Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Way News - Despite layoffs, federal work force is growing

"WASHINGTON (AP) - Companies are cutting jobs by the tens of thousands. State and local governments are penny-pinching, too. So what about Uncle Sam? Tough times for him as well?

Not exactly.

In fact the number of federal workers is on the rise.

That might seem strange to the 11 million people in the U.S. who are out of work - and the millions more who fear they soon will be. Shouldn't Washington pare down too?"

Friday, January 30, 2009

Political Punch: Bumps in the Road: Obama's HHS Secretary Nominee Faces Tax Questions Over Car and Driver

"(Mr. Daschle reimbursed the IRS $31,462 in taxes and interest for tax year 2005; $35,546 for 2006; and $34,935, a Daschle spokesperson said, adding that Daschle had asked his accountant to look into the tax implications of the car and driver five months before Mr. Obama won the presidency.)"

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cringely’s Mortgage Blog � Wall Street Can’t Count

Very interesting.

The Amazing Story Behind the Global Warming Scam | KUSI - News, Weather and Sports - San Diego, CA | Coleman's Corner

What happened next is amazing. The global warming frenzy was becoming the cause celeb of the media. After all the media is mostly liberal, loves Al Gore, loves to warn us of impending disasters and tell us "the sky is falling, the sky is falling". The politicians and the environmentalist loved it, too.

But the tide was turning with Roger Revelle. He was forced out at Harvard at 65 and returned to California and a semi retirement position at UCSD. There he had time to rethink Carbon Dioxide and the greenhouse effect. The man who had inspired Al Gore and given the UN the basic research it needed to launch its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was having second thoughts. In 1988 he wrote two cautionary letters to members of Congress. He wrote, "My own personal belief is that we should wait another 10 or 20 years to really be convinced that the greenhouse effect is going to be important for human beings, in both positive and negative ways." He added, "…we should be careful not to arouse too much alarm until the rate and amount of warming becomes clearer."

Not safe for work: If you can't say anything nice, kill yourself, says Paul Carr | Technology |

"If you've ever considered spitting on someone because you don't like something they've said online, kill yourself. Seriously. Do it now. The world will be a better place without you."

Dana Milbank - With Al Due Respect, We're Doomed

"Mostly, however, the lawmakers took turns asking the Goracle for advice, as if playing with a Magic 8 Ball."

I picked only my favorite line from this laugh riot (emphasis mine).

The Most Underrated Part of the Inauguration - HUMAN EVENTS

"The Lord's Prayer is, in reality, the most invasive and subversive prayer to human selfishness that one can say. It's able to break down strongholds within us, within others and even within political structures. As Warren again said, praying the Lord's Prayer is ideal 'when your circumstances are uncontrollable, when people around you won't change (they're unchangeable), and when problems are unexplainable.'"

George F. Will - How the GOP Should Measure the Stimulus -

"Long ago -- a year ago -- Russell Roberts, an economics professor at George Mason University, deplored terms that suggest that economics is a science akin to medicine. With a 'stimulus,' of a sort that makes the legs of a dead frog twitch, the government will 'inject' money as a doctor gives a blood transfusion. Or as a life-reviving 'jolt' from a defibrillator."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

U.S. retrieves MP3 player with military files | U.S. | Reuters

"Chris Ogle, 29, bought the $10 MP3 at a thrift shop in Oklahoma but when he plugged it in discovered it contained 60 U.S. military files, said New Zealand television program One News which broke the story."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Parties: Why Skipping Davos Is This Year's True Status Symbol

"The World Economic Forum, known as Davos for the Swiss mountain resort where it's held, is more notable for who's not going to the glitzy, star-studded affair. Only the organizers pretend that the purpose of the event is to hold lofty sessions about global economics, the intellectual fig leaf which covers the schmoozing and boozing."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Senate Passes Bill to Delay Transition to Digital Television -

Hey, whatever happened to that whole metric thing anyway?

Obama faces tough choice on Cape Cod wind farm

No hypocrisy here eh?

Report On Water Quality Withheld -

"A report that shows a decline in quality in northern Montgomery County waterways has been held from public release for months by county officials who have delayed the gloomy news while they hunt for new methods to allow more development but keep streams healthy.

The unpublished data on the county's four 'special protection areas' show that water quality in northern Montgomery is worse than in previous years and suggest that much of the decline comes from soil disturbed by rapid development in and around Clarksburg, according to several people familiar with the findings. The data suggest that sediment control systems used by builders and required by the county are not working well enough."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Google plans to make PCs history | Technology | The Observer

Good news if that means simply PCs as now defined (Windows boxes).

I question the accuracy of this article though. There have been far too many counter indicators in Google's existing product offerings.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama Is “Failure” At Google & “Miserable Failure” At Yahoo

"I told you so. Or I told anyone who cared. I even tried to reach the Obama administration in four or five different ways. Do a search on Yahoo right now for miserable failure, and you’ll find President Barack Obama’s page ranking either in the top spot or the second spot. Given a redirect that Obama’s web team has put into place, he should solidify into that number one spot over time. Eventually, Microsoft’s Live Search should reflect that, as well. And over at Google, Obama will likely gain a top page listing for a search on failure.

I know. There are bigger issues Obama has to deal with. But then again, this is supposed to be the tech-savvy presidency. It should be search engine optimization savvy, as well."

I may have linked this before.

But clearly Google deserves some sort of special payback from the new administration.

They now say they have a special utility they can run to fix their database. They have now run the utility so as not to label Obama a miserable failure.

Only they've known about this since 2005, so presumably they simply didn't mind having Bush labeled as such.

It's good to have friends in high places. Things haven't changed and it's not what you know, but who you know that really counts.

Friday, January 23, 2009

If Not Gitmo, Then Where Should Terror Detainees Be Held? - TIME

The Lincoln Bedroom?

PolitiFact | The Obameter: Tracking Barack Obama's Campaign Promises

Will be interesting to watch, and of course in some cases "no action" is the best thing going.

Bob the Impaler

"So they leave things pretty much as-is, announce a first-ever layoff that’s as close to meaningless as possible, and cut a few expenses to generate a projected $1.5 billion savings. Why not? We’re in the worst economy of our lives. Making ONLY $4 billion in profit last quarter will be quickly forgiven.

I’m not saying here that Microsoft has fudged any numbers. Just the opposite, I’m saying that for maybe the first or second time ever they AREN’T fudging numbers."

A Neo-Reaganite Inaugural? - HUMAN EVENTS

Thursday, January 22, 2009

YouTube Boosts MPFC Sales

The past few months have demonstrated that great content on YouTube leads to increased sales. For example, when Monty Python launched their channel in November, not only did their YouTube videos shoot to the top of the most viewed lists, but their DVDs also quickly climbed to No. 2 on Amazon's Movies & TV bestsellers list, with increased sales of 23,000 percent.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TG Daily - Credit Card Processor admits potentially huge data theft

The company has no idea how long the malware was in its system, or how many accounts were compromised, according to a quote Baldwin gave the Washington Post. He said, "The transactional data crossing our platform, in terms of magnitude... is about 100 million transactions a month. At this point, though, we don't know the magnitude of what was grabbed."

A Government That “Works,” but for Whom? (Cato @ Liberty)


Responsibilities (Cato @ Liberty)

The individual versus the collective: Americans generally affirm individual or personal responsibility for one’s life. To be an adult – to put aside childish things - means taking responsibility for one’s actions and outcomes. Yet language permits another possibility. “We” can take responsibility for this outcome or that injustice. Putting aside childish things means taking collective responsibility through government action. In this view, emphasizing the individual suggests a childish selfishness that should be overcome. Obama seems to be about both kinds of responsibility right now. But extending state control over society vitiates personal responsibility. The new president will have to choose between the two.

Another word-play on the inaugural word-play.

Why Microsoft should forget about Yahoo and buy Palm. - By Farhad Manjoo - Slate Magazine

"What's most puzzling about the possibility of renewed merger talks is that in betting on Yahoo, Microsoft would be jumping deeper into a volatile business that is outside its area of expertise. Microsoft really has no business being in the business of advertising. It is a software company, and software remains an astonishingly lucrative market. So why does it want to sell ads?"

As I said below, good question.

Linden Bets on the Desire for Virtual Things - Digits -

Linden Tuesday night announced that it has purchased two small companies–Xstreet SL and OnRez–that act a bit like in providing one-stop shopping for virtual goods from other merchants. One component of their strategy has been to make it easier to buy goods through the Web, not requiring users to enter Second Life to acquire the items they may use there. Financial terms are not being disclosed.

Bullish Cross: How the iPhone and Poor Apple Management have contributed to the Downfall of Apple

"The underlying problem with the subscription method of accounting is that it makes Apple's financials appear radically weaker than they actually are. And as any experienced market participant knows, the market rarely trades on reality. Stocks trade on appearances, they trade on fluff, they trade on generalities regarding the health of the economy—what they do not trade on, is reality regarding fundamentals. Especially if teasing out that reality requires anything more than looking beyond the surface."

The Plot to Kill Google

"And for all its woes in Washington, Google is finally learning how to operate there. It has hired more lobbyists, and its policy experts are starting to attend the cocktail parties they have long ignored. Schmidt serves as chair of the New America Foundation (a think tank at which one of the authors of this article is a fellow). And Google can now boast a uniquely powerful ally: Barack Obama, who benefited from Google employees' extensive campaign contributions and from Schmidt's well-timed endorsement."

All of this, and for all of these companies, at the expense of actual productivity.

Welcome to Microsoft’s Nightmare: Weak Quarter and Still More Yahoo Questions! | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD

While "search" is a valuable market to be in, I continue to see no compelling reason why Microsoft should obsess over it to the exclusion of so many other things (including their core competencies). Well, there is one reason, namely that Ballmer pronounced Google to be public enemy number one a few years back and he hasn't been able to think of anything else since.

Think back to the beginnings of the Internet. Microsoft didn't even want it to exist. You had to ADD the TCP/IP components needed to access the Internet to early versions of Windows. Microsoft had visions of everyone connecting to Microsoft, and only Microsoft when they wanted to connect to the rest of the world. Fortunately that fantasy didn't last too long, and when Netscape and others started producing the first graphical web browsers Microsoft decided they couldn't be left out, that if they didn't outright own the net they at least had to control it.

The rest, as they say, is history. But has Microsoft's success with Internet Explorer really accomplished much for them? Quite the opposite. IE is free. Nobody buys either Windows or Office because of the compelling nature of Internet Explorer. It has cost them, what, hundreds of millions in legal troubles. Irony of ironies, the features they introduced to beat Netscape are the gateway for the security holes that have made both Windows and Office user's lives miserable with regular reboots re-installs and mysteriously sluggish computers. Every Windows user on earth would be better off running any browser other than IE, and Microsoft wouldn't lose a cent in the process.

So, now they want to do search. Doesn't it sound like a re-run to you? Does to me. They are after all a BIG company, no matter how you measure it. Why not tackle something BIG. Rather than toe dipping into hardware with the Xbox, produce Microsoft TVs, Toasters, Cell phones (now that Apple has shown how "easy" it is) or even cars?

Why in software, are they willing to have their operating system not be the primary choice for the major Internet providers? Does Google depend on Microsoft servers? Yahoo? Facebook? AOL? In fact the only major Internet company using Windows servers is Microsoft. And that's true primarily due to a Bill Gates mandate, not a technical decision. What's with that? Surely it's not a cost issue right? MS Marketing tells us it's all about TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). Am I missing something in their message?

How much more successful might Microsoft have been had Ballmer pronounced EBay or Amazon or Circuit City as the company they wanted to morph into? Or Dell for that matter? These companies have all suffered stumbles in their hi-tech ventures at one time or another. They have all at one time or another rested on their laurels and had to play catch-up, and in some cases failed. These would all be ideal areas for a company that has apparently exhausted their mental capital on existing products to swoop into and take over.

But search? Why?

Thousands With Tickets Not Allowed Into National Mall -

"We got our tickets, we paid our money, we brought our money to the economy and we couldn't get in," said an angry spectator, holding up his ticket to show where he should be.

No big screens, no piped in audio to hear, no inauguration to witness and enjoy, even though they worked so hard to get a prized ticket to be there.

"All this for nothing. They give us ticket, we're all here to support the new president and then they turn you away," said another upset visitor.

Get used to it.

Judge Obama on Performance Alone -

"Yet there is fear, especially among black people, that criticism of him or any of his failures might be twisted into evidence that people of color cannot effectively lead. That amounts to wasting time and energy reacting to hateful stereotypes. It also leads to treating all criticism of Mr. Obama, whether legitimate, wrong-headed or even mean-spirited, as racist.

This is patronizing. Worse, it carries an implicit presumption of inferiority. Every American president must be held to the highest standard. No president of any color should be given a free pass for screw-ups, lies or failure to keep a promise.

During the Democrats' primaries and caucuses, candidate Obama often got affectionate if not fawning treatment from the American media. Editors, news anchors, columnists and commentators, both white and black but especially those on the political left, too often acted as if they were in a hurry to claim their role in history as supporters of the first black president."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why 'The Prisoner' Endures -

Eventually tiring of the John Drake role, Mr. McGoohan was able to persuade his British boss to bankroll a series in which a Drake-like character would explore more meaty themes. He delivered a libertarian classic, somewhat marred by the hurriedly written final episode in which Mr. McGoohan's character leads the Village's other inhabitants in a successful revolt. He finally confronts Number One, who is wearing a false face. When that is yanked off, a monkey mask is revealed. And when that is also pulled off, the face of Mr. McGoohan himself is seen.

As Mr. McGoohan told close friends, the implication is that Number Six had willed himself to think like a prisoner, limiting his options even while he sees himself as the ultimate rebel. The answer given in every episode to his question about who Number One is thus could have a double meaning. Perhaps it was meant as: "You are, Number Six."

The Opacity of Hope -

"As a matter of political character, many of these questions hang on Mr. Obama's toughness. We know he is intelligent and clever. What we don't know is if he can make a difficult decision in the national interest that is unpopular, and then endure the consequences. Reagan showed his steel by staring down the Patco strike at home and Soviet scare-tactics against missile deployments abroad. Whatever his mistakes in Iraq, George W. Bush's 'surge' was a lonely call that has proven to be right. As far as we know, Mr. Obama has had to make no such decision in his short public life."

Journal of pudge (3605) - Obama's Address and Why It Sucked

First of several reactions to The Speech. I may write my own at some point, but many other have already done a better job I suspect. If they've missed something I'll point it out.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Biden shushes wife after secretary of state slip

"Jill Biden said the job of vice president was better for the family, because as secretary of state he would travel too often."

Funny. SecState is probably better for the Clinton family for that very reason.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Windows worm numbers 'skyrocket'

'Right now, we're seeing hundreds of thousands of unique IP addresses connecting to the domains we've registered,' F-Secure's Toni Kovunen said in a statement.

'We can see them, but we can't disinfect them - that would be seen as unauthorised use.'

Microsoft says that the malware has infected computers in many different parts of the world, with machines in China, Brazil, Russia, and India having the highest number of victims.

'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years -

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The plague kills 40 al-Qaeda | The Sun |News

"At least 40 al-Qaeda fanatics died horribly after being struck down with the disease that devastated Europe in the Middle Ages."

How confident can we be that this wasn't a plan gone bad?

Meet The Press - Video, Podcasts, News and Politics, Transcripts-

I don't know anything about Rahm Emanuel, but on Meet the Press he comes across as a combative jerk when asked even mildly challenging questions, and they aren't even in office yet!

The Big "O" needs to look for an early opportunity to have this guy spend more time with his family.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How to End the Recession - Cringely on technology

"This is normally a column about technology and technology business but I can’t help noticing that the global economy is in the toilet and not much rational thought is going into fixing the problem. I don’t mean to insult the bozos currently pretending to run our economy or the new group of bozos about to take their places when the Obama Administration starts up this month, but my Mom could do a heck of a lot better job than either group and she’s 84 years old.

COME ON! At least do a better job than Mom!"

And I haven't even read the rest of it yet.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Charles Krauthammer - Exit Bush, Shoes Flying -

"Except for Richard Nixon, no president since Harry Truman has left office more unloved than George W. Bush. Truman's rehabilitation took decades. Bush's will come sooner. Indeed, it has already begun. The chief revisionist? Barack Obama."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Elephant in the Room: McCain may be Obama's secret weapon | Philadelphia Inquirer | 01/15/2009

"McCain was once the mainstream media darling, back when he joined Democrats on a host of issues. He prized his maverick moniker and used it to propel himself onto the national scene in the 2000 Republican presidential primary. Early in the Bush years, he shored up his status as the media's favorite Republican by opposing Bush on taxes and the environment.

But this love fest came to a halt when McCain became the front-runner for the GOP nomination. First he began to sound more like a conservative by altering his stands on immigration, the environment and taxes. Then he named Sarah Palin his running mate. It was too much for a media that had fallen head over heels for Obama. The media had a new darling."

I wonder how many conservatives heard words like I heard: "If the Republicans will just nominate a centrist like McCain, I will have no trouble voting for him."

Only they didn't.

But the people who really aggravate me are the various categories of Obama voters and people who sat it out because "McCain is no true conservative."

Forget the inside politics article this points to, here is the money quote, from the comments section:

I just hope that all you Republicans who abandoned McCain are happy with the results. You've helped hand over nearly complete control of the most powerful nation in the history of the world to one-party rule by the most far left government we've ever had, led by Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and their lapdog media. What good is that "lesson" going to be that you tried to teach the Republican party after a radical majority is installed on the Supreme Court for the rest of your lifetime that you'll get to sit back and watch steal your rights away one after the other? If you wanted homosexual marriage, the gay lifestyle taught to your children as an equally valid choice, taxpayer funded abortion on demand, destruction of the economy under the guise of environmentalism, punishing tax hikes on the middle class, socialist redistribution of wealth to "lower" classes who will never have to work a day in their life again, equal rights for terrorists which lead directly to the first nuclear attack on our nation's soil, and the lives of anyone who doesn't agree with the above mentioned being systematically destroyed under the left's new McCarthyism, then you all made the right choice by abandoning McCain in 2008.

That summarized my feelings as well as anything I've seen.

Big Hollywood

Some "interesting" links:

You might have read about this Russian guy's prediction of the collapse of the US. He makes some interesting points (not all of which I agree with):

Here is someone more optimistic than I am about the viability of conservative thought:

I'm reminded that it isn't just the mainstream NEWS media that so strongly influences voters on the left, it's also, and maybe mostly the mainstream ENTERTAINMENT media. Obama voters got their outlook not so much from Katie Curic and Chris Mathews, but from Tina Fey, Jon Sewart, SNL.

By the way that web site:

is put together by the guy that helped develope the Drudge site, so it will be interesting to see a conservative outlook on Hollywood. I would have never guessed that Orson Bean was still alive, but here he is:

I know this sounds a little nuts to a lot of people. But what doesn't, when you stop to think about it? Science now pretty much accepts the idea of the Big Bang theory. At a certain point, fifteen billion years ago, an infinitesimal speck of something or other somehow came into being. It exploded and within a few seconds, everything needed to create the entire universe appeared, including time and space. Is that crazy or what? But science says it's true.

Ten percent of the gross weight of every living thing on earth is ants. Ants! Don't talk to me about crazy. It's all crazy. Why do we fall in love? Why does love turn to hate? What's the capital of North Dakota? These are unanswerable questions.


Why We Fight

What the right is experiencing at the moment is a phenomenon called “cultural para-stimuli.” You can read all about it in Tom Wolfe’s wonderful novel I Am Charlotte Simmons. It’s sort of like peer pressure on steroids. It was discovered by Nobel Laureate Victor Ransome Starling, who found that when he surrounded normal cats with cats whose behavior had been bizarrely altered by brain surgery, the normal cats began acting like the crazy cats all around them.

That’s us–surrounded by the mainstream media. So steeped are we now in their lies about our representatives, their ridicule of our commentators, their demonizing dismissal of the causes we know are just, that we’ve begun to adopt their attitudes toward ourselves! And perhaps chief among the lies they’ve sold us is the lie that they’ve won, that the media are theirs for good and all, and that Americans are going to be hoodwinked and brainwashed by their constant barrage of misinformation forever.

Camille Paglia on Obama, Democratic woes, Kanye West, Freud | Salon

"Ideology-driven attacks on Palin became clotted liberal cliches within 24 hours of her introduction as John McCain's running mate. What a bunch of tittering lemmings the urban elite have become in this country. From Couric's vicious manipulations of video clips to Cavett's bourgeois platitudes, the preemptive strike on Palin as a potential presidential candidate has grossly misfired. Whatever legitimate objections may be raised to Palin on political grounds (explored, for example, by David Talbot in Salon) have been lost in the amoral overkill that has defamed a self-made woman of concrete achievement in the public realm."

And it gets better from there.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Patrick McGoohan dies at 80; TV's 'Secret Agent' and 'Prisoner' - Los Angeles Times

"Patrick McGoohan, a two-time Emmy Award-winning actor who starred as a British spy in the 1960s TV series 'Secret Agent' and gained cult status later in the decade as the star of the enigmatic series 'The Prisoner,' has died."

Murder Spree by People Who Refuse to Ask For Directions - HUMAN EVENTS

"But as long as the Times has such a burning interest in the root causes of murder how about considering the one factor more likely to create a murderer than any other That is the topic we re not allowed to discuss single motherhood. As I describe in my new book 'Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault on America ' controlling for socioeconomic status race and place of residence the strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is that he was raised by a single parent. The second strongest factor is owning a Dennis Kucinich bumper sticker."

YouTube - Global Warming Hype - Part 1

Global w-wa-warming.

'Anyone who sends their kid out today is out of the running for parent of the year ' said Eric Friedman a spokesman for Mad River Glen ski area in Fayston Vt. A frostbite caution sign was posted at the ticket office but few skiers were there to see it because of the 5-below-zero cold Friedman said. Citizen's Briefing Book: Top All-Time

If you want to have the crap scarred out of you, take a look at the most POPULAR ideas submitted to the Obama change team:

Title link or *here*.

You can forget whether Obama is a closet centrist etc. If he intends to govern based on Internet popularity contests then we are in big big trouble.

As I'm viewing the list, there is nothing, NOTHING, that would reduce the size of government in any way, unless you think that eliminating marijuana laws will do that or unless you think reducing restrictions on gambling will do that. Both of these ideas might reduce parts of government for a while, but then when you get into the details you are just trading one bureaucracy for another.

All the other ideas are pure spending. Rail systems, mandates on the auto industry, government heath care (writ large, with private insurance companies being put out of the picture altogether).

Item ten, as I view it, government sponsored online poker!

Scanning down the list don't be surprised to find things like "Free government supplied gin. Not Rum, 'cause I don't drink that stuff." The "self-centeredness" of these suggestions is astounding! With each person thinking along the lines of the government re-inventing itself to cater to my individual whims.

Out the window is the notion of a representative government, with more informed people making decisions that benefit all. The Obama administration is either going to turn into government run amok, or they are setting themselves up to disappoint in a big way when the top five suggestions get ignored because they are totally idiotic.

If the Obama campaign didn't already know that they were appealing to a large percentage of America's least informed people, they are about to find it out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Clinton Business -

"While Mr. Clinton will submit some donations from foreign governments to Administration scrutiny, he need only do so if the donations are new or are of a significantly larger magnitude from a previous donation. In other words, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman can keep giving millions without U.S. government review even while Mrs. Clinton is America's chief diplomat. These disclosure limitations suggest that the Clintons seriously out-negotiated Team Obama. We hope the President-elect does better with Iran."

AP: Clinton acted on concerns of husband's donors - Yahoo! News

"Secretary of State appointee Hillary Rodham Clinton intervened at least six times in government issues directly affecting companies and others that later contributed to her husband's foundation, an Associated Press review of her official correspondence found.

The overlap of names on former President Bill Clinton's foundation donor list and business interests whose issues she championed raises new questions about potential ethics conflicts between her official actions and her husband's fundraising. The AP obtained three of the senator's government letters under the Freedom of Information Act."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Boxee: WebTV That Makes Sense. Is That Good or Bad for Big Cable? | Peter Kafka | MediaMemo | AllThingsD

"Here’s what I do want: The ability to use my TV to watch all the great video the Web makes available–actual TV shows and movies like “The Office” on Hulu, “Lost” on, “No Country For Old Men” on Netflix’s (NFLX) on-demand service. Which is where Boxee comes in.

The New York-based start-up makes elegant software that cobbles together offerings from all of those services, plus many more–with whatever media you have stored on your hard drive–and serves it up to you on your big screen, with a minimum of fuss. Right now it’s a niche product–it only works on PCs running Linux, or Apple’s (AAPL) Mac mini and AppleTV boxes–but that should change soon."

I don't want my Web TV. - By Farhad Manjoo - Slate Magazine

"Here's a peek into the not-so-distant future as envisioned by executives converging on this week's Consumer Electronics Show. You'll come home from work in the evening, plop into your La-Z-Boy, and while settling in for a round of Wheel of Fortune, you'll wonder, Hey, what happened to my stake in Citibank today? Lucky for you, you'll be able to find out on the tube—press a button on your remote, scroll across the screen until you find the Stocks menu, and, voila, your stock ticker pops up over Pat Sajak's face."

Bush's Achievements

"Bush had ten great achievements (and maybe more) in his eight years in the White House, starting with his decision in 2001 to jettison the Kyoto global warming treaty so loved by Al Gore, the environmental lobby, elite opinion, and Europeans. The treaty was a disaster, with India and China exempted and economic decline the certain result. Everyone knew it. But only Bush said so and acted accordingly."

and nine more at the link.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

John Galt Meets Winnie-the-Pooh - What's News Tonight

There is so strong a linkage between the dusty drift in Ayn Rand's dystopia of 1957 and the present drift by the American economy, where all private investment has been forced out or scared away, that it is now clear that what Ayn Rand (right) wrote about was not America in the 1950s but America in the 21st Century. America in 2009 is so driven by class warfare and big government fixes that it is now everything Lenin dreamed of -- a gigantic socialist state of obedient acolytes -- and America makes the modern Vladimir Putin Russia into an American stepchild.

Waiting for Tehran - What's News Tonight

Why this Report Now?

The NYT is giving enough detail to convince anyone that Tehran has an active nuclear weapons program. This is not news except perhaps to the American electorate (and to candidate Obama?) that wanted to ignore the fact and use the 2007 bizarrely misleading NIE report as a genuine document. What this report does now is make the very good case that the Bush administration chose to ignore and avoid Tehran's nukes these last years. Why? My best signals source calls it "the Faustian deal." The US promised Tehran that we would not attack its nukes, or challenge its long term plans in the region, in exchange for Tehran letting the US leave Iraq with a victory. Or at least leave Iraq with the Iraqis who work for Tehran (P.M. Maliki is the Iranian viceroy in Iraq) in charge. The bargain worked. The Bush administration ends its watch with the Iraqi army taking control of the Green Zone and Iraq security. At the same time, Tehran has an estimated 4000 or more P2 centrifuges working which will soon enough produce material for many bombs.

Earth on the Brink of an Ice Age - Pravda.Ru

The AGW theory is based on data that is drawn from a ridiculously narrow span of time and it demonstrates a wanton disregard for the ‘big picture’ of long-term climate change. The data from paleoclimatology, including ice cores, sea sediments, geology, paleobotany and zoology, indicate that we are on the verge of entering another Ice Age, and the data also shows that severe and lasting climate change can occur within only a few years. While concern over the dubious threat of Anthropogenic Global Warming continues to distract the attention of people throughout the world, the very real threat of the approaching and inevitable Ice Age, which will render large parts of the Northern Hemisphere uninhabitable, is being foolishly ignored.

Hey AlGore it's from Pravda, it must b true!

Reply-all e-mail storm hits State

Since Colin Powell's son told him that the Department of State should be on the Internet the organization has continued to embarrass itself wit leaks, break-ins and self inflicted wounds.

So, why not just get a Google Apps account for department e-mail?

It would be safer, more secure and certainly able to handle the load that State's own servers (and network) have never been able to.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

President Gulliver's Lawyer -

"In other words, Mr. Obama has nominated as his main executive branch lawyer someone who believes in diminishing the powers of the executive branch. This is akin to naming a conscientious objector as the head of the armed forces, or hiring your wife's divorce lawyer to handle your side of the settlement too."

Friday, January 09, 2009

Obama's Choice: FDR or Reagan - HUMAN EVENTS

The Depression lasted until war orders from the Allies brought U.S. industry back to life. Before 1940, not once did unemployment fall below 14 percent. In May 1939, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau testified:

"We are spending more money than we have ever spent before, and it does not work. ... I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. ... I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... and an enormous debt, to boot."

Politically, the New Deal was a smashing success, with FDR's landslides in 1932, 1934 and 1936 virtually wiping out the GOP.

Yet, economically, the New Deal was a bust, failing utterly to restore prosperity. Despite the indoctrination of generations of schoolchildren in New Deal propaganda, that is the hard truth.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Blogodrama: Liberal Blogosphere Proves Trivially Easy to Destroy

"For its liberal bloggers, too lazy to research alternatives, it was the — how to put it? — politically correct way to publish. And why should they have bothered looking elsewhere, since it was a fine choice for their purposes? But I suspect their built-in biases against market mechanisms played a role. SoapBlox's customers never bothered to ask whether Preston really had the financial resources to support it. That's far too capitalist a question for the left-wing blogosphere to have pondered."

Natural and Unnatural Disasters

I caught up with my holiday e-mail today, and here is an excerpt from one about cataclysmic events, geological, economical or otherwise:

I've heard that if the Yellowstone area ever has another "big one", which is several thousand years overdue, that most of North America will be blown up into the sky.  The version I read had it that nobody in the US should be expected to survive as the quake activity and falling large chunks of semi-molten rock would probably get anyone not effected by the event directly.  Then there would be the tidal waves.  Maybe some folks in the mountains of Alaska would be safe for a while.  Not so much Hawaii.  The rest of the world would then have to deal with something similar to the extinction event for the dinosaurs (if you accept that hypothesis).  Given all of that, I think the best place to be might be right at the epicenter.  I'm all for surviving hard times, but really really hard times might be best not survived.  There will be no Internet, and no Cable TV and in their place a lot of back breaking work trying to learn how to plow a field like they did in the dark ages.  

I may be repeating myself, but when I was a "computer scientist" we learned that computer simulation was fairly useless for any sort of extrapolation.  If you have a thorough understanding of a process, like people coming into a bank and waiting for a teller (that was the example we always used) you could then predict with some confidence the effects of adding or subtracting a teller, or going from a single queue to multiple queues.  It would be nice to hear from a current computer expert just what advances in the science have occurred to allow us to surpass these limitations and make useful predictions about systems we have only begun to understand.

Do you think our understanding of the economy is any better than our understanding of the climate?  My thinking is that understanding climate is simple by comparison.  For one thing, if you rule out meteor strikes and Yellowstone blowing up, its a fairly static system.  You could rank, in order of importance of their effect a lot of what we know, with gaps for things we don't know:  Particulate matter, humidity, sea salinity, ? , sunspots, algae blooms, ? , undersea heat vents, CO2, Oxygen, Old growth forests, etc. with question marks representing things we haven't even discovered yet that we would find to be quite important if we knew about them.  With all the question marks resolved, and the ranking sorted out, we could at least start to think about modeling it all.

Now to model the economy, still ruling out hundred-thousand year events, you still have to understand both climate and weather changes (short-term "climate change" particularly) and then you have to factor in natural resources, and discoveries of new ones that happen on a regular basis, and new inventions (solar power, integrated circuits, new computer techniques, LED light bulbs, etc) which happen almost daily (unless we restructure the system to discourage such "undesirable" effects on our model).  My point being that the economy can't be modeled, and therefor still can't be usefully controlled by government actions.  Every government action is just as likely to help as to hurt the situation and to the extent that it draws resources away from the countless experiments being done in private enterprise it is more likely to hurt rather than help.

Yesterday I listened to a member of the Obama transition team answer a question about improving education and he said (about the thousandth time I've heard this from a politico): "we need to look at the various things being tried at each state level and identify those things that work and those that don't."   Great!  Then we standardize on the thing that works (in let's say Nashville) only to find (surprise!) that it doesn't work so well in New York or Los Angeles, or Cheyenne, or Seattle.  But importantly, we've eliminated the experimentation at that point too and it's left up to some random bureaucrat what we try next, typically, applying what doesn't work in New York to Nashville and all the other cities, so that at least we all get the same uniform failure.  Consistency, predictability, uniformatiy of results are important to those on the left who parrot an appreciation for diversity in nature while abhoring any evidence of it in human activities.

That's the poison in left-wing (and some right wing) thinking, that one size fits all solutions are ever a good idea.  Decentralization of these choices, all the way out to the individual level (liberty) allows states, localities and individuals to learn from the mistakes and successes of others and adapt those lessons to their own circumstances, or in some cases to reject those lessons and try something totally new.  In Obama's (and Gore's)  world-view, false certainty and presumed control over outcomes is of paramount importance.  In their system, we all sink or we all swim, and that metaphor, if you think of us all thrown into the sea tied together by a network of irremovable ropes, is about as expressive of my confidence in their efforts as anything I can think of.

On the other hand, I do think we are in a business cycle, overdue perhaps, and much exacerbated by government tinkering in the past.  As that cycle progresses, things will get better and maybe they will do so to a great enough extent that Obama policies will be given credit for the improvement.  I think quite a bit of that type of interpretation of events has happened with respect to the Great Depression, which vastly expanded the powers of government.  We may be in for a repeat of that and a further reduction in our liberties as a result.

How I started Using Linux

I guess I don't look at my blogger "Drafts" very often. I did just now and found this from 2005!

I have a feeling I've posted it already, or something very similar. What the heck, here goes again. Better to post it twice than take the chance of deleting this, no doubt, invaluable material, which is obviously a response to a forum somewhere that may or may not exist.... click the title to find out...

Original Post date: 10/28/05:

I probably don't have much new to add here, but maybe a slightly different perspective as an old-timer. What I've noticed over the years is that most people who really like Windows have simply never used anything else. This means that even if better things come along, they will be adopted only very slowly, and in that span of time, Microsoft has the opportunity to adjust Windows to slow and eventually stop such migration. They are in the cat-bird seat, and they know it, and furthermore I'm sure that Gates and his colleagues planned to be where they are. I give them credit for that. Gates may even believe that he has high minded principles and wants only to advance computing and he may think that an almost invincible Microsoft serves this purpose, this seems to be the image he tries to project publicly. I don't quite hate Microsoft, but I do hate this concept, in general, that one company can have so much control over a single industry and that we are all better for it.

I started as a mainframe programmer at the systems level, so I learned a lot about both systems software and the hardware it ran on. I've always had an interest in the details of the hardware architecture even when it no longer had much impact on my job function. I remember being disappointed that Intel was selected as the CPU for the IBM PC. I had a book that gave hardware details of a dozen or so CPUs of the day and the Intel. I wasn't that impressed with the Intel instruction set, and as the architecture evolved I was even less impressed that the improvements were always tempered by the "need" for binary compatibility with the past. I thought that the operating system and the use of higher level languages were supposed to mask the details of the hardware architecture. Intel seemed to be evolving as though everything was coded in assembler language (or worse, that all source code had been lost).

I was actually a FAN of Windows at first. Version prior to 3 were of course only "demos" as far as I was concerned, not really fit for any production use and writings from Gates and others pointed to a true general purpose operating system with fully documented APIs, and it sounded a lot at the time like the structure I was used to on the mainframe. keep in mind that both in college and with several employers I was able to get source code for the IBM operating systems with a signed one page letter indicating that I needed it. I could modify that code, and distribute the modifications to others. The practice was commonplace. People who compare what Microsoft does with its code today to IBM simply don't know what they are talking about.

My dissatisfaction with Windows, and subsequently Microsoft grew slowly, and as best I can recall from just a few factors: (1) There were reports that the APIs were not in fact fully documented. While this didn't affect me directly I could see in comparing IBM documentation to Microsoft's that there was a tremendous drop in quality. Where were message codes? I couldn't believe that the thousands of message that might come from Windows were listed in alphabetical order with hundreds of message at the front of the list simply because they started with the word "A". Their was no structure to this at all, and I began to suspect there was not much design to it. "Lets code some stuff and write a document when we are done" seemed to be the approach and I knew that this was not the way I or my colleagues wrote operating system code. I figured these "kids" at Microsoft would eventually grow up and learn to do it the right way. I gave the the benefit of doubt. In fact when IBM and Microsoft collaborated on OS/2 things DID improve. I could freely download internals documentation on OS/2 the likes of which I suspect have never existed for Windows. Both IBM and Microsoft were touting this as the PC operating system of the future. I believed it. I upgraded my hardware as much as I could afford at the time so that I could begin using it immediately.

I continued using OS/2 long after the collaboration ended, and I worked in a government organization that used and loved OS/2 as well. But eventually, like the VHS/Beta wars, marketing triumphed over technology. I was forced to used Windows, as was the agency for which I worked, not because we wanted to, but because Microsoft marketing had sold to someone higher up in the organization. I even learned to like Windows for a while. It wasn't the best, I rationalized, but it was good enough. That was in the Windows NT 3.51 days. I had barely heard of Linux at the time although I had obtained a Slackware disk for a few dollars and played with it. Never got out of character mode and didn't know that you COULD get out of character mode. I didn't appreciate some of the virtues of Unix at the time, so to me this just seemed to be trading one undocumented set of commands for another.

Then things changed. With OS/2 all but dead, Microsoft wanted to simplify its offerings. I considered NT 3.51 to be a product for professionals, while Windows 95/98 were for playing games, kids stuff. Microsoft wanted to merge those capabilities. That was the beginning of their serious decline in my mind. Furthermore, NT ran on several hardware architectures at the time. I had seen it run on a PowerPC laptop and wanted badly to have $6000 to buy one. But instead Microsoft began to withdraw support of all hardware other than Intel. To me these seemed like just the opposite of what you would want to do with what many claimed would be the only OS we would use in the future. I can only say that I have never ceased to think that the decisions made by Microsoft at this time were idiotic. I don't know what individual's name to tag them to, but I lost total respect for the company and its leaders. They WERE kids, and they have never grown up. They want to turn their plaything game computing system into something that will run the largest mainframes. Not only was their execution of this bad, the very goals were moronic. Nothing that has resulted, the viruses, spyware, bloat, and bugginess has taken me by surprise. How could it be any different?

Fortunately as Windows was making a slum out of my chosen field of Computer Science my career moved me out of the trenches of having to deal with all its problems. But at home, I was still the system administrator, and I helped a lot of my friends and family with their computers. I had started to read more and more about Linux, and remembering my early Slackware experience decided to give it another try. It actually turned into several other tries, separated by months during which I pondered my willingness to try again. Red Hat, Suse, Red Hat again, Debian, Lindows. I wasn't quite happy with the results of any of them, but I'd never given them more than a week or two to prove themselves and finally I decided that the problem might be me, and my lack of knowledge about Unix. I could tell that the underlying system was robust. I never had crashes, just things that didn't work as I expected. I had seen enough to know that what I needed was in there somewhere, I just needed to spend the time to find it all.

I finally decided that though the installation process was a bit trickier, for long-term maintenance I preferred Debian to the others. So about 3 or 4 years ago (how time flies) I installed it in a dual boot fashion on my home computer and decided to force myself to use it and only boot Windows as a last resort. This turned out to be easier than I had expected, to the point where I also installed Linux on my laptop, which I used at work every day. It was a "Windows only" shop, but if they could tell I was using Linux they never gave me any grief about it. I could sit there and work away while others were being slowed down by various viral outbreaks, by using OpenOffice I could open Word files that were "broken" to their owners and by re-saving them often save the day. While several people in the group had PCs capable of burning CDs about half the ones they burned were not usable, while mine always were, so I ended up being the "answer man" for a lot of problems not in my job description. We were the central office for a world-wide organization and many server systems came into our lab to figure out what was wrong with them. On more than one occasion systems had gotten so messed up that we were fairly sure the hardware had gone bad. On of my co-workers who had started to get interested in Linux too decided to try installing Red Hat on one of these. It worked fine, better than fine actually. Somehow the successful Linux install had "fixed" it and we (regretfully) redeployed the system with Windows Server on it.

When I left though, things had advanced to the point where there were several, "non-official" Linux systems in the lab at all times. I doubt the organization will dump Windows any time soon, but the seed has been planted, and these people are brutalized by the Microsoft marketing organization as well as the product on a regular basis. They no longer think of Microsoft as an ally, but as just another vendor, to be kept at arms length, until some jumping off opportunity presents itself.

While I work at home on mostly non-technical projects I no longer need Windows at all. I use Linux and OS X in about equal proportions. I don't have a long-term trust in Apple either, and while I like OS X, I'm prepared at any moment to switch to Linux rather than continue with the almost annual update cycle that Apple tries to force on me. I've installed Debian Linux on the Apple hardware and short of not running Realplayer or Flash I'm fine with it (in fact it's quite a bit faster than OS X). I'm not thrilled with Apple's switch to Intel, so if I don't get a high-end PowerPC from Apple next I'll probably go with a 64-bit AMD system. I'm hoping that some other hardware vendor will keep the PowerPC in popular circulation, although the new game consoles may end up serving the same purpose. With Microsoft porting something that looks a lot like Windows to the PowerPC Cell processor at the same time that Apple is porting to Intel, chaos is upon us.

The one thing that we can count on is that Linux will run on ALL of these systems, even if some soldering may be required. Furthermore, for much of the world, complete dependence on Microsoft is an undesirable thing (of course it's undesirable here in the States too, many people just don't realize it yet). I think there is a certain inevitability for a general purpose hardware-agnostic operating system that can be easily customized for local needs. Microsoft can't or at least won't provide that any time soon. Maybe one day the company will "grow up". I've stopped holding my breath waiting for that though.

Obama Bets Big on Big Government - The Fix

"President-elect Barack Obama enunciated his vision for an activist -- and expansive -- government as the best way to address the economic crisis in a speech this morning, and in the process placed a major bet that the majority of Americans' attitude toward government has changed drastically in recent years."

Well, if the (People's Republic of) Washington Post is admiting to it, it must be true huh? Later in the same article:
What's clear is that Obama is following through on his campaign promise to think big and, at times, fundamentally alter the political calculus in Washington. It's a high risk, high reward strategy befitting a politician who believes himself to be a historic man in historic times.

What's altered? Democrats have beleived government was the solution to all problems forever. Apparently the only evedence that will convince them otherwise will be the complete colapse of civilizations (which for anyone who survives they will no doubt blame on the most recent Republican adminstration).

Coming soon to cellphones: Free, over-the-air TV -

"Millions of consumers by year's end should be able to watch free, over-the-air television on cellphones, PDAs and other portable digital devices as the result of initiatives that will be unveiled today by some of the nation's largest TV station owners and electronics manufacturers."

Ever get the feeling that someone else is using a word ("Free" in this case) in a totally new and unintuitive way?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

How Porsche hacked the financial system and made a killing

Adolf Merckle, one of the world’s richest men, committed suicide yesterday by throwing himself under a train, Bloomberg reports. Financial difficulties, and particularly great losses he suffered on Volkswagen stock, are being cited as the key reason he ended his life:

[Merckle's company] VEM was caught in a so-called short squeeze after betting Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen’s stock would fall. Merckle lost at least 500 million euros on the bets on VW stock, people familiar said on Nov. 18. VEM lost “low three-digit million euros” on VW stock, the company said in November.

A “short squeeze” sounds inconspicuous enough; you wouldn’t tell it by Bloomberg’s language, but Merckle’s Volkswagen bet lost out to one of the most masterful hacks of the financial system in history.

For those of us who don’t live and breathe finance, this is that story.

Click title link for the gory details.

Sources say video shows Sen. Hiram Monserrate dragging lover, who looks 'scared out of her mind'

"A Queens state senator who denies beating his girlfriend was caught on security cameras dragging the scared, bleeding woman from his apartment, law enforcement sources told the Daily News."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Curiosity, Ignorance, Malice - The Daily WTF

Jim called up an emergency meeting. “I was able to crack the security and get root access,” Jim began. An engineer audibly gasped.

“But how?” someone cried.

“All I had to do was modify the cookie and the lock file, and…”

“That’s stupid. Why would anyone ever do that?” His boss, Paul, shot a glare at him.

“I don’t know,” Jim said, “curiosity? Ignorance? Malice?”

“We can’t guard against malice.”

And it gets worse from there.

Agriculture: Downsizing The Federal Government

There's Something About Harry - HUMAN EVENTS

I wonder how many people catch the movie reference.

It certainly applies.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Woman who’s never worked: I’ll work twice as hard

The only thing that changes is party affiliation.

Lessig on Building a Better Bureaucrat - The Technology Liberation Front

At this point, Prof. Lessig and his defenders will no doubt say that everything will be different this time around when they reinvent bureaucracy. The secret, they seem to suggest, is “getting money out of politics” or “ending corruption” by “special interests.” Again, hard to argue against any of that — except to say as we have here many times before that if Big Government exists, special interests will exist to influence it (probably unduly so). Thus, the logical solution is real regulatory reform and downsizing of bureaucracy. That is the only way we are ever really going to solve the problem Prof. Lessig wants to address.

See earlier two posts (below).

Real Regulators - The Technology Liberation Front

Too many advocates of regulation seem to have never considered the possibility that the FCC bureaucrats in charge of making these decisions at any point in time might be lazy, incompetent, technically confused, or biased in favor of industry incumbents. That’s often what “real regulators” are like, and it’s important that when policy makers are crafting regulatory scheme, they assume that some of the people administering the law will have these kinds of flaws, rather than imagining that the rules they right will be applied by infallible philosopher-kings.

Also, see below.

“A Real Regulator” (Cato @ Liberty)

“[W]e need a real regulator.”

Ms. Burnett, the SEC that failed to prevent this is a real regulator.

When regulators fail to address a problem ahead of time, when they regulate inefficiently, when they hand their rulemaking organs to the industries they are supposed to oversee, those are all the actions of real regulators. That’s what you get with real regulation.

What Burnett meant when she called for a “real” regulator, of course, was “the regulator I can imagine.” The regulators people imagine are foresighted, interested only in the public good, they’re resistant to lobbying, and they run efficient organizations. But these characteristics are simply imaginary.

Watching discussions like these, you come to realize how legislation and regulation thrive on self-deception and the appeal to ego.

ABC News: Friended by Mom and Dad on Facebook

"Many Facebook users already know that employers, teachers and admissions officers at universities use Facebook to check up on potential employees or students, but the recent dramatic increase in the number of parents using Facebook seems to disturb many younger users more than the presence of any other demographic."

Pelosi Reverses House Fairness Rules - HUMAN EVENTS

"After decades of Democrat control of the House of Representatives, gross abuses to the legislative process and several high-profile scandals contributed to an overwhelming Republican House Congressional landslide victory in 1994. Reforms to the House Rules as part of the Contract with America were designed to open up to public scrutiny what had become under this decades-long Democrat majority a dangerously secretive House legislative process. The Republican reform of the way the House did business included opening committee meetings to the public and media, making Congress actually subject to federal law, term limits for committee chairmen ending decades-long committee fiefdoms, truth in budgeting, elimination of the committee proxy vote, authorization of a House audit, specific requirements for blanket rules waivers, and guarantees to the then-Democrat minority party to offer amendments to pieces of legislation.

Pelosi’s proposed repeal of decades-long House accountability reforms exposes a tyrannical Democrat leadership poised to assemble legislation in secret, then goose-step it through Congress by the elimination of debate and amendment procedures as part of America’s governing legislative process."

Flat-screen TVs to face energy-efficiency rules in California - Los Angeles Times

"Sales of television sets are growing by 4 million a year, the vast majority of them flat-panels. LCD -- liquid crystal display -- sets use 43% more electricity, on average, than conventional tube TVs; larger models use proportionately more. Plasma TVs, which command a relatively small share of the market, need more than three times as much power as bulky, old-style sets."

News to me, and a bit hard to believe, but there is no explanation given for a statement that contradicts everything I've read on the subject thus far. thank-you in-depth MSM reporting!

But maybe it's not just bad reporting. The graph which pictorially restates the above is taken from a state energy commission web site that has lots of links to "useful information" mostly consisting of dead links, or in some cases presentations not of facts on energy use, but instead on high level self promotions for the commission selling the importance of continuing to measure things at taxpayer expense.

I can only assume that the value of CRT TV sets over the newer LCD models has to do with the relative size of the two. I can believe that someone replacing an old 27-inch CRT set with an LCD that is at least twice that size MIGHT be consuming more power. I find it still very hard to beleive that inch for inch the energy used goes up.

Google gives out-of-print books a new life online - International Herald Tribune

"Some librarians privately expressed fears that Google might charge high prices for subscriptions to the book database as it grows. Although nonprofit groups like the Open Content Alliance are building their own digital collections, no other significant private-sector competitors are in the business. In May, Microsoft ended its book scanning project, effectively leaving Google as a monopoly corporate player."

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Prez-Elect Makes New Pitch, Promises on Job Creation -- Including 600,000 New Government Employees

"He says the 'No. 1 goal of my plan ... is to create three million new jobs, more than 80 percent of them in the private sector.”

If you do the math: 20 percent of three million means 600,000 new government employees."

No sign of that scalpel is there?

A donor's gift soon followed Clinton's help - International Herald Tribune

"A developer in New York state donated $100,000 to former President Bill Clinton's foundation in November 2004, around the same time that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton helped secure millions of dollars in federal assistance for the businessman's mall project."

Richardson to withdraw as Commerce secretary - Politics-

"New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, tapped in December by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as secretary of Commerce, has withdrawn his name for the position, citing a pending investigation into a company that has done business with his state."

One has to wonder why someone so squeaky clean would act so quickly to drop out of public scrutiny.

Are we about to set a record for the largest number of scandals to beset a presidency before it even begins?

How a Public Health Plan Will Erode Private Care

It turns out, however, that these promises cannot be fulfilled. Under the health reform plan that the President-elect has outlined, including variations of his basic approach that have been refined by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and former Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), President-elect Obama's pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, millions of Americans will indeed lose their existing coverage, and the promised premium savings are unlikely to materialize.

Tanner's observation, however, begs an obvious question: If the rules and standards, financing and benefits, reserve and solvency requirements, and consumer protections and guarantees are all the same for competing private plans and the public plan, then, logically, why should there be a public plan at all? A common set of market rules for insurers would be sufficient to achieve whatever public good is envisioned to ensure affordable coverage and fair competition. Otherwise, it would seem that the only reason to create a public plan would be simply to have a public plan--a meaningless exercise, unless the goal is public monopoly.

Friday, January 02, 2009

RealClearPolitics - The Gaza Rules

"Fifth and finally, victimization is crucial. Hamas daily sends barrages into Israel, as its hooded thugs thump their chests and brag of their radical Islamic militancy. But when the payback comes, suddenly warriors are transmogrified into weeping victims, posing teary-eyed for the news camera as they deplore 'genocide' and 'the Palestinian Holocaust.' At least the Japanese militarists did not cry out to the League of Nations for help once mean Marines landed on Iwo Jima."

Hollywood's Digital Dawdling - BusinessWeek

"The basic problem is that Hollywood is attempting to preserve an analog business model in a digital age. The result is a crazy quilt of availability in different media, in different geographies, and at different times. Our Man in Havana turns up now and then on cable channels, and the DVD has been available from Sony in Britain since 2005. But that disk is coded so it only works in European 'Zone 2' players, not in North America. All of this makes little sense in a world where digital copies, legal or otherwise, are freely available."

With 2008, Let’s Say Good-bye to Mediocrity

"Let us not wash off our hands as well. It is our acquiescence that has led to the spread of this culture of mediocrity. We accept dropped phone calls on our wireless networks, computers that constantly crash, broadband networks that are best effort."

Two Advisers Reflect on Eight Years With Bush -

"Hadley invoked Bush's 2000 campaign theme in summing up the president's personal qualities. 'He has got this great compassion which was not just a slogan, 'compassionate conservative.' It is who he is. It is one of the great things he brought to this office,' Hadley concluded. 'This is the one thing that just drives me crazy, that somehow this is an arrogant administration, an arrogant president running an arrogant policy. This guy -- one thing he is not is arrogant.'"

Blago Raises the Stakes - HUMAN EVENTS

"But who is truly showing hubris here? And under what authority and with what justification would Reid deny Burris his seat?

There is not the slightest hint Burris did anything unethical or illegal to win this appointment. Nor is there any doubt as to Gov. Blagojevich's right to make the appointment. He is still governor of Illinois. He has not been convicted of anything. And he not only has the right but an obligation to carry out his duties, one of which is to appoint candidates to fill empty seats in the U.S. Senate.

As for Burris, his qualifications are surely superior to those of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, whom Democrats have been pounding New York Gov. David Paterson to appoint to Hillary Clinton's seat."

Thursday, January 01, 2009 - Zune Extinction Event: Microsoft Music Players All Freeze Up at Once - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News

"Some online techies recommended taking the thing apart, disconnecting both the battery and the hard drive, waiting a few seconds, then plugging them back in.

Later in the day, Microsoft finally figured it out. While writing some of the driver software, the world's biggest software company had forgotten to compensate for leap years."

Environment minister Sammy Wilson: I still think man-made climate change is a con - Environment, News -

"I mean I get it in the Assembly all the time and most of the people who shout about climate change have not read one article about climate change, not read one book about climate change, if you asked them to explain how they believe there’s a connection between CO2 emission and the effects which they claim there’s going to be, if you ask them to explain the thought process or the modelling that is required and the assumptions behind that and how tenuous all the connections are, they wouldn’t have a clue."

Obama And That Other Ponzi Scheme - December 31, 2008

"Prosecutors allege that Hsu directed his investors to donate money to specific candidates, and then reimbursed them in violation of federal campaign laws. Unswayed by Cohen's argument, Marrero declined to delay the trial, which will begin a week before Obama's inauguration."