Friday, April 30, 2010

How bad will it be for BP? Think Toyota | Lou Ann Hammond on carlist.com

How bad will it be for BP? Think Toyota | Lou Ann Hammond on carlist.com
No car company that is using brake override has the lawsuits looming that Toyota has in their future. The number of deaths related to these lawsuits are unparalleled. This incident is a marketing nightmare for the once golden global car company.

The 2010 Gulf oil spill will be a marketing nightmare for BP as well. Lives have already been lost. Gone is the flower power, beyond petroleum, buy from us because even though our core product is oil we are investing in alternative energies campaign.

The campaign for both companies now is damage control, and this campaign will cost both companies billions of dollars.

A complete disaster, that could have been averted, or minimized by utilizing one piece of equipment that was available.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Al Gore, Tipper Gore snap up Montecito-area villa - latimes.com

Al Gore, Tipper Gore snap up Montecito-area villa - latimes.com

Al Gore to worshipful followers: "SUCKERS!"

Nasa: Evidence of life on Mars | The Sun |News

Nasa: Evidence of life on Mars | The Sun |News
A special mission to the Red Planet has revealed the likely presence of a form of pond scum - the building blocks of life as we know it.

NASA has announced that due to budget changes the next Mars mission rather than carrying more sophisticated measurement equipment will instead will be a simple robotic arm equipped with a can of Lysol.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Video - Addressing America's Addiction to Deficits - WSJ.com

Baby boy survives for nearly two days after abortion - Telegraph

Baby boy survives for nearly two days after abortion - Telegraph:
"Most abortions at 22 weeks simply involve the induction of the birth which normally results in the death of a young foetus.

The case is causing uproar in Italy because it is the second involving a foetus of that age surviving the procedure in just three years.

The other involved a baby in Florence who weighed just 17oz when he was aborted at 22 weeks because of a suspected genetic disorder but lived for three days."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Reports Show BP Opposed New Safety Rules - WSJ.com

Reports Show BP Opposed New Safety Rules - WSJ.com
As BP touted the scale of the cleanup, documents showed that it was one of several companies that opposed efforts to tighten up safety procedures offshore. Last year, the MMS studied more than 1,400 offshore incidents that led to 41 deaths and hundreds of injuries between 2001 and 2007. Many of them, the MMS found, were linked to factors such as communications failures, a lack of written procedures and the failure of supervisors to enforce existing rules, and proposed mandatory requirements to reduce the number of incidents. That would have replaced a system under which many safety procedures were voluntary.

iPhone Leak Investigation Pauses As DA Ponders Gizmodo Shield Law Defense

iPhone Leak Investigation Pauses As DA Ponders Gizmodo Shield Law Defense
When I asked if it was typical for the DA to evaluate the relevance of these shield laws after removing evidence, Wagstaffe did concede that it was unusual. Which makes the situation extremely odd— it should have been readily apparent that Gawker would defend its actions using this shield law defense, why put the brakes on after the fact?

DUH!

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint

Enemy Lurks in Briefings on Afghan War - PowerPoint - NYTimes.com
“PowerPoint makes us stupid,” Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina. (He spoke without PowerPoint.) Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who banned PowerPoint presentations when he led the successful effort to secure the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, followed up at the same conference by likening PowerPoint to an internal threat.

“It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control,” General McMaster said in a telephone interview afterward. “Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.”

No argument here.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The leftist propaganda of American media is not new | The Real Revo

The leftist propaganda of American media is not new | The Real Revo
The evidence, however, is blatant and undeniable. Malcolm Muggeridge of the Manchester Guardian contemporary of Duranty and described him as “the greatest liar of any journalist I have met in fifty years of journalism.” He also wrote this of Duranty and his fellow travelers in Moscow.
Wise old [Bernard]Shaw, high-minded old [Henri]Barbusse, the venerable [Sidney and Beatrice] Webbs, [Andre] Gide the pure in heart and [Pablo] Picasso the impure, down to poor little teachers, crazed clergymen and millionaires, driveling dons and very special correspondents like Duranty, all resolved, come what might, to believe anything, however preposterous, to overlook nothing, however villainous, to approve anything, however obscurantist and brutally authoritarian, in order to be able to preserve intact the confident expectation that one of the most thorough-going, ruthless and bloody tyrannies ever to exist on earth could be relied on to champion human freedom, the brotherhood of man, and all the other good liberal causes to which they had dedicated their lives.

America allowed itself to be deceived by Western propagandists of terror and murder. We lived in denial while horror was imposed on millions. The tradition continues. The willingness of today’s mainstream media to grovel at the feet of totalitarianism has a long and extensive pedigree.

The Washington Post Makes A Major Factual Error « The Baseline Scenario

The Washington Post Makes A Major Factual Error « The Baseline Scenario
Given that the Washington Post still has a large staff of excellent journalists working around the world, they could try asking G20 deputies about this in detail – or even just consult with top regulators in the UK who can lay this all out for them. And while they are at it, it would be worth writing a story on why there is no G20-level process to establish a cross-border resolution mechanism – and no likelihood of such a mechanism for the next 20 years.

Absolutely Pathetic: AP Report Says GM, Chrysler Lost 400,000 Jobs in 2008 | NewsBusters.org

Absolutely Pathetic: AP Report Says GM, Chrysler Lost 400,000 Jobs in 2008 | NewsBusters.org
For the record, total U.S. employment at General Motors at the end of 2007 was about 110,000, according to this early February 2008 item. This November 2007 link indicates that Chrysler at that point had 71,000 employees worldwide (59,000 expected to remain plus 12,000 jobs expected to be eliminated). The two entities combined obviously did not have 400,000 U.S. jobs to shed at the beginning of 2008. Whether they are even legitimately "rebounding" is also more than a little questionable, but will be left alone for now.

Superville's stunner makes it clear that, in journalism and so many other endeavors, the problem isn't only that basic math skills have fallen so steeply (which they have). It's that people who one would expect to be able to detect self-evidently out of line numbers like the one above, i.e., journalists like the AP's Superville reviewing her own work, as well as the layers of alleged editors at the self-described "Essential Global News Network," clearly can't or won't do it.

Tech.view: Hydrogen tries again | The Economist

Tech.view: Hydrogen tries again | The Economist
From the beginning, the cloud hanging over the whole hydrogen enterprise has not been the power source as such, but the intractable difficulty of distributing and storing the stuff. It is not hard to see why. Hydrogen atoms are the smallest and lightest in the universe. The next heaviest element in the periodic table, the inert gas helium, is used for detecting cracks in pressure vessels and the like. Even though helium atoms are four times chunkier than hydrogen atoms, they are still small enough to find all the weak spots as they worm their way through the crystalline structure of solid steel several centimetres thick. If hydrogen were used as a crack detector (it is not because of the fire hazard), it would escape four times faster.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Facebook Is Taking Over The Internet: Why Isn't Everybody Freaking Out?

Facebook Is Taking Over The Internet: Why Isn't Everybody Freaking Out?
From the comments a beauty:

Something born so crooked as F*c*book, with 'sociopath' written all over the corporate DNA in neon, will only implode sooner or later.

I just wonder what apparently ethical and intelligent people like Paul Bucheit (who seems to have penned the "don't be evil" at Google, and come in with an acquisition) are doing there. Must be waiting for money timed to sale contract clauses. Most expensive money he ever got.

Wallison: Fannie and Freddie Amnesia - WSJ.com

Wallison: Fannie and Freddie Amnesia - WSJ.com
One chapter in this story took place in July 2005, when the Senate Banking Committee, then controlled by the Republicans, adopted tough regulatory legislation for the GSEs on a party-line vote—all Republicans in favor, all Democrats opposed. The bill would have established a new regulator for Fannie and Freddie and given it authority to ensure that they maintained adequate capital, properly managed their interest rate risk, had adequate liquidity and reserves, and controlled their asset and investment portfolio growth.

These authorities were necessary to control the GSEs' risk-taking, but opposition by Fannie and Freddie—then the most politically powerful firms in the country—had consistently prevented reform.

The date of the Senate Banking Committee's action is important. It was in 2005 that the GSEs—which had been acquiring increasing numbers of subprime and Alt-A loans for many years in order to meet their HUD-imposed affordable housing requirements—accelerated the purchases that led to their 2008 insolvency. If legislation along the lines of the Senate committee's bill had been enacted in that year, many if not all the losses that Fannie and Freddie have suffered, and will suffer in the future, might have been avoided.

Why was there no action in the full Senate? As most Americans know today, it takes 60 votes to cut off debate in the Senate, and the Republicans had only 55. To close debate and proceed to the enactment of the committee-passed bill, the Republicans needed five Democrats to vote with them. But in a 45 member Democratic caucus that included Barack Obama and the current Senate Banking Chairman Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.), these votes could not be found.

» The New GOP Agenda: GOV2.0 - Big Government

» The New GOP Agenda: GOV2.0 - Big Government
The watchword for Republicans needs to be “productivity.” As in, “Why the hell hasn’t our government gotten more productive?” Here’s why:

For more than two decades, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had collected, analyzed, and published data on labor productivity in the Federal Government. Due to budgetary constraints, the Federal Productivity Measurement Program has been terminated. This article presents some of the statistics produced by the program during the 27 years of its operation. It provides a brief history and explains conceptual underpinnings of the program. Results from the program show a small, but steady increase in output per employee year in the Federal Government from 1967 to 1994, with the rate slowing somewhat after 1982.


WTF? Right? While the US private sector saw its largest productivity gains since the steam engine, the US public sector stuck one thumb in its ass, another in its mouth and took a frigging nap. And got huge pay raises.

Say it with me, boys and girls, “Public Employee Unions are EVIL.”

Brass Tacks: Companies that deploy IT and web services can fire workers while increasing output and reducing prices. Wal-Mart’s got me checking myself out. I spend $30 a year for unlimited phone calls. Look at any government web site. It’s like 1997.

» IndyMac Attack: Did Schumer, Paulson, Soros, and the CRL Kill the Bank and Profit From Its Collapse? - Big Government

» IndyMac Attack: Did Schumer, Paulson, Soros, and the CRL Kill the Bank and Profit From Its Collapse? - Big Government
At the end of 2007, hedge fund billionaire John Paulson invested $15 million in the leftist non-profit, Center for Responsible Lending, their largest single donation ever. Around the same time, Paulson and his employees contributed over $100,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, headed, at the time, by Sen. Chuck Schumer. Roughly six months later, CRL and Sen. Schumer both launched a highly public attack on the California-based mortgage lender, Indymac. The lender failed, wiping out the investment of thousands of people. Roughly six months after that, John Paulson, in partnership with George Soros, bought up the remnants of Indymac for pennies on the dollar.

It is a drama that no longer surprises us, unfortunately. Wealthy investors use their access to elected officials and their checkbook to advocacy groups for private profit. But this story has a twist; a top executive of CRL when this deal went down, Eric Stein, is now working at the Treasury Department, heading up the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Mr. Stein will be the chief federal official designing regulations to protect consumers. Right.

» Scientists: EPA ‘Distorting’ Biofuels Reality - Big Government

» Scientists: EPA ‘Distorting’ Biofuels Reality - Big Government
According to Jeremy Martin, a senior analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Clean Vehicles Program, EPA’s decision to focus on anticipated biofuel emissions as of 2022 “distorts the picture of today’s biofuels.” By 2022, the theory goes, corn crop yields will have increased and biorefining technology will be more efficient and green than it is today. But for now, according to Joe Fargione, a scientist with the Nature Conservancy, “in the near term, natural-gas-powered, dry-milled corn ethanol production results in an increase of greenhouse gas emissions of 12 to 33 percent compared to gasoline.” Worse yet, EPA’s analysis recognizes this. However, ethanol has been redesignated, despite such indicators that it does not meet the renewable fuels criteria.

Don’t talk to aliens, warns Stephen Hawking - Times Online

Don’t talk to aliens, warns Stephen Hawking - Times Online
He concludes that trying to make contact with alien races is “a little too risky”. He said: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

Friday, April 23, 2010

Death of 'Caveman' ends an era in Idaho | Local News | Idaho Statesman

A lifetime of living alone in solitary places shows in Dugout Dick's face in this photo shot in 2002. Born Richard Zimmerman, he was the last of Idaho's legendary loners. Zimmerman died Wednesday.


What?

The man was 94 years old! What is he supposed to look like? Jon Stewart?

Logins for sale: be wary of Facebook friends in need

Facebook users may not consider their accounts to be worth anything on the black market, but a group of 1.5 million logins are currently being hawked by scammers. According to a new report from VeriSign's iDefense, a scammer going by the name of "Kirllos" claims to have gathered the login information for one out of every 300 Facebook users and is trying to sell the accounts to others. The incident is just a reminder that social networking users can't just ignore strangers anymore—they should be able to recognize a phishing attempt from a "friend" when they see it.

While economy crumbled, top financial watchdogs at SEC surfed for porn on Internet: memo

- A senior attorney at the SEC's Washington headquarters spent up to eight hours a day looking at and downloading pornography. When his government computer ran out of hard drive space, he burned the files to CDs or DVDs. He later agreed to resign.

- An accountant was blocked more than 16,000 times in a single month from visiting "sex" or "pornography" sites, but still managed to amass a collection of "very graphic" material by using Google to bypass the SEC's internal filter. He wound up with a 2-week suspension.

- Seventeen of the randy employees were "at a senior level" earning salaries of up to $222,418.


Two weeks!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

How Google Is Going To Put The Squeeze On Salesforce.com

Excellent work. DO check out this article which has quite a bit of depth on the subject. My comments:

Google uses "partners" I believe (I don't know if they call them that though) who get apps services at a discount and then can sell them at whatever price they choose, bundling in more hand-holding, onsite support, etc., things that Google isn't interested in.

Looks to me like Salesforce could transform itself into a VAR (Value added Reseller) and offer extended support for both Google (and Microsoft while they are at it) in addition to their own "premium" product. They would instantly be the number one company in this business I believe.

Bottom line is... the bottom line. And if both Microsoft and Salesforce are providing their service inefficiently then the old saw about "making it up in volume" applies.

MS Office is too expensive and has been for years. Companies traded expensive mainframe hardware for an even more expensive army of support staff and hundreds or thousands of constantly breaking PCs. Now Microsoft will be competing with themselves and counting on the slow moving public sector to pay for a zillion desktop license every year until the press starts mocking them for it. That is the point when we see what a new downsized Microsoft (or a bunch of spinoffs) will really look like. They may yet discover that Thomas Penfield Jackson was the best friend they ever had.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gore takes cash for water campaign from chemical firm - Americas, World - The Independent

Al Gore, the self-styled squeakiest-clean and deepest-green politician in American history, has some explaining to do this weekend. His environmental organisation has taken money to raise awareness about the need for clean water from a controversial chemicals company involved in the aftermath of one of the world's worst pollution disasters.

GISS & METAR – dial “M” for missing minus signs: it’s worse than we thought « Watts Up With That?

With some work I started back in late December and through January, and with GISS putting stamp of approval on “missing minus signs” I can now demonstrate that missing minus signs aren’t just an odd event, they happen with regularity, and the effect is quite pronounced when it does happen. This goes to the very heart of data gathering integrity and is rooted in simple human error. The fault lies not with GISS (though now they need a new quality control feature) but mostly with NOAA/NCDC who manages the GHCN and who also needs better quality control. The error originates at the airport, likely with a guy sitting in the control tower. Readers who are pilots will understand this when they see what I’m talking about.

W.Va. mine disaster calls attention to revolving door between industry, government

More than 200 former congressional staff members, federal regulators and lawmakers are employed by the mining industry as lobbyists, consultants or senior executives, including dozens who work for coal companies with the worst safety records in the nation, a Washington Post analysis shows.

Friday, April 16, 2010

» Waxman Cancels Healthcare Show Trial - Big Government

» Waxman Cancels Healthcare Show Trial - Big Government
Apparently someone tapped Waxman on the shoulder and pointed out to him that proponents of the legislation *don't* want the truth to get out about its effects.

The Joy of Tax Serfdom | Cato @ Liberty

Are Libertarians Anti-Government? | Cato @ Liberty

Libertarians want people to be able to live peacefully together in civil society. Cooperation is better than coercion. Peaceful coexistence and voluntary cooperation require an institution to protect us from outside threats, deter or punish criminals, and settle the disputes that will inevitably arise among neighbors—a government, in short. Thus, to criticize a wide range of the activities undertaken by federal and state governments—from Social Security to drug prohibition to out-of-control taxation—is not to be “anti-government.” It is simply to insist that what we want is a limited government that attends to its necessary and proper functions.

But if libertarians are not “anti-government,” then how do we describe the kind of government that libertarians support? One formulation found in the media is that “libertarians support weak government.” That has a certain appeal. But consider a prominent case of “weak government.” Numerous reports have told us recently about the weakness of the Russian government. Not only does it have trouble raising taxes and paying its still numerous employees, it has trouble deterring or punishing criminals. It is in fact too weak to carry out its legitimate functions. The Russian government is a failure on two counts: it is massive, clumsy, overextended, and virtually unconstrained in scope, yet too weak to perform its essential job. (Residents of many American cities may find that description a bit too close for comfort.)

Lawrence Solomon: The new climate game - FP Comment

Lawrence Solomon: The new climate game - FP Comment

Climate scientists play a good game of whack-a-mole.

Right from the early days of the global warming controversy, they whacked any scientist who dissented from the view that CO2 was warming the planet in a dangerous way. Up popped other skeptical scientists, and WHACK!! Down they went.

Up popped skeptical journalists and WHACK! Down they went, too. Then more whacks for new scientists who surfaced, or pesky scientists who resurfaced.

Today, decades later, the climate science establishment is still whacking away, faster and more frenetically than ever, as more and more skeptical scientists, journalists and politicians surface. And now there’s a new species of skeptic in need of whacking down — the many inquiries that have sprung up in the wake of Climategate, the unauthorized release of some 3,000 documents from the computers of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University showing that data had been manipulated and destroyed.

...
In some cases, whacking was not required — at least not by the climate change establishment. The inquiries set up by East Anglia University have as their members people of satisfactory credentials. Consider Lord Oxburgh, who chairs one of the two inquiries. He is also the head of Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment, a lobby group for global warming legislation, and an advisor to Climate Change Capital, which aims to cash in on the $45-trillion market in the coming low-carbon economy. Others on the inquiries have strikingly similar credentials, so much so that the London Telegraph reported that “almost all their members were committed, even fanatical advocates of global warming.”

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Who Has The Dumbest Followers On Twitter?


Who Has The Dumbest Followers On Twitter?

China's Youth Meet Microsoft - The National Labor Committee

China's Youth Meet Microsoft - The National Labor Committee
Over the last three years, the following photographs were smuggled out of the KYE Systems factory in the south of China. These images of exhausted teenagers making Microsoft "Life Cam VX-7000; "Basic Optical Mouse" and "Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse 6000" are not necessarily ones the American people would associate with Microsoft. Unfortunately these are Microsoft products, and Microsoft has been outsourcing production to the KYE factory since at least 2003.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Buzz Aldrin: President Obama's JFK Moment

Buzz Aldrin: President Obama's JFK Moment
The other side of the argument:

Thank you, Mr. President.

That's what we should say to President Barack Obama in light of his Fiscal Year 2011 space budget for NASA. The President courageously decided to redirect our nation's space policy away from the foolish and underfunded Moon race that has consumed NASA for more than six years, aiming instead at boosting the agency's budget by more than $1 billion more per year over the next five years, topping off at $100 billion for NASA between now and 2015. And he directed NASA to spend a billion per year on buying rides for American astronauts aboard new, commercially developed space vehicles-that's American space vehicles. Other NASA funds will go into developing and testing new revolutionary technologies that we can use in living and working on Mars and its moons.

TIME 100 Competition - The 2010 TIME 100 Poll - TIME

TIME 100 Competition - The 2010 TIME 100 Poll - TIME
As if we needed a demonstration of what airheads the American public has become.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

'The Factor' Confronts Al Gore

YouTube - Preview: 'The Factor' Confronts Al Gore

And the Nobel Prize for Hypocrisy goes to...

Armstrong: Obama hurting space - PATRICK GAVIN | POLITICO CLICK

Armstrong: Obama hurting space - PATRICK GAVIN | POLITICO CLICK
"America’s only path to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station will now be subject to an agreement with Russia to purchase space on their Soyuz (at a price of over 50 million dollars per seat with significant increases expected in the near future) until we have the capacity to provide transportation for ourselves. The availability of a commercial transport to orbit as envisioned in the President’s proposal cannot be predicted with any certainty, but is likely to take substantially longer and be more expensive than we would hope.

"It appears that we will have wasted our current ten plus billion dollar investment in Constellation and, equally importantly, we will have lost the many years required to recreate the equivalent of what we will have discarded."

Translation: This Whitehouse is out of its tiny little mind.

Former WaMu CEO Defends Bank's Actions - WSJ.com

Former WaMu CEO Defends Bank's Actions - WSJ.com
"For those that were part of the inner circle and were 'too clubby to fail,' the benefits were obvious," Mr. Killinger said. "For those outside the club, the penalty was severe." A spokesman at the Office of Thrift Supervision, the federal agency that seized Washington Mutual, declined to comment on Mr. Killinger's testimony.

Mr. Killinger's comments were a contrast to the low profile he has kept since the collapse. He shuttles between homes in Palm Desert, Calif., and a gated community in Seattle, and has avoided public events and new business ventures, according to people familiar with the situation.

IBM Abandons U.S. Workers

Good analysis:

Who Is Hurt By US Corporate Tax Policy?

Unlike IBM and GE, small businesses do not have the luxury of hiring an army of lawyers to figure out how to avoid taxes.

The solution is lower but equal taxes across the board, not higher taxes as President Obama is clamoring for. If one insists on a skew, it would be far better from a jobs standpoint to defer taxes in the US than overseas.

My own personal preference would be to slash the corporate tax rate to 10% or lower, preferably zero.

This would level the playing field between small and large corporations. It would also eliminate the need for a whole army of lawyers and lobbyists whose only function is to game the system.

Finally, elimination of corporate taxes would spur job creation at small businesses, right here in the US, where we desperately need Jobs. To top it off, money would flow to the US, in dollars, instead of overseas in some other currency.

President Obama's solution is ass backwards.

The Post wins four Pulitzers; Bristol, Va., paper wins for public service

The Post wins four Pulitzers; Bristol, Va., paper wins for public service
Right in the middle of a self congratulatory message on the Pulitzers is this short non-sequiter:

The National Enquirer, which drew attention by entering its exposé of John Edwards fathering a child with a former presidential campaign aide, was not a finalist. The prizes are administered by Columbia University.


If the National Enquirer doesn't deserve a pulitzer, then why do they deserve a mention? Is there a bit of a guilt-trip going on here?

Given that Edward's affair seemed to be common knowledge among some of the media that travelled with him it is likely that the job of the Enquirer wasn't all that difficult. So is the MSM a bit embarrassed at not outing a fatally flawed candidate on their own, in fact, most likely covering up for him as they would not do if he had an "R" after his name?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Flash Blog » Apple Slaps Developers In The Face

The Flash Blog » Apple Slaps Developers In The Face
[Sentence regarding Apple's intentions redacted at request from Adobe]. This has nothing to do whatsoever with bringing the Flash player to Apple’s devices. That is a separate discussion entirely. What they are saying is that they won’t allow applications onto their marketplace solely because of what language was originally used to create them. This is a frightening move that has no rational defense other than wanting tyrannical control over developers and more importantly, wanting to use developers as pawns in their crusade against Adobe. This does not just affect Adobe but also other technologies like Unity3D.

I am positive that there are a large number of Apple employees that strongly disagree with this latest move. Any real developer would not in good conscience be able to support this. The trouble is that we will never hear their discontent because Apple employees are forbidden from blogging, posting to social networks, or other things that we at companies with an open culture take for granted.

Bit of irony there.

Like Microsoft did to IBM, Apple is quite willing to screw over those companies most interested in partnering with them.

Ultimately this resulted in an attitude regarding Microsoft that they couldn't be trusted, ever, under any conditions. To this day, no company "gladly" does business with Microsoft, but fearfully, afraid they will co-opt your ideas, or block them, on a whim whether self serving or just vindictive.

Is Jobs really interested in following this lead? Who is Darth Vader here, or Luke, or the Emperor?

Just think how nicely Open Source could put an end to these silly plot lines.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » Masters Tournament - Cringely on technology

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » Masters Tournament - Cringely on technology
“What I can’t figure out is why he (Steve Jobs) is even trying (to be the CEO of Apple)? ” wondered Bill. “He knows he can’t win.”

It is easy to see what Gates meant if you look at a comparison of the two companies in June, 1998. Microsoft stock was around $29 with a market capitalization of $250 billion. Apple’s stock was at $7.25, triple what it had been a year before when Microsoft had stepped-in to bolster Apple with a $150 million investment, but still worth a market cap of only $6 billion. In terms of products, market share, cash flow, and general strategy Microsoft had it all over Apple in 1998 and the idea that Jobs would ever catch up to Gates was, at the time, ludicrous.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Peggy Noonan: After the Crash, a Crashing Bore - WSJ.com

Peggy Noonan: After the Crash, a Crashing Bore - WSJ.com
That's why this week's Financial Industry Inquiry Commission hearings were so exciting, such a public service. The testimony of Charles Prince, former CEO of Citigroup, a too-big-to-fail bank that received $45 billion in bailouts and $300 billion in taxpayer guarantees, was riveting. You've seen it on the news, but if you were watching it live on C-Span, the stark power of his brutal candor was breathtaking. This, as you know, is what he said:

"Let's be real. This is what happened the past 10 years. You, for political reasons, both Republicans and Democrats, finagled the mortgage system so that people who make, like, zero dollars a year were given mortgages for $600,000 houses. You got to run around and crow about how under your watch everyone became a homeowner. You shook down the taxpayer and hoped for the best."

Note: That isn't actually a quote as she goes on to say. I've watched almost all of the hearings at this point, and I didn't find them as devoid of content as did Peggy Noonan. But she certainly nails it with respect to the dance that these postmortems usually resemble. In fact, the gist of her fake quote above was uttered at least a few times, usually followed by someone trying to change the subject and obscure the dialog with terms of art.

One statistic that I've only partially verified is that home ownership (which was steadily increasing already) went from something like 64% at the enactment of the CRA to a whopping 69% at about the time of the bubble's busting.

That is, after having life breathed into the system by having Andrew Cuomo sue the pants off banks and accusing them of racism (in the case I'm aware of, a bank in a black neighborhood, staffed by black loan officers). Wikipedia adds a few more points about the politisization of the system here:
CRA regulations give community groups the right to comment on or protest about banks' non-compliance with CRA.[7] Such comments could help or hinder banks' planned expansions. Groups at first only slowly took advantage of these rights.[45] Regulatory changes during President Bill Clinton's administration allowed these community groups better access to CRA information and enabled them to increase their activities.[4][40][92]

In an article for the New York Post, economist Stan Liebowitz wrote that community activists intervention at yearly bank reviews resulted in their obtaining large amounts of money from banks, since poor reviews could lead to frustrated merger plans and even legal challenges by the Justice Department.[93] Michelle Minton noted that Chase Manhattan and J.P. Morgan donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to ACORN at about the same time they were to apply for permission to merge and needed to comply with CRA regulations.[82]

According to the New York Times, some of these housing advocacy groups provided early warnings about the potential impact of lowered credit standards and the resulting unsupportable increase in real estate values they were causing in low to moderate income communities. Ballooning mortgages on rental properties threatened to require large rent increases from low and moderate income tenants that could ill afford them.[94]

Housing advocacy groups were also leaders in the fight against subprime lending in low- and moderate-income communities, "In fact, community advocates had been telling the Federal Reserve about the dangers of subprime lending since the 1990s", according to Inner City Press. "For example, Bronx-based Fair Finance Watch commented to the Federal Reserve about the practices of now-defunct non-bank subprime lender New Century, when U.S. Bancorp bought warrants for 24% of New Century's stock. The Fed, rather than take any action on New Century, merely waited until U.S. Bancorp sold off some of the warrants, and then said the issue was moot." However, subprime loans were so profitable, that they were aggressively marketed in low-and moderate-income communities, even over the objections and warnings of housing advocacy groups like ACORN.[95]


Does it sound like a circle jerk to you too?

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Dodd Bill: Bailouts Forever

The Dodd Bill: Bailouts Forever

Senator Dodd’s proposed financial regulation would provide the FDIC with the power to liquidate large financial institutions, something they have little experience in. Giving the FDIC this power reinforces the idea that the government is willing to intervene on behalf of large and politically connected financial institutions, thereby institutionalizing "too big to fail."

New species 'lives without oxygen' - Telegraph

New species 'lives without oxygen' - Telegraph
Three species of creature, which are only a millimetre long and resemble jellyfish encased in shells, were found 2.2 miles (3.5km) underwater on the ocean floor, 124 miles (200km) off the coast of Crete, in an area with almost no oxygen.

The animals, named Loriciferans due to their protective layer, or lorica, were discovered by a team led by Roberto Danovaro from Marche Polytechnic University in Ancona, Italy.

Robert M. McDowell - Hands off the Internet

Robert M. McDowell - Hands off the Internet
Last fall, over dissenting votes from Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker and me, the FCC proposed rules to regulate high-speed Internet. Before embarking on any regulatory journey, it is critical for the government to ask and answer: What exactly is broken that only the government can fix?

Curiously, the commission proposed rules even though studies by the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission found no evidence of market failure. And when the Justice and Commerce departments filed comments with the FCC in January, neither provided evidence of concentrations and abuses of market power in the broadband arena. To the contrary, the Justice Department sounded optimistic about the competitiveness of the broadband market. It even warned against imposing new regulations "to avoid stifling the infrastructure investments needed to expand broadband access."

Nonetheless, the FCC may still consider imposing early-20th-century vintage "common carrier" regulations on 21st-century broadband technologies. One result of the new rules could be to make it harder for the operators of broadband "pipes" to build "smart" networks, which offer connectivity and other services or products.

The display of ignorance in the comments section after this article is overwhelming. Our biggest problem is that we already have a system (of government) that is overly complex. Individual citizens don't have the time (or willpower) to figure it all out so they rely on media talking points (I include myself in this on some topics at least).

Fundamentally though, do any of us want a more complex tax code? Hundreds of pounds of new federal laws and regulations every year? New legislation so voluminous that even member of congress can't find the time to read them? More forms to fill out and fees to pay just to start a small business? Laws so obscure that we are constantly violating them without knowing it?

Big Banks Move to Mask Risk Levels - WSJ.com

Big Banks Move to Mask Risk Levels - WSJ.com

Major banks have masked their risk levels in the past five quarters by temporarily lowering their debt just before reporting it to the public, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

A group of 18 banks—which includes Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc.—understated the debt levels used to fund securities trades by lowering them an average of 42% at the end of each of the past five quarterly periods, the data show. The banks, which publicly release debt data each quarter, then boosted the debt levels in the middle of successive quarters.


Will they never learn?

No need to answer that.

By the way, the 3-hour testimony by Rubin and the other Citibank official (who's name I forget) is really instructive in an "I know nothink, I was just following orders" sense of the word.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Bernanke Says U.S. Should Tackle Debt - WSJ.com

Bernanke Says U.S. Should Tackle Debt - WSJ.com
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday that huge U.S. budget deficits threaten the nation's long-term economic health and should be addressed soon.

No Sh*t Sherlock!

Maybe you should get some tips from Greenspan about what a waste of time it is telling that to Congress.

Ex-Citigroup leaders contrite  - Yahoo! News UK

Ex-Citigroup leaders contrite  - Yahoo! News UK

His hands visibly shaking as he answered questions, Rubin told congressional investigators he was not a decision-maker at the bank during the worst of its troubles. The former U.S. treasury secretary in the Clinton administration said Citi's risk-assessment ability was strong.

Great work if you can get it (and apparently Rubin is expert at getting it) making big bucks but carrying no responsibility. I think he used that same line for the dot-com bust (and follow-on) that was under way at the end of Clinton's second term.

Eight former and current Citi executives have testified. All have basically said that no one, including them, could have foreseen the problems that nearly destroyed the bank.

That's odd. I predicted it. Maybe they should have hired me. But I know several other people who predicted it as well (all bought low, sold high), so I would have had competition for the job. Maybe the problem is that some of these guys didn't.

C-Span Video.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Air marshal subdues man on DC-Denver flight

Air marshal subdues man on DC-Denver flight
Unlike the Christmas Day bomb attempt on an Detroit-bound airliner, officials say it is not immediately clear what the man was trying to do—something harmful like start a fire or explosion, or something as innocent as smoke a cigarette.

Officials insisted Wednesday night it was still too early to tell whether the incident was an attempted act of terrorism or a giant misunderstanding.

Vivek Kundra - WhoRunsGov.com, a Wash Post Co

Vivek Kundra - WhoRunsGov.com, a Wash Post Co

In summer 2008, Kundra found an outside company to hire subcontractors for the District. By doing this, he hoped it would free District employees from having to handle more paperwork, get expert subcontractors on the job faster and limit interaction between subcontractors and city managers, which had created relationships described by city employees and consultants to The Washington Post as “rampant cronyism.” The new system would be more transparent and efficient in doling out $75 million-a-year in technology contracts, according to Kundra. "The best disinfectant is more sunshine," Kundra told the D.C. City Council.

Kundra left his D.C. post in February 2009 to join the Obama administration. Less than a month later, the FBI raided Kundra’s former offices. Federal authorities said former technology security director Yusuf Acar, and the owner of a subcontracting company, Sushil Bansal, attempted to steal money through the creation of “ghost employees” and product invoices that were never delivered. The two men, with the help of a former technology employee working in the finance office, allegedly defrauded the District of $500,000, according to the affidavit.

The U.S. attorney’s office said Kundra was not a suspect or under investigation.


No word on this since this post in January (and no news in it from that time in any event). FBI still investigating? Investigation dropped? Whole thing plastered over? Who knows?

And what is the status of DC governments move to cloud computing? LA and Orlando are cited as success stories. But bloated DC government more closely resembled the entrenched feds. Would be nice to know that all is still going well there and how those savings are coming.

ICD's Tegra 2-powered Gemini is the most feature-complete tablet we've seen yet -- Engadget

ICD's Tegra 2-powered Gemini is the most feature-complete tablet we've seen yet -- Engadget
Built around the 1GHz Tegra 2 SOC, the 11.2-inch ICD Gemini should provide comparable endurance to Apple's A4-sporting iPad, while besting it in the grunt stakes with its glorious ability to chew through 1080p video when required. If that wasn't enough, the rest of this thing's spec sheet reads like a wishlist. Headlined by a 3G connection that allows cellular voice calls (crazy, we know!), it also includes a user-replaceable 40Wh battery, an SD card reader, FM radio, GPS, 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth, MicroUSB connectivity to PCs and USB peripherals, stereo speakers, and dual webcams -- a 2 megapixel front-facing unit and a 5 megapixel autofocusing snapper on the back.

In addition to my aversion to first versions, and the not all that attractive price there are many "issues" with the new iPad that hopefully will be addressed by competition.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Sebelius Warns of Health-Insurance Scam - WSJ.com

Sebelius Warns of Health-Insurance Scam - WSJ.com
"Unfortunately, scam artists and criminals may be using the passage of these historic reforms as an opportunity to confuse and defraud the public," Ms. Sebelius wrote in a letter to state insurance commissioners and attorneys general.

Damned Democrats!

Apple Sells 300,000 iPads on First Day - WSJ.com

Apple Sells 300,000 iPads on First Day - WSJ.com

Analysts on average had expected first-day iPad sales of 400,000 to 500,000 units. Some analysts, such as Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, had even higher sales projections of 600,000 to 700,000 units. Estimates for global iPad sales this year ranged from 2.5 million by financial-services firm Kaufman Bros. to as high as 7.1 million by research firm iSuppli Corp.


600,000 is probably closer to the number they are going to get returned when people find out the WiFi doesn't work as well as their laptops, or that, try as they might, they can't think of any use they have for the things.

Feds Struggle with H-1B Case - IT Management from eWeek

Feds Struggle with H-1B Case - IT Management from eWeek
The evidence seems strong, but the case began to unravel since it has reached court in Iowa. The judge presiding over the case has already dismissed a number of counts related to charges involving mail fraud, knocking out eight of the 18 counts.

The judge followed with a ruling that the search warrants issued the day of arrests were "over-inclusive" and not limited to the warrant. The warrant required the feds to make its examination of the digital images within 60 days, which they did not.

Those pesky due process rules!

Of course he H1B laws are a disaster, possibly accomplishing *some* good, but doing a lot of mischief along the way. Like the FCC decision today, we have a cacophony of laws based on apocryphal conceptualizations of the few, designed to blind the many. Oh, yes, H1B *might* get us a key rocket scientist from some oppressive country, but it will certainly get us thousands of mediocre network administrators and people who end up doing anything from used car salesmen to chicken farmers.

Unspoken in this "debate" is that our education system is turning out such "retards" (plug in your own more politically correct word) that we have to import people not to do "rocket science" but to do even mundane technical work, because the locals aren't qualified. The left is out of ideas (other than keep paying administrators higher salaries) but they are quite sure that any idea involving competition for the state-run school system won't work (and just to make sure it won't work they won't allow it to be tried).

Court Strikes at 'Net Neutrality' - WSJ.com

Court Strikes at 'Net Neutrality' - WSJ.com
Verizon Communications Inc., Comcast, AT&T Inc. and other Internet providers oppose the idea of the FCC changing how they're regulated. They also argue that government regulators shouldn't be getting into the details of how they manage their networks.

Good thing too.

Can you imagine the bureaucracy it would take for the FCC to monitor every packet going over the Internet for violations (or the alternative for them to "spot check" the companies they don't like)?

It would be better (and I'm not saying this is a good idea) for the FCC to just "own" the Internet (all the tubes, trucks, roads, or whatever you choose to call them based on your party preference). Some I would guess think this is a good idea, back to the "good old days" of AT&T whether you like it or not.

What I'd much rather have is more competition. Rather than the two (one cable and one phone based) carriers most of us have to choose from why not five, or ten? I might even be in favor of a government program to spur on such competition. It's hard to know for sure whether our current limited choice is a failure of free enterprise, or a failure of government meddling. To get wires into peoples homes local governments have essentially granted monopolies to cable and phone companies. But shouldn't these monopolies have some sort of expiration date (that we'd be well past by now)?

Long distance WiFi, satellite and other similar over the air transmission of signals in theory opens the door for more competition. But I've always suspected that out best connections will always involve some sort of physical wire. Imagine a few thousand people in a small area simultaneously downloading an HD version of the World Series or Olympic coverage or any other extremely popular content. There just isn't the bandwidth to do it (although there are better WAYS to do it using existing bandwidth, and those should be explored). Tinkering at the packet level by the FCC can only slow down such innovation, but I don't rule out the possibly that the FCC, especially with the cooperation for local governments (notice I said cooperation, not coercion) can improve the situation.

The more important thing about his decision is that at least someone is paying attention to the Constitution (even if individual congressmen think it is unimportant). The ends *do not* justify the means and if there is any deliberative capability left in our congress, rather than fiat law making, we will be hearing more about this on C-Span. Let's see if our current elected representatives can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Ettus Research LLC | Ettus Research LLC and National Instruments

Ettus Research LLC | Ettus Research LLC and National Instruments
Ettus Research LLC was founded in 2004 to produce high quality, low cost software radio systems, and bring these capabilities to everyone. In the last five and a half years this company, which started in a garage, has shipped thousands of products to users in over 67 countries. Those products have been used for everything from mapping the earth, moon and stars to tracking wildlife, from teaching signal processing to obtaining a PhD., by everyone from individual hobbyists to huge research teams, for communicating across a desk, under water, under ground, across town, and around the world.

Today, as the next step in the growth of our company, we are very proud to announce that Ettus Research has been acquired by National Instruments Corporation (NI, http://www.ni.com). NI was founded in 1976 to transform the way engineers and scientists around the world design, prototype, and deploy systems for test, control, and embedded design applications.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

FT.com / US / Economy & Fed - Rubin and Greenspan face crisis inquiry

FT.com / US / Economy & Fed - Rubin and Greenspan face crisis inquiry
Robert Rubin, the former Treasury secretary who played a key role in financial deregulation during Bill Clinton’s presidency and who has kept a low profile since stepping down as a special adviser to Citigroup in January 2009, is to be questioned by the US financial crisis inquiry commission this week.

The committee, created by Congress and given sweeping powers in May 2009, is also to question Chuck Prince, the former chief executive of Citi, as well as Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs : An open letter to the people of the world

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs : An open letter to the people of the world
The truth is, all over the world, across every culture, there exists a sense of yearning. A kind of malaise. An emptiness. At the risk of sounding like Dr. Seuss: There is a hole in your soul. That is what we’re addressing at Apple. That is the hole we aim to fill. Sadly, as you may have begun to suspect, that hole can never really be filled. The truth is that modernity, the condition of living in our modern world, has inflicted terrible wounds on your inner self. These wounds can never be healed. They can only be treated. At best we provide palliative care. Not a cure. Because, my dear fellow human beings, there is no cure for what ails you. The products we create provide only temporary relief. Their magic eventually wears off. The sense of childlike wonder they impart will, over time, begin to fade. And then you need a new product. Think back to June 29, 2007. Do you remember the rapture? The wonder of iPhone? The magic? Now that is gone, but here we come with another shot of digital Dilaudid. Sleep well, my friends. Sleep deeply and rest, cradled in the arms of my electronic medicine.

A bit of profundity there, mixed with the truth about the draw of the iPad (and things like it).

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Obama's 17-minute, 2,500-word response to woman's claim of being 'over-taxed'

Obama's 17-minute, 2,500-word response to woman's claim of being 'over-taxed'
Wow. Check the comments. Buyers remorse has kicked into overdrive. And remember, this is Washington DC.

Friday, April 02, 2010

YouTube - Top Ten Questions to Ask Yourself Before Waiting in Line for the iPad David Letterman HD 1080p

YouTube - Top Ten Questions to Ask Yourself Before Waiting in Line for the iPad David Letterman HD 1080p



Letterman's demo of the device is priceless. (but Youtube width and hight parameters are not working very well).

10 Startling Predictions From A Venture Capitalist: Apple Screwed, Eric Schmidt Out...

10 Startling Predictions From A Venture Capitalist: Apple Screwed, Eric Schmidt Out...
·7) Android will have 3x the number of applications in its app store than the iPhone / iPad / iTouch triumvirate does. Not too long ago, there existed a thriving packaged-software industry, and a trip to Computerland circa 1984 would have revealed shelf after shelf of Apple-ready software, along with a smaller section of IBM & compatible boxes amidst strange Charlie Chaplin posters. How long did it take the era’s ISV’s to swap over to Wintel? Not long. I know not a single example of a company with an iPhone app today that hasn’t either a) already ported, b) is about to port, or c) is planning on porting their application to Android. With Apple, the hardware is better. The vision is better. The usability is better. And it is a closed (curated is the current term of art, though iTunes is far more than just curated) system in a world that prefers open.

Metro officials waited to announce 2 cases of rape - washingtonpost.com

Metro officials waited to announce 2 cases of rape - washingtonpost.com
Is banning Google the next step for DC Metro?

There have been four rapes on Metro property this year, up from one last year, but unlike assaults reported elsewhere in the Washington area, at least two of the crimes were not immediately made public.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Verizon Sees $970 Million Cost From Health-Care Law (Update3) - Bloomberg.com

Verizon Sees $970 Million Cost From Health-Care Law (Update3) - Bloomberg.com
Verizon Communications Inc., the second-largest U.S. phone company, became the latest company to record a cost related to the U.S. health-care overhaul, saying it will incur a $970 million expense.

The one-time, non-cash cost will be taken in the first quarter, New York-based Verizon said late today in a regulatory filing.

Verizon follows AT&T Inc., the biggest U.S. carrier, Deere & Co., Caterpillar Inc. and other companies in disclosing similar expenses after losing a tax benefit for retiree plans. The costs may reduce corporate profits by as much as $14 billion as companies account for the impact of the health-care reforms, according to benefits consulting firm Towers Watson.

» The AP Don’t Know Much About History — Or Anything Else - Big Journalism

» The AP Don’t Know Much About History — Or Anything Else - Big Journalism
The true history of this foreign-owned ship is not quite as simple as the AP wants to paint it. Its Spanish owner had arranged to transport some slaves between Havana and Puerto Principe and during the voyage the slaves mutinied, killed the crew, took control of the ship, and ended up in U.S. waters off Long Island. The importation of slaves was already illegal in the U.S. by 1839 and the case ended up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, which famously ruled that the slaves be freed in 1841. The freed slaves returned to Africa the following year. It was a sort of trial of the century in its day. The Spielberg movie had nothing to do with its fame, except latterly.

None of these facts are in the AP story, sadly. Unfortunately, a full read of the AP story leads folks to assume that La Amistad was an American slave ship and does not tell any part of the story where the U.S. government freed those slaves.

But, perhaps the goal wasn’t to tell a full story, but was instead an effort not to tell that story so that a misconception is fostered by readers? And if it isn’t outright bias, it is certainly poor writing.

Energy Firms Hopeful on Obama Plan - WSJ.com

Energy Firms Hopeful on Obama Plan - WSJ.com:

"The U.S. oil and natural-gas industry cautiously applauded President Barack Obama's proposal Wednesday to open up new offshore areas in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas exploration.

The initiative could lead ultimately to increased domestic energy production. However, industry officials pointed out that Mr. Obama's plan didn't definitively promise new areas for drilling, but did place some areas off limits for seven years.

Still, the industry was heartened by the president's rhetorical embrace of fossil fuels, which they viewed as a change from an earlier more dismissive stance."

Facebook Revealed Private Email Addresses Last Night

Facebook Revealed Private Email Addresses Last Night
A brief rift in the Facebook privacy shield has been healed, but not before dozens of people documented it. For about 30 minutes late Tuesday, private email addresses were revealed—and then, just as suddenly, they were hidden again.

Who Cares About Hulu? Netflix Is Coming To The iPad

Who Cares About Hulu? Netflix Is Coming To The iPad
That means for $8.99 a month, you'll be able to gain access to their full-streaming library right on your iPad.

This takes the shine off Hulu's eventual iPad app a little bit. Sure, Netflix doesn't have the selection of new television shows Hulu has, but it has a better library of movies. It also has a solid archive of older shows.

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » A Tale of Two H1-Bs - Cringely on technology

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » A Tale of Two H1-Bs - Cringely on technology
Here we have two completely different views of education, professional development, and the role of immigrants in business today. Both are correct. Engineering is in a transition that will put many out to pasture. Our incentives to study engineering have declined dramatically leaving mainly foreigners in our best engineering programs. H1-B — when used as it was intended — is a good program that probably should be expanded as industry requests. Except that not all companies are as scrupulous in their attention to regulations as is my friend the CFO.

The H1-B program can be a tool or a weapon depending on whether you are being employed or replaced by it. Wholesale replacement of American workers was never in the intentions of those who created H1-B, but then some weasels in HR figured-out how to game the system and so here we are.

ThinkGeek :: Monolith Action Figure

ThinkGeek :: Monolith Action Figure

Monolith Action Figure

Properly proportioned to those in the movies 2001 and 2010 (1:4:9 - the squares of the first 3 integers).

Made of semisynthetic, organic, amorphous, solid materials (AKA plastic).

Zero (0) points of articulation.

May cause strange magnetic fields, action figure evolution, seeing things filled with stars, and/or more (or it might just sit on your desk doing nothing).