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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Here it Comes

March 31st, 2013 - 12:35 pm

Trifecta: Cyprus.

That is all.

Rage of Thrones

March 31st, 2013 - 8:54 am
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So very not safe for work, and so very funny, and so very perfect for the season premiere of Game of Thrones.

And please — no spoilers.

The Ononeon is even funnier than The Onion — but all the stories are true.

No joke.

Advancing Toward the Rear?

March 30th, 2013 - 8:20 am

A civil war is raging for the heart and soul of the Islamic world.

And I’m on the side of the half-naked young ladies.

Friday Night Videos

March 29th, 2013 - 10:12 pm
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Heart — what happened?

I don’t mean what happened to Ann Wilson. She spent her whole life battling a weight problem and fat jokes are totally fourth grade. At any size, she’s still a better singer than Whitney Celine Carey.

No, I mean what happened to one of the great pure rock acts of the ’70s?

With tracks like “Sing Child,” “Crazy On You,” “Kick It Out,” and “Little Queen,” (that’s tonight’s pick) Ann and Nancy Wilson played straight-to-the-bone, balls-out rock and roll. Hell, most bands would be happy to produce in their entire careers, just as many knock-out tracks as Heart put on Dreamboat Annie alone. It’s that good.

“Barracuda” all by itself is worth more than seventeen Whitesnakes, with or without Tawny Kitaen in the videos.* And no offense to Liz Phair, but Heart was singing about blow jobs before Liz was even in middle school.

But that was the mid-to-late ’70s.

In 1982, after some personnel changes and firing their producer, Heart released Private Audition to absolutely no acclaim whatsoever. I remember there was a minor hit off the album, but looking at the track list I can’t for the life of me remember which song it might have been.

From there, things got really bad. I know Heart sold a jillion copies in 1985, but the music was dreck. Most great rock bands would have reached their creative nadir with “What About Love” and then mercifully called it quits. But then the Wilsons had to go and record “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You” in 1990. I was working mornings at KXGO when that stinker hit the airwaves, and we had to play the hell out of it. I’ll never forgive Heart for that.

Maybe what happened was, they learned how to make radio hits but forgot how to make rock’n'roll.

I understand Ann & Nancy made second and third comebacks in the ’90s and the Naughts, but I haven’t bothered to pick up any of the new stuff. Instead, when I need a fix of the Wilson sisters, I find some concert footage like this YouTube clip and headbang in my office where nobody can see.
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Required Giving

March 29th, 2013 - 5:11 pm

Wow. Just wow.

Here Comes the Facebook Phone

March 29th, 2013 - 1:20 pm

Would you buy a smartphone designed and sold by Facebook? Because it’s coming:

Facebook just invited press to an event at its headquarters on April 4th to “Come See Our New Home On Android”. Sources tell us it will be a modified version of the Android operating system with deep native Facebook functionality on the homescreen that may live on an HTC handset. The evidence aligns to say this is the Facebook Phone announcement people have been speculating about for years.

One source recently told us to be on the look out for a Facebook mobile press event in early April where the social network would reveal an altered Android OS running on HTC. It’s said not to be a full-on rewrite of Android, but rather a “flavor” that will have all sorts of extra Facebook functionality built in.

I’m worried that extra functionality is nothing but Farmville invites.

Fail After Fail After Fail

March 29th, 2013 - 11:02 am

Trifecta: Since we can’t afford ObamaCare, it’s probably a good idea to extend it to cover illegal immigrants.

Oh, and to grant them legal status that way, too.

It’s what Democrats in the Senate want. No kidding.

Ignore the State Behind the Curtain

March 29th, 2013 - 9:33 am

Over at The Tatler, is was my sad duty to deconstruct the latest NYT claim that California is all better now, and that conservatives are unpatriotic racists who want everybody to die.

But I did get in a good joke about serial killers, so it’s all OK.

Happy Motoring, Comrade

March 29th, 2013 - 5:51 am

Pay and pay and pay at the pump:

Reducing sulfur in gasoline and tightening emissions standards on cars beginning in 2017, as the Obama administration is proposing, would come with costs as well as rewards. The cost at the pump for cleaner air across the country could be less than a penny or as high as 9 cents a gallon, depending on who is providing the estimate.

An oil industry study says the proposed rule being unveiled Friday by the administration could increase gasoline prices by 6 cents to 9 cents a gallon.

The EPA says it won’t effect gas prices by even a whole penny, to which I say HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA and then gaze longingly at the painkillers and sleeping pills.

The other side of the story is, this would have been a much big deal under Reagan, when gas was so cheap. Adding 9 cents a gallon would have increased the price of gas by over 10%! But when Obama does it, it’s no big deal because 9 cents on top of four bucks is hardly nothin’.

Also, the chocolate ration has been increased to 20 grams and we’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

Microsoft to Windows RT: Drop Dead!

March 28th, 2013 - 2:09 pm

Somebody woke up to reality in Redmond:

Microsoft (MSFT) and its manufacturing partners have aggressively pushed the ARM-based Windows RT platform to consumers, however sales have remained flat. According to a report from Digitimes, the company may no longer offer devices under the Windows RT line and will instead merge the operating system into the next version of Windows, code-named Windows Blue.

In other words, RT is going the way of the dodo. There was really nothing else to be done, really, since RT should never have existed in the first place.

What remains to be seen is if Microsoft will scale Windows Phone up to tablet size — which is what they should have done in the first place. Or if they will continue and try to shoehorn “full Windows” into unlucky tablets.

Actually, we already know the answer to that one, and it isn’t pretty.

Vote with Your Feet

March 28th, 2013 - 12:24 pm

Here’s your scary-ass chart of the day — if you happen to be the lame-ass governor of a bloated blue state.

Here’s more from the IBD story:

Americans are migrating from less-free liberal states to more-free conservative states, where they are doing better economically, according to a new study published Thursday by the George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.

The “Freedom in the 50 States” study measured economic and personal freedom using a wide range of criteria, including tax rates, government spending and debt, regulatory burdens, and state laws covering land use, union organizing, gun control, education choice and more.

It found that the freest states tended to be conservative “red” states, while the least free were liberal “blue” states.

The freest state overall, the researchers concluded, was North Dakota, followed by South Dakota, Tennessee, New Hampshire and Oklahoma. The least free state by far was New York, followed by California, New Jersey, Hawaii and Rhode Island.

With the exception of Hawaii, which has some built-in advantages like being one of the most beautiful and pleasant places in the world, all those places frankly suck. And none of them used to.

Trifecta: Mayor Mike Bloomberg has the power to infringe your rights as he sees fit.

He said so himself.

Early Warning Signage

March 28th, 2013 - 5:41 am

The sign in the background — that’s the story.

China Sinkhole Swallows Adult Male

March 27th, 2013 - 2:44 pm
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Dang.

Sign “O” the Times

March 27th, 2013 - 12:56 pm

Wal-Mart shoppers are fleeing to other stores, and it’s not because those everyday low prices are suddenly too high:

“If it’s not on the shelf, I can’t buy it,” she said. “You hate to see a company self-destruct, but there are other places to go.”

It’s not as though the merchandise isn’t there. It’s piling up in aisles and in the back of stores because Wal-Mart doesn’t have enough bodies to restock the shelves, according to interviews with store workers.

Massive underemployment and Wal-Mart lacks for workers.

This, in a nutshell, is 21st Century America.

The Invisible Bitch-Slap

March 27th, 2013 - 10:13 am

Adam Smith famously described “the invisible hand” — how selfish, individual efforts work through free markets to benefit society generally. Fast-forward a couple hundred years, and see how Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke works through the banking system to screw over the young and the poor to benefit a much smaller segment of society. I call this “the invisible bitch-slap.” Here it is in action:

Two million Americans over the age of 30 now live with a housemate or roommate, and shared households make up 18 percent of U.S. households — a 17 percent increase since 2007.

One group of women sold their homes and bought a house together in Mount Lebanon, Pa., after they all got divorced.

“It made amazing economic sense,” said one of the women, Jean McQuillin.

Why are grownups with real jobs forced to live together? Why can’t they afford their own homes? Why does the extended adolescence of virtual dorm life make “amazing economic sense”?

Because housing prices, once inflated during the bubble, weren’t allowed to ever find their natural floor. An over-produced asset, which should have become cheap, is instead increasingly unaffordable.

Bernanke has done everything he can to re-inflate — to re-bubble-ize — the market for single-family homes. The idea is that if Bernanke can re-ignite the housing market, he’ll re-ignite the entire economy. Maybe that’s not such a bad idea, if you’re already sold on the whole central planning thing. But he’s going about it all wrong.

Despite the Crash of 2007, home ownership is still at near-record highs. Pretty much everybody who can afford and desires a home already has one. So if you want to bring new people into the market, prices have to come down. But Bernanke won’t let that happen.

Why not?

It’s called “the wealth effect.” Bernanke believes that if you make the (relatively) rich feel rich enough, they’ll spend more money. Then the increase in demand will trickle down to everybody else, in the form of new greeter jobs at Wal-Mart. That’s why Bernanke has also been propping up the equities markets, too. If stock prices are high, people will cash some out and buy things that will create jobs. The fact that most of those jobs are in East Asia seems to have escaped him.

You might remember that Democrats used to deride President Reagan’s “trickle down” economic policy. The way Reagan’s worked was to cut marginal tax rates and to deregulate the economy, so that people would have good incentives to start new businesses or expand existing ones — right here in the good ol’ US of A. President Obama has taxed, promised to tax, or threatened to tax the bejeebus out of most everything. He’s also unleashed a tidal wave of new regulations, mandates, and expenses unseen since the Great Depression. In the first full year of Reagan’s recovery, real incomes shot up more than seven percent, and American job creation soared on the back of a swelling GDP. After nearly four years of “recovery,” Obama hasn’t come close.

So maybe the argument could be made that Bernanke is making the best plays he can with a very weak hand.

Maybe that argument could be made.

But then I look at Bernanke’s big play, and I just scratch my head in a depressed kind of wonder. The thinking is that in a country desperately trying to get out from under too much debt, we’ll all get rich again if Bernanke can just make additional borrowing cheap enough.

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Who’s Next?

March 27th, 2013 - 9:14 am

Good news! The Russian Oligarchs didn’t take a haircut in Cyprus after all. So who did? Just, you know, hardworking Cypriots. Tyler Durden explains:

First, however, much more pain, because as Cyprus’ FinMin Sarris said a short while ago, uninsured depositors in the second largest bank Laiki which is now pending lqiuidation, may lose 80% (read 100%… or more), and wait up to seven years for a payout. Of course, with the majority of the “evil, tax-evading Russians” long gone having used the chaos and assorted loopholes in the past week to get out of Dodge, the only people punished are assorted local hard workers, and domestic businesses, now set to liquidate as soon as they can afford the bankruptcy filing fee.

The looters rigged the system so that dangerous men with billions of dollars could get away scot-free, then picked what was left of Cyprus dry.

It took all of two weeks.

This is the most frightening precedent I’ve seen set since 9/11/2001.

Some Sequesters are More Equal than Others

March 27th, 2013 - 6:28 am

Trifecta: What Sequester?!? Obama & Biden Live Like Roman Emperors on Public Dime.

Disabled Nation

March 27th, 2013 - 5:44 am

The headline alone from this Washington Examiner editorial is worth clipping and showing you here.

Yet another program brought to you by, and endlessly expanded by, the same people who love to lecture you about sustainability. But the hard numbers are the really scary part:

What happens to the workers who drop out of the labor force? Some retire, some become full-time parents, some go on welfare. But here’s an important answer that is often overlooked: In 2011, on average, one net person has been added to Social Security’s Disability Insurance rolls (and 3.3 to its retirement program) for every five net new jobs created. Since 1970, the number receiving DI has grown sixfold (from 1.4 million to 8.8 million), and the program expenses have grown tenfold, which is unsustainable. The federal government now spends more on disability than food stamps and welfare combined. In 2009, DI began paying out more in benefits than it took in from payroll taxes. By 2016, it is set to run out of money.

Like the rest of us.

Another Celebrity Self-Immolation

March 26th, 2013 - 3:23 pm

Trifecta: In which we totally side with Jim Carrey.

Not.

Program Note

March 26th, 2013 - 12:30 pm

I’ll be on FreedomWorks’ FreedomCast show with blonde momshell Kristina Ribali at 3PM Eastern today. We’ll be talking about the damaged GOP brand (on the day SSM went to the Supreme Court!) and what can be done.

Link opens up the podcast page in iTunes.

UPDATE: That was a lot of fun, unless you happen to be Reince Priebus or a sitting member of the RNC. We raked ‘em over the coals.

Tone Deaf in the White House

March 26th, 2013 - 6:54 am

This one is a real head-scratcher:

The White House hopes to bolster President Obama’s political standing by shifting attention from the bruising budget battles of the last month to immigration reform and gun control.

Democrats welcome the pivot after watching Obama’s standing in polls fall amid fights with Congress over the budget and the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.

They see immigration and gun reform as a better playing field for Obama that could provide political wins for the president.

Poll after poll shows Americans side more with the GOP (or at least against the Democrats) on gun control and immigration. So how is this pivot supposed to help?

Obama spent two years making speech after speech, trying to bolster support for ObamaCare, and moved public opinion not one whit. And that’s before the gawdawful law started making itself felt. Here we have two issues where most Americans have had their views set for probably their entire adult lives — and Teh One is going to improve his numbers by going against the grain?

I don’t think so. He — and we — are in for a mostly-miserable 46 more months.

Safe as Houses

March 26th, 2013 - 5:42 am

The Cyprus Haircut was a onetime thing, setting no precedent whatsoever. And I’ve given up red meat and booze:

The euro fell on global markets after Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch chairman of the eurozone, announced that the heavy losses inflicted on depositors in Cyprus would be the template for future banking crises across Europe.

“If there is a risk in a bank, our first question should be ‘Okay, what are you in the bank going to do about that? What can you do to recapitalise yourself?’,” he said.

A cynic might argue that depositors are being robbed to prop up a multinational currency which should never have been created, in nations which should never have been allowed to join it.

Well, I guess that makes me a cynic then.

Game Developers Betting Heavily on Mobile

March 25th, 2013 - 3:32 pm

Pretty sure this is a first:

If you only read one gaming statistic this week, let it be this one: In a pre-conference survey, GDC 2013’s organizers found that 58 percent of gaming professionals attending either last year’s conference or this one plan to release their next game on smartphones or tablets. That’s a tad greater than commitments to the Xbox 360, Microsoft’s next console, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U and Wii combined, which together garnered “next game” pledges from 56.5 percent of developers.[Emphasis in original]

Keep in mind that mobile games sell for a few bucks, while the big console games retail new for $60.

The more interesting number, and I wish they’d reported this, is what the combined developer interest is in the dedicated portables, like Gameboy and PSP. My guess is: A lot less than Android and iOS.

(H/T, The Bearded One.)

Creepy and Awful or Creepy and Awesome?

March 25th, 2013 - 1:48 pm

Apple made an interesting purchase today:

In a reported $20 million acquisition deal, Apple has bought the “indoor GPS” company WiFiSLAM, according to the Wall Street Journal Digits blog.

The startup, founded by Stanford CS grad & former Google coding intern Joseph Huang, offered a way to let smartphones find their location indoors to an accuracy of less than 10 feet (2.5 m) using the ambient WiFi signals in the environment.

The privacy freaks are going to freak out about this, and I almost don’t blame them. But then I thought of one of my major beefs with having multiple screens, and how Apple’s acquisition could fix it.

A text message comes to me from my wife, who’s also an iOS/OSX user. I happen to have my iPad on my lap, so it pops up in iMessage. I read it and reply. Then I need to make a phone call, and there’s iMessage telling me I have a message from my wife — the one I already read and replied to. Later, when I open my laptop, it pops up yet again in the Notification Center. The next morning when I go back down to the studio to work, that same message is still showing up on my desktop.

And then there’s the noise — the noise, noise noise NOISE! — of all those devices pinging at me to get my attention for that message. There’s a reason I keep everything but my desktop muted all the time, and that’s it.

It’s the same thing with Twitter, where I have to tell each device or computer to mark all those dang DMs as read already. First world problem, I know — but that doesn’t make it any less of a nuisance.

But what if there’s a bit of code in the OS which, using WiFiSLAM or Bluetooth or some combination of things, can tell which device I’m closest to, and then makes that device, and only that device, ding or flash? And then, once I’ve responded Pavlovianly to the stimulus, then reaches out to all the other devices, and tells them to shut up and mark everything read?

What would that be worth? About $20 million, apparently.

ONE MORE THING: Privacy is dead. I still fight my little rearguard actions by installing Do Not Track Plus and staying away from “free” internet services where I’m the product, and all the rest. But I understand in my brain (if not my heart) that privacy is dead.

March Madness, Cairo Edition

March 25th, 2013 - 11:59 am

So this isn’t at all ominous:

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Sunday threatened to initiate stern steps to “protect” the nation in the wake of the recent street battles between his political opponents and members of the governing Muslim Brotherhood in several towns and cities.

Morsi’s threat came two days after Opposition activists clashed with his supporters as well as riot police outside the Muslim Brotherhood’s office in Cairo. At least 200 people were reportedly injured in Friday’s violence in the Egyptian capita. Several other Egyptian cities and towns, including Alexandria, witnessed similar clashes. “I am President of all Egyptians and I will not allow anyone to tamper with the nation. If I am obliged to do what is necessary to protect this nation, I will do, and I fear I am about to do that,” Morsi said in a statement posted on Twitter on Sunday.

Threatening strong action against those found guilty of inciting Friday’s violence, Morsi said: “Some people are using the media to incite violence, and whoever is found involved will not escape punishment. Whoever participates in incitement is a participant in crime.”

I’m afraid Egypt is going to end up being Somalia-on-the-Med. Of course, Somalia is a narrow strip of coast with about ten million inhabitants in a part of the world, pretty much next to nowhere. Egypt is eighty or so million packed along the Nile, armed with F-16s and Abrams tanks.

It won’t be pretty.

Windows Makes Me Blue

March 25th, 2013 - 10:45 am

LEAKED: Ten new featured coming to Windows “Blue.”

It’s a curious mix of cool (Super SkyDrive) and WTF (more damn gestures). What Blue looks like to me is that it will be the fully (or nearly so) tablet/touch OS that Windows RT should have been, right out of the gate last summer. The problem is, Blue is the next desktop version of Windows. Except when it runs on tablets. Which it does, if that tablet has “Pro” in the name, but doesn’t if that tablet has “RT” in the name. It also won’t run on phones, which have “Phone” in the name.

This is what Steve Ballmer calls “Windows everywhere.”

It makes my head hurt, and I’m not even shopping for the things.

But Somebody Has to do It

March 25th, 2013 - 9:37 am

Over at the Tatler, I take on the distasteful work of dissecting Paul Krugman’s latest.

JurAT-AT Park

March 25th, 2013 - 6:51 am
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The best thing ever.