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Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

January 13th, 2015 - 6:34 am

Avik Roy says 60 Minutes missed a big one in its ♡bamaCare!!! coverage the other night — that hospitals will be charging you more under the law:

Steven Brill, founder of The American Lawyer and Court TV took a starring role in the health care debate when he published the Time article “Bitter Pill,” describing how hospitals charge extreme prices for ordinary care to the uninsured. For example, Sean Recchi, an uninsured lymphoma patient, went to MD Anderson Cancer Center, a world-renowned facility in Houston, to seek treatment. MD Anderson proceeded to charge him $283 for a $20 chest X-ray. They charged him more than $15,000 for blood tests costing a few hundred dollars. They charged him $13,702 for a dose of Rituxan, a lymphoma drug, for which the average U.S. hospital price is around $4,000. All told, Recchi’s course of treatment cost $83,900. Whatever he couldn’t pay was called “uncompensated care.”

MD Anderson is not struggling under the weight of bills unpaid by the uninsured. In 2010, MD Anderson recorded revenue of $2.05 billion and operating profits of $531 million. Brill recounted several other patients at other hospitals with similar stories.

This is a topic we’ve covered extensively at The Apothecary, and elsewhere: the U.S. hospital industry is the single largest example of crony capitalism in the history of civilization.

Government money corrupts most everything it touches. The only solution is to get Washington completely out of the business of providing, mandating, or regulating health insurance. The resulting savings and efficiencies in the overall economy would more than make up for anything anyone were to lose.

News You Can Use

January 13th, 2015 - 5:12 am

CLOSE SHAVE

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

Cutting the Cord

January 12th, 2015 - 2:14 pm

At The Verge, Chris Welch explains why — despite the thin channel selection — he’s giving Dish’s new Sling service a shot:

That said, $20 isn’t cheap. Add in Netflix and Hulu Plus and your total for monthly video subscriptions is nearly 40 bucks. And then there’s internet to worry about. But the question is really who you want to be paying all that money to. I can’t get around forking it over to Cablevision if I want the best internet in my area. But I’m more than willing to redirect some of that cash to a company that’s taking a chance. Yes, even an entrenched satellite provider like Dish.

Call it the FU-Factor. The cable companies have made approximately zero real friends over the years, incentivizing customers to look at anything else for their TV needs. Cable is facing at least three different potential disruptors and has a customer base whose mood ranges from “unexcited” at best to “angry” for millions. What they ought to be doing is offering better services and/or lower prices. Instead, they mostly fiddle while people like Welch cut the cord.

Nobody will miss them when they’re gone.

Required Reading

January 12th, 2015 - 12:01 pm

Jake Tapper:

The United States, which considers itself to be the most important nation in the world, was not represented in this march — arguably one of the most important public demonstrations in Europe in the last generation — except by U.S. Ambassador Jane Hartley, who may have been a few rows back. I didn’t see her. Even Russia sent Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

I say this as an American — not as a journalist, not as a representative of CNN — but as an American: I was ashamed.

The key to Tapper’s shame comes at the top of his column:

“Thank you,” said the man. I was standing outside of the offices of Charlie Hebdo covering the aftermath of the terrorist attacks for CNN. He was thanking me just for being here, just for covering the event and its aftermath, what Le Monde referred to as France’s September 11. And his appreciation was echoed by French citizen after French citizen.

The rally Sunday for unity drew 1.5 million people in Paris and more than twice that nationwide; it was like nothing I’ve ever seen or covered. Our nation’s oldest ally stood firm. A young Muslim Frenchwoman held a sign saying “Je suis Juif.”

A man and his son came over to me holding a sign saying “I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” beseeching me to share their message with the American people.

Tapper is far too decent a person to say this out loud for himself, so I will — a TV journalist, just doing his job, did more to show solidarity with France’s newfound dedication to fighting Islamic terror, than did the President of the United States.

So please, Jake, do take some pride today, too.

Do read the whole thing, although I think this next bit requires a small comment as well:

I find it hard to believe that Speaker of the House John Boehner and new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had more worthy pursuits on Sunday than standing side-by-side with our French brothers and sisters as they came together in an inspirational way.

And I’m frankly floored that not one of the people who is contemplating running for president in 2016 has yet to even tweet on the subject of the momentous demonstration in Paris, much less attend France’s biggest rally in the history of the republic.

I imagine that Hillary Clinton and her husband are kicking themselves for not hopping on a corporate jet to get here. Can you picture Hillary and Bill walking in the front row, arm-in-arm with Netanyahu and Hollande?

This part feels somewhat rote, perhaps a clumsy attempt at fairness and balance and whatever. World leaders attended the march, not parliamentarians or unannounced political candidates. Only a Prime Minister or a President (or in Jordan’s case, a King) can represent an entire nation, and many of those did indeed make the trip to Paris.

Our President yesterday demonstrated what looks to me like a malice of absence.

Sign “O” the Times

January 12th, 2015 - 10:23 am

junker

The good news:

New vehicle sales in the US have been on a tear in 2014, rising 5.6% to 16.5 million units, the highest since banner year 2006. Light-truck sales jumped 10%, cars edged up 1.8%. The industry is drunk with its own enthusiasm.

Now for the bad news:

Interest rates for six-year new-car loans are as low as 2.75%, according to Bankrate.com. Loan terms can be stretched to seven years, to where these younger buyers will be awfully close to middle-age before they finally get out from under it. Loan-to-Value ratios have soared well past 100%; everything can be plowed into the loan: title, taxes, license fees, cash-back, and the amount buyers are upside-down in their trade. The package is governed by loosey-goosey lending standards. Bad credit, no problem.

And that’s exactly the problem.

Over 8.4% of subprime auto loans taken out in the first quarter of 2014 were already delinquent by November, according to an analysis of Equifax data by Moody’s Analytics for the Wall Street Journal. That’s the highest rate of early subprime delinquencies since Financial-Crisis year 2008.

Stuffing people into cars they can’t afford and ultimately may not be able to pay for is big business. Auto loans to subprime borrowers (credit scores below 640) make up over 31% of all auto loans, according to Equifax. Outstanding loan balances have soared nearly 17% over the last two years. At this rate, they’ll breach the $1-trillion mark by the end of the first quarter this year.

Eventually we might learn that free money, even in the form of cheap credit, won’t make people rich.

Meanwhile, wasn’t Dodd-Frank supposed to protect consumers from “predatory” lenders — or did the auto industry get a regulatory by on that, just to make the President’s so-called rescue of GM look better than it really was?

All of Our Presidents Are Missing!

January 12th, 2015 - 9:49 am

Here’s the NYT editorial page this morning:

The solidarity march of more than one million people in Paris on Sunday was rich in placards and symbols but appropriately devoid of speeches. Like many in the vast throng that filled the broad boulevards between Place de la République and Place de la Nation, the world leaders who marched a portion of the route with President François Hollande locked arms and embraced. But there was no podium, no pulpit, only ubiquitous signs reading “Je suis Charlie.” For the moment, that said it all.

The editors made no mention of the 40 world leaders who participated in the march — do you wonder why?

valeriejarrett

It’s the shocking disclosure from a White House insider which shocks absolutely nobody:

How important is Jarrett inside the Obama White House? Brill was able to interview the president about the struggles of Obamacare and reports that he concluded: “At this point, I am not so interested in Monday morning quarterbacking the past.” That must be one reason Jarrett is still at his side, in the same outsize role she’s held since both arrived in D.C. in January 2009. How outsize? Brill told the president that five of the highest-ranking Obama officials had told him that “as a practical matter . . . Jarrett was the real chief of staff on any issues that she wanted to weigh in on, and she jealously protected that position by making sure the president never gave anyone else too much power.” When Brill asked the president about these aides’ assessment of Jarrett, Obama “declined comment,” Brill wrote in his book. That, in and of itself, is an answer.

After Obama’s inexplicable failure to note the rise of the Islamic State and to deal with problems involving veterans’ health care, I wrote last year that “Jarrett appears to exercise such extraordinary influence that in some quarters on Capitol Hill she is known as ‘Rasputin,’ a reference to the mystical monk who held sway over Russia’s Czar Nicholas as he increasingly lost touch with reality during World War I.” After my column appeared, I ran into a top aide to a Democratic senator. “You don’t know the half of it,” he told me. “[Jarrett is] not only Rasputin, she’s the Berlin Wall preventing us from even getting messages to the president.”

That kind of isolated thinking might just be to blame for Obama’s “mysterious” absence from Paris yesterday.

Or it was just an intentional snub from a President who doesn’t have much use for evil colonial European powers.

Or both.

Thought for the Day

January 12th, 2015 - 7:19 am

Caliphs Gotta Caliphate

January 12th, 2015 - 6:06 am

There’s just no end to the petty ridiculousness of the horrors ISIL inflicts:

A street magician in Syria beloved by children was beheaded by militants with the Islamic State group after his performances were deemed to be insulting to God, the Daily Mirror reported Wednesday.

The murder of the magician, who was known as “Sorcerer,” was called “barbarism and butchery” by a Syrian activist who knew him but fled to safety in nearby Turkey.

“The magician was a popular man who entertained people with little tricks on the street like making coins or [a] phone disappear,” the activist told the British tabloid. “He was just called Sorcerer by people and children loved him. He was doing nothing anti-Islamic but he paid for it with his life.”

When in doubt, cut somebody’s head off.

News You Can Use

January 12th, 2015 - 5:24 am

CHIMNEY

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

It seems almost unfair to mention that the woman is from California.

Our Message to France

January 11th, 2015 - 10:30 am

Another Public Service from Andrew Klavan

January 10th, 2015 - 7:54 am

He’s very helpful, you know.

Of course you know.

Friday Night Videos

January 9th, 2015 - 10:19 pm

True story.

Not long after we’d moved into together, the Spooky Chick introduced me to the completely shallow & totally fabulous non-stop dancing thrills of Soft Cell. One night browsing the shelves at Figueiredo’s Video Movies (which near as I can tell is still in business), we came across a Soft Cell collection so obscure that today I can’t even find so much as a fill-in-the-blanks listing for it on IMDB.

It should have been a fun show, consisting of nothing but videos from Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret and Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing, with introductions from bandmates Marc Almond and David Ball, who were clearly not sober.

But then they had to go and ruin everything.

Every introduction featured a prolonged tease for the infamous Banned Version of the video to “Sex Dwarf,” which apparently had caused some kind of scandal when I was too young and too much not in Britain to have noticed at the time. The Spooky Chick and I were quite eager (and not entirely sober ourselves) to see “Sex Dwarf,” but we weren’t about to fast-forward and miss anything else along the way.

And then they never showed it. A 90 minute tease, all for nothing. Not to mention a wasted $2.50 rental. Right then and there I swore off of Soft Cell so hard, I might have even recorded over a mix tape or two.

(I hadn’t thought about that infamous Banned Version in 20 years, and so I looked it up earlier. Sure enough, it’s up on YouTube — and “Sex Dwarf” is just as awful and cheap and cheesy and seedy as I’d ever dared to imagine.)

But we’re not here to talk about “Sex Dwarf.” We’re here to talk about the song which made me forgive Marc his transgressions, or at least the one I know of personally. I suspect there are others.

So join with me as we fast forward two or three years, when another girlfriend introduced me to Marc Almond’s solo cover of Jacques Brel’s “Jacky” — which to this day is perhaps the most delightfully flamboyant disco/showtune gay anthem ever recorded.

All was forgiven, and to this day “Jacky” remains on my iPod to play in the car very loudly when I’m all alone and in need of some very bad singing to keep me awake and in my own lane.

I’m not saying it’s good, mind you — just that sometimes it’s totally and wonderfully necessary.

Speaking Truth to Kimmel

January 9th, 2015 - 2:20 pm

MAHER

Ladies and gentlemen, Bill Maher:

“Hundreds of millions” of Muslims “support an attack like this,” Maher said.

“This has to stop, and unfortunately, a lot of the liberals, who are my tribe, I am a proud liberal,” Maher said.

“He’s about to turn on you, so,” Kimmel said to the applauding audience.

“No, I’m not turning on them,” Maher said. “I’m asking them to turn toward the truth as I have been for quite a while. I’m the liberal in this debate. I’m for free speech. To be a liberal, you have to stand up for liberal principles. It’s not my fault that the part of the world that is most against liberal principles is the Muslim part of the world.”

“There have been studies. We have facts on this. Treatment of women. They studied 130 different countries. 17 of the bottom 20 were Muslim countries. In 10 Muslim countries, you can get the death penalty just for being gay. They chop heads off in the square in Mecca. Well, Mecca is their Vatican City. If they were chopping the heads off of Catholic gay people, wouldn’t there be a bigger outcry among liberals? I’d ask you,” Maher noted.

My PJM colleague Andrew Klavan likes to say that he’s a conservative because he’s a liberal, which when it comes to jihad at least, ought to be the default position of every honest American liberal.

Sign “O” the Times

January 9th, 2015 - 1:02 pm

The good news from BLS is:

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 252,000 in December, and the unemployment rate declined to 5.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in professional and business services, construction, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing.

The bad news is from BLS is:

The civilian labor force participation rate edged down by 0.2 percentage point to 62.7 percent in December. Since April, the participation rate has remained within a narrow range of 62.7 to 62.9 percent.

These are sustained lows we haven’t seen in 30 years, when the trend line was up, and they hit especially hard on younger workers and on men in their working prime who were laid off months or years ago.

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair.”

January 9th, 2015 - 12:19 pm

LABRADOR

Politico has the story behind the failed coup against John Boehner:

Rep. Raul Labrador has been vocal in his complaints about Speaker John Boehner, but he knew before Tuesday’s House speakership vote that fellow conservatives didn’t have the votes to oust him.

“The votes are not there against Boehner,” the Idaho Republican wrote on a smartphone shortly after noon Tuesday while on the House floor, in view of a POLITICO photographer sitting in the center section of the chamber’s balcony. He added: “I led the effort last time. … Now we need 35 and they only have 15 at most. There’s no way to get to 35.”

This is exactly why it was foolish to go ahead with the vote, which has put some of the GOP’s most reliable conservatives in a very uncomfortable place — now, and during next year’s primaries.

Required Reading

January 9th, 2015 - 11:30 am

CLOSED

Shawn Tully says the fracking revolution is in trouble:

The recent drop in oil prices poses a major challenge to the frackers. But oil producers, Wall Street analysts, and most industry experts claim the setback will be brief and minor.

Don’t believe them.

The basic economics of fracking—what it costs to drill versus what oil now sells for—spells big trouble for the shale boom. At best, today’s producers may be able to hold production close to current levels. What’s gravely endangered is the advertised bonanza that virtually everyone deemed inevitable just a few short months ago.

If the frackers can at least continue producing at current levels, then we’ll avoid what looks to me like the biggest danger to the recovery. If the bottom drops out of oil prices for a sustained period, then all bets are off — just like any other resource-dependent banana republic.

Thought for the Day

January 9th, 2015 - 9:46 am

The China Syndrome

January 9th, 2015 - 9:12 am

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has the latest on China’s growth bubble:

China is at mounting risk of a financial crisis this year as growth sputters and deflationary pressures trigger a wave of defaults, Bank of America has warned.

The US lender told clients that a confluence of forces are coming together that threaten to chill the speculative mania on the Shanghai stock exchange and to expose the underlying fragility of China’s $26 trillion edifice of debt.

“A credit crunch is highly probable,” said the bank in a report entitled “Deflation, Devaluation, and Default”, written by David Cui and Tracy Tian.

They said the country’s highly-leveraged companies cannot safely withstand President Xi Jinping’s drive to stamp out moral hazard and wean the country off excess credit, warning that the mix of slower growth and excess debt “could prove lethal for the financial system”.

You can’t stamp out moral hazard while leaving statists in charge of the economy.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

January 9th, 2015 - 8:37 am

One reason HillaryCare went down in flames two decades ago was fierce public opposition, aroused in part by those famous “Harry & Louise” ads — paid for by the Health Insurance Association of America. Presented with the opportunity to make another such permanent power grab in 2009, Democrats played it much smarter. ♡bamaCare!!!’s lynchpin ins’t just the individual mandate, but a rich set of mandated services and features — rich enough to get the insurers and several medical lobby groups on board with Jon Gruber’s plan.

Imagine how crazy the auto manufacturers and car dealers would go, if Washington mandated that everyone must buy a new car every year? Now imagine how extra crazy they’d go if the mandate included the upgraded electronics kit, the TruCoat, and the flashiest rims.

So how’s that working out for the insurers? Tom Haynes has the story:

If there’s one unquestioned category of winners under Obamacare at this point, it’s the insurance carriers, for whom the law has been a boon in both revenues and profit margins.

Let’s start with the macro picture. Five major publicly traded insurance carriers are Obamacare players: WellPoint, United, Aetna, CIGNA and Humana. All have taken somewhat different approaches to the opportunities created by the law, but they all share similar financial and stock market performance trends since Obamacare’s passage and implementation—steadily upward. Since mid-2013, these “managed care” companies have been some of the brightest shining stars of Wall Street—and Obamacare is a major reason. Here’s why.

Exchange premiums for young and healthy are much higher than before Obamacare

I hope America’s youth are enjoying their change.

Help a Dude Out

January 9th, 2015 - 7:24 am

When I came across his plea yesterday afternoon, this ambitious and admirable young man had a mere 7k retweets. This morning he seems likely to earn himself the prom night of his dreams.

God bless America — and help a dude out, won’t you?

Required Viewing

January 9th, 2015 - 6:02 am

It’s just the first four seconds and I can’t stop watching.

Merde: Multiculti’s Failures Stack Up

January 9th, 2015 - 5:12 am

Speaking of “so much blood in France’s future,” here’s Spengler with some numbers and some cold facts:

France now faces an existential dilemma. By most independent estimates France now has a Muslim population of 6 million, or almost 10% of its 65 million people. If we assume that just 1% of this population are radicalized to the point of engaging in or providing support for terrorist activities, that is a pool of 60,000 individuals. We are not speaking of 60,000 potential bombers or shooters, but a support network that will allow a much smaller number of terrorists to blend into the broader population. In the “no-go” zones of France now effectively ruled by Muslim gangs, moreover, the terrorists can intimidate the Muslim population. France already has lost the capacity to police part of its territory, which means that it cannot conduct effective counter-terror operations

To put that number in context, the whole prison population of France is less than 70,000, of whom 60% are Muslims. It only takes a few dozen trained terrorists with an effective support network to bring ordinary life to a stop in a major city. France has had the toughest enforcement policy against radical Islam among the major European nations, as Daniel Pipes observes. But French security clearly has been overwhelmed. The use of assault rifles and (reportedly) a rocket launcher by highly-skilled gunmen in the center of Paris is a statement of contempt towards the authorities on the part of the terrorists.

As Spengler concludes, “there is no good outcome here.”

The bill for bad policy eventually comes due.

You Keep Using That Word…

January 8th, 2015 - 2:22 pm

…and you know exactly what it means:

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent and self-described socialist from Vermont, inadvertently reminded America “progressive” is just another word for “socialist” with a Dec. 29 Huffington Post op-ed.

In his column, titled “Fight for Our Progressive Vision,” Sanders called for universal health care, increased government redistribution of wealth, limits on political speech, additional government action against “climate change,” $1 trillion in new infrastructure spending and more spending on education.

I nearly got sucked into a Twitter discussion the other day about socialism vs communism vs fascism — and which is what and which is the worst and which is the super-bestest. I got out of that thing quickly, like so:

Progressivism, communism, socialism, fascism — all these isms boil down to just one ism: Statism. It doesn’t matter who actually owns the means of production, or how often elections are held (if they’re held at all) or who is allowed to appear on the ballot, or if you stick “Democratic” or “National” or “People’s” in the name.

What matters is: Who chooses the course of your life — you or someone in power?

All the rest is just details — even though the statists do seem to find delicious pleasure is slaughtering one another (and eventually everyone else) over those ultimately tiny and immaterial differences.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

January 8th, 2015 - 1:07 pm

Heartland’s Sean Parnell beat me to the punch on this one, so I’ll let him speak for himself:

Another thing should probably be pointed out regarding Obamacare’s triumphal reduction in the number of uninsured – to date, it puts it in the ballpark of what the number of uninsured was back during the period in which President Bill Clinton was trying to enact national health care reform because the number of uninsured was supposedly at catastrophic levels.

The numbers I found aren’t directly comparable because they come from different sources using different methodologies, and the Gallup number includes the elderly over age 65 (almost all of whom are in Medicare), but roughly speaking the 12.9 percent uninsured rate reported by Gallup for all adults at the end 2014 is probably not all that different than the approximately 17 percent rate for the non-elderly in 1993 and 1994 given in this 2001 paper by David Cutler and Johnathan Gruber.

So, congratulations, Obamacare. You’ve managed to enact a once-in-a-generation health care “solution” that so far has managed to get the number of uninsured down around the levels that were so terrible they basically launched the current drive for national health reform.

There’s one final irony Parnell missed, however.

The economy has been steadily, albeit all-too-slowly, adding jobs since the end of the Great Recession in June of 2009.* In past recoveries, the vast bulk of those new hires (or re-hires) would have been for full-time work with benefits such as health insurance. However, since ♡bamaCare!!! became law, oodles of those full-time jobs-with-bennies have been replaced by part-time jobs or 1099 contractor jobs — without benefits. In other words, many of the “newly” insured by ♡bamaCare!!! would have been insured anyway, had Big Fat ♡bamaCare!!! not taken so much of the incentive out of hiring full-time workers.

This is what Progressives think of as progress.
(more…)

Fight the Future

January 8th, 2015 - 12:04 pm

The Washington Times has a truly depressing look at France’s Muslim ghettos:

France has Europe’s largest population of Muslims, some of whom talk openly of ruling the country one day and casting aside Western legal systems for harsh, Islam-based Shariah law.

“The situation is out of control, and it is not reversible,” said Soeren Kern, an analyst at the Gatestone Institute and author of annual reports on the “Islamization of France.”

“Islam is a permanent part of France now. It is not going away,” Mr. Kern said. “I think the future looks very bleak. The problem is a lot of these younger-generation Muslims are not integrating into French society. Although they are French citizens, they don’t really have a future in French society. They feel very alienated from France. This is why radical Islam is so attractive because it gives them a sense of meaning in their life.”

While not a complete safe-haven for al Qaeda-type operatives, Paris and other French cities have become more fertile places for Muslim extremists in the past decade. City leaders have allowed virtual Islamic mini-states to thrive as Muslims gain power to govern in their own way.

“There are no-go areas not just in Paris, but all over France, where they are effectively in control,” said Robert Spencer, who directs JihadWatch.org, a nonprofit that monitors Muslim extremists.

So much blame to go around to all parties, so much blood in France’s future.

Thought for the Day

January 8th, 2015 - 11:27 am

Required Reading

January 8th, 2015 - 11:15 am

TWITCHY

Earlier today, Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Reader™ cfbleachers gave me the heads-up that CNN’s Jim Clancy had gone into Full Jew-Hating Meltdown Mode — and he wasn’t kidding. Twitchy has the full story, which is quite shocking assuming you haven’t watched CNN in the last ten or 15 years.

Do read the whole thing, and then ask yourself if you think Clancy will still be employed by CNN tomorrow — and why.

Putting the Hurt on Samsung

January 8th, 2015 - 10:48 am

S5

The South Korean electronics giant is having a hard time of it with Android sales:

The Samsung Group announced Thursday that its yearly profit fell for the first time since 2011. The electronics giant still beat analysts’ expectations as its slowing smartphone sales were buoyed by demand for its computer chips.

Sales of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones made up two-thirds of its profit for the last two years, but they will be eclipsed by its semiconductor business in 2015, according to analyst Lee Sei-cheol from Woori Investment & Securities. The company announced that its 2014 operating profits were expected to reach 24.9 trillion won, or $22.6 billion, down 32 percent from a year earlier.

Samsung is feeling the squeeze from Apple on the high end, especially now that the iPhone comes in two new sizes — “Extra Large” and “Waffle Iron.” (I know, I know — everybody loves the big smartphones but me.) Worse for Samsung is that they’re having the floor eaten out of their massive low-end sales by even lower-cost copycats like China’s Xiaomi. (Somewhere, Jony Ive and the ghost of Steve Jobs are doing the Happy Dance together as they watch their copycat get consumed by copycats.)

The point to remember here is that Samsung was literally — and I’m not abusing that word — literally the only Android phonemaker generating any profits worth mentioning. What Samsung’s troubles means for Android going forward is anyone’s guess, although it took the Android market a comparatively short time, maybe even a shockingly short time, to become just as commoditized as the Windows PC market. Over the course of decades, Windows generated billions and billions for Microsoft and for PC makers before commoditization (and OS X) sucked all the profits out of the Wintel business model. Android went down that same road in just three or four years.

The key difference is that Android doesn’t have to generate profits for Google — but what happens to the OEMs who at some point are going to have to generate a profit or two?

A Galaxy Far, Far Away

January 8th, 2015 - 9:39 am

BIG

The image you see above is a tiny version of Hubble’s HD panorama image of the Andromeda galaxy, two million lightyears away. NASA has a 6000-pixel-wide version for you, and it is staggering to see — I want a 4k monitor now just to do this one picture something like justice. Here’s more from NASA:

The largest NASA Hubble Space Telescope image ever assembled, this sweeping bird’s-eye view of a portion of the Andromeda galaxy (M31) is the sharpest large composite image ever taken of our galactic next-door neighbor. Though the galaxy is over 2 million light-years away, the Hubble Space Telescope is powerful enough to resolve individual stars in a 61,000-light-year-long stretch of the galaxy’s pancake-shaped disk. It’s like photographing a beach and resolving individual grains of sand. And there are lots of stars in this sweeping view — over 100 million, with some of them in thousands of star clusters seen embedded in the disk.

This ambitious photographic cartography of the Andromeda galaxy represents a new benchmark for precision studies of large spiral galaxies that dominate the universe’s population of over 100 billion galaxies. Never before have astronomers been able to see individual stars inside an external spiral galaxy over such a large contiguous area. Most of the stars in the universe live inside such majestic star cities, and this is the first data that reveal populations of stars in context to their home galaxy.

I’ve been re-reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (more on that another day) which has this to say about the matter:

Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.

Indeed.

(Hat tip, Jim D — and an infinitely big kudos to the Hubble team.)