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Monthly Archives: November 2013

News You Can Use

November 30th, 2013 - 1:40 pm

BALLS

I thought the book was better.

It’s Like “The Ring” of Losing IQ Points

November 30th, 2013 - 11:21 am

Watch this and in seven days you’ll be brain dead.

Courtesy of Doug Mataconis, who says it’s real. Sadly, I believe him.

Blowing Bubbles

November 30th, 2013 - 9:13 am

Marc Faber says there’s no value in stocks:

Faber, editor and publisher of The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, told CNBC on Friday he believes a “massive speculative bubble” has encroached on everything from stocks and bonds to bitcoin and farmland. He attributed the vast bubble to “symptoms of excess liquidity.”

Faber said the markets, which have reached record highs, could still rise before the bubble bursts, if stimulus programs such as the Federal Reserve’s massive monthly bond purchases and super-low interest rates continue.

“Now can the market go up another 20 percent before it tumbles?” Faber said on “Squawk Box”. “Yeah, it can go up even more, if you print money.”

You’d have to be out of your ever-Yellen mind to keep printing all that money.

Creepiest. Thing. Ever

November 30th, 2013 - 6:41 am

Stop it, Facebook. Just stop.

Friday Night Videos

November 29th, 2013 - 10:02 pm

Last week I played “Brick House,” and if you’re anything like me it got you to wondering, “What is the exact opposite of ‘Brick House’?” And even if you’re nothing like me, I present to you this evening what is mathematically proven to be the exact opposite of “Brick House.”

Here we have the best of the worst of the ’70s in all its decadent glory.

Disco?

Check.

Fake studio “band?”

Check.

Hook by what sounds like a Playskool™ instrument?

Check.

Needlessly long remix?

Check.

Every bit of newfangled-for-the-time video trickery?

Check, check, and CHECK.

The clothes… I won’t even talk about the clothes.

Special bonus: Blonde lead singer with a hairstyle halfway between Dorothy Hamill and Farah Fawcett. I realize that’s mathematically impossible, but then you look at her.

Folks, you can’t buy that much cheese with government money.

Is Black Friday a Hoax?

November 29th, 2013 - 3:38 pm

SAVINGS

Hoax” is far too strong a word to use.

Store’s margins might be higher — but a lower price for the consumer is a lower price for the consumer. I coat I might have purchased on Wednesday for $100 is cheaper for me on Friday at $75, irrespective of how much profit Macy’s might generate from it.

Nevertheless, Melissa and I refuse to partake in the madness, spending the day decorating at home with the boys. As the story notes further down, “The deals this week will be fine. They might be even better in January. Plus: no lines, no crowds.”

Yep.

Repeal the 22nd Amendment

November 29th, 2013 - 2:29 pm

Jonathan Zimmerman: End presidential term limits.

There are some merits to this idea, and I can’t say I’m totally opposed. But allowing President Asterisk the chance to steal another election is no time to even think about repealing the 22nd.

SHAME

Full details here.

These Chicago gangsters — and I’ve decided today that no word but gangster will do any longer — have no shame.

None.

Zero.

They’re after power and the mean to keep it. Nothing else matters. Not the law, not tradition, not simple human decency.

Just power.

Your ObamaCare Fail of the Day

November 29th, 2013 - 12:08 pm

SHORTAGE

So now there’s this:

Dr. Ted Mazer is one of the few ear, nose and throat specialists in this region who treat low-income people on Medicaid, so many of his patients travel long distances to see him.

But now, as California’s Medicaid program is preparing for a major expansion under President Barack Obama’s health care law, Mazer says he cannot accept additional patients under the government insurance program for a simple reason: It does not pay enough.

“It’s a bad situation that is likely to be made worse,” he said.

His view is shared by many doctors around the country. Medicaid for years has struggled with a shortage of doctors willing to accept its low reimbursement rates and red tape, forcing many patients to wait for care, particularly from specialists like Mazer.

Yet in just five weeks, millions of additional Americans will be covered by the program, many of them older people with an array of health problems.

So it turns out that if you pay people less for their services than their services are worth, you get less of them.

Who knew?

Required Reading

November 29th, 2013 - 11:00 am

Krauthammer on the end of the judicial filibuster:

The violence to political norms here consisted in how that change was executed. By brute force — a near party-line vote of 52 to 48 . This was a disgraceful violation of more than two centuries of precedent. If a bare majority can change the fundamental rules that govern an institution, then there are no rules. Senate rules today are whatever the majority decides they are that morning.

What distinguishes an institution from a flash mob is that its rules endure. They can be changed, of course. But only by significant supermajorities. That’s why constitutional changes require two-thirds of both houses plus three-quarters of the states. If we could make constitutional changes by majority vote, there would be no Constitution.

As of today, the Senate effectively has no rules. Congratulations, Harry Reid. Finally, something you will be remembered for.

From there, he really gets brutal.

Read the whole thing.

Secret Stealthy Sub Surfaces

November 29th, 2013 - 9:53 am

PROJECT 636

In theory, all submarines are stealthy. They travel and attack from underwater, where they can’t be seen, and where radar is mostly useless. And subs should be quiet enough to make them difficult to detect by sonar. But the Russians used to — and the Chinese still do — build some nuclear-powered subs so noisy that their stealth was questionable at best.

One way to build a really scarily freaking quiet sub was to make it a diesel-electric boat, or SS. When running on battery power, they’re damn-near silent. The weakness of those boats is when they would have to run at or near the surface on their noisy diesel engines to recharge the battery. Also, compared to nuclear-powered boats (SSN), diesel-electrics have shorter range, shorter endurance, and much lower top speeds.

But damn if an SS can’t sometimes get right up close and put the fear of God into you when you sail into their waters. They’re also cheaper to build and operate — perfect for a not-as-rich nation wanting to defend their home waters from, say, a US aircraft carrier battle group, and/or an American SSN or three.

And now there are diesel-electrics with the new Air Independent Propulsion system, known as SSP. They don’t have to run near the surface and put up a snorkel to run the diesel motor to charge their batteries — eliminating the biggest weakness of the SS boats.

All of that is why this is news:

Russia has launched its new state-of-the-art Novorossiysk submarine, which set sail from a St Petersburg shipyard to become the first of six diesel-electric stealth subs delivered to the Russian Black Sea fleet in the next two years.

The Novorossiysk belongs to the Varshavyanka-class (Project 636), which is characterized by advanced stealth technology, making it virtually undetectable when submerged.

“Our potential opponents call it the ‘Black Hole’ due to the very low noise emission and visibility of the submarine,” Konstantin Tabachny, captain of the Novorossiysk, told Channel One TV. “To be undetectable is the main quality for a submarine. And this whole project really fits its purpose.”

At least two more of these SSP boats are under construction. I can’t find any information on how many more might be on order.

If I’m reading Global Security’s writeup correctly, Project 636 is a very modern update to Russia’s tried-and-true Kilo-class SS program — and will presumably be made available to export to nations like China, Venezuela, and really anybody with ready cash to spend.

The real wrinkle is that there’s never been a shooting match between SS/SSP boats and SSNs. Or between SS/SSPs and a modern surface fleet like the US Navy. But the Russians and Chinese have managed to take us by surprise at sea a few times, so I suspect a hot war at sea would be like a knife fight — everybody bleeds.

When Black Friday Comes…

November 29th, 2013 - 8:45 am

…I’ll stay inside my house.

That’s why there’s internet shopping — so nobody who doesn’t want to partake in the shopping madness can spend the day on the sofa, tapping away at Amazon. Sometimes, he might have to get up to help his wife put Christmas decorations up in one of the high places. At night, they’ll snuggle up with wine and munchies on the sofa to watch the greatest holiday movie of all time: Die Hard.

Or at least that’s what I’ve heard.

The Holiday Classic Returns

November 29th, 2013 - 7:30 am

I’ll rerun this Black Friday classic every year until they stop doing Thanksgiving.

The Perfect Post-Thanksgiving Turkey Club


[The above photograph is for demonstration purposes only. Please don't think you can come over here and eat my sandwich. Also, don't lick the screen.]

You’ll need:

Leftover turkey. White meat, dark meat — it’s all good.
Bacon. And lots of it.
Bread. Whole wheat.
Lettuce. Romaine.
Tomatoes. Sliced and deseeded.
Mustard. Gulden’s.
Mayonnaise. Real. If it comes out of a squeezy jar, it ain’t real.
Salt & pepper

The trick to making a perfect sandwich is in the layering. Also, if you’re piling it up tall, don’t toast the bread — you’ll need something you can grip. If not, lightly toasted is very nice.

Now then: The layers.

I live at a shade under 7,500 feet above sea level. So I have to move fast, take the bread out last, and spread on the mustard and mayo right away to help keep it moist. If you do, too, get all your mise on, then get your bread.

On the lefthand slice, spread on the mayo. On the right, the mustard.

Continue piling everything else on the mayo side, in this order:

Lettuce.
Tomato slices.
Season the tomato right now with a little salt and too much pepper.
Bacon. No fewer than four slices, if you know what’s good for you.
Turkey.
Now add the mustard slice on top — mustard down, please — to complete it.
Nom nom nom.

You want your B and L and T all together, because they’re just a classic combo. And you want them on the mayo side, because that’s classic, too. And you need the lettuce in-between the tomato and the bread, to keep the bread from getting soaked as you squeeze that bad boy down to fit in your mouth. (I know, I know — can’t let the bread get too dry, can’t let the bread get too wet. I’m picky. But there’s a reason we call this sandwich “perfect.”)

The turkey and the bacon go great together, too, so you want them right next to one another. And turkey and Gulden’s together? Heavenly. Lastly, and for reasons I cannot fathom, the sandwich works best with the veggies on the bottom and the meats on top — so don’t be a damn fool and turn it upside-down. There’s a right way and a wrong way to eat perfection. And that’s meats up/veggies down.

Enjoy.

News You Can Use

November 29th, 2013 - 6:11 am

THANK YOU FOR FAPPING AT WALMART

You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?

Fifty States of Gray (Revisited)

November 29th, 2013 - 5:05 am

UPDATE: For those who asked, here’s the map. Click to embiggen.

electoral10-1100-1024x789

Happy Thanksgiving

November 28th, 2013 - 1:00 pm

TOM

From all of us here at Casa Verde, including Melissa, Pres, Nate, and Tom the Dead 24.5-Pound Bird.

Pass the gravy.

Peace for Our Time or SQUIRREL

November 27th, 2013 - 3:00 pm

Score one for fiscal sanity in Germany:

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) clinched a coalition deal early on Wednesday that puts Germany on track to have a new government in place by Christmas.

One of their top priorities will be a reform of the renewable energy law (EEG), which has sent costs for consumers soaring because of generous incentives for solar and wind power.

The subsidies are largely paid for by households, whose bills have almost doubled to an average of 300 euros ($410) per megawatt-hour (MWh) over the past decade and are now the second-highest in Europe behind bills in Denmark, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

Renewable energy has proven to be one of the 21st Century’s biggest scams.

Your ObamaCare Fail of the Day

November 27th, 2013 - 12:45 pm

BETTER

Those seven million projected enrollees aren’t getting any closer.

How to Ruin the Holidays for You and Yours

November 27th, 2013 - 11:38 am

PISS OFF

It never stops. It never, ever stops.

How Much Is that Console in the Window?

November 27th, 2013 - 10:29 am

xbox-one

There’s a reason that Xbox costs $499 retail — Microsoft couldn’t possibly charge more. Here’s the breakdown:

Technology market watcher IHS tore into the components of the new gaming machine, and – judging by the Xbox One’s hardware and manufacturing costs – believes Microsoft is taking a hit on hardware sales in hope of revenues from licensed games and Live subscriptions.

This follows a time-honored tradition in the console market of selling games machines at a loss, simply to get as much gear as possible into homes, and then make back the money on royalties from third-party developers. It’s claimed Sony makes “about $18″ on each $400 PlayStation 4, for example.

The IHS estimates that each Xbox One console carries a hardware cost of $457 per unit and an additional manufacturing cost of $14, making the device a $471 machine to produce wholesale. An Xbox One costs $499 in the shops, so that’s a $28 difference. (But then the retailer will want a cut, and there are other overheads to consider, so Microsoft’s mileage may vary.)

When you factor in development costs, licensing fees for Kinect, marketing… I wonder if Microsoft has yet to see its console business return an actual profit.

Backdoor Bailout

November 27th, 2013 - 9:22 am

EM

I guess that’s what you’d call the latest White House move to encourage the insurance companies to become wards of the state:

The U.S. government has issued a proposal that would likely increase risk payments in 2014 to health insurers offering plans on the Obamacare exchanges after the companies complained a recent policy change allowing people to keep their insurance policies had changed the financial equation.

The rule, published on Monday in the Federal Register, lowered the threshold at which risk payments kick in for the sickest health plan members. The government proposed paying insurers 80 percent of claims greater than $45,000 in 2014. Previously the lower limit was $60,000.

Subsidies for everyone! Except you, comrade — you’re still able to work, da?

But then there’s this:

In addition, the government has proposed a state-specific adjustment for risk payments based on how many people in the state extend their current polices, Citibank analyst Carl McDonald explained in a research note.

The exchanges are being created as part of President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law. An estimated 7 million people are expected to sign up.

Ahem. Seven million people. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Especially when you consider Enroll Maven can’t locate even 200,000 who have managed to sign up, with the enrollment period nearly one-third complete. But when you consider that the rational behind ObamaCare was to provide — right now! — health insurance for 47 million needy Americans, then those seven millions don’t seem like very much.

I want you to remember, please never forget, just a few things:

• The new normal of low growth and high un- and under-employment

• The overt politicization of everything

• The tax hikes

• The doctors driven from their fields

• The small private practices consolidated into government-friendly giant institutions

• The millions who have lost their coverage

• The tens of millions more who will lose their coverage

• The normalization of permanent part-time employment

• And all the lies, brazenly told, to make it all happen and to steal an election

All for the sake of getting a couple hundred thousand people signed up on a website.

Boom Can Sound an Awful Lot Like Pop

November 27th, 2013 - 8:24 am

Various markets are hitting various QE-inflated highs and so of course there’s more talk about another stock market bubble. Which brings us, naturally, to Zero Hedge:

Naturally, if one is tuned to only filter any bubble mentions, one will naturally have a cognitive bias of interpreting the world only through the eyes of “bubble watchers.” The flipside of course is that not everyone is a mindless member of the herd, rushing headlong into whatever precipice awaits lemmings just around the corner, and can still do simple math and recall what fundamentals looked like (as a reminder, forward multiples in 2007 looked very cheap too…before EPS for the S&P in 2008 plunged by over 50% which in retrospect would have made those forward multiples 100% higher).

But simple logic failure aside, what empirical evidence shows is that while there has been indeed a pick up in internet mentions of “stock bubble” according to Google Trends, it is still well below its prior high… hit in May 2007 and October 2007, just before and at the very peak of the last stock bubble.

I’ll repeat Mark Steyn’s advice about getting out of debt, buying ammo, and staying healthy.

Your IRS Win of the Day

November 27th, 2013 - 7:16 am

Well, they call it winning:

For Ruth Anne Freeborn, it boiled down to a choice between country and family.

Born in Oklahoma, Freeborn has lived in Kingston, Ontario, for more than 30 years as an American expatriate, with a Canadian husband and 22-year-old son.

But a U.S. law passed in 2010 that will require international financial institutions to provide the Internal Revenue Service with information on their U.S. account holders forced her to weigh her citizenship. Her husband, a $51,000-a-year electronics technician and the family’s sole income earner, strenuously objected to having his financial data shared with a foreign nation.

“My decision was either to protect my Canadian spouse and child from this overreach or I could relinquish my U.S. citizenship,” she said. “It was with great sorrow I felt I had to relinquish, but there was no other choice for me and many like me.”

I know I’ve plugged The Sovereign Individual before, but do pick up a copy if you don’t already own one. Authors James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg turned out to be pants-messing prescient, especially regarding how downright vindictive the United States government would become — and its chief tool for oppression, the Internal Revenue Service.

When they published the book in 1999, they made what seemed like an outrageous claim — that soon a US passport would become an expense many people could no longer afford. And here it is, coming true. If they missed anything, it’s that the IRS would become such a nakedly partisan tool. But I don’t think they saw the Chicago Machine taking over Washington, either.

So buy a copy and get yourself ready for a bumpy ride.

From Young Conservatives, it’s five Republican predictions about ObamaCare that — surprise! — came true.

They could have mentioned death panels to bring it up to an even six, but you’ll have to click over to see the gems they did dig up.

Democrats are already demanding we apologize for being right. I’m not kidding, by the way. I’ve been scolded more than once for “cheerleading” ObamaCare’s troubles, one person going so far as calling it “a new low.”

But destroying health insurance for millions, ending full-time work for millions more, driving doctors into early retirement, and all the rest — for the vile progressives, that’s all just bragging rights.

The Weinstein Bubble

November 27th, 2013 - 5:00 am

Obama Admin Cheating for Keeps

November 26th, 2013 - 4:13 pm

Hey, I just got a notice in the mail that says, “You may already be a voter!

It’s no longer any exaggeration to say that this Chicago Gang is out for nothing less than the destruction of multi-party democracy in this country. They mean to rule single-party, Chicago-style — and they may very well get it unless you, your friends, your neighbors, and everyone else wakes up to what they’re up to and how they mean to achieve it.

Your Second ObamaCare Fail of the Day

November 26th, 2013 - 3:23 pm

In local news, Colorado’s health exchange has enrolled about one-half of the bottom end of the projected number of enrollees:

“The enrollment numbers are not meeting the projections,” [Ellen] Daehnick said in an interview. “They are behind even the low projections. This board has moved from looking at a plan to looking at actual performance that has not met expectations, at least from my perspective.”

The story fails to detail how many of the 6,001 enrollees are actual paying customers, or if the state exchange is using the White House’s “shopping cart” numbers. That is, counting people who put a plan in their cart without buying it, or merely successfully created accounts on the website. Also left unsaid is how many of the enrollees are simply applying to go on the expanded Medicaid dole.

Colorado’s exchange has been hailed as one of the nation’s smoothest-running and most successful, and I don’t doubt either claim.

It Hurts Too Much When You Help

November 26th, 2013 - 2:15 pm

POLL

Well.

Then 69% should have been Mitt Romney’s winning margin last November, because 69% of Americans are about to witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational health care “reform.”

But let’s talk for a moment about the 32% mentioned in this story, the ones who think other people’s health care is no good. They need to shut up. It’s not their business what other people are or aren’t buying. It’s their attitude — somebody else needs to do something to help some other body else! — is what got us into this mess.

Do-gooderism doesn’t necessarily inexorably lead to death camps. But you can count on at least getting death panels.

New Blogs

November 26th, 2013 - 1:08 pm

SAMMICH

Boy, do I need this one.

Amy Peikoff started a blog called News Sandwich. As she describes it, “It’s dedicated to achieving a more positive perspective despite today’s news, not by ignoring reality, but by presenting a higher ratio of good news/bad news items.”

Did I mention I need this one?