Saturday, June 14, 2008

A "Stinging Rebuke"?

That is how the AP and Yahoo and NPR put last week's Supreme Court decision, which was lost by the administration.

Jeez, I don't want to be picky but the decision was 5-4. That means it was won by the narrowest possible margin and that 4 Supreme Court justices think the administration is correct in their thinking. A more accurate description should be, "in a narrow loss for the administration...". If it had been 9-0, or 8-1 or even 7-2 I would accept "Stinging Rebuke", but come-on! 5-4 means Okay, you lost but you had some pretty good arguments on your side.

As to the merits of the case: I didn't know that non-citizens who are outside of the United States had any rights under the United States Constitution.

Nice method of finding things...

I have been looking for my hand sledge hammer for months. Every time I want it I would take 5 minutes or so and try to turn it up. Check the garage, the front porch, the garden shed and the basement--all to no avail.

Here is how I finally found it--clean and organize the basement. I swept the basement and in the process decluttered the floor. I found the hammer where it ought to have been, but it was laying on its side with the head obscured, so it just looked like a pipe.

The nice thing about finding things by cleaning is that it works! Also, even if it doesn't work you still end up with a clean area.

Facts: Some mentioned, some not...

The Herald Tribune had a story yesterday noting that China is the number one producer of carbon dioxide, surpassing the United States. The article goes on to note that on a per-capita basis, the United States still produces around 4 times what China does. This is all fine as far as it goes, but why not mention that on a GDP basis we emit only half as much as China does? Our carbon emissions are slightly less than China's, but our production of goods and services is twice theirs.

It is like if there were two delivery companies that used the same amount of fuel, but one did twice as much business and drove 30 MPG Hondas and the other used the same fuel by having a fleet which gets 15 MPG.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Here is the slip show

A slide show was put together by Jemma's kindergarten class, which we missed the premier of by going to Dahlia's class for a minute. The teacher made copies and gave us one, so I look forward to seeing it.

Jemma keeps referring to it as a "slip show". I suppose to a 6 year-old slip and slide pretty much mean the same thing. To me a slide is what a baseball player might do, or a glass thing you look at under a microscope. A slip is either a woman's undergarment or a thing you do just before falling.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Keeping to the religion theme

We brought home a bunch of Dahlia's writings yesterday and here is how she described our crèche:

My mom and dad have a little house. The people are little gods. There are cows, horses, sheep, pigs, ducks and dogs.

Have they changed the Eucharist since back when I used to attend mass?

Dahlia has a friend who is Catholic and who just had her first communion. Her friend must have told her about it and Dahlia passed-on this information to us.

She said that they eat some "stale buns" and drink "bad beer"

If so, this may be closer to what was offered at the actual last supper, but a far cry from the wafers and wine I remember.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Is this really possible?

Among the errands I ran today, my day off, was to get a new monitor for our computer. The original Dell one was never able to render a sharp image--it was murder on the eyes looking at its blurry smear.

Our computer is old (like 5-6 years) and is slow. Now, the computer seems to be really a lot faster. I am no electronics expert, but I just don't see how a monitor (running at a much higher resolution even) can speed up a computer! Even if the monitor driver is more efficient, how much cpu or memory was used for that? Couldn't be much I would think.

An interesting chart

I am for all the proposals by the Republican side, but don't see how they came up with these figures.

The price of a commodity is normally identical to the marginal cost of production,-when supply and demand are in equilibrium. This makes sense since producers will always try to add production whenever the cost of production is below the going price. The current oil price is due to in elasticity: It takes time to bring new production on-line and people cannot instantly adjust to the new higher prices. The cost of production of oil from non-conventional sources such as coal, deep water oil wells and shale oil are all well below the current price of oil; so it is only a matter of time before the price declines back to the cost of production. In the mean-time there is a shortage. What this leads to is that the price will be governed by the utility value. People will pay whatever it is worth to them to get the product. A minimum wage worker simply will not spend $50/day to commute to a job which pays $40/day. A surgeon who makes $1,000/day will spend $50 to get to work.

Predictions of what small increases in the world supply of oil will do to the price are hard to make. Two million extra barrels per day of supply could push the price right back down to marginal costs of production--say in the $50 area. This production could also make little difference for two reasons: 1. Saudi Arabia could just cut production by the same amount. 2. By the time the new production came on-line, there could exist high value demand (doctors who need to get to work etc.) which would sop-up the new supply.

Now, would it be rational for the Saudis to try cutting production? It all depends on the numbers...

Let's say in a few years, oil from ANWAR starts to come on-line and the price then is $150 per barrel. Let us say that this new source would cause a collapse to $50, and that the Saudis produce 10 million barrels per day. If they keep selling all 10 million barrels they will get 1/2 billion dollars per day. If they cut back by two million barrels they will get 1.2 billion dollars per day.

Of course this assumes that the price would collapse, which might not be the case. From the standpoint of our national interest, it doesn't really matter what others do. If we produce our own oil it will certainly help us with our balance of payments problems. Bear in mind that ANWAR alone contains at least one trillion dollars worth of crude oil.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Today was another scorcher.

I was out the door at 6:00 AM this morning for a jog. It was already unpleasantly hot, not to the point where it slowed me down, but unpleasantly so. Yesterday I ran at 1:00 in the afternoon and it was probably a waste of time. I ran really slowly. I probably could have run faster but I was afraid to push myself too hard.

What is really amazing is that we have been keeping the whole house reasonably cool with just two 8,000 btu window units. I still had 3 6,000 units in storage, so I put one of these in just to allow for quicker cool-down times.

Osaka is as far North as I ever went in Japan. I traveled there by volunteering to drive a school bus of volleyball players from our base in Iwa Kuni up to an English school in the vicinity of Osaka. I didn't have anything to do on the day of the tournament so I took the train into downtown Osaka. I wondered randomly, eventually coming to an undeveloped strip of land which had a little brook in it. I followed that for a while and then veered back into the built-up areas again. Then I spotted Osaka Castle and I knew that is what I wanted to see. I had been to Hiroshima castle a lot: It is small but beautifully laid out in very pleasing proportions. Osaka castle was on an entirely different scale: Here in the middle of the biggest city I had ever seen, the metropolis stretched to the horizon, were vast open areas. One would cross a moat and then climb up a level, just to see another open area with another moat and another rise. The next time I would see such an impressive grounds was when, five years later, I went to the citadel at Quebec City in Canada. I took a lot of photographs. I should dig them out and post them sometime...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Will we have strawberries this year?

We have a pretty good sized strawberry patch in our yard; it was here when we moved to this place. Even though the patch produces lots of fruit, we never get much because something always eats it before we can.

This year is different--I hope.

The reason for hope is that we have a dog which runs around in the back yard. We keep her indoors at night, but maybe her daily presence will keep the strawberry thieves away. Time will tell. There are almost ripe berries on the plants now.

Of course, the dog might eat the strawberries. This would still represent an improvement of sorts: Better for our strawberry thief to eat her fill, than for some strange, probably disease-harboring creature to do so.

Update: My wife caught our puppy eating a green strawberry this morning. D'Oh!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Suddenly Summer

For the first time this year it has gotten really Summer-like--low 90's with plenty of humidity and the occasional flash thunder storm.

We did the usual Summer things: Went to the swim and tennis club, mowed the lawn, grilled some fish (salmon, swordfish and sea scallops) and had it with corn on the cob and fruit salad.

My running has taken a hit. Even first thing this morning it was warm and sticky out. I was not in the mood for running in that!