Costs more, looks cheaper — Xoom is starting to have Fail written all over it.
Great story from CNN. The human champion describes Watson as a Terminator. It never gets tired, bored, has stage fright, gets cocky, or intimidated. It just keeps coming… answering general knowledge questions better than the best Jeopardy players on the planet. Scary right?
I thought back immediately to 1997, and a column Charles Krauthammer wrote on the occasion of chess grand master Garry Kasparov’s loss to IBM’s Deep Blue:
You might think it is a little early for fear. Well, Garry Kasparov doesn’t think so. “I’m not afraid to admit that I’m afraid”, said perhaps the most fearless player in the history of chess when asked about his tentative play. When it was all over, he confessed why: “I’m a human being, you know. When I see something thing that is well beyond my understanding, I’m scared.”
OK, I understand that one really shouldn’t draw conclusions from two data points. But we can certainly speculate!
In both cases, the computer seemed …unhuman… to its human opponent. That much we can attribute to the persons, and not the machine. But — Kasparov didn’t actually use the word “Terminator,” but you could slip it into his statement above and it would fit just fine. The machine just keeps… coming… at you.
The machine is remorseless, it seeks to win. And then it does win. That’s something we need to keep in mind, because right now, the cold science facts look eerily like the dystopian science fiction.
Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you lose on Jeopardy.
The problem during the Great Depression, all the smart people thought, was that prices were too low. That’s right, with 15-25% unemployment, what people really needed was to pay more for stuff. So Washington did everything it could to prop up prices, including for labor, and yet the economy never picked up and poor and unemployed people remained poor and unemployed.
This might be the single stupidest idea that ever got into Washington’s head, and it went on for years. The only thing that shook it loose was the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Things aren’t quite so bad today. There’s growth, if anemic. Only one in ten is unemployed, although chronic underemployment is quite a bit higher — 22% in California. And what lies behind our problems? You guessed it: Prices are too low. And, this is the real kicker, our own Fed Chairman thinks inflation is too low. So he’s pumping $600,000,000,000 of fairy land money into the economy, monetizing half this year’s deficit (no, wait — a six and eleven zeroes is now only a third!) to prop up prices.
Well, Bernanke is certainly getting his wish, according to today’s NYT. Read:
Cotton prices are near their highest level in more than a decade, after adjusting for inflation, and leather and polyester costs are jumping as well. Copper recently hit its highest level in about 40 years, and iron ore, used for steel, is fetching extremely high prices. Prices for corn, sugar, wheat, beef, pork and coffee are soaring. Labor overseas is becoming more expensive, meanwhile, and so are the utility bills to keep a factory running.
And yet here’s your fearless Fed chairman just last week:
“I think it’s entirely unfair to attribute excess demand pressures in emerging markets to U.S. monetary policy, because emerging markets have all the tools they need to address excess demand in those countries,” he said in answering a question from the audience. “It’s really up to emerging markets to find appropriate tools to balance their own growth.”
But what about our markets, Ben? Low growth and high unemployment ain’t exactly stoking the inflationary fires right here at home — and yet the higher prices are coming, anyway.
Pretty soon, we’re going to have to start rolling over trillions of dollars of short-term, low-interest debt into yet more short-term, higher-interest debt. The part of the Federal budget devoted to just paying the interest on the debt could very well triple in just five years. That would make debt service — just paying the interest, no principle — about equal to defense spending.
And this is how we’re going to achieve the growth necessary to put people back to work and get this debt to a manageable size?
Bernanke’s job is to protect the value of the dollar and promote full employment. Instead, he’s wrecking the dollar and pricing people out of the job market.
It’s time for him to go. Again.
Trifecta: Multiculturalism is being killed off in Europe — by the elites. When is it America’s turn?
The headline refers to the lack of decent blogging around here the last couple days. Everyone in the house has had a terrible cough, except for yours truly. But that doesn’t mean I’ve had a peaceful place to sleep. Honestly, nighttime around here sounds like a dozen dogs with kennel cough chasing after an asthmatic mailman.
Reuters has put together a timeline of the White House’s various and varied responses to the ongoing political crisis in Egypt — and it’s worse than you think.
Obama doesn’t get around to taking anything close to a firm stance or decision until Day 7, when he dispatched Frank Wisner as Special Envoy. On day 11, the White House calls for “concrete steps” to a transition. The very next day, Wisner flatly contradicted the new policy and is called back to the U.S.
On Day 14, “State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, acknowledging doubts about the credibility of the transition process, says: ‘Our advice would be: test the seriousness of the government and those who are participating to see if it can deliver.’” I don’t know what that means. Nobody knows what that means.
On Day 15, “Vice President Joe Biden speaks again by telephone to Suleiman, stressing U.S. support ‘for an orderly transition in Egypt that is prompt, meaningful, peaceful, and legitimate.’”
On Day 16, “After appearing to throw its support behind a transition process led by Mubarak’s new vice president, Omar Suleiman, Washington shows growing irritation, saying it has still not seen ‘real, concrete’ reforms.”
Then of course yesterday, CIA Chief Leon Panetta said Mubarak was probably on his way out, right up until Mubarak said he was staying. Power, however, seems to lie with the Army and Vice President Suleiman — who has held the three-decades-vacant office by appointment for all of twelve days. One wonders if this is what Biden considers “meaningful” or “legitimate.”
And then there have been things like the false assurance to Congress by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that the Muslim Brotherhood is “largely secular,” and Biden’s insistence that Mubarak is not a dictator.
Things didn’t get really bad, however, until Obama began insisting, quite publicly, that Mubarak take all those “concrete steps” to leave office. It’s a generally accepted rule of diplomacy that you don’t make demands in public unless you know in advance the answer is Yes, or that you have the means to enforce your demand if the answer is No.
We saw this same behavior when the administration was young and still trying to find its footing. Remember when Obama traveled all the way to Denmark to win the Olympics for Chicago, only to get rejected in the first round of voting? Same thing now. If you’d been hoping Obama would grow into the office, those hopes just got dashed against the stones of the Presidential Palace in Cairo.
Instead, we have a president determined to prove to the world that he and his administration are ignorant, indecisive, and impotent.
Let’s call them the Three I’s of the Obama Doctrine.
UPDATE: The New York Times app just flashed that Suleiman just announced Mubarak has stepped down. No doubt, the White House will claim this is a great victory for its Egypt policy — but which policy?
Trifecta: It’s another members’ only grab-bag episode, with questions taken directly from you, the viewer.
These are awfully fun to do, especially since somebody else writes the questions and Scott and Bill do most of the answering. After nearly 42 years, I might have finally found my calling.
I’m reading through Engadget‘s liveblog of HP’s big “Think Beyond” webOS event, and this picture really says a thousand words.
Look closely and you’ll see that HP’s Jon Rubinstein is claiming that in the “2011 OS Bowl,” Windows Phone 7 beats iOS, that webOS beats Android, and the two winners will battle it out for market domination… and webOS wins!
In 2010, webOS commanded 1.3% of the smartphone market. That’s about 1/15th of either Apple’s or Android’s share. Now, HP does look to have some nice devices coming out this year, including a smart looking tablet with a “planned availability” sometime this summer — three months or longer after iPad 2 and Xoom 1 hit the shelves.
So if I had to guess, I’d say consumers are already thinking beyond webOS. Way beyond.
If you missed it at the PJ Tatler, here’s the link to this week’s Coast to Coast Tea Party. Trent Humphries is the guest. You might know him as the Tucson Tea Party organizer, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s bête noire, or the guy whom Eric Fuller threatened on the set of ABC’s This Week.
Me, I call him “the nice man who picked me up at the airport last April 15.”
Chinese officials said Wednesday they were preparing for a severe, long-lasting drought in several parched provinces, causing wheat prices to spike on the prospect of the world’s largest consumer putting pressure on a global supply that’s already squeezed.
No wonder Beijing has cracked down on news from Egypt.
On the off chance you missed it, and on the dead-certain chance you want to watch it again.
The money train never stops! Here’s the story from the WSJ:
Vice President Joe Biden unveiled a $53 billion plan Tuesday to upgrade and build intercity passenger-rail networks.
Mr. Biden, along with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, announced the plan at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. The six-year program is designed to give 80% of Americans access to passenger-rail service within 25 years—a goal President Barack Obama set in his State of the Union Address—and to create jobs.
Maybe it’s indicative of the chances of getting the GOP Congress to approve any of this nonsense that Biden made the announcement, but I still say: “We don’t have any money left. Cut it out.”
Matt Drudge, the King of Juxtaposition — sorry, Ed! — put together a little somethin-somethin for us this afternoon.
Now I admit I cringe a little every time Sarah Palin uses the phrase “lamestream media.” It’s just unbecoming for a presidential wanna-be. But I see stuff like that screencap from Drudge and think, “Well, maybe it’s about time somebody said it to their faces.”
Coming soon from the White House, yet another plan to bailout the states:
The Obama administration is proposing short-term relief to states saddled with unemployment insurance debt, coupled with a delayed increase in the income level used to tax employers for the aid to the jobless.
The administration plans to include the proposal in its budget plan next week. The plan was described by a person familiar with the discussions on the condition of anonymity because the budget plan is still being completed.
We don’t have any money left. Cut it out.
The Best Buy ad for the Xoom pegs February 24 as the launch date, Engadget reports, with the $799.99 price tag mirroring chatter late last month sparked by the “minimum advertising price” listed on some leaked Verizon Wireless documents.
If the purported $800 price tag has you seeing red, consider this: a note just below the Xoom image that says a one-month Verizon Wireless data plan is “required” to activate Wi-Fi on the tablet.
That’s right: No wifi on your $800 tablet without first paying for a $20-$80 cellular service. Don’t know yet if your wifi keeps working after your data plan runs out, or if you must keep renewing.
The howl is only just beginning, and don’t be shocked if wiser heads prevail at Moto and ditch this craptacular idea.
UPDATE: Gruber wonders if maybe Best Buy copywriters typo’d “WiFi” when it was supposed to read “wireless.” That makes a lot more sense than charging Xoom buyers an extra fee just to use their home networks for the first month.
Because a tablet that doesn’t have immediate internet connectivity isn’t a tablet, it’s a shiny brick. Personally, I’m glad I spent the extra cash (and extra $30 a month) for 3G service on my iPad. Because your internet connection shouldn’t just be immediate, for best results it should also be ubiquitous.