Thursday, June 06, 2002

I was struck this morning by the question of why the snooze alarm uses a nine minute delay. Why nine and not ten? I did a Google search but only found a bunch of people who wanted to whine about how evil the snooze alarm is. So there is one mystery not answered yet on the net.
Archives Are Back
Blogger fixed the archive problem. Now you can return to the lost days when things were better (ie I posted more).
Amtrak's Woes
Amtrak says it will shut down complete in July unless it gets a $200 million loan.

Amtrak's President, David Gunn, warns the financially ailing U.S. passenger rail service will have to shut down next month unless it gets a $200 million loan in the next three weeks, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

"If we can't borrow $200 million, we can't make it through this fiscal year," Gunn said. "We must have a loan in place by the end of this month."

Gunn was quoted as saying that any shutdown would involve the whole system -- not just the long-distance trains but "all of them."

This strikes me as a form of blackmail. The long distance Amtrak trains bleed money. The northeast corridor trains make at least some dough. By grouping everything together Amtrak is trying to save their entire network. If you've ever priced a long distance train ticket from the west coast to Chicago you know why their long distance trains don't make money. The trip will take you a couple of days and costs more than an airline ticket.

The article also says that Amtrak lost $1.1 billion (with a b) last year. Could be related partly to this fact:

He (Gunn) added that he would propose reducing the number of "vice president" titles in the company from 84 to about 20.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Remembering Midway
Today is the 60th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Midway. Midway was the second carrier vs. carrier battle in history, the first being the Battle of the Coral Sea fought a little under a month earlier. A numerically inferior US fleet used surprise and amazing luck to sink four Japanese carriers. After Midway the US operated on the strategic offensive, forcing Japan to respond.

Midway is a naval rarity- a naval battle that took place thousands of miles from the nearest significant piece of land. Most naval actions are tied to land. The sea itself has little meaning. The point of having a navy is to influence events on land. If you plot the major naval battle of the world almost all occur within 50 miles of a continental land mass. Midway is one of the expections.

There is a very bad movie about the battle. With all the CGI special effects it could be done and done better.