power shortage

I decided to investigate my iBook’s weak battery. After not quite two years, it appears to have lost almost 90% of its charge (748 / 4400 = 0.17).

"IOBatteryInfo" = ({"Capacity"=748,"Amperage"=443,"CycleCount"=552,"Current"=596,"Voltage"=12598,"Flags"=838860807,"AbsoluteMaxCapacity"=4400})

This translates to being able to work for 4 hours on battery to about 40 minutes.
Looks like I need to find a good source for a battery as well. They seem to run about $100.

<update: Thu Oct 6 21:55:35 PDT 2005 > just scored one on ebay for $40, new in box.


too good to excerpt

This — Daily Kos: Bush Supporters of the Far Right: Cries from the Lake of Fire — is too strong, too complete to try and prise out just one passage. Warm yourself by the glow of righteous, articulate anger.

standardized tests of yesteryear

I found an old clipping last week from the Wall Street Journal letters page, sometime in the early 1980s. The writer had saved his high school entrance exam from 1911, taken in rural Indiana, and sent along a sampling.

  • In what state and on what waters are the following: Chicago, Duluth, Cleveland, and Buffalo? State an important fact about each.
  • Name and locate two countries in the following are important products: wheat, cotton, wool, coffee.
  • Write on the Panama Canal, telling who is building it, its location and importance.
  • What causes the change from day to night and from winter to summer?
  • Name five republics, three limited monarchies, and one absolute monarchy.
  • Name the classes of sentences on the basis of meaning or use. On the basis of form.
  • Write a sentence with its verb in the active voice; change to passive voice.
  • What is meant by inflection? What parts of speech are inflected?
  • Write sentences containing nouns showing six case relations.
  • Write a model business letter of not more than 40 words.
  • What is the length of a rectangular field 80 rods wide that contains 100 acres?
  • A wagon is 10 feet long, three feet wide, and 28 inches deep: how many bushels of what will it hold?
  • A rope 500 feet long is stretched from the top of a tower and reached the ground 300 feet from the base of the tower: how high is the tower?
  • In physiology, name three kinds of joints and give an example of each.
  • Give the structure of a muscle and of the spinal cord.
  • Define arteries, veins, capillaries, and pulse.
  • Write a brief biography of Evangeline.
  • What do you think the author of “Enoch Arden” aims to teach us?
  • What kind of a man was Shylock?

I couldn’t answer a lot of these now, and I am thrice the age of a potential high school entrant.

What’s interesting about these questions is the amount of local knowledge, civics, economics they cover. Knowing what cities lie on what bodies of water and what crops are grown where requires you to understand the wider world in ways many of us don’t today.

Of course, they also cover a lot of archaic stuff: who know what a rod is or how many bushels will fit in a 35 cubic foot wagon? Just for your edification, a bushel is 2150.42 cubic inches.

And a rod? Go work that one out for yourself.

Suggest some updated versions of these questions in comments, if you like.


Socialize the risk, privatize the profit

Bill “the kitten vivisector” Frist and his recent unloading of stock in the family business is about more than just the mythical blind trust.

Pump and Dump Politics:

According to Thompson Financial analyst Mark LoPresti, quoted in several of the stories, the key piece of inside information that Frist and the other insiders had that others didn’t was this:

Uninsured patient admissions were rising faster than those of insured patients

Let’s consider why it might generally be considered a conflict of interest for Frist to own so much HCA stock. The main concern would be that Frist might be in a position to use his public power to improve the financial condition of such hospitals; for example, he could push for some kind of increased coverage for the uninsured or even universal health care. He might have a public motive for doing so, but he might also have a private motive, since it would hugely benefit a hospital chain like HCA. That’s the reason for putting all his stock in a blind trust, so that he won’t know, and we know that he won’t know, whether he would benefit privately.

But when the uninsured ratio goes up, and Frist actually knows that this will affect his own portfolio, paradoxically his reaction isn’t what the normal conflict-of-interest analysis would assume. Rather than use his official power to reduce the number of uninsured, he takes a private action, and just dumps the stock. And not just any stock, this is his patrimony he’s selling out. It’s the stock of his own family’s company. But he washes his hands of it. Leaves it to some bigger sucker.

And that, to me, is telling, and it’s about more than Frist’s despicable character. Because it goes to the great paradox of what is currently called “conservatism.”

In other words, he might have taken some steps to address the shortfall for uninsured patients, against the fiduciary interests of his family and himself: hence the blind trust. But did he? No, he played the game like a crooked insider and unloaded his holdings, selling out his family and the citizens he has pledged to serve.

What a creep.