Friday, October 12, 2012

We Wonder...

Chris Christie Has a Story...

Why Pilots Prefer Airplanes Over Women...

Via reader Simi L.:
Why Pilots Prefer Airplanes Over Women
  • Airplanes usually kill you quickly; a woman takes her time.
  • Airplanes can be turned on by a flick of a switch.
  • Airplanes don't get mad if you do a "touch and go."
  • Airplanes don't object to a pre-flight inspection.
  • Airplanes come with a manual to explain their operation.
  • Airplanes have strict weight and balance limitations.
  • Airplanes can be flown at any time of the month.
  • Airplanes don't come with in-laws.
  • Airplanes don't care about how many other airplanes you've flown before.
  • Airplanes and pilots both arrive at the same time.
  • Airplanes don't mind if you look at other airplanes.
  • Airplanes don't mind if you buy airplane magazines.
  • Airplanes expect to be tied down.
  • Airplanes don't comment on your piloting skills.
  • Airplanes don't whine unless something is really wrong.
  • However, when airplanes go quiet, just like women, it's usually not good.

Curiosity: A Piece of Fluff...

Here's a close-up photo of the little piece of plastic that fell off the Rover.  The folks at JPL have concluded that it's likely a piece of detritus that fell off the skycrane during landing, and then subsequently fell off the Curiosity rover – most likely while it was waving it's arm around over Rocknest...

The Casual Vacancy...

I've just finished reading The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling (the author of the Harry Potter series).  I enjoyed it, well enough that I'll buy and read whatever she writes next – but it sure was a big surprise!

First, it is most definitely not aimed at kids.  Unusually mature young adults might find it interesting, but clearly the main audience is adults, especially those with children (or at least with an interest in children).  Unlike with the Harry Potter series, in this book the plot isn't the core of the book – instead, it's with the detailed study of different personalities, of personal interactions (and their consequences, intended or not), and most especially of how children are impacted by the behavior of the adults around them.  There are quite a few interesting characters in this novel, and every one of them is painted with great attention to detail.  The entire novel is plausible – even, unusually, the bit of technical wizardry that is part of the plot (some kids hacking into a web site). 

When I finished, I wondered to myself if there was anything about her new novel that was like the Harry Potter series – because at first blush they seem utterly different.  But I did identify one common thread: complexity.  This novel, like the Harry Potter books, is engineered – by which I mean that she absolutely must have started by thinking out all the characters, their inter-relationships, and the timeline of events.  I know for certain that she did exactly this with the Harry Potter series, because I've seen her worksheet (a sort of handwritten spreadsheet) for that published on the web somewhere.  I'd be willing to bet you that she did the same thing for The Casual Vacancy.  It's just too darned complex to have happened by accident.

Bottom line: thumbs up.  It will take you a chapter or two to get immersed in the world she crafts, but after that you'll be completely engrossed...

WTF Happened Last Night???

Well, that was just about the strangest political “debate” I've ever seen.  I was expecting entertainment, but I got something else instead.  I don't think either Ryan or Biden was the clear winner on either substance or debate style.  But I do think there was a winner: everybody who watched the debate – because we learned a lot about both men.

We learned that Ryan was out of his depth, and is somewhat uncomfortable, with foreign policy issues – but despite this, he was able to hold his own with the much more experienced Biden.

We learned that Martha Raddatz was an excellent moderator, despite the right's trashing of her before the debate, and accusing her of pandering to Biden after the debate.  She did no such thing – she was professional and even-handed throughout, and did a very effective job of asking questions that provoked potentially interesting answers.  The candidates didn't live up to the expectations she set, but that's their fault, not hers.  Kudos to Ms. Raddatz.

We learned that Biden was an uncouth, impolite, bullying jerk; full of bluster and blarney, and fond of yelling from the bar stool.

We learned (or rather, had reinforced) Ryan's strength on economic issues.

We learned how lucky we are that Obama hasn't been killed or incapacitated – because the idea of Joe Biden as president is positively terrifying (I would thing that's true even for loyal Democrats).

We learned that Ryan looks and behaves like a level-headed, grounded adult.  At least from behavioral cues, it's at least not frightening to imagine him as president.

We learned (or rather, had reinforced) how effective Biden's down-home, folksy mannerisms are.  Unfortunately for him, this was more than counter-balanced by his downright bizarre behaviors and constant rude interruptions of Ryan.

We learned that women find Ryan strong, comforting, and easy on the eye (despite his party affiliation), and that they find Biden kind of creepy and definitely not comforting (despite his party affiliation).

The winner?  Us, hands-down.  The loser, politically?  Probably the Obama/Biden ticket, because they didn't get the sort of boost from this debate that they so badly needed after the first Obama/Romney debate.

Here are some thoughts from others:

Nick Gillespie, Reason: The Smirk Store Is Out of Smirks...
Michael Barone, Washington Examiner: Biden Didn't Put a Dent in Romney...
Neoneocon: Biden Was Like the Drunken Blowhard...
Peter Suderman, Reason: Very Specific Malarkey...

Less than an hour after the debate finished, the Republican National Committee had a new ad up, making extensive use of Uncle Joe's bizarre debate behavior.  On nearly a daily basis something like this happens with a speed that leaves me gobsmacked.  An hour?!?  Before I could really even collect my thoughts, they had a polished and effective ad up on the Internet.  Just amazing...