Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Power to Persuade | The Weekly Standard

A Power to Persuade | The Weekly Standard

Virginia Postrel writes:

After C-SPAN reran a 1999 BookNotes interview about my first book, I received an email from a disappointed viewer. He was chagrined to hear that I was editing a website called DeepGlamour instead of writing “more serious nonfiction.” Glamour, he implied, is a trivial subject, unworthy of consideration by people who watch, much less appear on, C-SPAN.

To which I have two words of response: Barack Obama. In an era of tell-all memoirs, ubiquitous paparazzi, and reality-show exhibitionism, glamour may seem absent from Hollywood. But Obama demonstrates that its magic still exists. What a glamorous candidate he was—less a person than a persona, an idealized, self-contained figure onto whom audiences projected their own dreams, a Garbo-like “impassive receptacle of passionate hopes and impossible expectations,” in the words of Time’s Joe Klein. The campaign’s iconography employed classically glamorous themes, with its stylized portraits of the candidate gazing into the distance and its logo of a road stretching toward the horizon. Now, of course, Obama is experiencing glamour’s downside: the disillusionment that sets in when imagination meets reality. Hence James Lileks’s recent quip about another contemporary object of glamour, “The Apple tablet is the Barack Obama of technology. It’s whatever you want it to be, until you actually get it.”

Atom Smasher Sets Record -

Atom Smasher Sets Record -

After two false starts Tuesday, the Large Hadron Collider—a $10 billion particle accelerator near Geneva—smashed together its proton beams for the first time, marking a new era in physics with a clash of subatomic "cymbals."

It was a critical milestone in a troubled project that has brought together scientists from 34 countries. They are drawing on money and material from 150 universities and dozens of government agencies in a 15-year scientific gamble designed to reveal secrets of the universe hidden since time began.

OK, so if any of you went out without your keys yesterday or noticed any other disturbance in the space-time continuum, now you know why.

Next week we'll be trying to find out if it is possible to fall into a black hole and survive.

Don't worry about that tingling sensation in your feet.

Private Payrolls Drop -

Private Payrolls Drop -

Private-sector jobs in the U.S. dropped by 23,000 this month, according to a national employment report published Wednesday by payroll giant Automatic Data Processing Inc. and consultancy Macroeconomic Advisers.

The ADP survey tallies only private-sector jobs, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics' nonfarm payroll data, to be released Friday, include government workers. The addition of workers for the 2010 census is expected to lift federal government payrolls.

In the future, as it stands now, everyone will work for the government. If you don't like the situation you find yourself in, there will be no one to complain to.

Also note that as we turn the corner (admittedly still a ways off) from mostly private to mostly public employment (either directly or indirectly in the area of perennial contracting companies) the benefits picture will invert. Government is already talking about scaling back benefits which far exceed those in the private sector. Official denials of excessive benefits in government jobs just don't hold water.

Government set to unveil offshore drilling plan | Reuters

Government set to unveil offshore drilling plan | Reuters

The Obama administration is expected to announce by Wednesday its updated plan for oil and natural gas drilling in U.S. waters, including whether to allow exploration for the first time along the U.S. East Coast.

Wow! Something I might actually agree with. Let's start drilling next week!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

American Thinker: A Closer Look at the Capitol Steps Conspiracy

American Thinker: A Closer Look at the Capitol Steps Conspiracy

By Sunday morning, March 21, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) was publicly denouncing the actions on the Capitol steps as "reprehensible." What Boehner did not know at the time is that he had been himself victimized in one of the most appallingly successful media scams in recent years.

If it were not for those damn ubiquitous video cameras, House Democrats and their media allies would have gotten away with it entirely. Instead, they must content themselves with a victory only among those who rely for the news on an increasingly myopic major media.

To the link for a complete timeline of the "incident". The State of the News Media 2010 The State of the News Media 2010
For future reference.

Why Is Conservative Media Crushing Liberal Media?

Why Is Conservative Media Crushing Liberal Media?
300 answers and it's all been covered, but I'll do some points without elaboration (sort of):

1. Mid-spectrum people have jobs to go to, kids to pick up, businesses to run. They may listen to any of the news outlets but not obsessively. They form the "base" numbers for all news outlets, probably more or less equally split. They may well choose a preference, but based more on scheduling or other non-political concerns.

2. Politics can be separated into two areas: Fiscal Policy and Everything Else.

3. People concerned about Fiscal Policy are generally for smaller government. Their desire to this end overrides "social legislation" regarding abortion, gay marriage, drug legalization. They may be for or against any of these things but those are secondary to wanting smaller government, more liberty, etc. Both conservative and libertarians fall into this group mostly. They watch the conservative outlets that are far longer on pie charts and bar graphs than they are on name calling (although there is some of that too).

4. The Everything Else voters are generally what I call "single issue voters". Those issues, typically are marijuana legalization, abortion choice, gay rights. When they go for media they are typically looking for an outlet that just covers ONE of these three things, obsessively. There are no mainstream versions of this. They don't watch Fox, but the others don't satisfy their obsession over the single issue they care about.

Fox and conservative radio knows its audience and can hit the hot buttons with a fairly broad brush. Not so for the others. The mainstream media is to the left of the general population, few even try and deny that any more. As such, they buy into the myth that conservatives, libertarians, and even mid-spectrum people are racists, homophobes, religious fanatics. When they say or even imply such things, it infuriates those of us (the majority) who don't fit that stereotype. We switch off.

I used to think of PBS as the left-wing "government run" network, and to some extent that is still true. But over the years the mainstream press and media have swung so far to the left, and in such a mean spirited way, that PBS seems neutral by comparison.

There is of course plenty of room on all the networks for both left, right, center and special interest programming, but just as radio gravitates toward top-40, dropping jazz, classical, easy listening and talk as they march towards profits. Likewise when it comes to news, media wants to capture the biggest audience possible. Fox and conservative talk-radio are well positioned to do this as they cover a demographic with broad appeal. The others, in the mean time pretend they are taking care of the rest of the spectrum, which in actuality is impossible without providing equally fragmented coverage.

While it is possible for the Democratic party to build a "big tent" that captures both liberal voters and single issue voters, and they have done that quite well, it's not so easy to provide news, or even entertainment that satisfies that diverse group.

Google, Not Apple, to Rule Smart-Phone World | Industry Insights | Financial Articles & Investing News |

Google, Not Apple, to Rule Smart-Phone World | Industry Insights | Financial Articles & Investing News |
Google's Android OS is the newest entrant in the smart-phone war. As with all things, Google has taken no prisoners and is projected to be the second-largest smart-phone operating system by 2012, according to Gartner Inc. Like with Symbian, Android has a huge advantage by being available on several phones from many manufacturers. With Motorola(MOT), Dell(DELL), HTC and Samsung offering Android-based phones, the OS casts a much larger net than Research in Motion or Apple can. Those companies create the only devices to use their software.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Scramble POTUS - What's News Tonight

Scramble POTUS - What's News Tonight

POTUS dashes to Kabul for a few hours to press the reluctant kleptocrat Hamid Karzai for obedience to the grand bargain. The deal is that Kabul fall into the condo run jointly by the ISI (Islamabad) and the IRGC (Tehran). In exchange, Karzai gets money and a longer term for his brothers and partners to control the opium trade. I am told that POTUS wants an exit from AfPak asap, and that handing Kabul off to its adversaries is an agreeable conclusion. What POTUS needs is a semi-credible government in Kabul on order to declare a success for the surge. The rush is on for a summer 2011 exit. Pakistan is designated as local cop. What has gone wrong with the deal, why POTUS flew to Kabul for five restless hours on the ground, is that Karzai will not take the deal.


orkut - Search

But it's VERY FAST!

The State of the Internet Operating System - O'Reilly Radar

The State of the Internet Operating System - O'Reilly Radar

This is the crux of my argument about the internet operating system. We are once again approaching the point at which the Faustian bargain will be made: simply use our facilities, and the complexity will go away. And much as happened during the 1980s, there is more than one company making that promise. We're entering a modern version of "the Great Game", the rivalry to control the narrow passes to the promised future of computing. (John Battelle calls them "points of control".) This rivalry is seen most acutely in mobile applications that rely on internet services as back-ends. As Nick Bilton of the New York Times described it in a recent article comparing the Google Nexus One and the iPhone:
Chad Dickerson, chief technology officer of Etsy, received a pre-launch Nexus One from Google three weeks ago. He says Google's phone feels connected to certain services on the Web in a way the iPhone doesn't. "Compared to the iPhone, the Google phone feels like it's part of the Internet to me," he said. "If you live in a Google world, you have that world in your pocket in a way that's cleaner and more connected than the iPhone."

The same thing applies to the iPhone. If you're a MobileMe, iPhoto, iTunes or Safari user, the iPhone connects effortlessly to your pictures, contacts, bookmarks and music. But if you use other services, you sometimes need to find software workarounds to get access to your content.
In comparison, with the Nexus One, if you use GMail, Google Calendar or Picasa, Google's online photo storage software, the phone connects effortlessly to these services and automatically syncs with a single log-in on the phone.

The phones work perfectly with their respective software, but both of them don't make an effort to play nice with other services.
Never mind the technical details of whether the Internet really has an operating system or not. It's clear that in mobile, we're being presented with a choice of platforms that goes far beyond the operating system on the handheld device itself.

One aspect I think you missed is that the PC was (and is) a limited resource. Microsoft's unification (which went back to a letter to the world written by Bill Gates) was of course an important step in the evolution of the desktop PC (even if it wasn't really a new concept). The notion that print drivers were ever attached to applications in the first place had many people scratching their heads.

When I read Gates letter I said "YES!" that's what we need... a REAL operating system like what we already have on mainframes, minicomputers, etc. Of course at the time we were led to believe that OS/2 would be the combined effort of IBM and Microsoft that would make that happen. What happened instead was NT, which required a bigger faster machine to even install. And then Windows outgrew that machine, and then the one after that, and so on.

Things haven't changed much, the rate at which our OSs outgrow our desktop hardware has slowed, but not by much.

The cloud doesn't have that problem though. If all my local computer can do is run a network card and the display halfway decently I have access via the Internet to an infinitely expandable machine. 8 bit, 16 bit, 32 bit 64 bit 128 bit, I don't have to care as I am most likely not to be writing network based applications in either assembler language or even C. Multiple architectures can exist simultaneously and there is no need to worry about "bloat" as each server is only doing what it knows how to do in the way it knows how to do it.

Yes, Facebook, or Google or some other company could claim to simplify it all for us and might in fact provide a useful service in trying. But as soon as such a company sits down to rest some other company may well be tapping into that customer base, doing the one thing that was forgotten or not done very well.

Users (particularly users who "program") need to demand open APIs, eschew companies that won't offer them and steer end users (who don't program) away from the tar pits. I hope to see more of that, and in shouts, not just polite whispers.

FCC Relying on Faulty ISP Performance Data from comScore | Community

FCC Relying on Faulty ISP Performance Data from comScore | Community

NetForecast's investigation of comScore's ISP speed test methodology uncovered the following data gathering errors:

Only one TCP connection is used
Client-server delay is variable
Participants' computers may be resource constrained
Test traffic may conflict with home traffic
Decimal math is incorrect
Protocol overhead is unaccounted for
Purchased speed tiers are incorrectly identified


Obviously we need to spend more money on government so they can do better testing to convince us we need to spend more money on government.

U.S. take if it sells its Citi stake to settle cost of bailout: $8 billion

U.S. take if it sells its Citi stake to settle cost of bailout: $8 billion
The windfall expected from the stock sale would amount to a validation of the rescue plan adopted by government officials during the height of the financial panic, when the banking system neared the brink of collapse. A year ago, Citigroup's stock hovered around a dollar a share, and the bank's future seemed in doubt. On Friday, the stock closed at $4.31.

If the sale proceeds as planned, Citigroup would be able to cut nearly all of its ties to the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program. Meanwhile, the administration could highlight the profit generated from the rescue of big banks.

I *do* hope the government gets *all* of *our* money back from the bank related bailouts and *then some*, even though I think, on principle it was a bad idea.

Now, how long before the unions and car companies pay us back?

» AP to Breitbart: Prove Tea Partiers AREN’T Racist - Big Journalism

– Breitbart has now raised the stakes on his challenge to the CBC.

He is now offering a “ransom” of $100,000 to be donated to the United Negro College Fund for anyone who can provide evidence that racial epithets were, in fact used toward the CBC that day on the mall.

Now, I wonder if Blood or the rest of the writers at the AP will demand evidence from the CBC for the accusations they have made? Or, at the very least will they answer this question: How does an editor let an article like this get published?

How? Maybe by systematically making sure that no one left of center is allowed to work in their organization.

xkcd: The Flake Equation

xkcd: The Flake Equation

Add to that the number of things this could be applied to: 9/11 theories, assassination theories, global warming, various end of world scenarios.

Which of course doesn't exclude the possibility that any particular unusual event is actually true, just that it is much much less likely than some of us would like to believe.

Day of the Grasshopper Looms -

Day of the Grasshopper Looms -

Farmers and ranchers across the West are bracing for a grasshopper infestation that could devastate millions of acres of crops and grazing land.

Over the coming weeks, federal officials say, grasshoppers will likely hatch in bigger numbers than any year since 1985. Hungry swarms caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage that year when they devoured corn, barley, alfalfa, beets—even fence posts and the paint off the sides of barns.

As if we needed more bad news.

Blast on Moscow subway kills at least 25 -

Blast on Moscow subway kills at least 25 -

Moscow emergency officials say an explosion has hit a subway train, killing at least 25 people.

The Genius in All of Us

The Genius in All of Us
Is true greatness obtainable from everyday means and everyday genes? Conventional wisdom says no, that a lucky few are simply born with certain gifts while most are not; that talent and high intelligence are somewhat scarce gems, scattered throughout the human gene pool; that the best we can do is to locate and polish these rare gems— and accept the limitations and mediocrity built into the rest of us.

Another John Batchelor Show find.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Dog that Didn't Bark

John Batchelor made a nice Sherlock Holmes reference tonight. He thinks the administration and the lapdog press are ignoring a major international incident... in order to not start a more major one.

Should the administration be praised for letting the Chinese off the hook? Oh we dasn't offend them eh? We owe them too much money maybe?

At the same time Obama was doing some tough talk on his surprise visit to Afghanistan. He sounded so much like Bush as I listened to it on an audio stream I could picture a "Mission Accomplished" banner in the background.

So, will Obama need a second term to finish correcting all the "problems" Bush left for him? Doesn't sound like what was promised to me. I guess eviscerating the middle class is taking longer than he thought. In the mean time how many provocatons will we ignore through the North Korean proxies?

Here's the quote from JB:

What connection does the shoot order have to threats against the US issued by Beijing over the last months? The threat to retaliate for the Taiwan warship deal? The threat to retaliate for the Dalai Lama's visit to the White House? The threat issued when Treasury and the White House accused China of currency manipulation? The threat against Google and other corporations operating on the Mainland? The Beijing regime has piled up a list of grievances over the last year. Is the shoot order in the Yellow Sea a push-back?

Now go buy a book:

Yes, I am engaging in totally ineffective monitization, but this new Amazon gadget is pretty cool anyway for the occasional product reference.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The ObamaCare Writedowns -

In other words, shoot the messenger. Black-letter financial accounting rules require that corporations immediately restate their earnings to reflect the present value of their long-term health liabilities, including a higher tax burden. Should these companies have played chicken with the Securities and Exchange Commission to avoid this politically inconvenient reality? Democrats don't like what their bill is doing in the real world, so they now want to intimidate CEOs into keeping quiet.

On top of AT&T's $1 billion, the writedown wave so far includes Deere & Co., $150 million; Caterpillar, $100 million; AK Steel, $31 million; 3M, $90 million; and Valero Energy, up to $20 million. Verizon has also warned its employees about its new higher health-care costs, and there will be many more in the coming days and weeks.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Charges reduced in phone caper at senator's office

Charges reduced in phone caper at senator's office
The new charges are contained in a bill of information, which can only be filed with a defendant's consent and typically signals a plea deal. The new filing charges the four with entering a federal building under false pretenses, a misdemeanor.

I guess in that case three quarters of the federal workforce and all of Congress are guilty of a misdemeanor too.

Leaked: Chinese Propaganda Directive on Google Reporting | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

Leaked: Chinese Propaganda Directive on Google Reporting | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

Peggy Noonan: The Heat Is On. We May Get Burned. -

Peggy Noonan: The Heat Is On. We May Get Burned. -
There probably isn't a Republican leader who has not the past few years been menaced, and in exactly the same ways as the Democrats. Thursday I asked a staffer for a congressman who is a significant and respected opponent of the health-care bill if he had ever been threatened. Yes indeed. "Over the years and as recently as yesterday," both the congressman and his staff "have received countless threats—both threats of violence and of death. These come in the form of letters, faxes, emails, phone calls, and voice-mail messages. We've had the front window smashed in at one of our district offices. Rather than call TV crews or the Washington Post, we report threats to the proper authorities, and move on. We'd take issue with the recent narrative that conservatives are disproportionately hostile, prone to violence or whatever message the left is pushing these days. They have anecdotes, we have anecdotes."

Kim Strassel: The Senate Reckoning -

Kim Strassel: The Senate Reckoning -
These votes are "ridiculous" huffed Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd. Republicans are not being "serious" grumped Mr. Reid. Of course, "ridiculous" and "not serious" better apply to ObamaCare, which was in fact the substantive point of amendments like Mr. Coburn's. A 2005 survey found that some 800 convicted sex offenders had—whoops—received Medicaid-funded impotence drugs. This is what happens when a big, inefficient government runs health care, and as Mr. Coburn noted, it is about to do it on a bigger, more inefficient scale than ever, thanks to ObamaCare.

The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney: MSNBC's Schultz: Time For A Government Takeover Of Talk Radio

The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney: MSNBC's Schultz: Time For A Government Takeover Of Talk Radio
Feeling emboldened by the Democratic Party's success in imposing ObamaCare on the American public, lefties are already looking for the next hot issue to shove down our throats. For MSNBC libtalker Ed Schultz, it's the airwaves that should next be subjected to a socialist government takeover.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Whoops, Social Security Just Went Bust

Social Security will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes this year, the first big milestone on the road to its eventual insolvency.

Thanks to a surge in benefits and a collapse in paychecks, this plunge into the red comes 6 years faster than the most recent CBO estimate predicted (It had been 2016).

The CBO has yet to update its estimate of the date at which the program will burn through its "surplus" and go completely bust (currently 2037), but given that the deficit arrived 6 years sooner than the estimate the CBO made only a year ago, we wouldn't be surprised to see a startling revision there, too.

Emphasis added. Startling indeed.

Facebook Is Like Starbucks -- Everyone Hangs Out For Hours But Never Buys Anything

Facebook recently became the most visited site on the web. Yet their revenues are rumored to around $1B – about 1/30 of what Google’s revenues will be this year. Google has the perfect revenue-generating combination: people come to the site often, leave quickly, and often have purchasing intent. Facebook has tons of visitors but they generally come to socialize, not to buy things, and they rarely click on ads that take them to other sites. Facebook is like a Starbucks where everyone hangs out for hours but almost never buys anything. String Theory For Dummies (9780470467244): Andrew Zimmerman Jones, Daniel Robbins: Books

I just ordered this. I've "studied" if before, but it's been a while and I'm curious about "what's new".

On Apple's Board, Fewer Independent Voices -

While Apple could tap Mr. Campbell or Mr. Levinson to lead the audit committee or turn to one of its three other independent directors—former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Avon Products Inc. CEO Andrea Jung or J. Crew Group Inc. CEO Millard "Mickey" Drexler—to fill the audit-committee vacancy, such moves appear unlikely, corporate-board experts said.

Apple's board, with just six members including Mr. Jobs, is already among the smallest at a Fortune 500 company, based on data from the research firm Corporate Library. As a result, its directors are likely to already be stretched thin, board experts said. Apple's investor Web site shows that, except for Mr. Jobs, who isn't on any board committees, directors have multiple responsibilities. And many of Apple's current directors don't have the strong financial expertise that's preferred for the audit chair position, governance specialists said.

Official Google Enterprise Blog: City of Orlando: cutting costs while advancing our infrastructure in just two months

Like many city departments, the City of Orlando is facing an aging infrastructure juxtaposed with budget cuts and high demand for more advanced infrastructure services such as mobile access to email. We were using a Lotus Notes® email system and paying for numerous servers in City Hall, so we needed to find a different way of doing business.

This situation was all exacerbated by the fact that our IT department was recently whittled down from 84 workers to 69 this year. We determined after analyzing Google Apps that we could achieve significant savings and move into the cloud very quickly.

If we were to keep our current system, we estimated it would cost $133 a year for each of its 3,000 employees – or $399,000 including annual software licenses. Google charges $50 per user, or $150,000 delivering more than 60% in savings. In return, everyone from city planners to police officers will now use a web-based email system similar to Google's popular Gmail, but without the advertisements that support the free consumer version.

John Bolton: What the President Can Learn From Google -

The company announced starkly that "the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement." That position shows how aggressively Beijing's current leadership will act to control domestic information flows, and foreign businesses generally.

But the mere fact that the Google nail remains upright, despite Beijing's omnipresent hammer, is telling. And if Google succeeds, we cannot even begin to imagine the commercial implications for foreign trade and investment with China. A Google victory is also a victory for China's citizens, a surrogate win for those who value individual liberty and free markets in goods and ideas.

Daniel Henninger: Republicans Should Repeal the Democrats -

Put it this way: If you produce a bill that Olympia Snowe of Maine cannot vote for, you have not produced legislation "for the generations." You have not even produced legislation that is liberal. You have produced legislation from the left. You have produced once-in-a-lifetime legislation that no Republican from any constituency across America could vote for.

Finally, we are achieving real political definition.

The Democrats are now the party of the state. The 20th century hybrid version of the Democratic Party, which included private-sector industrial unions and Wall Street liberals, is being abandoned by its leadership as unwanted and increasingly unnecessary.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Google's Sergey Brin Talks About China Gamble -

Behind Google Inc.'s dramatic decision to shutter its China-based search engine this week was co-founder Sergey Brin's change of heart about the compromises required to do business in a land that was increasingly reminding him of his native Soviet Union.
To the extent that Brin controls the future of this company I feel pretty good about it. Not so sure about the other two. Brin would appear to be both the brains and the heart of Google. I don't think I am alone in feeling that way.

Smartphone Motion Control Patent: Who Owns It? | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

The invention, the patent’s authors explain, “facilitates an intuitive motion control of the application by physically manipulating the electronic device…it enables a user to intuitively control the state and/or displayed content of a computing device without the conventional need of pressing button(s), or manipulating a trackpad, trackball, etc. In this regard, the motion control agent represents a new paradigm in user control of computing systems.”

Here is what I don't like about our system in its current mode of operation. It would seem that all it takes to get a patent is to duct tape a compass to a cell phone take it into the patent office and claim you have invented something new.

I could be wrong, but when companies first took component stereo systems and combined them into boom boxes I don't think patent wars ensued, but today it seems they would.

Motion detectors, accelerometers, etc were in game controllers before they were in phones and to me this is just "hey people play games on phones, let's give them the properties of game controllers!" I consider this to be hardly a brilliant idea.

Someone claimed recently (regarding the Apple HTC suit) that you had to allow for this type of patent to encourage innovation. That's certainly true for SOME types of innovation. When the innovation is for something like "the first smartphone" or a personal fold-up briefcase helicopter, then sure, you have to protect new things from the risk that a company will spend millions in development only to find that nobody wants such a thing or that someone else would take the (totally new) concept and implement it ahead of the innovator. But to apply the patent system to creeping incrementalism is another matter. There is hardly any risk for an existing cell phone maker to include one more $9 part in their next generation phone. If the idea is a flop, or if someone else does it too, you still sell a lot of phones.

Someone also said that you have to defend your patent or lose it. I'm not sure that is true. It is true of trademarks, but there must be millions of patents being potentially infringed at any given time and they are not all being litigated. In fact the notion of a patent ambush is well established where you ignore infringement until someone uses "your" idea in a successful way. Nobody is suing for patent violation on money losing products that I know of.

A system that should allow new companies to spring up in an accelerated basis, instead acts as a defoliant, allowing only the biggest companies to remain in the game. Gotta love those mixed metaphors.

Apple Nearing Wal-Mart’s Market Cap | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

My comments:
I just wonder what Apple aspires to be in the future. They've made it clear that it is not a computer company. The smartphone business has served them well, but I can't see them being just a phone company either. At best the phones will have served as a foot in the door for media sales, but I can't imagine that being a stopping place. It's inconceivable that the world will settle on a single company from which to download music and video.

Apple's success prior to the iPhone was because they finally got it right, with a true multitasking operating system (never true before OS X) and they were going up against a company that has proved time and again that they can't produce products that are both useful and safe at the same time.

The iPhone was also a matter of providing something that was fairly easy to conceptualize, namely a phone that was not encumbered by the limitations typically imposed by the carriers (although it is encumbered by Apple for sure.)

Now the other phone companies get it. And Apple will be one of many, never a failure, but never the only game in town either.

Can Apple challenge Amazon (and Walmart) and become an above average retailer of "stuff"? Maybe, but somehow I just don't see that being in their DNA.

Like Gateway, who seemed to have no limits at one time, who opened an upscale computer and accessories store near me a number of years ago and then promptly fell flat on their face, I think Apple is in danger of running out of avenues for startling and apparently effortless success. They need to pick an area where they will have to work hard against true competition that doesn't just fold after the first round of betting. It will be interesting to watch.

Health Care Bill: A Look Inside The Legislation's Details

The left jumps into action trying to figure out what's in the bill (after it's passed).

Odd that so many of them call themselves Democrats.

The Evil Dial: Scamville Illustrated

Are the publishers who chose monetization wrong? Yes, but they must do it to survive. Is Super Rewards wrong for pushing bad offers? Yes. (oh, yes). But as we’ve said before, Facebook is the ultimate offender. They make the rules. The more flexible the rules, the more money flows back to them in advertising. There is a direct relationship between the evil dial and Facebook’s revenues.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Consolidating 10 Email Systems Down to One: Google Apps

MWV is 164 years old, and there were days when it showed. We had grown extensively through acquisitions, leaving us with 12 siloed email systems, including multiple instances of Microsoft® Exchange and Lotus Notes®/Domino® across the globe. We had to consolidate more than 10 email systems into one – a major undertaking.

From a technical standpoint, we saw that Google Apps would offer superior functionality, and would enable us to standardize globally and rapidly integrate new acquisitions. We checked out Google’s security capabilities in-depth – a major concern for us – and ended up satisfied. From a user standpoint, we conducted a pilot with 115 participants, 12 countries, and 40 functional groups. Ninety percent of them recommended Google.

Buzz by Tim O'Reilly from Buzz

Good Buzz and good response by me (of course!). The link should follow the conversation (if Buzz works the way I think it does).

The Most Damning Information Google Dug Up On Viacom

Bubba awaits executives at Viacom who apparently orchestrated a fairly widespread scheme of uploading copyrighted information to YouTube under false pretenses, while at the same time planning an acquisition of the company.

As was the case with the SCO suit, will be the case with this one, and possibly will be the case with the Apple HTC suit, discovery is a b*tch.

I'd be shorting Viacom at this point (if I were into that sort of thing).

Help Us Google, You’re Our Only Broadband Hope. (The Government Has No Spine.)

As Harvard Law professor Yochai Benkler lays out in an excellent op-ed today in the New York Times, this new broadband plan may sound great, but it won’t go nearly far enough. The reason is that there is simply nowhere near enough competition in almost all of the markets in this country. In fact, under the new plan, some 85% of homes covered would have no choice when it comes to a provider. So while it’s great that just about everyone will potentially have broadband access in 2020, plenty likely won’t be able to afford it.

And even those lucky enough to have a choice, are probably only going to be able to choose between two options — and again, both of those are likely to be very expensive. The U.S. has the highest broadband prices among advanced nations, while countries like Japan and France get faster (and better) services, for a fraction of the price many of us pay. Again, it’s all about competition. So why do we put up with it? Because the U.S. government has no backbone and ruins its own ideas (such as the National Broadband Plan) because they give into corporate lobbyists.

What Now? Four Guiding Principles for Health Care - Big Government

So what does this mean? The way to think of Obamacare is that we are shifting from a healthcare system 68 percent controlled/directed by government to one that (when all the bad policies are phased in) is 79 percent controlled/directed by government. Those numbers are just vague estimates, to be sure, but they underscore why Obamacare is just a continuation of a terrible trend, not a profound paradigm shift. Yes, it is very bad news. Yes, it will cost more than politicians claimed. Yes, it will reduce the quality of care. All those things are true, but we are going 79 mph in the wrong direction instead of 68 mph.

By the way, the 2008 elections did not make that much difference.

Republicans often are just as bad as Democrats when it comes to feckless vote buying. Our healthcare system took a big step in the wrong direction with the passage of the Medicare prescription drug entitlement under Bush. This horrible piece of legislation had the support of almost all the congressional Republicans who were railing against Obamacare last night (where was John Boehner’s “Hell no” speech in 2003?). And Senator McCain’s healthcare plan would have expanded the role of government, so if he won (and then did one of his infamous “bipartisan” compromises) we probably would have wound up with a healthcare system 73 percent controlled/directed by government.

You'll have to click the title link for the four principles.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Obama Pays More Than Buffett as U.S. Risks AAA Rating (Update1) -

While Treasuries backed by the full faith and credit of the government typically yield less than corporate debt, the relationship has flipped as Moody’s Investors Service predicts the U.S. will spend more on debt service as a percentage of revenue this year than any other top-rated country except the U.K. America will use about 7 percent of taxes for debt payments in 2010 and almost 11 percent in 2013, moving “substantially” closer to losing its AAA rating, Moody’s said last week.

How to Remove XP AntiSpyware | Smarterware

It's been a long time since I've had to deal with a malware-laden PC, but my long streak of luck ran out this weekend when a family friend--who describes himself as computer illiterate--called. "Every time I try to do anything on the computer," he told me, "I get a message saying it's infected, and I have to pay $69 to clean it, but I tried to do that and I couldn't." He couldn't even navigate to the Mozilla site to download Firefox; Internet Explorer was completely hijacked.

So, armed with a thumbdrive loaded with Chrome and AdAware installation files, I headed over there to take a look. Here's what I found:

* The Norton AV trial subscription that came with Windows XP had expired and stopped protecting the machine, which was connected directly to my friend's broadband ISP with Windows Firewall turned off.

* Windows XP hadn't been updated since before SP2 had come out, because a friend of my friend told him not to trust any automatic updates. Because they might be spyware.

* Rogue software called XP AntiSpyware had taken over the machine.

Hard to not laugh or cry for these people. Not so hard to stay mad at those who make it possible.

Democrats Expect to Have Health Votes -

The biggest transformation of the U.S. health system in decades won approval on Capitol Hill late Sunday, the culmination of efforts by generations of Democrats to achieve near-universal health coverage.

Facing voters' judgment in the fall, Democrats bet they could overcome public misgivings on a bill that reshapes one-sixth of the U.S. economy. The final battle on the House floor exposed again the divisions that have riven Congress and the nation over the past year.

No liberal I've talked to knows that the taxes will start right away, and the benefits will start four years later. If they don't know that I don't bother to ask them about anything else. Why wake someone from a pleasant dream?

John Edwards, Sleazeball: Another Story the MSM Didn’t Bother To Tell You About, Until It Was Almost Too Late - Big Journalism

When Edwards was one of the leading Democrat presidential candidates, the Enquirer broke story after story while the MSM refused to ask, refused to report and refused to inform its readers of the events. This continued for months, while Edwards was considered for both an Obama running mate and attorney general slot.

Even after the Enquirer caught Edwards visiting Hunter and their daughter in a late night rendezvous at the Beverly Hilton in July 2008, there was no coverage in the traditional press for weeks. After initially labeling the Enquirer’s report as “tabloid trash,“ Edwards finally confessed on ABC’s Nightline on August 8, 2008.

Now, with the National Enquirer officially in the running for a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the scandal, the MSM is quick to follow up on the tabloid’s announcements. The Enquirer announced on March 3 that an Edwards indictment was “imminent.” Within a few days, CBS News, the Boston Herald, Fox News and practically every member of the MSM followed with their own stories, citing the Enquirer as their source.
What a difference a few years makes.

Useful Idiots: Angry White Man - Big Journalism

Great cartoon!

Hello, Suckers! Happy Birthday to the Ponzi Generation - Big Journalism

Socialism, in the final analysis, is nothing more than a cruel pyramid scheme. Whether Healthcare or Social Security or other entitlement scheme, the original players (e.g. retirees in Social Security) receive the promised windfall of government largesse. How? Because succeeding generations of “players” (i.e. taxpayers) pay for it. Yet, as England’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher explained: “Socialist governments…always run out of other people’s money.”

The liberals’ latest Grow-the-Government Ponzi scheme, like all others, is necessarily predicated on each succeeding generation being numerically larger – the expanding base of the pyramid – to pay the largesse of those in the higher levels. And ironically that is where socialist theory crashes headlong into reality.

About Those ‘Racial Slurs:’ Real News or Media Propaganda? - Big Journalism

As someone who has been to Tea Parties and ridden the Tea Party Express with both black and white entertainers and speakers, I find these reports to be incredible. However, they do fit both the Democratic Party and the MSM’s standard attempts to equate Tea Party patriots with racism and narrow-minded bigotry of all kinds.

Unless those racial and “homophobic” slurs were corroborated by real witnesses, they remain nothing but allegations. However, they are precisely the kind of allegations that fit the MSM’s ideological framework. Just as the Duke rape accuser’s charges fit that framework and were reported as absolute fact for months on end. Just as the Tawana Brawley hoax, ring-led by Al Sharpton, fit that framework and were reported as fact.

This list is actually becoming too long for sentient citizens not to connect the dots on the MSM’s rush to judgment and abandoning all pretense to journalistic integrity – just to create news that fits their leftist ideology.

Media Lying About Racist Attacks on Black Reps By Tea Party Protesters…VIDEO PROOF - Big Government

Same as it ever was.

Maybe we need to remind everyone (especially the media) if you don't have a video, it didn't happen.

Funny, when someone threw this bit of folk-lore in my face this morning I had to admit it sounds terrible, and didn't know anything of it. I guess in future I should read Huffington Post before accepting breakfast invitations from lefties.

Of course, agreeing that spiting and name calling is a bad thing has no bearing on the arguments over policy to the extent that such arguments exist. I'm sure there has been spiting and name calling on both sides. People feel strongly about the issue on both sides.

Let's all line up for our government job now.

ObamaCare: To Pass Or Not to Pass - Big Government

I’m beginning to think that George Soros is a GOP plant. He has invested millions an in array of leftist organizations, but rather than providing a foundation for progressive policies, they have devolved into little more than a giant echo-chamber. Instead of trying to build public support, groups like Center for American Progress and Media Matters simply spin–lamely, by the way–any facts that counter their narrative. A rational political party absorbs new information and public opinion and adjusts its policies. The leftist cocoon inoculates Democrats from this, convincing them that their policies are actually popular, in spite of every piece of data, and cheers them on as they march off the cliff into political oblivion.

(Of course, it could be that Soros has simply made very large, leveraged bets against the dollar and wants to maximize deficit-busting policies, but that is speculation for another day.)

Obama, Democrats show command of health care votes - Yahoo! News

The Drudge version of the headline is priceless and deserves to be preserved:



The T-Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition by HTC was the first 3.5-inch color touch screen smartphone in the United States in 2002

Android Growth Picks Up in Mobile Ad Race Against Apple - ClickZ

Over the past few months, mobile ad networks have reported substantial growth in ads from devices running Google Android, presenting mobile marketers with an increasingly viable alternative to Apple's iPhone and iPod touch devices.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Byrding - What's News Tonight

Imagine a poll question that asked, if you could, would you throw out every member of the TV and video news media and replace them with the first 5000 people shopping at Sam's Club (or Walmart's or Pet City or Apple etc) on Sunday afternoons? Would the result be half the voters or all the voters? Same for Congress? Who wants to look at these guys and gals another moment? Go to robots.


George F. Will - Democrats miss an obvious lesson plan for deprived children -

Government can do next to nothing about family structure, which is why it is pointless for Duncan to suggest that "access" is why "the door to college still does not swing open evenly for everyone." It will not so swing as long as 71.6 percent of African American children and 51.3 percent of Latino children are born to unmarried women. The political class flinches from talking about those numbers, preferring to take refuge behind talk about "rights." But those numbers go far to explain numbers that Duncan does cite: White high school graduates are twice as likely as black or Latino graduates to have taken AP calculus classes. The political system cannot candidly discuss, let alone cope with, the reasons why, for example, there are few if any high-performing inner-city school systems.

Friday, March 19, 2010

An American Divide - Jonah Goldberg - National Review Online

Our political leaders believe in two different Americas; they even believe in two different Constitutions

U.S. Plans Military Trials for Detainees -

The White House is nearing a deal with a bipartisan group of senators to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and pave the way for more detainees to be tried before military commissions, a move that would reverse a signature Obama administration security policy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

YouTube Says "Viacom Continuously And Secretly Uploaded Its Content To YouTube"

For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately "roughed up" the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko's to upload clips from computers that couldn't be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt "very strongly" that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube.

Viacom's efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement. In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself.

Convincing me that Hollywood types are possessed of a genetic defect.

Google and Partners Seek Foothold in the Living Room -

Google and Intel have teamed with Sony to develop a platform called Google TV to bring the Web into the living room through a new generation of televisions and set-top boxes.

The move is an effort by Google and Intel to extend their dominance of computing to television, an arena where they have little sway. For Sony, which has struggled to retain a pricing and technological advantage in the competitive TV hardware market, the partnership is an effort to get a leg up on competitors.

Wait, I see someone running up to Google headquarters, he's yelling "I invented the TV, I INVENTED THE TV, STOP, it's MINE!"

Yes, it's Steve Jobs.

No License, No Business! - Video -

I've been involved in many conversations about new the value of government programs and the taxes that go to pay for them. Many of these people I talk to have no idea how invasive government can be, and there is nothing, including the licensing of florists, that doesn't involve fees of one kind or another. We are surrounded by fees, taxes, fines... here is only one example:

John Stossel on Cleveland’s Struggles

EDITORIAL: Obama surrenders gulf oil to Moscow - Washington Times

The Obama administration is poised to ban offshore oil drilling on the outer continental shelf until 2012 or beyond. Meanwhile, Russia is making a bold strategic leap to begin drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. While the United States attempts to shift gears to alternative fuels to battle the purported evils of carbon emissions, Russia will erect oil derricks off the Cuban coast.

Makes perfect sense right? (NO!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Buzz by Simon Phipps from Buzz

ACTA is a secret treaty where the future is being defined for laws surrounding how you and I may use the internet and how cultural essentials like music, books and movies can be accessed digitally. It is obviously going to have a huge impact, and governments all over the world are scrambling to implement key enablers to ratifying it, such as "three-strikes" internet disconnection measures and the UK's Digital Economy Bill.

But there's been little discussion of its impact on Free and open source software and the communities that build it. What discussions have taken place so far? What do we know?

Is Dodd Ending Too Big to Fail? - Big Government

Good article on TBTF, but then there is this interesting comment, on healthcare which contains interesting, if obvious, points.

Representative John Hall
US House of Representatives

March 17, 2010

Dear Mr. Hall,

Well it comes to you. One man, one vote, the nation’s future on the line. I bet when you were doing drugs and singing “Your the One” for the one thousandth time you never thought you would end up in having to make this choice. Before you do please give me one moment of your time.

In the old days, prior to government intervention in the medical establishment, the “wealthy” paid higher prices at the doctors office to support the needy. My father would tell the story like this. A patient would drive up to a doctors office in a Cadillac and the doctor would treat him, and the doctor would give him a higher bill than he would give to other patients, sometimes a much higher bill. The doctor then would use that money to treat people in the community that needed assistance. As time went on the government put it’s nose into this practice and took the place of the doctors and the hospitals who engaged in this. The government entitlement programs began to divorce a doctors capability to obtain the funds to carry out charity work, and thus while the cost was leveled out the creation of a third party to pay and to dole out charity destroyed the capacity to self regulate or to engage in ones own community in a positive and very efficient manner.

Fast forward to today. I pay a monthly premium for my medical insurance. Even if I do not use the resources for decades, other than checkups and the like, I gain nothing from behaving wisely. Why? Because as much as the insurance company wants to create products that keep prices low, so they can cover more people and make a higher profit for the company, the government is telling these companies who to sell to, how much coverage is required, even the deductibles are dictated. In this manufactured environment of unlimited capacity and fixed supply, price must rise inexorably to meet the consumption of the goods and services offered, in this case medicine.

So what is the answer Mr. Hall? First you ought to vote no on this proposed legislation that would place the government in further control of what is left of the private healthcare industry. Second, you should get back to work creating a piece of legislation that unlocks the free markets power to drive down costs, and create supply and innovation that it has to a higher degree in this country than all others combined. Finally, please contemplate the concept of privacy. I know in this day and age people seem willing to abandon their anonymity and the freedom that that begets to ones soul, but they are misguided. I cannot conceive as anything more personal to ones life then the medical care they have or will receive - I do not want my care or the care of my family to become the purview of some bureaucrat in Washington D.C. I want my families care to remain between us and our doctors and nurses.

In closing, I am firmly aware, as you should be, that you are part of an institution whose record is not good. In the hundred or so odd Congress’s what does the Country have to show for your efforts? Trillions in debt and deficits. Blind monkeys who randomly hit the “yea” or “nay” button could have done a better job. But it is now up to you. Will you vote yes and commit this nation to bankruptcy, or will you vote no and then get right back to work crafting a solution to this mess?


ObamaCare's Worst Tax Hike -

Yet his claims are just plain wrong, as already exposed by the Congressional Budget Office. The government can't spend the same Medicare dollar twice: Either it can reduce the deficit or extend the life of Medicare, but not both. this may seem an arcane point, but the White House obviously knows better and yet continues to peddle this falsehood.

The White House has embraced this investment tax because Big Labor opposed its preferred excise tax on high-cost health plans. So the White House decided to delay the excise tax, which meant losing $116.2 billion in revenue over the first 10 years. Voila, out came the 2.9% investment tax.

AP Fact Check: Premiums would rise under Obama plan - - Rochester News, Weather, and Sports

Buyers, beware: President Barack Obama says his health care overhaul will lower premiums by double digits, but check the fine print.

Premiums are likely to keep going up even if the health care bill passes, experts say. If cost controls work as advertised, annual increases would level off with time. But don't look for a rollback. Instead, the main reason premiums would be more affordable is that new government tax credits would help cover the cost for millions of people.

The Educated Idiots Award (Vol. 1, No. 2): ‘Hurt so Good’

So let’s recap: The PRC can simultaneously vote for and escape from Iranian sanctions; our allies can vote for and follow sanctions; and the Obama Administration can claim a talking point victory for “smart power.” (For those unfamiliar with the term, in educated idiots’ parlance “smart power” means “peace through speech.”)

In an analysis by the Monty Hall Institute for Deal Making, the PRC gets door number one and our allies get the shaft.

Honor - The Sniper

Why Is Obama Trying to Make America More Like Sweden when Swedes Are Trying to Be Less Like Sweden?

Hilarious analogy about halfway through the video regarding currency devaluation (which we no doubt will soon experience).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Snorting Cocaine Causes Global Warming - Associated Content -

Is the left beginning to consume itself?

Do Pelosi and the Democrats Have the Health Care Votes? Here's the Math - The Note

Sometimes the comments beat the articles:

No-one has been able to explain how a government that has failed to manage all entitlement programs to date could suddenly find a magical way to eliminate the very waste, fraud and abuse it seemingly thrives on by passing a 2000+ page bill. No matter how the CBO scores the cost we know from experience that the government cannot manage it.

The national debt though the ceiling has been raised twice within months has passed the $14.3 trillion ceiling according to the “bluedog democrats” website. The unfunded liabilities (say entitlements) are in excess of $105 trillion compared to the net worth of all US assets valued at $51.5 trillion. Current projections have the national debt doubling in just five years and tripling in ten.

webfinger - Project Hosting on Google Code

I had forgotten about this...

People have been trying to use URLs as identifiers for people (as OpenID does), as it has great readability/discoverability properties, but this effort has largely failed because of UI/UX design failings, user confusion about URLs, etc.

It's now increasingly accepted that email addresses would be good identifiers for people (since that's what people are used to already, and have on business cards and in their addressbooks, etc.), but we're back to the original problem that email addresses are write-only.

If I give you my email address today, you can't do anything with it except email me. I can't attach public metadata to my email address to give you more information.

WebFinger is about making email addresses more valuable, by letting people attach public metadata to them. That metadata might include:

public profile data
pointer to identity provider (e.g. OpenID server)
a public key
other services used by that email address (e.g. Flickr, Picasa, Smugmug, Twitter, Facebook, and usernames for each)
a URL to an avatar
profile data (nickname, full name, etc)
whether the email address is also a JID, or explicitly declare that it's NOT an email, and ONLY a JID, or any combination to disambiguate all the addresses that look like
or even a public declaration that the email address doesn't have public metadata, but has a pointer to an endpoint that, provided authentication, will tell you some protected metadata, depending on who you authenticate as.
... but rather than fight about the exact contents of that file, WebFinger is about making that file discoverable at all. The community can explore and innovate within that discovery file later.

Beyond The iPhone: A World of Opportunity - Mobile Industry Review

Of course it’s not just Ocado guilty of this iFascism (“only focusing on the iPhone”) — the industry is rife with it. While everyone is busy competing with each other on the iPhone, there’s a land-grab beginning on the other platforms. It’s been ok to ignore these platforms whilst they’ve been busy struggling to establish themselves.

They’re established now.

Slaughter House Rules -

This two-votes-in-one gambit is a brazen affront to the plain language of the Constitution, which is intended to require democratic accountability. Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution says that in order for a "Bill" to "become a Law," it "shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate." This is why the House and Senate typically have a conference committee to work out differences in what each body passes. While sometimes one house cedes entirely to another, the expectation is that its Members must re-vote on the exact language of the other body's bill.

As Stanford law professor Michael McConnell pointed out in these pages yesterday, "The Slaughter solution attempts to allow the House to pass the Senate bill, plus a bill amending it, with a single vote. The senators would then vote only on the amendatory bill. But this means that no single bill will have passed both houses in the same form." If Congress can now decide that the House can vote for one bill and the Senate can vote for another, and the final result can be some arbitrary hybrid, then we have abandoned one of Madison's core checks and balances

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mary Anastasia O'Grady: Democrats and Haiti Telecom -

Among Mr. Kennedy's more hilarious claims is that Fusion's sweetheart deal with Teleco was "an innovative agreement" and an example of "deregulation of state-owned monopolies." The FCC has suggested otherwise in another similar situation. In 2008 it fined New Jersey-based IDT $400,000 for failing to file its 2003 Teleco agreement for 8.75 cents per minute, a 66% discount from the official rate.

An American entrepreneur who does business in the Caribbean recently explained the Haitian landscape to me this way: "We did not bother with Haiti as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act precludes legitimate U.S. entities from entering the Haitian market. Haiti is pure pay to play. The benefit of competitive submarine cables would be transformative for the Haitians. Instead, they were stuck with Clinton cronies taxing the poor."

Wait until the FCC gets ahold of our Internet!

Ning CEO Gina Bianchini Moving to Andreessen Horowitz | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD

Gina Bianchini, the high-profile CEO of social networking platform Ning, is stepping down and will become an executive in residence at the Andreessen Horowitz venture firm.

I hope this isn't a bad sign.

Ning to me has gotten far less traction than it deserves.

As the first generation of home-user web pages gave way to users buying their own domain name and virtual servers, it seems natural to me that what I consider to be primitive social networks such as MySpace and Facebook should give way to "platforms" as they put it that allows every car club, every condominium, and every something else that starts with "c" to form their own social network, allowing an individual to both own and operate social networks and/or just participate in multiple ones.

Ning has not only failed to draw eyeballs from the lame forerunners, but has failed to spawn copy-cat services, and after all, at Facebook, copy-cat is a specialty!

Anyway, it is discouraging to think that along with Andreessen, my thinking is so far out ahead of the pack as to be invisible to common folk. Or something.

I wish the company (and its founders) well.

Red Menace: Stop the Ug99 Fungus Before Its Spores Bring Starvation | Magazine

Stem rust is the polio of agriculture, a plague that was brought under control nearly half a century ago as part of the celebrated Green Revolution. After years of trial and error, scientists managed to breed wheat that contained genes capable of repelling the assaults of Puccinia graminis, the formal name of the fungus.

But now it’s clear: The triumph didn’t last. While languishing in the Ugandan highlands, a small population of P. graminis evolved the means to overcome mankind’s most ingenious genetic defenses. This distinct new race of P. graminis, dubbed Ug99 after its country of origin (Uganda) and year of christening (1999), is storming east, working its way through Africa and the Middle East and threatening India and China. More than a billion lives are at stake. “It’s an absolute game-changer,” says Brian Steffenson, a cereal-disease expert at the University of Minnesota who travels to Njoro regularly to observe the enemy in the wild. “The pathogen takes out pretty much everything we have.”

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Apple Details iPad's Battery Replacement Plan

(Which is as stupid as all their other battery replacement plans.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Slashdot Science Story | Former Astronauts Call Obama NASA Plans "Catastrophic"

"Talking to the BBC at a private function held at the Royal Society in London, former astronauts Jim Lovell and Eugene Cernan both spoke out about Obama's decision to postpone further moon missions. Lovell claimed that 'it will have catastrophic consequences in our ability to explore space and the spin-offs we get from space technology,' while Cernan noted he was 'disappointed' to have been the last person to land on the moon. Said Cernan: 'I think America has a responsibility to maintain its leadership in technology and its moral leadership ... to seek knowledge. Curiosity's the essence of human existence.' Neil Armstrong, who was also at the event, avoided commenting on the subject."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Android Growing RIDICULOUSLY Faster Than All Other Mobile Platforms (In the US) | Android Phone Fans

Security industry faces attacks it cannot stop | ITworld

Many security experts now agree that patches, up-to-date antivirus, plus intrusion detection systems are not enough to protect companies from the worst of today's cyberthreats.

"The security industry's going to have to think about selling solutions that actually work with this type of environment," Isec's Stamos said. "Basically nothing that people have bought over the last 16 years is going to help them stop a single guy sitting at a computer who is a Windows shellcode person targeting one person, and spending months to break into that computer." Shellcode is the initial payload program hackers use to install further programs, once they have hacked into a system.

But that message hasn't quite sunk in everywhere in the corporate world, said Paul Melson, information security manager with Priority Health, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. "A lot of companies have either turned their security teams into compliance teams or are still fighting the same fight they were fighting six or seven years ago." TSA says guard who was away from post during Newark Airport security breach will be back on the job

The guard who was away from his post at Newark Airport when a graduate student ducked into a secured area was notified today of his discipline, a Transportation Security Administration official said today.

The federal agency, which has not named the guard, would not release details of the disciplinary action, saying it is a protected personnel matter, but confirmed the guard will be back on the job.

From the comments:
I worked with the TSA for almost a year. Most of the employees had good intentions but there were many who could barely put two words together to make a sentence. I was in a supervisory position and I couldn't believe some of the people that were hired. I had to get out of there.

George F. Will - Justices and politicians should boycott the State of the Union -

Roberts was responding to a question concerning the kerfuffle about Barack Obama's January address, wherein Obama criticized -- and flagrantly mischaracterized -- a recent Supreme Court decision that loosened limits on political speech. The decision neither overturned "a century of law" nor conferred an entitlement on foreign corporations to finance U.S. candidates. Nevertheless, the Democratic donkeys arrayed in front of Obama leapt onto their hind legs and brayed in unison, while the six justices who were present sat silently. Justice Samuel Alito, in an act of lèse majesté, appeared to mutter "not true" about Obama's untruths.

The Skeptics Handbook

This booklet has captured attention around the world.

Donors have paid for over 160,000 copies so far in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and soon in Germany. Over 60,000 copies have been downloaded from this site (and countless others from copies on other sites.) Plus volunteers have translated it into German, French, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, Turkish, Portuguese Danish, Japanese, Balkan and Spanish. (Versions in Thai, Dutch, and possibly Italian are on the way). Updates are placed here, along with translations, as well as places to read comments and links to the web-pages where each part of the handbook will be discussed.

(free PDF download)

In 1999, a U.S. National Research Council panel was commissioned to study the state of the U.S. climate observing systems and issued a report entitled: “Adequacy of Climate Observing Systems. National Academy Press”, online here The panel was chaired by Dr. Tom Karl, director of the National Climatic Center, and Dr. James Hansen, lead climate researcher at NASA GISS. That panel concluded:

"The 1997 Conference on the World Climate Research Programme to the Third Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change concluded that the ability to monitor the global climate was inadequate and deteriorating."

YA THINK? The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don't Want You to Know About--Because They Helped Cause Them

Al Gore is bad for the planet...
Talk about really inconvenient truths--that's one of the many you'll find in Iain Murray's rollicking exposé of environmental blowhards who waste more energy, endanger more species, and actually kill more people (yes, that's right) than the environmental villains they finger. Did you know that estrogen from birth control and "morning after" pills is causing male fish across America to develop female sex organs? Funny how "pro-choice" and "environmentalist" liberals never talk about that. Or how about this: the Live Earth concert to "save the planet" released more CO2 into the atmosphere than a fleet of 2,000 Humvees emit in a year? We hear a lot about AIDS in Africa, but the number one killer of children in much of Africa is malaria--and guess who was responsible for banning the pesticide that used to have malaria under control? Iain Murray, a sprightly conservative environmental analyst with a long record of skewering liberal hypocrisy, has dug up seven of the all-time great environmental catastrophes caused by the Left and exposed them in The Really Inconvenient Truths. Murray lays bare:

* How ethanol, the liberals' favorite fuel, is destroying the world's rainforests--and could cause global food shortages
* How Al Gore's hero Rachel Carson cost the lives of millions of Africans through her efforts to ban DDT
* How the environmentalists have covered up the polluting effects of contraceptive and chemical abortion drugs
* How the Endangered Species Act actually endangers species
* How Gore's vision of greater state control over the economy has already produced some of the greatest environmental disasters in history

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Silver bullet from U.S. states kills 'mandatory' Obamacare

"A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action," the CBO report stated. "The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States. An individual mandate would have two features that, in combination, would make it unique. First, it would impose a duty on individuals as members of society. Second, it would require people to purchase a specific service that would be heavily regulated by the federal government."

Opponents say the individual mandate is unconstitutional because the Constitution doesn't grant the federal government power to fine citizens for refusing to purchase goods and services. Ken Klukowski, senior legal analyst with the American Civil Rights Union, explained in a Politico commentary why there is no constitutional basis for the individual mandate.

Mark Zuckerberg's 2004 Email Break-In Could Be A Felony

Mark Zuckerberg's hacking of email accounts and user profiles in 2004 could be felonies under Federal and state law, according to privacy lawyers.

As we described last week, Mark used login data of early Facebook members to break in to the private email accounts of two Harvard Crimson editors. He also broke into the systems of competitor ConnectU and changed user profiles, also according to IMs.

Obama Justice Department Shut Down Federal ACORN Investigation According to Documents Obtained by Judicial Watch

The ACORN documents uncovered by Judicial Watch include internal FBI memoranda, signed affidavits, subpoenas, fraudulent voter registration cards, and publications describing ACORN's policies and practices. The documents also include details regarding numerous allegations of corruption extending beyond voter registration fraud, to include attempts by ACORN employees to coerce workers to participate in campaign activities on behalf of Democratic candidates.

"These documents reflect systematic voter registration fraud by ACORN," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "It is a scandal that there has been no comprehensive criminal investigation and prosecution by the Justice Department into this evident criminal conduct. Given President Obama's close connections to ACORN, including his campaign's hiring of the ACORN's Project Vote organization, it seems rather obvious why Attorney General Holder has failed to seriously investigate these and other alleged ACORN criminal activities."

Politics, shaky economy create no rush to restructure Fannie and Freddie -

The federal government has spent the past half year seeking to roll back its emergency efforts at propping up the financial markets -- with the notable exception of its involvement in mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Does Barney still have a boyfriend there?

Grovelling with Gadhafi -

At first, State refused to back down and said that "the call for jihad against any country or person could cause damage and this is not something that the United States does not take lightly." The principled stand lasted less than two weeks, before Mr. Crowley ate his crow for speaking the truth about a silly if ruthless dictator in north Africa.

As a comment pointed out the State Department's use of English is probably no better than Gadhafi's. After factoring out all the "not"s, what he said was that the US does take these matters lightly.

American Thinker: Barack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured Crisis

In an earlier post, I noted the liberal record of unmitigated legislative disasters, the latest of which is now being played out in the financial markets before our eyes. Before the 1994 Republican takeover, Democrats had sixty years of virtually unbroken power in Congress - with substantial majorities most of the time. Can a group of smart people, studying issue after issue for years on end, with virtually unlimited resources at their command, not come up with a single policy that works? Why are they chronically incapable?


One of two things must be true. Either the Democrats are unfathomable idiots, who ignorantly pursue ever more destructive policies despite decades of contrary evidence, or they understand the consequences of their actions and relentlessly carry on anyway because they somehow benefit.

I submit to you they understand the consequences. For many it is simply a practical matter of eliciting votes from a targeted constituency at taxpayer expense; we lose a little, they gain a lot, and the politician keeps his job. But for others, the goal is more malevolent - the failure is deliberate. Don't laugh. This method not only has its proponents, it has a name: the Cloward-Piven Strategy. It describes their agenda, tactics, and long-term strategy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

CAPE WIND: Wine-Sipping Hypocrites Preach Gospel Of Renewable Energy...As Long As It Doesn't Wreck The View

So one suspects that what is really going on is that the fierce opposition to Cape Wind, which has now lasted more than 9 years, boils down to a handful of rich beachfront homeowners don't want anything impinging on their view.

The folks who live on the shores of Cape Cod and sail their boats across Nantucket Sound, after all, are some of the richest people in the world. (As they have to be, to live and sail there). Those folks have gotten used to a turbine-free view. No doubt, some of the more forward-thinking of them talk a good game about the benefits of recycling, conservation, renewable energy, and other forms of "green" innovation, but they'll be damned if they support these things if they wreck the view.

Family Resemblance?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Entourage Edge Review - A Review of the Entourage Edge

Are two screens better than one? Aimed primarily at students, the Entourage Edge is a $499 eReader-tablet combo with a 9.7-inch eInk screen on one side (like the Kindle 2) and a 10.1-inch color LCD on the other. The company calls it a dualbook, and it’s hard not to be impressed by its sheer versatility. You can use this Android-powered device to download and read eBooks, take digital notes with the included stylus, and record lectures. And when class is dismissed—or before, your call—you can check your favorite sites, as well as play music and videos. While we appreciate this gadget’s dual personalities, its design is a bit clunky, there’s a dearth of available apps, and some features are not yet activated. Read on to find out if the Edge really doubles your pleasure.

Wow! This looks like the best of both worlds.

Shares of Bailed-Out Firms Rally -

None of the companies released specific news, but a series of reports and market speculation snowballed as the day went on.

Ah, yes. The old "no specific news" rally. Just the sort of thing some people who have already been burned need to escape with a fraction of what they used to have.

YouTube - Stupid in America

This is what's wrong with our county. Not healthcare, not the environment. We have fallen into a system where kids don't have the "ammunition" to make day to day decisions for themselves, let alone elect people who represent their best interests. Why do we keep electing people that promise handouts but don't deliver on the basics that we are already paying for?

This isn't new either. But it's gotten much worse than when I was in public school in the 50s. We learned the basics, were exposed to history, knew how our government worked, didn't have to count on our fingers or stumble over reading. But we've just witnessed an election (and this isn't the first time) where grand promises were made for "change", but very few people asked "to what?" Less and less do we see real analysis done on what the promises represent or when enacted what the results are. The system we have is self perpetuating mediocrity. If we don't escape this cycle of dumbing ourselves down, it is only a matter of time before we elect a dictatorship of some sort that throws any vestiges of liberty we have out the window. And nobody will notice.

Low-Tax Texas Beats Big-Government California - Rasmussen Reports™

Those Democratic majorities have obediently done the bidding of public employee unions to the point that state government faces huge budget deficits. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's attempt to reduce the power of the Democratic-union combine with referenda was defeated in 2005 when public employee unions poured $100 million -- all originally extracted from taxpayers -- into effective TV ads.

Californians have responded by leaving the state. From 2000 to 2009, the Census Bureau estimates, there has been a domestic outflow of 1,509,000 people from California -- almost as many as the number of immigrants coming in. Population growth has not been above the national average and, for the first time in history, it appears that California will gain no House seats or electoral votes from the reapportionment following the 2010 Census.

Texas is a different story. Texas has low taxes -- and no state income taxes -- and a much smaller government. Its legislature meets for only 90 days every two years, compared to California's year-round legislature. Its fiscal condition is sound. Public employee unions are weak or nonexistent.

But Texas seems to be delivering superior services. Its teachers are paid less than California's. But its test scores -- and with a demographically similar school population -- are higher. California's once fabled freeways are crumbling and crowded. Texas has built gleaming new highways in metro Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth.

Global Warming:A Chilling Perspective

"The case for a 'greenhouse problem' is made by environmentalists, news anchormen , and special interests who make inaccurate and misleading statements about global warming and climate change. Even though people may be skeptical of such rhetoric initially, after awhile people start believing it must be true because we hear it so often."

Monday, March 08, 2010

YouTube - Hitler vs AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming, ala "Man-made climate change")

How Pandora Avoided the Junkyard, and Found Success -

At the end of 2009, Pandora reported its first profitable quarter and $50 million in annual revenue — mostly from ads and the rest from subscriptions and payments from iTunes and when people buy music. Revenue will probably be $100 million this year, said Ralph Schackart, a digital media analyst at William Blair.

Pandora’s success can be credited to old-fashioned perseverance, its ability to harness intense loyalty from users and a willingness to shift directions — from business to consumer, from subscription to free, from computer to mobile — when its fortunes flagged.

Dan Rather: 'Articulate' Obama Couldn't Even 'Sell Watermelons' |

While Rather may not have been being intentionally racist one has to wonder what the reaction would be if a conservative had used similiar [sic] language on the show.

So, what's wrong with this graph?

The lesson behind the Chief Justice Roberts rumor -

MSM: Idiots.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Planet Moron: We Understand They Also Welcome Customers Of Different Faiths

Sure, demanding that a private business insert itself into a debate more properly argued and settled in the public sphere is compelling.

But so is an attractive woman packing heat.

But that might just be us.

Friday, March 05, 2010

YouTube - Spitzer Revised Campaign Ad

Congressional estimates show grim deficit picture - Yahoo! News

A new congressional report released Friday says the United States' long-term fiscal woes are even worse than predicted by President Barack Obama's grim budget submission last month.


And most certainly even worse than those of the CBO.

YouTube - Harry Reid: Only 36,000 Lost Their Jobs Today

Too bad you weren't one of them.

Salmonella prompts processed-food recall -

Salmonella was detected early last month in one lot of the flavor enhancer -- hydrolyzed vegetable protein, or HVP -- made by Basic Food Flavors, as well as inside the company's Nevada manufacturing facility, the FDA said. The company, one of only a handful that make HVP, has an extensive customer list. The additive, which comes as a powder or a paste and is mixed into foods to give them a meaty or savory flavor, is similar to monosodium glutamate, or MSG.

FRONTLINE: the warning: watch the full program online | PBS

Greenspan, Rubin and Summers ultimately prevailed on Congress to stop Born and limit future regulation of derivatives. "Born faced a formidable struggle pushing for regulation at a time when the stock market was booming," Kirk says. "Alan Greenspan was the maestro, and both parties in Washington were united in a belief that the markets would take care of themselves."

Now, with many of the same men who shut down Born in key positions in the Obama administration, The Warning reveals the complicated politics that led to this crisis and what it may say about current attempts to prevent the next one.
Thanks for that link. There was a lot of good information in that and presented in mostly a non-partisan way. Interestingly not one mention of Bush and his appointees who let the status quo stand. Some other things omitted though:

Greenspan admitted his mistake, as did Levitt, the others didn't. He is often associated with Ayn Rand, but I have a feeling she would disavow any association with how he earned his living during his latter years. Even though the documentary touched on this, the implication is left that all our problems can be drawn back to this free market concept. Ayn Rand would be in favor of fraud? Talk about derivatives...that's not derivable from the facts. Rand's heros were people who got their hands dirty. An architect comfortable with showing up at a construction site. A railroad tycoon. And inventor. If anything it would be the villains in her books that would sit in a tower and manipulate spreadsheets without connection to any underlying reality.

Also noticeably missing were Greenspan's pronouncements of "irrational exuberance" that preceded the Clinton recession. The same recession that Rubin was making phone calls to postpone until they were out of office. Greenspan's other mantra, that I've seen him utter hundreds of times during congressional testimony was that the growth of government spending, entitlements and so on were unsustainable.

Let's simplify: All these evils are the same, whether it is unsustainable spending, or derivatives based on commodities that don't exist, in both cases we are printing money that isn't based on anything real. We traded irrational exuberance in the Internet economy to irrational exuberance in the real estate market and now we'll transfer that exuberance to unfunded future mandates regarding health care and solar panels. In all cases the outcome will be an eventual crash when reality rears its ugly head.

Each generation of politicos tries to maintain the illusion until they are out of office or retire. The increasing numbers of retirements are explained by the insiders view that time is running out, the music is about to stop and you had better be ready to grab a chair or be left standing. And as with the children's game, there are fewer and fewer chairs left.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

In Massa Scandal, Will Dems Be Held Accountable by MSM? Are You Kidding? - Big Journalism

Remember when Florida Congressman Mark Foley was outed for sexual misconduct with male pages in the House of Representatives in 2006? You’ll recall that the Democrats and the Old Media and the left were in some high dudgeon over the claim that Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert knew all about it before the scandal erupted and played the story endlessly for months on end.

Well, with Congressman Eric Massa from New York we have a Democrat also accused of sexual misconduct with a male page and we similarly find out that the Democratic leadership knew all about it. Will the Old Media make as much about Dem. Majority Leader Stenny Hoyer’s knowledge of Massa’s sexual misconduct as it did about the Republican leadership’s supposed knowledge of Foley’s?

Paul D. Ryan: Dissecting the Real Cost of ObamaCare -

Mr. President, you said health-care reform is budget reform. You're right. We agree with that. Medicare, right now, has a $38 trillion unfunded liability. That's $38 trillion in empty promises to my parents' generation, our generation, our kids' generation. Medicaid's growing at 21 percent each year. It's suffocating states' budgets. It's adding trillions in obligations that we have no means to pay for . . .

And if you take a look at the CBO analysis—analysis from your chief actuary—I think it's very revealing. This bill does not control costs. This bill does not reduce deficits. Instead, this bill adds a new health-care entitlement at a time when we have no idea how to pay for the entitlements we already have.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Planet Moron: Now You Go Pay

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner: [Walking in oval office] Have you two heard?
Emanuel: I just told him.
Geithner: I never saw this coming. Who could?
Emanuel: Well, you never were that good with numbers.
Obama: Now, boys…
Emanuel: Mr. President, we have to do something. We have to get Congress to extend unemployment benefits. Again. It could cost as much as $10 billion
Obama: I know, but how? They passed PayGo just two weeks ago. Where am I going to find $10 billion in a multi-trillion-dollar budget?
Geithner: Exactly! That’s like, what? 50% or something?
Obama: Tim, could you go take a seat. No, in the other room.

This piece is hilarious! Go read the whole thing!

Or maybe it's actually a transcript.

Planet Moron: “Little Pink Box of Love?” Or “Little Petrie Dish Of Deadly Contamination?!?!”

The owners have been putting out coffee and donuts in what they called their “little pink box of love” for their customers to enjoy for over 15 years in the complete and flagrant absence of a stainless steel sink with hot and cold water as the law, nay, as common decency, demands.

What were they thinking?

Simple answer: They weren’t.

Sadly, this is all too familiar a scene. Citizens across the United States seem to believe that they can do simple everyday things without the permission of the authorities.

Feeling Heat From Ford, GM Reshuffles Managers

"Our sales were down because we were operating on an empty shelf," said Jerry Seiner, who has three GM dealerships in Utah. "If we'd have had the vehicles, there is no way Ford would have come close to us." Mr. Seiner said he ran out of Chevrolet Equinox crossovers and Suburban sport-utility vehicles in February.

Funny I lived 2 hours from any GM dealership that had a decent selection. They closed that one down. Genius.

I think the headline should have included the words "deck chairs".

Paterson Misled Inquiry on Gifts, New York Panel Says -

Gov. David A. Paterson falsely testified under oath during an ethics investigation into his acceptance of free World Series tickets last fall, according to the State Commission on Public Integrity, which announced Wednesday that it had asked prosecutors to determine if criminal charges should be brought against the governor.

Now wait a minute, we've established the Clinton doctrine that it is OK to lie about it as long as he "didn't actually have sex with that woman" (and as long as you are a Democrat) and that "if the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit" (if you are a minority.) But if they found $100K in his freezer he must voluntarily not seek a subsequent term.

A Republican who shuffles his feet the wrong way in a restroom must immediately resign.

It all makes perfect sense doesn't it?

Obama urges Congress to 'finish its work' on reform bill

Flanked by doctors and nurses in white coats, Obama said, "I do not see how another year of negotiations would help. Moreover, the insurance companies aren't starting over. They are continuing to raise premiums and deny coverage as we speak. For us to start over now could simply lead to delay that could last for another decade or even more. The American people and the U.S. economy just can't wait that long."
Pathetic that this administration reduces the intelligence of the American voter to the level of an Opra  show or a daytime soap.  Just pathetic.

Apple's Wimpy Patent Suit Is Proof That It's Terrified Of Google

Apple should continue to grow its position in the smartphone business by being better than its competitors, out-innovating them, out-designing them, out-pricing them, out-marketing them, and out-selling them, using patents as defensive protection.

Instead, it's going on the offense with patents, not just products, which reeks of fear. As Apple blogger John Gruber reiterated yesterday on his site Daring Fireball, "If you can't beat 'em, sue 'em." He added, "I feel this suit against HTC is a terrible mistake."



Mark E. Klein: Obama's Special Health Treatment -

I applaud the president. He and his physicians correctly recognized virtual colonoscopy as an excellent alternative to screen for colon cancer. Why undergo a traditional colonoscopy—a procedure that carries a risk of serious complication and requires sedation—when a safer screening method is available?

Of course, the problem is that Americans over the age of 65 do not currently enjoy the same option. They cannot have a virtual colonoscopy unless they are willing to pay out of their own pockets for it. You can imagine their surprise to learn that the president had personally chosen a procedure that his own administration had decided did not warrant Medicare coverage.

Abuse of Power -

President Clinton preferred to use reconciliation to pass HillaryCare in the 1990s, but he was dissuaded by West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, who argued that it would be an abuse of the process. Mr. Byrd, author of a four-volume history of Senate rules and procedures, told the Washington Post last March that "The misuse of the arcane process of reconciliation—a process intended for deficit reduction—to enact substantive policy changes is an undemocratic disservice to our people and to the Senate's institutional role," specifically citing health reform and cap and trade.

Regrets, they've got a few. Yet these Democratic Sinatras will still do it their way. President Obama is expected to endorse reconciliation in remarks this morning.

Abuse of Power -

A string of electoral defeats and the great unpopularity of ObamaCare can't stop Democrats from their self-appointed rendezvous with liberal destiny—ramming a bill through Congress on a narrow partisan vote. What we are about to witness is an extraordinary abuse of traditional Senate rules to pass a bill merely because they think it's good for the rest of us, and because they fear their chance to build a European welfare state may never come again.

Jim Bunning's Finest Hour -

Throughout his Hall of Fame baseball career, Jim Bunning was famous for the brush back pitch: a fastball inside to a batter crowding the plate. Now Mr. Bunning, a Republican from Kentucky who is retiring after this year, is throwing a political brush back in the Senate on behalf of fiscal responsibility.

And all hell has broken loose. Mr. Bunning has dared to put a hold on a $10 billion spending bill to extend jobless insurance and fund transportation projects. Mr. Bunning says he won't yield until the Senate finds a way to pay for the new spending with cuts somewhere else in the $3.5 trillion budget. For this perfectly reasonable stance, Mr. Bunning has become the Beltway and media villain of the hour. We'd call it his finest hour.

What Steve Jobs Said During His Wall Street Journal iPad Demo - Steve Jobs - Gawker

Jobs reportedly said the Journal would find "It's trivial to create video in H.264" instead of Flash. Depending on how the Journal handled the video conversion, that could be true, and for the moment H. 264 is a cheap and effective way to distribute Web video. But we assume Jobs didn't mention that H. 264 is patented, privately licensed and could get expensive fast.

Even setting that aside, H. 264 does not fully replace Flash. While it can handle video, it does not comprise a system for the rapid development of interactive graphics, as Flash does. Yet Jobs also reportedly said Flash would be "trivial" in this sense, as well — that it would be "trivial" to make an entire copy of the Journal website with the non-video Flash content also redone.

That's just not right; even assuming the Journal could duplicate its Flash slideshows, infographics and other news apps using iPad-friendly technologies like Javascript, it would take a decidedly nontrivial amount of time and effort to create or acquire such a system, hire staff who understand it as well as Flash, train staff on how to use it, and integrate it into the Journal's editorial workflow. It might be a great way to advance web standards like HTML5, and a great way to get the Journal on more devices, but it would hardly be "trivial."

It's not clear to us how assembled Journal honchos collectively reacted to these statements, but its worth noting that shortly after the meeting, on Feb. 10, editorial board member Holman Jenkins issued a WSJ op-ed comparing Apple to Microsoft and saying the company "is in danger of becoming preoccupied with zero-sum maneuvering versus hated rivals." His primary and lead example of this sort of "maneuvering" was Jobs' decision to keep Flash off the iPad.