure in Indiana if you conceal a weapon of any sort in your car and the cops find it: you’re gonna do jail time!

    Back when they first started doing x-ray searches at airports, a woman client of my dad’s who lived in the inner city, had to pick up somebody at the airport, grabbed a purse from the closet, and it had a pistol in it that she had forgotten was there. This was back when you could still meet people at the gates. She went directly to jail. Somehow, my dad got her off scot free, but years later, he admitted he could never do that again. It is certain jail time now for an offense like that.

  25. That’s just crazy shit right there; busting regular citizens for a lapse like that. And wasn’t it Indiana that passed some kinda legislation not too long ago about citizens being able to defend themselves with lethal force against cops raiding their homes?

  26. Don’t think it was Indiana. Large issues still hang over that—although I have not been following Indiana politics from 1977 until I returned in 2010, so I am no expert. There is wide diversity on enforcement issues, with some local sheriffs ready to fill the coffers for 2 mph over the county road max of 45 mph, and others just warning ‘be careful and protect our residents.’

    One thing I think you nailed is that enforcement ranks have become widely corrupt. One thing I always appreciated when living in Boston, was that the Irish and Italian cops used their brains and not their muscles in dealing with problems. I probably mentioned that stepson found himself in the company of some really bad eggs at one point in his young life, and they were doing some serious property damage (stepson said he only watched, for whatever that is worth). The local cops knew the town kids and treated them like human beings, not with SWAT tactics. They let stepson off completely with a warning to his mom that it would go much harder on him if they ever caught him again. He, being smart, moved on to associate with another crowd.

    Judges were the same, and did not act like automatons who never deviate from sentencing guidelines even when the circumstances call for it, as the judges I am currently around do. US business and US justice has become very cold in dealing with situations today. Of course, the dangers are greater, with Indianapolis having several police officers killed in the past 6 months—at least one of them hit and killed at a roadside traffic stop.

    Never have understood the traffic thing. What is there to gain by stopping—and especially chasing—traffic offenders? In Germany chases were strictly verboten, and when I saw speeding set-ups, they were always done with handheld radar guns at a bend in the road, where there was another intersecting street. The offender was motioned to pull off on the adjoining street where another cop wrote the citation, and there just was no danger to anybody of getting killed by passing traffic. In only a very, very few instances is ANY traffic violation a real danger to other drivers. But it is a big danger to cops stopping offenders.

  27. “Even I have my limits. I doubt that I’ll watch the entire series more than 500 times. Maybe a thousand.”

    I’d watch the lovely Sandra Bullock reading the phone book indefinitely… 🙂

  28. Boy, one thing for sure in Indiana if you conceal a weapon of any sort in your car and the cops find it: you’re gonna do jail time!

    Here in the Great State of Texas, we have extended the Castle Doctrine to our vehicles. So, even though I do not have a CHL, I do have a charter bulldog .44 special in my truck. And I am legal until I step out of my truck with it while not on my property.

    I am driving to Oklahoma in a couple of weeks and wondering if they have the same Castle law.

  29. Never have understood the traffic thing.

    The thrill of the chase. Legally being able to drive your cruiser way over the speed limit, running red lights, high speed curves, the adrenaline rush, complete immunity from whatever damage you cause. What’s not to like? Where else can you do that except at a road course race truck.

  30. Which is where it ought to be done. Cop who killed 1 and maimed 2 in Indy a few years back (in my old high school neighborhood, actually) while DUI and speeding to assist another cop on a non-emergency after being told by the dispatcher NOT to go to assist.

    http://www.indystar.com/article/20131105/NEWS02/311050044/David-Bisard-verdict-Guilty-of-all-charges

    Defense attorneys claimed the blood draw was tainted (police even “misplaced” and mishandled it at one point); however, the same cop was arrested for another DUI in his private car, just prior to his trial. He pleaded guilty to that a couple weeks ago. The second charge had been dismissed by a judge when it happened, but resurrected recently. Sad. Very sad, but an affirmation to me that chases and break-neck speeding to emergencies are as dangerous as any emergency itself.

    And I continue to be dismayed that the in-car radio alert system German drivers have on all cars (all cars in Germany MUST have a radio) is not implemented here. No excuse for not having that, even if it would take years before all cars had that system. When police or an emergency vehicle is rushing to an emergency, the radio is muted and a warning signal is played when the vehicle is within a block or 2 of your car—even if the radio is switched off.

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