Posts tagged ‘EXCEPT’

Microsoft is Not My Friend Today

I am working with Dell to create a starting computer image for laptops I buy from them that will have all our computers set up the way we want them to be right out of the factory.  This will save an hour or so of work for me on each computer.

This works really well EXCEPT for Microsoft's heavy-handed intervention.   As part of the setup process before I create the default image, I switch the windows default browser to Chrome and the default app for opening pdf files to Adobe Reader.  No matter what we do, when the new computer boots up with this image, windows switches the default browser and PDF app to Microsoft Edge (apparently via 'sysprep".)  I might be able to live with this for the browser, but Edge is defective in opening PDF files, specifically it does not allow pdf's with form fields to be saved in a way that retains the form entry.  My users will never be able to figure out how to reset this themselves so now I have to figure out how to write batch files so I can override the Microsoft override after it runs.  Less intrusive but still irritating is the fact that Microsoft also adds back all their sales spam I deleted, including their "get office" and "try skype" apps.

As an aside, it is really sort of funny nowadays to put Chrome or Firefox on a new Microsoft computer.   If you try to make these other browsers the default, you get this message that says something like "wouldn't you like to try Edge, it is way better than our old browser that we tried for years and years to make you use and then abandoned."  I am paraphrasing of course, but that is the gist.

The One Thing Politicians Do Really Well...

...is get elected.  That's it.  It's the only thing they have to do well, really, to have their jobs.  Name one other thing President Obama is good at?

Here are Obama's polling numbers over the last couple of years (approve is black, disapprove is red).  Note the fair to middling muddled approval rating for most of the period.  The numbers never crack 50 ... EXCEPT for the days leading up to the last Presidential election, and then he managed put in place a full court press to get his popularity up just high enough and just long enough to get elected.

Site Fixed. Hopefully

Host Gator usually does a good job for me but screwed up bringing the server back from maintenance.  To their credit they admitted the mistake.  All looks well EXCEPT for some reason we have picked up absurdly high Disqus Twitter reaction counts.

The Health Care Trojan Horse

This is what happens under state-run medicine, when your doctor becomes an agent of the government.

Currently pregnant women are asked if they smoke by midwives and GPs but the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) wants this to go further.

The organisation has recommended that all pregnant women should have their breath measured for carbon monoxide levels when they book in with a midwife.

This would establish which women smoke and provide an added incentive for them to quit, the guidance said.

I am sure all the women's organizations whose principled stand against abortion restrictions were based on protecting the privacy of one's body from the heavy hand of government will now rise up in protest.  Not.

As it turns out, and as I have written before, most women's groups seem to favor total intrusion of government into every facet of individual health care decision-making EXCEPT abortion.  The privacy and libertarian-sounding abortion arguments were really just slights of hand, rolled out to prevent government bans on one particular procedure, and then tucked away when the government proposes to control every other procedure.

Real Price Collusion Requires the Government

Want to get worked up about price collusion in the oil industry?  Don't waste your time.  No study has ever found collusion effects that raised US gasoline prices more than a few percent, and only for a very short period of time.  The reason is that in a free market, there is too much incentive for new entrants undercutting a price collusion attempt.  Railroads and airlines have probably the most severe economic incentives to collude, and they have never pulled it off for any period of time EXCEPT when the government stepped in to enforce the arrangement (e.g, airline controls pre-deregulation).

If you want to see a real cartel at work raising prices at the expense of consumers, check out this from the Mises Blog:

The raisin agricultural marketing order (AMO), with roots in the
Depression-era Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act, is rationalized as
a way to "stabilize" prices. However, it allows the Raisin
Administration Committee (RAC), controlled by producers, to determine
how much of each crop can be sold, with the rest forced into storage.
That power to jointly restrict output to raise price makes it a cartel.
A cartel with so many members would not usually succeed, and the mere
attempt would be prosecuted if antitrust laws were applied, but AMOs
are enforced by the government, through the USDA...

The RAC "stabilization" is accomplished by restricting sales, often
substantially. "Free tonnage" has been as low as 53% of the crop in
2001, and less than 80% in most years. That helps producers by harming
consumers, turning price "stabilization" into price enhancement....

The raisin cartel's effects on American consumers can also be seen
in the gap between the "free tonnage" prices and "reserve pool" prices
for raisins destined for low value markets. In 2001, those prices were
$877.50 per ton versus $250 per ton; in 1998, it was $1250 versus $357;
in 1984 and 1994, the differential approached 10 to 1.

TV Regulation Mess

If my blog was a satellite TV station, the following would be illegal:  Investigators Slam Katrina Response.  (hint - answer is NOT in the attached article, which is random)
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I'm sorry, did you miss it?  What did I do that was so wrong?  What I did was let you view content directly from a national content provider.  In the past, Reuters traditionally distributed its content through local distribution arms called newspapers.  This distribution model was required based on old technologies, where printing was a local not a national business.  Now that new technologies allow content providers to distribute their material nationally without these intermediaries, many have chosen to do so, as does Reuters at their web site.  This is one of the many reasons why newspapers today are struggling.

The TV business has historically had the same business model for roughly the same technological reasons.  National content providers (e.g. NBC, CBS) distributed content through local affiliates because broadcasting technologies were very local.  Today, with Satellite and cable, it is perfectly easy for anyone to access the national feeds, like you did in reading the Reuters site above.  EXCEPT, the US Congress has outlawed this practice.  Satellite providers, with a few exceptions for rural viewers, cannot provide viewers with the national feed -- it is illegal.  Unlike with print media, Congress has succumbed to powerful interest groups in the local TV market to protect their dying business model. 

As a result, DirectTV has satellites in space using up bandwidth by broadcasting 50 or more nearly identical copies of the same national feed, because it is forced to use the local affiliate's feed for each local market.   One of many adverse results is that while the price of print content has fallen to nearly zero, the price of broadcast content goes up.  And, from a personal standpoint, I nearly killed myself adjusting an old fashioned TV aerial on my roof last night because that is the only way I can get NBC's Olympics HDTV content, since my satellite provider can't afford to duplicated hundreds of local stations to get the networks on satellite in HDTV under the current asinine rules.  And I refuse to get cable because it was in large part for exactly this reason, to force customers away from satellite to cable, that the must-carry and related rules were passed, and I refuse to give them the satisfaction.

Postscript:  By the way, the Reuters article linked is worth reading too.  Take this snippet:

Richard Skinner, the inspector general of the Department of Homeland
Security, told the committee that FEMA purchased 24,967 manufactured
homes at a cost of $857.8 million to temporarily house Katrina victims.
But most of those homes are unused and the government is paying to
store them, he said.

Nearly 11,000 are sitting are sitting at a
government site in Hope, Arkansas, and are deteriorating because they
were improperly stored, he said.