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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Preview: The Microsoft Surface Tablet

June 19th, 2012 - 1:56 pm

IBM once built the world’s best portable keyboard. Its official name was “TrackWrite,” but everybody called it “the butterfly” because of the way it spread its wings when you opened the computer. John Karidis designed it for the ThinkPad 701 back in 1995, and watch this baby in action.

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It’s so well engineered, that there are still butterflies in perfect working condition, even though the last one was produced in 1996. That’s right: although the 701 was IBM’s best-selling laptop, the butterfly keyboard was abandoned after only one year. TrackWrite was a wonderful indulgence for a laptop with a 10-inch screen, but the very next year after it was introduced, 12-inch screens became the new norm — and bigger screens allowed for a full-sized keyboard without any fancy engineering.

Just like a real butterfly, the TrackWrite was beautiful but short-lived.

That’s the first thing I thought of when I watched Microsoft introduce its new Surface tablet computers last night: A gorgeous keyboard without a market. Microsoft has designed what is undoubtedly the best portable keyboard ever… for a touch tablet. In fact, if you go to Microsoft’s promo page, this is the very first image you’re presented with.

That’s how MS wants to introduce you to their new tablet — a tiny little screen with a great big keyboard. Scroll down the page a bit, and Microsoft reminds you that “some activities call for a keyboard.” The description continues:

Surface comes with an integrated Kickstand and a revolutionary, 3mm thin, pressure sensitive cover that doubles as a fully functioning keyboard and trackpad. Your Touch Cover connects to your Surface with a single magnetic click. Now you can chat with friends and respond to emails comfortably.

It’s really a very nifty piece of kit, and it’s included for free. Apple charges you a less-than-nifty $69 for their wireless keyboard, and it doesn’t attach to anything at all, not even with magnets. But you have to wonder if Apple doesn’t still have the right approach.

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Any Takers?

June 19th, 2012 - 9:42 am

I bet you twenty bucks it was Nicorette.

UPDATE: In the comments, Jason B writes, “Obama walks in, and says ‘I’m here to do two things: kick ass and chew bubblegum. And all I have left is bubblegum.’”

Heh.

From DREAM to Nightmare

June 19th, 2012 - 7:43 am

Turns out, President Obama’s DREAM usurpation isn’t quite what he’s telling you it is. Here’s Mickey Kaus with the details:

1) The decree doesn’t just apply to illegal immigrants who were “brought to this country by their parents.” It also would give work permits to those who snuck across the border by themselves as teenagers. “Through no fault of their own” is a talking point for DREAM proselytizers, not an actual legal requirement. 2) The same goes for the phrase “and know only this country as home.” That’s a highly imaginative riff on the decree’s actual requirement, which is for 5 years “continuous residence.” It turns out “continuous residence” doesn’t mean what you think it means. “Immigration attorneys have been successful in getting immigration courts to whittle this down to a point where it is almost meaningless,” says CIS’s Jon Feere. As an illegal immigrant you can go back homeabroad for multiple 6-month stints during those five years

It’s one thing to make things easier for culturally American illegals. But this? What Obama has done is no such thing. He’s going to up and legalize most of a million workers, only some fraction of whom pass the test he laid out last week.

I know Obama knows that he’s already lost white, blue-collar voters. But now he’s doing his damnable best to work them up into a frenzy. This will move the needle right in MI, OH, and PA, I’d wager.

Fill it to the RIM — With Fail

June 19th, 2012 - 5:12 am

Huh:

Toronto-based original device manufacturer Celestica on Monday announced that it will stop producing hardware for struggling mobile device vendor Research In Motion. Celestica stated that it will wind down manufacturing services related to BlackBerry devices over the next three to six months, and it expects restructuring charges to be less than $35 million

I say “huh” because I can’t find who will be stepping up to take Celestica’s place. So unless RIM wants to become nothing more than a mobile OS vendor, they’d best get on that.

Reporting for Doody

June 18th, 2012 - 4:54 pm

John Kerry will play Mitt Romney in Barack Obama’s debate prep.

This will produce the best blooper reel the world will never see.

The New Schlockmeisters of Hollywood

June 18th, 2012 - 3:46 pm

Raging Bull II. This is a real movie, just started production. Nothing to do with the original or anyone who made it. Just another bad sequel.

I don’t want to hear one more lecture out of Hollywood about how brain-dead the right is.

The next crisis is muni bonds — and guess what? That’s right, underfunded, defined-benefits pensions are largely to blame:

The scandal isn’t simply that most public officials are misleading the public about the enormity of the problem and what steps must be taken to address the matter. As the Morgan report notes, many of the real liabilities are located “off balance sheet,” hidden from the public’s eye, and lax accounting standards let cities and states minimize their enormity.

It’s also that JP Morgan itself kept the report’s findings a secret except for a few big clients, mostly hedge funds and large institutional investors, who got the inside tip on which states and cities are most likely to default on their debt as their pension liabilities fester.

Yes: Default is a very real possibility, because the solutions are far from easy.

Nationwide, the actual size of unfunded public pension liabilities is four times larger than the $900-plus billion that officials are ’fessing up to. That’s right, the bank sees a $3.9 trillion hole; to plug that, states and cities will need large tax hikes, massive budget cuts or both. Plus, public-sector unions will have to accept smaller retirement packages, and later retirement ages, to keep the pension systems going.

I got out of munis completely a couple years before the Great Recession, and haven’t regretted it one bit.

Obama to Supremes: You Reek

June 18th, 2012 - 12:22 pm

Juan Williams on what happens if the Supremes overturn ObamaCare:

The Democrats have a nuclear option in this political game if the high court throws out the healthcare law as unconstitutional.

That blowup-the-system button, not pushed since FDR’s attempt to stack the court with Democrats during the New Deal, is for Obama to use the bully pulpit of the White House, and the national stage of a presidential campaign, to launch a bitter attack on the current court as a corrupt tool of the Republican right wing.

It is a move that could energize Democrats and independents even as Republicans celebrate a major legal victory.

If you can’t win, make everybody look like losers.

Is that the “better messaging” so many Democrats wish the White House would use?

Cold War/Hot War/Luke Warm War

June 18th, 2012 - 11:10 am

Trifecta: 25 years ago in Berlin, President Reagan demanded that Party Secretary Gorbachev “tear down this wall.” How does President Obama’s foreign policy stack up?

Repeat: Android is Not Fractured

June 18th, 2012 - 10:56 am

Here comes yet another Android skin:

Japan’s Sharp said Monday it will release a new user interface for its smartphones in an attempt to differentiate them from the Android masses.

The Osaka-based electronics maker’s new “Feel UX” will feature a simplistic design with large icons, and allow many phone functions, such as camera, photo gallery, and music player applications, to be accessed directly from the lock screen. Once unlocked, the interface has three main screens, one each for apps, shortcuts to phone features, and widgets such as calendars and clocks.

The details of the custom UI don’t really matter, but two things do. One, how much crapware will carriers load up on the thing, and two, which version of Android will it run? Carriers are notorious for taking great hardware and just ruining the user experience. And Android 4.0 is very, very good — but is running on less than 8% of ‘droids. And

Try as I might though, I couldn’t find where Sharp said which version they’ll load, or whether it will be upgradable to future releases.

Club Eastern Med

June 18th, 2012 - 9:10 am

The Eastern Mediterranean might not have been subject to so much frenzied attention since Alexander was fighting his way out of Greece, across Anatolia, and deep into the Levant on his way to conquering the known world. The anchors of the ancient eastern Med then were Greece to the north and Egypt to the south. Today, those anchors weigh down a sinking ship.

Or maybe a better historical precedent can be found in 1941-42. The Nazis had taken Greece in April to protect their Balkan flank (and to shore up the Italians), before invading the Soviet Union. They even took the island of Crete — with its vital airfields capable of threatening British shipping — in a brutal airborne assault. Meanwhile, Rommel’s Afrikakorps threatened British control of Suez, and its lifeline to India. Hitler’s Balkan adventure forced a delayed start to Operation Barbarossa, which might have cost him Moscow, and ultimately the war. The fate of the free world didn’t quite hinge on the Eastern Med, but it was close.

Greece just held an election which determined little more than which party gets left holding the bag, and if they leave the euro tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. There’s nothing left to loot, so I don’t understand why the socialists even tried. Maybe they sill held out some hope of getting more money out of the Germans. Athens might get something, but not nearly enough to fill the hole they’re is in. There’s only hardship ahead.

Egypt is also holding an election, which will determine… hell if I know. The Army and Hosni Mubarak’s old clique (but I repeat myself) have proven remarkably adept at hanging on to power. Honestly, I thought they would loot the treasury and emigrate to France under cover of night. So there seems to be some small chance they might have Egypt’s best interests at heart. It’s just difficult to see them accomplish anything much, other than to keep the Muslim Brotherhood out of power. And if that’s all the hopenchange Egypt will get, why did anyone bother getting rid of Mubarak?

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The Rats are Putting on Their Life Vests

June 18th, 2012 - 7:39 am

Al Hunt: The Obama campaign needs an intervention.

That’s been pretty obvious for a couple months now already. But what kind of intervention does it need? Here’s what Hunt hears from big-time Democrats:

The central challenge, the other Democratic consultants say, is a compelling narrative from the president and campaign, which they describe as unusually insular and arrogant.

“Compelling narrative” is another way of saying “better messaging,” which is always a loser’s excuse.

Reckless Endangerment

June 16th, 2012 - 9:09 am

Trifecta: So we have a Commerce Secretary. Asleep at the wheel. Of his Lexus. Felony hit & run.

Fortunately, nobody was hurt — but have you ever read a story so metaphorically apt?

The Week in Blogs

June 16th, 2012 - 8:59 am
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Links to all this week’s goodness down below in the comments.

Friday Night Videos

June 15th, 2012 - 9:58 pm
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You’ll be kicked to the floor.

The Amnesty Grab

June 15th, 2012 - 12:47 pm

It looks an awful lot like vote-buying doesn’t it, the President unilaterally granting amnesty to nearly a million illegals? That’s the take I expect the Romney campaign to use: President Obama is pandering to the Hispanic vote, and — yet again — bypassing both the Democrat Senate and the GOP House.

The problem for Republicans is, vote-buying works. And Democrats are very, very good at it.

Of course, you can’t get something for nothing. And in this case, Obama risks alienating more than 20 million un- and underemployed Americans. “Look at how Obama is spending all his time on illegals, when I was born here and haven’t been able to find work for two years.” That line of thinking applies to plenty of legal immigrants, too.

As someone who is very strongly pro-immigration, parts of the President’s selective amnesty (let’s call it what it is) appeals to me. Nations at least since Rome have granted cititizbineship to foreigners who don the uniform. And it seems silly and self-defeating to force kids to stay underground their entire adults lives, when they were brought here by their parents.

As a libertarian, I’m horrified — but not at all shocked — that Obama would make such a huge policy change unilaterally. It’s all of a piece, of course. President Bush defined his “compassionate conservatism” with the line, “When people are hurting, government has got to move.”. Now that’s about as far from small government as you can get. But Obama’s take is even worse. His attitude is, “When Congress won’t give me what I want, I’ll simply take it.”

Now that’s about as far from constitutional government as you can get, whether small or large. Our visiting-guest-constitutional-lecturer-in-chief either does not know or does not care that there are legal limits to his power.

Of course, that’s not Obama’s worry. And to an extent, neither is his reelection. He’s always played a long game, and here his game is to turn Hispanic voters into the next Permanent Democratic Minority Block, alongside African Americans. If he can make that happen — and he just might — then for the sake of his party, that’s worth losing the White House for four years. Hispanics are the new blacks, in the sense that they’re now America’s biggest single minority — and growing.

Anyone who can put 15% of the electorate in his party’s pocket, forever, has left a legacy — even if the economy stays in the tank, or his signature domestic legislation is overturned or repealed.

Because for a Progressive, there’s always tomorrow to grow the government again. You just need to buy enough votes to get there first.

The Green Hills of Second Earth

June 14th, 2012 - 4:10 pm

The Kepler Space Telescope is producing some very hopeful results:

“What we found was, there wasn’t a very strong corelation between Jupiter[-sized] planets from the smaller planets,” the study’s leader, Lars Buchhave, an astrophysicist at the Niels Bohr Institute and the Centre for Star and Planet Formation at the University of Copenhagen, told the News.

“In other words, we don’t need a lot of stuff in the disk of the planetary system to form small planets like here on Earth,” he said. “And that means – or could mean at least – since we don’t need a special environment for the planets to form, then we could form planets around a wide range of stars and planets like Earth could be common in our galaxy.”

We should probably be more excited about the prospects of finding a Second Home, than about finding other intelligent life.

That’s Gonna Leave a Mark

June 14th, 2012 - 2:57 pm
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More like this, Mitt — and you should’ve had this running by Monday.

Be Careful What You Wish For

June 14th, 2012 - 12:34 pm

Would President Obama and the Democrats get a boost in November if the Supremes overturn ObamaCare? That’s what Dan Weber thinks might happen:

The law’s passage spooked American business. Major corporations took
multimillion-dollar health care write-offs — AT&T’s was a cool billion — and the small companies that are responsible for 90 percent of new hires saw their health care costs rose by 20 percent to 40 percent.

So for big companies, the law’s overturning would mean much brighter balance sheets and a tonic for the stock market. Above all, it could restart small-business hiring, set off a mid-summer job boom and improve monthly employment numbers enough to make the administration’s claims of recovery look credible by November.

While I’m 99% certain that, yes, the jobs would start coming back, I’m far less certain Obama could make much hay from it.

Job creation fell off the cliff when O-Care was passed. If it comes charging back after O-Care’s repeal, then voters will know that we suffered two needless years of stagnation, because of a law few wanted and nobody loved.

That’s as powerful an indictment of Obama, Reid, and Pelosi as can be imagined.

If O-Care is overturned, the Democrats had better hope job creation stays in the sewer, so they can keep on blaming Bush.

More Total Economic Collapse for Dummies

June 14th, 2012 - 10:29 am

From Tyler Durden.

Nothing to see here.

Tick Tick Tick

June 14th, 2012 - 7:27 am

You might remember this golden oldie from 2010:

[Bill] Clinton told his Cuyahoga Community College audience in Cleveland that Democrats deserved two more years to fix the nation’s economy.

“The Democrats are saying something like this: ‘We found a big hole that we did not dig. We didn’t get it filled in 21 months, but at least we quit digging,’” Clinton said at the time. “‘Give us two more years. If it doesn’t work, vote us out.’”

President Obama is giving a “major campaign speech” at the same location today, just handing out an excuse to bring up Clinton’s 2010 remarks. I’m starting to think Obama’s advance man must be a Romney mole.

It Can Happen Here

June 14th, 2012 - 6:40 am

Trifecta: A thought experiment — the Supreme Court overturns ObamaCare, so… now what?

RIP: Henry Hill

June 13th, 2012 - 1:39 pm

The mobster who inspired Goodfellas is dead.

I’m going to watch that tonight for the umpteenth time.

Ban THIS!

June 13th, 2012 - 1:14 pm

So, the New York City Board of Busybodies is discussing Mayor Mike’s Big Gulp ban — and more:

At the meeting, some of the members of board said they should be considering other limits on high-calorie foods.

One member, Bruce Vladeck, thinks limiting the sizes for movie theater popcorn should be considered.

“The popcorn isn’t a whole lot better than the soda,” Vladeck said.

Another board member thinks milk drinks should fall under the size limits.

“There are certainly milkshakes and milk-coffee beverages that have monstrous amounts of calories,” said board member Dr. Joel Forman.

Give a prog an inch…

Tonight on CNN, We Show You What’s on Fox

June 13th, 2012 - 11:47 am

Who could fill John King’s shoes at CNN, now that his nightly news show has been cancelled? Guess:

The program will be replaced at the end of the month by “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer,” which will expand from two hours to three hours. Mr. Blitzer’s program currently precedes Mr. King’s, beginning at 4 p.m.

CNN is officially out of ideas.

Better Bring a Bucket

June 13th, 2012 - 9:09 am

Trifecta: Madonna — what a boob.

CAUTION: I go Full Mr. Creosote in this segment.

Sign “O” the Times

June 13th, 2012 - 7:19 am

Change: Retail sales dip for the second month in a row — for the first time in almost two years.

The silver lining? Part of the dip can be attributed to declining gas prices. People might be buying the same amount of gas, but spending less for it. Then again, gas prices are slack because demand is slack — because we’re too broke to travel this summer.

$5 gas is tolerable, when incomes are rising and people can afford it. $3 gas sucks when you’re unemployed and underwater on your mortgage.

Say It’s So, Joe!

June 13th, 2012 - 6:47 am

Will Joe Biden prove to have been Barack Obama’s undoing? That’s what Da Tech Guy left unsaid in his look at that shocking NC poll. Here’s what he did say:

One out of five Black Americans in a state where the president won 95% of the Black vote the last time around have explicitly told strangers they will not support the first black president for re-election and they have expressed that decision in a public poll..

It is that public nature that makes all the difference because it reinforces what other Black Americans may be thinking in other states but are hesitant to say aloud.

It is a paradigm shift and if it repeats itself beyond North Carolina then this election over.

And what issue broke the dam? Peter thinks its gay marriage, which has black pastors and socially conservative blacks up in arms. Obama was happy to allow his position on that to slowly “evolve” until after the election — but ol’ Joe forced his hand.

Even if 20% of 2008′s black voters just sit home, this election is over — they don’t even have to cross the aisle for Romney.

Still though, I’d like to see Romney make that sale, and break the Democrat’s headlock on black voters. Anytime anyone or anyplace is represented by a single party, they’ll get screwed.

Now That’s a Headwind

June 12th, 2012 - 4:33 pm

Unprecedented:

President Barack Obama is rapidly losing support among African-American voters in North Carolina, a new poll out today from the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling shows.

The poll finds that Mitt Romney would get 20 percent of the African-American vote if the election were held today, compared with 76 percent for Obama. Overall, Romney has a 48 percent to 46 percent lead on Obama in the crucial swing state.

Jaw-droppingly unprecedented.

I mean, I know I colored NC red ages ago, but my jaw is on the floor.

How Can He be Absent if He Won’t Leave?

June 12th, 2012 - 3:15 pm

Trifecta: To echo Ted Kennedy in 1988… Where is Barack?