Monday, January 17, 2011

What isn't right here?

The NFL has supposedly released some photos from the last time the Packers and the Bears played in the playoffs. One picture is here, and the other is here. Can you spot why I think the NFL (or maybe Yahoo) screwed up?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Get Well Soon, Representative Giffords

As has been much discussed everywhere (perhaps too much by too many who really should have had better things to do), Arizona U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was targeted for assassination today by a nut, shot through the head while the killer also indiscriminately murdered 6 others, including what appears to be a very bright and interested 9 year old girl. My condolences to the families who lost a loved one, and as a parent of young child, especially to the parents of Christina Green. While Giffords almost certainly has a long road back, I hope to see her back in the Democratic side of the House of Representatives as soon a possible.

China as Japan, Circa 1985

How many of you out there remember the days when it seemed like Japan and its culture were on the precipice of overwhelming us? I do. And I remember all the news stories about the superiority of Japanese culture and the inferiority of America. I'm smelling a repeat of history.

The gist of the article is this: Chinese parents expect excellence of their children. American parents want their kids to feel good about themselves.

I am as wary of the rising level of competition in all areas from China as anyone. But this smacks of the overblown news stories about the Japanese in the 1980s. I offer this anecdotally as my proof:

If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.

This passage by itself is proof to me that this entire editorial is a boast of a proud, culturally Chinese woman. There is no way - NO WAY - every Chinese child is scoring straight A's and doing so explicitly because their parents hold them to that standard. We are all of different aptitudes, abilities, and skills. And their are a good number of very intelligent people who do not have the aptitude for school work, regardless of how hard their parents drill them. And, sorry to say, there are some amongst us who just can't get A's or B's, but who still have places in societies, American or Chinese.

Like the Japanese stories of a previous generation, their is a strain of truth in this piece. That strain is that we owe it to our children to hold them to the highest possible standards that they could achieve. But the piece goes off the tracks in projecting a China that is perfect in raising its children (those that don't end up dead because they weren't a boy, anyway). Do not be fooled into a hand wringing panic like many were by the rise of Japanese competition, however. Just learn from it, and use the lessons you take to better raise your kids to make them competitive for a new era that will be very much unlike yours.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Why We Must Stay on Top of Military Technology

It has become very easy over the last 20 years to take our huge advantage over the world in military technology for granted. And for the politicians, that can make the military budgets a sweet target for evisceration. But for the first time since the late Soviet days, there is a power dedicating the treasure to not only catching up but surpassing us:
Photos leaked online that appear to show a prototype of China's first stealth fighter jet were discussed in state media Wednesday — a move that supports claims the country's military aviation program is advancing faster than expected.

Both the English and Chinese language editions of the Global Times ran front-page articles on the photos of what appears to be a future J-20 fighter, along with extensive reports on the buzz the pictures have generated overseas.

Now even if this fighter does take a test flight soon, it is still years out from being in the Chinese arsenal. Any sense of security that may create is an illusion, though. Unless you continue to push your R&D, regardless of the field, someone else who pushes their R&D with greater diligence will likely surpass you sooner than you think. New product development is not a spigot that just turns on at full speed, either. If the Chinese catch up and then get a jump on us, it will take years before our pipeline of cutting edge military technology is producing fast enough for us to get back in the game. This may indeed be the Chinese century if we are not forward thinking in all fields.


I have one resolution for this blog in 2011. I'm finally going to play code monkey and fix some flaws and strip out some ancient features. I may write more, but the joint really needs the updates.

Reviewing those 2010 Predictions

I didn't get 2011 predictions posted this year, but I should recap my 2010 predictions, especially since I didn't do too bad. Here we go:

10. Sometime in the first half of the year, the stock market will outrun the current irrational exuberance and sharply tumble back below 10,000.

It wasn't as sharp as I was thinking, but in late spring/early summer, the Dow plummeted from 11,200 to below 9,800.

9. At the end of the year, unemployment will remain above 9%.

Got it, but this was almost a gimme.

8. At least one nation will default or nearly default on its debt.

We had a couple of close calls, but no actual default. Ireland, Greece, and Iceland, amongst others, still hang on by their fingernails.

7. A promising Green Bay Packer season will be derailed by injuries.

Last year was too healthy for the injury bug not to catch up with them, and it did.

6. Democrats will avoid provoking controversy via legislation just enough to lose fewer seats than anticipated in the off-year election.

That's what I get for overestimating the political instincts of the current class of Democrats. Wrong.

5. The newspaper industry will continue to disintegrate as at least two more papers halt their print editions.

I don't recall any doing so, so wrong again.

4. Al Gore will pontificate about global warming during an unseasonable cold snap/blizzard (this should be a gimme).

Not gimme. Ol' Al went on the DL to a certain extent. Had he shown up in Cancun, though, this one would have been a winner.

3. Tiger Woods will return from hiatus before the majors begin.

There was no way he'd stay away from the majors. Got it.

2. There will be a significant terrorist attack on American interests.

Wrong, and thankful for that. Never would have predicted TSA Gone Wild, though. I guess all that rhetoric about the Bush Administration being the Nazi's was just talk, huh? Unless the Obama & company are the Politburo.

1. President Obama's approval rating will end the year marginally higher than they begin the year. Marginally.

Wrong. Slightly lower. But I didn't think he'd ram Obamacare through, and I though congressional Dems were smarter politicritters than they were.

I'm giving myself 4.5 out of 10 on this (a half for the near national defaults). Not great, but if this were hitting a baseball, you'd all be talking about me cryogenically freezing myself right now.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Rex Loves Peyton's Feet?

A silly controversy erupted in the NFL a couple of weeks ago when it was found that Jersey/B's head coach Rex Ryan and his wife had a foot fetish video on YouTube. Ryan has refused to comment in any way because it is a "personal" issue. So how confusing is this?

"Is it personal? Yes, it's personal. It's personal against him (Manning), Reggie Wayne, all those guys, yeah. (Dwight) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis and those other dudes? Absolutely."


Is this another example of Ryan sticking his (wife's) foot in his mouth, or is he attracted to the feet of Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney, and Robert Mathis?