Jeff Wolfe's Weblog

Friday, December 31, 2004

NO BLOG ENTRIES THIS YEAR - I keep meaning to move to something on my own site, but it hasn't happened yet. Maybe next year.

Thursday, December 25, 2003


1. Please select one of the following options:
Other _____________________

2. Please select one of the following options:
Christmas (December 25)
Hanukkah* (December 20-27)
Kwanzaa (December 26-January 1)
Boxing Day (December 26)
Yule (December 22)
Solstice (December 22)
Bill of Rights Day (December 15)
Navidad (25 Diciembre)
New Year (January 1)
Other _____________________
* Or substitute your own transliteration

3. Repeat as desired.

Friday, December 19, 2003

X PRIZE SUCCESS - SpaceShipOne, built by Scaled Composites, on Wednesday became the first aircraft built entirely with private funds to break the sound barrier. Scaled Composites is the leading entrant vying for the X Prize, a $10 million award given to the first private organization to fly two suborbital space flights in the same spacecraft within a two week period.

While it's just a stepping-stone to Scaled's goal of flying in space, SpaceShipOne's flight is a rather significant accomplishment in its own regard. Aside from the just-retired Concorde (built by the British and French governments), supersonic aircraft have been primarily military jets. Now, it's been proven that even a relatively tiny company like Scaled can build a supersonic plane. With Concorde grounded, perhaps some enterprising company can step in and fill the void.

Certainly, a test vehicle like SpaceShipOne is a far cry from a production commercial aircraft. But the technological barriers, as Scaled has shown, are not that high. It's the psychological barriers that are holding things back.

Even if the X Prize is never claimed, as is expected to happen next year, the Prize will have done a great deal to help bring us into the age of affordable high-speed global travel. Not just space travel, but supersonic and hypersonic travel for the masses. I'm looking forward to the day when the most time consuming part of a U.S. cross-country flight is the drive to the airport.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

FIGHTING TO WIN - Orson Scott Card, a noted Science Fiction author, has an article at OpinionJournal titled, "The Campaign of Hate and Fear (Some of my fellow Democrats are unpatriotic.)" He says that people are dying because of the prevalent Democratic rhetoric, and if it wins out, many, many more will die. Something to think about.

(Note: I know, I haven't blogged for a very long time. There's no good reason for it.)

Thursday, September 04, 2003

WOO-HOO! - Earlier today, Glenn Reynolds posted an email I sent him about the population of California (the original item was dated yesterday, but my "update" was posted today). Then, Virginia Postrel gave me an unsolicited plug on her blog. Not only that, but a friend of mine pulled out his telescope tonight, and I got to see Mars as more than just a bright "star" in the sky. And as if that weren't enough, Amazon sent me an email today telling me that my copy of The Substance of Style is on its way.

Frankly, I haven't been having very many good days recently, and with this one-year anniversary looming, I'm happy to chain a few good things together for a change. So, to reiterate: woo-hoo!

Saturday, August 30, 2003

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY - It's raining again. I'm not talking about "Darn, I have to get out my umbrella again" rain, I'm talking "Near zero visibility when you drive, even with the wipers on maximum, and God help you if you have to stop" rain. It's been like this for weeks. The other day, we had flash-flooding in my neighborhood, and it took me half an hour to find a street clear enough to drive through to get home. I've lived in this neighborhood for 15 years, and that's the first time I've seen that happen. I'm ready for it to stop, already.

Friday, August 15, 2003

THE BLAME GAME - Slashdot has an item entitled Deregulation and Niagara Mohawk - Is There a Story? that asks about the role of deregulation in the recent blackout. The item contains links to articles that include the following quotes: "(The Niagara Mohawk power grid) is scheduled to request a rate hike," and "Deregulation [has] changed the laws and regulations governing the electricity industry...."

In the first case, if they have to request a rate hike from regulators, then they obviously haven't been deregulated, just differently regulated. In the second case, the quote explicitly says that the industry is still regulated--but the regulations have been "changed."

The concept of "deregulation" is a curious thing. It would seem reasonable to conclude that "deregulation" means that the regulations governing a company or industry are removed to force and allow the company or industry to compete under market rules. In practice, however, "deregulation" means no such thing. The way "deregulation" is almost always used (at implementation time, anyway) is to mean changing the way in which a company or industry is regulated. The so-called "deregulation" is usually implemented in a way that gives an immediate benefit the company involved (which is why they favor it), with at least lip service given to some form of "competition," although that competition is usually "managed" (i.e. tightly regulated). When a new regulation scheme thus implemented causes problems, then "deregulation" is blamed, with the connotation changed to mean "removing government controls," when the fact is that no such deregulation took place.