After years of being the ugliest service on the innerwebs (until MySpace got big, anyway), Yahoo! is closing up shop on GeoCities.
A heart-wrencher from Florida:
Henrietta Hughes is still struggling to make ends meet.
Unemployed and homeless, she caught national attention during President Obama’s visit to Fort Myers when she asked for his help. After her plea, Hughes was given a free place to stay, but she still can’t find a job and may soon find herself homeless again.
Don’t you worry, ma’am. Uncle Sugar has $400 waiting just for you.
Here’s what it takes to get the President to and from an Earth Day event:
It’s 895 miles from Washington to Des Moines, so a round trip brings the fuel consumption for the fixed-wing portion of the President’s trip to 8,950 gallons.
The trip also put President Obama on Marine One for round-trip flights between the White House and Andrews AFB and between Des Moines International Airport and Newton, Iowa, site of his Earth Day speech. It totaled about an hour of flight time. The VH-3D that serves as Marine One consumes about 1200 pounds of fuel per hour which comes out to about 166 gallons consumed flying the President today.
My needs are a bit simpler. I drive a ’97 Wrangler, which gets a pathetic 17 MPG on average. (You could probably get better, but with its short wheelbase and rear-wheel drive — until you drop the transfer case into 4-wheel — the Wrangler is a kick in the pants, just tossing it around town. And off road it’s even better, and the mileage even worse.) The tank needs a refill every two weeks or so, to the tune of about 15 gallons. At that rate, it would take me more than 12 years to consume as much gas as the President did yesterday. By the time I’ve caught up, my three-year-old will have his learner’s permit.
Oh, and the Wrangler is perfectly happy drinking 85 octane. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume Air Force One and Marine One use a slightly higher grade.
Apple’s sales, margins, and profits are all up:
Apple today announced financial results for the second quarter of fiscal 2009. Apple posted revenue of $8.16 billion and net quarterly profit of $1.21 billion, or $1.33 per diluted share, compared to revenue of $7.51 billion and net quarterly profit of $1.05 billion, or $1.16 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 36.4 percent, compared to 32.9 percent in the year-ago quarter, and international sales accounted for 46 percent of the quarter’s revenue. The numbers represent the best March Quarter revenue and earnings in Apple history.
Macintosh sales were down 3%, but iPod sales were up by that much, and iPhone sales jumped 123%. No company is recession-proof, but… damn.
Rasmussen finds that people are getting more fed up with taxes:
ith the annual ritual of filing federal income taxes just behind them, 52% of U.S. voters now believe they pay more than their fair share of taxes, up seven points from earlier this month.
But 54% of the Political Class don’t think they pay too much, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
Here’s one of those situations where some see the glass as half-empty, others as half-full. To me, it looks increasingly like the government has both its hands on my glass, and is telling me when I may or may not have a sip.
This news might surprise you:
The Afghan government believes that al Qaeda is not present in Afghanistan in any significant numbers. Foreign military commanders, often advised by U.S. Army Special Forces operators who have been working in the country since late 2001, tend to agree. Al Qaeda’s problem in Afghanistan is that they are greatly disliked.
If there’s hardly any al Qaeda in Afghanistan, then isn’t sending thousands more soldiers there a “distraction” from more important struggles in the heart of the middle east?
The situation in Pakistan is quite different, of course — but that’s what intel, tiny groups of Special Forces, and some very smart bombs are for. And putting 17,000+ more troops in Afghanistan, as I’ve noted before, let’s Russian put our logistical danglies in a vice. So we’ve got an ill-defined mission, a growing presence, a potentially worsening support situation, and an emboldened rival.
On the other hand, just because I’m not sure President Obama is making the right call, doesn’t mean I know what the right call is. Mostly, just hope this is one decision that really isn’t above his pay grade.
Missouri Republicans took a hit to the head with a cluebat, and came up smarter:
JEFFERSON CITY — House Republicans revolted yesterday against scores of proposed earmarked projects, demanding that their party instead use $1 billion of the state’s federal stimulus money for a refund to taxpayers.
House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said this morning that GOP members rejected a spending plan drafted by the House Budget Committee and insisted on a large taxpayer refund. The decision came yesterday during a closed caucus meeting.
“Over half the caucus has said we overspent, acting like Washington D.C.,” Richard said at his weekly donut breakfast with Capitol reporters. “”We said, ‘Fine, we’ll come up with another plan.’”
I love it when a plan comes together.
The bad part about being a compulsive early adopter is, you know it’s going to be expensive and you can be pretty sure you’re going to get screwed. The good part is, hey, toys. Or at least that’s what happened when we moved to Blu-Ray almost as soon as it was available. The Samsung player (the only one available at the time) pretty much sucked, with load times best measured in Popes, and a stubborn refusal to play any discs which had ever even shared a room with some dust in it. And I forgot to buy the Clean Room Service Plan.
But we didn’t expect the new TV to suck, too.
Bleeding edge enthusiasts will understand: you can’t just up and buy a 1080P player without a 1080P television to show you all your glorious pixels. At early-adopter prices, half the pixels is, well, about 50% too few. So we picked up a Mitsubishi DLP set with a 1080P picture. And there were 2,073,600 pixels on every frame, and they were good.
Then the set died. “Known issue,” said the chat boards. Mitsubishi had put in a bad thermostat, which would eventually register a billion degrees inside the set, even, I think, when it was off. And sitting under the Titanic. No problem — Mitsubishi had extended the warrantee to cover it, so it was fixed at no cost to us.
Then the projector bulb died well ahead of schedule. “Known issue,” said the chat boards, “and there’s nothing you can do about it but pony up the money for a new bulb.” Fine. They don’t call it the bleeding edge for nothing.
Last night, the set switched itself off again, and refused to come back on. During the warm-up cycle, the screen was black, black — not the dark grey “black” of a set with any light hitting the screen. Made a note to shop for bulbs in the morning, then went to bed.
Pulled the bulb out this morning, and it was just fine. Clean and shiny and the filament appeared intact. Found the closest Licensed & Registered & Mitsubishi Approved to Use You As a Personal ATM Machine Repair Office and talked to the nice lady who told me they could get somebody here on Friday. But she added that it sounded like a logic board or the power supply or maybe the thromdibulator, and that none of that was covered under the thermostat extension.
Oh, and who knows if they’ll actually have the right parts available.
Here’s where it gets tricky. We only have two TVs in the house, and I spend about six hours on Sundays monopolizing one of them, watching all of the weekend talking head chat shows to pick out material for PJTV’s “Hair of the Dog” (free, no registration). This Sunday, Melissa is cooking up a huge dinner — one of those all-day-in-the-kitchen affairs. And a three-year-old lacking distractions will become a much worse one himself — for Melissa in the kitchen or me with the working TV, or most likely, both. In other words, we need a second, working TV in here before Sunday.
Fine. We’d been planning on moving the Mitsubishi downstairs now that the basement is mostly finished, and replacing it in the living room with a smaller, more discrete model. No big deal doing it a couple months early. Except for the emergency rush situation — ever tried to schedule a TV delivery for the next day?
After seven phone calls and three stores, we’ve got a replacement coming tomorrow. Tomorrow morning, same time the Covad guys are supposed to be here to install the T1 line. While I’m also supposed to be preparing for and recording Saturday’s PJM Political show. And picking out material for Friday’s Week in Blogs segment for PJTV. Plus, the usual showering, shaving, getting the kid up and off to school, etc.
I might not make it all the way to Sunday. So if anyone at my wake starts making any Bob Schieffer jokes, I’ll haunt your ass.
Bush couldn’t get Congress to move on free trade with Colombia, but maybe Obama can:
At the Summit of the Americas in Port-of-Spain, Mr. Obama asked to be seated next to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, and the pair discussed the deal, U.S. officials said. During his presidential campaign, Mr. Obama had voiced opposition to the pact, citing violence toward labor organizers in Colombia. The deal, which would allow free trade between the two nations, is awaiting ratification in the U.S. Senate and has already been approved by Colombia’s congress.
Since taking office, Mr. Obama has struck a more-positive tone on free trade than he often did during the campaign. He and aides have spoken out against protectionism, and in Mexico last week he declined to raise the question of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, despite a pledge to do so last year.
One nice thing about having a Democrat in the White House is, it seems to lessen Congressional resistance to free trade pacts. Keep your fingers crossed Obama will succeed. Colombia has proven a remarkably patient ally, given the treatment they’ve received from Reid & Pelosi.
Here’s a long overdue move:
While no final decisions have been made, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to recommend the creation of a new military command to face the growing threat from cyber warfare, a senior U.S. official told NBC News on Tuesday.
According to the official, the program would not be on the level of a separate combatant command. Instead, the likely recommendation would be to create a “sub-unified command” that would focus entirely on combating cyber warfare but exist under the current Strategic Command.
From everything I’ve read, we’ve been playing far too much defense on cyber security — and even that not very well. Still, this is a step in the right direction.
Boy wonder and “Journolist” elitist Ezra Klein denies individual exceptionalism. This from the guy who spent all of 2008 and most of 2007 explaining how Barack Obama is a god in human form. There’s no possible comment to make here, other than maybe, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Oh, wait — I left out, “Maybe Ezra has a tiny little…”
On this week’s very special 4:20 Edition of Hair of the Dog:
This time, it’s George Stephanopoulos who gets spanked.
Rahm Emanuel is our dancing monkey.
Sam Donaldson reveals himself to be Janeane Garofalo Lite.
And our fearless leader springs into action!
Plus, watch yours truly get tortured by an ex-CIA chief. All of that in just eight minutes, and completely free.
The Russians have them:
At a military checkpoint between Georgia and its breakaway region of South Ossetia, the word “Russia” is hand-painted in pink on a concrete security barrier.
“It will be Russia,” said a Russian army lieutenant as the Ossetian soldiers under his command nodded.
“And Georgia used to be Russian, too,” said the young freckle-faced lieutenant, who would give only his first name, Sergei. Three armored personnel carriers and a tank were dug in around the checkpoint.
Russia has stationed its forces just 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the Georgian capital, in violation of the EU-brokered cease-fire that ended last year’s brief war. And in recent weeks, it has sent even more troops and armored vehicles to within striking distance of the city ahead of street protests against Georgia’s president.
We’ve already offered to turn our backs on our Czech and Polish friends, after they stood up for us on missile defense. Is there anything left in the cupboard to offer Vlad the Bad to keep his paws off Georgia?
Having trouble selling your product? Try producing something similar at a lower cost — and giving it away. That’s what the Colorado Springs Gazette is doing:
The Gazette will launch a free, four-day-a-week newspaper on May 6 that will cover downtown Colorado Springs, Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs.
The newspaper, called Ink, will publish Wednesday through Saturday and 10,000 copies will be distributed each day to newspaper racks and stores in the three areas, said Gazette Vice President of Marketing Liz Cobb.
While the paper will consist mostly of news from the three areas, it also will include some regional daily news as well.
“It’s not an alternative paper,” Cobb said. “You can get sports and weather there also. We think this will serve the community well.”
Each edition will be up to eight pages.
A micro-size, micro-region paper? For free? It might just work.
Hat tip, Complete Colorado.
I didn’t expect to see Dick Cheney do this:
Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said the use of harsh interrogation techniques on terror suspects produced results and that the American people should see the proof.
In an interview with Fox News, aired Monday night, Cheney said he is not allowed to talk about the still-classified information but that the public deserves to find out “how good the intelligence was.”
Cheney called for the release of additional memos, saying that would make for what he calls an “honest debate.”
One of the reasons I’m generally opposed to torture is that it does sometimes work — and the implications of that are just too much to contemplate. I’d also dread what would become of our people engaged in it, and us as a people if we came to support its widespread use.
That said, if there’s a ticking time bomb scenario — OK, fine, if that one-in-a-lifetime opportunity presents itself, knock yourselves out. But don’t make it legal. The only time we should even contemplate torture is the one time no prosecutor would file charges and no jury would convict.
In the meantime, maybe Cheney is right; open the files and let’s have the debate.
At this point, really, what’s another hundred billion? Read:
President Barack Obama on Monday proposed a $100 billion U.S. loan to the International Monetary Fund to boost the IMF’s resources and urged a bigger stake in the IMF for emerging powers.
In a letter to U.S. congressional leaders, Obama said the U.S. funding “does not represent a budgetary expenditure or any increase in the deficit since it effectively represents an exchange of assets.”
He’s right, you know. Although the IMF’s assets aren’t worth very much, it won’t be long before the dollar is worth even less.
President Obama admits that there’s a “confidence gap” between his goals and what the American people expect to actually get. So says the AP:
President Barack Obama on Monday ordered his Cabinet to find ways to slice spending by $100 million, but acknowledged it’s a “drop in the bucket.”
Gosh, I wonder how that confidence gap came about.