Monday, August 31, 2009

Joe Biden On Barack Obama

57% Would Like to Replace Entire Congress - Rasmussen Reports™

While Democrats have become more supportive of the legislators, voters not affiliated with either major party have moved in the opposite direction. Today, 70% of those not affiliated with either major party would vote to replace all of the elected politicians in the House and Senate. That’s up from 62% last year.

Republicans, not surprisingly, overwhelmingly support replacing everyone in the Congress. Their views have not changed. But Republican voters are disenchanted with their team as much as the Congress itself: 69% of GOP Voters say Republicans in Congress are out of touch with the party base.

Economic Bloggers and the Renewal of Entrepreneurial Capitalism

Princess Diana's Death: Anniversary Brings French Health Care Into Focus - ABC News

Diana's last hour -- in cardiac arrest and bleeding to death -- was spent in a mobile medical unit parked a few hundred yards from Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, where an emergency team followed French protocol and administered treatment at the scene of the accident and en route to the hospital.

At the time, many people surmised that had a U.S. ambulance responded, Diana would have been rushed to the nearest emergency room, where a full set of professionals and diagnostic equipment might have revived her.

Colloquially known as "scoop and run," the U.S. system is grounded in studies that show a trauma victim's best chance for survival is reaching the operating room within 10 minutes.

Under the French system, "stay and play," a fully equipped medical ambulance with a doctor stabilizes the patient and then directs him or her to a specialized hospital, even if it is miles away.

Friday, August 28, 2009

FBI investigating mystery laptops sent to governors

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is trying to figure out who sent five Hewlett-Packard laptop computers to West Virginia Governor Joe Mahchin a few weeks ago, with state officials worried that they may contain malicious software.

Sources familiar with the investigation say other states have been targeted too, with HP laptops mysteriously ordered for officials in 10 states. Four of the orders were delivered, while the remaining six were intercepted, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

I'm glad our cracker-jack security forces are on top of these free notebooks from nowhere schemes.

Now if they could just get a handle on the thousands of government laptops that "go missing" (and that we taxpayers footed the bill for) I'd be thrilled!

Microsoft's secret 'screw Google' meetings in D.C. -- DailyFinance

"This is textbook Microsoft," the source adds. "Microsoft has got some of the best, highest-priced lobbyists that money can buy in Washington."

The meetings have been led by Fred Humphries, Microsoft's chief lobbyist in D.C. Ginny Terzano, Microsoft's Washington spokesperson, acknowledged that Google has come up in Microsoft meetings with "lawmakers, regulators, and our own consultants." But of Humphries's alleged "screw Google" meetings, she says, "This is absurd. While Google is a healthy competitor, Fred is focused on advancing policies that benefit our partners and consumers, and not running meetings of the type you describe. Your sources are badly misinformed, and your information is wrong."

Yeah, sure.

Microsoft retains it's rightful place as the worlds primary killer of technology innovation. Congratulations once again to all the A*H**** who work there.

Some Surprised By 'Clunker' Tax

But many of those cashing in on the clunkers program are surprised when they get to the treasurer's office windows. That's because the government's rebate of up to $4500 dollars for every clunker is taxable.

Bill would give president emergency control of Internet | Politics and Law - CNET News

Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.

They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.

The new version would allow the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for "cybersecurity professionals," and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

July, August deadliest months of Afghan war for US - Yahoo! News

KABUL – A roadside bomb and gunfire attack killed a U.S. service member in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, a death that pushed August into a tie with July as the deadliest months of the eight-year war.

The death brought to 44 the number of U.S. troops who have died in Afghanistan this month with four days left in August.

NY Daily News adds:

The President has no calls or meetings on his schedule at the moment, presidential spokesman Bill Burton said, but he is staying up-to-date with developments on the economy, health care and foreign policy.

Burton hit back at Republican critics who said Obama should forgo his week-long vacation when many Americans are struggling economically.

"As I recall, the previous President took quite a bit of vacation time himself, and I don't think anyone bemoaned that," Burton told reporters, referring to George W. Bush's month-long summer getaways.

Well, um, I think quite a few people did "bemoan" that, including embedding references in just about every Hollywood movie made at the time.

I guess the theory goes that as long as Obama didn't vote for the war (did he vote to de-fund it?) he can ignore the consequences.

Subtracting out the blacks who voted for him simply because of his color, and the airheads who voted for him simply because Jon Stewart told them to, and the potheads who voted for him because any Democrat is more likly to easy pot laws than any Republican, and so on*... there are still a sizable number of people who voted for him due to their own opposition to the war (both of them, and the war on terror generally). What must those people be thinking now?**

* and don't forget disrespected parents of twenty somethings hoping to get back into the good graces of their drifted-away children (yes, I know some of them).

** not that I agree with them. While the war may have been tactically wrong, it was hard to find anyone in the days after 9/11 that didn't think we needed to do *something*. Meanwhile so many of the objections: "all about oil", "all about Haliburton", "can't impose democracy" seem to have run afoul of reality.

Does Flickr Censor User Content Over Blatantly Fake DMCA Notices? | Thomas Hawk Digital Connection

Many bloggers and news outlets accused Flickr of censorship and political bias in the removal of what was seen by many as a clear fair use parody image critical of the President. The case made the national press and with an EFF attorney adding that Alkhateeb indeed had a very strong fair use defense. After a substantial amount of critical press over the image, Flickr Community Manager Heather Champ finally came out defending Flickr over the issue saying that Alkhateeb’s image had been removed from Flickr due to a “a complete Notice of Infringement as outlined by the DMCA (Digitial Millenium Copyright Act)” In the same breath Champ accused the press and blogosphere of being “makey uppey.” Shortly afterwards, the thread where Flickr users were complaining about this image deletion was shut down by Flickr staff.

People need to read 1984 and Brave New World again (along with a history of the Soviet Union in the late 20th century).

A state does not need to be all-powerful in order to be oppressive. They simply need to convince enough people to act as spies and censors on their behalf so as to intimidate or throttle dissent.

Knowing Yahoo's history as I do (as a former customer) I am quite willing to chalk this one up to incompetence, coupled with a good dose of political bias. Don't expect the Yahoo's to fess up to either. Their efforts to reinforce the illusion that they have done no wrong, and can do no wrong only adds to my contempt for the company. Eventually everyone will figure out that their ability to deliver falls far short of their promises. My only regret is that the primary beneficiary of Yahoo's demise will likely be Microsoft.

Garmin Chooses U.S. Carrier -- Likely AT&T -- For Its "Nuvifone" (GRMN, T)

GPS gadget maker Garmin says it has chosen a U.S. carrier for its forthcoming "Nuvifone" smartphone.

For whatever reason, the company hasn't specified which carrier it will be. But it's likely to be AT&T, the no. 2 U.S. carrier. Editorials, Political Cartoons, and Polls from Investor's Business Daily -- Vive Le French Care?

Call it the grass-is-greener syndrome. Advocates of national health care, acknowledging the flaws in ObamaCare yet despising the current U.S. system that has the best medicines, the best medical equipment and the shortest waiting lists, have turned their eyes lovingly to places like France.

As City Journal contributing editor Guy Sorman notes, the French would also love to have the low-cost, high-service system some Americans gush about. Unfortunately, they don't. France's system isn't that cheap and is financed by high taxes on labor that have heavy economic consequences.

Sorman notes that a Frenchman making a monthly salary of 3,000 euros has 350 of them deducted for health insurance. Then the employer throws in an additional 1,200 euros. This raises the cost of labor to prohibitive levels and puts a brake on economic growth. This helps explain why French unemployment hovers around 10%.

France imposes an additional tax levy to cover the constant deficits that national health insurance runs.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Liberal Lies About National Health Care: Second in a Series (Collect All 10!) - HUMAN EVENTS

Lot's of gems in this one but:

The last time liberals decided an industry was so important that the government needed to step in and contain costs was when they set their sights on the oil industry. Liberals in both the U.S. and Canada -- presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter and Canadian P.M. Pierre Trudeau -- imposed price controls on oil.

As night leads to day, price controls led to reduced oil production, which led to oil shortages, skyrocketing prices for gasoline, rationing schemes and long angry lines at gas stations.

You may recall this era as "the Carter years."

The National Endowment for the Art of Persuasion?

I’m not a “right-wing nut job.” It just goes against my core beliefs to sit quietly while the art community is used by the NEA and the administration to push an agenda other than the one for which it was created. It is not within the National Endowment for the Arts’ original charter to initiate, organize, and tap into the art community to help bring awareness to health care, or energy & environmental issues for that matter; and especially not at a time when it is being vehemently debated. Artists shouldn’t be used as tools of the state to help create a climate amenable to their positions, which is what appears to be happening in this instance. If the art community wants to tackle those issues on its own then fine. But tackling them shouldn’t come as an encouragement from the NEA to those they potentially fund at this coincidental time.

Welcome to the brave new world.

The babies born in hospital corridors: Bed shortage forces 4,000 mothers to give birth in lifts, offices and hospital toilets | Mail Online

Thousands of women are having to give birth outside maternity wards because of a lack of midwives and hospital beds.

The lives of mothers and babies are being put at risk as births in locations ranging from lifts to toilets - even a caravan - went up 15 per cent last year to almost 4,000.

Health chiefs admit a lack of maternity beds is partly to blame for the crisis, with hundreds of women in labour being turned away from hospitals because they are full.

Yeah, I can hardly wait until we go to THAT system!

We can even improve on it by using American ingenuity.

Elevators are expensive. Birth them in stairwells.

Computer Glitch Has 4,000 Prince George's Students Out of Classroom for 2nd Day -

About 4,000 Prince George's County high school students remained out of class for a second day Tuesday, many stranded in school gyms and auditoriums, as ongoing problems with the school district's computer system left them waiting for class schedules that never arrived.

Democratic Fundraiser Charged in Citigroup Fraud - Politics and Government * US * News * Story -

Nemazee was a national finance chair of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, and a supporter of John Kerry's run for the White House in 2004.

William McGurn: Saving the Obama Presidency -

Even in the midst of a Republican resurgence, Mr. Clinton would go on from the defeat to become the first Democrat since FDR to be elected to two terms. By contrast, Mr. Obama's handling of the health-care debate—making villains out of cable television and insurance companies, questioning the motives of those who disagree, imposing artificial deadlines—suggests a rigidity typically associated with a lack of executive experience and responsibility.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Pelosi-Obama Deficits -

CBO says this is "unsustainable," but even this forecast may be optimistic.

Here's why. Many of the current budget assumptions are laughably implausible. Both the White House and CBO predict that Congress will hold federal spending at the rate of inflation over the next decade. This is the same Democratic Congress that awarded a 47% increase in domestic discretionary spending in 2009 when counting stimulus funds. And the appropriations bills now speeding through Congress for 2010 serve up an 8% increase in domestic spending after inflation.

Another doozy is that Nancy Pelosi and friends are going to allow a one-third or more reduction in liberal priorities like Head Start, food stamps and child nutrition after 2011 when the stimulus expires. CBO actually has overall spending falling between 2009 and 2012, which is less likely than an asteroid hitting the Earth.

Brookings “Experts” Admit Stimulus a Bust

Why the Washington Post Censored Robert Novak

What's more, the description is false. Ayers wasn't "antiwar;" he was pro-war. He wanted the communists to win in Vietnam. This is why his Prairie Fire manifesto was dedicated to Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of Robert F. Kennedy, an anti-war candidate.

In its editorial about Ayers' comrade Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, the Post laments that the Obama Administration has failed "to call attention to the genuine and serious hostile actions that Mr. Chávez has taken against his neighbors and the democratic opposition in his own country. Those should rightfully be the subject of urgent inter-American consultations. That they are not shows how far the administration is from mounting effective Latin American diplomacy."

This is yet another indication that the paper doesn't seem to understand that Obama, Ayers and Dohrn are all on the side of Chávez. There should be no confusion.

Anti-Trust Regulators Probe Microsoft-Yahoo Deal

Even if Google doesn't object, the Microsoft-Yahoo agreement merits an examination of how the two companies intend to share the data they gather about Web surfers, said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy watchdog group.

"This will be a litmus test for the Obama administration on whether they incorporate privacy into antitrust review," Chester said.

Besides eliminating one of Google's search rivals, the deal would cede Yahoo's market share to a company that still dominates the markets for operating systems and Internet browsers. The antitrust review needs to consider whether Microsoft's clout in those areas would be strengthened by the Yahoo partnership, Chester said.

There Go the Servers: Lightning's New Perils -

New research even suggests that lightning's effect on technology can shape the course of regional economies. After analyzing lightning data for the lower 48 states, four economists from the University of Copenhagen found that those states more prone to lightning strikes tended to see worker productivity grow more slowly than in states with very little lightning.

This held true when the economists controlled for a range of other factors, including hurricane frequency, urban density and the education, age and racial characteristics of local populations.

Fidel Castro says racist right-wingers fight Obama | Politics | Reuters

I guess they get MSNBC in Cuba too.

Dirty Secret No. 3 in Obamacare - HUMAN EVENTS

In 1,000-plus pages, there's surprisingly sparse coverage or complete avoidance of a host of necessary issues. I would cite pages in the bill, as I've done in my other articles, but there aren't any covering them. These are questions that need specific answers by the Obama administration, as well as by each of our representatives:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Heather Podesta, a Storm in the Summer of the Lobbyist

Podesta is right there in the eddy, an It Girl in a new generation of young, highly connected, built-for-the-Obama-era lobbyists. She gets an undeniable boost from a famous name -- she is the sister-in-law of John Podesta, the insider's insider who was Bill Clinton's White House chief of staff and Obama's transition director, and the wife of über-lobbyist Tony Podesta. Heather and Tony run his-and-hers lobbying shops. His grew a staggering 57 percent in the first six months of this year compared with the same period the year before, taking in $11.8 million, fourth-highest among major lobbying firms. (Full disclosure: Tony Podesta has long represented The Washington Post, which paid him $10,000 in 2009 and $80,000 the year before, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.) Her six-person shop grew even faster, rocketing 65 percent to $3.4 million.

Somehow, coming from the Post, I sense that none of this is intended as criticism regarding how corrupt our system has become. The Post after all has never seen a Democrat it didn't like.

Which is not to say that the Republicans aren't corrupt too.

It's just that many Republicans claim a preference for smaller government.

And the smaller government gets, the less corruption matters.

I guess we won't entertain that concept again any time soon though.

As Medical Helicopter Industry Has Grown, So Have Fatal Crashes -

"In the late 1990s, Congress prodded Medicare, the nation's largest insurer, to change its formula for paying for helicopter transports. In 2002, Medicare boosted its reimbursement rates and started paying a 50 percent premium for rural flights. The spigot of new money expanded the market for private operators, who responded by opening scores of free-standing bases miles from hospitals. Medicare payments soared, increasing 434 percent in seven years, to $220 million last year."
When will people ever "get" it?

Federal Government Mulls Web 2.0 - Digits - WSJ

David Mihalchik, who works for Google’s federal technology team, said Google’s products are used by every government agency and it sees opportunities to do more government cloud-computing business. The administration’s 2010 budget specifically discusses using cloud computing — metered access to computing — to improve government efficiency.

Skeptics say realizing the administration’s vision will be difficult. The Federal government has an entrenched bureaucracy dedicated to technology procurement whose mindset will be hard to change. Existing suppliers will jealously protect their turf. Additionally, Chopra and Kundra advise the president on policy, but don’t determine budgets or procurement decisions.

Emph mine.

1,200 veterans wrongly told they got fatal disease

Calls to the VA were not immediately returned Monday.

Commentary: What LBJ would do -

He would get Jack Valenti to call the Pope if it would help.

He would have speeches written for members for the Congressional Record and hometown newspapers.

He would use up White House liquor having nightcaps with the leaders and key members of BOTH parties.

Each of them would take home cufflinks, watches, signed photos, and perhaps even a pledge to come raise money for their next election.

He would be sending gifts to children and grandchildren of members.

Funny. Nothing in here about actually justifying the policy, explaining away the numerous unintended consequences, figuring out how to pay for it in the long term.

This explains a lot about how our country got where it is, and where it is likely to end up going.

Had it not been for his bungling of the war in Vietnam, how much more harm Johnson could have done.

Healthcare insurers get upper hand --

Reporting from Washington - Lashed by liberals and threatened with more government regulation, the insurance industry nevertheless rallied its lobbying and grass-roots resources so successfully in the early stages of the healthcare overhaul deliberations that it is poised to reap a financial windfall.

The half-dozen leading overhaul proposals circulating in Congress would require all citizens to have health insurance, which would guarantee insurers tens of millions of new customers -- many of whom would get government subsidies to help pay the companies' premiums.


Fooled again! - Republicans Have Offered Three Alternative Health Care Reform Bills

President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress -- while pushing their own health care overhauls -- have criticized Republicans as offering only opposition and no ideas for reform, but the GOP, despite the lack of media attention, has introduced three health care bills.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Truth: What’s Really Going On With Apple, Google, AT&T And The FCC

Multiple sources at Google tell us that in informal discussions with Apple over the last few months Apple expressed dismay at the number of core iPhone apps that are powered by Google. Search, maps, YouTube, and other key popular apps are powered by Google. Other than the browser, Apple has little else to call its own other than the core phone, contacts and calendar features. The Google Voice App takes things one step further, by giving users an incentive to abandon their iPhone phone number and use their Google Voice phone number instead (transcription of voicemails is reason enough alone). Apple was afraid, say our sources, that Google was gaining too much power on the iPhone, and that’s why they rejected the application.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Who Rejected Google Voice for iPhone? AT&T: Not Us. Google: REDACTED. Apple: We’re “Studying” it, Not Rejecting it | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

Question 1. Why did Apple reject the Google Voice application for iPhone and remove related third-party applications from its App Store?

A: The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail. Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. These factors present several new issues and questions to us that we are still pondering at this time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

FCC Seeks to Define Broadband | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

Before the Federal Communications Commission begins doling out the $7.4 billion in federal grants up for grabs through national broadband stimulus programs, the agency must answer an important question: What is broadband? And so, in a public notice issued today, the Commission is requesting “tailored” public comment on what the definition of broadband should be.

Includes this excellent link about what happened last time tax payers funded improved infrastructure:

Internet Your Way Out of Depression - the way we live now - Gawker

In Britain, the death panel NHS commonly makes you wait a year to see a shrink, so some people just chat with therapists over instant messenger. Go figure: It actually works. So what about Tumblr, and so forth?

I linked this for the opening sentence alone.

Some other suggestions:

I was talking the other day with my death panel dentist...

Thank goodness we have the Department of Death Panel Health and Human Services to look after us.

I've been somewhat satisfied with my current death panel auto insurance carrier.

Kars4Kids Examines Clunkers Program Efficacy; Launches 'Cash For Clunkers Watch'

Kars4kids launches Cash for Clunkers Watch feature at its website to help consumers measure relative value of program versus charity auto donations. Website will monitor issues associated with the cash for clunkers program and offer analysis of program's impact and effectiveness. Kars4kids business analysts are available to the press as expert resources on the Cash for Clunkers program.

Lakewood, NJ (PRWEB) August 20, 2009 -- Kars4Kids, the leading national car donation program, has begun releasing the findings of its analysts in "Cash for Clunkers Watch," a regular feature at its website that examines the effectiveness of the Cash for Clunkers program.

While Kars4kids put more than 500 children through summer camp this year, there were concerns about Cash for Clunkers' impact on its on-going charity programs. "Since its inception, our organization has carefully monitored the effectiveness of Cash for Clunkers and we've been shocked by its inefficiencies," said Clifford Meth, VP of Communications. "We discovered that the federal government has only reimbursed auto dealers for 2% of the claims they've submitted through the program. Moreover, nearly 80% of the applications have been rejected for a minor oversight."

Read rest of Press Release at link (click title above).

Here is a link to the Cash for Clunkers Watch.

Groups Rally to Oppose Google Book Search Settlement | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

“Out of print” is an anachronism, and needs to be made more so.

Like the rotting celluloid tapes in Hollywood vaults we are at a critical crossover point where this stuff either gets scanned, or becomes unavailable to anyone.

At this point anyone who doesn’t like Google’s approach should be challenged to provide a viable alternative.

Microsoft already dipped their toe in the water and then ran home to mommy, Yahoo has done nothing that I recall, and the Internet Archive, Project Gutenberg, etc. are all well meaning projects, but moving at a glacial pace.

Surely no one thinks that Amazon’s motives are pure. So far all they have done was purchase Mobipocket in order to put their efforts to a halt.

I read the linked articles and found mentions of objections, but no details on what the actual objections were. Isn’t the worst that can happen that someone who’s work still has commercial value but it out of print might be made aware of the fact? They are getting nothing now, but could be getting something in the future. Sounds like a win-win to me!

Meanwhile a few people with interests in philanthropy (and the ego boost that goes along with it) are being surpassed by a (gasp) organization with commercial interests.

Sounds like sour grapes to me.

Ian Birrell: Why I don't believe that the NHS is sacrosanct - Commentators, Opinion - The Independent

Of course, everyone loves the NHS now. It is officially sacrosanct. Our doctors are deities, our health care the envy of the world. And anyone who says anything different is an unpatriotic schmuck who should go and join those losers in the United States. (Although American doctors terrified of litigation would have done all the tests possible on my daughter if I'd sufficient insurance, and would think twice about lying to patients.)

So forgive a harsh dose of reality. I used to share these delusional views, wrapped in a comforting blanket of national pride over Bevan's legacy. But that was before the birth of our daughter sent us hurtling into the hell of our health service. Since then, hours and days and months and years have been spent battling bureaucracy, fighting lethargy and observing inefficiency while all the time guarding against the latest outbreak of incompetence.

The Regulation Trap

In answer to a question about why we didn't avoid the recession by regulating sooner (or more, or better)...

I don't think it is as simple as adding more regulation. Both the left and the right claim (with videos to prove it) that at some point in time they asked for more regulation (of Fannie May, Freddie Mac, the banks, insurance companies , Federal Reserve, and so on) but were rebuffed by the evil people on the other side.

We had a well known bubble that ended around 2000 and was largely pinned on the “irrational exuberance” (Alan Greenspan's term) around the growth of the Internet. There was a slowdown, a lot of people got laid off (like me) and the Internet survived and eventually took on a more suitable growth rate (with far fewer IPOs ever since).

But there was another bubble that was just getting started that didn't get so much attention at first. I clock it back to when the Justice Department decided to “make and example of” Chevy Chase Bank in the Washington DC area. They got them for “red lining” which meant engaging in racial discrimination by disqualifying loans for people who currently lived in certain neighborhoods.

Ironically, Chevy Chase was a true community bank and if you went into a branch in a black neighborhood you were probably going to see almost exclusively black employees. The apocryphal cases of fine upstanding black families being denied loans were in many cases later proved false. But not before Chevy Chase settled out of court to avoid further bad publicity and adopted a new policy of granting loans to almost everyone. Other institutions followed suit and all with a nod and a wink from a government who needed to start a new bubble to replace the one that was about to burst.

A few years later... I had no idea what my townhouse was worth at the time because I had no plans to sell it. I do know that I started getting all sorts of offers to either refinance my house, or buy it outright, no fees, no inspection, quick and easy money. I later found out that the average time between a house being put on the market and sold in my area was 2-days, and the sky was the limit on price.

I was “fortunate” to be making TWO mortgage payments with the Internet bubble burst. I was also fortunate that the housing bubble still had quite a ways to go.

A friend here at the condo put his unit up for sale. I was puzzled as to why, since he seemed to be fairly well off (retired Sears exec of 35 years etc.) I asked him why not hang onto it since the prices were still going up seemingly without end. He said nope, that we were at an all-time high that would certainly not be matched in his remaining lifetime and he'd rather have the cash to leave his children rather than something they'd have to fight over and would be of (in his opinion) declining value.

He was wrong though, he sold his unit (within a few weeks, for top-dollar) about a year sooner than he needed to. In fact prices here went up a bit more during that next year. But his analysis was mostly right. I decided, partially based on his hunch (and my lack of income), to sell my first house instead of my second, and use the proceeds to pay off the other one. The two-day turnaround for sales back in Virginia had turned into a nail-biting two months for me.

I'm quite sure that my condo, and the townhouse I sold are now worth half of what they were then, if that. I'm sure you have read about all the Credit Default Swaps and other derivative mechanisms that held this house of cards up for so long. This all happened quite visibly under the regulators nose and under the nose of congress and there are ample hours of C-Span video showing all the right questions being asked, but still nothing being done about it.

I think the best reason for them not addressing the problem (and in fact they still have not addressed the problem really) is that it was not in the interest of any of the entrenched politicians to have the bubble burst , particularly without a fallback bubble (as this one was to the Internet bubble) to rely on. Both Clinton and Bush and many congress critters bragged about the availability of housing opportunities for all in America. And who wanted to be impolite and asked how someone with no job, no assets and no money down could buy a new home and then fail to make payments without SOMEBODY getting the shaft? It's all magic right? Much better than watching all those thousand unit tenements be blown up right? (Rich people made back-room tax-payer money on those deals too).

Finally, regarding regulation... and not just of the banking industry. Mega businesses LOVE regulation and they even love taxation, although they, like everyone I know, do as much as possible to avoid paying more than they have to. The doctors, the lawyers, the dentist and many other of “the rich” will do just fine under an oppressive government because they are already an integral part of the system and nothing is likely to change that.

Regulation and taxes and fines and fees for service and inspection fees and filing fees and ... they keep the riff raff like us in place while our betters in congress, and the state legislatures, and the town councils work the back-room deals that make them ever better off than they were when they were trying to run a business on the up and up.

Rather than more regulation, I'd like to see a scaling back of institutions (both private and public) that are “too big to fail”. Let the ones that do dumb things fail and be bought up by the ones who don't do dumb things. GM should have gone through a normal bankruptcy proceeding (which I suspect will be their eventual fate anyway). Most real government services happen at the local and state level, and some states and localities are setting good examples of how it should be done, while others continue living like a kid in their parents basement, never growing up, and counting on their own eventual bail-out from a Federal Government growing less able to bail anything out with each passing election.

Carley Fiorina got this right back when the “recession” was first admitted to. On a panel show while representatives from big states, and Google and congressmen were all spouting off “bail-outs” that would further line their own pockets, Carley said we need to revitalize small business which employs (something like) 95% of Americans. We need to take the ever increasing burden of regulation off their backs so they can start hiring people (other than accountants) again. I know small business people who are in this predicament, spending most of their time chasing their own tails and filling out forms instead of building new opportunities for themselves. Meanwhile the bureaucrats don't have to worry about actually DOING anything.... that's someone else's problem. The Microsofts, the GEs and many others have whole departments to take care of the minutia that drag small companies to their graves.

The problem with regulation is this: in the end, who is going to regulate the regulators?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

CBS Ad Puts Video Inside a Magazine -

In a marketing stunt to promote its fall TV series, CBS Corp. is inserting thousands of tiny screens in copies of the Time Warner Inc. publication Entertainment Weekly.

The screens measure two and a quarter inches diagonally and play about 40 minutes of clips from new and old CBS shows.

George F. Will - Bulldozing the First Amendment -

The Institute for Justice -- an Arlington-based public-interest group that represented the victims of eminent domain in New London; it also is assisting the Gores -- identifies a national trend of attempted intimidation by litigation. For example, in Clarksville, Tenn., the institute successfully defended a group of property owners sued for $500,000 by a city councilman and a business interest claiming injury by a newspaper advertisement objecting to their eminent domain plans. In Renton, Wash., two developers sued a woman for statements she made while resisting a blight designation of her property, including, for example, that one of the developers is "a haughty and proud Pharisee." The Supreme Court is blameworthy for two entangled abuses. It diluted property rights in the Kelo case and it weakened freedom of speech by not overturning McCain-Feingold. Fortunately, in an unusual Sept. 9 session, the court will hear, for a second time, oral arguments in a case arising from that law's speech restrictions.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Flickr Deletes Obama Caricature - Flickr - Gawker

As the Slashdot crowd has been quick to point out, there are all sorts of copyrighted and often doctored images involving George W. Bush (and others - NSFW) on Flickr. Meanwhile, Obama has opened the door to lucrative government contracts for the Yahoo-owned photo-sharing site.

Liberal Lies About National Health Care: First In a Series - HUMAN EVENTS

U.S. health insurance companies are often imperious, unresponsive consumer hellholes because they're a partial monopoly, protected from competition by government regulation. In some states, one big insurer will control 80 percent of the market. (Guess which party these big insurance companies favor? Big companies love big government.)

Liberals think they can improve the problem of a partial monopoly by turning it into a total monopoly. That's what single-payer health care is: "Single payer" means "single provider."

It's the famous liberal two-step: First screw something up, then claim that it's screwed up because there's not enough government oversight (it's the free market run wild!), and then step in and really screw it up in the name of "reform."

Tight budget quashes US space ambitions: panel

"Really, we've given the White House a dilemma. The space program we have today, the human space flight program, really isn't executable with the money we have," Augustine told PBS public television last week.

"So either we have to do something with the current program that's not going to be very successful, I'm afraid, or spend a nontrivial sum more than that to have something that's really exciting and workable, and that's the challenge the White House is going to have, is to sort that out."

Don't hold your breath.

Obama Goes Postal, Lands in Dead-Letter Office: Caroline Baum -

The proliferation of Obama’s gaffes and non sequiturs on health care has exceeded the allowable limit. He has failed repeatedly to explain how the government will provide more (health care) for less (money). He has failed to explain why increased demand for medical services without a concomitant increase in supply won’t lead to rationing by government bureaucrats as opposed to the market. And he has failed to explain why a Medicare-like model is desirable when Medicare itself is going broke.

The public is left with one of two unsettling conclusions: Either the president doesn’t understand the health-insurance reform plans working their way through Congress, or he understands both the plans and the implications and is being untruthful about the impact.

Neither option is good; ignorance is clearly preferable to the alternative.

After Taking In the Clunkers, Car Dealers Report an Extended Wait for the Cash -

In Maryland alone, dealers have put in $36 million in claims under the clunkers program but have been reimbursed for only about 2 percent of the total, said Peter Kitzmiller, president of the 325-member Maryland Automobile Dealers Association.

"It is ludicrous at this point," Kitzmiller said. "We've got deals that are just sitting there waiting to be reviewed. The customer is gone, the car is gone, and you don't have your money."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Salisbury News: Cash For Clunkers: The US Government's Biggest Cluster Flock

In July one Dealer I spoke with sold 178 new cars. Since that time they have 3 deals that were approved/accepted but only ONE paid for. They have another 80 deals being submitted, so they have a total of 258 vehicle sold but only ONE has received the $4,500.00 payoff by the government.

When the government started this program they had absolutely no clue what they got into because the computer system they set up completely failed and they had to outsource the entire project. This is one of the reasons why many Dealers have not been paid back. However, the excuses are unreal.

I witnessed documents very carefully processed and one out of three was rejected because they government claims they didn't provide enough information. What's interesting about that is, out of the three deals identical to the other, two were accepted and one was rejected, all exactly the same. It now goes to the bottom of the pile and they start all over again.

One deal was rejected stating they couldn't open the JPEG File, yet the Dealer brought the same disk to three different computers and the files opened perfectly. Looks like that individual working with the government needs to reboot their computer! - Lawmaker Accused of Fannie Mae Conflict of Interest - Politics | Republican Party | Democratic Party | Political Spectrum

Although Frank now blames Republicans for the failure of Fannie and Freddie, he spent years blocking GOP lawmakers from imposing tougher regulations on the mortgage giants. In 1991, the year Moses was hired by Fannie, the Boston Globe reported that Frank pushed the agency to loosen regulations on mortgages for two- and three-family homes, even though they were defaulting at twice and five times the rate of single homes, respectively.

Three years later, President Clinton’s Department of Housing and Urban Development tried to impose a new regulation on Fannie, but was thwarted by Frank. Clinton now blames such Democrats for planting the seeds of today’s economic crisis.

"I think the responsibility that the Democrats have may rest more in resisting any efforts by Republicans in the Congress or by me when I was president, to put some standards and tighten up a little on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," Clinton said recently.

Sony Drops PlayStation 3 Price by $100 -

Sony Corp. effectively cut the price of its PlayStation 3 by $100 on Tuesday, in a move the consumer electronics giant hopes will juice demand for its next-generation gaming console -- which has undersold its rivals since its launch nearly two years ago.

Sony announced Tuesday that its PlayStation 3 will come in a new slim form factor and cost $299. That's down from $399 from the current model. The company laid out the details of the new console at a press conference in Germany, leading up to the Gamescom industry conference.

Epic Fail: Xbox 360 Failure Rate is 54.2 Percent, Game Informer Finds

The Xbox 360 breaks five times as often as its closest failure-prone competitor, the PlayStation 3, a print edition-only Game Informer survey found.

The poorly manufactured, red ring of death-prone console has a 54.2 percent failure rate, compared to 10.6 percent for the PS3 and the Wii's 6.8 percent.

Obama's Post Office Mistake - John Stossel's Take

Obama brought up the post office last week, in attempt to show how a public health plan would not eliminate private ones.

"If you think about it, UPS and FedEX are doing just fine... it's the post office that's always having problems. There's nothing inevitable about this somehow destroying the private market place as long as... it's not set up where the government is basically being subsidized by the taxpayers."

Fiji Water: Spin the Bottle | Mother Jones

While Lynda Resnick has called for "very public conduct" by private companies, she seems to appreciate that, as she wrote in her book, "transparency is a lot easier to talk about than it is to realize." The closely held company won't disclose basic data about its business (such as total charity expenditures), and it's gone to some length to shelter assets in secretive tax havens: The Fijian operation, according to court documents filed last year, is owned by an entity in Luxembourg, while its American trademarks are registered to an address in the Cayman Islands.

No "Scare Stories" from Britain? - John Stossel's Take

I’ve reported on the long waits for care, on the people who pull their own teeth with pliers, and on the treatments and drugs the British health service won’t cover. These "scare stories" are very real. And British health care would be even worse if they weren’t able to freeload off the drugs and technology produced by our (somewhat) free-market system.

Town hall protests not just about health care

Our point is that the mainstream media began missing the story long ago. It missed the import of the Internet - decrying the pornography and supposed government radicalism that could be found within its electronic pages. The media then missed the libertarian evolution of presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-Tex), the astounding amount of money he raised and now it is missing the point of these town hall protests.

They are part and parcel of the same movement, the growing enlightenment of the American electorate as to what really caused the entrepreneurial greatness of the American culture (hint: it wasn't federalism). The monetary elite that has tended to dominate the Western conversation in the past century has done all it could do to inculcate the masses with the idea that a strong and forceful democratic government is necessary for prosperity. In fact, this gets it backwards. Prosperity begins at home, with individual human action, with an entrepreneur filling a local need, often borrowing from friends and family to get a business started.

Dirty Secret No. 2 in Obamacare - HUMAN EVENTS

If you want to know the future of America's universal health care, then you must understand the health care principles and plans of Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. I find it far more than a coincidence how much Emanuel's book parallels Obamacare's philosophy, strategy and proposed legislation.

IBM sees future of microchips in DNA

The US computer giant collaborated with California Institute of Technology researchers to develop a way to design microchips that mimic how chains of DNA molecules fold, allowing for processors far smaller and denser than any seen today.

"This is a way to assemble an electronics device of the future," said Bill Hinsberg, manager of the lithography group at IBM's Almaden Research Center in California, on Monday.

White House says it did send unwanted e-mails

"The fear has been expressed that the White House was asking neighbors to inform on neighbors in a government-led data collection effort," said Issa, the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Weeks ago, White House officials asked the public to share critics' e-mails so they could fight back and correct the misconceptions. Because those e-mails are official correspondence with the White House, they must be preserved—unaltered—for decades and eventually released to the public through the National Archives.

Building block of life found on comet | Science | Reuters

"The discovery of glycine in a comet supports the idea that the fundamental building blocks of life are prevalent in space, and strengthens the argument that life in the universe may be common rather than rare," said Carl Pilcher, the director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute in California, which co-funded the research.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ice cream - Variations on a Meme

Who worries about "the cow" when it is all about the "Ice Cream?

The most eye-opening civics lesson I ever had was while teaching third grade this year. The presidential election was heating up and some of the children showed an interest. I decided we would have an election for a class president.

We would choose our nominees. They would make a campaign speech and the class would vote. To simplify the process, candidates were nominated by other class members. We discussed what kinds of characteristics these students should have. We got many nominations and from those, Jamie and Olivia were picked to run for the top spot. The class had done a great job in their selections.

Both candidates were good kids. I thought Jamie might have an advantage because he got lots of parental support. I had never seen Olivia's mother.

The day arrived when they were to make their speeches Jamie went first. He had specific ideas about how to make our class a better place. He ended by promising to do his very best.

Everyone applauded. He sat down and Olivia came to the podium. Her speech was concise. She said, "If you will vote for me, I will give you ice cream." She sat down.

The class went wild. "Yes! Yes! We want ice cream." She surely could say more. She did not have to.

A discussion followed. How did she plan to pay for the ice cream? She wasn't sure. Would her parents buy it or would the class pay for it? She didn't know. The class really didn't care. All they were thinking about was ice cream.

Jamie was forgotten.

Olivia won by a landslide.

Every time Barack Obama opened his mouth he offered ice cream and fifty-two percent of the people reacted like nine year olds. They want ice cream.

The other forty-eight percent of us know we're going to have to feed the cow and clean up the mess.

Close to a Third of Dell Netbooks Ship with Linux

Even though Dell is only the fifth-largest manufacturer of netbooks in the world, it is widely praised by the Linux community as one of the few vendors who does this whole Linux OEM thing right: a well-supported, default Ubuntu installation, without toy user interfaces or software releases that are two years old. Finch told PCWorld that Dell is about to update their Linux offering to the latest version of Ubuntu somewhere in the coming weeks.

The Canadian Press: Overhauling health-care system tops agenda at annual meeting of Canada's doctors

The pitch for change at the conference is to start with a presentation from Dr. Robert Ouellet, the current president of the CMA, who has said there's a critical need to make Canada's health-care system patient-centred. He will present details from his fact-finding trip to Europe in January, where he met with health groups in England, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands and France.

His thoughts on the issue are already clear. Ouellet has been saying since his return that "a health-care revolution has passed us by," that it's possible to make wait lists disappear while maintaining universal coverage and "that competition should be welcomed, not feared."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Legal Services' decorative costs 'excessive' - Washington Times

An audit of the government's legal aid program for the poor concluded Monday that the purchase of more than $188,000 worth of imported Italian stone to decorate one of the program's office buildings in Texas was unnecessary and excessive, and recommended that taxpayers not bear the costs.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dell: Linux v Windows netbook returns a 'non-issue' • The Register

OpenSource World Dell has delivered a dose of reality for both Microsoft and the Linux community on the subject of netbooks.

Speaking at OpenSource World, a Dell executive deflated Microsoft's enthusiasm for making a case out of the number of Linux netbooks returned by unhappy customers.

Todd Finch, Dell senior product marketing manager, said the number of Linux returns are approximately the same as those for Windows netbooks. He categorized the matter of returns as a "non-issue".

Charles Krauthammer - Preventive Care Isn't the Magic Bullet for Health Care Costs -

Think of it this way. Assume that a screening test for disease X costs $500 and finding it early averts $10,000 of costly treatment at a later stage. Are you saving money? Well, if one in 10 of those who are screened tests positive, society is saving $5,000. But if only one in 100 would get that disease, society is shelling out $40,000 more than it would without the preventive care.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Obamacare's Tax Hikes - Orwellian Doublespeak Hides Nature of Health Care Bill - Will you support it? - Yahoo! Answers

Definition of Crap Sandwich:

Please check out page 203 of the main House version of health care reform. It contains all the evidence you need that the entire bill is a nasty bait-and-switch.

"The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax imposed by this chapter. ..."

Yes, it really says that. The tax shall not be considered a tax. Or at least not "... for purposes of determining the amount of any credit under this chapter or for purposes of Section 55."

Gee, that really clears things up. It is especially helpful to know that the bill itself does not even contain a Section 55; the bill begins with a section numbered 101. (Section 55 apparently refers to the Internal Revenue Code, which it wouldn't do if the health care bill were not a tax bill, too.)

Summer of fail: Why are new shows bombing?--The Live Feed

This summer is one for the record books: more than a dozen new programs launched on broadcast television and not one breakout hit, with returning shows down and ratings at an all-time low.

After a tough season for broadcasters, summer has been a huge disappointment.

"The sheer amount of waste is staggering," one broadcast executive said. "They say reality is low cost, but there are still costs."

Garbage in, garbage out.

Dirty Secret No. 1 in Obamacare - HUMAN EVENTS

It's outlined in sections 440 and 1904 of the House bill (Page 838), under the heading "home visitation programs for families with young children and families expecting children." The programs (provided via grants to states) would educate parents on child behavior and parenting skills.

The bill says that the government agents, "well-trained and competent staff," would "provide parents with knowledge of age-appropriate child development in cognitive, language, social, emotional, and motor domains ... modeling, consulting, and coaching on parenting practices," and "skills to interact with their child to enhance age-appropriate development."

Are you kidding me?! With whose parental principles and values? Their own? Certain experts'? From what field and theory of childhood development? As if there are one-size-fits-all parenting techniques! Do we really believe they would contextualize and personalize every form of parenting in their education, or would they merely universally indoctrinate with their own?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Obama's healthcare horror | Salon

But somehow liberals have drifted into a strange servility toward big government, which they revere as a godlike foster father-mother who can dispense all bounty and magically heal all ills. The ethical collapse of the left was nowhere more evident than in the near total silence of liberal media and Web sites at the Obama administration's outrageous solicitation to private citizens to report unacceptable "casual conversations" to the White House. If Republicans had done this, there would have been an angry explosion by Democrats from coast to coast. I was stunned at the failure of liberals to see the blatant totalitarianism in this incident, which the president should have immediately denounced. His failure to do so implicates him in it.


No, you are just waking up.

Wake up also to the fact that we are so far down the path with so many voters beholden to the Robin Hood government that there is little chance of turning back before the system collapses.

August 12, 2009 - Cost of Government Day Has Arrived!

Every year, the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation and the Center for Fiscal Accountability calculate Cost of Government Day. This is the day on which the average American has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of the spending and regulatory burdens imposed by government at the federal, state, and local levels.

In 2009, Cost of Government Day falls on August 12. Working people must toil 224 days out of the year just to meet all costs imposed by government - a full 26 days longer than last year.

In other words, in 2009 the cost of government consumes 61.34 percent of national income.

Home Price Declines Accelerate in Second Quarter (Update3) -

“I don’t think we’re at a bottom yet in home prices,” said Scott Anderson, a senior economist at Wells Fargo & Co. in Minneapolis. “There’s also a pretty big shadow supply of houses. People are kind of waiting for the bottom but there’s a pent-up supply out there.”

Home prices are falling even as a survey of economists indicates that the U.S. economy is recovering from the worst recession since the 1930s. The economy will expand 2 percent or more in four straight quarters through June, the first such streak in more than four years, according to the median of 53 forecasts in the monthly Bloomberg News survey.

The Wholesale Inventory Report Bedtime Story

Once upon a time, Vice-President Joseph Biden said that a nice clean black man was fully capable of becoming our President. And so in the land of the sheeple, the nice clean black man became President and all was well after he sprinkled his magic commie fairy dust on the people and the economy began a massive surge, er bounce, where the GDP was a negative 6% but suddenly thanks to the commie fairy dust the bureaucrats learned how to manipulate the data rather than visit the gulags created in the depths of downtown Detroit, MI, where people and real estate are sent to hell.

US official gropes to explain Clinton's outburst - Yahoo! News

Clinton snapped at the university student in Kinshasa on Monday when he asked what her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and Congo native and former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo thought about an international financial matter. Mutombo was appearing with her at the university.

Grope... Clinton....

What a disturbing thought.

theblogprof BUSTED : "Obama As Hitler" Poster Was A Democrat Union Plant At John Dingell Townhall UPDATED with video interview

The bloggers do it again. Research that the MSM should be doing that is...
Note the black man holding up the poster. This screenshot was used in reports by the MSM who painted the protesters as Nazis. Here's the thing, though - that black man is a Dingell supporter! Last Friday, Frank Beckmann on his show broadcast on WJR 760 AM interviewed an eyewitness that said not only were union thugs let in through a side door before anyone else was let into the venue, but that he clearly saw from his vantage point that very Obama as Hitler poster in that back hallway after the union thugs took their seats.

Maybe the MSM people are spending a little too much time putting on their makeup do do actual reporting.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009


Was it only a week ago this past Sunday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the North Koreans “unruly children” on Meet the Press and said all they wanted was attention and that “we shouldn’t give it to them?”

Yes, that was her, the wife of the very same Bill Clinton who gave Kim Jung Il ten years’ worth of free good publicity by traveling to North Korea and shining the global spotlight on the “Dear Leader’s” generosity in releasing two journalists he had illegally seized in the first place. North Korea’s last good press was before 1949, but now they shine in the glow of worldwide approval thanks to Bill (and Hillary) Clinton.

How I Learned To Quit The iPhone And Love Google Voice

At the end of July I declared my intention to quit the iPhone and AT&T, port my mobile phone number to Google Voice and use any mobile device that I pleased (or lots of them at once) in the future. Like others, I will no longer blindly follow all things Apple. Today I’m pleased to report a status update on those efforts: complete. I am no longer a member of the Cult of iPhone.

YouTube - The Public Plan Deception - It's Not About Choice

Some people don't mind being lied to.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

In peril in Pyongyang? Those girls were in greater danger sharing a plane with Bill Clinton | Mail Online

But who are these two fresh-faced women? What were they doing in North Korea, undoubtedly one of the most dangerous and repressed places in the world, and how on earth did they get themselves into what a friend jauntily described on one website as ‘a bit of a disastrous pickle’?

A Mail on Sunday investigation has unearthed some rather surprising facts about the pair – facts that show they were hopelessly ill-prepared for their ‘mission’ to the Chinese-Korean border, that they were working for a minor television organisation run by a former ambulance-chasing lawyer and, while they no doubt did not intend to be captured, the hapless twosome ended up as valuable pawns in an international game of bluff and double bluff.

Inside Iran’s Remarkable Show Trials | The New Ledger

Despite all of this, despite the many obstacles in their path, the Iranian people seek to endure, seek to overcome the governmental impediments to their own collective pursuit of political and individual liberty. The story of Iran appears to have faded somewhat into the background; we know that the protests are continuing, but we are distracted by stories concerning Michael Jackson, or Sarah Palin, or beer summits at the White House. It remains a surpassing pity that so little attention is being paid to so momentous an event in Iran. Perhaps if more attention were paid, the reformists would find it somewhat easier to carry out their efforts to liberalize their country. Iran’s democrats could use a little of the world’s help. And the world has an interest in seeing Iran’s democrats succeed.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Lawmakers' Global-Warming Trip Hit Tourist Hot Spots -

On the last night of their 11-day trip, the lawmakers stayed at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki. The spokesman for Mr. Baird said he would have been "every bit as happy camping as staying in a hotel."

Rubbing salt in taxpayers wounds.

Top Cybersecurity Official Resigns -

Kwon, who is the fourth US-CERT director in five years, was frustrated by bureaucratic obstacles and a lack of authority to fulfill her mission, according to colleagues who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Her departure follows the resignation of the lead White House cybersecurity official, Melissa E. Hathaway, who said last week that she would step down.

Friday, August 07, 2009

AARP Organizers Cancel ‘Listening Session’ After Participants Refuse to ‘Keep Their Comments Quiet’

I wish I hadn't already let my membership expire... so I could cancel it.

John W. Whitehead: A Little Rebellion Now and Then Is a Good Thing

No matter what your political persuasion may be, every American has a First Amendment right to speak their mind, gather together and protest against government programs with which they disagree. And there's a lot to be concerned about. For example, the secretive nature of Obama's administration and his seeming disregard for civil liberties has some on both sides of the aisle asking what happened to the change they were promised. Congressional corruption is rampant: 17 lawmakers are currently under investigation for allegedly breaking ethical standards. Government spending is out of control: the House of Representatives actually approved nearly $200 million to buy themselves three deluxe jets. This list goes on and on.

Funny, I don't remember any promises that the "change" would be for the good, for the better. Next time, the left better get some of the details nailed down.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Is Google Voice a Threat to AT&T? -

AT&T/Apple's logic doesn't even make sense. If the object is to prevent you from making cheap international calls, then they would also have to block Skype and all the other apps (already available) that let you do so. If it's to prevent you from sending free text messages, then they should also block FreeMMS and other apps that already do that.

It's almost as though AT&T/Apple never really cared while the apps in question stayed where they belonged—under the radar. But once big-shot Google got involved… well, we can't have that, can we?

Why I believe in the link economy

Blaming the new leaders or aggregators for disrupting the business of the old leaders, or saber-rattling and threatening to sue are not business strategies – they are personal therapy sessions. Go ask a music executive how well it works.

A better approach is to have a general agreement among community members to treat others’ content, business and ideas with the same respect you would want them to treat yours.

If you are doing something that you would object to if others did it to you – stop. If you don’t want search engines linking to you, insert code to ban them.


Wait, Where's Our Stimulus?

Yesterday, we were reminded that the government is writing a check to General Motors for $400 million so GM can develop better car batteries.

This check wasn't a loan. It was a "grant." Another word for "grant," of course, is "gift."

The GM news came a few hours before the Senate finally agreed on how best to give car-buyers and car companies $4,500 per new car. These payments aren't loans, either. They're gifts.

Notice that all the helping hands that have gone out are aimed at either those that are "too big to fail" or to those who "can't help themselves".

The formula for destroying a civilization by destroying the middle class is so well known and understood that I can only wonder at what point our President and Congress are accused not just of being wrong about these policies, but in fact of intentionally trying to make matters worse.

While companies like GM (and the banks) may be "hurting" there are many small and medium sized businesses that have already bled to death but aren't big enough to make headlines.

Yes, Microsoft and Google will pay more taxes and deal with more regulators than your average electrician or plumber, but those regulations, taxes and fees will represent the difference between survival or failure for these small companies, while to the big guys (even those not being bailed out) they are simply an inconvenience.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

(Mal)practice Makes Perfect - Cringely on technology

One of my doctor neighbors who does a lot of surgery spends $70,000 per year on medical malpractice insurance premiums. I asked him if an extra $70,000 per year in income would stop his complaining. He said it would.

So let’s save him the money. The legal and financial costs of medical malpractice in the U.S. amounted to about $17 billion in 2005. That isn’t much compared to the almost $2 trillion total cost of healthcare, but divided among the nation’s 700,000 physicians it’s over $20,000 per head.

More Cash for Clunkers III - John Stossel's Take

Another unintended consequence of the Cash for Clunkers program is that poor people who can’t afford new cars – or expensive used cars -- will be crushed along with all those clunkers. If you can only afford $500 - $1,000 for a car, you’ll find many of these vehicles are now unavailable. They have been sent to the junk yard thanks to this program.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Flickr Loses a Few Thousand More Pictures, with No Recourse - Flickr - Gawker

A Flickr user is complaining loudly that the photo service allowed 3,000+ of his photos to be deleted by a hacker with no warning. Now they're supposedly gone, forever. When will Flickr start making backups?


The Killer App for Clunkers Breathes Fresh Life Into 'Liquid Glass' -

Robert Mueller deals in chemicals for a living -- things that can unstick glue, thin paint, make plastic -- but he'd never seen an order like the one he got for sodium silicate.

The compound is typically used to repel bugs or seal concrete, but this buyer's online order form betrayed a whole different intent: "To Kill Car Engines."

Policy Peril Segment 4 - Sea Level Rise

Dr. Patrick Michaels: This even as there is a purported large melt of ice from Greenland. It turned around — the thermohaline circulation became stronger. [1]

Narrator: Hmm. These facts are inconvenient only for the makers of An Inconvenient Truth. But who can forget the scenes where a 20-foot wall of water rolls across the world’s coastal communities. In the book version [of AIT], Gore says, “If Greenland melted or broke up and slipped into the sea–or if half of Greenland and half of Antarctica melted or broke up and slipped into the sea–sea levels worldwide would increase by 18 to 20 feet.” Reality check! How much ice is Greenland shedding?

Dr. Michaels: The actual loss of ice from Greenland is about 25 cubic miles per year. [2] Now, if that seems like a lot, there are about 700,000 cubic miles of ice on Greenland. The loss rate is four-tenths of one percent of its ice mass, per century. I didn’t say per year. I didn’t say per decade. I said four-tenths of one percent per century. [3]

Narrator: That translates into how much sea-level rise?

Dr. Michaels: If you take a look at the IPCC’s latest volume, by the year 2100, they have two inches of sea-level rise resulting from the loss of Greenland ice. Not two feet. Not 20 feet. Two inches! [4] That’s the “consensus of scientists,” okay. Whether or not we believe in consensus science, that’s what they say.

Narrator: Gore says global warming could melt half of Greenland. Is that plausible?

Dr. Michaels: The United Nations [IPCC] projects that if we raise carbon dioxide to four times the background level–that would be about 1,100 parts per million, right now we’re at about 385 parts per million–and maintain that for 1,000 years, that Greenland would lose about half its ice in a millennium. [5] Now, we don’t have enough fossil fuel to maintain that concentration for 1,000 years.

Obama Joker Poster: Why So Serious? - Speakeasy - WSJ

“The welfare of the people has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience” Albert Camus

Monday, August 03, 2009

The prospects of Microsoft Word in the wiki-based world - Ars Technica

All in all, I've had a relationship with Microsoft Word for over two decades, with only a couple of brief dalliances with Ami Pro and DeScribe for OS/2 in between (they meant nothing to me—honest!) Thinking about how long I've used Word simply makes it all the more strange to realize that I don't need Word any more.

At all. Ever.

Turn out the lights, the party’s over… and tomorrow start the same old thing again.

Cuba has become more and more destitute since the revolution and has fallen on hard times since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a period also known as the “Special Period”. ( Efrén Córdova)

Fake Steve Jobs Fills Apple's Board (AAPL)

A summary of the funny posts at link. Click through to the original though. Well worth it. Sample:

He's like, I totally love my iPhone, and I'm a huge Mac enthusiast, plus I'm an entrepreneur, so I can give you loads of good advice about how to deal with small companies and also how to reach out to the apps developers and how to be more transparent and open and less secretive, except when you want to be secretive, which is also a good thing, in the right context. I mean seriously, Steve. I am just bursting with good ideas. What's that? No? Okay. That's okay too. Love you, man.

Angry rich liberals - Washington Times

Do the wealthy and the powerful lecture us about our wrongs because they know their own insider status ensures that they are exempt from the harsh medicine they advocate for others? Mr. Gore, a millionaire, is not much affected by higher taxes for his cap-and-trade crusade.

Or does the hypocrisy grow out of a sort of class snobbery? Do elites hector the crass middle class because its members lack their own taste, rare insight and privileged style? Judging from the police report, Mr. Gates seemed flabbergasted that the white Cambridge cop did not know who he was "messing" with.

Or is the new hypocrisy an eerie sort of psychological compensation at work? Perhaps the more Mr. Gore rails about carbon emissions, the more he can without guilt enjoy what emits them. The more Mr. Gates can cite racism, the more he himself is paid to spot it. And the more Tom Daschle wants to tax and spend for health care, the less bad he feels about his own chauffeur and tax avoidance.

Here's a little advice for all of America's wealthy critics: a little less hypocrisy, a little more appreciation of your good lives -- and then maybe the rest of us will listen to you a little more.

Howard Kurtz - Howard Kurtz Media Notes: Networks Grouse About Coverage of Obama's Conference

In the days before President Obama's last news conference, as the networks weighed whether to give up a chunk of their precious prime time, Rahm Emanuel went straight to the top.

Rather than calling ABC, the White House chief of staff phoned Bob Iger, chief executive of parent company Disney. Instead of contacting NBC, Emanuel went to Jeffrey Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric. He also spoke with Les Moonves, the chief executive of CBS, the company spun off from Viacom.

Whether this amounted to undue pressure or plain old Chicago arm-twisting, Emanuel got results: the fourth hour of lucrative network time for his boss in six months. But network executives have been privately complaining to White House officials that they cannot afford to keep airing these sessions in the current economic downturn.

Obviously in wanting to put food on the table these people have lost track of the proper attitude.

UPDATE 2-Venezuela begins shutdown of 34 radio stations | Markets | Bonds News | Reuters

CARACAS, Aug 1 (Reuters) - More than a dozen of 34 radio stations ordered shut by the Venezuelan government went off the air on Saturday, part of President Hugo Chavez's drive to extend his socialist revolution to the media.

The association of radio broadcasters said 13 stations had stopped transmitting, following an announcement Friday night by government broadcasting watchdog Conatel that 34 radio outlets would be closed because they failed to comply with regulations.

They are ahead of us in that we are still working on the "regulations" that will selectively silence Fox, and those radio stations that carry Limbaugh and others. On the other hand our revolutionaries are easier to enumerate.

The Anatomy Of The Twitter Attack

At Hotmail, Hacker Croll again attempted the password recovery procedure - making an educated guess of what the username would be based on what he already knew. This is the point where the chain of trust broke down, as the attacker discovered that the account specified as a secondary for Gmail, and hosted at Hotmail was no longer active. This is due to a policy at Hotmail where old and dormant accounts are removed and recycled. He registered the account, re-requested the password recovery feature at Gmail and within a few moments had access to the personal Gmail account of a Twitter employee. The first domino had fallen.

AP ENTERPRISE: Biggest revenue drop since 1932 - Yahoo! News

The recession is starving the government of tax revenue, just as the president and Congress are piling a major expansion of health care and other programs on the nation's plate and struggling to find money to pay the tab.

The numbers could hardly be more stark: Tax receipts are on pace to drop 18 percent this year, the biggest single-year decline since the Great Depression, while the federal deficit balloons to a record $1.8 trillion.

Other figures in an Associated Press analysis underscore the recession's impact: Individual income tax receipts are down 22 percent from a year ago. Corporate income taxes are down 57 percent. Social Security tax receipts could drop for only the second time since 1940, and Medicare taxes are on pace to drop for only the third time ever.

The last time the government's revenues were this bleak, the year was 1932 in the midst of the Depression.

"Our tax system is already inadequate to support the promises our government has made," said Eugene Steuerle, a former Treasury Department official in the Reagan administration who is now vice president of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

"This just adds to the problem."

G Edward Griffin - Creature From Jekyll Island A Second Look at the Federal Reserve

Interesting (long) video related to previous post.

YouTube - Bernanke: Why are we still listening to this guy?

Microsoft and Yahoo Together Claim 20 Percent of Search Market | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

Microsoft’s Bing search service continues to gather momentum, albeit slowly. Bing’s share of the U.S. Internet search market grew one percent in July, rising to 9.41 percent from 8.23 percent in June, according to metrics outfit StatCounter.

I think it’s a safe bet that Microsoft will put a dent in Google’s search business, if not actually surpassing it at some point.

I’ve always said that “search” doesn’t lend itself to tightly controlled monopoly in the same way that a painful to install or replace operating system does. Maybe at some point the Justice Department, currently snoozing with its head comfortably ensconced in Microsoft’s posterior will wake up to this.

On the other hand, it may simply be another activity on which Microsoft willingly loses money quarter after quarter while other, smaller Internet entities eek out a living under the Microsoft radar. Microsoft’s action often go not so much to making money directly, but to ensuring that those who do make money, on software and hardware, are forced to go through the MS toll booth. I see no change here.

When I was doing research for a living one of my favorite tools (who’s name I’ve forgotten) was a Windows application that submitted search strings to a dozen or so search engines, extracted the results “screen scraper” style without the help of APIs and eliminated the need for the user to see ads, or tortured fancy formatting. Just the results ma’am.

Google with its clean interface (and API) made such tools (and Windows) mostly unnecessary, but they could always return, and the burden of housing hundreds of thousands of servers to perform a profitless “public service” of search could return. Hey, maybe we could even have the government take over search. Rather than label Microsoft’s predatory behavior for what it is, simply label Google “too big to fail” and take it over. There seems to be a trend in that direction.

10 Great Google Gadgets For Your Gmail Sidebar

Gmail offers more than just email – you can add gadgets to your Gmail screen to add more functionality or just for plain fun.

Before we get started, you must activate Gmail Gadgets by navigating to Settings then Labs and enabling “Add any gadget by URL.”

GE's silencing of Olbermann and MSNBC's sleazy use of Richard Wolffe - Glenn Greenwald -

The reconciliation -- not acknowledged by the parties until now -- showcased how a personal and commercial battle between two men could create real consequences for their parent corporations. A G.E. shareholders' meeting, for instance, was overrun by critics of MSNBC (and one of Mr. O’Reilly's producers) last April. . . .

In late 2007, Mr. O’Reilly had a young producer, Jesse Watters, ambush Mr. Immelt and ask about G.E.'s business in Iran, which is legal, and which includes sales of energy and medical technology. G.E. says it no longer does business in Iran.

Mr. O’Reilly continued to pour pressure on its corporate leaders, even saying on one program last year that "If my child were killed in Iraq, I would blame the likes of Jeffrey Immelt." The resulting e-mail to G.E. from Mr. O’Reilly's viewers was scathing. . .

Over time, G.E. and the News Corporation concluded that the fighting "wasn’t good for either parent," said an NBC employee with direct knowledge of the situation. But the session hosted by Mr. Rose provided an opportunity for a reconciliation, sealed with a handshake between Mr. Immelt and Mr. Murdoch.

Though Olbermann denies he was part of any deal, the NYT says that there has been virtually no criticism of Fox by Olbermman, or MSNBC by O'Reilly, since June 1 when the deal took effect. That's mostly but not entirely true. On June 17, after President Obama accused Fox News of fomenting hostility towards his agenda, and Fox responded by saying that the "other networks" were pure pro-Obama outlets, Olbermann did voice fairly stinging criticisms of Fox as "more of a political entity than is the Republican National Committee right now, only it's fraudulently disguised as some sort of news organization."

Note: I don't watch either show except when visiting other people's homes, as I don't have TV reception where I live. Also, I'm not responsible for the many typos in the above quote, only for those below.

Seems to me the left “misses” a few points:

First, these are opinion shows, not news shows. So there is no need to “expose” Fox for its bias. Fox leans right, all the others lean left, again, when you look just at the opinion shows. Does this bias spill over into news coverage? Probably. But one opinion journalist criticizing another opinion journalist for having a different opinion than their own? That's called trying to pump up ones own ratings. Maybe Olberman covered too many “Professional Wrestling” contests and can't get hucksterism out of his system. In any event, we are way past any of this needed to be "exposed". Everyone gets it already.

Second, the only hypocrisy here seems to be that of Olberman and MSNBC/GE. Whats in this for Fox/O'Reilly? To have Olberman stop calling it names in the schoolyard? Makes no sense. All the other media outlets dump on Fox constantly. What difference does it make whether Olberman and his show do so or not? Does it make sense that Fox would say "hey, we'll stop stepping on your toes if you promise to throw a little less acid in our face"? Ratings for Olberman's show are approaching zero already. I can't imagine that it makes any different to O'Reilly (who's ratings are at or near the top) one way or another whether he is mentioned over at MSNBC. Maybe, in fact, this is just MSNBC's way of pushing Olberman out the door without actually firing him. Let him go off in a huff and trade that fat salary for his high ethical standards. If he has any. Funny he would take vacation right after this stand-down isn't it?

Finally, note all the loose talk about corporate corruption of the news. Need we clear our throat and point out that Murdock/News Corp/Fox are all pure media companies? It's the other players that are owned by companies that have alternate interests, like making aircraft parts, pushing Hollywood films, game consoles, or software down our throats. Interesting isn't it that the networks pushing the anti-corporate agenda are the ones with the largest ulterior motives at the top?

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Remembering Government at Its Worst | Cato @ Liberty

I’ve visited both Tuol Sleng and the so-called Killing Fields. The experience is incredibly depressing and moving. These sites should be mandatory viewing for anyone tempted to surrender his or her liberty, even to the most supposedly well-meaning politicians, bureaucrats, and activists.

Does the Left Know We Had a Housing Bubble? | Cato @ Liberty

Why does any of this ultimately matter? Because if we craft policies to avoid the adverse impacts of the next property bubble based upon a narrative of “consumer protection” — as is being pushed by the Obama Administration, we will do little to avoid the creation of the next housing bubble and its damaging aftermath. Instead we should be focusing attention on those policies that contributed to the creation of the housing bubble: expansionary monetary policy and the Federal government’s blind pursuit of ever-expanding home-ownership rates at any cost.

Clinton and Jong Il: North Korea at the Brink | The New Ledger

If someone made this up, it wasn’t me. I still wouldn’t disqualify Michael Jackson as a Special Envoy to Kim Jong Il just because he’s deceased. He’s still more charismatic than Al Gore, looks more alive than John Kerry, has a cleaner ethical record than Bill Richardson, is less of a national embarrassment than Joe Biden, and has more influence with President Obama than Hillary Clinton. By a happy coincidence, the “Eternal President” of North Korea also happens to be a dead guy; indeed, Kim Il Sung’s mummified corpse may well be North Korea’s largest stockpile of preserved meat. A Michael Jackson-Kim Il Sung summit could make for some of the liveliest conversation since Ban Ki Moon and Warren Christopher were still alive. And then, who has seen recent pictures of Kim Jong Il, looking as spent as Jagger sneaking out the back door of a Vegas casino the morning after? He may not be far from meeting Michael Jackson after all.

Hilarity ensues...
Since at least February, when Mrs. Clinton publicly speculated about North Korea’s potential for a succession struggle, she has shown herself as adept at offending Kim Jong Il though inadvertence as ably as John Bolton was at doing so by design. Suddenly, those who criticized President Bush’s undiplomatic criticism of Kim Jong Il’s God-given right to deny 23 million North Koreans theirs are very quiet (which is for the best).

Shelby Steele: Skip Gates and Obama Play Race Card -

Where race is concerned, I sometimes think of the president as the Peter Sellers character in “Dr. Strangelove.” Sellers plays a closet Nazi whose left arm—quite involuntarily—keeps springing up into the Heil Hitler salute. We see him in his wheelchair, his right arm—the good and decent arm—struggling to keep the Nazi arm down so that no one will know the truth of his inner life. These wrestling matches between the good and bad arms were hysterically funny.

When I saw Mr. Obama—with every escape route available to him—wade right into the Gates affair at the end of his health-care news conference, I knew that his demon arm had momentarily won out over his good arm. It broke completely free—into full salute—in the “acted stupidly” comment that he made in reference to the Cambridge police’s handling of the matter. Here was the implication that whites were such clumsy and incorrigible racists that even the most highly achieved blacks lived in constant peril of racial humiliation. This was a cultural narrative, a politics, and in the end it was a bigotry. It let white Americans see a president who doubted them.

FCC Launches Investigation Of Apple's Rejection Of Google Voice App

The FCC wants to know why Apple rejected a Google Voice iPhone app that is already letting thousands of BlackBerry users happily avoid the egregious charges that wireless carriers like AT&T sock you with for talking and texting.

No He Can't by Anne Wortham

Finally, Americans, I would have to erase from my consciousness the scene of 125,000 screaming, crying, cheering people in Grant Park, Chicago irrationally chanting "Yes We Can!" Finally, I would have to wipe all memory of all the times I have heard politicians, pundits, journalists, editorialists, bloggers and intellectuals declare that capitalism is dead – and no one, including especially Alan Greenspan, objected to their assumption that the particular version of the anti-capitalistic mentality that they want to replace with their own version of anti-capitalism is anything remotely equivalent to capitalism.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Government Suspends Popular 'Clunkers' Program -

For the economy it's good news, but the government's miscalculation has some a little nervous.

"These are just the deals we have to submit tonight," Crestmont president Bill Strauss said while holding a stack of papers. He said the dealership has over $100,000 on the table.

"If they can't administer a program like this, I'd be a little concerned about my health insurance," car salesman Rob Bojaryn said.