Jeff Wolfe's Weblog

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

ALL-STAR - Espen Knutsen becomes the first NHL All-Star ever to be selected from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

My mother lives about an hour and a half from San Jose. Her neighbor is a big San Jose Sharks fan. When our lowly Blue Jackets beat the Sharks 6 to 2 last week, Knutsen had a hat trick. That's three goals, for you non-hockey-fans out there. They weren't too happy about that, as you might imagine.

And now he's an All-Star. Go Blue Jackets!

Monday, January 28, 2002

WHAT TO DO WITH THE EXPOS - I was reading an article on relocation, and it occurred to me that the best place for the Montreal Expos to move would be New York City. The Powers That Be currently in New York would never go for it (and Baseball can't force them), but it makes sense. New York is certainly big enough to support three major league teams. It would increase parity by diluting the market for the two biggest teams. After 9/11, everyone's a New Yorker, so we have a perfect candidate for a new America's Team. A fitting fate for what is now a French-Canadian boondoggle.

Saturday, January 26, 2002

ONLINE VIGILANTEISM - Some people who got ripped off on eBay decided to take matters into their own hands, and track down the crook.

Friday, January 25, 2002

THE UNTOLD STORY - A New York Post op-ed by John Lott reports that out of 280 news stories about a recent school shooting, only four reported that the people who stopped the attack had guns. And only two reported that they actually pointed their guns at the perpetrator. Media bias? Nahhh.

SPACE ELITISM - Cosmonaut hero slams space tourism plans. I get the feeling from the article that the cosmonaut is just concerned that people will get the idea that just anybody can do this flying-in-space thing. And of course, they would be correct to think so. Certainly, you need basic safety training. And somebody on board needs to be able to pilot the spacecraft. But once that's taken care of, the other people on board can be basically anybody.

Both the Soviet/Russian and American space agencies have been setting aside space on their spacecraft for years. In addition to professional astronaunts, we've had representatives from foreign governments, employees of private industry, politicians, and one ill-fated teacher. The high profile junkets are for promoting the space agency, but the rest of them are for money. Why should that be different when the bill is being paid by a private individual rather than a government or corporation? So far, it's had the added bonus of generating publicity, too.

THE MAINFRAME IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE MAINFRAME, ER, "ENTERPRISE SERVER" - InfoWorld reports that IBM unveils cheap, Linux-only mainframe.

There used to be a tremendous cultural difference between the mainframe world and the PC world. Mainframes were dinosaurs and PCs were just toys, if you believed what they were saying about each other. I was a part of both cultures, and I couldn't wait for the day when the worlds collided. I think it's safe to say that that has happened. Mainframers worry about usability and connectivity, and PCers worry about reliability and stability.

And, on the Internet especially, the end user doesn't have to care what they're running. It just works. More and more, even the application programmer doesn't have to care. And that's a good thing.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Reuters has an article, which Yahoo! News is carrying as Campaign Finance Overhaul Gets Boost From Enron, that discusses the renewed push for the Campaign Finance reform discharge petition. It's strange that the article comes over a month since the last person signed the discharge petition. During the first push to get the discharge petition signed, there were several articles in the media that implied the discharge petition was about to get its 218 signatures. Seems to me to be an effort by the media to play up the issue so it'll get more support. It hasn't worked so far, and we can only hope that it doesn't.

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

I've seen plenty of ideological arguments from libertarians about why national id cards are bad. But InfoWorld examines the subject from a technological perspective and concludes National ID cards still a bad idea.

There was a rumor that AOL Time Warner was going to buy Red Hat Software, a Linux operating system distributor. However, CNet says AOL (is) not bidding for Red Hat.

What's interesting in this article are the reasons they think AOLTW would be interested in Red Hat. It's because Microsoft is not playing nice and letting AOL have a place on the Windows desktop. This is the same thing that has all the anti-trusters in a tizzy.

But if Microsoft was forced to give AOL a place on the desktop, AOL would have much less incentive to look for alternatives to Windows. That's right, taking anti-trust action against Microsoft would have a net effect of strengthening the Windows stranglehold on the desktop.

Microsoft bashers should keep that in mind before they support more legal action against the Beast from Redmond.

Sunday, January 20, 2002

Here's an article about Bjorn Lomborg, Anti-Christ of the green religion.

Friday, January 18, 2002

The Cato Institute says Saudi Arabia is thinking about kicking out the U.S. This strikes me as a bad move on the Saudis' part. As long as the U.S. has troops over there, there's an aura of friendship between us. As soon as they kick us out, American leaders might start listening to those who think we should do to Saudi Arabia as we did to Afghanistan. It's still possible that it could happen anyway, but it's harder to do if we're nominally their friends when we do it.

I'm with those who think we should have left on our own a long time ago. Once Saddam was out of Kuwait, our job was done. I don't much buy into the "do it for the oil" theory. The numbers don't really add up, and it's going to turn out to be a relatively short-term benefit, anyway. Fuel cell technology will be commercially viable in less than two generations (I'd say one, but the government recently started to subsidize it). And oil will be much less important than it has been in the past.

Thursday, January 17, 2002

It looks like Washington is the destination for whatever team ends up moving in the next year or so. This story says it will be Montreal unless they are contracted, and no earlier than 2003 in any event. Washington is a good choice politically, of course; the only problem is getting the Baltimore club to go along with it, since it infringes on their territory. It will probably do well at the turnstyles, too. I still think Las Vegas, Sacramento, or Monterrey would be more fun.

Bud Selig says that baseball should "solve the basic problems" before it turns its attention to relocation. Never mind that the suppression of relocation is one of the basic problems. If you let weak franchises move to better markets, you don't have to contract them.

It doesn't look like the improper loan scandal is going to displace Selig. That's too bad, because baseball could use a real Commissioner. Bud Selig isn't getting the job done.

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently criticized an NBA official by saying "I wouldn't hire him to manage a Dairy Queen." Quick-thinking Dairy Queen management managed to turn the comment into a media event (with help from Cuban). Way to go, DQ!

Which goes to show, you don't have to be money-grubbing and humorless to be successful. The spirit of Dave Thomas lives on.

According to this Wall Street Journal piece, the war is Not a Victory for Big Government. I hope he's right.

Here's an article from Rand Simberg about a bill introduced in Congress to ban space-based weapons. Any bill that mentions mood management and mind control has to be goofy. Check it out.

2002 baseball cards are out. Some of them, anyway. I picked up a package of Topps Series 1 cards tonight. I started collecting baseball cards in 1974, and I never really stopped. Although it's been about 20 years since I've actively collected, this year marks the 29th consecutive year that I've bought at least one pack of cards. For those who really like to follow hyperlinks, here's a link to Topps.

Monday, January 14, 2002

Glenn Reynolds reports that a pilot was "hauled off" for pointing out that, as the pilot, he didn't need tweezers to crash the plane, so searching him was pointless. Reynolds's assessment (elsewhere on InstaPundit) of the new world of airline security is right on: intrusive and ineffective. I'm just glad I don't travel by air very often.

Saturday, January 12, 2002

Another Slashdot article, this called USPS Irradiation Damages Electronics. It links to two articles--one about the anthrax irradiation process damaging CompactFlash cards, the other about it making people sick. This is probably a case where the solution is worse than the problem.

I'm playing with the weblog template, to make it look more like my main web site. Hopefully it will work out.

Thursday, January 10, 2002

I'm pretty sure there's a libertarian angle to this Slashdot story called Cooperation Works if Majority Can Punish Freeloaders, but I'm not sure what it is.

Monday, January 07, 2002

Jerry Pournelle's January column is called Escape from Redmond. He talks about Joel Rosenberg's decision to migrate to Linux, and his success at doing so.

Pournelle then goes on to say that despite Rosenberg's success, Linux isn't ready for prime time yet because "Aunt Minnie" can't yet run Linux without technical assistance. I agree that Linux isn't ready for prime time, but it's not because of Aunt Minnie.

The fact is, Aunt Minnie requires technical assistance, regardless of the operating system she runs--even Windows. I field Windows technical questions all the time from family and friends. So Aunt Minnie is not the key to success for Linux.

The real key is Cousin Stan. Cousin Stan is that pseudo-techie who has enough technical knowledge and experience to get the basics set up and to help Aunt Minnie fix her problems. If he has a real serious problem he turns to a professional, but for most problems, Cousin Stan can figure it out.

Cousin Stan is the driving force for the mainstream. The technology is not his job, but he's just techie enough to try out the latest and greatest thing out there. If he can figure it out, he'll adopt it--and get Aunt Millie to adopt it, too. Success requires a critical mass of Cousin Stans, not Aunt Minnies.

Joel Rosenberg is a Cousin Stan. The fact that he got Linux installed, and is now using it on a daily basis, is a very, very good sign for Linux.

Wednesday, January 02, 2002

Most of the time, the Non Sequitur comic is pretty good--or at least not too bad. Unfortunately, that doesn't apply to today's strip.

The setup is a debate program. The topic is the Presidential Electoral College. One character defends the Electoral College. The next character questions the Electoral College and says, "All other offices are elected by the popular vote, so why not for the pres..." at which point the first character's head explodes. The parting shot is, "Sorry, logic just slipped out."

But it didn't. No other office is like President, because President is the only office elected nationwide. So it does not follow that what works for other offices will work for President. Not only that, but it's not true to say that all other offices are elected by a simple popular vote. Many local offices (such as city council) are elected in groups, with voters getting as many votes as there are open seats and the top vote getters being elected. This can create a scenerio where you cost your favorite candidate the election by also voting for the person who finished ahead of them.

Whatever logic slipped out, must have fallen on the floor, because it certainly didn't enter the debate.