Is this where my FEMA tax dollars are going?

I just received this in the mail and I can’t decide if it’s some insurance companies pretending to be represented by FEMA or if FEMA is shilling for the insurance companies. I didn’t really think it was the job of our esteemed government agencies to arbitrarily recommend insurance companies to us.

Regulate, maybe. Rate, perhaps. But, in spite of the disclaimer (last image below), this seems like outright endorsement to me.

What do you think?

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Envelope from FEMA

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First part of message on over-long paper

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Second part of message with David Maurstad’s signature on it

Georgetown Homecoming in 2007

I went to high school in Georgetown (Ontario, Canada) and lived there for many moons before becoming a citizen of these United States. I see that they are organizing a homecoming for next year (July 27-29, 2007). If you hail from there and think you’d like to see what’s become of the folks you used to know, here’s a link for you:

Relative sizes of our planets and various stars

[Update 2009 12 22 – It was just pointed out to me that the domain under which this is hosted belongs to an idiot. While I have my own views about the amount of attention and assistance the Jewish people get from our media and government, the owner of this website is completely over the top.

This does not take away from the scientific relevance of this astronomy page. End Update]

For some great pictures showing the relative sizes of our solar system’s planets as well as some contrasting the size of our sun with that of other stars out there, click here.

Advertisements in Podcasts

As podcasting begins to mature, it is only natural that some folks will work to profit from it. I think, for the near future, the vast majority of podcasts will remain free. But for those that move into the commercial realm, they face the daunting task of finding a monetization model that will be acceptable to users who have absolute control over their listening (and viewing, for videocasts) devices.

Some profit models will simply be that you need to pay to subscribe and be done with it. This is challenging as, with so much content available out there for free, there will have to be very compelling content for folks to pay for it up front like that.

The most probable model will fall back to advertising. The targetted demographics of podcasting are astounding. An audience that has actually made the effort go seek out particular content, download it and then listen to it. TV of old with its “elephant gun” approach to advertising (we have x million folks watching our (one of three competing) station, they’re loosely in this demographic so hopefully we can convince advertisers to sell stuff with us), was somewhat successful and it was the best model available for a long time.

I was watching “Star Trek” (the ancient series) on G4 a couple of nights ago and was pretty amazed how tightly focused the advertising was.

But the thing I have been finding with the podcast advertising is that they haven’t clued in yet that the advertisements need to be as entertaining as the content. Listening to a daily show with the exact same ad every day will have you skipping the ad in no time flat. As with radio and TV, especially with TIVO, if the ads are not engaging they will not be viewed. Even if folks do not outright skip the ads with a flip of the finger – there is legislative and technological bumbling to try to prevent such making its way through their courses now – in this era of “continuous limited attention” folks will simply tune out the drivel and focus on their laptop, their blackberry, that other channel, that magazine in front of them. In short, you can no longer force folks to pay attention to content that they don’t wish to.

With more entertainment and diversions available to us than ever before in the history of this planet, people are not going to waste their time with what does not appeal to them.

July 4th from the Air

Mich, Robbie, one of our friend’s kids, and I spent part of this past July 4th enjoying the view of the dozens of fireworks displays from the vantage point of a rental airplane.

The weather up North (Pennsylvania and the Northeastern states) was stormy and there were some storm systems to our West but none of these were going to affect us in the time frame I wanted to be in the air. However there was a ceiling at 11,000 feet and scattered clouds in the area at about 4,000 and 6,000 feet. There were also thunderstorms and light rain showers in the area, but according to the weather reports, none that seemed near us.

We took off from Briscoe field shortly after some of the displays began and travelled North toward lake Lanier. The cloud cover kept us pretty low (at about 3,000 feet) but that was ample to keep us safe.

To our left as we departed runway 25 was a grand display that was probably Lawrenceville’s official fireworks show.

There were dozens and dozens (perhaps even hundreds) of little residential fireworks displays to be seen scattered across the myriad neighborhoods that we flew over.

I did not see the grand display of fireworks over Lake Lanier but I did notice that the cloud cover seemed to be increasing more rapidly than expected over the lake so I decided to head South toward Atlanta’s displays instead. We could see several other major displays taking place as we headed downtown. While en route I started to notice some buffeting, which is unusual for night flying, and then we saw Mother Nature’s own fireworks display. Off in the distance there were some spectacular lightning strikes going on. So we knew that one of the warned-about thunderstorms was not only nearby, but approaching our area.

180 degrees and a landing later we got the first drops of rain while I was tying down the airplane.

I found out, after the fact, that the Phipp’s Plaza and Centennial park displays did not happen that night. I haven’t researched whether they did the shows early or cancelled them altogether.

But in the brief time we were up we *did* get to see far more than I ever get to see on the ground watching a single show. And I cannot tell you how amazing it is to see all the little shows going on as far as you can see in every direction. Picture the landscape of the movie “Blade Runner” (one of my all time favorite movies).