» 2013 » January


Monthly Archives: January 2013

FLOTUS Has the Weirdest Boehner Right Now

January 21st, 2013 - 4:00 pm

I don’t think much of Boehner, either, but I don’t have cameras watching me 24/7.

Makes you wonder if she did it knowing she’d get caught

How I Spent My North Korean Vacation

January 21st, 2013 - 2:40 pm

Sophie Schmidt — that’s former Google CEO Eric’s daughter — went to North Korea. Then she filed the most amusingly grim or grimly amusing travelogue since Tony Bourdain decided to get all deep about stuff. A quick mention of the lodgings in Pyongyang:

My father’s reaction to staying in a bugged luxury socialist guesthouse was to simply leave his door open.

Since we didn’t have cellphones or alarm clocks, the question of how we’d wake up on time in the morning was legitimate. One person suggested announcing “I’m awake” to the room, and then waiting until someone came to fetch you.

OK, Eric Schmidt would do that — apparently he regards his own privacy the way he regards yours. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, at least take a look at the DPRK’s leading library.

That pegged my Creep-O-Meter.

(Hat tip to Will Collier, who knows exactly how to waste half my day.)

Fill it to the RIM — With Fail

January 21st, 2013 - 1:40 pm

What’s better than one floundering Research in Motion? Two:

Research In Motion (RIMM) chief executive Thorsten Heins has confirmed on a number of occasions that he is willing to consider several new paths RIM might take moving forward. The company wants to license its upcoming BlackBerry 10 software as Heins has suggested repeatedly, but he would also reportedly consider a bigger shift. In an interview with German newspaper Die Welt, the CEO confirmed that selling off RIM’s BlackBerry hardware division would be a consideration for him, but only following the successful launch of RIM’s next-generation platform.

That’s the route Palm went, splitting into hardware and software companies. If memory serves, the two halves become whole again. Then HP gobbled it up, before spitting it back out as a redheaded open source venture. webOS was supposed to be the company’s savior, just like RIM’s new OS.

If that’s the route RIM does take, I wouldn’t expect the results to be much better. There are only two currently working models for smartphone manufacturing and sales. One, the Android way, is to give away the OS and let the OEMs do with it what they will. Samsung has made billions as an Android OEM. Then there’s the Apple way, which is to build the whole widget, OS and hardware together. Apple has made even more billions doing it their way.

Microsoft is trying to shoehorn its Windows business model into the smartphone market — right down to the name. Windows Phone 8 sells just like Windows 8: OEMs buy a license from Microsoft for each and every phone they build, probably $20 or $30 a copy. There’s just one problem. OEM’s for the most part ain’t buying. And what they are buying, they can’t sell.* The result has been a pretty dismal failure so for for Microsoft, and even more so for Nokia which has pretty much bet the farm on selling WP8 Lumia smartphones.

This is the path RIM wants to follow?

In His Own Words

January 21st, 2013 - 12:18 pm
YouTube Preview Image

As I do most years on this day, here’s Martin Luther King, Jr’s complete “I have a dream speech.” It’s appropriate to watch this today, when so many who don’t deserve to keep trying to appropriate his mantle.

Stan Musial: RIP

January 21st, 2013 - 12:11 pm

He’s gone at 92.

Somehow I missed this one over the weekend. He was, and still is, The Man.

Gotta Birth Back in Time

January 21st, 2013 - 11:05 am

So then there’s this:

So what woman would want to give birth to a Neanderthal baby?

Yet this incredible scenario is the plan of one of the world’s leading geneticists, who is seeking a volunteer to help bring man’s long-extinct close relative back to life.

Professor George Church of Harvard Medical School believes he can reconstruct Neanderthal DNA and resurrect the species which became extinct 33,000 years ago.

His scheme is reminiscent of Jurassic Park but, while in the film dinosaurs were created in a laboratory, Professor Church’s ambitious plan requires a human volunteer.

He said his analysis of Neanderthal genetic code using samples from bones is complete enough to reconstruct their DNA.

He said: ‘Now I need an adventurous female human.


I’ve Failed You

January 21st, 2013 - 10:01 am

I tried. I really tried to watch the President’s inauguration. I got through the swearing in, I got through all the pre-show blather. But then Obama started to speak, and one of the first things he started in on was explaining “what binds us together.”

And I just couldn’t do it. Not one more word. I turned off the TV.

Sorry, but “analysis” will have to await the transcript — and a very large drink.

Turn Now to Page Zero in Your Boehner Playbook

January 21st, 2013 - 7:10 am

Trifecta: How should the GOP fight the debt ceiling battle? Or can they?

Required Reading

January 21st, 2013 - 5:52 am

Ralph Peters:

We invaded to smash al Qaeda and punish the Taliban for hosting them. Mission accomplished. Within six months. The correct military action would have been to remove our conventional-force presence while the jihadi bodies were still warm.

Instead, ideologues safe at home declared that we had to nation-build where there was no nation. Or “we’d have to go back.”

Going back would have been an eff of a lot cheaper.

I doubt they invented it, but the Romans had a way of dealing with bad guys from lands they didn’t want to (or couldn’t) add to the Empire: The punitive expedition. Go in, kick some booty as dramatically as possible, then bug out. It wasn’t a permanent fix, nor was it meant to be. Nor did it need to be.

How simple. How underrated. How did we forget that lesson?

Anyway, go read the whole thing.

Friday Night Videos

January 18th, 2013 - 10:46 pm
YouTube Preview Image

Was David Lee Roth the greatest rock’n'roll frontman of all time? Is that even a question? Of course he was. His solo career was a little uneven, if by “a little” we mean “horribly.” But there were some real gems buried under the other stuff.

When this one came out in 1991, I was back together and living with the Spooky Chick (aka Matt Groening’s “Woman from Mars“) for another round. The thrill was gone, but the sex was still deeply weird — and there are worse ways to kill time while you wait for a relationship’s other shoe to drop. Anyway, we were talking Diamond Dave.

Out of the blue — we never did this kind of thing for each other anymore — she tells me she’s just heard this song and she knows I’ll love it. It was David Lee Roth, and neither one of us were exactly fans. How or where she found it I’ll never know. But she put on the tape and sure enough, I loved the song.

Still do.

Sony Says Sayonara

January 18th, 2013 - 2:46 pm

Sony has been in trouble for a while now, and here’s the latest sign:

U.S. unit said it agreed to sell its 37-story New York headquarters to investors led by the Chetrit Group for $1.1 billion. The shares surged the most in more than four years.

Sony said it expects the sale of 550 Madison Ave. to generate net cash proceeds of about $770 million after repaying debt tied to the building and other transaction costs. The company and other units of the Japanese parent, including Sony Music Entertainment, will remain in the building for up to three years, Sony said in a statement released in New York.

Remember when the big scare was the Japanese buying up all of America with all those dollars we sent them?

North Dakota is on Fire

January 18th, 2013 - 1:13 pm

In a good way. See that blaze of light in the red circle? It didn’t exist just a few years ago. But what looks like a new city is actually hundreds of oil rigs, in a massive explosion of activity and wealth in ND.

Jonathon Seidl has all the details.

Fore More Years…

January 18th, 2013 - 11:50 am

Krauthammer on the GOP’s civil war:

The party establishment is coming around to the view that if you try to govern from one house — e.g., force spending cuts with cliffhanging brinkmanship — you lose. You not only don’t get the cuts. You get the blame for rattled markets and economic uncertainty. You get humiliated by having to cave in the end. And you get opinion polls ranking you below head lice and colonoscopies in popularity.

There is history here. The Gingrich Revolution ran aground when it tried to govern from Congress, losing badly to President Clinton over government shutdowns. Nor did the modern insurgents do any better in the 2011 debt-ceiling and 2012 fiscal-cliff showdowns with Obama.

Obama’s postelection arrogance and intransigence can put you in a fighting mood. I sympathize. But I’m tending toward the realist view: Don’t force the issue when you don’t have the power.

Read the whole thing, but Krauthammer is essentially correct on what the GOP can accomplish while holding just one-half of one-third of the Federal government.

So let Obama get what he wants — he will, anyway.

Let. It. Burn.

Then pick up the pieces.

We Retort, You Deride

January 18th, 2013 - 10:10 am

Trifecta: President Obama says we aren’t a “deadbeat nation.”

I’m guessing the “yet” was implied.

BONUS: Tammy Bruce is back today.

Shock Poll: Americans understand the Second Amendment.

Rove Signs Multi-Year Deal with FOX News

January 18th, 2013 - 5:12 am

This ought to be worth a few more simoleons:

Fox News Channel is expected to announce shortly that Karl Rove has signed a multi-year deal to remain a Fox contributor through the 2016 election.

The contract assures the ratings-leader cable news network that it will retain one of its most popular commentators, and someone whose views continually make news, especially in the heat of a campaign.

He’ll also be producing and hosting a multipart series called “How to Destroy a Major Party You Supposedly Are a Member Of For Fun and Profit.”

That’s the Pot Calling the Kettle White

January 17th, 2013 - 5:05 pm

Old white guy says the problem with America is old white guys. Video at the link.

Well, when the old white guy in question happens to be Jim Moran, it’s hard to argue with him.

War on Women update:

Pregnant women in one southwestern Pennsylvania town will soon need to look elsewhere to deliver their babies, after a local hospital announced it will end the practice in March — blaming ObamaCare in part for the decision.

The Windber Medical Center will stop delivering babies after March 31 because its obstetricians are either leaving or refocusing their practices, and because hospital officials believe they can’t afford it based on projected reimbursements under looming federal health care reforms.

Soon, expect to hear breaking news about Mitt Romney’s “binders full of babies.”

iPhone 5 is Fine Here Now, Thank You

January 17th, 2013 - 2:00 pm

You read earlier in the week that the WSJ thought that demand for iPhone 5 had collapsed or something, due to a rumored cutback in screen orders — a rumor that didn’t pass the sniff test.

And now there’s this:

[J.P. Morgan's Mark] Moskowitz, like other analysts, dismissed recent concerns that iPhone demand could be waning. That sentiment, which pushed Apple’s stock below $500 this week, was driven by an article from The Wall Street Journal that alleged iPhone component orders were drastically reduced in response to weakened demand.

Earlier this week, Moskowitz dismissed that and other reports as just “noise” that would fuel an investor overreaction. On Thursday he stood by that sentiment, and reiterated his belief that any order cuts could mean that iPhone 5 manufacturing yields are improving. Moskowitz has forecast sales of 47.9 million iPhones in the December quarter.

Yet another record-breaking holiday quarter. Yawn.

What was Apple’s real problem last quarter? Moskowitz said, “his team’s research indicates near-term supply constraints affected iPad sell-in activity through the end of November.”

Demand exceeded supply. Now there’s a problem most companies would kill to have.

Get Me a Burrito, Nurse — STAT!

January 17th, 2013 - 12:42 pm

A weight-loss surgeon has endorsed Chipotle:

“I think they do a great job,” the doctor, Matthew Weiner, told Benzinga. “As far as fast food restaurants doing local sourcing and looking for quality and healthy ingredients, I think Chipotle is above anybody.”

The doctor just published a book called “A Pound of Cure: Change Your Eating and Your Life, One Step at a Time.”

Weiner said that he eats at the Chipotle if he must have fast food. He cited the chain’s vegetable ingredients and vegetarian and vegan options.

I’m certain that when he said “vegetable ingredients and vegetarian and vegan options” he meant to say “barbacoa with extra beef and black beans and rice and pico and hot salsa and extra sour cream and cheese.” Because that’s what I had for lunch today. For the enhealthinating benefits.

Man Killed by Giant Breasts

January 17th, 2013 - 11:52 am

News you can use:

A Washington state woman smothered her boyfriend with her breasts when she threw herself on top of him in a boozed-up fight in their trailer park, cops said.

Witnesses told police that they could hear the victim pleading with Donna Lange, 51, to get off of him.

He was rushed to a nearby hospital in Everett, but he could not be saved.

I got nothin’. You?

Games (Freedom-Loving) People Play

January 17th, 2013 - 10:30 am

Peter Suderman: Six video games every libertarian should play.

I haven’t played any of these — but you all knew already I’m a bad libertarian. Still, I read about Bioshock ages ago and have always wanted to play. But finding the time for grownup games the kids won’t want to play is hard. Keeping them away from grownup games I don’t want them to see is impossible.

The only games I still make time for (other than some Angry Birds or whatever on the iPad) are Paradox Publishing’s massive historical/operational stray games. You can start a playing a country in the Dark Ages with Crusader Kings, and if you like, take it through to almost the present day with Europa Universalis, Victoria, and then Hearts of Iron.

But you’ll probably not want to, since the latest version of Victoria caused me to coin a new word: Funsuck. It’s really that bad.

All the others still come highly recommended, however. And as soon as he sees the screen, my seven-year-old finds himself something very else to do.

First in Harm’s Way

January 17th, 2013 - 9:34 am

George Will — who does not oppose Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary — has a few questions for him, anyway. Here’s the most important one:

The Navy has 9 aircraft carriers. Aircraft carrier groups are the principal means of projecting U.S. power. And they are very expensive. How many should we have? How is your calculation influenced by the fact that seven weeks ago China for the first time landed a fighter jet on the deck of an aircraft carrier?

I dread any further cuts to the Navy. Yes, naval procurement is a mess, and I’d like to see Hagel (or any SecDef) run roughshod over it, make some heads roll, and clean up the godforsaken mess. While we’re fantasizing, we might also give serious thought to nuking the Pentagon. The military’s new HQ could be located far from Washington, where they might actually get some work done. Here’s a few hundred bucks to book a couple rooms at the Holiday Inn in Salina, Kansas. Cut some more fat, and we’ll upgrade you all to the Holidome in Topeka.

But we were talking about the Navy.

Worst comes to worst, you can raise Army divisions pretty quickly. Marines might take a little more time, what with all that beach storming to learn. But so long as you maintain a solid cadre of NCOs, they can train up the lower ranks and the junior officers in comparatively little time. And we can do with a lot fewer officers. Today we have about one officer for every five enlisted men. In World War II — the last time we threw a winning war — the ratio was one-to-ten. Our higher-tech military requires a higher proportion of officers, but we can surely do without bunches of flag officers whose primary mission is military-grade ass-covering at the soon-to-be-nuked Pentagon. I can live with a smaller Army, and I suppose we’ll have to, given Washington’s inability to prioritize spending.

The Air Force is trickier. Before the 9/11 attacks, George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld came into office with a plan to skip a generation of procurement, and use the savings to speed up development of the next generation. We were at peace, and our existing airframes could be made to last long enough to cover the procurement gap. I liked this idea a lot, right up until jihadis brought war to Manhattan. But to give an example, our entire fleet of F-22 Raptors took 15 years to build, at a rate of about two per month. That was a leisurely production rate, and with a sloppy production system, too. To generate enough support in Congress for gold-plated fighters, production was split up amongst about 1,000 subcontractors spread out of 46 out of the 57 states. We can do better than that, should push come to shove. Which undoubtedly it has. So don’t get me started on how screwed up F-35 production is.

But that pales in comparison with raising a fleet. The first of our Gerald Ford -class aircraft carriers was laid down in 2009, but isn’t planned to be commissioned until 2015. Then there are all the other warships and supply ships which make up a carrier battle group. They take time, too. And it can take a year or two between the launching of a modern warship and when it can be commissioned into the fleet. I’m not sure there’s any way to speed up that process, either. Warships are incredibly complex beasts, requiring many sea trials before they’re ready for war.

And naval traditions are difficult to come by and easy to lose. We operate the best carriers in large part because we’ve been doing it longer than anybody else, and, most importantly, we’ve been doing it continuously. China has been trying for a couple decades now to get a working carrier, and has only just recently made their first (and only) carrier landing. That was on a “practice” ship that will probably never be able to fight. This stuff is really, really hard.

The job the Navy does, even in peacetime, is vital, too. Trading powers that can’t maintain the sealanes don’t stay trading powers for long. Before you object, Japan and the United Kingdom do have immense and powerful and experienced fleets — it’s just that most of the ships sport the American flag.

What I’m saying is, eliminate Army brigades if we must. Make the Air Force do more, with less, and faster. But this landlubber can’t say it enough: Do not shrink the Navy.

UPDATE: Try as I might, I couldn’t find the text of COL David Hackworth’s “Nuke the Pentagon” anywhere online. It was published in Playboy twenty years ago this month, and it’s one of the few issues I bought and kept. Because of Hackworth, I swear. Not the Barbie Twins. Not at all.

ONE MORE THING: An anonymous commenter left a link to a scanned copy of Hackworth’s article. It’s as true as ever, and is today’s recommended reading.

A Commune of Anti-Hippies

January 17th, 2013 - 7:16 am

Trifecta: Welcome to Idaho’s newest gated community — a castle/fortress of well-armed neighbors.

More Dreamliners Grounded

January 16th, 2013 - 2:18 pm

Another day, another Dreamliner dashed:

The emergency landing followed a string of problems in the past month with the Boeing 787, known as the Dreamliner, including a battery fire, fuel leaks and a cracked cockpit window. All Nippon said the problems Wednesday involved the same lithium-ion batteries that caught fire last week in Boston on a Dreamliner operated by Japan Airlines.

Last week, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration ordered a comprehensive review of the Dreamliner’s manufacturing and design, with a focus on the plane’s electrical systems. During a news conference last Thursday, the U.S. transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, made no mention of grounding Dreamliners. But if the problems continue, tougher measures could presumably be taken.

Aeronautics is just about the toughest business in the world. For scale and complexity, probably only auto manufacturing competes with it. The jetliner makers might not have to worry about as many models as carmakers do — although maybe more than you think, if you include all the variations on each — but the potential problems and potential losses dwarf what any carmaker faces.

There are very few big players — just two, really, building the big passenger jets. And the younger player, Airbus, had to be willed into existence by European governments with big, fat checkbooks. Russia tries. China wants to try. But the jetliner business is really just Boeing and Airbus, because you need immense scale to take those risks and absorb those losses.

The safety considerations are… we need a bigger word than “immense” here. We’re not talking about adding some side airbags to a vehicle that can turn left and right and rarely travels faster than 75MPH. We’re talking about a jet traveling at 36,000 feet, carrying hundreds of civilians who don’t take kindly to getting set on fire or plowing into a mountain.

I’ve followed the Dreamliner’s production since Boeing first announced it, because it really did seem like the Passenger Jet of Tomorrow. There were bunches of reasons big (much lower fuel consumption) and little (bigger windows, making for happier passengers) and wonderful (space-age airframe allowing for higher pressurization and much happier passengers). But if you asked me today if I’d like to hop on board a 787 for a five-hour flight, or take a crappy, beat-up seat on the ancient 737 just down the tarmac, I might just take the old ’37.

Boeing has a real nightmare going with the Dreamliner.

Less Than Meets the Eye!

January 16th, 2013 - 12:31 pm

Over at the Tatler, I’ve deconstructed President Obama’s 23 executive whatevers — and revealed the hidden 24th item.

Ready for the Double Dip?

January 16th, 2013 - 11:20 am

Tyler Durden:

“Sequestration would reduce the level of spending authority by $85bn in fiscal year (FY) 2013 and $109bn for subsequent fiscal years through 2021. The actual effect on spending in calendar 2013 would be smaller–around $53bn, or 0.3% of GDP–since reductions in spending authority reduce actual spending with a lag. The reduction in spending would occur fairly quickly; the change would be concentrated in Q2 and particularly Q3 and could weigh on growth by 0.5pp to 1.0pp.”

In other words: payroll tax eliminates some 1.5% of 2013 GDP growth; on the other side the sequester cuts another 1%: that’s a total of 2.5%. So: is the US now almost certainly looking at a recession when all the fiscal components to “growth” are eliminated? And what will the Fed do when it is already easing on “full blast” just to keep US growth barely above 0%?

What we need is an honest measure of GDP. Currently, the figure includes money Washington either printed or borrowed — which is a dishonest measure of growth. The former is as illusory as it is inflationary, and the latter is taken from future growth for our kids.

I’d wager that an honest GDP would show that we never really came out of recession, nearly four years ago.

Same Old Same Old

January 16th, 2013 - 10:01 am

How are we going to do this new round of gun control? I’ll let the President’s press secretary handle this one:

“The president has made clear that he intends to take a comprehensive approach,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday.

Well of course he will.

Didn’t the bozos who voted to reelect SCoaMF realize they’d be getting four more “clear” years of “comprehensive” approaches? He’s not done fundamentally transforming your ass, bub. In fact, now that he’s faced his last election, he’ll enjoy a lot more “flexibility” in just how to do it.

Move Along, No Movie to See Here

January 16th, 2013 - 8:50 am

Trifecta: Is Zero Dark Thirty on the New Hollywood Blacklist?

Tammy Bruce is back for this one, giving the inside Hollywood perspective.

“…and everybody hates the Jews.”

January 16th, 2013 - 7:50 am

StrategyPage sums up the Middle East peace process more niftily than anyone:

The U.S. and other Western nations continue to pressure Israel to stop building Jewish settlements in the West Bank. This is popular in Israel and the foreign pressure to stop is unpopular. As a democracy Israel elects leaders who will do what the voters want. Israel is frustrated at the inability of Western nations to comprehend how opposed the Palestinians are to any peace deal. This is pretty obvious if you take a look at Palestinian media (especially outlets directly controlled by Fatah and Hamas) and opinion polls. The Palestinians don’t want peace with Israel, they want Israel destroyed. This stalemate is incomprehensible to many Western officials, but it makes perfect safe in the Middle East, where consistently acting against your own best interests is an ancient and still popular tradition.

It wasn’t that long ago — not much over a dozen years — that Arafat and the PA were offered almost everything they claimed to want. They would get their own state, all of Gaza, and 93% of the West Bank. There would have been tons of cash too, to …ahh… smooth along the transition to statehood.

Then Arafat scuttled the deal and walked away.

There were two reasons for him to do that. The first was, he didn’t really want a deal. What he wanted to do was start a new and bigger round of Kill the Jews, which he did. Only Israel’s massive new security fence ended the terror. The second reason was, it’s doubtful Arafat could have sold even such a generous deal to his own people. Because what they really wanted was a new and bigger round of Kill the Jews, which they got.

If anything has changed since then, it’s not us and it’s not the Palestinians. It’s the fence. And that’s it.