Friday, August 26, 2011

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) The East Coast is all abuzz over hurricane Irene. It ought to be a doozy, despite the Wall street Journal's whistling past the graveyard. The gusts near the eye of the storm indicate Irene is gathering strength, and it has barely dropped below a Cat 3 hurricane as of 6AM, EDT.
See, I'm one of those fucking loons you see on the Weather Channel, who has to get out and experience the teeth of a storm firsthand. I always walk through hurricanes (I've had to work through two of them here in NYC, so it sort of became an imperative,) or blizzards or what have you. I'll likely walk in this one, too. I should be pretty safe. I mapped out a route with plenty of places to duck into if things get hairy. 
What I'd really like to do is get to a beach and watch the waves...
2) Japan has been mired in a decades-long recession. The seventh prime minister in the last five years is resigning, altho he had announced when he took office he would not serve more than fifteen months. Still, it's not a good sign when a major industrial power sees this kind of instability after almost thirty years of economic woe (not to mention that little nuclear accident this year.)
3) NEWSFLASH: Republicans want to raise taxes! CONDITION: On working and middle class folks only.  
4) Has a movie ever been used as a defense in a trademark lawsuit before?
5) Shine on, you crazy diamond! Finally, an engagement rock worthy of my next wife. Whomever she (or he. Like any good liberal, I'm not ruling out switchhitting) may be.
6) Does Rick Santorum know about this?
7) Mitt...where were you when George Bush was clearing brush six out of eight years?
8) Dr. Vincent Harding: "Dead men make convenient heroes. It is easier to build monuments than to build a better world." I have no problem with honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but I suspect he'd be the first to agree with Dr. Harding. We should be fulfilling his dream, not tearing up ground.
9) Information: Republicans hate it.
10) Monster mutant fucking rat from Gambia or opposum? You decide.
See you on the other side of the storm! And to the rednecks and Teabaggers? To make fire, it helps if you bang the rocks together.

Thursday, August 25, 2011



The War On Christmas Is Underway!


Having Run Out Of Important News To Report

CNN finds a way to fill in the yawning hole capacity....

You Mean I've Dated Warmer Women?


Chalk One Up For Preservation


I Can See The Future. I Can Change The Future

No. I mean, really. We all can.
We may all be Globally Conscious, in other words.
The proof? Well, it's fairly intriguing. Roger Nelson, professor at Princeton University (which does not formally support the experiment) has enlisted the aid of researchers all around the globe who set up random number generators. These are monitored continuously for statistically significant deviations from pure randomness.
Nelson has noted that extreme emotional reactions from people, like when Barack Obama was elected, correlated closely, very closely, identically even, with regional significant deviations from randomness in the generators, as if the emotional consciousness of the local population could trigger the generators to create order, not entropy.
The single major emotional event in which this did NOT happen over the past decade was September 11.
Which was even creepier. But go read the website yourself. It's updated regularly, so events up to and including the Oslo bombing/Norway slaughters is included, and yes, it deviates!

"YOU LIE!" (In Bed, You Rat Bastard Traitor)

Representative Joe Wilson (SC-N.A.Z.I) has Lyme's Disease.
Guess he got ticked off. Again.

Well, Obama's Got This Going For Him

51% of Americans still (correctly) blame President Bush for the hunger, unemployment, and bankruptcies echoing to this day.
America is waking up.

The Defense Of Marriage

Well, um, you see....the most, um, fundamentally "moral" people are the ones who are getting to the divorce attorney the fastest now...

By The Time You Read This... might not be news any longer, and it may be all over in Libya.

If Dick Cheney Has His Way


No Surprise Here, Either, But....

Hot weather flares tempers, newsflash!
So naturally, I'm hoping global warming hurries up so maybe we can have our long-deserved revolution in America.


I did not think this would happen: Rick Perry is now the GOP front runner.
I suspect this is a case of "New Coke v. Old Coke," however. People went gaga when Coke was reformulated and repackaged and sales of New Coke shot through the roof.
For a day or two. And now New Coke is gone and Coca Cola Classic is left standing.

Not A Shock, But Definitely News

The temptation for an Apple fanboi like me is to write a paean devoted to the wonders that Jobs brought to the masses.
He did, from the first usable personal computers...if you used the IBM-PC in the early 80s, you ended up kludged in terminal coding, DOS (then MS-DOS), and function calls out the the iPad and now into the next generation of Jobs-inspired products.
All this with a side-trip to create an animation studio that revolutionized what you see in the movies and on TV, but I digress.
He is a visionary's visionary, a man who truly lived up to the RFK bromide (via Shaw) "Some people see things as they are and ask 'why?' I dream things that never were and ask 'why not?' "
Or to write an obituary, putting his life into perspective and writing off Apple stock (which dropped twenty points last night in off-market trading on the news) as worthless now.
The truth is, what else could the man accomplish? He walked away from the single most valuable business in the history of the world (he will remain chairman of Apple's Board of Directors, and I suspect will still pop up at product announcements for new products he's shepherded.) A micromanager, by all accounts caustic and driven to inspect the smallest detail of projects that he would risk the company on, winning more often than losing, Jobs really has done it all.
He's transformed, twice now, how we compute, turning the PC market on it's side and letting the juices run out while creating single-handedly the smart phone market, the tablet market, and remaking the entire laptop market with the Macbook Air.
With all he's accomplished, and his continuing battle with pancreatic cancer (which he claims is "cured"), Jobs has every right and every reason to walk away from his baby. Apple has grown up now, from cranky toddler to mopey adolescent to unruly and rebelious teenager to a young adult poised to take on the world and carve out its place in history.
So I just wanted to go on record as saying "Thank you, Mr. Jobs."
Thank you for making the world a little more productive and a lot more fun. Thank you for showing us the possibilities of achievement, how naysayers may stand in front of us and shout "FAILURE!" at us, but if we perservere and believe in what we have, we can make it, sometimes beyond our wildest dreams.
Um, anyone want to buy three black mock turtlenecks, slightly worn?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Remember Michael Mann?

He was the climatologist who was accused of falsifying...well, no one's ever been clear on what he "falsified." Manipulating data is the most recent charge, levelled by Gov. Rick Perry.

Bit Far To Go For A Hot Spot


Shorter Thomas Friedman

The President needs to play moar golf in a tiger skin mumu with professional wrestlers and piss off his critics in order to prove he can compromise even more next term.

Naturally, Fat People Have A Problem With This

A book aimed at kids about dieting is published.
Now, I have no quibble with the whole "body image" thing. Asking women to be Barbie is unhealthy.
So is being obese.
End of discussion.

Good News, Barely

The budget deficit for 2011 will be huge, but not as huge as projected.

Ready For Round Two?

Big banks are about to fail. Again.
Here's the thing: as the stock market drops, the value of banks' stocks drain right alongside. The difficulty comes in determining the leverage ratio. That's the ratio of loans outstanding to capital.
You can increase or decrease the numerator, the amount of debt a bank holds. One of the reasons that banks, even after getting massive bailouts, were reluctant to lend is they still had enormous amounts of outstanding receivables that were basically valueless. So decreasing this is difficult (you basically have to take massive losses, which tanks your stock which is a problem that I'll get to in a moment.)
Lending more money will raise your profits and your stock but only marginally, and in a difficult economy those loans go bad and you've done the classic mistake of throwing good money after bad.
Or you can play around with the denominator: raise the value of your stock will raise your levels of capital. Issue more shares, but you'll dilute the price of current shareholders who will dump your shares. Lowering your capital. Increase profits, but that only happens when you earn more money and apart from screwing depositors (which they have), you have to loan more money.
See above.
We're fucked unless we start creating jobs so the middle class will start spending again. So...Mr. Weaker of the House Boener...WHERE ARE THE MOTHERFUCKING JOBS, YOU SPINELESS SHIT????

Now...Talk About Worrisome Things

Forget the panty-knotting over earthquakes.
A hurricane right down the gullet of New York City will create far more devastation and probably more deaths than 9/11.
That's a bet.
Irene has a fifty-fifty projection to hit the New York area as a hurricane. Four of eight scenarios show the eye of Irene passing either just over or just east of the city. One has it shoving itself right down our throats. Another has it hitting just outside the New York bight on the uppper Jersey shore. Both of those scenarios would create a potential storm surge of thirty feet (based on wind strength), which as it enters the Verrazano Narrows by Brooklyn and Staten Island would be amplified.
It would wipe out Manhattan below 14th Street, much of the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront and destroy the subway system.

The Case For Cutting Off Federal Aid To Israel

Made by an Israeli, albeit unwittingly, since Joel Braunold discusses private charitable contributions from foreign Jews to Israel.
Braunold has a point, of course. In a day and age of austerity, America can ill-afford to let Israel drink as deeply from the foreign and military aid trough as it used to, if at all. This is a very good time to reassess our commitment to a nation who's people, with some reluctant ignorance by the government, continual intrude on areas we've consistently deemed to be non-Israeli.
Israel saw an increase in millionaires of 20% between 2009 and 2010. Re-read that. If there were 100, there are now 120. But there are 10,000, 16 of whom count as billionaires with a collective net worth of $45 billion dollars.
Individual tax rates in Israel top out at 44%, I should point out (at an income level equivalent to $96,000), but corporate tax rates are only 25% or so (compared to a nominal 35% in America, even tho no one pays either rate). Israel also has a VAT of 16% imposed at every level of the goods finishing process.
And yet, the rich are still getting richer. And unemployment stands at 7% or so, significantly lower than the US. Higher taxes, more jobs. Funny how that works!
In 2007, the US ended economic aid to Israel, based in large part on the precursors to these developments: an economic boom that seems unaffected by world events.
President Obama has increased Israeli military assistance in his 2011 budget proposal to $3 billion, with an additional $3 billion in loan guarantees. But he's frozen arms sales until progress is made in the peace process, which explains Israel's sudden interest in making nice with the Palestinians. Events between Egypt and Israel will likely unfreeze some of that aid, which brings the question "Did Israel provoke the conflict?" into sharp contrast.
And of course, there's always something brewing in the Gaza.
Now, I understand the strategic advantage having a foothold, particularly a coastal foothold, in the Middle East and would not propose cutting off all aid to Israel.
But really...people here are suffering. Let the billionaires take care of some of this stuff.


In my 26th floor office, it felt like a subway train derailed some 28 stories below me. Empty chairs remained perfectly still. A souvenir softball on my shelf remained still. The water in my cup barely rippled.
People panicked.
I'm not sure if it's because I've been in earthquakes, both here in New York City and in California, or I've been on dive boats that rocked so hard I thought they'd capsize, or (and this is the biggie) I went to a concert at Shea Stadium in 1983 featuring the Police where the stadium bounced so hard that I thought it would collapse, but all I know is I said "Hm. Earthquake," and went back to typing.
I was alone in the office. I hadn't been ten minutes earlier.


OK, this is an interesting development in the world of photography: the first mirrorless mirrored camera.
Let me explain. In your typical SLR (or DSLR now), your viewfinder shows what your lens picks up using a series of mirrors that reflect the image up, and then back to the viewfinder (the single lens reflex function of the SLR). This was a substantial improvement over much older viewfinders which required the photographer to somehow compensate for the slight offset between the direct viewfinder (a mini-telescope) and the image.
Trouble is, that first mirror. If it stays in place when you take a picture, it blocks the lens. Most lens manufacturers have it flip up and out of the way, which is fine for most snapshots, but it creates a slight vibration that can ruin precision shooting, like macro photography or extreme telephotography.
It can ruin a shooter's day, let me tell you.
Anyway, this new camera from Sony uses a translucent mirror that allows most of the light through to the lens while diverting a slight amount of it to the viewfinder.
The hitch? No viewfinder. Instead, it's a live view OLED panel on the back of the camera. Which sucks, because you'll be holding the camera away from your eye, destablizing the camera and...creates a slight vibration that can ruin precision shooting.
So very very close...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In Ice Hockey, You Take A Stick To Your Mouth... lose a couple of teeth, gets a few stitches and you've missed a shift.
In baseball, a moth can put you on the disabled list. Almost.


And something cool suffers, as a result.

Curiously, "The Check Is In The Mail" Did Not Make The List

But then, neither did WMDs, Al Qaeda in Iraq or Anthrax making a good album.

At Least He Didn't Put His Eye Out

Former child actor discovers body in hotel room


I've felt worse shaking at a Police concert in '83, when I swore Shea Stadium was going to collapse.
It was nothing, but the entire city is in a pan-- OK, a bunch of cowards from my office irrationally decided to shut the office down.
A deadly blizzard? No problem, you can make it in. A shaking that DIDN'T EVEN MOVE A SOUVENIR BALL ON A SHELF?
This just in....Lady Gaga and Bono have teamed up for a benefit telethon for the earthquake ravaged East Coast....this story is developing...

I Just Hope The Monkey's Name Wasn't "Caesar"

Search for missing monkey called off
What could possibly (Outbreak!) go (Planet of the Apes!) wrong?

The GOP Field Becomes More Mundane

George *YAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWN* Pataki might announce this weekend
Pataki puts rocks to sleep.

Quiet Victories

While I agree with Friedersdorf's overarching point here, the simple fact is, the American attention span is so short, people only remember that we won.

You Think Energy Prices Have YOU Down?

The universe is running out of gas.

In America, Hotels Have Space


I'm Struggling To Make A Joke With This

But there's got to be one in there:
Something about skewering and spits....

Opening A New Font In The War On....

.....errrrr, fonts.
Personally, I'm not sure I trust a book by an author named after a musical group and a cartoon....

Damned If "I Do," Damned If "I Don't"


Ya Might Have Picked Someone Who's, You Know, Actually Won A Case?

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, has hired an attorney in connection with the Senate investigation to the market collapse of 2008.
Will we see bankstahs frog-marched to jail? Stay tuned...

A Little Bit Of Monica

I expect the harrumphing to begin by noon, EDT, over the President's choice of books while on vacation.

The beleaguered American president will be relaxing in Martha's Vineyard with his family and an eclectic collection of books, from Woodrell's tales of detective Rene Shade taking on "hit men, porn kings, a gang of ex-cons, and the ghosts of his own checkered past", to Isabel Wilkerson's charting of the migration of black citizens from America's deep south, The Warmth of Other Sons.

I'll say this in advance: what is it about sex that Teabaggers can't even read about someone reading about it?


Gee...Think This Might Work Here?

The French uberwealthy want more taxes.
See, there's something about a true revolution...not that America's was a slouch, but stick with this for a moment...where a people rise up against (here it comes) its own government to demand change.
The French Revolution was, in essence, the sea-change the American was not. The American Revolution was the landed gentry being tired of their responsibilities to a king 3,500 miles away who really paid them no mind. The French Revolution was the people's revolution, where a nation stood up against its own resident king and said "Enough!"
People were starving. "Let them eat cake." Rising food prices, higher energy costs and poor infrastructure to even ship food to rural areas, as well as a growing disparity in income equality and a monumental national debt all contributed to a circumstance that finally snapped.
Add to this the resentment of the working and middle classes to the elites, nobles, and wealthy, and the rejection of doctrinaire religion (Catholicism) holding sway over public policy, and you have your basic powderkeg.
Why does this sound so much like present day America? A government out of touch with its people, a people divided into economic strata that are growing apart, and the injection of fundamentalism into public policy.
Twain (apocryphally, via Colombo) said it best, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
Given French history, it's no surprise that the wealthy in France want to do something to help out. Another Revolution, in a day and age when entire fortunes can be stolen with the click of a mouse, is probably pretty scary. Thomas Jefferson once said that when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
Our government does not fear us. Sarkozy, Bettencourt, and de Margerie do fear the French.
You know, you'd think the Teabaggers would be a pioneering group but when you're organized and motivated by the very people whom you serve, you're a sham, a fraud, a complete and utter tool of those who would keep you in servitude. Former government officials, leaders of the largest corporations on the planet, lobbyists and advisors all make up the hierarchy that is the Tea Party.
The people underneath them don't have a Teapot to piss in, but that's not the problem of the Armeys and Kochs of the world, so long as they can keep them mad at the boogeymen: Muslims, Mexicans, 'Mericans.
That's not to say that there aren't Americans who have money who get it. Warren Buffett, arguably the richest man in the world, does, along with Bill Gates, Sr and several others. They understand what the French people have been born with: a tradition that a nation cannot stand on its own unless each of its citizens can stand on their own. History is replete with examples of nations that tried to hoard, to exploit their people for the benefit of insiders. 
Nations are not Amway. They are not a pyramid scheme. The very fact that you work in your job about as hard as the guy you work for should entitle you to a bit more than the crumbs off his table, because your work makes his life that much easier. A healthy society would recognize this. Europe certainly does.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Geeky Wow Things

Who'da thunk the Fibonacci sequence would have any practical use in applied science and technology?
And yet, it may play an important part in fractal calculations...

A New Breakthrough

It looks ALS...Lou Gehrig's finally coming under the control of medical science.


I'd hope we'd be out of our Great Recession by 2020!
More likely, it's justifying the capital expenditures now, in the face of massive layoffs and unemployment, to generate jobs later this decade. If we were talking shovel-ready projects, this would be a bad decision. For now, not so much.

And Yet, They Couldn't "Afford" To Bail Out Homeowners

This program was on top of TARP.
But HAARP was the program that got people all wired up. Meanwhile, banks are profitable and homeowners are delinquent

Sounds Like "He Said, He Said" To Me

If you believe Assange, Domscheit-Berg was working with international intelligence agencies.
If you believe Domscheit-Berg, Assange failed to provide sufficient protections to the leakers of the documents, which included the Bank of America scandal that was never released.
I tend to lean with Domscheit-Berg, in that Assange may have become blinded by his anger and eagerness to release the documents-- remember how he touted them left and right?-- but it's very possible Assange is correct.
Or, they may both be right. Either way, we've lost a treasure of information.

Vladi Was Stalk

While I can't say I blame him...after all, you have to feed your own people first...Putin's actions seem to be provocative and premature.

Alien Visitors: Our Friends

Possibly, but probably not
Give this some thought: apart from curiousity, there's really only one reason to visit this rock so close to a star: inhabitability.
Minerals, water, even gases can more easily be culled from the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, which have lower gravity wells and no population to battle... as far as we can tell. Metals can be grabbed out of asteroids practically for free by robotic miners.
But only the earth is in the sweet spot of being neither too close or too far from the star. A hostile visit would almost certainly entail an invasion, with most likely the elimination of the human species (the only one capable of defending the planet from space invaders before they got here.)
That said, the chances of an alien civilization reaching across billions of miles to take over our planet would be on the order of hitting the lottery twice in one week.
Without buying a ticket either time.

I've Always Like Warren Buffett

Join him at United For A Fair Economy and help take a bite out of the rich.

Catching Up

So I heard Rick Perry jumped in the race while I was away.
And now rumour has it George Pataki might toss a feeler out.
So, um, why are Republicans so unified in their contempt of the choices available?

Surrender, Moamar! (So We Can Get On Fixing America)

It looks like it's all over but the shouting in Libya.
It's a weird world we live in, all of a sudden. It seems like, for so long, we've been battling one extremist dictatorship after another. Now all we seem to have left as adversaries are Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-Il, and Kim looks like he's pretty much neutralized by his own megalomania. Who's left? Chavez, who's barely a blip of a threat to US interests-- and in fact, extends a hand to the poor of this nation thru Citgo oil? Castro? Some tin-pot African terror?
It's a weird world when the biggest threat to world stability is the United States.
I say that rather hyperbolic statement to look at a domestic conflict inherent in this age.
For some reasons, America requires boogeymen. If it's not minorities and immigrants, it's "them." We seem to be unique in this regard. No other nation has waged war quite as frequently in the past 50 years as the US. When we are united in conflict, it seems, it is the only time when we are truly united. When we are not, we fall apart. When it was "the Japs and Hun," well, we rose to the occasion. Or the "Russkies."
We invent political theories designed to create conflict: Brinksmanship, the Domino Theory, Manifest Destiny...these are not the slogans of a healthy, peaceful nation-- like, say, the New Deal or the Fair Deal or New Frontier-- but one of a savage and brutal regime. It's not healthy for us to be picking on fourth rate tyrannies by putting lipstick on them and calling them the second coming of Hitler.
That's not to say we do not have a role as a military power in ousting repressive and brutal regimes, but here's the thing: in doing so, we skew our own sensibilities and attitudes to more brutality and repression.
And if you don't believe me, just take a look at The PATRIOT Act.
We ought to exercise this power judiciously.
So now that we've pretty much run the table, note what's happening internally: we're finding boogeymen in our borders. And aspects of our society are waging wars against "them."
Liberals, minorities, women, homosexuals, the poor, all have come under the gun from select conservatives sectors of society. All while our corporate overlords...the ones who made money on all those military drubbings overseas...laugh and count the money they're squirreling away after screwing you and me, liberal and conservative, straight and gay, white, black, Latino, poor, rich...OK, not that last, but you get the point.
And yes, while the right has a lion's share of the blame to accept here, we ought to take a minute and realize the left has to stop demonizing the low-normals who populate many of the slimier regions of right wing philosophy: they are there not out of a sense of duty, but out of a manipulated sense of "moral" outrage, brought on by the corporatocracy and enhanced by useful idiots like the Blogosphere and FOX News.
It's no surprise to me how many of these right-wing asshat pundits claim to have been "former liberals." They thought they could get laid then, and when it turned out it wasn't a free pass to sex (or money or what have you) they turned coats and became conservatives, figuring those folks were stupider.
Leeches, the bunch of them. We ought to find a way to isolate them from the general population then get to work fixing the damage they've created and bringing people to the truth of their nation.