Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Sunday 28 March 2010

I've just finished my final exams for Duke CCMBA Term 3. Total time: 10.8 hours on statistics, 8.2 hours for marketing, 4.9 hours sobbing quietly at my desk about not having studied more.

As the program has six terms, in a sane universe this would mean I'm half-way done with my MBA. Sadly, I'm not even done with Term 3 yet. And anyway the end of Term 3, officially April 7th, isn't really the half-way point.

First, I have the Delhi Culture Dash video to produce. My team has succeeded mightily with a divide-and-conquer approach, so for each the three projects that remain in Term 3 (two, technically, being term 4 projects due before term 4 officially starts), we have one project author and one reviewer. I volunteered for the video project when the entire team thought it was due April 6th. It's actually due Thursday. I'm guessing this is another 10 hours of work. Good thing I have all that time to do it, otherwise I'd continue sobbing at my desk.

Second, Term 6 will really be two terms. During the residency we have four classes, then after the residency we have two 6-week distance periods, with two sets of finals.

Third, the chronological midpoint of the program is actually April 11th.[1] So, really, we're almost there, though I suspect the psychological midpoint will be April 25th, when we leave Shanghai. Or maybe December 12th, the day before the thing ends.

Sorry about that. I may have spent too much time doing statistics this weekend. I will now retire to the pub, with The Travels of a T-Shirt in a Global Economy, which I need to finish reading (for Global Markets and Institutions) before next week.

[1] The program officially started with Term 1 pre-reading on 8 August 2009; our last final exam is due 13 December 2010; that's 492 days; so 246 days after August 8th is April 11th. QED. If you use the first day of the London residency, August 15th, as the starting point, the midpoint is April 14th.

Sunday 28 March 2010 18:28:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Duke#

To hear the right wingers describe it, passing the Health-Care Reform Act ranked somewhere between breaking the second seal and sending Federal troops to Birmingham in atrocity. I cannot fathom the rage, not one bit. Nor can I fathom the hypocrisy. For example, as the New York Times reported this morning, a sizable chunk of the Tea Party movement have the luxury of banging on against the welfare state because—why else—they're supported by it:

Tom Grimes, [who] lost his job as a financial consultant 15 months ago...has organized a local group and a statewide coalition, and even started a "bus czar" Web site to marshal protesters to Washington on short notice. This month, he mobilized 200 other Tea Party activists to go to the local office of the same congressman to protest what he sees as the government's takeover of health care.

Full entry at The Daily Parker...

Sunday 28 March 2010 14:04:19 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Saturday 27 March 2010

My dad has a new novel out. Right now it's available for the Amazon Kindle only; in a couple of weeks he'll have paperbacks as well. As soon as he does, expect to find them in random locations around the world.

I've read about 20 different drafts of the book, and each was better than the last. It's a page-turner. And creepy. And funny. An excerpt:

It all played out in less than three seconds.

Like an errant missile, the two-and-a-half-ton stretch Cadillac slammed into the stunned crowd of mourners, carving through them before planting itself into the back of the standing hearse. One mortuary attendant and two elderly women, whose unfortunate timing had them standing on the street between the two hearses, were instantly crushed, their bones pulverized by the explosive collision of metal into metal. Other bodies were tumbled and tossed like stuffed toys into the street or dashed against the red brick wall of the mortuary. And for those not directly in the path of the hearse, the blizzard of glass and metal shrapnel exploding outward from the collision sliced through their soft flesh with the lethal efficiency of whirling Cuisinart blades.

The force of the impact knocked Garland backwards off his feet. The stinging tintinnabulation resounding in his ears deafened and disoriented him. When he was finally able to lift his head, he saw Eugene Kessler writhing behind him on the flooded street, clutching his shoulder a few feet from where Carolyn Eccevarria was lying lifelessly on her back.

It only just came out half an hour ago so I'll need to read the latest version. (After finals...ugh.) But if you have a Kindle and you're looking for a fun, quick novel, download it now.

Saturday 27 March 2010 11:56:29 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Friday 26 March 2010

An island claimed by both India and Bangladesh has vanished, ending a territorial dispute going back to 1971:

The uninhabited territory south of the Hariabhanga river was known as New Moore Island to the Indians and South Talpatti Island to the Bangladeshis.

Recent satellites images show the whole island under water, says the School of Oceanographic Studies in Calcutta.

"What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming," said Professor Sugata Hazra of the School of Oceanographic Studies at Jadavpur University in Calcutta.

Professor Hazra said his studies revealed that sea levels in this part of the Bay of Bengal have risen much faster over the past decade than they had done in the previous 15 years.

And he predicts that in the coming decade other islands in the Sundarbans delta region will follow New Moore, or South Talpatti, beneath the waves.

The article doesn't explain that both countries claimed the tiny uninhabited island because the law of the sea allows countries to claim a 370 km exclusive economic zone around any land they "control," even if it's just a speck poking above the water. This means the total disputed territory was actually over 430,000 km²—an area about as big as California or Thailand. But with the island gone, the competing claims have vanished as well.

(With the island sitting right at the mouth of a major river, however, the 22 km territorial waters were probably more important to both.)

Friday 26 March 2010 16:14:25 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | World#

Nothing special about the game, but I do love the shot:

Friday 26 March 2010 15:14:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Thursday 25 March 2010

Today the Vatican announced that there has been no cover-up in the latest U.S. sex-abuse scandal, and could we all just leave the Pope alone?

This whole thing must feel like someone stampeded cattle through St. Peter's.

But let's be serious. It looks quite like the current Pope intervened in the Ecclesiastical trial of a priest accused of molesting 200 deaf boys, and failed to act on dozens of other cases:

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

More after the jump...

Thursday 25 March 2010 12:33:08 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | World | Religion#

But not according to John Boehner:

I laughed so hard I cried.

Oh, by the way, John? Yes we did.

Thursday 25 March 2010 10:07:35 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Wednesday 24 March 2010

If you believe in small government, individual liberty, and all the other things that conservatives traditionally believe, then equal rights for gays naturally follows. As evidence I give you the British Conservative Party's leader (and probably the next prime minister), David Cameron:

[N]o-one should be in any doubt that the Conservative party abhors homophobia, that we support equal rights, that we support civil partnerships, that we think that part of being a strong central right party in Britain today.

One of the bedrock issues is being in favour of proper equality for people whether they are straight or gay, or black or white, or men or women, or whether they live in the town or the countryside or whatever God they worship - important points.

He's the Conservative Party leader. That's what a center-right politician looks like everywhere else in the world. His positions are entirely within the foundational beliefs of conservatism (and liberalism, of course).

Incidentally, the interview quoted above was with—wait for it—Gay Times magazine. Now stop, for a moment, and consider the crashing improbability of Sarah Palin or John Boehner sitting down with the Advocate and you start to see how out of touch with conservatism the Republican leadership really is.

Wednesday 24 March 2010 17:06:41 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | World#

I didn't expect to see O'Hare on this list. (Oh, it wasn't. Don't worry.)

Gulliver has the summary:

HAVING assessed 9.8m passenger surveys for its annual awards, Skytrax, a research company, has just named Singapore’s Changi airport the best in the world.

Incheon airport, near Seoul, which was last year’s winner, came second and Hong Kong airport third. These three would appear to be well clear of the opposition, according to Skytrax’s methodology, as they have held the top three slots (in different orders) for the past three years. ...

Top ten airports 2010: 1 Singapore, 2 Seoul Incheon, 3 Hong Kong, 4 Munich, 5 Kuala Lumpur, 6 Zurich, 7 Amsterdam, 8 Beijing, 9 Auckland, 10 Bangkok

If anyone wants to donate $460 to the Daily Parker, I'll order a copy of the report and find out where O'Hare wound up. Sight unseen, I'll bet the whole amount that it did better than LaGuardia, and I'll give even odds we beat Heathrow.

Wednesday 24 March 2010 13:06:54 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation#

Well, maybe the Republicans who predicted market Armageddon over the weekend were right. Even though the markets went up on Monday and Tuesday, this morning they have, indeed, collapsed. During the first half-hour of trading this morning the Dow has lost 24, the NASDAQ 10, and the S&P 4. Points. Meaning, 0.23%, 0.4%, and 0.3%, respectively.

Yes, the markets have spoken. They just haven't said anything about health-care reform.

Wednesday 24 March 2010 08:57:49 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Tuesday 23 March 2010

Via Andrew Sullivan, a 185-voice virtual choir:

Tuesday 23 March 2010 15:40:51 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#

The Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters now has a bigger desktop:

Tuesday 23 March 2010 15:05:08 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Business#

President Obama signed the health-care reform bill just now. It's law. So the U.S. now has a health care law with as much charity and compassion as, say, the U.K.'s circa 1950.

And still no stock-market crash. How about that.

Tuesday 23 March 2010 11:09:37 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Monday 22 March 2010

Yesterday some of my classmates fretted about how the stock market would collapse today because of health care reform passing the House.

Yawn. With half an hour to go, the NASDAQ, DOW, and oil are up; bonds are down; gold is down. All the indicators are within 1% of Friday's closes.

What a disaster:

Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s.

It's hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the disaster. Conservatives may cheer themselves that they'll compensate for today’s expected vote with a big win in the November 2010 elections.

Yeah, that's not Josh Marshall; that's David Frum. He continues:

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.

Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.

This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

What a lovely spring day we're having in the U.S.

Monday 22 March 2010 14:38:40 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

And we now have a 20th-century health care plan for America. Just in time.

Fifty years from now, our children and grandchildren will wonder why the vote was so close, kind of like how we today wonder about the 85 who voted against the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Or maybe the way we don't, but we should.

(Updates after the jump.)

Sunday 21 March 2010 21:55:33 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Sunday 21 March 2010

One of my Duke classmates posted a Facebook status update that prompted a discussion. I thought responding in long form would be more appropriate than continuing a comment chain.

Sunday 21 March 2010 15:37:58 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

It was on this day in 1985 that I drifted off in Mr. Collins' Algebra class and arrived at the name of my corporation: Punzun Ltd.

The corporation became an actual legal entity on 17 February 2000.

Oh, and if he were still alive, Bach would be 325 today, and he would have over 100 children. (Oh, yeah—and if we hadn't switched calendars in the 1750s. If you convert to the current Gregorian calendar, Bach's birthday is actually March 31st.)

Sunday 21 March 2010 14:37:06 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
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David Braverman is a software developer in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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