Friday, March 31, 2006

The love of a sister

Jill and Katie CarrollKatie Carroll is the twin sister to Jill Carroll, the reporter held captive in Iraq since early January.

Katie appealed for her sister's release this week.

The next day, Jill is released.

Katie had a quiet reaction.

I find it surprising the number of news reports that characterized Jill's release as "unexpected" and random and didn't connect it with Katie's "emotional appeal" the day before.

We can all be thankful and give praise to the Father for those willing to stand up and make a difference and for him honoring that in the hearts of Jill's captors.

They're both 28, like me.

She's now adjusting to freedom.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Fight for civil rights began with 1946 spring training

"To Chris Lamb, Jackie Robinson's story was about more than baseball. People usually forget the fight for integration that came before the civil rights movement began, Lamb said.

"'When we do that, we miss 90 percent of the story,' said Lamb, an associate professor at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. 'The civil rights movement begins with Jackie Robinson.'"

"Robinson's story began on Feb. 28, 1946, when he and his wife left Los Angeles headed to Florida for spring training. During the trip, they were twice bumped from flights to make room for white passengers. After being bumped from a connecting flight in Pensacola, Robinson and his wife hopped on a bus to finish the trip. While on the bus, he was told to move to the back. Lamb said the decision to move was hard for Robinson, who was court-martialed by the U.S. Army for refusing to do the same thing.

"'This was probably the first time he deferred to a racial slight,' Lamb said. 'You have this symmetry of Robinson challenging segregation in the Army. He's put out; he can now challenge segregation in baseball—and restrains himself on the bus because if he screws up, the whole experiment fails. After the trip (to Daytona Beach), he wanted to quit.

"'He puts a cause ahead of himself,' said Lamb.

"Participating in training exercises were also a challenge. Daytona Beach was the only city on the schedule that allowed him to participate. In Sanford, rules barred whites and blacks from playing on the same field. In DeLand, Lamb said officials canceled a game because 'the lights weren't working.'

"The game had been scheduled during the day." ...

"Last week, the National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted 17 Negro League members. While the effort should be applauded, Lamb said bringing them all on board at one time dilutes the act. He also said leaving out Buck O'Neil, a Sarasota resident who played in the Negro Leagues and broke the color barrier as the first black coach in Major League Baseball, may be a mistake."

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Google Exuberance

You know a company is still well within the graces of its client base when those users interpret service outages as a sign of better things to come.

By the way, has anyone noticed that the long-term trend of GOOG looks remarkably similar to the long-term trend of YHOO only delayed six years? Do the math to reverse Yahoo!'s splits or look at the numbers from that time, and they're nearly identical to Google's today.

YHOO crested just above $500 on January 4, 2000.
GOOG crested just above $475 on January 11, 2006.

Two splits later and YHOO is trading in 2006 at $30.

Where will GOOG be in 2012?

I like both companies a lot and use the service of each. They both have their place, and I look forward to seeing what each does next. But as history proves, there is often a weak correlation at best between those things and their producers' valuations.

One key difference between now and six years ago, is in 2000, Google had already begun to nip at the heels of Yahoo! No such contender to Google appears to be on the horizon today. Unless you count that other big tech company and their claims.

They crested at almost $120 on December 30, 1999. Today: $27.

Seth Godin on Residuals

"Someone in the serial business understands that once you've got subscribers, you can spend all your time finding products for your customers instead of searching for customers for your products."

In other words, you don't make real money by selling things, you make money by maintaining the client relationship. Although growing the client base is still helpful, too.

The future is in serials

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

The Logic of All Law

Hadley Arkes: "It is the logic of all law … to replace private choice with public obligation."

"Those who, e.g., support laws against child molesting want to abolish individual autonomy—specificially, the autonomy of the child molester—in a way no different than the pro-lifer does vis-a-vis the abortionist." ...

Solar Rivers of Plasma

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory "uses sound waves in the sun's interior to reveal the details of its structure, much as a doctor uses ultrasound to get images of internal organs." The solar cycle is "powered by massive rivers of electromagnetic plasma flowing near the sun's surface from its equator to the pole and back again.

"The flow is like a massive conveyor belt, carrying large quantities of plasma—as well as isolated magnetic fields, or eddies—from the equator to the pole and back over a 22-year period, about twice the 11-year period of sunspot cycles."

"NASA's solar observatory found that the river of plasma flows poleward near the sun's surface, then dives about 125,000 miles toward the center of the sun before surfacing again at the equator, creating a massive loop.

"But the loop becomes distorted because the sun's equator and poles spin at different speeds. The fast spin at the equator tugs the plasma sideways, putting massive kinks into the loop. That injects energy and causes magnetic eddies to break through the surface, forming sunspots [about 25 to 30 degrees north of the equator]."

"The magnetic eddies that break through the surface release enormous amounts of energy, sending sheets of ionized particles and ultraviolet radiation toward Earth. Heat from the ultraviolet emissions causes the Earth's atmosphere to balloon slightly, increasing the drag on satellites in low-Earth orbit, including the International Space Station."

"Forecasting the strength of sunspots is important to satellite operators and other businesses, said Joseph Kunches of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Environment Center in Boulder. Until now, such forecasts could be made only by extrapolating from past events, and those forecasts have not been very accurate.

"Dikpati and her colleagues used characteristics of one sunspot cycle to predict the next. Looking backward over records from the last 12 sunspot cycles, she said, the team has been able to predict the timing and magnitude of each successive cycle with 98% accuracy.

"They predict that the next sunspot cycle, called cycle 24, will begin in late 2007 or early 2008 and will produce sunspots across an area slightly larger than 2.5% of the sun's surface. [50% stronger than the last cycle] The cycle is likely to reach its peak about 2012." ...

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Deficit Reduction Act expands federal spending on online education

"It took just a few paragraphs in a budget bill for Congress to open a new frontier in education: Colleges will no longer be required to deliver at least half their courses on a campus instead of online to qualify for federal student aid.

That change is expected to be of enormous value to the commercial education industry. Although both for-profit colleges and traditional ones have expanded their Internet and online offerings in recent years, only a few dozen universities are fully Internet-based, and most of them are for-profit ones." ...

Campus-based schools disagree and say the change would compromise the "prestige" of a campus-based education.

"The bill in question, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, contains a clause [S.1932.ENR - Title VIII, Subtitle A, Sec. 8002] that kills the so-called 50 percent rule, which prevents a college that enrolls more than 50 percent of its students at a distance or provides more than half its courses through distance-learning from receiving federal financial aid.

"Congress' action means that universities which are mostly or entirely based on the Internet will now have access to the same federal aid other universities do. The 50 percent rule was instated in 1992 to protect against education fraud and diploma mills that offer bogus degrees."

However, they acknowledge "Some traditional colleges where online enrollment is threatening to spill over the 50 percent mark were also asking for the rule to be rescinded."

Dan Miller likes the idea and says, "if you just want the learning and the degree and don’t care about missing the sorority events, the ball games, and the keg parties on a traditional campus, you can check out some interesting options. Obviously, the cost is a fraction of what the typical colleges cost as well."

The Benefits of Flossing

Flossing could help prevent "diabetes difficulties, heart disease and pregnancy problems such as premature births."

Not flossing can "dump toxic gum bugs into the blood stream and spread them throughout the body" leading to said otherwise prevented effects.

Not smoking can also prevent such "periodontal disease."

Monday, March 6, 2006

This Week - House, Senate, UN

The Daily Nightly has its very handy regular weekly roundup of what to expect in the House, Senate, and at the United Nations. To summarize, there will be hearings, hearings, and more hearings.

House floor: Tuesday, Patriot Act. Wednesday, National food labeling. Thursday, the sex offender registry.

Senate floor: All week, lobbying reform, low income heating assistance, increasing the debt limit.

UN-IAEA in Vienna: 35 members to decide to refer or not to refer Iran to the Security Council for action. If they do, look for that to sway the headlines. Our boy John Bolton has no illusions of diplomacy.

UN-related - African Union: Do we (AU) transfer our 7,000-member force in Darfur to the U.N.? Sudan doesn't like the idea, but the U.N. and the U.S. do.

UN Security Council: Somalia, Kosovo, monthly lunchy with Kofi on Friday.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Dubai Ports Deal Raises New Concerns in Congress

"Lawmakers raised new objections on Tuesday to the proposed takeover of some terminal operations at six United States ports by a Dubai company, demonstrating that the administration-backed plan still faced significant obstacles despite an agreement for a more extensive review of any security risks posed by the change in control.

"Senate Democrats seized on a report that the parent company of state-owned Dubai Ports World honors an Arab boycott of Israel, saying the United States should not be rewarding companies tied to discrimination against a major ally." ...

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

You Deserve A Break!

The beginning of the second semester was the most demanding part of the college year. Assignments got longer, the work got harder, and suddenly you realized you weren't getting enough sleep. The only break in sight was Spring Break. ...

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