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Friday Night Videos

September 20th, 2013 - 9:13 pm

As I’ve written before, rock really lost its way in the ’70s. Glam acts like Queen (RIP, Freddy Mercury) were supposed to be outrageous, but it seemed everybody felt the need to go disco or glitter or add a giant string section. New Wave came along to rectify that, a stripped-down musical movement self-consciously naming itself after the stripped-down French cinema movement of the ’60s. Acts as diverse as Blondie, Talking Heads, Billy Joel (his Glass Houses was a New Wave album) and Billy Idol were even including French in some of their lyrics.

Idol liked to call himself a punk rocker, and he certainly dressed the part — but c’mon, really. He had the synths, the band had the musical skills, the studio production teams had the pop sensibility… Idol could yell “PUNK!” like a rebel all night long, but he was pure New Wave. The punk attire just let white suburban kids pretend they were all angry and outsidery and stuff, just like most radio hip-hop does for white suburban kids today. And I mean no insult — way back when, I was one of those white suburban kids. Good times.

Idol made his name with harder-edged stuff like “Rebel Yell” and “White Wedding,” and I won’t even describe to you how seriously I used to get into the over-the-top dance floor fun of his cover of “Mony Mony.” But I always thought he was at his best doing mid-tempo songs like “Flesh For Fantasy” and tonight’s pick, “Eyes Without A Face.”

The title references a 1960 French-Italian horror movie of the same name. The movie “Eyes Without A Face” didn’t go nearly as far as the Italian gorefest pictures that followed in its wake, but like Billy Idol, it went far for its time. What keeps me coming back to the song is the bridge. It kicks in — and kicks up — with a Steve Stevens guitar solo, and then Idol comes back with some great imagery from a road trip I’d still kill to go on:

When you hear the music you make a dip
Into someone else’s pocket then make a slip
Steal a car and go to Las Vegas
Oh, the gigolo pool

Hanging out by the state line
Turning Holy Water into wine
Bringing it down

I’m on a bus on a psychedelic trip
Reading murder books tryin’ to stay hip
I’m thinkin’ of you, you’re not there so

Say your prayers
Say your prayers
Say your prayers

Maybe what makes Idol’s mid-tempo music work so well is the tension between his almost languid phrasing and Stevens’ ripping guitar work.

All the things New Wave was known for — synthesizers, pure rock guitar, ear-candy production values, big hair, an inventive video, pretentious use of French, obscure movie references, and a sly eye on the pop charts — are all on display here in one wicked little ditty about lost love on a lost highway.

It just doesn’t get much better than that.

Scary-Ass Chart of the Day

September 20th, 2013 - 9:07 am

20130918_working

Details here. Relief here.

It’s comforting to know that Ben Bernanke’s likely successor, Janet Yellen, is fully committed to a policy of Pushing On That String.

Scary-Ass Chart of the Day

September 18th, 2013 - 5:07 am

M1 GDP1

M1 money supply to real GDP growth since 1958.

That huge excess, all generated since 2008, eventually has to be hoovered back out of the economy, unless we want to suffer an inflation to make 1979 look like 1929.

Of course, that’s contingent on the return of robust economic growth, so then again maybe we’re safe.

“The Scariest Jobs Chart Ever”

June 7th, 2013 - 9:05 am

employrecmay2013

I think it’s fair to say that Obamanomics isn’t working.

Friday Night Videos

May 31st, 2013 - 9:39 pm

In the last few weeks we’ve played a couple songs where a great solo got chopped up to appease the Gods of Radio. Can’t have some damn-fool sax or trumpet player going on and on when you’ve got a hard break coming up and local car dealer ads to run. So a smart record label always produces a “radio edit” of a song that has the potential to be a hit, but that runs too long for radio play.

Unless the artist in question is Grover Washington, Jr.

Washington’s 1980 album Winelight is a classic of the smooth-jazz genre, even if you don’t like that kind of thing. For the song “Just The Two Of Us,” Washington brought soul legend Bill Withers on board to provide the vocal. Between Washington’s sax and Withers’ voice, there’s more soul goodness on this single than most acts manage to fit into an entire album.

But talk about radio unfriendly. The song goes on for seven and a half minutes, most of which is Washington playing his sax. But the story goes that Washington told his record label to get lost on a radio edit — they could either release the whole thing unmolested, or not at all. That takes a pair of brass ones for a guy who’s supposed to be in the business of, you know, selling records. (There is a four-minute edit which has been used on various compilation albums and on the air since, but you sure didn’t hear it in 1980.)

So that’s how I first heard “Just The Two Of Us” during sixth grade carpool runs — in all its uncut glory. And this jazz/soul hybrid, running twice as long as almost anything else on the air, made it all the way to #2 on the pop charts.

Not the little jazz charts hardly anyone ever buys. Not the pseudo-ghetto of the pre-Thriller soul charts. But it went to #2 on Billboard’s totally mainstream Hot 100. I won’t go so far as to call that unprecedented, but it just might be.

So how’d it happen? How did a Program Director’s nightmare become a monster radio hit? The answer is simple: It’s just a really pretty song, performed by two incredible talents at the peak of their powers.

In a musical age of pretty faces with little more than Auto-Tune behind them, it’s easy to forget what a powerful thing it is, to make just a really pretty song.

The Summer of EUr Discontent

May 31st, 2013 - 9:03 am

From Zero Hedge:

All four of the other PIIGS nations now have broken the dismal Maginot Line of 40% youth unemployment with Italy finally joining the club (Italy 40.5%, Portugal 42.5%, Spain 58.2%, and Greece 62.5%). What is even more concerning is that not only are these rates extremely high but they are accelerating with all four of these dark nations seeing their rates rising faster than in recent months (this was the 2nd fastest rise in Greek youth unemployment ever). Overall, Europe’s youth unemployment rate continues to march higher (to 24.4%) having not fallen for 24 months, but it is Spain that is the ‘winner’ with 41 consecutive months without a drop in youth unemployment. With welfare benefits running dry, and Sweden and Switzerland already running hot, we fear this summer may bring the much-feared unrest so many have been concerned about.

Europe-wide youth unrest? What could possibly go wrong?

RUMOR: The next iPad mini will start at just $249. CNET has the details:

The iPad Mini is already cheap at $329. But Apple is expected to go even lower, according to a report out Tuesday from Citi Research.

Ciit’s Glen Yeung said in a note to investors that Apple is shifting toward more inexpensive products.

“Supply chain checks by Citi’s Asia-Pac Technology Team suggest a mix shift surprisingly toward Apple’s older iPhone4/4S,” he wrote.

Then added. “And with our expectation of a low-end iPhone slated for September launch, followed by a sub-$250 iPad Mini, we expect this trend to persist.”

Apple doesn’t change prices very often, generally preferring to have fixed prices for a limited set of products, each filling a very specific niche. It’s much like General Motors back in the ’30s, with “a car for every purse and purpose.” The lowest-price Olds started at $5 more than the highest-priced Chevy, and on up the ladder from there.

But before the mini was announced last fall, I ran the product/price evaluation and figured that for its product niche/feature set, that $249 was the “right” introductory price. Obviously, Apple didn’t agree. So before they intro any new products at WWDC next month, let’s take another look at that spreadsheet.

iOS-Devices

(I should note that this chart is slightly out of date, since Apple unexpectedly intro’d the fourth generation retina iPad with the A6X SOC. But that doesn’t change the product math here.)

I still think $249 makes a lot of sense. The new 16GB iPad mini would slot in at the same price as a 32GB iPod touch. Lose half the storage, but gain a bigger screen. That’s easy math for consumers to do.

We’ll see if Tim Cook thinks the extra marketshare and unit sales are worth cutting $80 off the retail unit price. The decision might come down to one thing: Can Apple’s suppliers churn out enough units to meet the increased demand? If not, then the price won’t be going down any time soon.

UPDATE: One of the reasons — maybe the only legit reason — Apple’s share price has taken such a beating is that their margins have declined sharply. The biggest reason for that was their aggressive product rollout in Q3 last year. Or as Tim Cook put it last winter, paraphrased, 80% of Apples sales were coming from products that didn’t exist six month ago. Shaving $80 off the intro price of the iPad mini wouldn’t do anything to improve Apple’s margins.

However…

Cook has also hinted that this fall, Apple will be moving into new “product categories.” That doesn’t mean a new iPad or a new iPhone or even a new Mac. For Apple, a new category means an entirely new product. Is it a TV, a watch, or something else? Nobody knows. What we do know is, when Apple enters or creates a new market, it does so in a very high-margin way. That might give Cook the leverage he needs to make a price-cutting/market-share play with the iPad mini.

And the way for him to do that is staring us right in the face — because we’ve seen him make this play before.

Apple could easily — and profitably — re–introduce the current iPad mini at a lower price this fall. The “New iPad mini” would slot in at the old $329 price, perhaps with a Retina display, but certainly with upgraded innards.

That move would play to Apple’s history of continuing to sell older iOS devices at reduced prices to lure in new (or price-sensitive) customers, while holding the price-line/profit-margins on new versions.

Pay to Play

May 16th, 2013 - 3:32 pm

Pay to Play

This comes from Jim Pethokoukis, who adds:

In 2009, Strategas Group realized there was going to be a lot more government intervention into the economy, and stocks of companies that exhibited “the greatest lobbying intensity” might outperform the broad market. So the firm created a 50-stock “lobbying index.”

As the above chart shows, they have done just that with the index outperforming the S&P 500 by more than eight percentage points over the past five years. “This consistent outperformance suggests that investors do not fully incorporate the value of company lobbying activities,” the firm concludes.

When companies make money by pleasing government instead of their customers, their customers lose. And government, greedy beast that it is, likes it that way.

I remember in the mid-’90s, Microsoft was justifiably proud of the fact that it spent almost nothing, zilch, on Washington lobbying. Was it a coincidence then that the Justice Department came after the company with both barrels blazing?

And is it yet another coincidence that since settling with Justice, Microsoft has become a timid player unable to compete profitably in new markets?

You make the call.

Open is Better

May 16th, 2013 - 11:02 am

Android is now the mobile-platform target for malware. I mean, there really isn’t a second place. Here’s the chart via Apple Insider based on data from F-Secure Labs.

Open is Better

I’m not even sure Nokia even produces Symbian phones for the first world anymore, so that small spike might just represent Nigerians scamming one another. Stranger things have happened, especially in tech.

The situation is worse than even the raw numbers suggest:

While researchers say the number of malware types is rising significantly, of greater concern is the rise of “highly specialized suppliers” who “provide commoditized malware services” that specifically target weaknesses in the Android platform, resulting in a situation where the “Android malware ecosystem is beginning to resemble to that which surrounds Windows.”

Scammers single out Android users with cons that prompt them to update components like Adobe Flash, or direct them to services or job offers that request installation permissions from the user. Once granted, the malware installs code to either make a series of paid calls when the user is sleeping, or install SMS spyware designed to intercept the user’s banking details over what appears to be a secure connection.

I’d love for you to tell me how awesome your Android anti-virus and anti-phishing apps are — you are using them, yes? — but I can’t hear you over the sound of my unmolested iPhone.

Set Course for Correction!

May 16th, 2013 - 9:06 am

941538_524054317649064_1977715408_n

Our friends to the north have been doing quite well the last few years, but that sure looks like a housing bubble getting ready to pop.

The chart comes from Jesse Colombo, who I highly recommend following.

The Limits of Vanity

May 7th, 2013 - 10:09 am

As an early teen in the early ’80s, it was just about impossible not to like Michael Jackson’s music. It was certainly impossible to avoid it. With Thriller, Jackson and producer Quincy Jones set out to make the ultimate crossover album — one that would gain black and white audiences in equal measure. And equal airplay, too, back when radio stations were even more racially-targeted than they are today.

And boy, did they succeed.

But Michael Jackson the person? It was pretty obvious even then that he was one strange dude. What happened though is what happens to too many child performers: The weirdness went up and up, while the quality of the performances went down and down. By the time Dangerous came out in 1991, the magic was pretty much gone. It sold in the millions, yet nobody was buying it. And by that I mean, nobody was buying Jackson’s pseudo tough/tender/ladies man act anymore. The weird was just too weird.

Then came the obligatory-yet-somehow-disappointing greatest hits collection, the horrifying-yet-believable stories about his sleepover parties with kids…

I shudder even to think about it. His last studio album, ironically named Invincible, came out after years of delays and way over budget — and to a tepid response.

It was around this time he was dangling babies off balconies and looking like a bad drag queen version of Elizabeth Taylor. Oh, and he’d somehow managed to go broke buying giraffes and rollercoasters and stuff. The music had hit bottom and the weird was at the top of the charts.

The amazingly talented and abused little boy who never had a childhood, never really had an adulthood, either. There’s so much blame to go around, you barely know where to start.

Anyway, that’s what popped into my head this morning after reading a story about the ongoing wrong death suit against his management. Especially this part:

Much of what jurors heard for the first time is a repeat of the scientific evidence presented in the trial of Murray, who is now serving a prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter. But some of what is in the coroner’s report seems to give more insight into Michael Jackson’s life rather than how he died.

Dr. Christopher Rogers noted in his autopsy report that Jackson’s lips were tattooed pink, while his eyebrows were a dark tattoo. The front of his scalp was also tattooed black, apparently to blend his hairline in with the wigs he wore.

The autopsy confirmed what Jackson told people who questioned why his skin tone became lighter in the 1980s. Jackson had “vitiligo, a skin pigmentation disease,” Rogers said. “So, some areas of the skin appear light and others appear dark.”

Jackson released a song in ’88 called “The Man In The Mirror,” which was one of his minor hits. And the man he saw in the mirror was bald, splotchy, underweight, and dotted above the neck with makeup tattoos. We saw the freak, but he — and his family, and his management, and his doctor — saw the wreck. A forty-year-long, slow-motion, train-derailment-scene-from-The-Fugitive, wreck.

As I settle quite solidly into middle age with all its attendant physical changes, it forces me to wonder what, if any, are the limits of vanity. Multiple plastic surgeries, forehead tattoos, stained lips, starvation, abuse of powerful anesthesia to attain beauty sleep — where does it stop?

We know where it stopped for Michael Jackson: With a panicked, enabling doctor sweating over his withered and lifeless body. And to think Jackson had once been a beautiful — and that is the right word — young man.

Dying tragically and young (if you’ll allow me to repeat myself) is nothing new in the world of popular music — but not like this. Is Jackson merely a reflection of a culture obsessed to death with staying young, or did he create that man-in-the-mirror himself?

It’s been almost exactly four years since his death at the age of 50, and there are still no easy answers; just the uneasy feeling that his weirdness is becoming our new normal.

****

Cross-posted at PJ Lifestyle

On a Scale of Bad to Total Suckitude…

April 23rd, 2013 - 3:15 pm

Presented for your morbid curiosity.

The President’s plan is worse than even the Progressive Caucus plan, yet not as bad as Harry Reid’s plan, which is far better than what’s already destined to happen.

Of course, this chart only shows projected deficits. What it doesn’t show you is just how high the vile prog caucus plans to jack up taxes and spending — and only the latter would ever truly materialize.

Headline of the Week

April 9th, 2013 - 9:42 am

You stay classy, vile progs.

Scary-Ass Chart of the Weekend

April 6th, 2013 - 6:19 am

Labor force participation rate since 1978.

Forward.

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.

Friday Night Videos

March 15th, 2013 - 10:59 pm
YouTube Preview Image

1989 was a very strange year for the pop charts. Very strange.

Stalwarts like Chicago and Cher were still generating hits, albeit forgettable hits, with songs like “Look Away” and that really stupid one Cher did that I won’t even mention the name of, lest it get stuck in anyone’s head. You’re welcome. Cripes, there was even a hit duet (“After All”) with Cher and Chicago frontman Peter Cetera. Desperate times.

Anyway.

Novelty rap of all things was all the rage, too, with Tone Lōc’s “Funky Cold Medina” and Young MC’s “Bust A Move.”

And then your typical pop-fluff from artists like Paula Abdul, Bobby Brown, Surface, Rick Astley, etc. (No, I’m not going to Rickroll you here.) And too many teen bands to name, starting with New Kids On The Block and cruelly not ending there.

But it was also the year New Wave made something of a comeback, with big hits from the B-52s (“Love Shack,” “Roam”), Duran Duran (“I Don’t Want Your Love”), and Adam Ant (“Room At The Top”).

And the charts were, above all, dominated by that lip-syncing duo, Milli Vanilli.

Then something very strange happened. Alt/Goth made the pop charts. The Cure had a big hit with “Love Song.” Love And Rockets sold about a jillion copies of “So Alive.” And Peter Murphy, darkest of the dark, former lead singer of ultra-Goth band Bauhaus, hit with “Cuts You Up.” I think what grabbed people was the opening lines:

I find you in the morning
After dreams of distant signs
You pour yourself over me
Like the sun through the blinds

That’s just a pretty lyric right there, but I can tell you it was very odd to be playing music so dark and languid at seven AM on a Morning Zoo-format radio show. No matter: I promptly “borrowed” a promotional cassette of the whole album, then almost as promptly wore it out. It’s that good, and I suspect we’ll be getting to other tracks on other Friday nights.

Until then, enjoy one of the most memorable singles from a very strange year.

Your Scary-Ass Chart of the Day

March 14th, 2013 - 2:20 pm

Posted without comment and courtesy of Zero Hedge.

Friday Night Videos

March 8th, 2013 - 9:42 pm
YouTube Preview Image

Billy Joel’s The Stranger and 52nd Street are actually the same album, and I can prove it. Sure, one came out in 1977 and the second one came out the next year, and the songs are all (mostly) different, but check this out.

Each album had nine songs, distributed four on Side A and five on Side B. And now let’s look at the structure, put together for you in handy chart form by yours truly.

And each album is damn-near a pop masterpiece. In fact, The Stranger is so good, Joel would have been an idiot not to call “One more time!” for its followup.

But we’re supposed to play a song here at some point, so I guess I’d better get to it.

Coming out of The Stranger and an incredibly popular (and profitable) supporting tour, Joel and producer Phil Ramone were given a blank check before going into the studio to make 52nd Street. And that album came out so slick and so polished, that I’m pretty sure they spent every penny.

Big bunches of those pennies must have been spent on jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, who soloed twice on tonight’s track, “Zanzibar.” It’s about a small-time musician making a move on a cocktail waitress at the joint where he plays. Joel gives you great big piano power chords from the start, but the bridge and the long fade are pure jazz, with Hubbard working furiously alongside Joel’s longtime bassist, Doug Stegmeyer. You might have heard it a time or three, if you’re about my age or older.

It’s magic.

But then a few years ago, Joel released the “unfaded” version of Zanz. It’s more than 90 seconds longer than the album cut, and all that extra goodness is Hubbard’s full solo. As it would turn out, Ramone had left most of Hubbard’s best stuff on the cutting room floor. (The same thing happened to saxophonist Karl Denson’s solo work on the radio edit of Lenny Kravitz’s “Let Love Rule.” Criminal. Just criminal.)

Hubbard’s solo kicks in at the 3:04 mark. Then he comes back for more — much more — after the last repeat of the chorus. This is great work, and deserves to be turned up to 11. And left unfaded.

Scary-Ass Chart of the Day

March 1st, 2013 - 9:00 am

Please, try not to wet yourself.

Friday Night Videos

February 15th, 2013 - 11:03 pm
YouTube Preview Image

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.

Breaking: France is Broke

January 30th, 2013 - 3:03 pm

This story ought to invoke howling schadenfreude, but no:

FRANCOIS Hollande was left picking up the pieces after France was sent into a state of shock as his labour minister described the nation as “totally bankrutpt.
Michel Sapin was left red-faced after revealing the potential state of the French economy and leaving the French public to question Mr Hollande’s policy.

We’re in such a state that I can’t make fun of the French anymore.

Your Scary-Ass Chart of the Day

January 22nd, 2013 - 9:01 am

Railroad traffic — almost all industrial or commercial these days — always falls after the holidays. But this year it fell to levels not seen since the ugly times of 2008

Leading economic indicator, anybody?

Vile Progs Lie, But I Repeat Myself

December 12th, 2012 - 9:04 am

Yesterday “Carlito” commented on my post about the Federal government’s hiring frenzy:

Typical anti-Obama bullshit.

Duh . . . how many federal employees retired or otherwise left federal employment during the same time period?

You do know that you have to subtract those people from the equation, don’t you?
It’s called third grade math!

You want numbers, Carlito? OK, I have some numbers for you. This chart is rather illuminating.

Wow. And we can’t pin the blame on the military, as vile progs are wont to do, because military employment has been essentially flat since 2009 — and is slated to shrink. Minus the Post Office, which is supposedly a private entity, total federal employment is up almost a quarter million.

Which is just typical Obama bullshit, Carlito.

Did Windows Just Collapse?

December 5th, 2012 - 5:23 am

If your smartphone or tablet is a real computer, then Microsoft’s share of computer sales has plummeted from 96% to just 35%. Here’s the chart from Cult of Android.

The problem is with how you define a computer — and I think that comes down to usage.

A ten-inch tablet is probably a perfectly good laptop (or even desktop) replacement for most people. The only things it doesn’t do well is store a metric crapload of files, or rip video. I also find that if I’m writing something longer than 300 words or so, I prefer to use a bluetooth keyboard instead of the screen. But essays, DVD rips, and terabytes of home-ripped DVD aren’t something a whole lot of people do.

A seven-inch tablet is mostly a “media consumption device,” as critics labeled the original 10-inch iPad. Held in portrait, the keys are too close together for touch typing. Held in landscape, and you can’t see enough of the screen. For reading, watching TV, or playing Angry Birds, a Nexus 7 or iPad mini is all you need. It’s still a laptop replacement for a certain market sector, but a smaller one.

And your smartphone? Fuggidaboudit. It’s a phone. It also does some great things (Star Wars Angry Birds comes to mind), but it’s just too small to replace anything. What it does is take a formerly single-purpose device (your phone) and turn it into an electronic Swiss Army knife of fun. I wouldn’t part with iPhone, but it can’t make me part with any other device, either.

That’s where the comparison falls apart. People don’t buy phones to replace their computers, so it’s silly to include them in a chart of computer marketshare. Tablets are a threat, but only a limited one — for the time being, that is.

So, no, Microsoft Windows hasn’t dropped to 35% of computer sales. It is still the king of desktop and laptop computing. But that doesn’t mean MS has nothing to worry about. They’ve failed to gain any penetration into mobile computing. Windows Phone 8 is a solid performer, but Android and iOS have already carved out the top and bottom of the cellular marketplace, leaving Microsoft’s late bloomer nowhere to squeeze in. And Surface… well, it’s headed towards a bargain bin near you.

Assuming there’s a Best Buy near you, which is becoming increasingly less likely.

Microsoft has missed out on the only growth market in computing today. It’s doubtful anything can knock Windows of its desktop/laptop roost in the medium term, but that’s no longer where the big money is.

May You Live in Interesting Times

November 13th, 2012 - 3:31 pm

This is a real lede from a real news story about real people doing real things:

Both Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen intervened in the same nasty child custody battle involving Natalie Khawam, the “psychologically unstable” twin sister of Jill Kelley, whose bombshell claims of being threatened by Petraeus’ lover led to the top spy’s resignation last week, the Post has learned.

You’ll need a flowchart and maybe disinfectant to get that one all straight in your head.

Wargaming the Electoral College

November 2nd, 2012 - 10:51 am

Here they are, the final battlegrounds as determined by a combination of poll-watching, and tracking the candidates and their surrogates.

No surprises here for longtime VodkaPundit readers — but not a whole lot of information, either. So let’s dig a little deeper and see how the remaining battlegrounds stack up on the Momentum Chart.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 | Comments bullet bullet

The Silver State Ground Game

November 1st, 2012 - 1:58 pm

I don’t have numbers for you yet, but there’s potential good news out of Nevada, where “Dem turnout has been unspectacular.” That’s from Breitbart’s D.M. Hawkins, who also reminded me that Reid’s turnout/cheat machine does great work for Harry, but couldn’t turn the tables for his own son Rory — when they shared the same ballot two years ago.

NV is still a tough nut to crack, but maybe not as tough as I thought. Hawkins tweeted me back, “Right now 254K D’s have voted, 217K Rs, 106K I’s & gap narrowing daily. With a Indie win and crossover support.” I don’t know if the Ds are down from this time in 2008 or if the Rs and Is are up. Again, I just don’t have the numbers yet.

So I’m still painting NV blue. For now. I’ll turn on it like Sauron’s eye at the next sign of anything.

ALSO: If you aren’t following me on Twitter, what’s wrong with you? That’s where half my best material goes.

UPDATE: OK, I have some numbers courtesy of Johnny B. Battleground Watch has the current tallies.

Democrats have long been expected to win Clark County early voting by large margins. The story of early voting thus far has been unexpected reduced enthusiasm among Democrats, Republicans resurgence off low 2008 totals and the rise of Indepedent/Other party support. The Wednesday early vote appeared to be Democrats last chance to bury the GOP in all-important Clark County and that didn’t happen.

Ahead of the vote, one hell of a source whispered in my ear: The locations Wednesday rotate into some bad areas for Republicans but some decent ones back on Thurs and Friday. If the GOP can hold the Obama campaign to a spread of between 5000-6000 tomorrow the GOP should look pretty good going into the final early voting days.

Well, yesterday’s margin was 4159, well below the expected blood-bath and below the “good” level locals were hoping for. So great job to Team Nevada and now get after it these last two days. Overall Democrats cast 13083 ballots only 88% the 2012 weekday average. Republicans cast 8924 ballots, 90% of the 2012 weekday average. And Independents/Other cast 6017 ballots, 105% of the 2012 weekday average. Thursday and Friday are expected to be the big turnout days in early voting although there may have been some early pull-forward of ballots this cycle.

We see the election over election change in Democrat turnout is barely above the 2008 turnout +7591 and dropping daily. The change in GOP turnout is UP +23,988, a net 16,386 gain for the GOP versus 2008.

Click on over to Battleground Watch for their tracking chart, too, which looks encouraging as all hell.

Rasmussen has Obama at 50, but that’s an older poll and still within the MOE.

Folks, I’m putting NV back into the Tossup column as of right now. We’ll do a full-scale Wargaming the Electoral College tomorrow, reflecting these early voting figures in CO, NV, and OH.

UPDATE: There’s no early voting in Oregon, where it’s 100% vote-by-mail. And there Hawkins reports that “the rate of return for Obama Oregon counties close to 30% lower than McCain/Romney counties.”

OR is an odd duck, so far to the left that disgruntled Obama voters might break for Jill Stein on the Green ticket in big numbers. I believe Nader did better there in 2000 than he did in almost any other state. So don’t read too much into that 30% figure. But it might just be indicative of Obama’s weakness across the nation, if not Romney’s strength.

Also read: Romney to Campaign in PA

WI 49-49

October 26th, 2012 - 10:20 am

Guess it’s time to put WI back into the Tossup column, after today’s new poll from Rasmussen. This dovetails nicely with Tom Dougherty’s latest, “How Romney Can Win Without Ohio.” He writes:

Assume for argument’s sake that Obama carries Ohio putting him at 255 electoral votes, and leaving Iowa, Nevada and Wisconsin in play.

The RCP Average in all three states is within the margin of error, and my numbers actually have all three under one point for Obama as of today. Polling shows there are 3% to 4% of persuadables in each of those states so there is enough room for Romney to outsprint Obama to the finish in any or all of them.

Averaging the last dozen national poll results Romney is +18% with white voters, -27% with Hispanics and +13% with seniors. Leveraging these current leads and looking at the demographics of the individual states it is very possible that Iowa and Wisconsin could fall to Romney.

From there, other dominoes begin to fall.

The real kicker might prove to be NV. I’m getting conflicting reports on exactly what’s going on there. Well, maybe not conflicting — but certainly confusing. Upstate, everyone tells me the enthusiasm for Romney is off the chart. In Clark County, however, I hear that Harry Reid has turned the Dirty Tricks Engine up to Ludicrous Speed.

I’m sure we’d all like to think that throngs of plucky happy country voters can overcome the corrupt big city political machine. But let’s give Reid credit where it’s due. He is capable of any dirty trick LBJ was ever able to get away with in Texas, only without the charm, concern for the welfare of others, or human soul.

And lucky Harry, he has throngs of idiot California migrants to work with. The locusts are finished with CA after decades of eating the life out of the Golden State, and it looks like they’ll destroy NV in record time. Lucky, lucky Harry.

Wargaming the Electoral College

October 24th, 2012 - 10:25 am

Before we get to the latest map, let’s haul out the battleground chart. States in blue are ones Obama won in 2008, and red means McCain won it that year. Little old Missouri is looking a little lonesome there.

Also looking lonesome is the “Safe Obama” column. All of the movement has been rightward. Part of this is no surprise — a natural rebound to the GOP following Obama’s big wave election. Although if the last four years hadn’t been full entirely of Fail and Suck, we wouldn’t be talking about any kind of GOP rebound. Instead, we’d be talking about “the permanent Democratic majority,” and without giggling.

If AFP, American Crossroads, and Romney-Ryan choose to, they could easily add MN and WI to the list of battlegrounds. I’ve been arguing this for weeks. It’s now or never. And it would be a big disappointment if Romney is happy to play small ball when there’s a big-ass mandate to be won, and Senate races still hanging in the balance.

On the other hand, Romney — the most moderate of the GOP candidates — was able to secure the nomination from a Tea-fueled electorate, and won all three debates in three different ways, so there’s a chance maybe he knows more than I do.

Anyway. It’s gut-check time, so let’s haul out the map.

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Where Does the iPad Mini Fit?

October 3rd, 2012 - 5:02 am

Last month, when Apple announced the iPhone 5 and the new iPod Touch, their pricing seemed to preclude the long-rumored 7.85″ iPad “Mini” or “Air” or whatever they end up calling it. I even went so far as to ask if Tim Cook had killed the iPad Mini in the crib. And yet the rumors persist, some incredibly detailed.

But let’s take a look at the iOS universe and see if there’s really a place for a smaller tablet. I’ve prepared a chart to show all the devices, excluding the iPad’s optional 3G or LTE feature, because that doesn’t really matter here.

Apple hits every price from $0 to $699 in hundred-dollar increments, with one $50 increment at the 32GB 4th generation iPod Touch. The overlapping prices are what interest us here. A company can offer similar products at the same price, but only if there is enough differentiation between them to make sense to the consumer. Otherwise, the product line is just a huge, jumbled mess — and that isn’t how Apple operates.

The iOS line doesn’t have many price overlaps, but they are instructive. For $199, you can get either a 16GB iPhone 5, or an iPod Touch with the same memory. What’s the difference? The phone gives you, duh, a phone — but it also locks you into an expensive contract. Also, the iPod uses a cheaper (but still “Retina” density) screen, and an older, slower processor. So we have three points of differentiation.

$299 gets you an iPhone 5 with 32GB, or the new 5th generation iPod Touch. Again, same memory on both devices. Same screen on both devices, too. And the same A6 processor. The only differentiation is that one is a phone that comes with an expensive contract.

At $399 is where things get interesting. You can have the 64GB phone, the 64GB iPod, or the 16GB iPad tablet. We have two tiny devices with tons of storage versus a bigger device with comparatively little storage. You get the bigger screen, but you lose memory, the Retina Display, and the new A6 processor.

Where do you squeeze in a smaller iPad?

First off, two assumptions. The iPad Mini/Air/Nano/Whatevs will have the same 1024×768 resolution as the iPad 2. Those pixels would be packed into a smaller space, so the screen would be damn sharp — but not Retina Display sharp. We also have to assume that it would use the same A5 processor and the same 16GB of storage space, so as not to destroy the buying case for the iPad 2. Apple might be tempted to cheap-out and limit the Mini to 8GB, but that’s just not enough memory for a tablet.

At $249, Apple will already sell you the iPad Touch with the old processor. What is there to differentiate between the two devices? Buy the Mini you’d lose half the memory, but you’d gain the bigger-but-not-Retina screen and a faster A5 CPU — is that a good model? It just might be.

Price the iPad Mini at $299, and it goes up against the new iPod touch and the mid-level iPhone 5. What’s the differentiation? Both have the A6, both have 32GB. (I keep mentioning the CPU, because that’s what will determine how long you’ll be able to continue upgrading your iDevice with the newer versions of iOS. You can save money, but you’ll lose probably one year of future iOS updates.) At this higher price, you’d still only get half the storage as the competing iDevices. You lose Retina. And you lose CPU speed in comparison. This does not seem like an as-good purchasing decision.

We can’t bump the Mini’s price to $399, because pricing it exactly the same as the iPad 2 just makes no sense. The only differentiation would be the size of the screen, and nobody is going to pay the same for less. At least I don’t think they would.

Let’s try $349. Would you take a $50 off (about a 15% discount) from the iPad 2, for the same specs and a screen one-third smaller? To me, that just isn’t a compelling decision. At $399 iPad 2 puts a pretty low upper limit on a sensible price for the iPad Mini. And then there’s the competition, which sells plenty of 7″ tablets for $199, or even less.

So let’s revise that table.

Things are starting to get crowded in that $199-$299 zone, but I think that’s OK, because $300 is usually considered the upper limit of an impulse purchase. And Apple can make the sales pitch that, yes, you can buy some cheesy 7-inch Android tablet with far fewer apps and a so-so screen for $199, or you can run all your iOS apps on this beautiful new Apple-engineered almost 8-inch tablet.

That, I think, would be a pretty compelling case for a lot of consumers.

So I take it back. There is room in Apple’s price structure for an iPad Mini. And the sooner, the better.