Saturday, March 27, 2004
Put an asterisk next to any record?
The notation being for the microprocessor-controlled prosthesis of amputee Scott Rogers currently attempting to walk the 2168 mile Appalacian Trail. Rogers has already started his trek and just learned that a Carl Moon completed the same feat (pun intended) back in 1992 with a regular artificial limb. What will happen to all sorts of records in 20-30 years when bionic competitors smash barriers? Wheel chair athletes already beat runners in the Boston Marathon.
Thursday, March 25, 2004
FundRace 2004: Who's Donating to the US Candidates?
Try the Neighbor Search. Put in a Zip Code and see who's kickin' in for whom. Here in the Rochester, NY area (14506), I was surprised to learn that we have the CEO of Sirius Satellite Radio and he contributed $2000 to Kerry's campaign. You can also search on a name to discover the deep pockets behind the pols. Early Primary candidates (Dean, Edwards, Clark, etc.) are also listed. Put your favorite finds in the heap-o-shoveling comment section below.
***** tip of the hat to Vasha *****
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
March Madness, but remember basketball's disservice to our youths
The Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics re-convened in FEB and now reminds us that of the Sweet 16 semi-finalists in this month's basketball tourney, only 4 teams have a graduation rate above the Foundation's recommended 50 per cent. While 50% (and lower) may be a passing grade in most Indian universities, who would value a similar, annual attrition rate in their business? That's right, who would spend the time and money to recruit employees, train them, and develop a successful reputation to lose half those valued workers at year end? Many say that college athletics is big business, albeit a poorly run biz. Unfortunately, the Commission has little "power" and only makes recommendations to the NCAA. I personally like two ideas before the Commission:
1. Involve more faculty in academic reform. Currently, there's a majority of university presidents and their representative "commissioners" who lack the day-to-day perspective of student athletes.
2. Several respected coaches have suggested freshman ineligibility, emphasizing that a year of residency without high-level competition would help improve graduation rates.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Achilles, sexless teddy bear...
Where do you fit into 27 man-types defined by researcher Stephen Whitehead in his The Many Faces of Men? The author's CV includes a 25-year career as an academic, sports coach and pub manager.
Monday, March 22, 2004
My father was 40 years ahead of the resurgence curve...
when he served draught PBR, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, in our home. As the Director of Physical Education and Health in our local school, he was no mechanical and plumbing genius, but knew the connection between brewer's yeast/vitamin B and the keg system installed into our "spare" refrigerator by his friend (the local beer distributor). The picture would be a little more complete if I mentioned that my parents lived upstairs in our house while my brother and I lived downstairs with the TV room, dartboard, and beer. Pulling the tap handle for a "short one" was much easier than friends who had to sneak a beer past their bottle counting fathers ;^)
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Lots of new snow in Rochester, NY
The storm started during last night's rush hour, so I drove carefully and stopped for petrol on my way home. I shoveled the driveway around my car twice last night just so it wouldn't be so deep at 7AM today. The plan worked as a brilliant sun crept above this morning's horizon. I again drove carefully, listened to the car radio for road hazards, and snickered at the foolish drivers behaving like Winter was just starting. Hard to believe, but we're just a week away from the Spring equinox. I'm reminded of the purple crocus poking its flowerhead up thru the warming soil last weekend in Ithaca.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Troublesome assholes spoiling Major League Baseball?
Monday, March 15, 2004
Big Red Hockey
Hipsters know "Big Red" as Cornell University, a Division 1 ECAC and Ivy League powerhouse. Long time fan and season ticket holder Irving invited me down to Ithaca on Saturday for an ECAC quarter-final game against Clarkson College. I've previously seen great hockey at the collegiate and professional level, but the Big Red has a secret weapon: its fans. There wasn't an empty seat in the arena and yet nobody was sitting. The crowd never stopped cheering and the Pep Band has an inciteful repertoire. It didn't matter that Cornell lost, the Big Red will be alive and well next year. Did I mention that we had Thai for dinner?!
On Sunday morning, Treg, Irving's other half, fixed us a hardy breakfast. He needed it as fuel for his morning chores around his beef cattle farm. It's calving season and I took what I thought were some great digital pix. I hope that next time, I remember to put the memory card in the camera. Treg also sharpened my cutlery and I helped him rediscover his digital pix on his computer. The countryside around Ithaca and the Finger Lakes is very relaxing. Take a friend, a bottle of wine, and enjoy ;^)
Saturday, March 13, 2004
"One Indian in the Senate is the wrong number"
Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Native American and Northern Cheyenne tribe leader expressed his belief as he announced his retirement from the U.S. Senate. The Congressman went on to note that "there ought to be more, or there ought to be none". I would note that Senator Campbell is one senator amongst 100 in the U.S. Senate (1%) and Native Americans account for 0.7% of the U.S. population.
Racial balance is changing in America. While the U.S. Census Bureau currently defines 70.1% of American population as "white, non-hispanic", it also indicates that group declining in numbers over the next 21 years with all other groups increasing:
Whites are declining from 70.1% to 62%
Hispanics are growing from 12.7% to 18.2%
Blacks are increasing from 12.3% to 12.9%
Asians are expanding from 4.2% to 6.2%
Native Americans swell from 0.7% to 0.8%
Was it Charles Darwin or just some bumper sticker that summarized: "they who have the most, survives"?
Friday, March 12, 2004
Hinglish or lost in translation?
Distress Digress Express reports (poorly):
"The outsourcing issue is raging in the US, with North Carolina planning to bring food stamping jobs back from India..."
It's not what it sounds like. No Indian was licking postage and sticking it to culinary delights. Nor were Indians using a rubber stamp and ink pad to mark the food. And I'm pretty sure that our brown brothers and sisters were not operating some machine that stamped out perfectly formed Freedom Fries for McDonalds. In reality: just another BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) was awarded to a low bidder in India, where Indian agents answered American callers with questions about American food stamps (social service vouchers used as payment for food). Personally, I'm impressed with any Indian that can explain American buracracy (something I, an American, wouldn't presume to spin).
Thursday, March 11, 2004
Indian not popular in U.S.
The U.S. Golden Dollar coin featuring Sacagawea, the 19th century Native American scout, has not caught on since its introduction in 2000. Proposed legisation will have the image replaced with U.S. presidents beginning in 2006.
IMHO, the successive failures of the Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea dollar coins have little to do with imagery (regardless that all other U.S. currencies feature men). While in India, I met several usability experts who reminded me of what we called "manual system analysts" in the early 70s. This practical group would argue that the survival of dollar coins rests in the coin's function:
1. The recent size of dollar coins has been confusingly close to that of the "quarter dollar". Why has the U.S. Mint forgotten the larger size of the original "silver" dollars?
2. Users, however, don't necessarily like the weight and jingle of metal coins. Have wear-resistant plastic and ceramic been studied?
3. Gold goes beyond image into the realm of function. Gold has instant value and substance, whether molded into mookuththi (nose piercings) or coated onto astronaut's visors. Recent "golden" dollars have been closer to "bronze" colored. Electroplate the damn things with $1 worth of gold!
4. Why does the dollar currency have to be a coin? Why can't the U.S. be innovators with some RFID chip? I suspect Micro$oft and Intel would foot the bill (figuratively and literally). As a government product, we could expect domestic manufacturing, marketing infrastructure surrounding the RFID data, and re-cycling. Slam dunk, America wins ;^)
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
I read Michael Crichton's novel Prey last month and today I notice a real life connection. Without spoiling the book, I'll mention that it involves the genetic development of a flying nano-particle that sees. Manufacturing at microscopic levels is biased against mechanical function, so I'm intrigued by the recent Philips Research demonstration at the CeBIT Exhibition in Hannover, Germany. Philip's product, FluidFocus, mimics the human eye by creating a non-mechanical lens, one that simply (and cheaply) alters the shape of viscous fluids with electrical charge. The prototype is already tiny (3mm) and nano-development could put it into our bodies for medical diagnosis.
Hey kids: hang up your cell phone, turn off the MP3 player and XBOX. Can you say "career in optics"?
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Vaginas onstage in Mumbai
More specifically, Jane Fonda and Marisa Tomei are joining Indian and Pakistani actresses in performances of The Vagina Monologues to mark Monday's International Women's Day. I stand erect and snap off a crisp salute to the cause ;^)
Monday, March 08, 2004
Is your NY State political representative blowing smoke up your skirt?
Certain Senate and Assembly officials are proposing bills as exceptions to NY's recent anti-smoking law. These hacks (pun intended) appear more interested in business than the health of their constituancy. Upcoming elections will hopefully defeat the following:
Senator Raymond Meier (Western, NY) wants to exempt bars that install an air filtration system. What happens to the non-smoker that stands between the smoker and the exhaust? Having worked in the bar and restaurant biz, I can almost guarantee that penny-pinching management leaves the filtration systems off until someone complains. And the filters are seldom cleaned on schedule.
Assemblyperson RoAnn Destito (Rome, NY) supports this foolhardy dependency on filtration systems.
Conservative Party Chairperson Mike Long thinks it "outrageous" that any smoker be denied. He sounds more like a Liberal when he champions personal freedom and eventual increases in healthcare support for cancer/emphasema patients.
Senator Byron Brown (Buffalo, NY) favors the exception to allow smoking at bingo games run by volunteer organizations. Would the volunteers also care for any stricken smokers?
Assemblyperson Howard Mills (Hamptonburgh, NY) would allow establishments to apply for a smoking license. Let's see them apply for smoker's insurance.
Sunday, March 07, 2004
What do you do with a chainsaw and a dead tree?
Last weekend, as I was heading a few miles west to Brockport to hide a NaviCache, I passed these carvings in front of Sodoma's Farm Market. I'm reminded of old friend Doug T who cut his hand badly learning this artistry.
** BTW ** The snow is gone for now. We had warm weather this past week and rain.
Thursday, March 04, 2004
Has anyone seen my kacha?
Thanks to Jivha the Tongue (see BlogRoll to left), I just laughed my ass off at the Singhsons.
Am I psychic or psychotic?
I'm hearing things and seeing patterns. Here's what I know:
1. Extreme political instability in Venezuela
2. Extreme oil reserves in Venezuela
3. Extreme Election Year rhetoric amongst the yanqueros to the north of Venezuela
Where When are the US Marines sticking their noses next?
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Why do my Indian co-workers do it?
Why do they skew the results? I'm reminded of two on-going examples in our Chennai office:
1. Why do they divulge their salary to their peers? Herd mentality quickly migrates to expectations of the max, conveniently forgetting there was higher performance associated with that higher pay. The lack of discretion, the inability to maintain privacy, erodes at eSat (employee satisfaction) and company performance.
2. Over the last two days, I led a team of Americans attempting to evaluate the communication skills of approximately 90 Indian new hires. On Day 1, the process went smoothly and the scores fit a standard bell curve. Today, however, it was very apparent that yesterday's candidates totally prepped their remaining classmates. Several admitted as such. I'm struggling with several issues. Do these un-fair minded people have the moral character to work for our company? When poor performers from the first group are terminated, will they remember that they gave the advantage to others? Lastly, what will be the cost to our business (and customers) to find the truly poor performers in the "over-inflated" second batch?
Here's appropriate headwear for these children...
Monday, March 01, 2004
Where has the YardBoy been?
Licking his wounds? Peering into his soul where there might be a flicker of literary acumen and self-respect? On Friday past, two learned gentleman from our Chennai, India office found my Plog "boring, at least what I've written since leaving India four months ago". The facts:
1. I don't go to a lot of clubs and bars in the US because many friends are entrenched with families. In truth, few friends in India wanted to go out (or come in, into my flat).
2. I'm single and comfortable in the role of a stag, but here in the US, "drinking & driving" is a serious problem. Cops are vigilant and the courts are merciless. By contrast, I was less hesitant to party in India where most laws are ignored and bribable.
3. I've Plogged about some strip clubs in Rochester, NY and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada that far exceed what I saw in Pondicherry, India. Interestingly, Indian readers never used my Plog's Comment function on these topics.
4. I've also Plogged about several sporting events in the US & Canada, but nobody wanted to attend a cricket match in Chennai.
5. Thank god for the Madras Bulls motorcycle club and the warm weather in India. It's Winter here in northern US (southern Canada) when I tend to hibernate (tho I've Plogged about NaviCaching, not that anyone has looked for the six caches I hid in India).
I would say to my detractors: Bring it on, let's see your stuff!