Review: Iron Man 3

So listed because we watched it front-to-back tonight on the Apple TV.

I think the second one was better, but this one is still pretty good. Definitely in the top half of the Marvel Superhero Franchise Universe movies.


Review: Enders Game

Hey, it was in the two-for-$10 bin at Walmart, so why not.

After watching it, I thought that since I knew the book I felt the pacing was awkward as it desperately tried to hit the beats from the book.

And I think that if I had not known the book in advance, it would have been incomprehensible.


Voting Rant

So if I don't vote for your political party in an election, that's because your platform didn't appeal to me.  And that's not my fault.  It isn't my job to make you have a platform that will appeal to me.

So if none of the political parties have platforms which appeal to me, and I don't vote for any of them, why is that my fault?

If I don't vote for you, you have not captured my imagination, my vision, and/or my trust.

If nobody captures my imagination, my vision, and/or my trust, that's a condemnation of your political vision.  It still isn't my job to make you have a platform that will appeal to me.

If more than 50% of the electorate doesn't vote, that's a gigantic condemnation of the entire political process.  It means that more than half of the electorate has decided that none of the options are good enough.

Trying to shame me into voting won't work.

Trying to claim that it disrespects our sainted veterans who fought and died for my right to vote won't work.  I would venture to say that the majority of those veterans who fought and died for that right would be horrified to learn that I was being demanded to vote for someone I didn't want to.

I think those veterans who fought and died etc etc did so in order that I could stand up and say: none of these options are good enough.

Why is that not participation?

In the old days, the USSR would hold an election, and the General Secretary routinely won in excess of 95% of the vote.  Of course, this was mostly because he ran unopposed, but never mind -- his people had the vote.

Why if I have the "option" of three or more people I don't want to vote for, suddenly that's democracy?


Day 96: Lots Of Progress

This whole strategy of updating when a mission completes isn't going to work, since missions all tend to blend together now.  Also my sessions are strung out and not in any consistent order.  So I think I'd better just do a snapshot update of where we are now.

Since the last update:

  • I sent the rover out to collect the floating transfer stage that was lurking a couple dozen km away from the station.  It was dropped there by one of the Skippies -- maybe the one that brought the rover, I've lost track -- and has lurked there ever since.  It had a non-trivial amount of fuel in it, and had a docking ring on it, so sending the rover to collect it made good sense.  After much tugging around I finally docked it with the rest of the station.
  • I've launched a second Silverado mostly as a fuel truck to add more fuel to the station's gas tank, then returned that Silverado home.  That return missed its landing target and ended up in the water.  Everyone survived.
  • Jeb (of course) commandeered Skippy II and he and Ronwell did a Munar orbital intercept, to see if it was possible.  It was.  Jeb tried to show boat on his return, trying for an immediate aerobrake capture from an orbit that was practically Munar orbit.  He guessed high -- a 48 km atmospheric periapsis wasn't sufficient to capture Skippy II, so he's going around again.  At the peak he dropped his periapsis to 30km, so this time through he should land.
  • Grand Theft Orbiter: Jeb brings Skippy II into Munar orbit
  • A Silverado with a bigger fuel tank, nicknamed a Boomer, was launched directly into Munar orbit from KSC.  Up there the crew is performing orbital change operations to learn how various operations require delta-v.
  • Far From Home: Kerbal from Munar orbit
  • Boomer II has been launched with a prototype (unnamed at this point) lander.  Once orbit was achieved (timing for a direct Munar insertion was wrong), the delta-v left was considered too low to risk going to the Mun.   After separating from the lander so that Siding could put it through some basic maneuver experiments, Boomer II collected the lander back up and intercepted the space station.  Both the lander and Boomer II individually docked with the station to refuel.  So at this point the plan for Boomer II is to take the lander into Munar orbit, where a decision about attempting a landing will be made.
  • Future launches with Boomers + landers will either be separate (ie a Boomer, then a Silverado + the lander) or I might just upgrade the launcher so that I can get a decent amount of fuel into orbit.
  • Also on tap will be at least another Boomer with fuel for the tank, if not a replacement tank (I'd sort of like an orange tank on orbit -- and I would like to re-arrange things so the rover is available again) plus fueling missions to fill it all up again.  That will almost certainly require development of a larger launcher.
And that's how we get here:
Almost A Full House
Texaco-1 is hosting the transfer stage with the rover, Boomer II on the back, Silverado I across from Boomer II, and the un-named lander in between.

It might be a little aggressive to go right to a manned (kerballed?) landing on the Mun without doing robotic landers first, but we'll see how we do with delta-v once we get into a suitable orbit.


Review: The Lego Movie

Courtesy of Nathan taking me out to a movie for my birthday. I don't think there is any way to criticize this movie without coming off as some kind of pretentious prick. So I think I liked it.

Review: Godzilla

Why do people even try to write reviews about movies like this? There are three things which will inevitably happen:
  • the critics will say it is a typical, boring summer action movie;
  • the fans will say it isn't a worthy successor to examples of the genre which have come before; and
  • it will make gobs of money at the box office.
So never having seen one of these before(*), I think I can say I liked it. It was thin all around but the monsters were the circumstances of the movie, not the focus, and I think I liked that just fine. What do you want? It is a big lizard smashing things.

(*= Jenn has proven to me that I have seen the Broderick one, I have just blotted it out of my memory.)


An Oatmeal Misstep

The Oatmeal has been a source of entertainment over the past few years, yes.  Terrible art, simplistic jokes, and lots of really, really bad language.  However its strength has been that it, for the most part, is about things that its audience can relate to.

The Oatmeal's latest offering has been an ode to his Tesla Model S.

When he's going on at length about how great a luxury car most of us will never be able to afford is, if he hasn't jumped the shark, he's at least letting us know he knows it is there.

Writers write best when they write what they know.  This can become popular when it speaks to people, because they can relate to what is written.  However when an author becomes successful and then starts writing about the trappings of his success -- this is where much of the audience can fall off the bandwagon.

(I've seen this theory applied to rap music.  Gangster ghetto rappers rap about the mean streets and their audience in the mean streets relates.  Then the next album comes out and the rappers are rapping about their mansions and cars and problems with their record producers, and the audience -- still in the mean streets -- isn't interested.)

Personally I've got nothing against him owning a luxury car.

I just don't need it rubbed in my face.

Hudak's Economic "Expert"

This is the guy who endorsed Mr. Hudak's million jobs plan.

Dammit Hudak, you are supposed to be making it harder than this.


Rules? What rules?

Hudak's announcement on transit was kicked off of a Toronto subway on Saturday because nobody had bothered to get a permit for it ahead of time.

Also, the announcement of the Conservative intention to have the province take over responsibility for light rail is for Toronto only.  Ottawa doesn't get the same consideration.


Math On Hudak's Million

...are Mr. Hudak's million jobs measured before, or after, he puts 100000 public servants out of work?  Come to think of it, is this "I'm gonna create a million jobs", or "in eight years, net employment will be one million jobs higher than it is on election day 2014"?  And does that million jobs number include the 8 years of job creation that would happen anyways (ie in 2012, that number was 95000 jobs)?  So in 8 years at that rate, before Mr. Hudak's revolution, we could have expected 760000 jobs to be created, leaving Mr. Hudak's policies getting credit for only 240000 jobs -- nothing to sneeze at if you are the one getting one, but a far cry from "a million jobs".


Vote Compass

Hey, CBC has a Vote Compass up for this Ontario election to let you know who you should vote for.  I did it, and there isn't really a surprise in the landscape results:
That's right, I'm solidly neutral.  Just a hair right and a hair Libertarian -- barely moving out into a quadrant away from all the parties.  And, as expected, the Liberal party is closest to where I lie on the spectrum.
What is more surprising, perhaps, is this:
...apparently I am closest to a PC person, although there really isn't much to choose between any of them -- a 53% to 60% range is simultaneously statistically insignificant and not very high.

So this tells me what I already know -- that I don't really fit into any of the neat little bins that the parties provide.


What's The Million-Jobs-Plan Baseline?

Baselines are important when you are taking credit for something.

The PCs claim that they can create a million jobs in 8 years.  Is that total, or an increase over some baseline?

For example, the Ontario government claims more than 95000 jobs were created in the province in 2013:

...so is the 125000 jobs target in addition to the 95000 jobs that might already be created?

(Hint: no.  The PCs will assign full credit for every job created after being elected to their "jobs plan".)

If we have to spend money, we are getting less value out of it if we only net 30000 jobs than if we were to net four times that number.

(Also pay no attention to the fact that the linked document talks about both training initiatives and reducing bureaucratic red tape, making this million-jobs-plan a three-point plan, not a five-point one, and proving my point that everyone everywhere has always talked about both of these things.)


Frankly This Election Is Already Boring Me

So because I was curious -- a newspaper article accused PC leader Tim Hudak of answering any question with "I have a million-job plan" -- I looked up this so-called million job plan.

It is a five point plan.  Since five is a small enough number to fit into my short attention span, let's have a look.

Point one: reduce taxes and debt.  Who could argue with that idea?  Pay no attention to the conflict of trying to reduce debt with less in the way of revenues.

Point two: make energy more affordable.  I assume that "affordable" means "cheaper".  Who could argue with that?  Pay no attention to the fact that messing around with hydro rates in the past is why we have a "debt retirement charge" and ridiculously antiquated infrastructure, and that a subsidy on energy prices (which is what "making it cheaper" comes down to) puts more pressure on the low-tax vs no-debt conflict raised in point one.

Point three: train more skilled workers.  Who could argue with that?  Pay no attention to the fact that governments and parties have said this constantly since time immemorial -- to the point that the heavily advertised federal jobs program from 2013 never actually existed -- and frankly it never seems to make any difference.  Even if it were to actually happen, Training up skilled workers economically only serves to increase the number of those skilled workers available, diluting the talent pool and depressing wages (supply increases, price decreases).

Point four: increase trade with our neighbours.  Who could argue with that?  Well, first someone would have to understand it.  I sure don't, what hope does Joe Plumber of understanding it?

Point five: reduce the bureaucracy that is preventing people from starting, or moving their business to Ontario.  Who could argue with that?  Again, pay no attention to the fact that political parties have said this forever and it nothing ever seems to change.

So this "million jobs plan" seems to boil down to stereotypical pandering to the conservative base (lower taxes, less government, and "free trade"), one stereotypical non-promise (more training), and one naked populist plank (more affordable energy).

Figuring out exactly how this will all net "one million jobs" (125000 per year over the next eight years) is left as an exercise for the voter.