You need to get one of these! They work very, very well.
I've heard about these for a few years, and I bought one as a gift this Christmas (Home Depot was smart to display them prominently). I cannot recommend this product highly enough.
For those who haven't heard about this, it is a rechargeable robot vacuum. You plug it in for a few hours to charge, then unplug it and let it loose. It goes randomly around the room vacuuming until its batttery dies (quite a while later). In that time it eventually covers the entire room, and parts of it more than once. It can even detect dirty spots and focus on them for a while. It also brushes baseboards. It has an amazing ability to work itself out of problem areas where it might get stuck, and it calls on the rare occassions when it really does get stuck. It can easily be contained in a room by blocking the doors, and it also comes with a laser beam "wall" that you can move around and which it will refuse to cross (you can also extras of these).
The great thing is that it works. We have not done a controlled test on this, but it definitely sucks up enough stuff to require emptying, and the carpets do look clean after it is done. And it is quieter than a regular vacuum. We have been vacuuming as much as we can since Christmas night - and we have tough floors ... a mix of wall-to-wall, tile with throw rugs, and hardwood.
I bought the Roomba Red, which is an entry level model. It is a great consumer friendly and idiot-proof product. Becuase of its bumper/sensor on the front It evokes nothing so much as a horseshoe crab (without the tail, and the connubial mess along the Jersey shore every April).
And, for the mathematically minded, the varied paths that the Roomba takes across the carpet leave really intriguing random patterns. I kid you not - one of use spent a good chunk of the 29th just watching it go ....
I've been harping for a few days now that past leaders in the countries most severely affected by this week's tsunamis should be held partially responsible. The numbers today are 45,000 in Indonesia, 22,000 in Sri Lanka, 7,000 in India, and just under 2,000 in Thailand. I claim that Thailand had fewer deaths because of its better economic development, and further that Thailand followed a well-known and reasonably-well understood economic growth path that was rejected in whole or in part in other countries.
The earthquake was a random event and could not be helped. But until someone can conclusively demonstrate that it was physically worse in (say) Sri Lanka than in Thailand, then I conclude that bad policy choices in Sri Lanka led to excess deaths today.
How many excess deaths are necessary for a government official to be internationally hounded, and ideally put on trial before some international tribunal for involuntary manslaughter?
I assert that we already know the answer to this. Current leftists are going after Augusto Pinochet for something like 2,000 deaths (that is the number from the anti-Pinochet Aylwin government's report), and leaving his country in substantially better shape than he found it. I won't quibble about the latter part of that argument, but the former suggests that crimes against humanity have been committed by past governments in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India.
Steve Antler at Econopundit has caught the legacy media with their pants down. Again.
This concerns the recent discovery of a new oil field in Cuban waters. This is described as "huge", even though it is between 6 and 92 times smaller than the reserves in the ANWR which are so trifling that they can be tossed off to favor a few caribou (which by the way number in the millions).
The message is that the Thais have been doing something right.
Fact is, they've been doing it for a long time. These areas were all comparable economically as recently as 50 years ago. But the Thais lined themselves up with the U.S. in the 60s (when that wasn't popular), and are still denigrated in the West for their sex trade. Funny, while no one was paying attention they were also doing things that would save lives in 2004.
Economists aren't shy about putting a price tag on these things either. We value a human life at about $10,000,000. (There's a big ballpark around that number, but its approximately correct, and round). At that rate, Sri Lanka lost $187 billion in human lives as of this afternoons estimate. Even if we knock off 90% of that (under the horrific notion that somehow Sri Lankans are worth less than Americans) we're still talking $20B.
Does anyone really think that Thailand spent anywhere near that kind of money to protect the thousands of people who could've died in this tragedy - but didn't - because they had the good fortune to be in Thailand instead of Sri Lanka? Of course not.
But, what Thailand does have, and has had for over a generation, is a richer and freer society than its neighbors. And its greedy rapacious free thinking capitalists somehow invested enough in infrastructure while abusing the masses that they saved a lot of lives. There is an economic growth recipe that Thailand followed and its neighbors didn't.
So, let me be the first to say that the anti-business, anti-profit, anti-capitalist policies of many countries are nothing short of murderous. But this can often be hidden ... until a disaster hits and proves it. These aren't policy experiments ... or differences of opinion ... or local ideas for local societies ... they're crimes against humanity.
I've just finished George Carlin's When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops.
Ordinarily, I wouldn't buy something like this, but it was a guilt gift. I'm not much into reading humor either - but I do go in for books of clever cartoons. This was a good choice for me anyway; I'm fond of saying that I think the world would improve if George Carlin and Dennis Miller were in the President's cabinet.
Anyway, it was a good and quick read. Buy it and stick it within reach in your guest bathroom. One thing though ... I found the harshness of the language and views much harder to take when reading than when listening to him on TV. Maybe it's because the harshness is actually being said by my inner voice as I read. Also ... I don't know if it's me getting older or not, but Carlin seems meaner than he used to. His barbs seem don't seem as broadly directed - he's not after society any more, just some part of it and all who dwell there.
Click the link to read what I liked best.
P.S. The cover art shows Carlin superimposed into DaVinci's The Last Supper. I'll have to look at how closely it matches the original ... because if you look past Carlin out the windows you see a view of mountains that's a really close facsimile to the view out our bedroom window.
Many people doubt the fundamental importance of economic growth, laissze-faire, and political freedom, for human well-being. Discouraging these (in the name of whatever cause you choose) amounts to manslaughter every time there is a natural disaster.
1) The person who thought of putting graph paper on the back of wrapping paper had a stroke of genius. I'm not sure how that dovetails with my first wrapping job of the season ending with "Oh c'mon, I measured this", but it sure makes the rest of the wrapping easier.
2) I've heard they don't have these everywhere, but our post office has an automated postage dispenser that works with packages. It is a dream.
The hypochondriac and health care professional in my household got about a dozen different ones for Christmas. And the kids love them too.
The only problem is, my recipient is a box snooper (who insisted that they were getting better with age, and in all honesty I agree). Unfortunately, the box came to the door unexpectedly, and the only word visible on the packing list was Ebola. Needless to say I opened it right away to stifle any fears. So we've had a few weeks with these cuddly critters already.
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