Radio Shack will close “underperforming” stores — and lots of them:
The struggling consumer electronics retailer announced Tuesday that it plans to close up to 1,100 underperforming stores in the U.S., or about 26% of its current company-owned stores.
“Over the past few months, we have undertaken a comprehensive review of our portfolio from many angles — location, area demographics, lease life and financial performance — in order to consolidate our store base into fewer locations while maintaining a strong presence in each market,” RadioShack CEO Joseph Magnacca said in a statement. “The result of that review is our plan to close up to 1,100 underperforming stores. We will continue to have a strong, unmatched presence across the U.S. with over 4,000 stores including over 900 dealer franchise locations.”
There is (was?) (soon won’t be?) a Radio Shack in here my tiny bedroom town of Monument, CO. The last time I was in there was about three years ago, when I absolutely had to buy an overpriced audio cable right the heck then. And I didn’t recognize the place as anything like the Radio Shack I used to know. Or as Jim Dalrymple said, “the RadioShack I grew up with lost its soul.”
I was reminded of what happened to The Sharper Image. What was once a place to geek out on really cool, hard-to-find nerd toys became a purveyor of gimmicky plastic crap.
Such a shame.
image via appleinsider.com
You know you’re not supposed to do that — right, Jesse?
Welcome to the Laser Navy:
The Navy plans to deploy its first laser on a ship later this year, and it intends to test an electromagnetic rail gun prototype aboard a vessel within two years.
For the Navy, it’s not so much about the whiz-bang technology as it is about the economics of such armaments. Both costs pennies on the dollar compared with missiles and smart bombs, and the weapons can be fired continuously, unlike missiles and bombs, which eventually run out.
“It fundamentally changes the way we fight,” said Capt. Mike Ziv, program manager for directed energy and electric weapon systems for the Naval Sea Systems Command.
The Navy’s laser technology has evolved to the point that a prototype to be deployed aboard the USS Ponce this summer can be operated by a single sailor, he said.
The solid-state Laser Weapon System is designed to target what the Navy describes as “asymmetrical threats.” Those include aerial drones, speed boats and swarm boats, all potential threats to warships in the Persian Gulf, where the Ponce, a floating staging base, is set to be deployed.
All that power in the hands of a single sailor. It’s not just a high-tech weapon, but fully deployed lasers and EM guns would reduce the Navy’s logistical needs by… well, by a lot.
Amazing stuff, but I won’t really be happy until Special Forces troops are issued lightsabers.
Several dogs, actually:
Who picked the dogs up? Well, that would be American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy.
The freshly crowned silver-medal slopestyler from Telluride, Colo., picked up four puppies and their mother on the streets of Rosa Khutor and he’s making arrangements to have them sent home to the United States.
“I’ve been around animals all my life,” Kenworthy said of the hundreds of dogs roaming the streets in Sochi and the mountains above the Olympic city. “It’s hard to watch.”
Kenworthy tweeted a picture of himself cuddling four of the dogs. “Puppy love is real to puppies,” he wrote.
If you have the space and the inclination, get yourself a rescue dog. You’ll never regret it.
Cross-posted from Vodkapundit
Xie Shuipeng, a trim 48-year-old with a broad smile, has a dream that one day Mike Tyson will punch him.
After ten years working the nightclub circuit, Mr Xie has won fame as China’s number one human punchbag, able to withstand a blow of any strength.
He advertises his services to anyone frustrated with life. “If you are upset by your boss or your wife, don’t blame them! Vent your anger on me! Let society be harmonious,” his flier states.
On neon-lit stages, Mr Xie offers free drinks to anyone who can hit him so hard he steps backwards across a yellow line on the ground.
“I tell them only to punch me in the belly, but sometimes they insist on punching me in the chest or even hitting me over the head with a glass bottle,” he said.
You know you’re not supposed to do… aw, hell — he makes a good living at it.
Dear Stage Parents,
I’m watching Justin Beiber’s public meltdown, but only because the headlines are so big. It’s a sure thing I’ve never actually listened to one of his songs, or at least not one all the way through. But I wonder if there might be a way for you to avoid having to watch your kids go through something similar.
What I came up with isn’t much. It might be enough though.
If you’re lucky enough to watch your kid have some success, take those earnings and put them in a blind trust. Let them have a generous allowance — enough to keep them comfortable, pay for tutors and college and all the rest. Just don’t let them have enough money to think they’re invincible and can load up the Ferrari with drugs and booze and yell obscenities at cops.
Because your kids aren’t invincible; they’re kids. Given that kind of power — and let’s remember that money is power — kids will almost always hurt themselves. We’ve seen it time and time again.
So put the bulk of that money in trust, where they can’t blow it all on booze and cars and whatnot. And keep it there until they turn 25. Or maybe even 30. Give them the opportunity to either transition gracefully and responsibly into adult stardom. Or should they fail that, give them the opportunity to learn to be responsible human beings before they come into a sudden fortune.
It’s the very rare child who can handle sudden wealth. It’s an even rarer child who ever becomes a real adult after acquiring it. And it’s rarer still for these grown child-adults to keep their fortunes.
I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of watching talented, beautiful kids grow up to become ugly adult addicts — if they live long enough to do even that.
-Your Friendly Neighborhood VodkaPundit
image via CBC News
It’s sad to watch my once-proud state descend into California-level insanity, but here’s yet another example of just that:
A proposed ballot initiative in Colorado would require couples to undergo 10 hours of pre-wedding marriage education before they can legally tie the knot.
The measure, proposed by the California-based group Kids Against Divorce, would then require people who are marrying for a second time to clock 20 hours of counseling, 30 hours for a third marriage and so on, the Denver Post reported.
Kids Against Divorce? The name of this phony-balony group might as well be “For the Children!™”
I’m reminded of anti-drunk driving laws. A laudable effort, to be sure, but an entire quasi-private industry has grown up around the laws. Instead of paying your fines and doing your community service, offenders also have to endure hours of “support” lessons. It’s a state-mandated industry for otherwise unemployable lefties.
If this thing becomes a part of the state constitution, we’ll have another quasi-private industry for pre-marriage counseling.
And I’d honestly rather live in sin than pay any money to these charlatans.
image via shutterstock / Anton Gvozdikov
David Harsanyi thinks the American electorate might becoming more libertarian, rather than more progressive. Here’s why:
A cultural shift is not always an ideological one. Or, at least, not always the one you imagine. Our norms are always evolving. Immigration, pot legalization, same-sex marriage and “big business” are the issues that Rosenthal’s claims portend progressivism’s triumph. Yet, most of these are only incidentally progressive. Marijuana legalization or support for same-sex marriage is far more likely caused by a growing ‘live and let live’ mindset than any burst of leftist idealism. And if the ‘live and let live’ mindset starts bleeding into other area of American life — say education, health care or religious freedom– the left is in trouble.
In the end, the progressive agenda demands that you trust the state to control economic outcomes; an idea that is yet to be proven especially popular among Americans. Will it be? Who knows? But right now what does seem to be growing is skepticism towards government. Especially among the young. When Gallup asks, “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” it doesn’t bode well for the left that a plurality– Independents, Republicans and Democrats – say its government. Fifty-three percent of Americans claim to believe government does “too many things.” (Forty percent think its powers should be expanded.) Add to this the fact that, according to Gallup, a record number of Americans (42 percent) are rejecting partisan labels and identifying as political independents. Sounds like there’s a growing number of voters with a libertarian disposition– though most would never articulate it that way.
This certainly fits in with what I’ve been trying to tell Republicans, who could stand to benefit the most from this shift towards skepticism. If they’d take their heads out, that is. Big government on social issues combined with me-tooism on the economy isn’t a winning ticket, as we keep learning the hard way.
If you want a glimpse of a successful future for the GOP, it might look something like this.
— BuzzFeed Benny (@bennyjohnson) January 22, 2014
I remain pro-choice myself, if only moderately so, but the country as a whole has been moving the other direction — even as it becomes more accommodating (socially and legally) of gays.
Anyway, Harsanyi has written a good piece — read the whole thing.
Charles Lane thinks the Games have outlived their usefulness, if they ever had any:
have just one question: How many more such embarrassments must we endure before ending this corrupt quadrennial exercise?
The modern Olympics were founded by a French aristocrat, Pierre de Coubertin, who believed in promoting international peace and understanding by reviving the ancient Greek custom of periodic truces for athletic competition.
Whatever might be said for that idea in theory, it hasn’t panned out in practice. The ostensibly apolitical Games have been marred by several boycotts — of Montreal in 1976 (by African nations protesting apartheid), of Moscow in 1980 (by the United States and other Western countries protesting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan) and of Los Angeles in 1984 (by communist countries retaliating for 1980).
The Games also have created a target for extremists, from the Palestinian terrorists who killed 11 Israeli athletes at Munich in 1972 to ultra-rightest Eric Rudolph, who placed a deadly bomb at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. Consequently, these celebrations of international conviviality proceed under heavy military guard.
That last bit is certainly true, although it says more about the nature of terrorists than it does about the Games themselves.
The problem with Lane here isn’t that he’s necessarily wrong, it’s that he doesn’t provide any solution better than “end it, don’t mend it.” If we want the Olympics to be what they could be and should have been, then we’ve got to get governments out of it — and professional athletes, too.
The Olympics were supposed to be about amateurs competing for pure sport, and that got lost in a sea of Cold War rivalries and NBA stars.
Amateur, or bust. The same goes for government funding.
My interest in the Games has waned, the further they’ve moved from their roots. But I’d happily tun back in every four years if they’d get back to them.
Oh, and one other thing: NBC and Bob Costas have got to go.
Nintendo Co. (7974) President Satoru Iwata said the maker of video-game machines is considering a new business model after forecasting a surprise 25 billion-yen ($240 million) annual loss because of tepid demand for the Wii U.
“We are thinking about a new business structure,” Iwata said at a press conference yesterday in Osaka, Japan. “Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business. It’s not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone.”
Iwata has to stop thinking about a new business structure, and get moving on one before it’s too late.
Nintendo proved with the original Wii that it has the ability to conceive and execute on new ways of playing games, of interacting with beloved characters. The failed Wii-U (you can no longer claim it’s “merely struggling”) was the sad result of Nintendo pursuing a spaghetti-against-the-wall tactic against Sony and Microsoft’s technological advantages. And Wii, for all its strengths, never moved enough games off of store shelves to generate the cash Nintendo needed if it was to ever catch up in the specs race.
But Nintendo can (I think) still execute on software and they have a stable of franchises which is the envy of the gaming world. All they need to do is to produce engaging games for the platforms people actually still buy. Yes, I know the DS handheld is still doing OK, but handhelds will turn out to be another hardware race Nintendo will lose, this time to phones produced by Apple and Samsung.
Nintendo had an amazing heyday as a hardware developer, but that day is done.
And I hate to say I told you so, but I did — way back in October of 2011, before the Wii U had even been released.
Insane Clown Posse and a few of their fans are suing — to get the FBI to stop labeling them a gang:
The suit stems from the FBI’s National Gang Intelligence Center classification of Juggalos as “a loosely-organized hybrid gang,” one with multiple affiliations. Lawyers for ICP and the ACLU claim that the profiling of Juggalos — based on their distinctive clown makeup and Hatchetman tattoos — lacks reasonable suspicion of gang affiliation. As a result, the “unconstitutionally vague” designation has since intimidated many from expressing themselves and denied them protection from unreasonable searches, according to the filing.
“The FBI had the impact they wanted: they scared people away from attending concerts and from affiliating together for the purpose of listening to music,” Saura Sahu, an attorney assisting the ACLU of Michigan, tells Rolling Stone. He cited the decline in turnout at the latest Gathering of the Juggalos, ICP’s annual five-day festival, where police last August arrested numerous people on drug-related offenses outside the event.
“We don’t fit in anywhere,” Insane Clown Posse’s Violent J tells Rolling Stone. “And when people don’t understand you, people fear you. All we’re trying to do is be like the Stephen King of music. We like to tell horror stories.”
I’m no ICP fan, unless perhaps they’ve recorded some of Cole Porter’s stuff and I’m just not aware of it yet, but clearly the FBI has overstepped here.
— Hugo Hackenbush (@MangyLover) January 9, 2014
PlayStation Now looks very well thought out:
•Both rental and subscription plans will be available
•PS4, PS3, Vita, and 2014 Sony Bravia TVs will be supported initially, expanding to other platforms in the future
•PS3 games will be supported at launch, with nothing to announce regarding older, back catalog (that is, PS2, PS1) games yet
•Games will stream at 720p resolution
•Games can be saved in the cloud, letting you pick up your saved game on another device later
•Multiplayer is supported between players using PlayStation Now, as well as the ability to play against people who are playing using a disc
Easy to get to, available on any Sony platform, the ability to play across platforms — what’s not for a Sony devotee to love?
There’s been a lot of talk that the game console as we know it might be dying. Casual gamers are happy with iOS and Android, hardcore gamers build their own Windows (or even Steam) rigs, leaving a smaller and smaller fraction of the market to consoles like Xbox and PlayStation and Nintendo. (Nintendo might already be on the way out as a console maker. We’ll see.)
But even if the console age is waning, PlayStation Now might very well inject fresh life into it. I only see three real obstacles.
• The price. Unannounced.
• Broadband speed. 5mps “recommended,” but more is always better.
• Vita has yet to take off as a mobile gaming platform the way Android and iOS have.
Pricing is easy. If you don’t have enough buyers or renters, lower the price. There’s nothing really to be done by Sony about broadband speeds, but they can safely assume that eventually the situation will improve. And Vita… jeeze, just make it a cross-platform app already and let people rent and play games on the mobile device of their choice.
Sony’s problem is that sometimes they’re a hardware company like Samsung, making Android phones. Sometimes they’re a platform company like Apple, with PlayStation consoles. And now they’re kinda-sorta acting like a software company with PS Now.
Those are three different skill sets, and it’s difficult to master any one of them.
That aside, PS Now looks impressive on paper and I can’t wait to see it in action.
I don’t usually follow these things — I haven’t watched the Oscars I don’t think since E.T. lost to Gandhi — but apparently Sandra Bullock won everything at the People’s Choice Awards.
And I’m in total agreement.
Melissa and I watched The Heat last weekend, and it took us over four hours to watch a two-hour movie. It usually takes a while for the parents of small children to watch anything, especially anything R-rated. But it wasn’t the kiddos this time. Bullock and her costar Melissa McCarthy were so funny together, we kept having to pause the movie because we were laughing too hard to hear the next gag. And then we’d rewind to hear the last gag again, because it was so funny. It’s impossible to imagine seeing this movie in a theater without missing at least half of it. We’d have had to buy four tickets and sit through two showings.
I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard at a movie. At a guess, I’d have to go back to 1988 and A Fish Called Wanda.
So congrats to Sandra Bullock, but Melissa McCarthy deserved all that Sandra got and maybe more.
Texas man kills Bigfoot, plans to take on tour:
“It is the real deal,” [Bigfoot hunter Rick Dyer] told the station. “It’s Bigfoot and Bigfoot’s here, and I shot it and now I’m proving it to the world.”
Dyer, who did not return a request for comment, has yet to release more pictures and the results of these tests, but he has shown about 130 people the body in a video of their reactions.
Many of the people seemed convinced as they entered the vehicle and looked down at the body, which apparently has been preserved quite well considering it was killed 16 months ago.
“Oh my gosh. Why is he so tall?” asked one boy in the video.
“Because he’s Bigfoot, man!” Dyer explained.
Everything’s bigger in Texas.
Yes, I know this has been making the rounds and, no, I’m not upset that the Washington Post is totally stealing my schtick. Although I have been getting a lot of questions along “as a vodka drinker, are you offended to be lumped in with all the lefties?”
It’s true that I am a vodka drinker. It’s also true that I’m no lefty. But I also enjoy scotch — a lot. And I’ve spent the last couple years really honing my appreciation for bourbon. Summer afternoons are most often filled with proper gin martinis or gin & tonics. I sip fine tequila on the beach and I make a mean margarita here at Casa Verde on Friday nights. Weekend mornings often involve mimosas. I drink (and cook with) lots of red wines, but most often zins, cabs, and pinots. Colorado is home to many fine beers, which I also drink. Although recently I’ve been on a pilsner kick and so I’ve been buying stuff from Germany and the Czech Republic — new suggestions welcome, please!
So to paraphrase George Thorogood, I really really really really really really like booze.
When I launched VodkaPundit twelve years ago next Friday, the first name I thought of for it was “ScotchPundit” because scotch is what I used to drink more than anything else. But the name sounded too stuffy (or perhaps focused on Scotland), when what I wanted to imply was a certain insouciance.
And to my mind there is no cocktail more insouciant than a vodka martini. It lacks bourbon and scotch’s haughtiness, it doesn’t have gin’s herbal complexities, it won’t leave you naked in a dumpster like tequila. A vodka martini is light and airy, and bright with a twist of lemon. Brighter still with a twist of lime. It goes down easy and might even make you feel a little smarter, if only for a little while.
So, yes, VodkaPundit.
Just don’t try to put it on any chart.
Tis almost the night before Christmas — but there’s still plenty of time to load up the DVD player or stream from Netflix. So make lovely adult beverages for you and yours, and mugs of hot cocoa for the kids.
I should also mention that I’ve never once been able to sit through all of It’s a Wonderful Life, so there’s a good chance I’m a terrible person with retrograde taste in holiday entertainment. So with that out of the way, let’s look at what we do watch every year here at Casa Verde.
Apparently there’s some kind of bitter feud amongst the Love Actually-haters and the Love Actually-lovers, but I’m here to resolve those differences by gently reminding you that the Love Actually-haters are possibly less than human, almost certainly dead inside, and at the very least are incapable of simple human emotion.
Here we have every love story crammed into one breezy and perfectly paced gem of a movie. There’s romantic love, new love, young love, lost love, love that bridges the language barrier, brotherly love, lustful love, the love between a sister and her institutionalized brother, and perhaps the most touching of all, the love between a step-father and the son he finds himself caring for alone. The scenes between Liam Neeson and young Thomas Sangster are by themselves worth the price of admission. And every Anglophile will love Rowan Atkinson’s two pitch-perfect cameos.
There’s some language and some comical nudity, so this one might not be for the kiddos — but prove to me you aren’t dead inside and learn to love Love Actually.
My 2009 Mac Pro is still running fine and fast, and I really have no need for the absurd power of the new Mac Pro.
But my Amex feels itchy, anyway.
Replacing the massive 47-pound milled aluminum tower under the desk with a small, sleek, and nearly silent cylinder which would fit comfortably and stylishly next to the Drobo on top of the desk?
The gotta-have-it-factor is out of this world for a workstation.
I know I run my share of Bad Cop stories, so how about a good one for a change? This isn’t a new story, but it’s new to me — so here you go:
The Baltimore Humane Society honored Officer Dan for compassionate service this week for his actions in rescuing a Pit bull after responding to a call about a “vicious” dog on the loose this past May.
For those that don’t know his story, Officer Dan arrived on the scene and and saw a Pit bull being chased by kids who were throwing glass bottles at him. He called the dog over to him, and the Pit bull came over, sat next to him and began licking him affectionately. After taking the dog to the Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS), he ended up adopting the dog a few days later and named him Bo. The Baltimore Police Department interviewed Officer Dan this week and he recounts his and Bo’s first meeting in detail (see the video below).
Officer Dan told WBALTV News, “I’ve always been a dog-lover. I’ve had dogs all my life, so coming across him was no problem,” Officer Dan said. “He didn’t need to be like euthanized or anything like that. He just needed somebody to basically love him.”
I’ll be back later. There’s something in my eye.
While one widely held view maintains playing video games is intellectually lazy, such play actually may strengthen a range of cognitive skills such as spatial navigation, reasoning, memory and perception, according to several studies reviewed in the article. This is particularly true for shooter video games that are often violent, the authors said. A 2013 meta-analysis found that playing shooter video games improved a player’s capacity to think about objects in three dimensions just as well as academic courses to enhance these same skills, according to the study. This enhanced thinking was not found with playing other types of video games, such as puzzles or role-playing games.
I haven’t played Halo in ages, but maybe it’s time to teach the seven-year-old of the awesomeness of the Master Chief.
Not even I’ve been naughty enough to deserve one of these in my stocking.
That moment… pic.twitter.com/3c4zz9nbQm
— Stephen Green (@VodkaPundit) December 10, 2013
A while back I wrote that Melissa and I had given up our expensive and ultimately unfulfilling fling with CFL lightbulbs. We must have spent a couple thousand dollars putting them all over the house, but as soon as the ones in the outdoor sconces die off, we’ll be done with them completely. I’ve been experimenting with different brands of LEDs, and Glenn Reynolds’ mention this morning of Cree’s bulbs reminded me to finally write up what I’ve learned.
The first lesson is: Brand counts. When it comes to incandescent bulbs, your better brands tend to last longer but they all produce the same high-quality light we all know and love. LEDs however vary widely. For the purposes of this column, I’m putting halogen bulbs in their own category, even though they too produce incandescent light. We’ll get to them shortly.
We’ve tried four brands of LEDs, with extremely mixed results.
My least favorite — and keep in mind, these are subjective observations but I am very picky about the quality of light in my home — are the bulbs produced by Philips. They look super-modern, which is what drew me to their reflector bulbs for the ceiling cans in my studio. The R30 size looks like the Pan Am spaceship from the orbital transit sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Everything else about them represents the worst of LED lighting. The light they produce has that sickly feeling that screams “cubical” instead of whispering “warm and comfy living room.” The light doesn’t emit evenly from lens, which might not be so annoying if the bulb didn’t stick out from below the can — but it does and so it is. There’s also a good half-second delay between flicking the light switch and when the light can be bothered to come on. It seems to have a very broad dimming range, but the light simply becomes fainter and sicklier and less pleasant the lower you dim it. (We’ll talk more about LEDs and dimming problems in a minute.) The Philips bulbs were also the most expensive. I have one in the studio and two (R20 size) in the bedroom and I can’t wait to ditch them all.
Next up is Feit, which produces a astounding range of LED bulbs. If there’s a size, wattage, or application you can even just imagine, they probably make it. That part is great. The reflector bulbs light perfectly evenly (unlike Philips), and the light is more pleasant. Of all the brands I’ve tested, theirs seem to have the longest power-up delay. But the R20 reflectors produce good-enough quality light for the kids’ rooms, which is nice because little boys don’t always remember to turn off the lights. In fact, this one time one of them might even have remembered. Anyway, Feit’s bulbs are moderately priced and their performance is acceptable — if you can live with that on-delay.
We’ve put EcoSmart bulbs in the garage and in a couple of other rooms, and I’m happy with them. Screwed into fixtures with that mock alabaster glass cover, the light they emit is almost indistinguishable from incandescent bulbs. They come on instantly, too. They dim as well as any LED is able to. At full brightness, they produce a lot of light. We have two of those alabaster-type ceiling fixtures in our laundry room, which used to hold two 60-watt incandescents each. The LEDs are so bright, that I replaced them with two 60-watt equivalent bulbs and two 40-watt equivalents — and then still had to put the whole shebang on a Lutron dimmer. And then I rarely turn the dimmer up more than halfway. So instead of running 240 watts in there, we’re now running maybe 20 watts — did I mention they produce a lot of light? That’s some serious savings, especially for moderately-priced bulbs.