Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Mr. Hank Paulson will have to answer why his own firm of Goldman Sachs set up a special unit to short its own issues. It will be edifying to see how they answer.
In the meantime, however, millions of Joe-the-Plumber types will have gotten their pink slips, slipped helplessly into foreclosure, watched the repo men hot-wire their Ford pickups, and eaten down the kitchen cupboard to a single box of Kellogg's All-Bran (which had been sitting there for eleven years infested with weevils). They will be watching the official proceedings in the federal courtrooms with jaundiced eyes as they hunch in their tent cities, in the rain, sipping amateur-brand raisin wine bartered for a few snared rock doves. How long before the hardier ones among them venture out to Easthampton with long knives and matches?
So it's not just Obama the socialist (warning, right-wing-greedy-is-good TV commentator), it's outright Bolshevism heading our way! Maybe. Why don't the free market advocates admit that when the shit hits the fan, everyone's a socialist?
Monday, 27 October 2008
Saturday, 25 October 2008
There is a move to encourage cycle friendly cities world wide, and in these cities there probably is not a need for helmets. The cyclists have enough numbers to ensure motorists can't ignore them, the traffic lanes are sorted to accommodate them, and the cyclists are mostly low speed commuters.
But in New Zealand it's different. Our population is much more dispersed than in Europe, cities have only a few bike lanes, drivers feel that they should go first and everyone else should give way, many cyclists are riding at higher speeds for fitness, and we don't have the concentration of commuters to force motorists to be take their turn.
Personally, I'd wear a helmet anyway. These photos show a helmet I was wearing in July 2007 when I was hit by a car. I was unconscious for 10 minutes and the helmet was broken into three or four pieces. If I hadn't been wearing it, I would have added a fractured skull to the fractured pelvis and crushed vertebrae which made the second half of the year so difficult. I still have very minor signs of concussion, mostly just a bouncing sensation after riding in a lift; I hate to think how my cognitive functions would have been affected if my skull had taken an unprotected blow.
Yes, that's blood on the pads. The force which smashed the plastic shell and the foam must have been considerable - it's a good thing my skull didn't have to dissipate that force!
Thursday, 23 October 2008
Allow me to explain. We are evaluating two LMS's (Learning Management Systems) to select a winner. A team of 8-10 people has toiled away all year installing servers, creating courses, and running a trial. At the end of the trial, everybody loves the new system and dislikes the old one. Well, surprise!
Today the managing committee were presented with the facts to inform their decision, but it took a long determined battle to get those facts free from value judgments and naked enthusiasms, with all credit to my workmate who continued the fight when I'd given up. (Monomaniacs can be very persistent when corrected, and erratic at the same time, so I'm glad there were two of us to carry our side.) Now the committee is left with the facts, and growing rabbit-in-the-headlights expressions. They have so much information that they're stopped dead in their tracks, and I don't envy them.
Next is the "believe surveys and get bitten in the arse" part. We asked the trial participants what they thought of the new system. Being primates, with a love of innovation and a strong social group loyalty, they reported that the new bananas from their new friends tasted a lot better than the old ones. They were also keen volunteers, so they didn't need much support; we have now extrapolated the time we spent on them to give us a campus-wide estimate of support needs. I wonder how accurate that prediction will be.
Then comes the apathy. We have 500 or more teaching staff who, if they've thought about the LMS review at all, hope that it won't happen soon. Most will swear blind that they've never heard of it. They will be told inNovember that we're about to start a year long project to switch to a new system, and they'll all simultaneously push their heads further into the sand. (Metaphorically speaking, though the image is appealing.) Come the first day of the teaching semester, and they will arise, demanding instant courses with easy setup and no training required. And we will wonder who's bitten us in the bum. We will say things like "Where did they come from?"
There'll be tears before bedtime, as my grandmother used to say.
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
I nearly shredded a bike tyre this morning, right where my own driveway meets the street. Some low-life had thrown a beer bottle out of a car last night, and I spotted the glass just in time to stop. I gathered up the garbage, reflected on the sorry state of my fellow humans, and continued on my way.
Monday, 20 October 2008
Heather has continued on her recovery, and is going to work today. She may not last a full day, but she's ready to start - and the school is ready to have her back too, as the year marches on with ever more reports to produce. Alice is planning to move into a flat next weekend, so I suppose I'll be required for trailer duty.
Friday, 17 October 2008
Today is the final day of classes, so the University will go into semi-lockdown at lunchtime when the big "tea party" at the Students' Association starts. The Central Library and the computer workrooms will be restricted, and watched carefully to keep the drunks out. Near the UCSA building, rows of portable toilets were set up yesterday, and the campus will fill with drunk aimless students as the day goes on. Isn't higher learning a wonderful thing?
Monday, 13 October 2008
- A three year old story about John McCain's temper - and his gambling.
- A depressing story about the Republicans disappearing Democrat voters off the rolls.
- A story that should be funny, but somehow doesn't make me laugh; McCain campaign is teaching supporters about Obama's "terrorist past".
After lunch I was free to get on to the current projects; mostly to do with our trial of Moodle. I won't drag on about that now, there's bound to be a better time.
Saturday, 11 October 2008
That meant that the long downwind leg was not officially racing, though some who don't know the rules well were confused about this, we discovered later. We had some good spinnaker practice, drank beer, and told each other what a great day we were having, then arrived back at the club about 4.15. Then came the really good news...
As we were retrieving the boat onto the trailer, a race official came past and said "You guys have won both", then disappeared. When we got to the bar after tidying away, we found he was right. We won Division 2 on handicap, on our first official outing in the division, and we beat the entire fleet on corrected time - trailer yachts, sport boats, keelers, the lot!
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
Sunday, 5 October 2008
This morning has dawned calm and damp, but promises to clear later, so Schroeder and I will go to Lyttelton and rig the mast and mainsail, then reorganise the boat cover. If it looks good enough, and we have time, we'll probably go for a brief sail to check that everything is in place.
Thursday, 2 October 2008
Gosh coach, let's go and win one for the Gipper. How the hell does tosh like that actually help?
"Let us unite in banishing fear ... we cannot fail," Obama said, directly quoting the former Democratic president from his first 'fireside chat' on the radio to Americans in March 1933.
"Today we cannot fail, we cannot fail, not now, not tomorrow, not next year," Obama said in the US Senate chamber, just over a month before his general election showdown with Republican John McCain.
"This is a nation that's faced down war and depression, great challenges and great threats."
"And at each and every moment, we have risen up to meet these challenges, not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as Americans, with resolve and with confidence.
"With that fundamental belief that here in America, our destiny is not written for us, it's written by us.
"That's who we are and that's the country I know we can be right now," he said.
This bailout deal from the Senate may founder in the House anyway. Wait and see.
She needs to be more or less self contained by this time next week, as I will be in Napier from Wednesday to early Saturday, attending the annual Moodle Moot, and her sister Elaine will have gone. Alice will be at home in the evenings, so as long as Heather can organise breakfast and lunch, they'll get by.