Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What Jihadis are Fighting For

From an article in 'The Guardian' (a prominent leftist British publication) by Ibn Warraq

Modern apologists of Islam try to downplay the evident materialism and sexual implications of such descriptions, but, as the Encyclopaedia of Islam says, even orthodox Muslim theologians such as al Ghazali (died 1111 CE) and Al-Ash'ari (died 935 CE) have "admitted sensual pleasures into paradise". The sensual pleasures are graphically elaborated by Al-Suyuti (died 1505 ), Koranic commentator and polymath. He wrote: "Each time we sleep with a houri we find her virgin. Besides, the penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal; the sensation that you feel each time you make love is utterly delicious and out of this world and were you to experience it in this world you would faint. Each chosen one [ie Muslim] will marry seventy [sic] houris, besides the women he married on earth, and all will have appetising vaginas."


How It Works

Or 72 virgins for doing this one little thing for me.....


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Life On Other Worlds Three - Detection



So Now You Know.....

Being intermittently socially ept, I think I can cop to Geek.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Life on Other Worlds Two - The Drake Equation

[Visions of earth, as seen from Orion]

The Drake equation states that:

N =  R^{\ast} \times f_p \times n_e \times  f_{\ell} \times f_i \times f_c  \times L \!


N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible;


R* = the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
f = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.[3]

Considerable amounts of both speculation and research have gone into making estimates for each of the terms. The first three are addressable by conventional astrophysics. These are things about which quite a lot is known in general. The research is to assign particulars and quantities. Many a doctoral dissertation and research grant and paper has gone into the endless refinement of every subpart of each of these questions.

In the early stages of quantification scientists seek to put upper and lower bounds on what the quantities might be. For example even without a telescope we can determine that the lower bound of the second term, f-sub-p, must be greater than zero because we are standing on one and can see others. Simple logic tells us that f-sub-p cannot be greater than one. See, we're doing astronomical research right here at home. Nor is that entirely a joke.

Ever since the early Greek philosophers, lots has been learned just by logical thinking and commonplace observations. An example of the latter is Galileo's dropping heavier and lighter weights off the Leaning Tower of Pisa to see which would fall faster. And only a generation or two before my time came Einstein's thought experiments with a rotating bucket of water and inertial reference frames.

The lower bound of F-sub-p has been bumped up considerably by a generation of discoveries of extra-solar planets, now numbered in the hundreds. What is less obvious is that the upper bound has also been bumped down considerably by the non-discovery of planets around stars where we could have detected them if they had been there. At least large planets. Which to say that while the value of f-sub-p remains unknown, the bounds it must fall between have narrowed.

I must admit I have no idea why the first term 'R*' refers to the rate of star-formation in the galaxy and not just to the total number of stars. If anyone reading this knows why, please explain in a comment and I will copy it to a full post.

For reasons of the inverse square law, the habitable zone around a star is proportional to its brightness - the brighter the star, the wider its habitable zone both absolutely and relatively. The habitable zone used to be understood as being between where water would boil away and where it would freeze solid. The case of Jupiter's moon Europa has loused up this supposition.

The tidal effects of its proximity to Jupiter stretch and squeeze Europa with every rotation about its axis, each of its days. This stretching and squeezing heats it. Such that, though its surface is frozen, under hundreds or even thousands of feet of ice there appear to be liquid oceans. Europa, hundreds of millions of miles beyond what had been assumed to be Sol's habitable zone, is now considered the leading contender for where else in the solar system we are most likely to find liquid water - and life.

Which illustrates how even the term least difficult to calculate, the size of the habitable zone, turns out to be unexpectedly tricky. The moral of Europa is - don't assume.

The much greater relative size of habitable zones around large bright stars had led people to assume that was where life was most likely to be found. Since large stars are relatively rare, the possible loci for life were thought to be as well.

Improvements in the size and sensitivity of telescopes have revealed that the small dim stars called red dwarfs are vastly more numerous than had been previously thought. And since they last almost forever compared to larger brighter stars, the product of their habitable zone volumes times their number times their longevity makes them by far the more likely harbor life. Which means that the possible loci for life are vastly more common than previously supposed.

Further, because their surfaces nowhere near as hot as those of larger brighter stars, red dwarves emit far less ionizing radiation. For example, if you stay outside all day without protection, you will get a sunburn. Which is to say that, though your ancestry on this planet goes back at least two billion years, you will be partially roasted by your parent star's ultraviolet radiation in a few hours. And that is in spite of life on earth having created a partially oxygen atmosphere which in turn has created an ozone layer which blocks a lot of the UV from the sun.

Larger brighter stars are also hotter and a larger fraction of the radiation they emit is UV, hard UV, and X-rays. Which means that even at the same temperature range, life is more likely to be destroyed by ionizing radiation on planets around them before it can create a partially oxygen atmosphere and an ozone layer. And even then your sunburn might go all the way through if a lot of the sunshine was X-rays. So red dwarfs are looking better and better.

BUT the bastards are incredibly hard to find. They are dim compared to larger stars (the brightness of stars varies approximately with the fourth power of their mass - so a star one-tenth the mass of the sun would be one-ten-thousandth as bright) and correspondingly hard to see with even the biggest and best telescopes.

Which is a major reason astronomers are forever trying to get funding to build ever bigger and more sensitive telescopes. It isn't just mission creep or empire building, though one assumes there must be some of that too, but a genuine going where the science takes them.

In closing I would note the evolution of the thinking about the 'L' term at the end, the Length of time that civilizations broadcast detectable radiation signals into space. This used to run toward pious clucking about the prospects of the Cold War degenerating into World War III and the destruction of the world in a vast thermonuclear exchange between West and East. This included holier-than-thou holding forth about inherent aggression and instability of much of the human species, by which was meant anyone not a liberal or leftist academic.

The end of the Cold War has cut the legs out from under this argument, ripped out its guts and stomped on them, sprayed the landscape with its blood and bits of its organs as though it had swallowed a daisy cutter, have vaporized it where it stood such that its eyes boiled and burst from their sockets and... Hold on, where was I going with this?

Even as I write, the American and Russian governments are negotiating substantial further reductions in their nuclear arsenals. One would think that this would mean that the value of 'L', judging by our own case would be going up because we are less and less likely to annihilate ourselves. It isn't.

In the early days of radio and television, broadcast stations blasted sometimes up to million watt signals. We ourselves have receivers that could detect such signals if they were coming from the nearer stars. Which means that it is now possible to pick up actual live broadcasts of 'I Love Lucy' all over our immediate sector of the galaxy.

But developments in the economics and technology of broadcast have led to networks of much less powerful signals replacing the single behemoths of the middle of the century. So while Tau Ceti and Sirius-B may be able to tune into Playhouse 90 and Ed Sullivan, they probably won't be able to pick up Oprah and American Idol no matter how much they adjust their rabbit ears. Eventually they won't be able to watch the 2057 season premiere of 'Law & Order - Chico', even with a roof antenna.

Which is to say that seen from afar, earth will have winked out as a detectable civilization, and without a thermonuclear planetary suicide. There is no reason to believe that an until-then-detectable remote civilization around any given star may not have similarly winked out 17 years ago, or 17 million years ago, or 1.7 billion years ago - and yet still be there. Or not.

So our judgments on the probable value of 'L' even for our own civilization have proven slippery. For others of which we as yet know nothing, it is all but impossible to set upper or lower bounds.

All of which is to suggest that our work of answering one of the most profound questions of human existence, "Are we alone in the universe? Is anybody out there?", is a huge and daunting set of intellectual and scientific tasks. And we are just at the beginning of the work of answering it.

If you think that all matters of loaves and fishes are long since settled and that science is just about inventing new doo-dads, think again.

Life on Other Worlds - One

[The Martian Ambassador addressing Congress]

I remember bicycling in rural western Marin County years ago and finding that someone had painted, "We are not alone" in huge letters on the pavement. A startling remark, and open to a number of interpretations. One is that Jesus or Allah or Santa Claus or somebody, is with us. Another is that human life works better if we don't cut ourselves off from other people. But the most startling is the possibility of intelligent life on other worlds.

And even that view is problematic because there are so many ways just that one view can be taken. There are no end to cartoons about Little Green Men (LGM's as they are known to those who know all about it.) and "Take me to your leader" and a whole genre of science fiction and horror stories and movies. These range from the thoughtful and lovely "Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury as long ago as 1950, the hokey 'The Blob' of 1958, to the brutal 'Alien' movie of 1979, and all its spawn of 'Predator and Alien', 'Teenage Alien', 'Alien Goes Hawaiian', 'Alien Eats Your Face IV' and my favorite, 'Mars Attacks!' of 1996.

Very much beside the point, 'Mars Attacks!' in spite of being completely ridiculous, had perhaps the best cast ever assembled for a movie - Jack Nicholson, Lukas Haas, Annette Bening, Jim Brown, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Glenn Close, Martin Short, Michael J. Fox, Jack Black, Natalie Portman, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones, and Danny DeVito. I will resist the temptation to recount my favorite scene*.

Somewhere in the middle came 'War of the Worlds'. The 1898 H.G. Wells novel was a socialist parable about what European imperialism must have looked like to its victims in what is now laughably referred to as the the Third World. (The First and Second Worlds have vanished as expressions, only the Third remains. Perennially in terrible shape, who would have thought it would outlive its wealthier kin?)

In the 1950's Hollywood was not about to let a little thing like literary integrity stand in the way of a large scale special effects moneymaker. Especially when HUAC would have had them taking the 5th in droves if they had kept any of the political content - which of course was the whole point of the novel. In my mind's eye I can still see the doomed Martian war machine going out of control and crushing LA City Hall. It was great. I saw it at Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.

The 2005 remake was Hollywood's attempt to show the public both that a movie with nothing to recommend it but fabulous sound effects could still be a good movie for that reason alone, and that Tom Cruise is all face and no talent. Which, let us admit, no one had doubted anyway.

There are also the various manifestations of the UFO community. Its membership seems to coincide fairly closely with membership in the psychotropic drug community, both prescribed and unprescribed. I was once told in all seriousness by a homeless man that "Them grays is bad news. Stay away from them." Out of an abundance of caution I have taken that advice to heart and have avoided them whenever possible. I remain undevoured to this day.

There are also no end of Flying Saucer narratives many involving abductions, experiments, and probes. These seem to emanate mainly from the social class uncharitably referred to as "trailer trash'. One wonders whether the prominence of fantasies involving probes represent incompletely repressed childhood memories of anal visits by mom's thirteenth new boyfriend. These narratives were unimaginatively assembled into the movie 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'.

Even with all the raillery, the question of other intelligent races in the galaxy or beyond is a serious one.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Today's Aphorisms

The Democrats are just as morally sleazy as the Republicans, just on different issues.

Obama is Jimmy Carter in blackface.

In 2008 I campaigned because I wanted a rational and moral government. I still want a rational and moral government. And I still don't have one.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Consequences of their Actions

[Fragments of the Qassam rocket that killed a man at Nativ Haasara. Gaza has launched 8,500 of these at Israeli civilian areas since 2003. 5,700 have been launched since 2005 when Israel evacuated from Gaza.]
Washington's demarche against Israel is not just a diplomatic flap with no consequences. Apparently on the strength of the encouragement from Washington, rocket fire from Gaza has resumed. The Gazans killed a man with a rocket in the "cooperative agricultural town" of Nativ Haasara, presumably a kibbutz or moshav.

While the rocket fire and the murder of the man in Israel were going on, the Baroness Catherine Ashton, a representative of the European Union, was touring Gaza. The Gazans and the UNRRA director had the temerity to complain to her that not enough necessaries were getting into Gaza. Since food and medicine are getting in unhindered, presumably they meant rockets.

As an aside one notes that there is only so much Gazans can smuggle through the tunnels under the Egyptian border blockade. Gazans could have smuggled in baby clothes or korans but chose to smuggle in rockets instead. Which is why the blockade is there - because of the bad choices made in Gaza.

The connection between the attacks from Washington and the attacks from Gaza could not be clearer in spite of the NY Times' attempts to obscure it.

Ironically Biden said it himself while he was there. "The prospects for peace in the Middle East are greatest when there is no daylight separating Israel and the United States." Whereupon he violated his own advice and created a gulf between Israel and the United States. The daylight between the allies was followed immediately by the darkness of acts of war by Israel's enemies, just as Biden had predicted.

Biden either wasn't listening to himself or he was listening to his boss in Washington. Biden isn't in charge. It is Obama who decides and it is he who is up for reelection in two years. It is he who encouraged the Gazans to believe that withdrawal of American support would weaken Israel and encouraged the new attacks on a now possibly weaker victim.

Since Biden's speech shows they knew the likely consequences of their actions, the death of the farm worker in Nativ Haasara can fairly be blamed on Obama and his administration. So too the deaths to come on both sides of the Gaza border.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Message to the President

[Contact for early season discount pricing]

Dear Mr. President,
In 2008 I mistakenly drove from California to Colorado to spend two weeks walking precincts in Grand Junction as a volunteer on your campaign. That was in hopes of getting a government with moral and rational policies.

You chose to condemn Israel for authorizing apartments in eastern Jerusalem while ignoring the PA honoring the terrorist who bombed a Jerusalem bus, killing all 37 passengers, by naming the town square in Ramallah for her.

The authorization of the housing and the naming of the square took place the same week, both coinciding with Vice-President Biden's visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. I have been unable to imagine a legitimate reason for your administration's outspokenness on the one and silence on the other.

You and your administration apparently have no morals and no rational policies. At best you are bought by enemies of Israel, for sale like the standard Illinois politicians you apparently were all along.

You, your administration, your party, and your damage control efforts, can all just go to hell.,0,6405456.story

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

Doorway to China

I am of two minds about Wal-Mart and Chinese imports. There are the issues in the quality and safety of their goods, and the erosion of American manufacturing.

On the other, speaking as someone who once had a factory job, I have no trouble seeing those jobs exported to people poor enough to regard them as an improvement in their lives. When the media report on factory jobs in America they invariably show the nice clean safe well-paid unionized jobs in Detroit auto plants. Which is a ridiculous misrepresentation. Not one factory job in a hundred is anything like that. I don't know whether the media are conscious liars or just too shallow to think in anything but the flimsiest of cliches.

They sure never talk to people with actual factory jobs. In the 19th Century William Blake referred to English factories as "those dark Satanic mills".

The other is that a large part of the price advantage Chinese goods have in our markets is based on the yuan being held artificially low by their government. That makes Chinese goods unrealistically cheap here and American goods unrealistically expensive there. Which results in an artificial imbalance of trade and of payments. Which is how they wound up with literally trillions of American dollars.

Where did/does that surplus value come from, i.e. who produced those trillions of dollars of value? The Chinese workers did. They produced goods and services which were deliberately undervalued beneath their market value. Their buying power was correspondingly undercut because the currency they got paid in was undervalued. The cash difference has accumulated in the coffers of Chinese companies and the Chinese government. NOT in the pockets of the workers.

But there is another large increment of the surplus value taken from the Chinese workers. The cash difference which winds up in the various coffers of the rich and powerful comes only from the sales price of the goods sold and is only part of the value of the goods produced. The reason Chinese goods are perceived as under-priced is that they are.

I bought a steam iron at Wal-Mart for $7. A slightly better iron would have cost $30 if it had been made in the US, and a fancy one would have cost $50 if made in Europe. Absent deliberate undervaluation of the yuan and volume pricing by Wal-Mart, the Chinese iron would have cost perhaps $20 or $25 dollars.

Wal-Mart, the Chinese manufacturer, and the Chinese government divided up my $7 among themselves. Who got the value difference between the $20 the market would have otherwise made me pay for an iron and the $7 I did pay? I did. I got the steam iron I wanted and still had $13 to spend on other things.

Wal-Mart and its competitors have provided American workers an unprecedented access to inexpensive consumer goods. In spite of stagnant or declining incomes, I believe that the material standard of living of working class Americans has risen significantly on account of Chinese imports in the past 20 years. The import of vast quantities of manufactured goods from China represents an enormous transfer of wealth from Chinese workers to American workers.

The Chinese working class of several hundred million people is thus the biggest cash cow on the planet.

Even so, so far from impoverishing China, access to the American consumer market, even on deliberately unfavorable terms, has been the making of China. Incomes are up, people eat far better, housing has improved, people stay in school longer, medical care has improved, people are moving off unremunerative farms to city jobs, infrastructure of roads, schools, businesses, housing, and so on, are all being built with capital imported from America.

Much of the sneering at Wal-Mart and at Chinese goods sounds suspiciously like class animosity against the American working class, some of it covert, some of it explicit. The frequent jibe is against the image of a fat woman in stretch pants with curlers in her hair as the typical Wal-Mart customer shopping for cheap crap that "you and I" would not want. This is anti-working class propaganda and sneering.

In the long run, there is at least the possibility that Chinese goods will continue to go through some part of the transformation that changed 'made in Occupied Japan' from a guarantee that something was worthless crap, to 'made in Japan' meaning good quality and design often worth paying extra for.

What we are seeing now is the testing of the limits of transferring of so much capital between the two countries.

Enemies of Wal-Mart and Chinese imports among middle class yuppies too hip and cool to shop at Wal-Mart, and of the undervalued yuan among owners of manufacturing businesses, are no friends of American working people.

Why I am no longer a Democrat

Egged bus no. 19 - Neither forget nor forgive

Last week the mayor of Jerusalem approved the construction of 1600 housing units in the eastern part of Jerusalem. The same week, the day after Vice-President Biden visited Ramallah, the PA mayor of that town named the central square there for Dalal Mughrabi, the woman who blew up a Jerusalem city bus, killing 37 Israeli civilians including two children.

The Obama administration responded by harshly criticizing Israel for endangering the ostensibly impending peace talks. It called into question, they said, Israel's intentions toward an eventual two state solution. This criticism was voiced by all three of President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and Secretary of State Clinton. Not a word of the honoring of Dalal Mughrabi was mentioned.

One might argue that honoring the murderess of 37 Israelis did not exactly "send the right message" about the peaceful intentions of the PA either.

Until the Administration changes its policy of one-sidedly criticizing Israel, I am not interested in Boxer or any other Democrat. But Biden, Obama, and Clinton said not a word about that. If the Democrats are not on our side, I am not on theirs.

Presumably some of the reason for the Administration's statements was public posturing for the sake of its political and military positions in Iraq and Afghanistan, to mollify Muslims on their side and to avoid further antagonizing those opposed. That in no way excuses their silence on the naming of the Ramallah public square for the mass murderer Dalal Mughrabi.

As for the substance of the PA doing that, the message of the PA to Israel could not be more explicit. The message is that they regard murdering Israelis as a good thing and that they have no intention of EVER living in peace with Israel.

Given that, the Israelis would be crazy to make any concessions to them ever. There are only a few logical policies toward people who are explicit about wanting you dead. One is to kill them first. Another is to progressively marginalize them onto less and less land so they will be less and less able to make good on their intentions. The building of 1600 housing units on Israeli land that the PA claims would be a step in the right direction.

Just as the Gazans are outraged when their rocket barrage against Israel provokes exactly the reprisal one would expect, so too with the PA. They are outraged when, having proclaimed that they intend to forever do all they can to kill Israelis, the Israelis do what they can to undermine the prospects of a possible PA state and diminish its possible territory.

The authorization of the 1600 housing units by Israel is the logical outcome of the naming of the Ramallah square for the mass-murderess Dalal Mughrabi by the PA. As we have long-since learned to expect, the Palestinians are outraged by the consequences of their own actions.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Christy Sees the Light


These are the "Moderates" with whom we should negotiate?

from Palestinian Media Watch -
PA to Name Square for Murderer of 37 on Anniversary of Her Attack
by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Another chapter is unfolding in the ongoing confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over the naming of a square after the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi. In December, Palestinian Media Watch publicized that the Municipality of Ramallah planned to name a public square in honor of the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who led the worst terror attack in Israel's history when she and other terrorists hijacked a bus and murdered 37civilians in 1978. Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately protested to the US and sharply criticized the PA for its intention to name the square in Ramallah "after a terrorist who killed dozens of Israelis."
The official PA daily newspaper reports today that the PA has chosen to ignore PM Netanyahu's criticism and protests to the US. Not only does itstill intend to name the square after the terrorist, but the date chosen for the inaugural ceremony is this Thursday, March 11, the 32nd anniversary of the terror attack.
Since PMW's exposure of the story, PA leaders have repeatedly rejected PM Netanyahu's criticism while defending the practice of honoring murderers, whom they honor as Martyrs (Shahids). PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas also referred to the terror attack as "military activities."


You can't win, you can't break even, and you can't get out of the game. --the Wiz


Sunday, March 07, 2010

Hidden Things

Is it this way already? Are there things the rich have that we don't even know about? I remember having a plum in Italy that was better than any plum I have had before or since. And apples in Israel better than any apple before or since. And an occasional meal, usually in France, better than any other meal.

Wine usually seems mediocre to me. I drink it because, as a Californian, I am expected to and have gotten used to doing it. Yet literature from Roman times to ours has reference to fine or even noble wines. Some bottles go for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Is handmade clothing personally tailored to fit, better than mass-produced? Is live music better than CD's? Are there people so rich they have full-time house musicians the way the Esterhazys had Haydn and his orchestra in the 18th Century? What would it be like to have servants? Or if one were a Saudi, slaves? If one can afford several mistresses and they know about one another, is it a harem?

What would being chauffeured in a stretch limousine be like if one were not going to a high school prom with ten friends? If there were no effort or stress involved in travel because one had a private jet, nor noticeable expense, would the world seem smaller and more accessible?

Would one be better educated if one had had a private tutor, a class size of one? Would one get a better education if one of the buildings on campus was named for your father? Would one's health be better and one's life expectancy longer if one had a personal physician and a hospital wing named for you?

Would you feel more empowered if you called your Senator "Ed" and he called you "Sir" and meant it? Would you feel differently about your place in the world if you could have people killed with impunity and a phone call? Would public discourse in newspapers and television seem more amenable if one owned them?

And we all know for sure that there must be such people and that they would be very reluctant to endure publicity and would have the means to ensure that their privacy was not broken in upon?

Is there a ruling class aside from those we know about? Are the rich different? Do we even know of their existence directly? Or only by inference?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Monday, March 01, 2010

Giant Intellects on the Right

There really is no way to parody these guys


The Shape of Toys to Come

Sony STR-DN1010 3D-Ready AV Receiver

Sony is a major manufacturer of televisions. They are also a major producer of movies. Sony would not be developing and selling 3-D capable receivers if they were not also developing 3-D televisions. And 3-D movies and games for playing on those televisions.

If 3-D movies need a special disk format then Blu-Ray is obsolete before it ever got started. If the 3-D disk format IS Blu-Ray then DVD is more obsolete than ever.

If 3-D catches on, as blockbusters like Avatar suggest it will, then it is only a matter of a few years until even the biggest,most expensive 2-D flat screen television will be a sign of living in the consumer Third World, of being hopelessly mired in the Twentieth Century.

This reinforces my notion that one should not over-invest in current technology. Because it won't be current long. I learned that when I spent $3000 on the components from which to construct what was then a state-of-the-art 80386 computer. I eventually had to pay a shop $10 to properly dispose of the CPU and motherboard that had cost me a grand a few years earlier. It ran DOS 3.1.

I don't think Sony would be developing and selling these receivers if they were going to just be wiped out by streaming movies from Netflix. Which means that 3-D movies will require more bandwidth than current cable technology provides. Since cable will support streaming Blu-Ray movies, it follows that 3-D video will require a different format than Blu-Ray. Which means that Blu-Ray probably is stillborn. Or at least will have a short lifespan.

The logic of which is not to spend much on Blu-Ray or not to get it at all. For my part, I am pleased as pie with Netflix streaming DVD video over cable. Netflix is in the process of converting more movies from film to Blu-Ray so there will be even less reason to get a Blu-Ray player. For $9 a month, the problem with Netflix is having the time to watch their vast movie library,

The only tsatskeh I would like to get would be a Netflix wi-fi box so I won't have to plug the laptop into the television every time, which is a pain in the butt.