Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The weather is the topic of conversation today. We woke up to snow; on the ground and in the air. Tomorrow is supposed to get up 70 degrees F, then snow all weekend. Snow on May 1st is a possibility. Worse, it wouldn't set any records; there has been recorded snowfalls on Mother's Day here. Northern Michigan just can't be beat for goofy weather. No wonder everyone is sick.

I had a productive night last night, even if it didn't end until 3 am this morning. I spent some time working on my much-neglected web site. I'm mostly working on taking things down, sorting out the garbage, and preparing for big changes. I figured once the Blogspot and Google merger shakes out and Blogspot decides what premium services they will offer, I will move the bulk of the existing site here and save myself a couple hundred dollars a year. While I was doing all that, I had a nice chat on IM with one of my teens that I hadn't talked to in a while. That kept me busy until almost 9 pm. I finished up the permission slips and such for a trip we will be taking with the youth group this weekend, then typed up the minutes from the last deacons' meeting so I'd be all ready for tonight. The agenda looks short, so with some luck, I will get home at a decent time and get some sleep. Wednesday and Thursday are the 24-hour prayer vigil we do every year for the day of prayer. I had planned on taking some of the killer times that no one signs up for (like 3 am) but I won't be able to pull that off unless I get some sleep tonight.

Other than the deacons' meeting tonight, there really isn't much else on tap for today.


Wired reports on new computer chips that use magnetism and electron spin instead of current flow. This will allow much faster chip speeds without the heat. Heat has become the bottleneck these days. Processors have to use larger, more elaborate heat sinks and fan assemblies with each bump in clock speed. Eventually, they will simply generate so much heat that they will be impractical for desktops as well as laptops. Last night I used my laptop as an actual laptop. I was certainly glad it wasn't summer. I had to constantly shift it around on my legs because it was just plain HOT. Understand that I'm using a laptop that is nearly five years old running a Pentium III at 750 MHz (actually, I think it was some odd number, but close enough that you get the idea). I can't imagine how hot the new ones with 1+ GHz Pentium IV's get. In any case, this technology is out there a ways. The first application will be memory chips (five years out) with other components to follow. Moore's Law marches on.


Noah's ark is back in the news. New satellite photos reveal a wooden structure on modern day Mount Ararat. The problem is that the "Mount Ararat" mentioned in the Bible is actually a reference to a range of mountains some distance from the current mountain bearing that name. Of course, never let facts get in the way of proving your fore-gone conclusion. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, is there; any wooden structure of significant age would be interesting from an archeological perspective. But even if it was the correct location, the idea that a wooden structure could survive intact after 4,000+ years of freezing, thawing, and being pushed around on a mountain by glaciers is a little beyond my ability to accept. Supposedly, someone will scamper up there this summer for a look-see. Prepare to be underwhelmed.


More dead U.S. soldiers, and the election is looking more and more like a referendum on the war. This year hasn't been a good one personally so far; it could turn out to be an ugly one for our nation as well.

WorldNetDaily in general is no friend of Bush, but I'm not sure what to make of this article. On the one hand, it is certainly true that the primary, east-coast news outlets never report good news from Iraq and focus exclusively on the bad. For one thing, bad news sells papers. People will grab at a headline like "5 US Soldiers Killed in Explosion" and completely ignore one like "In Kurdish Iraq, Kids Go To School." The second one just isn't compelling enough for the average person to care about. How much would you pay to read story after story of nothing out of the ordinary happening? So it's expected that bad news will always prevail. In local news, that's not a real problem. I live near Kalkaska and spend a large percentage of my time there. I've never actually witnessed a crime, a house fire, etc. I know these things happen because I read about them in the newspaper or see them on the news, but I know they don't predominate the town in the same way they predominate the news because I'm there. I'm not in Iraq, so when I see nothing but images of exploding buildings and people shooting each other, I don't have the personal perspective to counter-balance all the bad news. I therefore conclude that Iraq is going to hell in a handbasket.

Having said all that, I do believe that many of the national news figures have talked themselves into a position that reporting any good news on the WMD front will make them look stupid. And much of what makes up this article is underwhelming. A container of pesticide under a guy's sink is no threat to me or any interest I have even if it were mounted on top of the hilariously-named No Dong missile. I do think the article makes a good point; a clandestine weapons program is going to have bits and pieces scattered all over the place, not all laid out nice and neat in a big building with "WMD Factory" painted in 10-foot letters on the side. It will take time to collect all the bits and pieces, and each discovery is not going to be a big, splashy news story. Is there bias at work here? Certainly. But I think it is more of a bias towards sensationalism and ratings. Again, compare the following two headlines: "Top Bush Aid Calls President a Liar" "Three Ounces of Pesticide Found Under Man's Sink." Again, which would you pay money to read? Is there anyone with a pulse that thinks every reporter, editor, news show producer, etc. doesn't know the answer to that? Why is it so hard to believe that the bias is the result of personal self-interest (not getting fired for losing ratings points) rather than personal ideology or a mass conspiracy that involves thousands of people from dozens of countries?

Well, that's all I have time for. Later.

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