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Monthly Archives: February 2013

VodkaPundit Latenight

February 28th, 2013 - 11:27 pm
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Scientifically Accurate Spider-Man.

Totally not safe for work.

The $137 Billion Dollar Problem

February 28th, 2013 - 3:18 pm

At least one analyst thinks Apple has a tough couple of years ahead of it:

As for Apple’s Capex requirements, [Peter] Misek expects costs to double in the next two years, adding an additional $10 billion a year to the bottom line. High on the list of responsibilities is the possibility that Apple may have to finance the build-out of chip fabrication facilities as its current suppliers, specifically TSMC, are lacking the capital to expand production to nominal levels. It was reported in January that TSMC had been contracted to manufacture the A6X SoC used in the fourth-generation iPad, and is rumored to be spearheading production of next-generation A-series chips for future iOS products.

Also of concern in regard to a rise in capex spending are display manufacturing and costs related to iCloud data centers.

Apple is also forecast to make an aggressive push into burgeoning wireless markets like India and China, the former being a largely prepaid subscribership.

These are problems most companies would love to have — provided they were also sitting on Apple’s $137,000,000,000 nest egg. Apple of course has both.

I don’t doubt the competition will increase over the coming years. Apple had a nice run where its old competitors (Microsoft, then the PC OEMs, and also Sony) just didn’t get it. Google and Samsung are faster learners.

First, President Obama’s team proposed the sequester.

Now they oppose the sequester, but not before Obama signed it into law.

Except that Obama will veto any GOP effort to ease the sequester he’s against.

Me, I’m drinking with lunch.

Heavily.

Required Reading

February 28th, 2013 - 9:31 am

Will Collier calls BS on that Technology Review report about the F-22 “killing” its pilots. Will has twelve years experience with Raptors, and knows what he’s talking about.

Pass the Tanning Butter Popcorn

February 28th, 2013 - 7:22 am

It was one of those real vacationy vacations. Lots of beach, lots of cocktails, little or no news. The most ambitious I got was on the second day, when we rented a golf cart and toured the entire length and breadth of Isla Mujeres — before lunch. If you ever find yourself at the Privilege Aluxes beach bar, order the hot wings (more of a Jamaica jerk than Buffalo) with a side of habanero sauce.

We didn’t get back until well after midnight last night, so it’s with some trepidation that I’m sticking a single toe slowly back into the news and

OMIGOD THE WHITE HOUSE IS GOING TO WAR AGAINST BOB EFFING WOODWARD???

An infinite and expanding universe is incapable of holding enough popcorn for this show. Imagine Brian Cox joining the Campus Crusade for Christ. Imagine me on a horse with my gentle sidekick, tilting at Glenmorangie. Picture, if you can for just one moment, a day with just three or four links from Instapundit.

All of these things are more likely than a Democrat White House going to war against Bob Woodward. And yet it has happened.

Of course, now is when journalists of every stripe, from far leftwinger to slightly less far leftwinger, will rally ’round the man who inspired each of them to become a journalist! The man who brought down a president!

My, but the crickets do chirp loudly this time of year.

The long knives will come out for Bob Woodward, mark my words. Richard Nixon had to be destroyed because he created the EPA and ended the war in Vietnam and instituted wage and price controls — while having the gall to not be a Democrat. And now one of their own is going after Teh Won? He. Must. Be. Destroyed.

It won’t happen, of course. Woodward is too much of an institution, and far too sane join in his own demise. And there’s a good chance that enough of the press still has enough integrity not to join in, either. But don’t listen for many full-throated defenses of Woodward — not from the White House steno pool, anyway. And already, day and night, the producers and crew at NBC News are deceptively editing old video to make it appear as though it were Woodward who ordered Alderaan to be destroyed, and right after Rachel Maddow had told him everything he wanted to know, too.

So I can’t tell you if I’m this giddy because of eight days of total relaxation, or because of good times spent with my wife and two of our closest and bestest friends, or because of the lingering effects of an irrational number of double-añejo-rum-on-the-rocks. But I can tell you that the White House-Woodward War is the greatest show on Earth.

But first I have to put in a bulk order of enough Orville Redenbacher to cover the hot side of Mercury.

Friday Night Videos

February 23rd, 2013 - 3:25 pm
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As a card-carrying member of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy who happens to be vacationing this week, it goes without saying that what I really want to see on the beach is Bikini Girls With Machine Guns.

Actually, I’d like to see that most anytime, anywhere.

OOPS: This didn’t publish on Friday night as planned. I blame the bikini girls.

Leave Steve Ballmer Alone!

February 19th, 2013 - 7:43 am

Bill Gates on Microsoft’s lagging efforts in mobile:

“Is it enough?” the Microsoft chairman continued, “No, he and I are not satisfied that in terms of, you know, breakthrough things, that we’re doing everything possible.”

He went on to admit that the company didn’t “get out in the lead very early” on cell phones. Microsoft had an early start with Windows Mobile, a system that was out for some years before current industry leaders Apple and Google debuted their respective iOS and Android platforms, but ultimately let the competition pass them by.

“We didn’t miss cell phones,” Gates conceded, “but the way that we went about it didn’t allow us to get the leadership. So it’s clearly a mistake.”

Anybody who follows the mobile business, or had the misfortune to use anything mobile from MS before Windows Phone 7 or 8, knows all this already. Painfully, in the latter case.

But the telling detail came early in the report:

Asked in an interview with CBS This Morning whether he was happy with Ballmer’s performance, Gates said that he and the Microsoft chief executive are “two of the most self-critical people you can imagine,” adding that neither are satisfied that the company is doing everything it can to move computing forward.

Translation: Please don’t criticize Ballmer, because he’s already criticizing himself quite enough already. Honest.

It’s the kind of thing you say when you’re trying to change the subject.

Lessons Unlearned

February 19th, 2013 - 5:44 am

So the guy Ecuador just reelected as President, Rafael Correa, doesn’t seem like the sharpest penny in barn. Here’s where things stand now:

While the 2008 default as well as new laws nationalizing the country’s oil reserves provided short-term economic gains for the president since he took office in 2007, the 49-year-old Correa, an ally of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, is now paying the cost with stagnant crude output and declines in private investment needed to boost growth.

Correa’s program moving forward? More of the same.

Meh. I shouldn’t point fingers. It’s not like we did any different or any better last November.

Here He Comes Again

February 18th, 2013 - 1:50 pm

Sigh:

President Hugo Chavez returned to Venezuela early Monday after more than two months of treatment in Cuba following cancer surgery, his government said, triggering street celebrations by supporters who welcomed him home while he remained out of sight at Caracas’ military hospital.

Chavez’s return was announced in a series of three messages on his Twitter account, the first of them reading: “We’ve arrived once again in our Venezuelan homeland. Thank you, my God!! Thank you, beloved nation!! We will continue our treatment here.” They were the first messages to appear on Chavez’s Twitter account since Nov. 1.

I can’t do any better than Iowahawk. Last time Chavez recovered, Burge tweeted, “Cancer loses brave battle with Chavez.”

From the Department of Not Getting it

February 18th, 2013 - 12:27 pm

Dear HuffPo,

This is not how you keep your readers spoiler-free.

See, when the headline says quite clearly that Matthew dies, it doesn’t make much sense after that to warn people away if they haven’t seen the last episode.

Math am hard, indeed.

Obama is Not My Daddy — He’s My Employee

February 18th, 2013 - 10:59 am

Kurt Schlichter isn’t too happy with America’s dad:

I’m an American citizen. As such, no mortal man may presume to lead or rule me.

And I already have a father, one who incidentally has a better track record of job creation than Barack Obama by the mere fact that he hasn’t destroyed several million of them. Nor has he left any ambassadors to die, or surrounded himself with kids in a sick circus of political exploitation designed to steal the fundamental rights of law-abiding citizens.

Hell, now I’m thinking “Dad 2016.” I mean, if that’s cool with Karl Rove.

We don’t elect chiefs or caudillos or strongmen in this country. We elect a President. Someone who is supposed to preside.

Or maybe that’s just me with my blindfold on, pining for the good old days.

Now That’s a Fabulous Trick

February 18th, 2013 - 9:37 am

Um

The television illusionist Derren Brown is courting controversy again by planning his most audacious trick yet – persuading a straight man he is gay.

The hypnotist also believes he could make a gay man be attracted to women.

The 41-year-old, who came out four years ago, is hoping the stunt will be as popular as his last stunt where he persuaded the group of people the world was going to end.

Brown told the Sun: “I was thinking about this the other day — it would be interesting wouldn’t it? To take a gay guy and make him straight and a straight guy and make him gay.”

You can take a straight man and put him in a really nice pair of shoes and make other people think he’s gay — but I’m not sure how Brown expects to pull this one off.

Friday Night Videos

February 15th, 2013 - 11:03 pm
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Despite being released near the height of Blondie’s radio popularity (and a wicked-cool album cover by H.R. Giger), Debby Harry’s first solo album went pretty much nowhere. But it did have this chart-friendly, Cold War-themed bubblegum track which… also went pretty much nowhere, topping at #82 on the pop charts. You’d think a collaboration between Harry and studio production-meisters Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards would have led to massive sales, but they never happened.

Thirty years later though, The Jam Was Moving still has a spot on my playlist called “Silly Things I’m Not Ashamed to Admit I Still Like.”

And here’s that Giger art.

Pretty tame by his standards, really.

Now enjoy the slick-pop funkalicious electronic sound.

Putin Saves Russian City

February 15th, 2013 - 2:12 pm

I suppose this was inevitable.

Reintroducing the P-Yew

February 15th, 2013 - 11:50 am

Nintendo’s flagship product still has that new console smell, and yet:

Nintendo (NTDOY) now faces the very real prospect of having an absolute flop on its hands. As Microsoft (MSFT) moved an estimated 281,000 Xbox 360 consoles in the U.S. in January to take the top spot for the 25th consecutive month, Gamasutra reports that Nintendo sold “well under” 100,000 Wii U consoles last month. The site estimates that sales may have fallen between 45,000 and 59,000 units in January, which could mark the worst month for a Nintendo console since before the original Wii launched.

Of course, sharp VodkaPundit readers — is there any other kind? — were aware of the Wii U’s potential stink-factor way back in October of 2011:

So what trick does Nintendo have up its sleeve for next year? It’s called Wii U. Rhymes, I think, with p-yew. It’s a console with cheap-looking iPad knockoffs for controllers. It has a touch screen! And lots of buttons! Two circle pads! A thumb pad! And a stylus!

Really? A stylus?

Everything that Wii was — simple, intuitive — Wii U looks to be something else. Do XBOX and PS3 controllers scare you, with their size and all those buttons? Wii U controllers are bigger and more buttony. Which screen do you look at — the one in your hands or the one on the wall? Why the hell do I need a stylus?

I just don’t get it. That controller is such a huge slab of a thing, my first reaction was, “My God, it’s full of stars.”

But it gets worse, as we (hah!) go back to BGR’s report:

Relief will likely not come anytime soon for Nintendo. New video game consoles take years to develop and typically remain on the market for the better part of a decade. What’s more, Nintendo has said it will not lower the Wii U’s retail price — the company is already selling the Wii U at a loss — so it remains unclear how Nintendo plans to reverse its current slump and bolster sales.

Oh, well. At least maybe now it won’t be long before you can play Mario Whatever on your iOS, Android, and Microsoft devices.

By the Numbers

February 15th, 2013 - 10:18 am

Math is hard, but somebody has got to do it. Today it’s Senator John Thune’s turn:

Between 2007 and 2012, annual federal spending went up from $2.7 trillion to $3.5 trillion, an increase of nearly 30 percent. Inflation over that period was 10.8 percent, meaning government grew at almost three times the rate of inflation. Federal spending as a percentage of GDP increased from the 40-year average of about 20 percent to more than 24 percent. And that’s before you factor in the president’s new health care law.

Meanwhile, the tax revenue coming into the Treasury is increasing. According to the Congressional Budget Office, revenues will increase by roughly 25 percent between 2013 and 2015. Revenues as a percentage of GDP will hit 19.1 percent in 2015 and will average 18.9 percent of GDP over the next decade, a full percentage point above the 40-year historical average of 17.9 percent. Revenues increased by 6 percent in 2012 and will increase by 11 percent in 2013, according to the CBO. Simply put, tax revenues are increasing, and as a percentage of GDP, will exceed the 40-year average over the next decade without any of the Democrats’ proposed tax increases. Yet Washington has been running trillion-dollar deficits the last four years and the national debt will balloon from $16.5 trillion today to $26 trillion ten years from now.

Could it be that Washington’s fiscal problem isn’t that it taxes too little, but that it spends too much?

Mmmm, could be.

Another Massive Privacy Violation by Google

February 15th, 2013 - 8:50 am

From an Android developer:

If you bought the app on Google Play (even if you cancelled the order) I have your email address, your suburb, and in many instances your full name. Each Google Play order is treated as a Google wallet transaction and as such software developers get all of the information (sans exact address) for an order of an app that they would get from the order of something physical. Even underneath the order information there is a flag that says ‘Email Marketing’ with a value next to it, because of course scrupulous developers would always obey that flag.

Let me make this crystal clear, every App purchase you make on Google Play gives the developer your name, suburb and email address with no indication that this information is actually being transferred.

Keep in mind, this isn’t some fly-by-night Russian operation for jailbroken Android phones — this is how Google’s own Google Play store treats its customers.

They Do Make Them Like That Anymore

February 15th, 2013 - 6:50 am

Trifecta: Meet only our fourth living Medal of Honor recipient from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — who said “no” to Michelle Obama’s SOTU invite.

News You Can Use

February 14th, 2013 - 4:27 pm

Imaginary critter experts have sequenced three separate samples of Sasquatch DNA. Seriously:

Individuals at 34 different research sites in 14 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces submitted samples for the study, with the results being published in the journal DeNovo Journal of Science.

Dr Ketchum, whose work includes nearly 30 years in genetic research and forensics, said that the findings definitively prove the existence of a surviving Bigfoot in North America.

Speaking about what the next step should be following the findings, Dr Ketchum said she would like to see the creatures have “the same protections as any other human.”

The scientist said the legendary beings should have “the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of their own happiness, meaning that they be left alone and not put under a microscope, not hunted, not harassed, not chased through the woods – leave them alone.

“They’ve existed for thousands of years this way and don’t need habitats set aside. They’ve lived under our noses all this time,” she added.

The rest of us should be so lucky.

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Bigfoot seen here with OSI officer Colonel Steve Austin.

Crappy Valentines Day!

February 14th, 2013 - 3:09 pm

Amelia Hamilton: Why women ruin everything for men.

Well, not everything.

Confidence Man

February 14th, 2013 - 1:33 pm

I’d be smiling too, after a payday like this one.

Balsillie made his move during the hype over the release of BlackBerry’s two new BB10 phones — so he must think the hype is as good as it’s going to get for his old company.

That’s a Lot of Wallets

February 14th, 2013 - 11:57 am

Trifecta: Want to worship two tons of crocodile?

Do Not Feed the Concern Trolls

February 14th, 2013 - 10:42 am

Over at The Tatler, I have a minifisking of the advice the New York Times is giving to the GOP about Ted Cruz.

Stomp Twice if You Think This is a Good Idea

February 14th, 2013 - 10:30 am

The told me if I voted for Mitt Romney, we’d be reduced to selling horse meat — and they were right!

Required Reading

February 14th, 2013 - 9:20 am

Donald Sensing:

Policy failures, as usually understood, mean nothing to the Democrat party because successes or failures are not relevant to the rationale behind those policies. Policies initiated by Democrats are intended first and foremost to cement the place and power of Democrats in the American polity. As I pointed out awhile back, all the post-election talk about what Obama’s second agenda would be (energy? jobs? foreign policy? and so on) was meaningless since there would be one and only one second-term agenda for this president:

… to eliminate political and economic competition to himself first and the Democrat party second. There is no other Obama agenda. Not jobs, not economic growth, not anything. Emplacing permanent one-party rule in this country is the sole goal for term 2.

There is nothing that will sidetrack him and the rest of the party from this goal. Increasing unemployment won’t, nor North Korean nuclear tests, nor a weakening dollar, nor anything else.

It’s what the Progressives have been working on now for almost exactly 100 years, with plenty of help from Republicans, witting and unwitting.

Now go read the whole thing.

Is That a Virtual Dollar in Your Pocket?

February 13th, 2013 - 4:15 pm

Matthew Lynn on BitCoin, Amazon, and other virtual currencies:

We might be reaching the point where virtual currencies start to pose a real challenge to the existing ones: the dollar DXY +0.06% , euro EURUSD -0.04% , yen USDJPY -0.04% and pound GBPUSD -0.78% . Indeed, at the end of last year, the ECB put out a paper warning about the competition from these new currencies. Although still small, the paper suggested they might undermine the credibility of national currencies.

It is not hard to see why central bankers are worried. Right now, virtual currencies are tiny. Hardly anyone is taking them seriously. And yet people are increasingly losing faith with traditional currencies. They are losing value steadily to inflation. And quantitative easing and currency wars mean they are constantly being debased. They are open to alternatives.

Plenty of investors have been turning to gold. Russia and China are building up their reserves, and so are many private individuals. But gold has always had its own problems as a currency. After all, if it was perfect the world would not have stopped using it as a currency. It has irregular supply. And it is as prone to crashes and collapses as any other monetary unit.

There is little doubt there is a demand for virtual currencies. They are, of course, completely untested. But with so much of the world’s business now conducted online there is little reason why currencies shouldn’t be minted online as well.

Money is whatever two or more people agree it is. Giant tablets, gold coins, bits on a hard drive. Virtual currencies have an advantage in that central banks can’t just print them up willy-nilly, at a time when trust in government is reaching critically low levels.

Commerce must be conducted by some means people can trust. That trust is largely blown, but we don’t yet have a replacement for central banks. Not really. That could be a scary transition. But the really scary one is when trust breaks down completely, and contract and security solutions go private.

Will it be Mad Max or Galt’s Gulch? Nobody knows.

A Gentle Reminder

February 13th, 2013 - 2:47 pm

If you aren’t following me on Twitter, you’re missing some of the best stuff.

(Oh, and I’m blogging my bottom off on The Tatler these days, too.)

Play the Match Game with the Stars!

February 13th, 2013 - 1:40 pm

Bruce Carroll’s radio Match Game is back tonight on The 405 Radio Network. This week’s show features Gabriel Malor, Tabitha Hale, North Dallas 30 Dan, Kira Davis, Michelle Ray, and your truly.

And hosted of course, by Bruce Carroll as Gene Rayburn.

Tune in tonight at 9PM Eastern.

Best Jeopardy Answer Ever

February 13th, 2013 - 12:14 pm
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Hat tip, Salon.

Apple just cut the starting price of the Retina Display 13″ MacBook Pro by $200, and bumped the processor, too. The price on the 15″ big brother is staying the same, but the CPU got a bigger bump, it looks like.

If you’ve played with one of these, it’s hard to go back to a regular screen. I have, and I have — and it makes the display on my MacBook Air look kind of cheap, even though it’s a better screen than most any Windows notebook.

Sigh.