Nulius’ Weblog

June 25, 2008

The Best Supreme Court…If You’re an Oil Man

Filed under: Uncategorized — nulius @ 10:29 pm

Is there anyone left in this country who still believes the current occupant and his minions are about anything other than oil company profits? Today the U.S. Supreme Court reduced what had once been a $5 billion punitive damages award against Exxon Mobil to about $500 million. The ruling essentially concluded a legal saga that started when the Exxon Valdez, a supertanker, struck a reef and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into the Prince William Sound in Alaska in 1989.

In a time of record oil company profits, this well and truly smells.

Justice John Paul Stevens, in a dissent, said he would have upheld the punitive damages award, which the federal appeals court in California had reduced to $2.5 billion.

“In light of Exxon’s decision to permit a lapsed alcoholic to command a supertanker carrying tens of millions of gallons of crude oil though the treacherous waters of Prince William Sound, thereby endangering all of the individuals who depended upon the sound for their livelihoods,” Justice Stevens wrote, “the jury could reasonably have given expression to its moral condemnation of Exxon’s conduct in the form of this award.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked a series of pointed questions in her dissent. For instance: “What ratio will the court set for defendants who acted maliciously or in pursuit of financial gain?” And: “On the next opportunity, will the court rule, definitively, that 1:1 is the ceiling due process requires in all of the states, and for all federal claims?”

In his dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote that Exxon’s conduct warranted “an exception from strict application of the majority’s numerical rule.”

In a statement, Rex W. Tillerson, the chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, said: “The company cleaned up the spill and voluntarily compensated more than 11,000 Alaskans and businesses. The cleanup was declared complete by the State of Alaska and the United States Coast Guard in 1992.” This is ridiculous, because the Rule of Evidence prevent the introduction of post-incident remediation.

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June 19, 2008

Spamalot

Filed under: Uncategorized — nulius @ 12:22 am

The wife and I got a chance to see Spamalot tonight at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio. One of the best – we highly recommend it.

June 11, 2008

Visual History Gold Mine

Filed under: Uncategorized — nulius @ 8:59 pm

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If you’ve never been, may I suggest a click over to the Prelinger Archives.  Rick  Prelinger has old films, both silent and sound, and an astounding collection of visual stuff (for lack of a better word) where you can spend days.

One of my favorite film genres is 1950s “B” science fiction and horror movies. Perhaps because I was born in that decade, or perhaps not, but I love the naivete of these films.

The entire Prelinger archive is truly a resource to be bookmarked. The infamous “Duck and Cover” propaganda film can be seen there, and is consistently one of the most downloaded items. Military training films, STD scare movies, Health and Hygiene, and way too many more to mention here. Just visit; you won’t be disappointed.

Another out-of-town Opportunity

Filed under: Uncategorized — nulius @ 4:01 pm

I’m beginning to suspect that a lot of recruiters just want your resume so they can have some paper to push around, to make them look occupied.

I just received yet another e-mail from one who on the surface says I’d be a great “fit” for the job. I personally think I can be a good fit in a lot of places; that’s why I publish a resume.

Anyway, this one’s in Houston and they need someone to start on June 16, this coming Monday. Well, I’m nothing if not flexible. And hope springs eternal; for if it doesn’t, we’re all screwed.

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No Florida after all…

Filed under: Uncategorized — nulius @ 1:21 pm

I just found out from the recruiter that “client not interested in us.” Well, perhaps, maybe, if you spoke better English they might have been. So it goes.

Astronomy Picture Of the Day: 2008 June 11 – Dextre Robot at Work on the Space Station

Filed under: Uncategorized — nulius @ 1:53 am

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What’s the world’s most complex space robot doing up there? Last week, Dextre was imaged moving atop the Destiny Laboratory Module of the International Space Station (ISS), completing tasks prior to the deployment of Japan‘s Kibo pressurized science laboratory. Dextre, short for the Canadian-built Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator, has arms three meters in length and can attach power tools as fingers. Behind Dextre is the blackness of space, while Earth looms over Dextre’s head. The Kibo laboratory segment being deployed during space shuttle Discovery’s trip to the ISS can be pressurized and contains racks of scientific experiment that will be used to explore many things, including how plants brace themselves against gravity, and how water might be inhibited from freezing in cells under microgravity.

APOD: 2008 June 11 – Dextre Robot at Work on the Space Station

Future Shock

Filed under: Uncategorized — nulius @ 1:38 am

eniac I often fantasize about going back to 1972 (my high school senior year) bearing just a few items we take for granted in 2008; I would be a god, I think. I couldn’t take a cell phone of course because the lack of infrastructure would really harsh the presentation. Nonetheless, just a notebook computer, a digital camera, and an iPod would be enough to get the natives restless.

From where I sit now in the 21st Century, students with reasonable access to even a basic computer with good Internet access have no excuse to be stupid. It’s all right there at your fingertips, virtually everything anyone might need to know. The other part of my fantasy involves what I would be doing now if indeed my generation had access to common, 21st Century technology. Stuff that, even just 36 years ago, would have seemed nothing short of magical. Would I have been better in math? No doubt about it. Chemistry? Piece of cake.

Consider: not one single science fiction story that I read from the period 1950s to early 1970s, not one of them predicted the personal computer. At best, there may have been a remote terminal on someone’s desk, but it was always connected to a gargantuan mainframe-type contraption with lots of blinking lights, and it always used magnetic tape. Those born after 1980 may never understand the quantum leap the Mac and PC collectively represented.

Kill Your Television

Filed under: Job Search — nulius @ 12:54 am

One of the first things to go after I lost my job was DirecTV. It’s hard to justify the expense of pay-television when one no longer has an income.

Amazingly, I’m finding, with few exceptions, that I don’t miss it. The few exceptions would be Bill Maher, who is mercifully (on my part) currently on hiatus, and This Old House (no home owner should miss a single episode).

On the up side, I’m reading more, and well, I’ve started this blog.

June 10, 2008

Florida in my future?

Filed under: Uncategorized — nulius @ 5:00 pm

After two months and 10 days looking for work, I got a nibble today from a couple of Indian recruiters wanting me to take a 6-month contract in what they call “Fort Laurel” Florida. It was quite difficult to understand them, but since they’re the only bite I’ve had in a few weeks, what the hell? 

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June 7, 2008

Goodbye, open road

Filed under: Job Search — nulius @ 7:44 pm
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My old reliableEconomic necessity forced me to sell my 2004 Honda VTX 1300S today. That bike and I saw a lot of miles together, including a ride that Barbara and I will cherish in perpetuity; a beautiful October afternoon jaunt to buy a lottery ticket in Kentucky and back home to Spring Hill. Truly spectacular, that one. Icing on the cake: we flew the same route a couple of weeks later in a Cessna rented out of MQY.

Observation:The bike sold within 24 hours of placing the ad on CraigsList.com. Mind you, this is a five-year old machine now with 38,000 miles. The buyer was complaining of paying $60.00 per week just to get to and from work – $240 per month. I remember when that was my monthly rent for a three-bedroom house.  Times are hard out there.

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