Archive for April, 2014

Obama proposes turning Interstate highways into toll roads

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Then we can sell them to China

Cumulus reports 1st quarter 2014 results

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Net loss before the effect of income taxes was a loss of $16 million. The concept of “pro forms” is important to understand to get the big picture. In the last year, Cumulus acquired control of Westwood One, which increased revenue, but also increased expenses. Pro forma attempts to show what the finances would have been like if the two companies had been merged a year ago. It is not just adding together two sets of numbers – you also have to remove transactions between the two companies (Cumulus buying programming from Westwood One, for example)

The number that stands out is a drastic drop in interest expense – which is logical. Westwood One was on the brink of bankruptcy, so borrowing money got very expensive. The implication from the numbers is Cumulus paid off the Westwood One debt and added it to their existing debt, currently around $2 billion.

The deal for Westwood One also involved selling a bunch of small stations to Townsquare Media. Oaktree Capital owns Townsquare and also owned a big chunk of Westwood One, so it was more an asset swap than an arm’s length sale.

Dead Bear found on campus of NC State University

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

In unrelated news, black bears were sighted in the City of Charlotte

Sports as an alternative to war

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

It’s the guy all the way to the left

The importance of

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

A while back I wrote a blurb about how blocks of IPv4 address spaces are becoming a valuable commodity

The “class A” network for 137.*.*.* was originally allocated to the 754th Electronic Systems Group, which is located at an Air Force Base in Montgomery Alabama in charge of pretty much everything the Air Force does with computers.

I mentioned in passing a spike in hacking attempts following Heartbleed. One of the symptoms is signups for accounts with random strings of letters@hotmail that bounce because Hotmail has already blocked their account.

The same group also controls Keep in mind the US military has an entirely separate Internet called Milnet that is isolated from the public Internet

As it turns out, two different non-human intruders from China are living inside “reassigned” IP blocks that were previously controlled by the USAF. That very likely opens holes in firewalls where people just said “if the IP address starts with 137. let them right in – it’s the US Military – you can trust them!

What if there was a US / Russia war and Russia refused to play

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

I like to think out-of-the-box.

What if Vladimir Putin got on television today and said – “Russia surrenders”?

“I’ve ordered the Russian military to destroy all of our tanks, airplanes, ships, and submarines in place, and turn over launch authority of our nuclear weapons to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. I hereby dissolve the government of the country of Russia and turning over governing authority to the United Nations, from which we will resign our seat on the Security Council”

“Your Move”

What now?

Staying ahead of the kidz

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Do you hear that mosquito? Of course you don’t – you’re over 30 years old.

Someone on the cutting edge of radio – probably John Batchelor, maybe Rush or Kim Komando had mentioned this thing I was just reminded of again.

Some bright kid somewhere realized that adults universally lose high frequency hearing – the cells for that are the first in the cochlea and take the brunt of loud sounds. The actual mechanism is the hairs in the cochlea convert the mechanical vibrations into neuro electrical energy, which requires energy and oxygen from blood flow. When a hair is over stimulated, it starts to deplete the oxygen supply. That results in constricting the blood flow in a protective reaction, but that ultimately kills the nerve cell.

What this means is the sounds in the range made by mosquitoes cannot be heard by most adults, but can be by children. Clever children then set the ringer and text alert ringtones to the mosquito tones, knowing that their teachers and parents will be unable to hear them. If children in your custody seem to communicate behind your back, maybe you know how they do it now.

How to not be a salesman

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

More from the totally random department…

This week, Rush Limbaugh returned from his surgery to install a second cochlear implant. He spent a good part of an hour talking about the mechanics of how hearing works, how cochlear implants work, and how your brain processes those signals into intelligible sounds.

When I go to the K&W cafeteria in Pineville, I noticed there was a hearing aid store right next door. Good marketing! It had been on my to do list for a while.

Partly motivated by Rush’s radio show, I decided to drop in without an appointment and say “Hello!”. I know and have known for a long amount of time that I have a significant hearing deficit. Part of the reason that I’m not still in Chicago is difficulty I had attending meetings with other people that worked on the product. It was frustrating to both them and me. Most of the work however, was me talking to people on the telephone handling support problems. Since you can crank up the volume on the telephone, the fact that you have a hearing loss can largely be worked around.

Hearing aids are almost never covered by insurance, but they are an acceptable expense from a health savings account (HSA). I fully funded my HSA this week.

After lunch today, I decided it was time to conquer my fears and go into the hearing aid place. I didn’t have an appointment, really all I expected was some literature and maybe make an appointment. The guy in the place went ahead however and gave me the full “treatment”.

I know from playing around on the Internet, I have absolutely no hearing above about 8 kHz. I also have more difficulty understanding women’s voices, especially if I can’t see their lips. Most of the time, the volume on my iPhone/iPad is cranked all the way up or very close to it. I recognize on my computer a point beyond which when I turn up the volume, it’s not any louder – but I’m confident it actually is getting louder – I just can’t hear it.

As he’s beginning to feel out my issues, he says something similar to something that Rush Limbaugh has said this week, and I asked him if he was following the story about Rush Limbaugh getting a second cochlear implant and talking about the experience on the radio.

A good salesman, at that point, would have asked to know what Rush been talking about and perhaps why it had motivated me to come into the Hearing Aid Store. Instead, the sales guy launched into a diatribe about how awful Rush Limbaugh is and how he and Howard Stern are just alike. Possibly to his surprise, I quickly agreed to him – this is something I’ve even written about myself.

With that reaction, a few times more during our conversation I brought up the name of Rush Limbaugh, and he kept going for the bait – including making the assertion that well Rush Limbaugh is probably gay – something I have speculated about in my own writings. So, he’s trying to talk me into buying a pair of hearing aids that probably by the time I’m done will end up being $6000. I have in my mind from prior research that $1500 a piece is probably a more reasonable range – maybe $2500 for two.

This guy had introduced himself as a Jewish (who cares?) guy from Long Island who used to sell clothing and married a Charlotte native 30 years ago. I was resist the impulse to spend $6000 on hearing aids based on his somewhat sketchy sales pitch – when the form in my hand includes the FDA section that says you can’t sell hearing aids to person without them visiting the doctor first – unless they waive the provision – which I explicitly told him I wanted to see a doctor first… So after all of that, he ended up getting huffy at me that i was wasting his time and maybe my not agreeing to his pressure might be because I have “issues”. More accurately he was wasting his time my trying textbook high pressure sales techniques.

Near the end, the subject of Bluetooth came up, and I mentioned that given the things I do, Bluetooth capability would be a feature I would be interested in paying extra for. He pretty much shut down the conversation at that point.

So, does anyone have experience and/or opinions about buying hearing aids? I’m also thinking, if I was in the hearing aid business – it would be a really great idea to advertise on Rush Limbaugh’s show – both because of Rush and the demographics of his aging listeners.

Beltone has a very interesting (and probably expensive) device with iPhone integration built in. You can control the settings of the hearing aid from the iPhone app, and hear the phone ring into your ear and have a phone call similar to having a Bluetooth headset, but integrated in the hearing aid. The benefits of two hearing aids are pretty obvious, whuch was one of the points Rush had made.

John Paul Stevens to retire

Friday, April 25th, 2014

John Paul Stephens was a rich kid’s son, growing up in Hyde Park, the oasis of rich people on South Lake Shore Drive in Chicago where Barack Obama’s home is.

John Paul Stevens was put on the appeals court by Richard Nixon and on the Supreme Court by Richard Nixon. Mr Stevens has written a book about the six broken Amendments of the US Constitution, like the 2nd needs to be clearer that the right to keep and bear arms is only for people in the militia operating following the orders of the government leaders.

So why do we even bother electing Republican Presidents?

Perhaps Eric Holder would like to be on the Supreme Court.

Clear Channel heading to Supreme Court

Friday, April 25th, 2014

This is a good example of how the FCC operates as a quasi government agency, with the NAB steering the boat.

This legal document is quite detailed.

The FCC was empowered By Congress to make up rules to prohibit automated advertising directed at Residential phone lines. Note this is not the “do not call” list maintained by the FTC.

In 2005, the person who initiated the lawsuit against Clear Channel received a recorded phone message that the radio station was having a contest and if you wanted to enter, listen to the radio station and dial a toll free number. Congress gave the FCC the regulatory discretion to make exemptions – and at the request of the NAB exempted unsolicited recorded calls like this one from radio and TV stations – on the principle that the radio station is not selling anything, hence it is not an advertisement.

The courts along the way have agreed – and in general the courts stay out of questioning the rulings of the FCC. One interesting example of this happens when a radio station goes into bankruptcy. Bankruptcy judges are gods with unlimited power, and every once in a while will try to force the FCC to transfer a station license when the recipient has not established that they meet the requirements to operate the station (US Citizen, no felony convictions, wasn’t a prior operator of a pirate station, etc). Those standoffs can get quite tense.