Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Question Hour

by Tom Bozzo

Our occasional roundup of search terms that bring people here...

1. solar system galaxies hyperdrive

I don't know what the visitor was getting at with these widely varying scales, as galaxies are millions of times bigger than the solar system. An article on an obscure physical theory that appears to enable a working hyperdrive (i.e., method of faster-than-light space travel) mentioned the possibility of using the hyperdrive to do things like nip over to Mars, Jupiter, or other Solar System destinations in spans of time associated with air travel. Bob Park was not optimistic:
New Horizons, which is on its way to Pluto, is the fastest spacecraft ever built. Even so, the trip will take nine years. At the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics meeting last year, an award was given for a paper about a new propulsion system that could do it in a day. So why are we doing it the old-fashioned way? Because it works. There are two worlds. There is the world that sends robots to explore Mars, finds a vaccine for cervical cancer, unravels the structure of DNA, invents Global Positioning, etc. And then there is an alternate world that discovers cold fusion, homeopathy, the Podkletnov gravity shield, hydrinos, and the Heim space drive. Inhabitants of both worlds speak similar languages, look alike, even have identical DNA. It's not just that things don't work in the alternate world, that can happen even in the real world. But in the alternate world it doesn't seem to make any difference.
And, indeed, an argument from revealed preference doesn't look good for the Heim hyperdrive as a simple means of very fast interstellar transportation. Which goes to show, if you're going to dream, you might as well dream big. Crossing galaxies in non-geological time, not to mention crossing the voids between galaxies, represents a sufficient leap that you might as well allow (as in, for instance, Revenge of the Sith) effectively instantaneous intragalactic travel when the plot demands it.

2. utility of open mindedness in leadership

Seems obvious, eh? A big part of the problem with Bushism, from my perspective, is that what passes for policies are actually idées fixes presented as universal solutions to any problems. See: Tax cuts, invading Iraq. Open-mindedness is a necessary condition for admitting data that can stop leaders from resolutely leading us into bottomless pits.

3. owner occupier what does it mean (from Sheffield, England)

This is a real estate term of art for a person who owns the house in which he or she lives; non-owner occupiers are better known as renters.

4. wisconsin smoking ban

Not yet. But if Ireland can survive it, surely we could, too. As it happens, contending state legislation would partly overturn relatively strict bans such as the city of Madison's

5. personal chef pregnant madison wi

Is there a neologism for a search term that yields a large number of Google hits (147,000 in this case), all of which are apparent busts as far as the intended information is concerned? In this case, I show up as a high-ranking hit because of my occasional references to local chefs and the presence of Angry Pregnant Lawyer in the blogroll. The actual purpose of the search is all but unfathomable.

6. marginal utility cripple

marginal utility smaller than cost

stealing in terms of marginal utility

marginal utility- rational consumer,no matter how much income he has (this, from UIUC)

Searches of variations on "marginal utility" are common. Some, like the occasional "marginal utility bozzo" may even mean to get here. Others are, as the saying goes, in the weeds.

7. gm's escalade economics

Old economics: Appeal to the desire of the moderately wealthy to project in-your-face attitudes normally associated with more-or-less minor young celebrities! New economics: Steal market share from the Lincoln Navigator while possible.

My take: Advantage Escalade, but someone should have a word with Bob Lutz about the porthole fad.

8. medicare part d price comparison

The Medicare web site notionally lets beneficiaries compare the out-of-pocket costs of various Medicare prescription drug plans, but the comparisons are of little use without detailed information on the drugs beneficiaries use, or may use in the future, because of widely varying formularies and coinsurance terms among plans. People with access to the W$J might take a look at today's story (sorry, subscribers only) on the front page of Personal Journal to the effect that many potential beneficiaries are better off with generics, physician samples, and Canadian pharmacies.

9. Bush 22nd amendment

This establishes term limits for the president; it still applies to him as far as I'm aware. If Bushism is to continue as of Jan. 20, 2009, it will be under the banner of a new frontperson. Checking other search returns for this query, it appears that Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sponsored a measure to repeal the 22nd amendment. The handful of cosponsors include southeast Wisconsin's own firecracker firebrand fire hazard F. James Sensenbrenner. It was referred to committee last year and seems unlikely to emerge this term.

10. frist and rice


11. marginal revenue product for television show friends

If we take the marginal product to be an additional episode of the show, then the marginal revenue product basically has these components: The revenue from selling the episode for original broadcast, the revenue from the selling the rights for the eternal rebroadcasts in various outlets other than NBC (syndication), and the revenue from selling the episode for home video. The syndication component is basically zero until the show accumulates a long enough run, but it can be very large for a very popular and long-running series.

The upshot is that the marginal revenue product for the starring cast can be very large in the late run of a series: A hold-out can either prevent production of additional episodes, or force the substitution of a qualitatively different product (the same show with a different cast). So the stars are worth a lot of money to someone — I take no position on whether they're worth it in any other sence — and from a sufficiently strong negotiating position can capture much of the surplus they create for themselves.

12. "sweet child o mine" "quicktime"

This is what I get for blogging about my not entirely ironic later-in-life appreciation for a song I would not have admitted to having heard once upon a time.
You are too young to be willing to attend to All Things Everly (cf. the Edmunds/Lowe 7" that was included with Seconds of Pleasure), and the frisson of this "bad boy" being with Daughter Erin meant that attention must be paid.

"Paradise City" still sucks, though--even Pat Boone couldn't make it interesting in either sense of the word.

I'm assuming, btw, that #5 came from someone who is thinking about moving there, can afford a personal chef, and either is or lives with someone who is. (Yes, there needs to be a neologism. I'm currently estimating Google's useful half-life at between 3 and 5 years.)
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