Saturday, May 07, 2011

Up Hill Both Ways

When I started out on yesterday's ride, the wind was hitting me head on. I figured that was perfect; I'd have a tailwind for the ride back. Nope. Strong headwind. Both ways. Huh?!? Today I get a bit of a break; Debbie is riding with me so we're only doing a couple miles.

I see oil is below $100/barrel this morning. So much for $5/gallon gas. Not that we're out of the woods in the long term, but this will give people a bit of breathing space over the short term. Given the amount of froth in commodities in general, we'll likely see oil prices driven into the ground again, then bounce back up. Speculators don't change the direction of commodity prices; they only increase the volatility. Which makes the long-term picture for oil even more bleak. With prices whipsawing from $140 to $30 to $110 and now dropping again, all in a three-year period, it makes the sort of long-term planning and investing needed to significantly increase future oil production very difficult. In any case, at least the pressure is off for now so we can all go back to sleepwalking off a cliff.

Another Florida bank bit the dust yesterday, bringing the 2011 total to 40, well off last year's pace. And it was a pretty small bank, relatively speaking. Losing 40 banks in four months is disastrous by historical standards; that it's good news tells you just how bad things have been over the last three years.

The other good news is that businesses are hiring, which ironically caused the unemployment to go back up to 9%. The just-so story is that the increase in hiring caused people who had stopped looking for work (who are not considered "unemployed") to start looking again (causing them to be counted as "unemployed" again). Statistics brought to you by the same people who run Amtrak.

The backlash from killing bin Laden begins:

Pakistan's army broke its silence Thursday over the U.S. commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden, acknowledging its own "shortcomings" in efforts to find the al-Qaida leader but threatening to review cooperation with Washington if there is another similar violation of Pakistani sovereignty.

...The tone of the army statement was in sharp contrast to the initial response to the raid by the country's civilian leaders. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had hailed the operation as a "great victory" but made no mention of any concerns over sovereignty.

This will not end well. And for the gods' sake, can we have just one military operation that doesn't feature the mechanical failure of a helicopter?

The Mozilla team tells the Department of Homeland Security to go piss up a rope:

Mozilla's legal department didn't immediately comply with ICE's request to take down MafiaaFire and instead asked for more clarification. "Our approach is to comply with valid court orders...but in this case there was no such court order," Harvey Anderson, a member of Mozilla's legal team, recently explained on his personal blog. "Thus, to evaluate Homeland Security's request, we asked them several understand the legal justification."


Hobby or obsession:

A Storm has Arrived (NSFW):

AT&T will no longer provide unlimited broadband. This has little to nothing to do with keeping prices down or the cost of bandwidth. This is a blatant attempt to bollix up Hulu, Amazon UnBox and Netflix Streaming:

The blunt-force approach of a bandwidth cap does have the advantage of making users think twice about streaming HD movies from Netflix. That is, perhaps not coincidentally, doubly to the advantage of most big ISPs, because they’d rather have you spending money on their video services than paying a third party. Bandwidth-intense services threaten to turn the likes of Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner Cable into utilities — a dependable business, but not one that has the huge profit margins these companies have come to enjoy.

For now, the caps are high enough that most people won't ever hit them. An hour of high-def video is around 2.5GB, so a 250GB/month cap is 100 hours of streaming video. That's a lot in our case, but could be a problem with a connection shared by a family. And I'm sure those caps will come down once they are in place.

First we had earthquakes, then fires, and now floods:

Government engineers will blow up a third section of a Mississippi River levee on Thursday to manage flooding, as a wall of water roared down the nation's largest river system, threatening towns and cities all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

What next? Famine? Pestilence? We've been able to ignore the Four Horsemen for a century due to our cleverness. But Nature always wins in the end.

It looks like yet-another computer worm has targeted Iran. No information yet on what specifically is being attacked. This is all great fun until the retaliation starts. To imagine that only the US and Israel are smart enough to create these is to be dangerously naive.

Well, gotta go make Debbie some waffles; she's sitting next to me whinging about getting her breakfast before it's lunch time.

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