Friday, February 28, 2014

Warming Slowdown Temporary Say Scientists

It seems that it is the pause that is refreshing.

Since an exceptionally warm 1998, there has been "a short-term slowdown in the warming of Earth's surface," Britain's Royal Society and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences said in a report.

But, they said, that "does not invalidate our understanding of long-term changes in global temperature arising from human-induced changes in greenhouse gases."

Instead of trying to use scare tactics to keep developing countries from achieving first world status why don't these scientists study why there was a short-term slowdown. Maybe that slowdown can be repeated or it could be sustainable. Instead we just have assurances that warming will continue some time in the future maybe. That is a flimsy basis to give billions of dollars to despots seeking an end to climate change.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Now the NSA is Stealing your Yahoo Web Chat Photos and Giving Them to the Brits?

I'm sure they have endless terabytes of naked selfies to comb through looking for terrorists.

How invasive was this program? According to leaked documents obtained by The Guardian, “in one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery — including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications — from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.” The documents show that GCHQ began bulk data collection from Yahoo online video chats because “Yahoo webcam is known to be used by GCHQ targets.”

I'm sure Mary Anne and her BF web chatting while he is away on a band field trip to the Idaho Famous Potato Bowl in Boise is a matter of national security. Maybe she is secretly an Al-Quida sympathizer. So NSA Chief Clapper needs to make sure what color her bra is and how many New Edition posters she has on her wall. 

I love that half-assed "I no longer care" reasoning the GCHQ had as well. Al-Quida is known to use Yahoo video chats so we need to record every single one just in case. It is like saying "Al-Quida uses hard drives so we need to download every kilobyte of data generated in the world" just in case. Maybe this will finally get some people to raise up when they realize that there is some NSA database somewhere that has their naked selfies all ready for some NSA spook to ogle.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Last Time the Cubs Won the World Series The Ottoman Empire Still Existed

These 8 historical facts are just so funny.

The Chicago Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. This was back when there were still teams such as the Brooklyn Superbas and the Boston Doves. The Ottoman Empire, which was founded in the 13th century, also existed back then. Mehmed VI was the last sultan of the empire and his reign ended in 1922 when the sultanate was abolished and the Turkish government took governing control over the new republic -- 14 years after the Cubs last won the World Series.

So the Cubs won and 14 years later the Ottoman Empire fell? Coincidence? I think not.

Even the Uninsured Are Against Obamacare

It sucks when the people that the law is supposed to help ie the 30 million uninsured are against Obamacare for the most part.

Fifty-six percent of those who identified as uninsured in a new poll conducted in February by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a research institution, had an unfavorable view of the health care reform law, compared to just 22 percent who said they view it favorably. The uninsured now see Obamacare less favorably than they did when the enrollment period began in October. As recently as September, more uninsured approved of the law than disapproved. 

What do you expect when these people are supposed to buy insurance at $2000 a year or get fined and the subsidies are given to them on their tax returns. The revenues and the expenditures do not match up and that is a problem.

Google Fiber to Expand to 34 Cities

It seems that Google is going all in on its coming battle with the Telcos.

Google has avoided FiOS markets altogether (not to mention colder-weather climes that would make fiber construction more costly), instead picking areas that fall within AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable footprints. If Google does pull the trigger, the expansion won’t be cheap: Deploying fiber in all 34 cities would cost between $2.2 billion and $3 billion, Sanford Bernstein senior analyst Carlos Kirjner estimated.

Kirjner believes Google Fiber is what Google says it is: a major opportunity. Within six years, Google Fiber could reach 40 million homes and serve 20 million broadband customers — and yield $20 billion in annual revenue, by his math. The capital-intensive characteristics of Google Fiber are divergent from the parent company’s high-margin, cash-cow search-advertising biz, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work.

I think it might be a good idea to spin-off Google Fiber because the capex on telcom is always insane and it would bring margins down for the parent. In any case when Google Fiber eventually comes to Hawaii I will be signing up because the speed is insane and they will probably price very low in order to battle the Telcos.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mt. Gox Disappears Overnight: Glad I have Stocks and Bonds and Not Bitcoin in My Portfolio

This is kind of like the New York Stock Exchange or ICE disappearing overnight.

The website of Mt. Gox suddenly went dark on Tuesday with no explanation, and the only activity at the company's Tokyo office was outside, where a handful of protesters said they had lost money investing in the virtual currency.

Hours later, Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles told Reuters in an email: "We should have an official announcement ready soon-ish. We are currently at a turning point for the business. I can't tell much more for now as this also involves other parties."

He did not give any other details.

The Tokyo-based Mt. Gox had halted withdrawals earlier this month after detecting "unusual activity," and on Sunday Karpeles resigned from the board of the Bitcoin Foundation, the digital currency's trade group.

Yup the NASDAQ closed all trading today and shut down their website and their CEO said "stocks are at a turning point; we'll have an announcement soonish." I am so glad I dodged this scam in the making. I guess this is the reason why stocks are backed by corporations and treasuries are backed by the full faith and credit of the US government. We might be trillions in debt but the bond market won't shut down with a "we'll have more information soonish" tacked on the door. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

An Actual Compassionate Conservative? Arthur Brooks of the AIE Welcomes the Dalai Lama

It seems that the Dalai Lama actually had a chance to sit down with conservatives and have a debate about capitalism. Maybe the idea that conservatives actually want to help poor people might come around at last.

Brooks was solicitous of his holy guest. “Free enterprise truly can be and should be a blessing in the life of all people, especially the poor,” he assured the Dalai Lama, but “it will not be if it’s not executed and practiced on the basis of brotherhood and compassion.” 

A conservative calling for compassionate capitalism! This was encouraging. 

I guess all that talk of makers vs takers and the 47% that are addicted to the government is starting to wear off. Capitalism has the potential to help quite a few people come out of poverty than any other economic setup.

The Red Chinese is case-in-point. Communism was a dismal failure that killed off tens of millions of people. Capitalism is is helping quite a few people go from nearly subsistence farming to a comfortable middle class. It is command capitalism but it is far better than anything Mao tried to do.

There are people left behind by capitalism and I think its the job of the government working with civic and religious groups to help them out. So job training at the local church, or free suits donated by Jos. E. Banks for perspective job applicants, and resume help from the Chamber of Commerce. That way a person can find a job and contribute to the economy rather than relying on welfare etc.

I Agree with Ashley Wagner: Figure Skating is Rigged

I thought falling down was bad and eliminated you from the podium but I guess not.

Wagner's total of 193.20 was 7.37 points behind that of Lipnitskaia, the Russian sweetheart who won the hearts of the host nation with a pair of performances that helped win gold in the team competition. That was despite Lipnitskaia's falling heavily on both nights and being visibly dismayed at her performance once she left the rink after her free skate.

So the Russian won even after falling twice? She should have not even been close to the podium especially after Wagner didn't fall even once. I'm sure Putin had the families of the judges in the Russian sphere of influence put up in a special villa full of luxuries. If the judges scored it the "wrong way" they would have been cleaning blood off of the marble floors. According to this some of the judges were crooked as well.

Two of their replacements were Ukrainian Yuri Balkov, who was kicked out of judging for a year after being tape-recorded by a Canadian judge trying to fix the Nagano ice dancing competition, and Alla Shekhovtseva, a Russian judge who is married to Russian federation general director Valentin Pissev. The two other new long program judges were from Estonia and France, which was the country that conspired with Russia to try to fix the pairs and ice dancing competition at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Why doesn't a judge that tried to fix the Nagano ice dancing still able to judge in the Olympics? Also one of them is married to the head of Russian skating? That is such a rig job it isn't even funny. Forget this crooked-assed Olympics.

Google Fiber a Game Changer? Welcome to the Googleverse

I was reading this article about Google Fiber and would love to have it in Hawaii ASAP.

Google (GOOG), which has market capitalization of about $405 billion (plus $60 billion in cash, plus a derelict blimp hangar), just announced it’s expanding its fiber network rollout, which Netflix consistently clocks as the speediest in the sector. Google Fiber claims to be 100 times faster than the typical household broadband connection—good enough to download an entire HD flick in half a minute.

First of all this will shatter Gamestop because the only thing slowing down digital downloads of entire games is how long it takes to download them. If that barrier is taken away (or the game streams somehow) then the physical game on DVD goes the way of the game cartridge. I agree with this assessment as well:

Some on Wall Street seem to think so. “Google Fiber is an attempt by Google to build a profitable, stand-alone business,” Carlos Kirjner of Bernstein Research wrote in a Wednesday research report. “It may not make a huge difference for Google or for the incumbents in the next one, two or three years, but Google is taking the long view and we think in five or more years, it could turn out to be a significant, profitable business for Google and headwind for incumbents.”

They want to have your entire digital life be dependent on Google which is a pretty good business model. They want every search to be from Google, every song played off of Google Play Music, every Office Document to be made with Google Docs, all of the your files stored on Google Drive, and have your connection to the Internet be through Google Fiber.

I have a feeling too that once Google Fiber is rolled out they will start a wireless service as well. If you think about it Google could cut out the telecom industry altogether. You could use Skype (or a Google version of it) for calls, Snapchat or Google Messenger for texts, and Google Wireless to access the Internet. That pretty much cuts out the telecoms for anything other than subsidizing the cost of phones. Why would you sign up with AT&T or Verizon for 2 years when you can connect your smart phone to the Internet at much faster speeds?

It seems that Google wants to have end to end control of your entire digital life. They just bought out Nest so that they can have your house plugged into Google as well. Your refrigerator will connect to Google Fiber to tell your Android phone that uses Google Wireless that you need to throw out that bad milk. Welcome to the Googleverse.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Liberal Snobs Through History

This article articulates why I dislike the so-called "liberal elite" that seems to always know how to spend my money better than I do.

The novels of Sinclair Lewis, the journalism of H.L. Mencken and the literary criticism of Van Wyck Brooks heaped scorn on the vast and supposedly mindless Americans who worked hard at their jobs and joined civic groups -- Mencken's "booboisie."

These 1920s liberals idealized the "noble aspiration" and "fine aristocratic pride" in an imaginary Europe, and considered Americans, in the words of a Lewis character, "a savorless people, gulping tasteless food," and "listening to mechanical music, saying mechanical things about the excellence of Ford automobiles and viewing themselves as the greatest race in the world."

Liberals are always looking to Europe as a bastion of enlightened thinking but seem to ignore the fact that Americans do not want to be taxed at 70% - 90% so that some other person can get freebies. We are a lot more German in our attitude that we don't want to work our asses off so some Greek guy can sleep in the sun. Liberals of course also ignore the racism and rampant classism in parts of the continent.
Also Lewis' ideas about Americans seem to be the seedling for the idea of "flyover states." Like the vast majority of Americans are simply filling the space between the enlightened bastions of liberalism like Seattle, Berkley, San Francisco, New York etc. Most middle class Americans are "savorless people" clinging to our guns and God and need to be led by the hand by an intelligent liberal technocracy that knows what is best for them. How do you expect to lead people you have such contempt for?

This is also why liberals have a hard time with the idea of American exceptionalism. Deep down they think America is a hateful, racist place where the rich and corporations smash the common man. They see us as warmongers that slime the world with our pop culture. Everything that some other country has is great even though they ignore the deep problems in those countries. Liberals deep down don't like Americans as they are now and want to change them into something they will never willingly become.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It Seems Americans Do Not Care About Immigration Reform

I think pocketbook issues are much more important to most Americans.

This year, Americans didn’t put immigration as high on their list of importance as some in Washington have, at least according to a Gallup poll released on January 16. Given 19 issues rated as extremely important, very important, moderately important, or not important at all, Gallup found that those who viewed immigration as extremely or very important for Congress and the president in 2014 was near the bottom of the list, at 50 percent.

It fell below everything from the economy to education and health care. It was below crime, taxes, “the distribution of income and wealth,” and gun policy in terms of importance. The only things that those polled found less important for the coming year were government surveillance, abortion, race relations, and LGBT policies.

What is bad though is government surveillance is so low on the list. I guess if the government avoids the issue long enough Americans will forget and the police state will be firmly in place.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dems Can't Figure Out Why People Like Their Issues But Don't Like Them: It's the Aspiration Stupid

Well it seems that the Dems just can't understand why most of their issues have broad support but it doesn't translate into liking the party.

Democrats disagree on how to discuss the growing divide between high-income earners and middle-class workers whose wages have largely stayed flat for many years. One top Democratic lawmaker, who would discuss the sensitive issue only on condition of anonymity, said he is incensed when his party's candidates denounce "income equality," because many voters see it as contrary to the American dream of advancing and benefiting from hard work.

Yet Biden jumped right in Friday. "They talk about the fact that we shouldn't be talking about income inequality," he told House Democrats. "I think it would be a sin if we didn't talk about income inequality."

When he was elected to the Senate in 1972, Biden said, "a CEO made about 25 times more than the lowest-paid employee." Now, he said, it's 240 times greater.

This is exactly why the Dems argument falls flat on a majority of Americans. No one cares if the CEO makes 240 times more than the lowest-paid employee because the majority of Americans will not tolerate being the lowest-paid employee for very long. They want to rise up the ladder and maybe if they work hard enough become the CEO themselves. It is rare but several corporations sport CEOs who used to have entry level jobs at the company.

So whenever the Dems talk about income inequality they go after something that many Americans aspire to become. One reason a person I know didn't join the Occupy Movement even though he was of the right demographic and is a liberal is because he wanted to eventually be one of the 1%. Why would you march against something you aspire to become?

So when the Dems talk about getting back at the rich or giving freebies to the poor it short circuits the idea that if you work hard you will get ahead. I mean most Americans don't want or need handouts or want any hostility from Dems once they actually attain some sort of wealth. They want a safety net in place but hope to never have to use it.

So whenever Biden talks out of his ass about CEO pay people tune him out. Americans probably won't make 240 times more than the lowest paid person at their company but there is a decent chance they will be able to make 20 or a 30 times it instead. They see Biden and the Dems standing in their way of achieving just that.

Ted Cruz the Idiot does it Again: Stabs GOP In the Back and Attempted to Roil Financial Markets

I think it is high time for the GOP to censure this ignoramus.

Cruz's insistence on getting 60 votes prevented the bill from being passed with a simple majority in the 100-member Senate. Had he not objected, the 53 Democrats and two independents who align themselves with Democrats could have done it by themselves without forcing any Republicans — particularly those up for re-election this year — to cast politically painful votes.

But now the filibuster vote was on. And the only way to know where the tally stood was to sit in the Senate chamber and track the vote of every senator, typically made with just a hand gesture.
It's a challenging task for even the most accomplished Senate watcher to perfect.

Nervous Wall Street traders and other interested observers were out of luck as the voted dragged on for more than an hour.

Financial markets floated softly southward as suspense built.

Yes, Ted Cruz pretty much hung his fellow Republicans out to dry so they had to vote with the Democrats to break his stupid filibuster. If this vote collapsed we might have seen a default and an 800 point down day. I'm glad McConnell and 6 other Republicans actually stood up to Cruz the bully and put their political futures at risk for the sake of the market and the country. 

I think I might give money to McConnell's campaign so he can smash the face of whatever stupid Tea Party boot-licker he is running against. In any case I am now officially anti-Tea Party. Cruz the Idiot has actually changed me from pro-Tea Party (who attended the first Hawaii Tea Party group) to thinking that the Tea Party is a menace and needs to be censured and driven out of office. 

I would sign any petition to recall Ted Cruz and any fellow Tea Partier and replace them with Republicans that will actually watch out for my 401K. This is one of the few times I had Koch Brothers billions so I can funnel money into pro-business candidates that will drive these fools out of office and into the dust bin of history.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Economists Make the Case for Minimum Wage Hike Very Convincing

It seems that Obama's $10.10 minimum wage for contractors might be the right amount the economists agree on raising it to.

So where to set the wage floor? Whether he arrived there by logic, intuition, or dumb luck, there’s a defensible case that the sweet spot is in the neighborhood of Obama’s suggested $10.10 an hour. The Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business found in a survey last year of leading economists that 47 percent felt the good effects of a $9 minimum wage—the figure on the table at the time—would outweigh any bad ones. Only 11 percent disagreed. Last month seven Nobel prize-winning economists and four former presidents of the American Economic Association, along with more than 600 other economists, signed a letter to Congress urging passage of the $10.10 floor. “At a time when persistent high unemployment is putting enormous downward pressure on wages,” the letter said, “such a minimum-wage increase would provide a much-needed boost to the earnings of low-wage workers.”

I feel that giving millions of people a $3 extra per hour raise will help GDP growth. That equates to $120 a week extra in peoples pay packets and that means a car payment, more restaurant meals, or simply more money in the bank.

The gains come out of Wal-mart and McDonalds bottom lines but I'm sure people at those companies can cut costs or raise prices to offset this amount. I mean if Wal-mart hikes prices to offset wage increases I'm sure Amazon will be happy to pick up the market share that is left behind. I mean with $120 extra a month more people can afford Amazon Prime.

Some retailers will be hurt by wage hikes but more people with more money in their pockets is normally a good thing. It will reduce the need for government hand-outs and might just empower more people to contribute to economic growth. I always think people are better able to figure out what to do with their cash than the government or any corporation usually does.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

House Financial Services Committee Member Admits She Doesn't Understand what FED Chairmen were talking about?

I guess you don't need any actual financial services experience in order to get this job.

The Fed chair drew praise for her direct responses. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said she'd been able to understand more of Yellen's answers than she had the responses of Bernanke or Greenspan.

At times, Yellen was blunt. Asked what impact a failure to raise the federal debt limit would have, she said, "Frankly, it would be catastrophic to not raise the debt limit."

Oh wow, Shelly Moore Capito needs to be put into a different committee ASAP. She admits that she didn't understand the responses that Greenspan and Bernanke gave her? But she is ruling on things important to the entire world economy and doesn't understand what the FED chair is saying/

In fact she seems she is more trained for the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee according to her bio.

Capito graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Science in zoology and holds a Master of Education from the University of Virginia.

I'm sure she was a great teacher/zoologist but I figure she needs at least a little financial experience to be part of the Financial Services Committee. Hopefully, she took a few economic courses between zoology classes. 

Also whoever asked Yellen that idiotic question about the debt limit needs to lose their Committee membership as well. That is just asinine and is so very Ted Cruz-ish and that person should be ostracized.

New York State Clamps Down on Bitcoin: Are the Good Times Over?

Well whenever regulators get their hands on something you can pretty much back up the truck because they will regulate it to death.

Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York's Department of Financial Services, expects to adopt consumer disclosure rules, capital requirements and a framework for permissible investments with consumer money.

"Our objective is to provide appropriate guard rails to protect consumers and root out money laundering without stifling beneficial innovation," Lawsky said in a speech at the New America Foundation in Washington.

Lawsky said last month that his agency plans to issue rules for businesses handling virtual currencies, including a "BitLicense", which could make New York the first U.S. state to regulate virtual currencies such as bitcoins.

In other words Wall Street types want to get in on Bitcoin trading but they cannot when Mt. Gox and Slovenia-based Bitstamp (now that sounds shady if I ever heard of it) are controlling trade in it. This would be interesting to see how the value changes after this. My guess is it will drop as fees and automated trading take a bite out of actual supply and demand metrics. Oh well it was an interesting experiment.

The Era of Debt Ceiling Brinksmanship is Over: The GOP Offer Condition-Free Bill

I guess holding the world economy hostage every few months is no longer a tactic of the GOP.

House Speaker John Boehner said he will now seek to pass a clean debt ceiling hike with help from most Democrats in the chamber, admitting it was "disappointing" that the party leadership did not have the votes to pass the measure with an attached provision reworking military pension benefits.

I hope this is the start of the understanding that Congress needs to work together in order to get anything done. They can't continually govern by brinksmanship and threats. Now Boehner work on tax reform and cut capital gains taxes for people making under $250k a year.

Daenerys Targaryen AKA Emilia Clarke voted Most Desirable

I have to agree but I wonder if she threatened to sic her dragons on the staffers if they didn't vote her into the top spot.

Clarke, 26, has clearly captured the hearts of viewers with her ethereal beauty and outstanding performance as Daenerys Targaryen. The "Mother of Dragons" has evolved from a shrinking violet into a fierce leader, a champion of the weak and a warrior, and the strength of her character is inspiring. The actress is also a charmer who knows how to work her assets, not least of which are her, um, eyebrows? Two other "Game of Thrones" actresses, Oona Chaplin and Rose Leslie, also made the list this year. The promos for the fourth season have been giving us chills, so we understand why folks have these beguiling ladies on the brain.

She is such a natural beauty as well.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Movie Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit: Avoid It

Well I recently saw this movie and I was kind of wishing it was as good a reboot as The Bourne Legacy was for that franchise. This movie was very forgettable but had some decent action scenes but is not even close to the 90s Jack Ryan movies. The plot was ludicrous to the point of laughablity and the acting was subpar for the most part. I kind of wished I saw something else or even saw Lone Survivor again.

The movie starts off as Jack Ryan is studying economics at the London School of Economics. He sees a news program about 9/11 and off he goes into the Marines. He gets shot down in a pretty exciting scene and we are told that he saves the people on his doomed helicopter. It would have nice to see the actual heroics but I guess it would have been too Lone Survivor-ish.

He then goes to Walter Reed Hospital to mend his broken back. While there he meets Keira Knightley who plays a nursing student at the hospital. He shows how much he likes her but the two actors don't have boffo chemistry like other movie parings like Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. It isn't the worst I have seen (Attack of the Clones ugh) but the romance brought nothing to the movie.

We then go on to meet Kevin Costner who is a pale shadow of the character that James Earl Jones played in the other Jack Ryan movies of the 90s. I think it is all the smirking and dead-pan voice but I guess I am just not a Costner fan. I think the only movies I have seen him (that I remember) were JFK and Man of Steel. He was okay in them but he didn't bring anything special to those roles or this one either. He just seems like a mirth-less asshole in any movie he is in.

One thing I was thinking was I wonder if people will get confused between this movie and Three Days to Kill. It is Kevin Costner playing a spy and things blow up. This one is about the same sort of idea but Chris Pine is the guy that makes things blow up. I was thinking Three Days to Kill is the Liam Neeson movie that might make Costner into the 50-something bad-ass that kills a bunch of people and saves his daughter/wife/family pet. However, Neeson is likeable and you want him to rescue his daughter. If Costner is shot in the first 3 minutes of the movie I wouldn't have minded.

In any case Ryan is sent to Russia and matches wits with Kenneth Branagh who plays a Russian oligarch/gangster. He pretty much hams it up with a terrible Russian accent and does things like shoots his own lackeys when they talk trash to him. There are about a 100 different bad-guys that would have been more intimidating than Branagh was in this role. I think we are spoiled with villains like Moriarty (Andrew Scott) from Sherlock or Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) from Game of Thrones. Those villains would eat Viktor Cherevin (I didn't even remember his name and had to look it up on IMDB) as an appetizer.

In any case Branagh has some cock-a-Mame plan to "crash the worlds debt markets" using a terrorist attack on Wall Street. So we have to go through a tiresome procedural to catch the villain.  In the course of it we have a Mission Impossible-style break in that was so tech-poor I laughed out-loud. Jack Ryan hacks Branagh's laptop and we have this scene of Ryan trying to download a bunch of files to a thumbdrive that he waits to insert until the last possible moment. Um, if you are going to be downloading a bunch of files from the office of the scary Russian mobster maybe you should connect your USB device first?

In any case the plan to "crash the US treasury market" was so stupid that I had to laugh again. Even if Wall Street was leveled using some strange explosive underground, or something, the markets would be immediately closed. Selling billions of dollars of treasuries all at once (the Russian badguys plans) would trigger curbs immediately. Even if those trades were triggered the SEC would probably notice that some Russian company was dumping treasuries to profit from a terrorist attack and reverse those trades. The whole exercise would have caused a plunge but it would not have "crashed the US markets" for longer than a few months.

In any case I have said too much about this poor movie then needed to be said. It was lame-brained and the plot was a mess from the scene where the villains son waits until the last moment to steal and paint a truck (he couldn't have just bought the thing months ago?) to the villains finding the CIA safe house in record time. However, it was interesting to find out that the KGB used to break a light bulb in a persons mouth as a torture technique. I'm sure Vladimir Putin approves of such measures and smiled as if recalling good times.

Flappy Bird is taken offline: Could Nintendo Leaning on the Developer Been the True Reason?

I didn't play Flappy Bird but I did see a few screen shots and the pipes looked very Mario-esque.

In the days leading up to the takedown, Dong seemed to blame his increasing stress level largely on the press and a constant stream of media requests, tweeting to a Newsweek reporter:

“Hi Joe, I think press should give my game some peace. Its success is really overrate! I’m sorry, I refuse to answer questions.”

However, two of Dong’s friends told Reuters that he had received a warning letter from Nintendo — the ubiquitous pipes in Flappy Bird and other art appears to be lifted without any modification from the company’s Super Mario games.  Nintendo refused to confirm or comment on the letter to Reuters.

Too bad the creator Dong Nguyen didn't use different types of pipes or wooden blocks or something else as obstacles for the bird to fly through. The game seems super addicting and this guy could have made millions. However, Nintendo had to flex its mighty arms and squash him before the big money started to flow.

Maybe Dong will create a different version of the game with different obstacles. Maybe trees or roots or something. They could even change the obstacles as you get further into the game. It will give the game some variety and keep Nintendo off his back. Call if Flappy Bird 2: Escape from Nintendo's Legal Department.

Bitcoin Drops Dramatically After Mt. Gox Stops Trading

I hope you aren't holding all your assets in Bitcoin because you would be hurting about now.

On the Mt. Gox platform the currency plunged to as low as $500 early on Monday, down more than 27 percent from Friday's final price of $692, according to the Mt. Gox website. It last traded at $595.74, off nearly 14 percent from Friday.

"This technical issue is of a much larger intensity than we've seen in the past," said Sebastien Galy, currency strategist at Societe Generale in New York. "The market may be realizing that there are issues which are specific to these forms of currencies."

One of the "issues" is that Bitcoin isn't as liquid as nearly any other kind of currency. I guess this would be akin to a 27% drop caused by the London Metals Exchange suddenly stopped trading in bullion or something "indefinitely." I'm sure other exchanges would pick up the slack but liquidity will leave the market.

I think the key to Bitcoin's future is that it needs to trade on an actual FOREX exchange so that something called Mt. Gox (sounds like an anime location) doesn't crash the currency when they shut down their servers.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Is the Bloom Off of the Social Networking Rose?

It seems that way as Twitter disclosed how growth is slowing.

But Twitter's slowing growth has obviously spooked investors. The company said its active user base reached 241 million at the end of the fourth quarter, up only 4% from the previous quarter. That’s the slowest quarterly rate of increase Twitter has disclosed and less than half the rate of a year ago. Just in the United States, active users increased less than 2% to 54 million, one-third the growth rate of a year ago.

Facebook has also seen its quarterly growth in usership tail off.  Overall monthly active users increased just 3% in the fourth quarter from three months earlier and U.S. usership grew only 1%. A recent Pew Research report also found that only 10% of Facebook users update their status daily.

I think they are pretty close to critical mass as this article points out that 73% of adults are using some form of social networking. I think that is pretty close to saturation. You add to the fact that people seem to be leaving social networks slowly but surely and those companies need to reinvent themselves to keep up their valuations.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Chicago Officials Put an Anti-Gun Sign on Buildings: It Shows Spree Killers Where No One Will Shoot Back

Well it seems Chicago officials are up in arms out over signs depicting a "no guns allowed" sign.

Some school officials aren’t happy about the stickers because they contain a very basic image of a gun.

“It is bothersome to have to post a sticker of a gun that says, ‘Hey, folks, leave your guns at home,’” Theresa Nolan, principal of Tinley Park High School, told the SouthtownStar.

Nolan stressed that she is very concerned with “safety and security” and concerned that, somehow, someone could wrongly interpret an image of a gun emblazoned with the universal sign for prohibiting something.

“I think the general public will be alarmed by it and wonder if people have been allowed to bring guns to school in the past,” Nolan also fretted.

She said she would prefer “something more subtle.”

“You can’t look at this (sticker) and not think about Sandy Hook,” the principal added.

Well the next Adam Lanza can now look for the no guns allowed sign and know that security guards or teachers with concealed carry will not shoot back.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Yet Another Problem with Sochi: Hackers They Be Hacking Everything in Sight

Well, I hope our Olympic Team and spectators don't have anything interesting on their smart phone, laptop or tablet because it seems they will lose it within minutes of logging into any free Internet.

To illustrate his point, Mr. Engel brought two new laptops to Sochi. With the help of an American security expert, he uploaded a fake identity and fake contact list onto the computers—both were hacked within the day. "It had taken hackers less than one minute to pounce," he said, "Within 24 hours, they'd broken into both computers and started helping themselves to my data."

Mr. Engel also conducted an experiment wherein he took a new smartphone to a restaurant, and started browsing the Internet for Olympics news. "Malicious software hijacked our phone before we even finished our coffee, stealing my information, and giving hackers the option to tap and record my phone calls." he said.

Wow now that must be a record for someone to steal your data. I love this "way to protect yourself" as well.

Mr. Engel concludes by describing the cybersecurity environment as a "minefield," and suggests that the best way to protect your data is to leave your devices at home.

In other words unplug from the digital world for a few weeks just so you can watch Shawn White to a 720 mctwist or whatever. Um sorry the Putin Games will be a big fat disaster and depending on what those hackers do it might be much worse.

It Seems the Hotels Are Not Ready in Sochi

I guess if you like yellow water and wi-fi routers dangling from the ceiling then Sochi is the kind of place for you. I guess $51 billion doesn't buy you what it used to:

Sochi officials say that the city's hotels are 97% complete on the eve of the Olympics.

But given the nightmare travel stories rolling in from reporters in Sochi, that 3% difference goes a long, long way.

There are reports of rooms without light bulbs or doorknobs. There are stories about unfinished hotels without lobbies or working elevators or running water. There are anecdotes from people who've checked into their rooms, only to find them occupied by stray dogs or construction workers napping in between shifts.

The venues and Olympic Village all look perfectly fine, and we haven't seen any complaints from athletes. But the hotels, specifically media hotels, aren't finished yet and it's a total mess.

The worst part is that these media dorks have access to Twitter and are going to slag the crap out of the Olympics and Russia whenever they get a chance. They have long days ahead and if they come home to a room full of stray dogs or have to use yellow water to shower with then it will be a long Olympics indeed.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Sony to Sell the Viao Line in Japan and Potentially Shutter the Brand the US

Well, it seems that the Viao PC is yet another casualty of the long slow Death of the PC.

Sony Corp is in talks with investment fund Japan Industrial Partners to sell its loss-making Vaio personal computer division, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

A new company would be set up by Japan Industrial Partners to take over the Vaio brand's operations in Japan, according to the plan under consideration, the source said. Financial details and stakeholdings in the new entity were still being discussed.

Sony is also considering a withdrawal from overseas PC markets, the source added.

No sense chasing after the shrinking market share of slowly dying dinosaurs like Dell and HP.  I'm not sure about the Japanese PC market but you figure an investment fund can keep them in offices for some time. I think the Japanese salaryman would rather do his daily work on a PC rather than a smartphone or tablet for the time being.

Now Dems Joining the Fight To Approve Keystone XL

I guess the coalition of the obstructionist environmentalists are starting to fray at the seams.

Five Democrats joined Republicans at a Capitol news conference to urge President Barack Obama to approve the pipeline following a State Department report last week that raised no major environmental objections. The $7 billion pipeline would carry oil from tar sands in western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. The project has lingered for more than five years and has become a symbol of the political debate over climate change.

What is hilarious about the Hollywood types against the pipeline is this fact.

Foes say the pipeline would carry "dirty oil" that contributes to global warming. The State Department report says oil derived from tar sands in Alberta generates about 17 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than traditional crude. But the report makes clear that other methods of transporting the oil — including rail, trucks and barges — would release more greenhouse gases than the pipeline.

Those methods are also more likely to cause spills than an pipeline. There have been several rail disasters already in Canada trying to ship that oil out to the coast. I mean Canada is not going to stop drilling for this "dirty oil" anytime soon and will find a way to get it to a refinery.

It Seems Obamacare is a Jobs Killer After All: A Little Late CBO

Well it seems the CBO revised their estimates and Obamacare is looking even worse than a bad website.

CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor — given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive. 

The reduction in the numbers of hours worked projected by the CBO will lead to the equivalent of 2 million fewer workers in the labor force in 2017. That number will rise to about 2.5 million in 2024. Previously, the CBO had estimated the equivalent of 800,000 fewer workers by 2021.

Just when the economy was picking up it seems that Obamacare will shave 2 million more workers from the workforce by 2017. Obamacare is the failed government program that keeps on giving.