Tuesday, August 29, 2006
By Steven L. Taylor

And no, this is not an autobiographical post…

Via the The Age: Star Trek’s a thesis

It’s the PhD thesis that boldly goes where no thesis has gone before. Djoymi Baker watched 700 episodes – 624 hours without ads – of Star Trek and its spin-offs, dating from 1966 to 2005, in the name of research.


It may sound like torture for those with an aversion to William Shatner’s campy theatrics but, six years and 90,000 words on, it has earned Dr Baker a coveted chancellor’s prize for excellence at Melbourne University. And the respect of academics and Trekkies alike.Wow

–and I had to move to another continent to do my dissertation research.  Clearly, I picked the wrong field…

h/t:  Reader Ratoe via e-mail

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: RadioShack slashes 403 jobs via e-mail

About 400 RadioShack Corp. headquarters employees received an e-mail this morning notifying them that they had been let go, effective today, as new Chairman and Chief Executive Julian Day seeks to slash costs and restore earnings growth at the electronics retailer.

What if your spam filter deep-sixed the e-mail?

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via CNN:  FBI: Fugitive polygamist arrested near Las Vegas

This is worth posting just because there is something surreal about the headline.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Citing the difficulties that write-in candidates have in winning office, CQ Politics has declared:  Democrats Now Favored to Take Over DeLay’s Old Seat

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via Reuters:  Migraines common among nasal-allergy sufferers

In a study of nearly 300 children and adults, researchers found that 34 percent of those with allergic rhinitis — better known as hay fever — also had symptoms that met the diagnostic criteria for migraine. That compared with only 4 percent of study participants without hay fever.

And my allergist insisted that my headaches and allergies weren’t linked–I wasn’t convinced then, and this simply re-inforces my suspicions.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via WaPoSnyder Adds New Star to His Lineup: Cruise

Just days after media mogul Sumner M. Redstone cut ties with Tom Cruise for his off-screen conduct, the star has a new backer: Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.Snyder, partnering with home builder Dwight C. Schar and Six Flags chief executive Mark Shapiro, cut a two-year deal with Cruise’s production company to pay between $3 million and $10 million annually for development and overhead costs in exchange for the opportunity to finance film projects and to profit from any hit movies.

Amusing, as this is the way that Synder has run the Redskins, i.e., looking for high ticket free agents and cast-offs from other teams.

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By Steven L. Taylor

On the first anniversary of Katrina, TFM is in the path of Ernesto and doing what any blogger would do:  he’s blogging about it (click and scroll).

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Monday, August 28, 2006
By Steven L. Taylor

I have made some passing comments about the current government in Poland as led by the Law and Justice Party (for example, here).  In today’s CSM there are two stories on Poland, including a relatively brief one which notes the tension with the EU and the current upsurge in nationalism in Polish politics:  Polish leaders at odds with EU mainstream.

There is also a piece on the twins who currently occupy the top two executives posts in the land:   Poland takes conservative turn under twin leaders, with some discussion of pending local elections.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the CSM: Californians weigh a new tax on oil companies

As Los Angeles motorist Jill Cantrell removes the pump nozzle from her Honda Civic gas tank, she spouts out two figures: “$56 for a gas tank for me and $78 billion in profits last year for the oil companies,” she says. “I’m livid.”How many other Californians are angry about gasoline prices – and ready for their state to take action – will be clear this November, when voters decide whether to levy a new tax on oil companies that drill in California and use the money for in-state development of alternative fuels.

Of course, if she votes a new tax on oil companies, she can count on even more to fill up her Civic.

Supposedly this would not happen, but precisely how that feat could be managed is beyond me–price is a slippery issue and not as easily regulated as this would suggest:

Prop. 87 aims to raise and spend $4 billion on alternative-fuel programs over time, with the goal of cutting Californians’ use of gasoline and diesel 25 percent by 2017. It also would prohibit oil companies from simply raising prices at the pump to cover their costs of the new tax.

These kind of initiatives always sounds good: punish those evil oil companies and get free alternative energy in the process! However, it doesn’t pan out that way:

But is it possible, really, to prevent oil companies from passing on to consumers the added tax, as the initiative proposes? Proponents of Prop. 87 say yes, citing the state attorney general’s comments that it would be possible. Some economists, meanwhile, say the price at the pump is likely to rise for reasons beyond Prop. 87.

“You cannot legislate away the laws of economics any more than you legislate away the laws of gravity,” says Benjamin Powell, director of the Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation at the Independent Institute, a California-based think tank. A tax on oil production, he says, will result in less drilling activity, making California oil more scarce and leading refineries here to import oil from elsewhere. Added dependence on costlier foreign oil – often because of added transportation or refining costs – is inevitable, he says.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via Broadcasting & Cable we learn ‘Chris Matthews’ Turns 5 (that is to say his syndicated Sunday talk show (as oppossed to Hardball). I prefer the Sunday show to Hardball, in fact–it is basically pure roundtable and they have some pretty interesting panelists–plus Matthews is quite a bit calmer on the Sunday show. The piece has a brief interview with Matthews, which includes the following:

Who is your viewer?I imagine our viewer is someone sitting on the West Side of New York with his O.J. and the Times. Or is it the assistant professor at the University of Iowa? The assistant professor would be my ideal audience. It wouldn’t break my heart if they were all liberals, but they’re not. People tell me [VP Dick] Cheney watches it, which isn’t by invitation. Just kidding.

How about an Associate Professor in Alabama who watches via TiVo? Coffee is often involved, but it is typically afternoon coffee, rather than the morning variety.

It is usually third in my lineup:  MTP, FSN and then TCMSThis Week is on the bedroom TiVo, but I rarely watch it.

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