Monday, March 30, 2009

CONGRESS PASSES WIDE-RANGING BILL EASING BANK LAWS - The New York Times

"Today [1999] Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century," Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said. "This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy."

Um, yeah.

FOXNews.com - The Promise the President Keeps Breaking - Special Report w/ Bret Baier

Maybe Hillary Clinton should have picked up a guidebook prior to her trip to Mexico. Last week the secretary of state visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is the second most popular Catholic shrine in the world. Catholics believe the image of the Virgin Mary was miraculously imprinted on a peasant's cloak 500 years ago. Clinton was apparently unaware of the legend. The Catholic News Agency reports that after being shown the famous image, Secretary Clinton asked, "Who painted it?" The rector of the Basilica responded, "God!"

And as she left the church, Clinton told some waiting outside, "You have a marvelous virgin!" Spokesmen for Clinton did not respond to requests for comment.

Russia backs return to Gold Standard to solve financial crisis - Telegraph

The Gold Standard was the anchor of world finance in the 19th Century but began breaking down during the First World War as governments engaged in unprecedented spending. It collapsed in the 1930s when the British Empire, the US, and France all abandoned their parities.

It was revived as part of fixed dollar system until US inflation caused by the Vietnam War and "Great Society" social spending forced President Richard Nixon to close the gold window in 1971.

The world's fiat paper currencies have lacked any external anchor ever since. It is widely argued that the financial excesses and extreme debt leverage of the last quarter century would have been impossible - or less likely - under the discipline of gold.

Many Smaller Cities Dodge Crunch in Consumer Lending - WSJ.com

"Consumer-lending activity has increased in numerous midsize cities in the U.S., a sign they are riding out the recession better than big cities and rural towns, an analysis of credit data shows.

As banks pull back on risk taking across the nation, consumer-loan balances in places like Huntsville, Ala., are rising. In Huntsville, a metropolitan area of 376,000 that is home to many government contractors, borrowing increased 13.2% per household in last year's fourth quarter, compared with the year-earlier period, according to data provided to The Wall Street Journal by Moody's Economy.com and Equifax Inc."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Disasters: Times Nukes Itself On Google

"The goal was to fold iht.com into nytimes.com. Fair enough; combining the two sites could have resulted in more juice for the newspaper under Google's PageRank algorithm by combining the strong reputations of the two major newspaper sites.

But the Times executed wrong. Instead of redirecting old iht.com links to the same stories on the new nytimes.com server, it simply redirected all content to the same new landing page. When you click through the landing page, you end up not on the story you were looking for, but on the general global.nytimes.com homepage."

Funny. This just happened to me.

Vexing computer worm to evolve on April Fool's Day

"As this threat continues to evolve, Microsoft and other collaborative companies will continue to identify new ways to disrupt the Conficker threat to give customers more time to update their systems," said Christopher Budd, security response communication lead for Microsoft.

Computer users are advised to stay current on anti-virus tools and Windows updates, and to protect computers and files with strong passwords.

Conficker is programmed to reach out to 250 websites daily to download commands from its masters.

Emphasis mine.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Massachusetts's Health-Care Program Offers a Preview of Barack Obama's Universal Health-Care Plan - WSJ.com

Praise Mitt Romney. Three years ago, the former Massachusetts Governor had the inadvertent good sense to create the "universal" health-care program that the White House and Congress now want to inflict on the entire country. It is proving to be instructive, as Mr. Romney's foresight previews what President Obama, Max Baucus, Ted Kennedy and Pete Stark are cooking up for everyone else.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Interview with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano: 'Away From the Politics of Fear' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Napolitano: Of course it does. I presume there is always a threat from terrorism. In my speech, although I did not use the word "terrorism," I referred to "man-caused" disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.


Got that?

1984 here we come!



Old word: terrorism
New word: man-caused disasters

Hardly a nuance. It's the product of the "man-caused disaster" that this presidency is fast becoming.

Idiots. No I think IMBECILES is a better word.

How did these people ever make it to adulthood without finding a career as circus clowns?

I have a quibble though. Based on the source, and my own sense of equality of the sexes, should this really be "wo/man-caused disasters"? Or should we just alternate the use of "man" and "woman" the way we fanatically did in the 80s?

I'll have to invent a new tag for this post: Newspeak

I have a feeling I'll be using it a lot.

Idea for this post comes from *here*

Obama fields ranges of questions at Internet event

Obama joked at one point about the most popular question from his online audience—whether he favored legalizing marijuana and could that turn around the economy.

"I don't know what this says about the online audience," he said with a smile, adding that he opposed legalizing the illicit drug.

Well, there goes about a third of his base. 2/3 if you are in California.

Rahm Emanuel's profitable stint at mortgage giant -- chicagotribune.com

"The board met no more than six times a year. Unlike most fellow directors, Emanuel was not assigned to any of the board's working committees, according to company proxy statements. Immediately upon joining the board, Emanuel and other new directors qualified for $380,000 in stock and options plus a $20,000 annual fee, records indicate.

On Emanuel's watch, the board was told by executives of a plan to use accounting tricks to mislead shareholders about outsize profits the government-chartered firm was then reaping from risky investments. The goal was to push earnings onto the books in future years, ensuring that Freddie Mac would appear profitable on paper for years to come and helping maximize annual bonuses for company brass.

The accounting scandal wasn't the only one that brewed during Emanuel's tenure."

Unbefuckinlievable!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Postal chief says post office running out of money

"Lawmakers also raised questions regarding recent news reports that Potter is paid as much as $800,000 a year. That is not correct, Potter said. He said his salary, set by Congress, is $263,575. He said the news reports were counting his retirement fund, the cost of his security detail and a $135,000 bonus that would be paid over 10 years after he retires."

Bonus?!!!
Security detail?!!!!
For a "failing company"?!!!!!

Tax it at 90% !!!!!

Anyway, I'm posting here not to further bash the postal service. But I'm not here to praise them either.

Here is a recent personal experience:

I work with a group that recently set about to mail out a book to interested parties in my local area.

We sent out a post card to 20,000 people or so. If they returned the post card with their mailing address we would send them the book for free.

The post office sends out the card to "resident" and distributes them to everyone on certain mailing routes. I get them all the time, you do too, and the senders don't have to be bothered to know your name or address to get those advertisements to you. Now we couldn't afford to send the book to all 20,000 people, but a few hundred is doable, and that's about the number we expected to respond, and that's about what we got.

The book costs us about $2. Postage cost us another $2. The padded envelope was around $1.50 I think an I'm sure we could have done better on that price with better planning.

The surprise was when we got several "postage due" notices back in our P.O. box. Since the postage was applied at the post office and not as a result of us licking stamps, I couldn't understand how we could owe any postage.

Turns out though that some people gave us bad addresses, or we wrote them poorly, or the people have moved. Whatever.

We have to pay postage on having these books returned to us. The postage, also around $2.

I asked the clerk what would happen if I just ignored these postage due things. He had to ask someone else, but the answer was that they would simply throw the packages away.

Since the replacement value of the book is actually a bit less than the return postage (about 50 cents less as I've rounded the numbers above) and the envelope is not re-usable, it's cheaper for us to allow the books to be thrown away than to get them back.

That's just one example of the things I've learned about the way the post office works in the past few years. With regard to getting a P.O. Box, having mailboxes installed at a building, dealing with lost keys, or mailing things out, they have a lot of policies that are just not "customer oriented". The people at the counter are friendly, often shaking their heads along with me at some of the seemingly arbitrary policies.

But consider that the postal service is probably the most "customer friendly" part of the Federal government. Try getting the same sympathetic reaction from the IRS, the Social Security administration, or try even speaking to someone in any other part of the Federal government about anything and you will realize that it is a big uncaring "black box" over which you have no control, other than voting for more of it, or less of it.

No matter what your special hot-button issues are, growth of government is the thing most likely to affect you and your progeny. If you are watching the man move the cups around and not keeping your eye on that ball, you will surely lose.

Rise of the Machines - Cringely on technology

I’m beginning to think there aren’t as many devils as one might suspect in this passion play. There are a few devils, sure, but also a lot of innocent dopes who may have made the situation much worse while not even making very much money from our pain.

A lot of it comes down to a probable misapplication of technology, something that hasn’t been discussed much in the coverage of this financial crisis. We talk for seconds at a time about the confounding complexity of derivative securities then quickly go on to something more understandable.

Is technology our friend in this mess or our enemy?

Particularly:
If a bunch of wealthy traders get together at Starbucks and agree to short-sell a company or a financial instrument, driving down that price ideally to the point where it never recovers, well that’s against the law. But with trading automation and the Internet as a platform it is possible to accomplish this same end WITHOUT it being explicitly illegal. It is even possible that the perps don’t know the level of damage they are inflicting, though I doubt that’s true. The trick is to avoid communication. If there is no communication between traders there is no chain of causation, no conspiracy, just an unhappy accident.

Who Killed Snowe-Wyden? - What's News Tonight

The search for who killed Snowe-Wyden must start the evening of Tuesday February 10 in a windy, cold Washington, just after the Senate voted 61-37 in favor of a vast $838 billion stimulus bill. Three Republicans joined with 58 Democrats to move the legislation: Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Susan Collins of Maine, and Olympia Snowe of Maine.

Are They Paying Attention? - What's News Tonight

The puzzle that does not have an easy answer is, Why is the POTUS on TV tonight? Anything unusual happen today or this weekend? No. New crisis? No. The opening statement and the question and answer with a pat list of correspondents just worked over established spin and rhetoric from weeks of the same. Healthcare, energy, education, crisis, banks, tough times. Then the ritual "signs of progress." FDR saw signs of progress every month from March 1933 until Germany attacked Poland and the draft gave work to the unemployed.

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Dodd's Wife a Former Director of Bermuda-Based IPC Holdings, an AIG Controlled Company

From 2001-2004, Jackie Clegg Dodd served as an "outside" director of IPC Holdings, Ltd., a Bermuda-based company controlled by AIG. IPC, which provides property casualty catastrophe insurance coverage, was formed in 1993 and currently has a market cap of $1.4 billion and trades on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol IPCR. In 2001, in addition to a public offering of 15 million shares of stock that raised $380 million, IPC raised more than $109 million through a simultaneous private placement sale of 5.6 million shares of stock to AIG - giving AIG a 20% stake in IPC. (AIG sold its 13.397 million shares in IPC in August, 2006.)

Analysis: Teleprompter telegraphs Obama caution

One of the few times he summoned raw emotion came after a reporter demanded to know why it took him so long to express outrage over the AIG executive bonuses.

"It took a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak."

Even better, he likes to have it up on the teleprompter.

Wipe.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Reines storm: Clinton conflict brews - Ben Smith - POLITICO.com

"The error appalled some in the State Department, because the button – which was inscribed in Latin script, not Cyrillic – hadn’t been assembled with the help of State’s cadre of Russian speakers and professional translators, but rather by Clinton’s small political team. The day of the event, people involved said, Reines showed the finished product to officials who spoke Russian, but who weren’t native, or up-to-date enough to catch the error in a word out of computer terminology."

Court hears arguments over anti-Hillary movie

"Arguing that a movie and a campaign ad are the same could have adverse consequences for the McCain-Feingold law, Justice Anthony Kennedy said. 'If we think the film is protected, the whole statute should fall,' Kennedy said."

GOOD!

George F. Will - The Toxic Assets We Elected - washingtonpost.com

"Jefferson warned that 'great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities.' But Democrats, who trace their party's pedigree to Jefferson, are contemplating using 'reconciliation' -- a legislative maneuver abused by both parties to severely truncate debate and limit the minority's right to resist -- to impose vast and controversial changes on the 17 percent of the economy that is health care. When the Congressional Budget Office announced that the president's budget underestimates by $2.3 trillion the likely deficits over the next decade, his budget director, Peter Orszag, said: All long-range budget forecasts are notoriously unreliable -- so rely on ours."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Oracle Turns Red Hat Green - Forbes.com

"For years, there have periodically been rumors that Oracle (nasdaq: ORCL) wants to acquire Red Hat (nasdaq: RHT), whose shares soared 9.9%, or $1.48, to close at $16.27."

Geithner: My Plan for Bad Bank Assets - WSJ.com

"But as we fight the current crisis, we must also start the process of ensuring a crisis like this never happens again. As President Obama has said, we can no longer sustain 21st century markets with 20th century regulations. Our nation deserves better choices than, on one hand, accepting the catastrophic damage caused by a failure like Lehman Brothers, or on the other hand being forced to pour billions of taxpayer dollars into an institution like AIG to protect the economy against that scale of damage. The lack of an appropriate and modern regulatory regime and resolution authority helped cause this crisis, and it will continue to constrain our capacity to address future crises until we put in place fundamental reforms."

Considering that the "toxic loans" that are at the heart of this problem were made by government mandates, it's unclear to me and ignored by Democratic apparatchiks how new and or improved regulations will work. What we need are regulations on what Congress or the President can force businesses and individuals to do by pulling policies out of their ass... like they are doing now, or like they did when on multiple occasions they asked, no demanded, that lending agencies make even more bad loans than they had in the past.

Brazilian President Lula da Silva Says the U.S. Is Failing Its Leadership Role in the Global Financial Crisis - WSJ.com

"There is no small irony in the fact that the socialist president of Brazil is now smarting from too much government intervention in the U.S. Had financial institutions been told months ago that rescue is not an option, things would be different. Instead of waiting for the Treasury, they might have begun deconstructing bundled assets to figure out their worth and how to raise new capital. Allowing illiquid assets to be priced using cash-flow analysis for regulatory purposes months ago would have helped too. The government could even have acted as lender of last resort, with stipulations on dividends until the loans were repurchased."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

Comcast.net: Dodd's political stock tumbles in Connecticut

Dodd was guarded Thursday when asked about Geithner.

"This is obviously a matter that obviously should have been dealt with differently, but we are where we are," he said.

Republicans branded Dodd's reversal "astonishing and alarming" and fingered Dodd as the top recipient of campaign cash from AIG employees over the years.


Well, obviously, there you are. Oh, and Uh, uh, uh, while we are at it.

Salisbury News: How Congress Calculated The Bailout. This Is A Must See!

Political Punch: President Obama Jokes About Being a Bad Bowler: 'It's Like the Special Olympics'

'The president made an off-hand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics,' White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton said. 'He thinks the Special Olympics is a wonderful program that gives an opportunity for people with disabilities from around the world.'

Every time this guy goes out to escape the reality of running the country they end up having to issue an apology or correction.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Who Protects The Internet? | Popular Science

"The Beast is like a lunar lander on steroids. Working at depths of more than a mile, it can trundle along the seabed on caterpillar treads or, when its thrusters kick in, skim above canyons like a hovercraft, at a top speed of three knots. Rennie and his team of six control the Beast via a joystick, using its sonar, video cameras and metal detector to locate damaged cables. Plucking a cable from the ocean floor is akin to picking up a piece of thread in a blizzard while wearing a catcher’s mitt. Currents can be fierce, which makes it difficult to hold the Beast steady above the cable. Visibility can be close to nil, which means that even finding the cable in the first place can be a long and frustrating process of trial and error. But according to Rennie, 'gripping and cutting is the trickiest.' This delicate piece of submarine surgery has to be performed quickly and cleanly, using only a murky video image as a guide."

IBM Signals Strategy Shift With Talks to Buy Sun - WSJ.com

"The talks come amid increasing competition over supplying corporate data centers with hardware. Cisco Systems Inc. this week said it would be entering the server business and taking on IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co.

While H-P and Dell Inc. have pushed standardized technology for corporate data centers, both IBM and Sun have a strategy of stressing high-end machines with proprietary software.

A deal would also give IBM more weapons to battle Microsoft Corp. for market share of the software that runs large computers, and would enhance IBM's portfolio of software that competes against Oracle Corp. for handling large databases and in helping customers develop applications for their Web sites."


I was at a users meeting where people were claiming they could run Sun software in emulation mode on IBM mainframes and get better speed and reliability. They were petitioning Sun to officially sanction this.

IBM mainframes have become essentially card cages for just about any type of processor (including Intel) which can be mixed and matched every which way. You can run virtual versions of just about any system side by side, and if you actually have a processor card for the target architecture the “emulation” becomes real-time.

Merger with Sun will certainly simplify the playing field. Just in time for Cisco to enter and mess it up again.

Get out the popcorn.

Bowling for Dollars

"I learned an important lesson that day; success in a large organization, whether it’s a university or IBM, is generally based on appearance, not reality. It is understanding the system and then working within it that really counts, not bowling scores or body bags.

In the world of high-tech start-ups, there is no system, there are no hard and fast rules, and all that counts is the end product."

Hard Truths About the Culture War

Individualism and egalitarianism may seem an odd pair, since liberty in any degree produces inequality, while equality of outcomes requires coercion that destroys liberty. If they are to operate simultaneously, radical egalitarianism and radical individualism, where they do not complement one another, must operate in different areas of life, and that is precisely what we see in today's culture. Radical egalitarianism advances, on the one hand, in areas of life and society where superior achievement is possible and would be rewarded but for coerced equality: quotas, affirmative action, income redistribution through progressive taxation for some, entitlement programs for others, and the tyranny of political correctness spreading through universities, primary and secondary schools, government, and even the private sector. Radical individualism, on the other hand, is demanded when there is no danger that achievement will produce inequality and people wish to be unhindered in the pursuit of pleasure. This finds expression particularly in the areas of sexuality and violence, and their vicarious enjoyment in popular entertainment.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The John Batchelor Show :: The Last Days of the Republicans, Part 10

"I feel sorry for him sometimes," confided a senior Republican House member about President Obama. "He invited us over to the White House to explain to us how the stimulus plan is working, and how the budget is going to work, and he spoke to us a couple of times. He doesn't act like he knows what's going on with the economy. He's so afraid of confrontation, when you challenge him, he backs off, like he doesn't know the right answer. Who does? That's why you kinda feel sorry for him. Not his guys, they don't act like they know. Do they notice the stock market sinking? Who doesn't? There's this sense of disarray. The administration is made up of a lot of Number twos. The only one with any gravitas is [David] Axelrod. Geithner? He looks like he's 12-years-old, or a grad student. The president is like a perfect vice president. That's what the big speech was like. A vice president was talking."






YouTube - McCotter: Let's Put AIG Out of Our Misery

JournoList: Inside the echo chamber - Michael Calderone - POLITICO.com

“You don’t want to create a whole separate, like, private blog that only the elite bloggers can go into, and then what you present to the public is sort of the propaganda you’ve decided to go public with,” Kaus argued.

But Time’s Joe Klein, who acknowledged being on JList and several other listservs, said in an e-mail that “they’re valuable in the way that candid conversations with colleagues and experts always are.” Defending the off-the-record rule, Klein said that “candor is essential and can only be guaranteed by keeping these conversations private.”

And then Klein — speaking like the JLister he is — said there wasn’t “anything more that I can or want to say about the subject.”

Amid AIG Furor, Dodd Tries to Undo Bonus Protections He Put In

"While the Senate was constructing the $787 billion stimulus last month, Dodd added an executive-compensation restriction to the bill. That amendment provides an “exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009” -- which exempts the very AIG bonuses Dodd and others are now seeking to tax."

Monday, March 16, 2009

California's state work force grew despite budget woes and cut promises - Sacramento News - Local and Breaking Sacramento News | Sacramento Bee

"California state government's full-time work force continues to grow despite Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's order to freeze hiring amid a historic budget shortfall.

From June 2008 to February 2009, most state agencies either increased or kept the same number of full-time employees, according to a Bee analysis of personnel data. The state also failed to lay off as many part-time employees during the crisis as promised by the governor."


Gaaaaaaaw-lee

(My written impersonation of Gomer Pyle)

Wells Fargo Assails TARP, Calls Stress Test ‘Asinine’

“Is this America -- when you do what your government asks you to do and then retroactively you also have additional conditions?” Kovacevich said. “If we were not forced to take the TARP money, we would have been able to raise private capital at that time” and not needed to cut the dividend to preserve cash, he said.

Kovacevich joins a growing list of bankers who are chafing at restrictions imposed by the TARP program, which affect lending, foreclosures, pay and perks. Lenders including Bank of America Corp., U.S. Bancorp and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have said they want to give back the money. More than 500 banks, insurers and credit-card companies applied for TARP capital, and the government has distributed almost $300 billion.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Now-needy FDIC collected few premiums from banks for decade - The Boston Globe

"The federal agency that insures bank deposits, which is asking for emergency powers to borrow up to $500 billion to take over failed banks, is facing a potential major shortfall in part because it collected no insurance premiums from most banks from 1996 to 2006.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which insures deposits up to $250,000, tried for years to get congressional authority to collect the premiums in case of a looming crisis. But Congress believed that the fund was so well-capitalized - and that bank failures were so infrequent - that there was no need to collect the premiums for a decade, according to banking officials and analysts."

Corporate oil booms in low-tax Switzerland | Reuters

Over the past six months companies including offshore drilling contractors Noble Corp and Transocean, energy-focused engineering group Foster Wheeler and oilfield services company Weatherfield International have all announced plans to shift domicile to Switzerland.

"Switzerland has a stable and developed tax regime and a network of tax treaties with most countries where we operate," Transocean Chief Executive Bob Long said in a statement in October, when it announced its move. "As a result, the redomestication will improve our ability to maintain a competitive worldwide effective corporate tax rate."

D.C. Tech Chief Tapped for White House Slot - washingtonpost.com

"Kundra will have budgetary authority to launch entirely new systems within government departments, or kill existing multimillion-dollar IT projects. His decisions could have a large impact on government contractors, such as SAIC and Booz Allen Hamilton, that have come to provide the bulk of IT services to agencies."

This could actually be good.

Update: Oooops.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Live Vote: Give President Obama a grade - White House- msnbc.com


From the network that brings you old tingly leg Chis Mathews and Goebbels wannabe Keith Olberman?

Camille Paglia on Obama, Rush and Daniela Mercury | Salon

"Free Barack!

Yes, free the president from his flacks, fixers and goons -- his posse of smirky smart alecks and provincial rubes, who were shrewd enough to beat the slow, pompous Clintons in the mano-a-mano primaries but who seem like dazed lost lambs in the brave new world of federal legislation and global statesmanship."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Not So Bad Bank - Cringely on technology

"We’re seven weeks into the Obama Administration and still looking for a way out of both the banking and housing crises. TARP didn’t seem to work, at least not as its designers intended. The new housing plan hasn’t been well received and now that more details are out you’d think there would be an even more negative reaction, but the press doesn’t seem to have even noticed the details were released last week."

Maybe that's because they are still struggling to extract their heads from Obama's ass.

Pelosi Made Repeated Requests for Military Aircraft, Documents Show - Presidential Politics | Political News - FOXNews.com

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly requested military aircraft to shuttle her and her colleagues and family around the country, according to a new report from a conservative watchdog group."

Monday, March 09, 2009

Microsoft Temp Organizer Reconsiders Pay-Cut Protests - Digits

On the Web site MS Rate Cuts, a hub for temporary workers to share information about the new pay cuts, one blogger expressed disillusionment for all the worry over salaries at Microsoft. “Touch up your resume, bud,” he wrote. “MS is on the way out — you’re working for a dinosaur. Word on the street is your brain-trust got raided by Google.”

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Microsoft business model is over - MarketWatch

Right now, for example, I can get a complete Intel motherboard with an Atom processor, ready to install in a box, for about $100. All I need is a $30 memory module, an inexpensive hard disk ($50) and a case/power supply ($75). For $255, I can have a pretty nice cheap machine. Now I have to add the most basic version of Windows for $199? And Office for another $399 (standard no-frills edition)?

Let's add this up: Hot little computer: $255. Basic low-end Microsoft software: $598.

What's wrong with this picture?

George F. Will - Corn as a Health Issue - washingtonpost.com

"What he calls America's 'national eating disorder' is not just that Americans reportedly eat one in five meals in cars (gas stations make more from food and cigarettes than from gasoline) and that one in three children eat fast food every day. He also means the industrialization of agriculture, wherein we developed a food chain that derives too much of its calories -- energy -- not from the sun through photosynthesis but from fossil fuels."

Didn't know that.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Airhead: Tongue-tied Clinton gets warm EU welcome | International | Reuters

'I have never understood multiparty democracy.

'It is hard enough with two parties to come to any resolution, and I say this very respectfully, because I feel the same way about our own democracy, which has been around a lot longer than European democracy.'

The remark provoked much headshaking in the parliament of a bloc that likes to trace back its democratic tradition thousands of years to the days of classical Greece.

Clinton gift gaffe: 'Overcharge' - David S. Cloud - POLITICO.com

GENEVA—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened her first extended talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by giving him a present meant to symbolize the Obama administration’s vow to “press the reset button” on U.S.-Russia relations. She handed a palm-sized box wrapped with a bow. Lavrov opened it and pulled out the gift a red button on a black base with a Russian word peregruzka printed on top. “We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it” Clinton asked. “You got it wrong” Lavrov said. Instead of 'reset' Lavrov said the word on the box meant “overcharge.”

The cost of allowing the retards to run the asylum.

We'll soon all be feeling overcharged.

Deception at Core of Obama Plans

"Things. Now we know what they are. The markets recent precipitous decline is a reaction not just to the absence of any plausible bank rescue plan but also to the suspicion that Obama sees the continuing financial crisis as usefully creating the psychological conditions -- the sense of crisis bordering on fear-itself panic -- for enacting his 'Big Bang' agenda to federalize and or socialize health care education and energy the commanding heights of post-industrial society."

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Bloomberg.com: Exclusive

"Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Vivek Kundra, recruited to Washington to overhaul city computer networks plagued by cost overruns and viruses, treats his projects like stocks. The biggest "buy" on his trading floor is Google Inc.

The 34-year-old city technology chief signed a contract worth almost $500,000 a year in June for all 38,000 municipal employees to use Google's e-mail, spreadsheet and word- processing programs, giving them an Internet-based alternative to Microsoft Corp.'s Office software, installed on computers. Accountants, teachers and firefighters use Google to set budgets, track truancy rates and map emergency routes."

I don't know HOW I missed this when it happened.

This brought it to my attention.

Botnet Hacker Gets Four Years | Threat Level from Wired.com

The authorities said he worked by day as an information security consultant with 3G Communications. After his guilty plea, Schiefer was hired at Mahalo, the so-called "human powered search engine." Its founder, Jason Calacanis wrote that the company failed to realize that the Los Angeles company had hired a man who had pleaded guilty to being a hacker.

Calacanis point out that Mahalo users' data was not breached by Schiefer.


How would one exactly know that?

Obama's safety net: the TelePrompter - Carol E. Lee - POLITICO.com

"President Barack Obama doesn’t go anywhere without his TelePrompter.

The textbook-sized panes of glass holding the president’s prepared remarks follow him wherever he speaks.

Resting on top of a tall, narrow pole, they flank his podium during speeches in the White House’s stately parlors. They stood next to him on the floor of a manufacturing plant in Indiana as he pitched his economic stimulus plan. They traveled to the Department of Transportation this week and were in the Capitol Rotunda last month when he paid tribute to Abraham Lincoln in six-minute prepared remarks."


I know, uh, that the former, uh, president, uh, had a reputation for, uh, being stupid, but, uh, I think he often spoke, uh, extemporaneously, a concept, uh, which appears to have, uh, led to, uh, problems with the, uh, current, uh, office holder. At least he can, uh, properly, you know, pronounce the word, uh, "nuclear", uh, at least when it is written, uh, on the glass thing.

Circuits: Amazon's E-Book Service - macbeach@gmail.com - Gmail

The true brilliance of Amazon's move is that you no longer need a Kindle anymore to read current bestsellers in e-book form. Amazon, like thousands of businesses before it (see also: iTunes store, console games), has shifted into selling the razor blades, not the razors. Those $10 downloadable books--800K software files, with no physical material costs, shipping costs or warehousing costs--are surely where the profit is.

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Cramer: My Response To The White House | News | Money/Investing | Mainstreet

The lines are drawn pretty clearly: If you can help people make money to be able to retire, enjoy life, pay for college, pay down debt, etc., you are a "good guy," so to speak. If you take the other side of the trade, you are, well, let's say, a less favored fellow. And if you gun for the gigantic investor class that is out there that includes 90 million people in one form or another, whether it be 401(k)s or individual stocks or pension plans, then you are on my enemies list.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

On The Road To Socialism? We've Arrived!

Where the U.S. government usually consumes 21% of gross domestic product, this Obama budget spends 28% in 2009 and runs a deficit of $1.75 trillion, or 12.7% of GDP. That is four times the largest deficit of George W. Bush and twice as large a share of the economy as any deficit run since World War II.

Add that 28% of GDP spent by the U.S. government to the 12% spent by states, counties and cities, and government will consume 40% of the economy in 2009.

We are not "headed down the road to socialism." We are there.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Not an Argument

As I said in another discussion, I'm looking for the first signs of "buyers remorse" in Obama voters I know, most of whom are incredibly uninformed about the world.

There are of course people, clueless about economic issues, who only voted for Obama as an anti-war statement. But now we find that is the only Bush policy he plans to leave untouched (for now).

On the other hand, I also know a left-wing economist who once said to me something along the lines of "damn you Republicans for engaging in a starve the beast policy of increased spending and lower taxes!"

Problem of course is that we are now set to triple our rate of spending (for PERMANENT programs that don't end as wars eventually do), and (ignoring the actual effect of tax rates on total income) somehow rely on a boom like has never been seen before to pay for it. I'd say at this point we aren't starving the beast, we are shooting him through the head, hanging him, and castrating him for good measure. Republican misdeeds (and certainly there were many) might not have been effective in reducing wasteful spending in government and (possibly) directing it to where it could do some good, but at least they slowed the inexorable growth of government down for a few years. No sign of that thinking in DC now!

Last I checked, economies were listed as chaotic systems, about as controllable as the weather. We of course can seed clouds and use umbrelas when we go outdoors, but no number of Excel spreadsheets can fathom it all because we don't have a clue about the "formulas" that control human desire to pay $79 for a $0.79 molded plastic shoe. You can only "control" economies by reducing them to dictatorships in which everyone either wears the state-sponsored clothing, or keeps the stuff they have from the '50s (ask a Cuban).

As Thompson said in that interview, we are headed for being a banana republic, and I suspect there are some among us who think they might actually enjoy such a thing, because they envision themselves as being the task-masters who are above it all. The reality of course is that the same back-stabbing scum who often rise to the top in corporations will do just fine in a Socialist state. Its the same game, with fewer players and very few checks and balances. I guess the only upside is that when you get caught puting poisons in your product for filler you have to hang yourself. Socialism rhymes with emotionalism, and is really all about entertainment.

Enjoy the show!