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“What’s Holding Back iCloud”

November 25th, 2014 - 2:11 pm


Who’s in charge of Apple’s cloud services? No one, apparently:

While Apple is known for providing a top-notch integrated software and hardware experience, its ability to provide services, particularly those that run remotely, has been scrutinized in recent years. Apple Maps was a fiasco on its own, leading to a shakeup of the company’s executive team, and the company hasn’t fared particularly well since.

According to the report, iCloud Photo Library has been in flux because of the lack of a “centralized team working on core cloud infrastructure” at Apple. iCloud Photo Library also lacks a project manager to lead the initiative at One Infinite Loop, leaving developers responsible for working on “nearly everything on their own.”

“One person close to the company says Apple is taking some steps to build some common cloud technology but has moved slowly in part because it’s used to projects residing in isolated teams,” the report claims.

iCloud usually works just fine at what it does; the problem is it doesn’t do enough. That’s why millions of otherwise happy Apple customers still use third-party solutions like Dropbox and Google’s services. One of the smartest things Tim Cook has done so far as CEO was to eliminate Scott Forstall’s iOS silo, and force development across hardware and software lines.

It’s past time to do something similar for iCloud.

Unfit to Fight

November 25th, 2014 - 1:09 pm



Automatic budget sequestration cut deeply into the U.S. Air Force’s training in 2012. Air Combat Command got just $3.1 billion—three-quarters of what it needed to fully train the thousands of pilots flying the command’s 1,600 F-15, F-16 and F-22 fighters, A-10 attack jets and B-1 bombers.

So the command did something radical—and with far-reaching consequences as American air power retools for fighting high-tech foes following more than decade bombing insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Air Combat Command stripped certain airplanes of many of their missions, thus cutting back on the number of flight hours a particular pilot needed to be officially war-ready. Air-to-air dogfighting and low-altitude maneuvering suddenly became much rarer skills.

Perhaps most interestingly, the command essentially barred F-16s—at a thousand strong, America’s most numerous fighter—from engaging any enemy jet newer than a 1970s-vintage MiG-23.

Air-to-air combat has become a rarity in today’s battlespace, but scrimping on training is exactly the kind of thing which gets people killed — and loses wars.

Meet the Man Who Found the Gruber Videos

November 25th, 2014 - 12:06 pm


Howard Kurtz reports:

“I really want to stay out of the limelight,” said Rich Weinstein, a Philadelphia investment adviser. “This is not about me.”

But it is about him in the sense that if not for one slightly obsessed citizen, we wouldn’t have the videos of Jonathan Gruber saying the health care law was deceptively designed and its passage depended on the stupidity of the American public. And it is about his frustrating struggle to get that information out to the media.

Still, Weinstein would not be coaxed into an on-camera interview, or even provide a photograph. He doesn’t want his 15 minutes.

“I think people are going to look for a target. I don’t want to be Rich the Plumber,” he told me.

Weinstein is up front about the fact that his motives were personal. His insurance policy was canceled, he says, because of the Affordable Care Act, and his premiums wound up doubling.

He started out searching for another administration adviser and then switched to Gruber. He sat through hour after tedious hour of video taken at academic conferences and in other settings.

The lesson here is that the evidence was there, had been there for years — and that the Palace Guard Media was deeply uninterested in doing any kind of investigative reporting on the man who gave us ♡bamaCare!!!. But private citizens can still, in the immortal words of Ken Layne, fact-check your ass.

Still, you’d think by now all those six- and seven-figure Washington journalists would be sick and tired of getting scooped.

The Sinatra Doctrine

November 25th, 2014 - 10:49 am

Frank Sinatra 1959 "Come Dance With Me" Capitol Records © 1978 Sid Avery

Sadly, this one doesn’t include some rare live performance I found on YouTube. Instead, we have Gideon Rachman explaining spheres on influence and “the Sinatra doctrine.” Read:

As Moscow sees it [Beijing, too], America’s global military reach is so pervasive that Washington has got used to treating the whole world as its “sphere of influence”. There are US troops in Japan and South Korea, US naval and air force bases in Bahrain and Qatar, and Nato bases all over Europe – to name just a few of America’s most high-profile global commitments.

The American response is to point out that the US global military presence is built around alliances between willing partners. Indeed, in an effort to underline the idea that America now genuinely repudiates the idea of spheres of influence, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, even declared last year that “the era of the Monroe Doctrine is dead”. Henceforth, it seems, America will endorse what a Soviet spokesman once called “the Sinatra doctrine” – the idea that all nations can do it their way.

It will not be hard for the governments in Moscow and Beijing to point to continuing inconsistencies in America’s rejection of spheres of influence. But the US argument still rests on a basic truth. There is a vast difference between a sphere of influence based on willing consent and one that is constructed around intimidation and force.

The other guys never had a chance, really. “They hate us for our freedom” isn’t just an empty phrase we uttered to comfort ourselves after 9/11; it’s a simple truth, as true in Moscow and Beijing as it is in the caves of Afghanistan or in the meeting rooms of Tehran. But our freedom is also why America is a magnet — for immigrants and for willing allies.

But liberty is a precious gift, easy to squander. The more we become like a regular country, the less like a magnet we’ll become, too. That’s good news for the bad guys and bad news for everyone else.

China’s New Stealth Beater Radar

November 25th, 2014 - 9:22 am


That’s the claim from Beijing:

One of the most noticeable was the road-mobile JY-26 “Skywatch-U” 3-D long-range air surveillance radar. China had plenty of road-mobile radars on display, but this one claimed a unique capability — “stealth target detection.” This towering radar is a clear symbol of China’s continued desire to locate and destroy stealth aircraft like the B-2 bomber and F-22 and F-35 fighters.

According to a brochure by the East China Research Institute of Electronic Engineering (ECRIEE), this radar “boasts double stealth target detection virtues thanks to operation in UHF [ultra high frequency] band and owning of large power-aperture product” for both air breathing targets and tactical missiles. The range of the UHF radar is not cited on the brochure, but other details are, including electronic counter-countermeasures and a complex digital active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar capable of tracking 500 targets.

Developments like these are why our stand-off capabilities must be further developed, from longer-ranged air-to-air missile to hypervelocity kinetic kill vehicles.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

November 25th, 2014 - 8:06 am


File this one in that big, fat, and growing folder labeled “Coverage Does Not Equal Care.” Read:

Millions of Americans bought health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act in the past year. Now, several shortcomings in the system have been discovered.

“Now,” Kemosabe? Some of us have been warning about just this for years. Anyway, pardon the interruption:

In some markets, doctors are reluctant to take on patients who bought health insurance plans through the state and federal exchanges that were created by “Obamacare.”

“I think doctors have a couple of problems with the exchange policies,” said Dr. Austin King, an otolaryngologist and president of the Texas Medical Association.

People often don’t understand their insurance coverage, so staff members have to educate them, “and that adds to the hassle of seeing these patients,” King said.

Another problem: Doctors are wary of the law’s provision giving people with subsidized coverage a 90-day grace period before their coverage is cancelled for failing to pay the premium. Doctors fear they could end up on the hook for care provided to people who lose their coverage, King explained.

Recent news reports also indicate that some doctors in states like New York and Florida are reluctant to accept Obamacare patients because reimbursement rates are well below those of traditional health insurance plans.

I would like to remind potential Democrat presidential contenders that Florida and New York ain’t exactly Flyover Red Country, and to take that into consideration before deciding to run.

Cops Gone Wild!

November 25th, 2014 - 6:55 am


On the heels of last hour’s story about the guy who had algorithms shred his drivers license, we have this little goody from Brandon Morse:

Candice Padavick took a cab home one night. Upon trying to pay the taxi cab driver with a credit card, she was told he only took cash. Fearing he wasn’t going to get paid, the driver called the police, but thankfully the security guard in Padavick’s building realized what was happening and paid the cab driver himself. The guard then told the cab driver to call the police back and inform them the matter was resolved.

That should have been the end of it.

It wasn’t much later that police were pulling Padavick out of her apartment. According to Padavick “They pull me out of the apartment and my towel fell of my head, and I started trying to run back inside, and the cops come into my apartment….And so he’s jerking me around and so I have his arm and my robe hanging off and this is completely open-nothing underneath. And then more cops up,” Police claimed they did not need a warrant to enter her home.

She was then cuffed, and detained completely naked in public for around 30 minutes.

Who the hell does this to a woman so obviously unarmed that she’s just out of the shower?

Hit Me with Your Selfie Stick

November 25th, 2014 - 5:15 am


South Korea is cracking down on sellers of new-to-me tech called “selfie sticks.” Read:

Sadly, they’re not arresting them for the crime of making people look uncool. No, the Korean government are organising a crack down because the bluetooth devices haven’t been properly tested before going on sale and could cause other electronics to malfunction, Korea Times reports. Anyone found selling the untested tech could face fines of up to 30 million won (£17,000) and a prison sentence of up to three years.

Sophie Gadd is the author of this piece, and for once I’m going to take issue with the snark. Selfie sticks seem like a great idea for getting group shots, which used to put people at the mercy of strangers. “Hi, excuse me, would you take a picture of us?” And the stranger would smile and nod and say “sure” and then, about 60% of the time in my experience, take a really crappy photo. I know, I know — beggars can’t be choosers. But with a selfie stick, you don’t have to beg.

You do, however, need to keep the regulators happy, and that means making sure your Bluetooth shutter release is compliant with the local regulations.

Unrequired Reading

November 24th, 2014 - 2:22 pm


New York magazine features a sympathetic interview with a gentleman from Canada who …dates… horses:

When did you first realize you were attracted to horses? Do you have a horse “coming of age” narrative?
The first time I saw a horse I was 7 years old. There was a carnival in a parking lot across the street from my house and it had a parade of them walking around in circles. I begged my parents to let me go so I could ride the ponies, but when I got on a horse’s back I was absolutely horrified. I bawled my eyes out. I think I was bothered by how awful the situation was for them. All they did was go ’round and ’round; I could sense something about that in their attitude.

Did you experience sexual feelings?
No, I was only 7. I started to notice horses in “that” way when I was about 11 or 12. Everybody else was stealing their dads’ Playboy magazines, but I had a book called The Big Book of the Horse.

I’m going to go Full Sergeant Schultz on this one and pretend it never, ever happened.


Yemen Chaos Spreading North

November 24th, 2014 - 1:08 pm


The Saudis have trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with C and that stands for civil war — the one in Yemen, that is:

The Shia takeover of the government has caused Yemeni border security to collapse. Most of the border guards have left their posts leaving the Saudis to deal with a lot more smugglers and illegal migrants. This is a major problem because the border is 1,700 kilometers long and most of it is with Saudi Arabia. Yemeni smugglers make a lot of money getting people across and then transporting them north to where the oil and jobs are. Many migrants, who can afford it, keep going to Europe. In a normal year (when the bribable Yemeni border guards are on duty) the Saudi border troops catch and turn back over a million illegal migrants, but several hundred thousand are believed to get through, at least based on the number later found to have settled in the north or made their way to Europe where they were interrogated by police there. The big problem here is that some of those getting through are Islamic terrorists and that’s why the Saudis also stop those trying to cross illegally into Yemen. But with the Shia rebel success in Yemen the Saudis are now concerned with Iran-backed Shia terrorists and spies coming north. The Saudis could invade Yemen to deal with the problem but even the Sunni majority down there is divided, and not all factions are agreeable to a Saudi intervention. It is a very unpleasant situation for the Saudis.

With ISIL in the north and chaos in the south, it must be getting harder and harder for the Saudis to buy themselves out of trouble. While my heart doesn’t exactly break for them, my head tells me the House of Saud is still better than any likely replacement.

The Jewish Jewish State

November 24th, 2014 - 12:02 pm

Here it comes:

In a move likely to further inflame tensions with Israel’s Arab citizens, the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved a bill to legally define the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

The decision, which set off a stormy debate that could bring down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brittle coalition government, followed weeks of deadly Arab-Jewish violence and was denounced by critics as damaging to the country’s democratic character and poorly timed at such a combustible moment.

It now heads toward a full parliamentary vote on Wednesday.

Israel has always defined itself as the “Jewish state” — a term that was contained in the country’s declaration of independence in 1948. The new law seeks to codify that status as a “Basic Law,” Israel’s de facto constitution.

I don’t know what, if any, the practical effect of this law would be, but I am certain that this is a case of the Palestinians reaping what they sow.

“Free speech is so last century”

November 24th, 2014 - 10:39 am

Indeed, and here’s Brendan O’Neill to tell you about “the Stepford students” on college campuses everywhere:

Last month, at Britain’s other famously prestigious university, Cambridge, I was circled by Stepfords after taking part in a debate on faith schools. It wasn’t my defence of parents’ rights to send their children to religious schools they wanted to harangue me for — much as they loathed that liberal position — it was my suggestion, made in this magazine and elsewhere, that ‘lad culture’ doesn’t turn men into rapists. Their mechanical minds seemed incapable of computing that someone would say such a thing.

Their eyes glazed with moral certainty, they explained to me at length that culture warps minds and shapes behaviour and that is why it is right for students to strive to keep such wicked, misogynistic stuff as the Sun newspaper and sexist pop music off campus. ‘We have the right to feel comfortable,’ they all said, like a mantra.

I’m sure you know what Ben Franklin said about trading liberty for security. But these kids are so ignorant and spoiled, that they’d gladly trade their liberty for mere comfort. And that’s not physical comfort, like a nice apartment or a nice car, but the “moral” comfort of never having their puny little worldview ever challenged by anything ever.

But there’s probably nothing wrong with these kids that a week or so at something like Outward Bound couldn’t fix.

Hagel Out, [BLANK] In

November 24th, 2014 - 9:16 am


I can think of a (two-digit) number of cabinet officers who ought to get the boot before Chuck Hagel, but none more likely.

Now if you are President Obama, you have two choices to make regarding Hagel’s replacement:

• Another Chuck Hagel, bland but vaguely competent, who will sail through confirmation in the new GOP Senate.

• Play politics with an utterly contemptible and rejectable nominee who will play to some part of your base, while encouraging the absolute worst behavior from certain overly-excitable members of the opposition.

As the President, before choosing your course, remember the seriousness of our national security situation and the gravity of your decision.


Hoo boy, I really can tell a funny one, huh?

I needed that laugh. And now I’m going to cry.

Bound by Algorithm

November 24th, 2014 - 8:09 am


John Gass got a computer generated letter from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles telling him his license had been revoked:

After several frantic phone calls, followed up by a hearing with Registry officials, he learned the reason: his image had been automatically flagged by a facial-recognition algorithm designed to scan through a database of millions of state driver’s licenses looking for potential criminal false identities. The algorithm had determined that Gass looked sufficiently like another Massachusetts driver that foul play was likely involved—and the automated letter from the Registry of Motor Vehicles was the end result.

The RMV itself was unsympathetic, claiming that it was the accused individual’s “burden” to clear his or her name in the event of any mistakes, and arguing that the pros of protecting the public far outweighed the inconvenience to the wrongly targeted few.

“Sorry for the inconvenience, Comrade — won’t you please stand in line to pick up the proper forms? We will review them at our leisure.”

This, in the birthplace of American liberty.

New Proof-of-Concept Password Bug

November 24th, 2014 - 7:00 am

First it was Chinese malware for iPhone, now this for Android:

In early 2013, researchers exposed some unsettling risks stemming from Android-based password managers. In a paper titled “Hey, You, Get Off of My Clipboard,” they documented how passwords managed by 21 of the most popular such apps could be accessed by any other app on an Android device, even those with extremely low-level privileges. They suggested several measures to help fix the problem.

Almost two years later, the threat remains viable in at least some, if not all, of the apps originally analyzed. An app recently made available on Google Play, for instance, has no trouble divining the passwords managed by LastPass, one of the leading managers on the market, as well as the lesser-known KeePassDroid. With additional work, it’s likely that the proof-of-concept ClipCaster app would work seamlessly against many other managers, too, said Xiao Bao Clark, the Australia-based programmer who developed it. While ClipCaster does nothing more than display the plaintext of passwords that LastPass and KeePassDroid funnel through Android handsets, a malicious app with only network privileges could send the credentials to an attacker without the user having any idea what was happening.

Apple and Beijing moved quickly to shut down the bad host over there, and to protect iOS from future hacks like it. Google has got to do something about password security just as fast.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

November 24th, 2014 - 5:27 am

Peter Suderman accuses the Feds of a big old ♡bamaCare!!! “Friday news dump,” and that’s exactly what this stinker looks like:

The Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is considering changing Obamacare’s auto-renewal rules so that, within the health law’s exchanges, instead of being automatically renewed into your current health plan, you’d be moved into the lowest cost plan from the same service tier.

From the attached fact sheet:

Under current rules, consumers who do not take action during the openenrollment window are re-enrolled in the same plan they were in the previous year, even if that plan experienced significant premium increases. We are considering alternative options for re-enrollment, under which consumers who take no action might be defaulted into a lower cost plan rather than their current plan.

(Fact sheet via Adrianna McIntyre; proposal first noted by Politico.)

States running their own exchanges could start doing this in 2016, and federal exchanges could start in 2017.

So imagine you like the plan you have, or at least you’ve settled for the plan the ACA allows you to have. “Silver” seems to be popular, or at least purchased frequently, so we’ll say that’s the one you have. Unbeknownst to you however, Silver prices went up 20% back in November, and here you are in February at the doctor’s office for your annual checkup. The problem is, your copay and your deductible are higher than you were expecting, because your exchange very helpfully moved you down into the Bronze plan at the first of the year, in order to mask your premium hike before you pulled the lever for President Hillary a couple months ago. Things could get really bad if the doctor has bad news for you just in time for your much higher (and unexpectedly so) out-of-pocket expenses.

But now you’re stuck with it until 2018, because someone at DHS knows better than you.

Thought for the Day

November 22nd, 2014 - 11:25 am

Friday Night Videos

November 21st, 2014 - 10:35 pm

Peter Murphy’s heroin-infused “Cabaret Mix” of Iggy Pop’s 1977 punk hit “Fun Time” came on this morning, so I was going to play that track for you tonight. But while I was going through my memories and, I came across an even better story of rock’n'roll incest.

When Bauhaus formed in the late ’70s around Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash, Kevin Haskins, and David J, they borrowed heavily from David Bowie’s theatricality, and from raw proto-punk sounds like Iggy and The Stooges. Murphy & Co. wrapped that up in Nosferatu’s cloak worn in recording sessions which sounded like they were held in one of pre-Thatcher Britain’s abandoned, antiquated factories — and thus was Goth born.

But before all that happened, or maybe before it even could happen, The Stooges broke up, and Iggy checked himself into a mental institution for a bit. He came out ready for something new, and teamed up with friend David Bowie to pursue just that. Pop & Bowie cowrote songs for two albums Pop released in ’77, The Idiot and Lust For Life. Bowie did some of the arrangements and played on many of the tracks, too. This was all going on in Berlin at about the same time Bowie was working with Roxy Music’s Brain Eno on Bowie’s famous “Berlin Trilogy” albums, Low, Heroes, and Lodger.

It goes without saying that before Bowie and Eno teamed up in Berlin, Roxy Music had been part of the Glam movement Bowie had started in the late ’60s/early ’70s. And if you want to hear an excellent cover of Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust,” my favorite was recorded in ’82 by — you guessed it — Bauhaus.

The frontiers of rock have always been highly inbred, which brings us to tonight’s song. In 1983, Bowie had a Number Two hit with “China Girl,” along with a steamy video and, if memory serves, a few charges of racism — even though the song was an explicitly anti-racist statement. The Left never changes, it seems. What you might not remember is that “China Girl” had been co-written six years earlier by Bowie and Pop, and it was Pop who recorded it first, as the starter track on Side B of The Idiot.

There are some fine concert versions of this song all over YouTube, but I figured since we went off on the whole Berlin thing, I’d play the original studio version, as originally recorded during what was probably the creative height of each man’s career.

You might want to turn this one up loud as thunder.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

November 21st, 2014 - 2:02 pm

The numbers, they are awful:

I’ve complained at great length about the Barack Obama administration’s lack of transparency surrounding the Affordable Care Act. But I don’t even know what to say about this latest revelation, courtesy of Bloomberg News’s own Alex Wayne: The administration counted stand-alone dental plans in order to claim that 7.3 million people had signed up during the first open enrollment period. Without the addition of the dental plans, enrollment would have very slightly missed its target of 7 million enrollees. Moreover, simple arithmetic indicates that it is still counting them in its current claims about enrollment.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell seems to be saying that this was some sort of mistake. And it’s possible that this is all it is. But I would be more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt if the administration hadn’t otherwise been managing enrollment data so aggressively, releasing good figures as soon as it had them but sitting on bad data as long as possible, and ceasing to issue regular reports as soon as open enrollment stopped and the numbers began to decline rather than rise.

You wonder what other goodies might be propping up the imaginary numbers?

Thought for the Day

November 21st, 2014 - 1:11 pm

Making the Punishment Fit the High Crime

November 21st, 2014 - 12:02 pm

Since the headline is unlikely to come to pass, Drew M at AoSHQ offers up the next best thing:

Yesterday we saw a number of ideas floated about how to respond….rescission, lawsuits, de-funding and withholding votes on nominees to name a few on the table. There’s one idea I’d like to add that is in many ways symbolic but that would focus the nation on the seriousness of this problem, do not invite Obama to address a joint session of Congress to deliver the State of the Union address.

The Constitution simply requires that “He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Nothing requires that he do so in person. The modern in person State of The Union dates back to Woodrow Wilson but Truman, Eisenhower and Nixon all gave written reports as was the custom from Thomas Jefferson to Wilson.

And Presidents don’t simply show up whenever they please to address the Congress, they must be formally invited. That’s where Boehner and McConnell can strike a blow for the legislature…simply don’t invite him.

Washington and the MSM would be abuzz for weeks, and in a good way. I’d add that the congressional leadership should keep the messaging simple, with constant reminders that they’d be happy to extend an invitation and listen to the President’s speech, just as soon as the President remembers to listen to Congress, and go back to enforcing its laws.

“Iron Wall”

November 21st, 2014 - 10:40 am


Lovely photo of American armor from StrategyPage, and the caption reads in part:

Soldiers from Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division fire ceremonial rounds from their M1A2 Abrams Tanks at the Adazi Training Area, Latvia, Nov. 6, 2014. The Soldiers, who are here to assist in training the Latvian Land Forces as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, were part of an exhibit to dignitaries and local media. These rounds mark the first firing of tank rounds in Latvia since 1994.

Think about that. Latvia is a member of a defensive military alliance, and yet this is the first time any kind of tank round has been fired there in 20 years.

20 years.

I’ve said it before and I’m afraid I’ll have to say it again, but NATO is no longer a serious military alliance.

Required Reading

November 21st, 2014 - 9:11 am

Noah Rothman:

Obama did not mention it, but his plan will also allow millions of eligible illegal immigrants to receive work permits and compete for jobs alongside American citizens. Obama effectively codified the principle that bringing a child in the United States is a ticket to legal status, which will inevitably result in new waves of immigrants from South and Latin America sweeping across the border. The president declared millions of illegal immigrants, without much specificity, ineligible for deportation which expands the powers of prosecutorial discretion to a ludicrous degree. The executive has the power to accelerate or decelerate enforcement priorities, not to abjure the enforcement of the law entirely.

“Not really changing immigration law as much as erasing it,” The Washington Examiner’s Byron York observed, and he is right. But average Americans did not hear that. They heard the president wax poetic about the plight of the working illegal immigrant, an individual who is not theoretical construct but a person of flesh and blood to millions of good-hearted Americans. They heard him weave flowery prose into a compelling narrative, around which he proposed circumspect action to make an unfair system fairer. Looming, the president warned, is the threat posed by overzealous Republicans who will seek to challenge his self-evidently sensible measure in the courts, or even shut down the government in a fit of irrational pique.

Some men just want to watch the Republic burn.


November 21st, 2014 - 7:56 am


You are cordially invited…

An Open Letter

November 21st, 2014 - 6:03 am

Dear Mr. President,

I find it curious that immigration was an issue of such pressing importance that it required immediate (and dare I say unprecedented?) action on your part, and yet so trivial that you couldn’t be bothered to address the nation. “Bad optics,” as they say in your biz. Still, I hope you enjoy your stay in Las Vegas this weekend — it’s lovely there this time of year.

One of those British newspapers I read online, you know the one with all the stories about busty celebrities barely wearing fancy clothes? Anyway, they were nice enough to publish a lot of what you said last night, and there was some good stuff in there. I really like that part where you told illegal… excuse me, undocumented migrants that “if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes — you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation.” That sounds to me like smart policy, the kind of thing we could probably all agree on. Maybe it would have been smarter if you had saved it for your State of the Union address a few weeks from now, when you would have had the new Congress to work with, and everybody would have had the holiday vacation to settle down and cool off and stuff?

Anyway, when you get back to DC to work more on rewriting our immigration laws, which sounds like lonely work by the way, maybe you could answer a couple of questions I have about the Constitution. I understand that you were once almost nearly a constitutional law professor, so I think you can help me.

You keep using this phrase “if Congress refuses to act,” and I keep wondering,”If Congress refuses whom?” I’m not one of those Tea Party racists who carries a tiny version of the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence or whatever in his pants pocket all the time, but I did pull up a copy of it online, and I don’t see anything in there about you being able to demand anything of Congress. It doesn’t even say here that you’re allowed to introduce your own bills. And then you said that thing that the House refuses to vote on a Senate bill, but I also don’t see anything in here that says the Senate can demand anything from the House or vice versa. They both have to agree on the same stuff without any demands at all, and then you have to sign it and then it’s a new law. Or did I miss something? Anyway, I read somewhere last week that the Senate has refused to vote on over 300 bills the House sent over, lots with bipartisan support, so it sounds like that Harry Reid is really going to have his hands full when he comes back to run the Senate in January! So if you could clear that up for me, that would be great.

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Required Viewing

November 20th, 2014 - 2:10 pm

Please, share the heck out of this one.

Jury Duty Discharged

November 20th, 2014 - 1:24 pm

I’ll have a full writeup for you early next week, and I trust you’ll understand why it won’t happen any sooner.

The Gruber Super Cut

November 19th, 2014 - 8:25 pm

Nah nah nah nah Nineteen, nineteen.

Jury Duty

November 19th, 2014 - 5:46 am

And for now, that’s all I’m allowed to say about that.

Don't be a Glasshole

Don’t be a Glasshole

That’s from the man himself, Astro Teller, head of the company’s Google X lab:

Wearables, from Glass to smartwatches, also need to be cheaper — a lot cheaper — before they go mainstream.

“Every time you drop the price by a factor of 2, you roughly get a 10 times pick up of the number of people who will seriously consider buying it,” Teller said in an interview at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. That means “two more rounds of halving in price” for most wearables before they’re an attractive buy.

For certain products, like $30 or $40 pedometers, a big price cut probably won’t make much of a difference, he said. “But for a $200 watch, or Glass, or anything in between, I think it’s sort of fair.”

For Google Glass, which costs $1,500 today, cutting the price in half twice would mean a drop to $375 — though the company said it couldn’t comment on a price target or timeline for any cut. But Google, which generated almost $60 billion in sales and $13 billion in profit last year, could absorb the cost cut — if it did want to make Glass a mainstream gadget rather than a novelty.

More than the price, Google needs to do something to reduce Glass’s Creep Factor,