I mean, dang.
And that’s all I’ve got.
Before the First World War, there was a belief that although the Astro-Hungarian empire was rickety, old, and strewn together from disparate parts, it would hold together out of economic necessity — the Austrian, Hungarian, Carpathian, Bohemian, and South Slav territories made a cohesive, interdependent, and necessary economic whole. Today, I think 12 countries exist in former Habsburg lands — and that’s only if you count Bosnia as a single political entity, which it isn’t quite.
The Soviet Union was just as economically intertwined, and very much on purpose. Moscow would build industries and farms in the hinterlands (what is now Russia’s “near abroad”) to bind those lands to Moscow economically — and also to introduce Russian settlers to bind those lands to Moscow ethno-culturally. The USSR of course turned out in the end to be just as fracture-able as Austria-Hungary.
Vladimir Putin has used the presence of ethnic Russians in the near abroad as a justification for things like the annexation of Crimea, and his hijinks in eastern Ukraine and elsewhere. But it turns out, the Soviet Union’s economic imperialism has given Ukraine an unexpected weapon of their own. StrategyPage has that story:
One of the generally unmentioned side effects of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine is the damage done to Russian weapons production because of their dependence on Ukraine. Although only 4.4 percent of Russian imports are from Ukraine many of those imports are crucial for the Russian armaments industry and the current modernization program for the Russian armed forces.
These industrial links date back to Soviet times and many remained active after the USRR collapsed in 1991. In many areas Russian arms producers, and users, are highly dependent on Ukrainian industry and most of these items cannot be quickly or cheaply replaced by Russian made substitutes. This is mainly due to insufficient production capacity of Russian industries. The most severe shortages occur in key areas. Prominent examples include IBCMs, air-to-air missiles, aviation and engines for warships.
Matthew Lazenka has been there and done that:
I chose the cheapest plan available on the Virginia federal marketplace, which was still twice as expensive as my previous insurance with comparable benefits. My previous ACA plan was cheap because I am young and healthy and so is my family. Now, being young and healthy is a bad thing. It’s like having a credit score of 800 being a bad thing, even after you worked so hard to get it. My bronze plan cost $580 per month, which is actually less than the subsidy offered to me. One thing that may have thrown off the subsidy calculation, and which I will have to pay back, is that I purchased this plan differently than the law allows. The way the law was written, my children were supposed to be put onto Medicaid through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. But it took the Medicaid office 120 days to determine if my children were eligible (it is supposed to take 45 days). So Kaine said I could purchase family health insurance through the federal marketplace if I did not receive a reply from the Department of Social Services by the March 31 deadline. I have no clue if that was lawful.
Remember when ♡bamaCare!!! was going to reduce waste and inefficiency and we all had a good laugh? And you know now how we read these things and cry into our bourbon?
Anyway, do read Lazenka’s full report. It’s as good — if that word applies here — as anything you’ll read on the subject of the law’s perverse incentives and paralyzing ambiguities.
Uh-oh. Governor Hickenlooper is stuck in a time warp where everything is just a jump to the left. Colorado Peak Politics has the story:
When Hick declared back in August that he wanted to make Colorado the new California, he thought that was a good thing. As the profile by Yahoo News quotes Hickenlooper:
“When I graduated from college, the kids who wanted to make a lot of money, they went to New York,” [Hickenlooper] says. “The kids who had more creative ambitions — they wanted to do something big, but they weren’t sure what it was; they wanted to find themselves but also do something meaningful — they almost all went to California.”
See, what Hick doesn’t quite seem to understand is that he graduated from college in 1974. All those creative kids excited to move out to California, they were moving to a state that had Ronald Reagan governing it since 1967. Hick is stuck dreaming of becoming a California that no longer exists, a California choked off, killed, and withered away from forty years of the very same nanny-state tactics Hickenlooper is pushing here.
This might be a good time to haul out Heinlein’s famous quote about “bad luck.”
I’ve been harping on the coming Subprime Auto Loan Crisis II for a while now, but that’s because the news is getting worse, not better. To wit:
A panoply of investigations into lending practices for so-called subprime, or riskier, borrowers, coupled with concerns about the exits of some auto-finance company investors, have some market observers warning that trouble could lie ahead.
“When you lower your credit standards, eventually the bonds will default and they’ll fail,” said Chris Hentemann, a veteran asset-backed securities investor who runs the hedge fund 400 Capital Credit Opportunities. “So that’s why we’ve decided to step aside.”
Hentemann, 46, should know: He once ran the global structured product desk at Bank of America, which included asset-backed securities like those based on mortgage and car loans, and was there during the early stages of the credit crisis.
You don’t have to have Netflix Streaming to watch this house of cards collapse.
Well of course I used California’s new “Yes Means Yes” law for my Trifecta segment this week, and I managed to surprise myself with what the conclusion turned out to be.
Dummies? Not really — but former ‘Softie Chris Granger might have the next big thing for would-be coderswho don’t know a GOTO from a GOSUB:
With Eve, Granger is shooting higher. He envisions an Excel-like web application that lets anyone build software by drawing the interface and then filling in the logic that powers it by dragging around boxes of data. To share these apps, users will only have to give others a link to a hosted web application. Behind the scenes, it’ll be able to connect to services that offer APIs, so applications built on Eve will be able to integrate with things like Facebook, Twitter, or Google Maps like an application built in a “real” coding environment. When Eve debuts in early 2015, Granger says it will enable “a normal person to be able to make a site that’s as complex as a Kickstarter.”
This might be just the thing for people like me, whose programing skills began and ended with BASIC almost 30 years ago.
“The President is lying to America.”
Actually, I knew that already. So did you. But it might mean something just a little bit more coming from a “ranking Department of Defense official,” even if he does choose to remain safely anonymous. Daily Caller has the latest from the Official Currently Known as Joseph Miller:
Once again, the president overruled his commanding general and has chosen to use air strikes alone to “destroy” a terrorist army of 30,000.
The president clearly does not think the mission is worth the cost necessary to complete it; but by pursuing his ends without authorizing the necessary means, he is dooming that mission to failure.
The United States military and intelligence community have learned a lot over the past decade of conflict. Our commander in chief, unfortunately, has not. Since the start of his administration, President Barack Obama has ignored his generals and the intelligence community.
He’s a smarter general than his generals, and a better intelligence analyst than his intelligence analyst.
There’s nothing new here in the sense that we knew six years ago exactly what was coming, based on Obama’s on words and actions. But it is new coming from someone inside the Pentagon, and I really wish whoever this is would reveal their true selves then forcefully resign in protest.
So this is the thing Jimmy Carter said most recently:
Former President Jimmy Carter claimed Wednesday that he would have been re-elected and beaten Ronald Reagan in 1980 if had been more “manly” in his dealings with Iran.
Interviewed by the show “CNBC Meets,” Carter repeated his belief that the failed mission to free American hostages held in Tehran killed his chances, but then added that had he gone to war, America would have rewarded him with a second term in 1980.
Jimmy Carter couldn’t be manly if you pumped him full of enough steroids to turn McLovin into a Clydesdale and had him bench press a Chevy Camaro Super Sport until he made the Hulk look like, well, me.
But that’s not the point. Iran isn’t the point. The botched Desert One rescue mission isn’t the point.
The point is that Carter was so recklessly feckless, if that’s a thing, that someone was going to do something bad to take advantage of his dithering disfortitude — it didn’t necessarily have to be Iran.
In fact, others did take advantage. A little someone other formerly known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Under Carter (not that Carter was ever on top of anyone), the Soviets established footholds far outside of their natural sphere of interest, in areas as remote as southern Africa and Central America. The Soviets even figured they could lease out the Cuban army to fight for them in Angola, and did. Carter did squat. Well, other than to sign the ridiculous SALT agreement, which allowed the Soviets to rapidly build up their super-modernized nuclear missile force with full confidence that Carter would build… less… of our less-modern force.
But that’s just the overseas stuff, of course.
9to5Google has the latest …innovation… from Samsung:
Yesterday we reported that Samsung’s earlier-than-planned September 26th launch of its new Galaxy Note 4 had been met with complaints from customers regarding a ‘screen gap’ manufacturing issue. Today, a reference discovered in Samsung’s Note 4 manual confirms that the gap is actually a feature, not a flaw (via AndroidCentral).
The manual’s troubleshooting section has the following mention of the gap around the screen noting that it’s “a necessary manufacturing feature.”
A small gap appears around the outside of the device case… This gap is a necessary manufacturing feature and some minor rocking or vibration of parts may occur… Over time, friction between parts may cause this gap to expand slightly.
So that settles it. It’s a feature, not a flaw, and it could get worse (better?) over time.
In other words, Samsung couldn’t figure out how to manufacture their new flagship, shipped it out anyway, and are telling their customers that the big-ass flaw is really a “feature.”
They are without a doubt the shittiest major electronics manufacturer in the world, devoid of ideas, and in this case at least, ruthless in their disdain for their customers.
Wayne Brough has the details:
The FCC is considering the use of Title II of the Federal Communications Act of 1934 to regulate the Internet. This would deem broadband providers common carriers, much like telephone and electric utilities. For many, this is a panacea that would ensure all data would be delivered in a fair and non-discriminatory manner. Yet the history of public utility regulation raises serious questions about the efficacy of this approach. All too often, rate regulation is distorted to include subsidies, taxes and benefits for politically powerful interests, with the costs passed on to ratepayers. It is not clear how imposing public utility ratemaking procedures on broadband providers would improve the consumer’s Internet experience.
Wheeler frames the FCC’s role as “incentivizing competition.” Yet it is hard to square the FCC’s recent regulatory push with incentivizing competition. Chasing monopolies and calling for common carrier regulation for Internet providers are more likely to thwart competition and reduce investment in the networks of the future.
Tech is a sector which Washington hasn’t yet figured out how to put the squeeze on, like it has with insurance, medicine, and automobiles. Broadband is a nice place for them to start.
Scott Ott wants your pick for Eric Holder’s replacement on his Trifecta segment.
Share the hell out of this one, I’n begging you.
You might have seen this video earlier today when it first made a big splash, but I didn’t get a chance to watch it until just now — the first half of Tuesdays are pretty much monopolized by Trifecta. T Becket Adams found the disturbing bit:
Context-less footage of the event surfaced recently and it shows Udall seemingly agreeing with the protesters, at one point saying of the World Trade Center towers: “There’s some evidence that there were charges planted in the buildings.”
By itself, that’s a pretty damning statement. But watching the whole thing (I could just barely stomach his audience), it’s clear that he was dealing with a truther audience and trying not to annoy anyone too much. That’s a purely political move, but he’s a politician in the political race of his life — if he weren’t playing politics he’d be politically dead already.
But enough electoral politics.
I don’t like Udall because he’s an empty suit who wouldn’t know Colorado’s interests from the hole in the ground he’d forbid miners and drillers from exploiting. He’s a reflexive Democratic vote in a very nasty Democratic Senate beholden to an incompetent and a-American Democratic President.
What I’d really like to see from a politician, any politician from either party, is a full-throated and fact-based denunciation of these truther assholes, right there on stage, impromptu and in their faces. Something so pointed and awesome and irrefutable that it would make the national news, night after night.
Don’t pander. Don’t sidestep like Udall did with that cowardly “evidence” line. Truthers get audiences they don’t deserve and credibility they’re lightyears away from, because not one politician of note (that I’m aware of) has taken an opportunity to do what Udall should have done, but was too slick and cowardly to do.
Step up, politicians — you’re supposed to be leaders.
I’ll give you a hint: It’s not Ron Fournier this time.
The elements of the administration’s blame, deny, and wait-it-out communications strategy has been front and center amid all the recent controversies. When the administration badly botched the launch of the health care exchange website, Obama said he was “not informed directly that the website would not be working the way it was supposed to.” This, for his signature achievement in office. Blame was later pinned on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who left the administration in April.
When officials at the Internal Revenue Service improperly targeted conservative outside groups for scrutiny, Obama first feigned outrage, saying he had “no patience for” the misconduct. But months later, as the public’s anger subsided, Obama said there “wasn’t even a smidgen of corruption” at the agency, and the administration has done little to hold anyone accountable since.
That’s Josh Kraushaar in today’s National Journal, which might be the last major center-left publication still in existence. I hope they keep up the good work.
I don’t plan to do a Wargaming column two weeks in a row, but along that same vein Jim Geraghty has rounded up all the end-of-September polls for you.
It’s definitely a good news/bad news situation, with the bad news being a lack of money for the GOP. Must be all those millionaires and billionaires they keep in their back pocket.
According to the Gainesville Times, police arrested Ashley Huff, 23, when they found a “suspicious residue” they believed to be meth on a spoon inside the car she was riding in.
Huff was subsequently charged with possession of methamphetamine.
Huff repeatedly told police that there was “no way in hell” that the substance was drug residue, according to Hall County assistant public defender Chris van Rossem.
Huff was unable to afford her bail and spent more than a month in jail while her attorney attempted to arrange a plea bargain.
She was released only after the crime lab finally came back with the results of its substance analysis.
It was spaghetti sauce.
These are Heinlein’s Crazy Years — we just live in them.
That’s what happened to college student James Finan:
James Finan, 21, was spotted “jogging alongside Rte. 378 without any light” around 1:30 Sunday morning, according to a Lower Saucon Township Police Department report. Finan attends nearby DeSales University, where he is a business major.
According to cops, “vehicles were observed to take defensive measures to avoid Finan” as he ran alongside the roadway.
I’d have to be a whole lot higher than Finan’s reported .19 BAC to get me to go jogging.
More seriously, did the cops have to arrest the guy? Yes, he was running alongside the road like an idiot, and could have gotten himself hurt or killed. But back in the day a friendly cop would have delivered him back to his dorm to sleep it off. Now Finan has an arrest record.
Vladislav Inozemtsev says Russia is on a road to nowhere:
Russia began turning away from Europe, and the West as a whole, not during the Ukrainian revolution in February, but when Putin began his third term as president in 2012. The fact that many Western leaders in recent years had what Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski called “hopes for Russia’s democratic modernization” only proves that they misunderstood the nature and outlook of the Russian elite and people.
By 2014, Russia had once again become a country whose leadership showed no intention of complying with the rules of foreign or domestic policy. In fact, those leaders would probably act even more decisively if economic considerations did not hold them back. But the truth is that Russia depends heavily on the world economy, even if its political elite believe otherwise.
That is the reason observers hold little hope for a “return to normalcy” for the Russian economy. The convulsive turn that Russia took between March and August 2014 could lead to disastrous economic losses in the near future. Investment is expected to fall by 10 to 15 percent in 2015, personal incomes will gradually begin to fall and the government’s “major projects” will either proceed at a crawl or stop altogether.
Read the whole thing.
Russia’s major problem isn’t economic, although their economics aren’t good. Russia’s major problem is demographic, and Putin is attempting to address that, albeit clumsily. The first is his cultural war at home, to get ethnic Russians having children again. The second is to bundle as many Russians (or at least Slavs) back into the Motherland through immigration or annexation.
If something doesn’t reverse Russia’s demographic decline, then the entire Russian people will end up with the Communists on the ash heap of history.
In China we have an historically common case of a rising power which might resort to war to establish its place in the world. In Russia we have a less common case of a power on its way down, resorting to all sorts of nasty means to prevent the (nearly) inevitable. And oh, yeah — they’re neighbors.
Interesting times, anyone?
A Pakistani man has been indicted in the Eastern District of Virginia for allegedly conspiring to advertise and sell StealthGenie, a spyware application (app) that could monitor calls, texts, videos and other communications on mobile phones without detection. This marks the first-ever criminal case concerning the advertisement and sale of a mobile device spyware app.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew McCabe of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
“Selling spyware is not just reprehensible, it’s a crime,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Apps like StealthGenie are expressly designed for use by stalkers and domestic abusers who want to know every detail of a victim’s personal life – all without the victim’s knowledge. The Criminal Division is committed to cracking down on those who seek to profit from technology designed and used to commit brazen invasions of individual privacy.”
And when I say “creepy stuff,” I don’t just mean StealthGenie — although it’s certainly enough to make your skin crawl. I’m going to have to do some reading and thinking on this one, but my gut reaction is to ask if authoring or advertising software really be a criminal offense?
Get ready for another Fall Classic of confusion and anger:
Individuals who signed up on HealthCare.gov for insurance and subsidies to lower their coverage costs were asked on their applications to estimate 2014 income and citizenship information. That information was checked against their 2012 tax return. In some cases, the data didn’t match.
The Obama administration has told more than 300,000 individuals who obtained coverage through the federal health exchange that they may lose some or all of their subsidies if they don’t provide additional income information by Tuesday.
Another 115,000 people may lose coverage under the ACA on Tuesday because they didn’t provide requested documents verifying their citizenship or immigration status by a Sept. 5 federal deadline.
If you like the plan we told you that you must buy, you can keep it.
You might need to visit a notary public these days before you can get to second base at UCLA, but maybe that will change once Jerry Brown’s Eye in the Sky starts recording everything with or without a warrant:
California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would have required the police to obtain search warrants to surveil the public with unmanned drones.
Brown, a Democrat facing re-election in November, sided with law enforcement and said the legislation simply granted Californians privacy rights that went too far beyond existing guarantees. Sunday’s veto comes as the small drones are becoming increasingly popular with business, hobbyists, and law enforcement.
“This bill prohibits law enforcement from using a drone without obtaining a search warrant, except in limited circumstances,” the governor said in his veto message (PDF). “There are undoubtedly circumstances where a warrant is appropriate. The bill’s exceptions, however, appear to be too narrow and could impose requirements beyond what is required by either the 4th Amendment or the privacy provisions in the California Constitution.”
Please take not of Brown’s mindset, that the Bill of Rights isn’t a ceiling stopping government power from growing, but a floor beneath which your legal protections do not extend. It goes without saying that Brown and his ilk have the necessary skills and desires to chip away at that floor.
That’s what Jean-Louis Gassée is calling it, although it’s certainly been long in coming:
It wasn’t until 2010 that RIM acquired QNX, a “Unix-ish” operating system that was first shipped in 1982 by Quantum Software Systems, founded by two Waterloo University students. Why did Lazaridis’ company take three years to act on the sharp, accurate recognition of its software problem? Three years were lost in attempts to tweak the old software engine, and in fights between Keyboard Forever! traditionalists and would-be adopters of a touch interface.
Adapting BlackBerry’s applications to QNX was more complicated than just fitting a new software engine into RIM’s product line. To start with, QNX didn’t have the thick layer of frameworks developers depend on to write their applications. These frameworks, which make up most of the 700 megabytes Lazaridis saw in the iPhone’s software engine, had to be rebuilt on top of a system that was well-respected in the real-time automotive, medical, and entertainment segment, but that was ill-suited for “normal” use.
To complicate things, the company had to struggle with its legacy, with existing applications and services. Which ones do we update for the new OS? which ones need to be rewritten from scratch? …and which ones do we drop entirely?
In reality, RIM was much more than three years behind iOS (and, later, Android). Depending on whom we listen to, the 2007 iPhone didn’t just didn’t stand on a modern (if incomplete) OS, it stood on 3 to 5 years of development, of trial and error.
BlackBerry had lost the software battle before it could even be fought.
The reason BlackBerry fell so far behind is that they failed back in 2003-04 — when iPhone development began in earnest — to imagine what could be done with the faster processors and bigger screens they had to know were coming. They seemed to think that a great email client and a crappy web browser were all anybody would want on their phones. By the time the iPhone came out, it may have already been too late. Worse, the company then spent years battling over which direction to take — keyboards or touchscreens, QNX or BlackBerry 100. In fact, BlackBerry still hasn’t figured out which direction to go — but the rest of us know exactly which way.
Counterclockwise, down the drain.
Pebble smartwatches on sale (temporally?) for just $100. I wouldn’t be surprised if that became the permanent “sale” price, if Android Wear begins taking over the bottom end of the nascent market and Apple takes over the top. But at that price, I might just pick up one to replace the el cheapos I keep in a drawer for beach vacation.
Of course what I’m really waiting for Apple to introduce a line of dive watches…
I’m with Dave Barry that Neil Diamond’s “I Am, I Said” is one of the worst songs ever written. But I’ll go a step further and argue that the real shame of it is that it started off so promising. The first verse is not a bad piece of writing at all. Read:
L.A.’s fine, the sun shines most the time
And the feeling is “laid back”
Palm trees grow and rents are low
But you know I keep thinkin’ about
Making my way back
Early ’70s California was, not to put too fine a point on it, a great place to get laid. I can vouch the same was true in the late ’80s and early ’90s, too.
But no longer. Not today. Not with the Junior Anti-Sex League running the joint. Amy Miller has the facts on California’s “affirmative consent” law, which just went into effect on Sunday:
Section 1 of the bill states that “the accused’s belief in affirmative consent” cannot have arisen “from the intoxication or recklessness of the accused.”
It also states that “it shall not be a valid excuse that the accused believed that the complainant affirmatively consented to the sexual activity if the accused knew or reasonably should have known that the complainant was unable to consent to the sexual activity under any of the following circumstances: (A) The complainant was asleep or unconscious; (B) The complainant was incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication, so that the complainant could not understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity.”
Coupled with the campus “kangaroo court” system currently in place at so many American universities — including California — this bill is a recipe for disaster.
Real talk: sex happens. Drunk, sloppy, reckless sex happens on college campuses and there’s not a bill in the world that can eliminate the oft-depressing reality of “the morning after.”
This bill not only assumes a drunk male is guilty of assault, but assumes a drunk female is incapable of consenting to sex, and does not define what it means to be “incapacitated.”
Now, by law, in a situation where a substantial amount of alcohol is involved, consent cannot exist, the aggressor is by default a rapist, and an even-willing partner is by default a victim.
Stanford could call offering my boys a free ride and I would forbid them from accepting it. What California has done is the ex post facto criminalization of normal, healthy human behavior. Because let’s be clear about this: It’s already rape-rape to have sex with somebody who drank enough to pass out, but getting to know someone a little better over cocktails and then deciding to make the beast with two backs is a tradition predating, so to speak, the written word.
And now it could make one or both of my sons into criminals.
What phone does the busy CEO who needs a serious on-the-go productivity tool carry? Not BlackBerry’s new Passport, according to Dan Seifert at The Verge:
No matter how much it tries to put the emphasis back on “doing work,” people do work with apps on their phones. Awkward dimensions and confusing interfaces aside, the Passport’s biggest failure is that it just doesn’t have what I need to get my job done. And it certainly can’t replace all of the other things I do with my smartphone, like play games and watch video.
That isn’t to say it won’t be right for some people — I’m sure there are a few people who would love a device like the Passport (perhaps Power Pros that have no interest in YouTube and don’t use any of Google’s services). Those people will put up with its shortcomings just to have a big screen and a hardware keyboard (however flawed it might be). The Passport is a shrine to everything BlackBerry has done over the last 15 years, but none of that is very relevant in today’s world. It’s apparently the best that BlackBerry can do, but that’s not enough.
The Passport was the company’s Hail Mary pass at relevance.