Herbert Hoover, redux

Quote of the day:

I’m not an economist, but we’ve got five applicants for every single job opening. If you tell me that the best response to that situation is to lay off hundreds of thousands of teachers, I will not accept that this means that you’re smarter and more expert than I am. I will instead conclude — regardless of your prestige or position or years of study — that you’re a moral imbecile.

— Fred Clark at Slacktivist
Those who voted for Cameron in the UK: is this really what you want?

The week's twitterings – 2010-06-27

  • I was hoping for a decent vCloud vs. AWS discussion. Instead we get this piece of self-serving non$en$e from BlueLock: http://bit.ly/dd19Dw #
  • How Rackspace's API compares to Amazon's EC2 – http://bit.ly/apOqSn (via @rackcloud). Self-serving, of course, but not offensively so. #
  • Buyers beware: Security is a relative term now a days. #structureconf (via @krishnan) < But it always was. Were you confused about that? #
  • Countdown: I'll get my iPhone4 tomorrow, unlock my old iPhone 3G, insert China Mobile SIM, and I'll be ready to head to Shenzhen on Saturday #
  • Listening to the new Divine Comedy album "Bang Goes The Knighthood". http://amzn.to/9AW8Zi Brilliant! Tip: get the import CD w/bonus disc. #
  • In line at Apple Palo Alto. Location: http://j.mp/b9Qco5 http://twitpic.com/1zin1y #
  • Frustrated that iOS4 seems to crash a lot. Starbucks app kills it reliably. OS principle #1: apps mustn't be able to bring down the platform #
  • RT @Cisco_Mobile #Kmart and #Sears to launch a streaming video service http://tinyurl.com/2gxvux5 < Odd move for bricks-and-mortar dinosaurs #
  • iPhone 4 – beautiful, fast, good audio. BUT remember to carry a paper-clip: I've had the "NO SIM" problem twice #
  • Can't tell if this is humorous or just clueless: @craigbalding One of the problems w/Amazon AWS – they only support Itanium processors. #
  • Anyone managed to get Bluetooth tethering working between an iPhone 4 and a Macbook? I can't pair them… #
  • Boarding in 25 minutes (SFO-HKG). Will my upgrade happen? Almost certainly not. However UA grabbed my credit card copay info just in case… #

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So here I am again….

I arrived at SFO this morning, looked up at the flight information screens, and saw that my flight was shown as “Scheduled 1:20PM, Actual 1:10PM”. Optimism, perhaps, given that departure was still over three hours away. And as it turned out, the cleaners took longer than usual to prepare the 747, and we boarded late. Oh, well.
The flight was full. Not, I think, as oversold as the Singapore flight a couple of gates away, but I didn’t see a singe empty seat. I had a middle, between two people each of whom had bulky carry-on bags which they had placed under the seat in front of them. Not only did their bags remove a lot of my legroom; both of them kept on diving into their bags to retrieve or stow items. This inevitably meant them bumping and crowding me, and the upshot was that for the first time in years I didn’t get any sleep on the long flight. And since United’s 747s don’t have personal in-flight entertainment systems, I was reduced to listening to music while wearing eye-shades. At least we had Channel 9 for the last few hours….
After the very uncomfortable flight, the rest was easy: bought a ferry ticket, took the train to the new Sky Pier, caught the 7:30 ferry, zipped through passport control at Shekou, got a few minutes sleep in the taxi (the best way of coping with Chinese driving), and I was checked in at Baicao Gardens just after 9. I turned on the TV, and they were showing the European Grand Prix from Valencia. I watched laps 47 to 53, and then suddenly they cut away to squeeze in a huge block of advertisements before the start of the England-Germany world cup match, which is on right now as I type this.
I’d like to watch, but I think I’m going to have to sleep instead. Good luck, England!

Who would have thought that flying to China would become routine?

I’m heading off again tomorrow – SFO-HKG, then the ferry to Shekou, and a taxi to the Huawei campus in Shenzhen. I’m trying to pack light, with no camera and no books (except for Kindle books on my iPad). No toiletries – I can get them cheaper in Shenzhen. I’ll take my laptop, iPad and both phones (iPhone 4 for the US, Android G1 for China). I had hoped to unlock my iPhone 3G and use that in China, but I haven’t been able to download a copy of the relevant IPSW firmware without MD5 errors.
This is just a short, one week trip. This means that I won’t miss too much of the World Cup….


Via Michael Cohen, here’s the part of Article 88 of the Uniform Code which deals with insubordination:

Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Americans are fond of quoting John Adams’ description of their country as “a nation of laws, not of men.” So when do the courts-martial start?
UPDATE: I was just reminded of Truman’s wonderful assessment of MacArthur:

I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.

The week's twitterings – 2010-06-20

  • Long-winded but ultimately persuasive: the Tea Party as disillusioned nihilism: NYTimes: The Very Angry Tea Party http://nyti.ms/chZ2jq #
  • Great lunch and discussion with @adrianco, @geoffarnold, @vdasan (via @RichardMcDougll) <The nucleus of the ex-Sun "Extinguished Engineers" #
  • Booked next Shenzhen trip: June 26-July 3. Unlike my recent RTW, this is on @UnitedAirlines, SFO-HKG. Only middle seats were available 🙁 #
  • Lovely review of "Hitch 22" in the NYTimes: Do I Contradict Myself? http://nyti.ms/bJKNcJ – the Bosnia observation is spot-on #

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Clear evidence of a nation that has gone stark staring mad

Via Andrew, this graph shows the US Incarceration Rate from 1880 to 2008:
US Incarceration Rate, 1880-2008
As the CEPR report cited in the original post points out, the financial cost of this absurd policy is astronomical. “[A] reduction by one-half in the incarceration rate of non-violent offenders” would save U.S. state and local governments at least $14.8B/year, and would still leave the incarceration rate quite high in historical terms.
So what tipped the country into collective lunacy in 1980? Ronald Reagan? Or was he just a symptom?

A weekend in Sacramento

On Friday night we drove up to Sacramento for the weekend. My son Chris was being ordained as an Episcopal Deacon on Saturday, and we decided that it would be a great opportunity to explore Sacramento.
The ordination went off very well, although unfortunately Chris’s grandparents weren’t well enough to make the journey. I took a number of photos, and although they capture the feel of the event, the quality is pretty abysmal. I blame myself for adhering to the rules (“no flash photography”) – rules which many others ignored. (It’s tough having those first-born, rule-observing instincts!)

On Saturday afternoon, Kate and I explored the “Old Sacramento” area. It was very hot, and the crowds made it hard to appreciate the historic character of the place. We took the steam train ride, which was a bit underwhelming – a short trip to nowhere. Hmmm. Fortunately when we returned on Sunday morning, things were very quiet, and we could really enjoy the nicely-restored district.

The main reason for the Sunday morning visit was to go to the California State Railroad Museum. This was a wonderful experience; I’ve been to many railroad museums around the world, and the CSRM is clearly the best so far. Mostly this is because of the holistic approach: it’s not just a place of pilgrimage for hard-core enthusiasts, like Didcot or Lancaster, Pennysylvania. As you can see, it brings in the history, politics, sociology, business, and culture of the railroad in California, as well as the resulting love affair with toy trains. Nice touches: the sleeper car, which vibrated on its tracks just as if it were rolling down the track, and the enormous “cab forward” freight engine of the Southern Pacific:

After lunch on Sunday, we decided to head back, rather than waiting for the rush-hour. (Even so, the traffic heading back from Reno to San Francisco was quite impressive.) On the way, we stopped to look at the “ghost fleet” moored in Suisun Bay. You can just make out the clipper bow of the USS Iowa, BB-61:

Street rods and classic cars in Pomona, CA

On Saturday morning we drove the 382 miles down to Pomona, CA, to take Hannah back to school. When we arrived at our hotel in Pomona, we found the parking lot full of beautifully restored and customized classic cars, sparkling in the sun. I grabbed my camera….

While Hannah and I were busy taking pictures, Kate discovered that there was going to be a huge auto swap-meet on Sunday, starting at 5am, just up the road at the Fairplex. 5am? Really. OK. And so the next morning I tiptoed out of the hotel and drove up to the huge, sprawling county fairgrounds. I arrived about 5:30, and it was quite misty, but the crowds were already building. There were thousands of booths being set up to sell and swap every kind of car-related equipment, paraphernalia, and memorabilia. You want a flawlessly chrome-planted rear bumper for a 1948 Chevy? No problem.
The swap-meet area was divided into two by a wide access road. On one side were all of the booths, concessions, and vendors. On the other side were the cars, neatly organized into different areas for street rods and restored cars of different eras. VWs had their own dedicated area. Ditto Porsches. And for hour after hour the cars streamed in….

I wandered around, photographing, admiring, dreaming. The pictures aren’t particularly great – the light was really bad – but the pride of the men (all men?) in their restoration work was palpable, and you can see it in the results. I stayed until around 8:30, before rejoining the others for the rest of the day. And then yesterday afternoon we drove back. Each way, we did 380 miles in less than 7 hours, including stops. (And it was not nearly as tiring as I expected – I think this may become a regular run.)