Monday, December 31, 2012

Psy Ends Gangnam Style: Disappears off the Face of Earth

Well it seems that Psy is done with Gangnam Style.

"The song became too popular, and so you start to have some concern about its life period," he said. "I'm really working hard on a new single right now, and I'm not saying ['Gangnam'] is ending on Dick Clark — I still have a lot of invitations to perform it . . . I'll be in Paris, and in February I got invited to perform in China, and I've still got to do promo. So let me say that in America I need a new single because 'Gangnam Style' got too popular, so I've got to write a new single."

I'm pretty sure that his "new single" will not be as catchy or as world beating as Gangnam Style. He will still be big-ish in Korea but I have a feeling that "Gangnam Style" has just joined the "Macarena" and "Who Let the Dogs Out" in the "Remember-When?" File.

2013 Predicitions: Entertainment and Sports

Well time to try my hand at the lighter side of the news:


1. Reality TV starts to grate on the public as American Idol has its lowest rated season ever. People talk of cancellation but it is still renewed for 2013. Many other reality TV staples are cancelled to make way for more Mad Men style adult dramas.

2. The Jersey Shore miscreants disappear from the national consensus as their 15 minutes of fame fades. This ignominious fate befalls Honey Boo boo, Dog the Bounty Hunter, the Storage Wars cast, and any American Idol not named Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood.

3. New Shows of 2012:
  Renewed: The Following, How to Live with your Parents, the Carrie Diaries, Cult
  Cancelled: Goodwin Games, Do No Harm, Save Me, Deception, 1600 Penn, Hannibal, Zero Hour, Red Widow, The Family Tools, Mistresses

4. Top 10 Movies for 2013 in any order:

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Thor the Dark World, Iron Man 3, Star Trek into Darkness, The Hunger Games Catching Fire, Man of Steel, Monsters University, Kick-ass 2, Despicable Me 2, The Lone Ranger


College Football National Title: Alabama
College Basketball National Title: Indiana
NFL: Denver Broncos
NBA: LA Clippers
MLB: Los Angeles Angels
NASCAR: Kasey Kahne
NHL: none season cancelled
Premier League Title: Arsenal
Bundesliga Title: Bayern Munich


2013 Predictions: Politics and the Economy

Well I might as well do my 2013 Predictions now since we are at the last day of the year:


1. There will be another fight over the debt ceiling with the GOP getting blamed for stalling and "holding the country ransom."  They will eventually cave and we will be put back on debt downgrade watch again. This time we are not downgraded.

2. Benghazi disappears into the woodwork as we slowly ease out of Afghanistan. Most of our foreign entanglements are finished by the end of the year. America's robust foreign policy on the early 2000s takes a backseat to new actors such as the Turks, the Russians and the Chinese. Europe moves further into the drivers seat of world affairs again.

3. Bashar Assad's government falls and he flees to Russia. The new Syria emerges out of the rubble and Lebanon returns to an active peace. General tensions ease in the Middle East and a relative calm falls over the region by year-end. Some of the Arab Spring governments become Islamist but it does not affect their relations with Israel.

4. The world will become a somewhat more peaceful place with much less warfare and death on the front page. People start looking inwardly and fixing some of their long running problems. The news becomes focused on solar panels in Africa and micro-transactions in Brazil and less about wars in the Middle East.

5. There is less partisan infighting as America tires of the whole "political divide" that has typified Washington for the last few years. No new gun laws are passed through the Congress and Sandy Hook unfortunately becomes just another footnote.


1. There will be 3% GDP growth by the end of the year as companies have more of an idea of what their taxes and hiring costs will be. Obamacare is not the debacle as many fear and its pull on the economy is not felt by many Americans. The $800 Obamacare Tax Penalty will quietly be repealedwith changes to the bill tacked onto a different piece of legislation.

2. Banks will have record profits during 2013. Having large cash hordes and an incentive to start loaning money out will bring billions of dollars in profit into the banks. Many banks will be enriched by the same things that made them money before the bailout. Private banking will flourish in 2013.

3. Hedge Funds lose quite a bit of their luster as their outsized gains disappear. There are record redemptions as rich people pull their money out and chase after tax free yield. Municipal bonds and Master Limited Partnerships become very popular since they avoid higher capital gains tax rates that come out of Washington deal-making. Dividends become less popular and stock buybacks soar.

4. The Apple TV becomes the most talked about new tech product of 2013 as it challenges the idea of Internet connected TV. Saving TV shows to ICloud and viewing movies from the Apple Store challenges Netflix and Amazon. People cancelling their cable becomes even more widespread than before. Windows 8 is a dismal failure and hastens the demise of the desktop as we know it. A big screen attached to a tablet or a smartphone becomes the new PC form factor of 2013.

5. There will be a Facebook and Twitter backlash as many people tire of having to update their lives and document it for people they barely know. Saying "I don't have Facebook" becomes a new way of being hip instead of being luddite. The social revolution hits a definite snag in 2013 as people cease to see the point.

6. Here are the end of 2013 numbers:

Dow: 13400
NASDAQ: 3210
S&P 500: 1410
Eur/Dollar: 0.84
10 Year Bond: 2.58%
Gold: $1640 an ounce
Oil: $85 a barrel

2012 Predicitions: Entertainment and Sports: A Recap

Well lets see how I did for the 2012 world of entertainment and sports.


1. Well it seems that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are still together and seem happy enough. Jennifer Aniston is now engaged but hasn't married yet.

2. Kardashians TV show is still on TV. Our long nation nightmare continues.

3. Renewed: Missed Napoleon Dynamite and Luck, got Lost Girl, Touch, and Apartment 23
    Cancelled: Missed Smash, Fashion Star, Scandal, all the rest from my list are in the TV graveyard.

4. The movies that didn't make it into the Top 10 in Box office were: MIB 3, Expendables 2, Wrath of the Titans, and World War Z was pushed back to 2013. The movie industry was also 6% better by a revenue standpoint as well.

5. My Sports Predictions were pretty dismal as well. Correct answers in blue

College Football National Title: LSU (Alabama)
College Basketball National Title: Ohio State (Kentucky)
NFL: Green Bay Packers (New York Giants)
NBA: Miami Heat (hey got one, Miami Heat)
MLB: Texas Rangers (San Fransisco Giants)
NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson (Brad Keselowski)
NHL: Chicago Blackhawks (Los Angeles Kings)
Premier League Title: Manchester City (hey got 2, Manchester City)

2012 Predictions Poltics and the Economy: A Recap

Well it is that time a year again so I'm looking back at my predictions for 2012 and seeing how I did.


1. Yup Romney won the GOP nomination but Obama won the election. However Obama didn't win in a squeaker and actually won fairly convincingly. The GOP didn't win the Senate and it seems that not much will be done.

2. There was no real budget fight per se but the fight was over raising the debt ceiling instead. There was no real compromise and the thing was punted so we have the "fiscal cliff" now.

3. Obamacare actually was proved constitutional and it will scar the landscape for years to come. Missed this one.

4. No civil war in North Korea. It seems Kim-Jong-Un is consolidating power and firing off long range missiles. Missed this one.

5. Iran was hit hard by sanctions but there was no revolutions. It turned out that Syria was the place for the government to gun down its people. Although the UN is not stepping in at all due to Russia.


1. Nailed this one. More green shoots plus a housing recovery with Europe taking more then its share of ink on its woeful situation. Missed high oil prices but nailed a slowdown in India and China. Worldwide growth also slowed in the second half of the year and parts of Europe did enter a recession.

2. The market was fairly decent and oil prices stayed fairly low. Also there was a rally of sorts after Obama was re-elected. Companies still hold vast cash reserves and the GDP is growing at only 1.7% at the end of the year and not at 3%. However, we avoided a recession for now.

3. Unemployment did stay in the 8% range and was slightly better by the end of the year.

4. Facebook's IPO was a debacle and may have a few lawsuits to settle before all the smoke clears. However, no "Facebook is dead" articles have been published yet. Whoops missed this one.

5. SOPA did indeed fail spectacularly.

6. Here are the numbers for the various indices that I predicted vs the actual numbers :

Dow: 12800 (13104)
NASDAQ: 2850 (3019)
S&P 500: 1320 (1320) Wow perfect guess!
Eur/Dollar: 0.98 (0.76)
10 Year Bond: 2.10% (1.76%)
Gold: $1310 an ounce ($1722 an ounce) Missed this one by a lot
Oil: $113 a barrel ($91 a barrel) This one too

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Clueless Anti-Gun Group Politicize Oregon Mall Shooting

I wonder if these people look at each of these mall shootings as a golden opportunity to push their message?

"Santa Claus could have been shot in the mall," said Penny Okamoto, executive director of Ceasefire Oregon, in an interview with the Portland Tribune. "If you're sick of this, you should call your legislators to tell them to fix the laws so that assault weapons don't end up in the hands of felons."

Nicely politicizing there Ms. Okamoto. First of all this killer did not seem to be a felon so that would not have prevented it. He also apparently stole the gun from his friend so that precluded all legal ways of preventing him from getting the gun. So other then having the government confiscate every gun you really couldn't prevent an insane person from shooting up the mall.

Also even if they did ban assault weapon and made owning them totally illegal it still would not prevent someone from buying a pistol and doing something similar. I mean the Virginia Tech shooter had two pistols. Also in the Aurora shootings the guy could have done about the same damage with just the pistols and the shotgun he had.

I think what people did in this Oregon shooting was perfect. They ran from the fire and hid in stores and waited for police and SWAT to kill off the shooter. Two people died and one was injured but it just seemed like bad luck that it happened to them. I think treating every " hearing firecrackers or popping balloons when there shouldn't be"  incident as a potential mass shooting might save quite a few lives.

Friday, December 07, 2012

NBC Might Pay the Price for Making Zimmerman Look Like a Racist

I think it would be difficult to defend the fact that NBC was trying to provide a narrative on this case and edited the 911 call to reflect that.

The call viewers heard was trimmed to suggest that Zimmerman volunteered to police, with no prompting, that Martin was black: "This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black."

But the portion of the tape that was deleted had the 911 dispatcher asking Zimmerman if the person who had raised his suspicion was "black, white or Hispanic," to which Zimmerman responded, "He looks black."

Someone made an editorial decision to remove the 911 dispatcher so NBC could keep the narrative as "evil racist guy kills innocent black kid in cold blood." They did not wait until facts were available but just rushed to judgement.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

MIT professor Philip Greenspun Hates Windows 8 and I Agree

Oh Windows 8 is such a piece of crap you don't even know. It seems that this famous computer scientist from MIT seems to agree with me.

“The only device that I can remember being as confused by is the BlackBerry PlayBook,” Greenspun wrote on his blog after using Windows 8 on a Dell (DELL) XPS One All-in-One desktop PC. The acclaimed computer scientist noted that Microsoft omitted all of the best features from the most popular touch-focused platforms and instead created a user interface he describes as a “dog’s breakfast.”

Imagine using that awful experience on a regular PC without a touch interface and then removing the Start button for no good reason. I had to work around that by creating icons of things like Control Panel and Office 2010 apps like Outlook and Excel directly from the Programs Files directory. I couldn't figure out any other way of getting to my Outlook easily. I guess I could fiddle with the worthless and ugly Metro interface but the less I saw of that the better. In any case if an MIT professor has trouble using Windows 8 then I would hate to be a person that learned Windows by using XP and then tried to use 8.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Fresh Eyes Identify Earliest Known Dinosaur

This is a pretty interesting find.

The creature was about the size of a Labrador dog and has been named Nyasasaurus parringtoni after southern Africa's Lake Nyasa, today called Lake Malawi, and Cambridge University's Rex Parrington, who collected the specimen at a site near the lake in the 1930s.

"It was a case of looking at the material with a fresh pair of eyes," Paul Barrett from the Natural History Museum, who worked on the study, told Reuters. "This closes a gap in the fossil record and pushes back the existence of dinosaurs."

It is pretty cool that a fossil found in the 30s and studied in the 50s finally enters the fossil record in 2012. I think a fresh set of eyes need to go over more findings from the past. Maybe even more knowledge can be uncovered from that sort of thing.

Anti-Tax Conservatives Kicked off of Budget Panel

I guess this might be the GOP moving slowly back toward the center.

Two of the most conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives have been kicked off the House Budget Committee, a rare move that could make it easier for the panel to advance a deal with Democrats to cut fiscal deficits.

I think this is Boehner flexing his muscles and trying to play the Tip O'Neil role in reverse. I think he has done the political calculus and figured that if we go off the cliff or bungee jump (go off the cliff and fix it when they come back from recess after Jan 1) the GOP is going to get hammered.

I figure there will be a 30% sell-off in the stock market if we go off the cliff and the GOP does not want that pinned to them because of two congressmen that won't listen to common sense.

Religious Right Softens Image Declares Peace in War on Religion

I guess Romney losing is putting some sense into the religious right.

Between the rise of the unchurched and the moderation of young religious conservatives, experts say, a smaller movement may emerge — one that retains its current zeal but carries less sway over the selection of GOP nominees. Or the movement could retain its power by successfully diversifying and coming up with a new way to talk to voters.

"We plan to reach out with a softer, pro-family agenda—less emphasis on the sexual points, more talk about family," Marx of the Faith and Freedom Coalition said. He also said activists would develop a "forward-looking" policy agenda akin to President George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism."

Also they need to back away from social positions like the earth is a few thousand years old and that global warming is fake. It might be a good idea to just keep Creationism and Intelligent Design in parochial schools as well. 

What a compassionate Christian Rightist needs to be talking about is that all schools need to be improved instead of trying to shoehorn their beliefs into the classroom. Instead of fighting a war in the classroom let all classrooms prosper. Do good works and people will flock to you. Don't try to change minds by forcing your beliefs on anyone.

Finally, the sexual issues need to be taken off the table entirely. So no talk of rape or abortion from any GOP candidate going forward. If a GOP candidate is asked about abortion they can just say this is my deeply held belief and has no standing on how I would govern.

Obama Proposes Tax Hikes Now but Rate Cuts Later (Maybe)

I guess he just can't live with the idea of rich people getting away with 3% more of a cut then other Americans.

"Let's let those go up," Obama told Bloomberg Television in an interview, referring to tax rates for the wealthiest Americans.

"And then let's set up a process with a time certain, at the end of 2013 or the fall of 2013, where we work on tax reform, we look at what loopholes and deduction both Democrats and Republicans are willing to close, and it's possible that we may be able to lower rates by broadening the base at that point."

In other words when those talks break down in 2013 he will have his rate hikes in place already. Pretty sneaky way of ramming through tax hikes. It does give Boehner some wiggle room to say that the GOP will bite the bullet and allow tax hikes in exchange for cuts in 2013. Whatever the case negotiating by brinksmanship is a crappy way of doing business.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Well At Least they Won't Hike My Taxes: Middle Class Tax Cuts Might Pass

At least I'm not going off the cliff according to the GOP Doomsday Plan.

Republicans are seriously considering a Doomsday Plan if fiscal cliff talks collapse entirely. It's quite simple: House Republicans would allow a vote on extending the Bush middle class tax cuts (the bill passed in August by the Senate) and offer the President nothing more: no extension of the debt ceiling, nothing on unemployment, nothing on closing loopholes. Congress would recess for the holidays and the president would face a big battle early in the year over the debt ceiling.

This is the ultimate can kick. No consensus on anything other then messing up the middle class with a tax hike. If they make them permanent though I would support that move. If I can lock in 15% dividend taxes and 25% short term capital gains taxes for 2013 then I would take it for now. However, any meaningful tax reform should make these rates 0%. The idea of capital gains and dividend taxes for middle class taxpayers are anathema to me.