Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 
Friday, February 29, 2008

Only a Few More Minutes

before the show starts!

The Atomic Horns light up Ray's ESG starti at 10 sharp.

But tuning should fix that!

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hillary Tries a New/Old Tactic

Taking a page from her husband's playbook, Hillary is adopting a new strategy in an effort to revive her failing Presidential Bid.

Echoing James Carville from 16 years ago, she's crossing the country telling everyone that "It's the economy, stupid."

Only time will tell if the majority of Democrats are still stupid.

Hey, Carville's the one that said it...

A word of advice to the Clinton campaign: When a guy is kicking your butt campaigning on the need for change, adopting a 2 decade old campaign strategy is probably not the most effective response.

I'm just saying...

Posted by Rich
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Meetup at Ray’s ESG

Barry and his band, the Atomic Horns will be playing at Ray's ESG this Friday starting at 10PM. I know, I know, that's a bit late for us blogging grandparents to be out and about, but we must support one of our own. Besides, this is one of the first chances we've had to hear Barry and the guys play in a bar that only has animals on the inside, not as part of the name!

Incidentally, after the last blogfest, I created a mailing list to send out notifications about upcoming BlogFests and related events. You can sign up here.

I look forward to seeing everybody there. By the way, you might even see me dance!

Posted by Rich
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Vantage Point

We went to see Vantage Point Monday night and let me tell you, if you want to have a theater all to yourself, go see a movie on a Monday evening.

Short version: Imagine the plots and subplots of an entire season of 24 edited down to under 2 hours. It would make about as much sense as this movie does. Wait for cable.

Long version: The plot tells the story of an assasination plot against the US President, played by William Hurt, who is about to sign a multi-national treaty that will supposedly end the threat of Islamic terrorism. The gimmick is that the story is told over and over through the point of view of five major characters, including a small girl, a Secret Service Agent, and an American tourist.

Using a non-linear format for telling a story is always a risk. The audience may become bored by the repetition or they may lose concentration and miss a key element. Or the writer may overly rely on the format to try and build suspense. Writer Barry Levy does a good job changing things up enough to avoid the first two issues, but falls prey to the third, ending two scenes with the Secret Service agent, played by Dennis Quaid, seeing something, yelling "Oh my God!" and running off screen. We end up having to wait through another retelling of the story from another point of view before finding out what it was he saw.

But there's a bigger problem. When you tell a story using a non standard format, the story has to be strong enough to be served by the format, not the other way around. In the case of Vantage Point, the format overpowers the story. As we move back and forth through time, subplots and characters are introduced to serve a plot element, then disappear without explanation. By the end of the movie, there are enough abandoned plot threads left dangling to weave another full movie, and sadder, that movie might prove to be the more interesting of the two.

Despite that, the movie is moderately entertaining, and the cast, with the exception of Matthew Fox, gives solid performances. Sigourney Weaver stands out in a smaller role as a cable news producer covering the story. Matthew Fox could have been replaced by Matthew Broderick and it would have been more believable.

Posted by Rich
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Compare and Contrast

GOP uses Barack Obama's middle name and a furor erupts.

ktk at Lean left refers to the death of William Buckley with a post titled "One down..." and a deafening silence emerges over the blogosphere.

Posted by Rich
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Grammar Lesson

I was broke.

My blog was broken.

See how that works kids? Capitalism can teach grammar!

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, February 24, 2008

So, Why Does Fulmer Make More Money than Bruce Pearl?

Pearl leads his Vols to a #1 ranking in the upcoming AP poll.
Fulmer leads the nation as well, but only in number of players he's had arrested.

I guess that's why he gets paid so much. He needs the money to bail his team out of jail.

Posted by Rich
Sports • (3) Comments • (1) TrackbacksPermalink


Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Daytona 500!

NASCAR is back, and Tony Stewart is still a jerk.

Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch gave Tony Stewart a lesson in teamwork as they powered their Dodges past the 20 car for the lead and the win at Daytona. Jeff Burton had the lead on the restart, followed by Kyle Busch in the 18 and his teammate Tony Stewart in the 20. Kyle Busch had the dominant car of the race and was in perfect position to take the lead and win the race for Gibbs racing.

That is, the perfect position if his teammate were anybody other than Tony Stewart.

"Smoke" decided that instead of pushing his teammate to the front and then battling for the win, he'd be better off jumping the restart, taking the highline and going for the win himself. His move forced his teammate down the track and beneath the yellow line, where passing is against the rules. Busch was forced to back off and give back any positions he picked up in order to avoid a penalty.

Meanwhile, 4th place car Ryan Newman made a break for the front, aided by his teammate Kyle Busch, who stayed on his teammate's bumper and pushed him right past Tony Stewart, who was unable to block the two Dodges and his teammate at the same time.

You couldn't pay me enough money to be Tony Stewart's teammate.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Simply Amazing

Folks, I'm going to do something I've never done before on this blog; I'm going to republish a comment thread from another site. The commenters are WhitesCreek, Andy Axel, and myself, and we're discussing R. Neal's analysis of the latest weekly newsletter from the Tennessee GOP. At least, that's what I thought we'd be discussing.

I haven't left a comment at any of Mr. Neal's sites in nearly a year, and I'm too sure why I did yesterday. Maybe I was feeling a tad cranky because of the flue. In any event, I followed a link from KnoxvilleTalks to TennViews, where I read R. Neal's Post entitled "Factchecking the TNGOP." To see the article, you'll have to follow the link to Katie's post, and then go from there to TennViews. Mr. Neal finds it amusing to send any links from my IP address to Free Republic.com. In any event, it will generate more traffic for KnoxvilleTalks, which is a good thing.

Too make a long story short, after reading Mr. Neal's post, I decided to respond. Blame the Nyquil if you have to have a reason. The following is pasted directly from TennViews.com. I have only edited for formatting and ease of reading.

More Misdirection from the Master
Submitted by Anonymous on Sun, 02/10/2008 - 22:17.


First, a link to the most recent WSMV poll, which features numbers slightly different than your unlinked poll. You make your point by narrowly defining National Security as only the War on Terror, but try to find a single Republican who doesn't consider our porous borders to be an issue of National Security. Taking the two issues together means that 28% of Republicans see National Security concerns as our highest issue, tied for first with the economy. By my reckoning, that means the TNGOP is 3 for 4 in listing the issues of highest concern.

You're not off to such a good start. Let's check your next "fact."

The GOP and the GOP controlled mainstream media have manufactured the so-called racial and gender divide.

Exit polling data from the California Primary show Obama pulled 78% of the black vote and only 45% of the white vote. If that's not a racial divide, I don't know what is. The sex gap is narrower, but not by much; Clinton pulled 59% of the female vote, while garnering only 45% of the male vote, while Obama pulled 48% of the males and 36% of the females. By the way, the exit polls showed Clinton winning 53% to 42% which is extremely close to the actual margin of victory, just in case you thought the polling data might have been skewed by the GOP controlled MSM.

That's strike two. Let's check the next "fact."

TNGOP: In unifying behind a single candidate, history shows that debate over issues is much healthier than personal politics aligned among demographics such as gender and race.

FACT: The GOP is hardly unified behind their single candidate.


Read the TNGOP statement again. Notice that it does not claim that the GOP is united behind a single candidate. What it does say is that when working toward unifying behind a single candidate, it is much better to talk about issues, rather than race and gender. Surely a good progressive like yourself could hardly disagree with that statement.

The leader of their own party, the President of the United States, won't even endorse him.

Sitting presidents rarely endorse a candidate during the primary season. Reagan waited until after all other opponents withdrew to endorse Bush. The first Bush waited until the National Convention to endorse Bob Dole. And as near as I can tell, Bill Clinton never officially endorsed Al Gore.

You're three for three, R. Neal, and three strikes means you're out. I could continue to refute the rest of your "analysis", but my point has been made for anybody with an open mind and the will to use it.

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Andy Axel's picture
my point has been made for
Submitted by Andy Axel on Mon, 02/11/2008 - 09:32.


my point has been made for anybody with an open mind and the will to use it.

I guess it takes an "open mind" to conflate two issues to come up with one to make the math work (liars, after all, will figure), to cherry-pick results a single primary as evidence of a war within the Democratic Party (more lying, more figuring), and to explicate a vague, fatuous statement with a smug, fatuous statement- then to proclaim victory! Whee!

See, Randy, I told you. This was too many words for Hobbs.

__________________________________

"The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them." -M. Twain

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Mr. Axel
Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 02/11/2008 - 23:22.


Would you care to describe how a virtually open border is not a National Security Issue? Or were you supportive of the President's attempt to allow a UAE company to run several of our ports?

Working from the California data, please show how there is no racial or gender bias within democratic voters. If I cherry picked the data, as you suggest, follow the link I provided, and place it in its proper context. Or, if my analysis of the California data is correct, find a state without significant differences in gender and race voting patterns. Back up your argument with fact, as I did. Heck, we might all learn something.

And what is vague or fatuous about suggesting that deciding which candidate you want to support should be based on a discussion of the issues, rather than a vivisection of each candidate's ethnicity and gender?

And I am not Hobbs. Incidentally, by speculating on my identity, you are in violation of the TOS for this site. "...don't speculate about people's "real" identity."

But I won't tell if you don't.

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WhitesCreek's picture
Anon,
Submitted by WhitesCreek on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 07:08.

The "speculation on identity" is for folks who register and post under a consistant username.

Most honest folk want others to understand which person is speaking in a dark room, so to speak. That way a train of though can be developed. If there are more than one anons, more than one train of thought can be intermingled and the message becomes irrational. I'm sure that's the problem here, since it would be rare to find some "one" person that disingenuous.

If you sign in and register, we will always know which person is speaking, even though we don't know the identity. I think the username "jerk" is still available.

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Mr. Creek
Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 13:14.


By threading your replies, as you did above, you can make it quite clear which train of thought is being developed, despite the lack of an identifiable user name.

Additionally, your implication that anonymity is a cover for dishonesty is disingenuous at best. Anonymity is an excellent way to move the emphasis from who is talking to what they are saying. It shouldn't matter who I am; all that should matter is whether my argument is logically sound and based on fact. If you read my original comment, you'll see that I made no personal attacks. I did charge Mr. Neal with indulging in misdirection, and I gave three solid examples of that misdirection. At no time did I engage in name calling, even by implication. By contrast, let's look at you and Mr. Axel. Between the two of you, you have either implied or said straight out that I'm smug, dishonest, a liar, a jerk, and a drooling coward.

All this because I didn't provide a user name? Is this what passes for reasoned open debate of issues in TennViews? Since my anonymity is such a major stumbling block for you, allow me to remove it.

My name is Rich Hailey.

Now, would you care to discuss the argument at hand, or do you want to call me some more names?

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WhitesCreek's picture
Now see...There you go
Submitted by WhitesCreek on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 13:35.

Now see...There you go again.

I never implied anon was dishonest. I did say there were disingenuous posts, such as your claim that anonymity is a stumbling block for me. I said no such thing and you are attempting to make it appear that I did. That fits my def of disingenuous to a T.

I said that we needed some way to keep track of what poster said what. Your inability to make simple rational associations may have led you to give your name in public, but don't blame it on me.

I stand by my recommendation as to a username, based on your posts to this point. Now if you'd like to start over and work on being honest and rational, I would love to joust with you on our differences of opinion.

Otherwise, it would still help if you'd pick a username so I can know who to ignore.

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Rich again, for a final note.
Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 17:17.


Your previous statement beginning, "Most honest people..." clearly implies that anonymity, as opposed to pseudonymity, is often a cover for dishonesty. You reaffirm that implication with your penultimate sentence in this comment, ..."Now if you'd like to start over and work on being honest and rational..." The obvious implication is that my behavior to this point has been dishonest and irrational.

I'll let the readers of this thread decide if your characterization is accurate or not.

I agree that you never said that anonymity was a stumbling block for you, and I never said or implied that you said it. What I did say was that, based on your initial comment on this thread, which completely ignored the content and focussed solely on the subject of my anonymity, you found it easier, or more worthwhile, to argue about my identity rather than about the points I raised. That remains an accurate statement.

And I don't blame you for my giving out my name. That was my choice, made in an attempt to refocus the discussion on the issue at hand, rather than my identity. Obviously, that attempt failed as we are still just talking about who I am.

And frankly, I find that to be a very boring discussion.

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Andy Axel's picture
Thanks for reminding me of
Submitted by Andy Axel on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 08:58.

Thanks for reminding me of my own rules, WhitesCreek - the ones about dishing out comments to cowards who can't go to the trouble to register before drooling on the interface. As in, "don't."

__________________________________

"The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them." -M. Twain

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Go figure ...
Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 13:50.


They still can't bring themselves to actually argue the points that were made. I guess that means that it is not possible to do so. So all they do is call names and hurl pathetic insults. Typical around these parts ...

Signed,
Not Rich

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Can I be Anonymous #4? Or,
Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 15:12.

Can I be Anonymous #4? Or, are we working on #3? Hard to keep track

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Andy Axel's picture
All this because I didn't
Submitted by Andy Axel on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 19:55.

All this because I didn't provide a user name?

Partly. Election season usually brings out some of the most skull-thumpingly pedantic trolls on weblogs like this.

Is this what passes for reasoned open debate of issues in TennViews?

Where were you promised "reasoned open debate?"

My name is Rich Hailey.

Oh. This Rich Hailey?

As for "turn tail and run", when a man tells you that you are no longer welcome in his house, (and telling a man you once invited in that he is no longer welcome on the front porch, but can still use the side door as long as nobody sees him certainly falls under the heading "You're not welcome") then the polite thing to do is leave.

Now, would you care to discuss the argument at hand, or do you want to call me some more names?

Um... is there a third choice?

__________________________________

"The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them." -M. Twain

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Did I misread, or did Andy Axel just state openly that TennViews is not a place to find reason? Or openness for that matter?

Wow. Just wow.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, February 11, 2008

Seen in Comments at KnoxViews

When I see Clinton, I don't see a woman.
R.Neal

At last! Something Randy and I can agree on!

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Can I Vote for John McCain?

Well, let's see now. It's more than 60 days out from the general election, so I guess I'm legally allowed to answer that question, according to McCain-Feingold.

And his new energy bill, co-sponsored by Joe Lieberman, will raise the tax on a gallon of gas somewhere around 68 cents by 2050. That's in current dollars so, adjusting for inflation at a conservative 4%, the tax alone on a gallon of gas in 2050 might be as high as $3.53. The 68 cents, by the way, comes from the EPA estimate of the impact of McCain Lieberman. It also predicts a negative impact on our GDP of between 1.6 and 5.2 trillion dollars over the same time period.

The oil companies were accused of gouging when they made a nickel a gallon. McCain wants the government to take 100 times that much.

Just for perspective.

So, with just these two items, John McCain promises to rape me at the gas pump and gag me at the polls.

No, I don't think I can vote for Johnny boy. No matter how many times he says he's just like Ronald Reagan.

Posted by Rich
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Tennessee Democrats Go All Out for Hillary!

So, let's just take a gander at what Tennessee Democrats think of as Presidential behavior, shall we?

Let's start with a few choice quotes:
When asked if she were keeping a diary during her years as First Lady..."Heavens, no! It could get subpoenaed. I can't write anything."
When asked about papers subpoenaed during an investigation in 2000: "I'm not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the president."
When asked about Monica Lewinsky: "The great story here for anybody willing to find it, write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president."
On home schooling and religious education:"Let's not leave an educational vacuum to be filled by religious extremists who go to families who have no other option and offer meals, housing and some form of education."
On tax policy:"We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
On Bill Clinton's "companions":“Who is going to find out? These women are trash. Nobody’s going to believe them.”

Quite the Presidential picture eh? Well, maybe if the President you're thinking of is Richard Nixon. Ambition and paranoia make such an attractive mix, don't they? But let's move on from the things she said to the things she did.

The Clintons hadn't been in office long when Hillary showed her true nature by firing the long time employees of the travel office in order to get her good friends a cushy position. Not content to fire the 7 staffers, she felt it necessary to destroy them, in order to have some justification for the firing. BIlly Dale was charged with embezzlement, while the other 6 staffers were investigated by the FBI. Dale was later fully exonerated, and 5 of the 7 were offered new jobs at the White House. Hillary was quoted at the time as saying, "Fire the sons of bitches." Hillary was later investigated for her role in Travelgate, and the final report by Independent Counsel Robert Ray indicated that not only had Hillary very probably been the driver behind the whole incident, but that she had given false testimony about the incident, but that the evidence was insufficient for a prosecution.

Related to the Travel Office debacle was the FBI files affair, where the White House was found in possession of hundreds of FBI files of former Republican White House employees.(Incidentally, a classmate of mine was one of the folks whose file was in the White House improperly.) Craig Livingstone, a former bar bouncer, had requested the files on behalf of the White House. Curiously, nobody would admit to hiring a bouncer to be White House Security Chief, although Livingstone himself bragged that he had been hired by Hillary.

I hesitate to include the banning of military uniforms inside the White House, with the exception of the Marine Security detail, because Bill is on record as loathing the military, and Hillary just looks like she sniffed one of Bill's bedfarts whenever she looks at a soldier or sailor. So that could have been either one of them.

Anybody remember Sandy Berger? Stole documents from the National Archives and shredded them? Which co-president was he working for at the time?

Let's not forget the Vince Foster affair. Not the suicide, but Hillary staffers Maggie Williams and Craig Livingstone (who knew bar bouncers were so multi-talented?) were sent to Foster's office before it could be sealed in order to remove files. In some places, that could be called tampering with evidence or instigating a cover up.

How Presidential. The similarities to Nixon just keep coming, don't they?

Let's take a look at the big enchilada, shall we? Hillary care!

Apparently, Hillary is only pro choice when it involves killing a fetus, because her 1000 page trillion dollar health care plan had remarkably little choice involved in it. Boil it down to its essentials and it forced you into an HMO designated by the federal government, and forbid you from seeking better care in any shape form or fashion.

Unless you were a federal employee. Then you got to elect to keep your own Federal plan.

Oh, but that was all so long ago, right?

"So long ago" is exactly what Hillary is running on. She claims she has more experience and that's why people should vote for her. And if you think she's changed her ways, just the other day, she floated a proposal that would garnish the wages of anyone who refused to purchase health insurance.

Remember the phrase "land of the free?" It's very clear that Hillary doesn't. And it is also clear that Tennessee democrats are as memory impaired as Hillary was when deposed on Rose Law firm activities during the Whitewater hearings.

I remember.

I remember Rose Law firm billing records related to Whitewater subpoenaed in 1994 showing up in the White House dining room 18 months later. They just...showed up there. Really. They did.

I could go on, but I don't need to. Hillary claims she's had experience, but that cuts both ways, and I've experienced all of her I want to. The woman truly believes that the ends justify the means, and that means she'll do anything in order to achieve her goals. She'll lie, cheat, steal, break the law, and believe that she is entirely justified to do so because her heart is pure, and that's all that matters.

And that's why I voted for Obama in the primary.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What is HD?  1080p or 1080i?  Why do I care?

As I wrote the last post, it occurred to me that there are probably a lot of people out there who don't understand what all of the fuss about HD is about, and what all the numbers mean, and I figured that since we're a bit over a year away from the end of television as we knew it, a quick primer couldn't hurt.

First, the quick version. HD produces a sharper, clearer picture with more details, and it does so using a digital signal, so you'll need a new ATSC tuner if you want to keep your old TV. Or you can buy a new TV with an ATSC tuner, and you're all set.

OK, for you non-tech types, that's really all you need to know.

For the rest of us, let's take a look at the old TV so we can understand how the new TV works.

The stronger the beam, the brighter the phosphor glows. The beam starts at the top of the screen and paints a picture all the way across the screen, but just at the very top of the screen. When it reaches the side, it flashes back to the other side, only it drops down a bit and draws another line across the screen. This continues until the beam draws the last line across the bottom of the screen, then it flashes back up to the top of the screen, ready to begin this whole process again.

The sequence above describes the drawing of one single frame of video, and it takes place almost 30 times a second in an old tube type TV. Think of it like an Etch-a-Sketch with three controls instead of two. In addition to left/right and up/down, you also have a knob that controls how hard the scraper touches the screen. The scraper starts in the upper left corner of the screen, and as you wind it across the screen, you vary the pressure with the third knob to create one line of your picture. When you reach the end of the screen, you use the third knob to lift the scraper off of the screen, and then return it to the beginning position. Next, you use the up/down to move the scraper down one line length, and repeat the whole process until you get to the bottom of the screen.

This is how your old, tube type TV's worked. Greatly simplifying things, an electron gun squirts electrons to the screen which is covered with a phosphor, a chemical that glows when it is hit by electrons. Two magnets are used like the buttons of the Etch a Sketch, to push the beam from side to side and up and down. The TV signal is our third knob, and it varies the strength of the electron beam, which affects how brightly the phosphor glows.

When TV first started, a bunch of people, the National Television System Committee, got together and decided we needed a broadcast standard, and they decided a few things. First, they decided that the number of lines across the screen should be 525. They also decided on a frame rate, the number of times a complete image is formed on the screen, should by 30 frames per second, that the aspect ratio, width vs height, should be 4:3, and that the signal should be interlaced, meaning that every other line is skipped on one pass, then the skipped lines are picked up on the second pass. To understand all this, let's pull out our Etch a Sketch again.

The first part of the NTSC standard is that the aspect ratio is 4:3. All that means is that a screen 4 inches wide must be 3 inches tall. If it's 8 inches wide, it has to be 6 inches tall, and so on. In short, an NTSC screen should always be 3/4 as tall as it is wide. So if our Etch a Sketch screen is 12 inches wide, it must be 9 inches tall. Next, we know that our screen is divided into 525 horizontal lines from top to bottom. And finally, we know that our scanning sequence is not a straight top to bottom like we used in our first example. Instead, we'll scan the first, third, fifth, etc lines until we get to the bottom, then we'll scan the second, fourth, sixth etc lines. What this means is we have to scan the screen top to bottom twice for one full frame, which means that our scan rate must be 60 times per minute, or Hz, for a frame rate of 30 frames per minute.

So that's how things started off. We've changed a few things since then. We added color, replaced the electron gun and screen with LCDs or plasmas, but the NTSC standard remained pretty much the same.

Until HD came along.

The new standard for HDTV is called the ATSC standard, for the Advanced Television Systems Committee. Unlike the NTSC which set a single standard, the ATSC left the door open for multiple standards and resolutions, and that's where some of the confusion has crept in. SO lets clear it up a bit.

Let's start with the aspect ratio. The ATSC specifies an aspect ratio of 16:9, instead of the old 4:3. This means that our Etch a Sketch has to be 9 inches tall for every 16 inches in width. Going back to our earlier example, a 12 inch wide Etch a Sketch would now be just a shade under 7 inches tall, instead of 9. Also, the number of horizontal lines changed. the ATSC standard accepts either 720 or 1080 lines of horizontal resolution. And finally, the ATSC accepts either interlaced scanning, like the NTSC, or progressive scanning, where every line is scanned in sequence, rather than the odds then evens in two passes.

OK, so let's put all of this together and see where we stand.

The first thing you should look for is an ATSC tuner. That will give you the ability to pick up your local HD digital TV stations without paying a dime to the cable company. For Knoxville folks, I live about 20 miles from Sharp's Ridge in Kodak, and I can pick up all of the Knoxville stations with an amplified indoor antenna. Reception gets a little spotty at times, so I'll probably invest in an outdoor antenna eventually.

The next thing to look for is 720 vs 1080. Personally, I go for the 1080. There is a visible difference in the resolution, especially when you get up to the larger screen sizes. As for progressive vs interlaced, it's really getting harder to find an interlaced set anymore. Progressive scan isn't much more expensive and it results in a much nicer picture.

We haven't really talked about size much yet. Don't worry; we're about to.

Obviously it depends on where you're going to use the set, and what you're going to use it for, but in general, go big. There's talk of a new, 1440 line standards coming down the pike in the next year or so, but cable, satellite and over the air stations are struggling just trying to pump out a 1080i signal now. They won't switch up to a higher resolution for quite some time, so the only thing the higher resolution will work for is DVD players and the like. Your 1080p will be a good value for years to come.

So go big. I've got a 60" 1080p in my room, and it's just like being at the movies, without the annoying kids, and the sticky floors.

The one other thing you should look for is plenty of connection in the back. The HD standard connection is called an HDMI cable. It carries the video and the audio, and are the best way to connect an HD source, like a cable box, PS-3 or XBox 360, or Blu-ray DVD player, to your TV set. They are also freakishly expensive. If you don't want to pony up for the HDMI cable, you can use component cables. These break up the video signal into three parts and usually come with stereo audio cables as well. For your TV, look for 2 HDMI connections and 2 component connections.

And that's it. If you read this far, I hope you have a better understanding of what all the numbers and symbols mean. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. If I don't know the answer, I'll make something up!

Posted by Rich
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Why Not to Buy a Blu-Ray Just Yet

I was in Best Buy the other day, looking for a mount for the TV I bought for the living room. My middle son just signed a lease for a new apartment and he's moving out. The problem is the boy plans on taking his 50" TV with him. Talk about ungrateful! Anyway, I was in need of a new TV to replace his and I found a great deal on an Olevia 42" 1080p TV at WalMart for under a thousand dollars. I grabbed it but they were out of mounts, so I was off to Best Buy, and while I was there, I looked at a few Blu-ray DVD players. I was reluctant to purchase a Hi Def DVD player until the format war between HD and Blu-ray was over, but now that Sony has won a very expensive victory (while Sony hasn't officially said anything, the rumors are that they gave billions to the movie industry to get them to support Blu-ray) I thought it might be time to consider buying.

Nope.

There's still a fly in the ointment. You see, Blu-ray today isn't the end standard. Sony was rushed by the arrival of HD players, so they cobbled together a standard that kinda worked, and rushed it out to market. And by kinda worked, I mean didn't really work at all. Most of Blu-ray's touted advantages over HD, like dual layer dual sided storage and built in Java support, failed miserably, especially in the first generation players. Sony had significant technical difficulties in manufacturing the Blu-ray discs themselves, to say nothing of obtaining the blue lasers that their technology was named for. But, taking a page from the Microsoft marketing manual, they decided that market share was more important than product quality, and they shipped what they had.

Here's where it gets fun.

Sony is getting close to perfecting their Blu-ray standard, which they now call Blu-ray 2.0, and guess what? Blu-ray 2.0 movies will not play on Blu-ray 1.1 machines. For those of you keeping score at home, all BluRay drives shipped to date are Blu-ray 1.1. What this means is that sometime in the next 12-18 months, your $700 Blu-ray machine will be obsolete.

That's just a bit too quick for me. I'll wait until they get the format locked down and I can buy a player and not have to replace it within a year or so.

And I really don't expect the movie studios will be releasing movies in Blu-ray 1.1 and 2.0. If they did, that would reduce the demand for Sony's new product line, and after spending billions to win the market, I'd expect Sony to demand that the studios release movies only in the 2.0 format. In fact, I'll make a prediction right now. Some of the most eagerly anticipated next generation releases are Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. I'll bet that you won't see either one of these series released until the 2.0 standard is released, and that they both will be released exclusively in 2.0.

Any takers?

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Obligatory Super Tuesday Post

The slate of candidates this election cycle are so universally and appallingly dismal that it seems appropriate that Super Tuesday is followed immediately by 40 days of Lent, allowing us all to repent and ponder on the fact that we can't find anybody better than Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, and Mitt Romney to run for President.

If this is truly the best we have to offer, then we deserve everything we're going to get.

And yes, I voted. There's always somebody you want to vote against.

The news on the local front looks a little bit better. John Owings appears to be losing, based on the early voting. He had the balls to run as "the most experienced candidate." John, in the future, when your "experience" includes having your opinions overturned more times than the pancakes at an all night IHOP, you probably don't want to make that the centerpiece of your campaign.

Scott Moore looks to be losing the clerk's race, which means we get 2 more years with him on the County Commission. At least we won't run out of things to write about with him around.

Posted by Rich
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