Monday, March 31, 2014

Global Warming Report Dials Up the Scare Tactics

Global Warming will be so bad they had to add a new category of risks!

The problems have gotten so bad that the panel had to add a new and dangerous level of risks. In 2007, the biggest risk level in one key summary graphic was "high" and colored blazing red. The latest report adds a new level, "very high," and colors it deep purple.

You might as well call it a "horrible" risk level, said van Aalst: "The horrible is something quite likely, and we won't be able to do anything about it."

The report predicts that the highest level of risk would first hit plants and animals, both on land and the acidifying oceans.

Um, if we cannot do anything about it then why worry? Just take that $30 billion or whatever Al Gore wants and use it to buy mosquito netting or building sea walls to protect against storm surge something. That will save quite a few more lives than whatever these scientists have already earmarked this money for.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Romney Won 18-20 Year Olds? What? Really?

I never knew this fact about the 2012 election.

As George Washington University political science Prof. John Sides wrote earlier this month, 18-year-old voters casting their initial ballot in 2012 broke for Mitt Romney over Obama. Romney won 19 and 20-year-olds, too.

“The political identities of future generations will depend on economic trends and the popularity of presidents who haven’t been elected. Maybe those factors will tend to break in Democrats’ favor, and maybe they won’t,” writes Professor Sides on the Monkey Cage political science blog of the Washington Post

It will be interesting to see how these new voters do in 2016 when they are just getting out of college. Will they be saddled with debt with no job prospects on the horizon? Victims of the Obameconomy they will probably still be effected by the slow-assed recovery. 

They get to stay on their parents health plans for few years but that is if their parents still have them. We might see a wave of businesses cutting their health plans and save money by taking the penalty. So they might not even get a chance to stay on their parents plan once they graduate.

Hypocrite of the Year: Gun Grabbing California State Senator Leland Yee a Gun Runner?

I think this may have gotten taken from a movie script instead of real life.

Court documents allege that Yee sought campaign donations in exchange for introducing an undercover FBI agent to an arms trafficker. An FBI affidavit says Yee talked with the undercover agent about acquiring weapons worth $500,000 to $2.5 million, including shoulder-fired missiles, from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines.

Organizers said the arrest of Yee particularly clouds the future of two of his gun control bills.
Yee's SB47 would prohibit the use of so-called bullet buttons and other devices that allow for swift reloading of military-style assault weapons. His SB108 would require the state Department of Justice to study safe firearm storage methods. Both stalled in the Assembly last year.

I guess Yee believes that in the idea of: guns for Muslim separatist groups in the Philippines and not for thee. I wonder if he wanted to ban "bullet buttons" on the automatic weapons he wanted to sell to his Muslim terrorists, err separatist, pals? Also I wonder if he wants the Department of Justice to study safe firearm storage techniques in the terrorist camps of his pals as well? I mean Muslim terrorists might hurt themselves with the guns that Yee sold them.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Student Loan Debt a Corrosive Acid on Students Futures?

It seems that workers saddled by tons of debt are falling behind those who are not.

Graduates who can immediately begin building equity in housing or stocks and bonds get more time to see their investments grow, while indebted graduates spend years paying principal and interest on loans. The standard student loan repayment schedule is 10 years but can be much longer.

The median 2009 net worth for a household without outstanding student debt was $117,700, nearly three times the $42,800 worth in a household with outstanding student debt, according to a report co-written by Elliott last November.

Wow that is quite a disparity. I think it is more important than ever to price a decent college. I will be willing to bet that if you graduated from a State College with only $26k in loans you would be much better off than if you had $100k in loans from some Private College. This is an especially bad rip-off if you look at this:

College degrees can pay off. College graduates ages 25 to 32 working full time earn $45,500, about $17,500 more than their peers with just a high school diploma, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census data.

So if you had $100K in loans you would owe $1150 per month. That is $13,800 per year which makes you only $3700 ahead of the high school diploma person. That money can be eaten up fairly easily if you don't have health insurance and decide to buy Obamacare or whatever. If this student had the $110k that he paid back to the private school he could have most of the way toward an entire house or a pretty decent nest egg.

I guess this goes to show you that unless you go to an Ivy than it is almost always better to go to a State School than a Private School if they have comparable academic records. I would much rather owe $27k than $100k no matter what.

New Trend Emerging: Hospitals Will Offer Their Own Health Insurance and Health Insurers Will Buy Hospitals

I guess this is a case of cutting out the middle man.

Dr. Kenneth L. Davis, CEO and  president of Mount Sinai Health System, the largest health care provider in the state of New York, said that starting next year, Mt. Sinai will begin offering its own Medicare Advantage plan. It will look for other opportunities to bring premium payments directly into the hospital system, rather than filtering them through insurance companies.

This also opens the door for Insurance Companies buying hospitals.

He noted that large insurer Wellpoint recently completed the acquisition of a health care company in California, apparently with an eye toward replicating the Kaiser model in some form.

I guess this starts the end-to-end care model of health care. You buy the insurance (hopefully at a discount) from your hospital on the Obamacare exchanges and then go to the hospital. Then the hospital charges you a co-pay and pays for the rest.

The hospital would be very good at figuring out how much they need to reimburse on what procedures. It seems to work well for Kaiser so I can see it working well for other groups of hospitals. The hospital wants to do good work so that their insurance will be sold at a good value. Also it provides built-in brand loyalty to certain hospitals as well. If you have Mt. Sinai brand insurance you will probably be going to Mt. Sinai over some other sawbones.

However, there needs to be checks in place if the insurance company owns a hospital. It would be interesting to see if certain things that are not cost effective or lose money suddenly are not done at that hospital. The article says that Mt. Sinai loses $14 million a year on mental health. Do you think WellPoint Hospital will have a money losing mental health ward? I guess these are the changes that Obamacare seems to have created.

What? There Might Be Opportunities from Global Warming? IPCC drums Out Scientist That Believes That.

It seems that dissenters like Richard Tol from Sussex University in England need to be removed from the Global Warming Orthodoxy.

Tol said the IPCC emphasized the risks of climate change far more than the opportunities to adapt. A Reuters count shows the final draft has 139 mentions of "risk" and 8 of "opportunity".

Tol said farmers, for instance, could grow new crops if the climate in their region became hotter, wetter or drier. "They will adapt. Farmers are not stupid," he said.

He said the report played down possible economic benefits of low levels of warming. Less cold winters may mean fewer deaths among the elderly, and crops may grow better in some regions.

"It is pretty damn obvious that there are positive impacts of climate change, even though we are not always allowed to talk about them," he said. But he said temperatures were set to rise to levels this century that would be damaging overall.

That sounds like something an economist would say. People will adapt and figure things out and that might be a benefit of global warming. However, his fellow scientists seem to disagree:

Another expert criticized Tol, saying his IPCC chapter exaggerated possible benefits.

"Of the 19 studies he surveyed only one shows net positive benefits from warming. And it's the one he wrote," said Bob Ward, policy and communications director of the Grantham Research Unit on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.

Um, shouldn't there be more science behind trying to figure out the benefits from warming? I mean only one guy did any research on it? Or maybe that doesn't factor into the scare tactics that the Global Warming crowd wants to put on everyone.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Obamacare Deadline Pushed Back a Few More Weeks

I swear they are just running this thing by fiat out of the White House.

The decision, scheduled for announcement Wednesday, will give people until mid-April to sign up for insurance. All they need do is check off a box on indicating that they tried to enroll by March 31. The government will not check to see if people are telling the truth. The decision to allow more sign-up time was driven by an anticipated last-minute surge in enrollments, which could leave people unable to finish the process, The Washington Post reports.

I have a feeling there won't be a "last minute surge of enrollments" because many uninsured are either unaware of the deadline or can't afford health insurance in the first place.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Working for Michelle Obama Sounds Like Hell on Earth

She seems so easy going but this article really makes her seem like the woman from Devil Wears Prada.

For one thing, the imperative to guarantee results could be paralyzing. “That was the pressure on us,” one ex-aide told me. “‘Don’t do it if it’s not going to be perfect.’” Staff knew that every event should produce positive coverage, and that all the angles had to be exhaustively researched and gamed out (not easy with a team of less than 30). But it was never completely clear what the standard of perfection should be. “There’s no barometer: The first lady having the wrong pencil skirt on Monday is just as big of a fuck-up as someone speaking on the record when they didn’t mean to or a policy initiative that completely failed,” says another former aide. “It just made you super anxious.” Another past employee described a common feeling of “how can we be the caliber that we’re expected to be with no attention and no resources and being an afterthought? And all that can make for sparks. Friction.”

This passage sounds like it was lifted from the Court of the Sun King Louis XIV:

All of this led to a culture of harsh internal judgment. Invitations to meetings with the first lady, in her office above the Jackie Kennedy Garden, became a vital status symbol, a way for staffers to measure their worth. “Every meeting was like an identity crisis, whether you got invited or not,” one former East Winger told me. Casual face-time with Mrs. Obama was coveted as a badge of insiderdom. “Everyone sort of stands at attention in a different way, or they try to make the joke, or they try to be the one noticed, or they try to get the smile,” says a former employee. “And that’s in part a yearning for acknowledgment that you’re part of this, something bigger, and that she knows who you are.” Another former employee put it more bluntly: “They don’t want to work for her; they want to be friends with her.”

Friday, March 21, 2014

Russia Turns East? Now That is an Ominous Sign

Hmm, now this could be the new moves in the Great Game played by Putin in the next several years.

While Europe is furiously scrambling to find alternative sources of energy should Gazprom pull the plug on natgas exports to Germany and Europe (the imminent surge in Ukraine gas prices by 40% is probably the best indication of what the outcome would be), Russia is preparing the announcement of the "Holy Grail" energy deal with none other than China, a move which would send geopolitical shockwaves around the world and bind the two nations in a commodity-backed axis.

Ties looking eastward might be exactly what China and Russia needs to fend off America and Europe. I mean if Europe imposes sanctions that bite and Obama actually grows a spine then Russia could sell its product to the east instead of the west.

I mean a China/Russia axis would be perfect for both countries. The Chinese get the clean natural gas imported from their neighbor to the west and the Russians have a partner that will back it if they try to do further buffer-state satellite building.

It will also keep money in Russian pockets as America slowly moves toward energy independence. The Chinese can keep producing and growing their middle class without having to rely on America so much. In fact the Chinese could debt bomb us without ruining their own economy by relying on Russian imports to tide them over.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tea Party Scrambles to Stay Relevant: Finally Understands The GOP Needs to Win the Senate

I am glad that the GOP establishment and business leaders are trying to smash these idiots.

More troubling to movement leaders, GOP moneyed interests are taking aim at Tea Party lawmakers deemed disruptive and bad for the brand. Rep. Justin Amash’s hard line on the debt ceiling, for instance, outraged key business interests, including the Chamber of Commerce, which have lined up behind his primary challenger, Brian Ellis. Tea Party Express is keeping a close eye on the race, and FreedomWorks has vowed to defend Amash “punch-for-punch.”  “Five years ago, I never would have imagined the Republican Party would be coming after people the Tea Party had gotten elected,” says Keli Carender, the national grassroots coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots. “It still shocks me.”  

At the same time, Tea Partyers are fending off Republican attempts to “kneecap” the movement as a whole, says Carender. “What they’re trying to do right now is build the meme that groups like ours and the Senate Conservatives Fund are in it ‘for profit.’ ” It’s a play to discredit TPP with the conservative base and peel away the small-dollar donors it relies on, charges Carender: “Not only are we fighting liberals in the Democrat Party and liberals in the Republican Party, now we’re having to fight to maintain credibility with the base.”

Their stupidity on the debt ceiling fight needs to doom them to the dustbin of history but I think someone somewhere took them aside and told them who the real enemy is.

Goal Three, says Brandon, is identifying the best opportunities to turn blue seats red—and here is where movement leaders can sound so pragmatic you wonder if you’ve dialed Karl Rove’s house by mistake. Budowich explains, “As the movement has matured, now it’s not just about making that stand but about creating a mathematical possibility to make policy differences.” He repeatedly stresses, “Our prime objective in 2014 is to take back the Senate. The only way we can do that is by defeating Democrats.” RINO hunting is all well and good, says Budowich, but targeting “squishy Republicans” won’t pry control of the Senate away from Harry Reid.

Um, yeah John McCain is not the enemy Harry Reid is. I'm glad there are some grown-ups in the Tea Party. They should know that every time they get rid of a strong GOP candidate and replace him with some idiot the Dems will hold that seat. Now they need to have a big meeting and tell everyone "do not talk about women's issues for any reason." They need to only talk about three things Obamacare, obamacare, obamacare and they will take the Senate.

Putin Levels Sactions against Lawmakers: Yeah I guess they Weren't Going to Siberia on their Recess Afterall

The real tragedy is these lawmakers have to switch to Ciroc from Stolichnaya when they get drunk before major votes.

Most of the six lawmakers who ended up on Putin's list, which include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Mary Landrieu, D-La., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Dan Coats, R-Ind., fired off statements ribbing Putin for restricting their non-existent vacation travel in Russia and imaginary bank accounts.

"I guess this means my spring break in Siberia is off, my Gazprom stock is lost, and my secret bank account in Moscow is frozen," McCain wrote in a statement today. "Nonetheless, I will never cease my efforts on behalf of the freedom, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea."

Symantec Axes Top Guy: Is that a Good Idea after the Hack of the Decade?

With the most massive hack in US history just a few months ago I'm not sure if it is a good time to fire your CEO.

"It's a jaw-dropping move, especially because Bennett was key to the company's turnaround. I view this as a major step back ...," FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives said.
Forrester Research analyst Rick Holland said Symantec had been losing market share to nimbler network security software makers such as FireEye Inc, Palo Alto Networks Inc and Checkpoint Systems Inc.

Symantec said it was committed to its target of more than 5 percent organic growth and higher than 30 percent adjusted operating margin by fiscal 2017.

However, BMO Capital analyst Joel Fishbein said it would be difficult for Symantec to achieve 5 percent revenue growth without mergers and acquisitions or divestiture due to a continuing fall in its main PC security and storage businesses.

Part of the problem is that Norton Anti-Virus is a primarily a consumer PC based program and that platform is slowly dying. You don't hear much about tablets or smart phones being hacked as much as PCs are so there really isn't a need for their main product. 

Most corporations would use a different kind of anti-virus product or just go to FireEye for an end-to-end product. I think Symantec really needs to buy out a new era network security firm like FireEye in order for them to stay relevant. 

Also with a look at their site it seems that there are like a 100 different products jumbled together in a mess. Let's say I'm a small business looking to beef up my security after hearing about Target getting hacked. I have no idea where to start or what product I should be looking for. Do I need Risk Automation Suite or NetBackup Appliance 5000 series or what. They seriously need to break these into different groups to make it easier to look at. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Why do the GOP Not Believe in Climate Change? Yeah it is The Big Government Angle

I have to agree with this assertion of why the GOP does not believe in climate change in such big numbers.

A third interpretation is that political preferences have leaked into the perception of fact. Republicans may conflate the existence of climate change with the need for more government -- more federal research, more federal programs, more intervention in the economy, and more taxes to pay for all of it. Rather than relax their objection to government, maybe it's easier to look for reasons to think that climate change isn't happening, or isn't serious.

Yeah climate change might be happening but all the lies told about it have already clouded the perception of the whole debate. We were told that all of the arctic sea ice would be gone by 2014 and it's still there. We were told about mega-storms and earth-wide calamity if things aren't done right now. Then you have scientists hiding the decline and cooking the books on their own research and the whole thing has been tainted.

You add this to people who are already skeptical of the government doing anything of substance other than shoveling your tax money down a hole. It is any wonder why many Republicans are skeptical about climate change and see it as yet another government hole to pour money down. I mean the Post Office is bankrupt, they can't get a healthcare website to work so why do you think the government can change the climate of the entire earth to make it not be so warm in a 100 years?

It also sounds like another way for the government to control you even more than they already do. It just seems like an inflated issue to try to squeeze more money out of you so Al Gore and his ilk can become rich. If the climate scientists used practical arguments at the beginning instead of scare tactics and calling everyone that disagrees with them anti-science maybe they would have had a chance to convince people. Instead you are dubbed a denier that wants to destroy the earth.

They could have made the argument that renewables and nuclear energy helps ween ourselves off of foreign oil and helps save  middle class Americans money. Now with fracking even that argument seems pointless.

Also the recession did not help matters when we have poor countries begging for billions that the rich countries would have to go deeper into debt to pay. People have just washed their hands of the whole thing and figured paying more tax money to stop what might be bad in the future just doesn't fit into their budget anymore.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

New York Attorney General Goes After High Frequency Traders

I guess the era of millisecond trading might be severely curtailed if the New York Attorney General gets his way.

"Rather than curbing the worst threats posed by high-frequency traders, our markets, as structured today, are increasingly too focused on catering to them," he said on Tuesday in a speech at New York Law School.

Schneiderman has begun meetings with the exchanges and alternative trading venues to discuss reforms, according to a person familiar with the situation.

He also looks like he will be going after so-called "dark pools" where big investors have to go in order to buy large amounts of stock to avoid tipping off high frequency traders that inflate prices on them. It would be interesting to see if he can get this done in order to avoid another "flash crash" or other nonsense caused by these traders.

The NSA Listens to Every Phone Call in an Unnamed Foregin Country (cough, Iran, cough, cough)

I wonder if this counts as violating this countries sovereignty or not?

This NSA program dates to 2009 and is called MYSTIC, according to documents obtained by the Post. It is used to intercept conversations in one specific country, but documents show the NSA intends to use it in other countries, the Post said.

It records all conversations across the unidentified foreign country and stores billions of them for 30 days. The program wasn't fully operational until 2011. One of the program's senior managers told the Post that MYSTIC is comparable to a time machine, meaning voices from any call can be replayed without requiring the NSA to identify a person before the conversations are collected.

Hmm, it might be Afghanistan but I have a hard time thinking they make billions of calls every 30 days. In any case people wonder why the US is so hated in the rest of the world. I mean Ahmed's call to his grandmother about buying onions has been intercepted by NSA snoops and pored over for hidden meanings.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Movie Review: Need for Speed: Get it On Redbox

Well I saw this little gem last week and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it. It was kind of a throwback to a fun 80s style movie that made fun of itself. It was actually one of the better video game franchise movies that I have seen in a long time. It wasn't as good as the Resident Evil movies but it was far better then the usual video game movie drek out there.

The movie is pretty much about Jesse from Breaking Bad (Aaron Paul) and a British gal with a weird name (Imogen Poots) going cross country being chased by cops and other fun shenanigans. Poots was super good looking throughout the movie and I hope she becomes something in the US. I mean Imogen Poots can go head to head with Benedict Cumberbatch as the strangest named British imports.

The movie boils down to a small town guy that wants to become big time is visited by an evil guy that ends up killing off his friend and sending him to jail. Then Jesse needs to get revenge and proves his innocence by racing in some big race organized by Monarch played by Michael Keaton. Keaton chews scenery and acts like a madman so well I kind of wanted to see more of him. He mostly does his part as a podcaster that runs the race and doesn't come face to face with any of the characters.

I kind of wanted Jesse to be more animated and fun but he mostly has a blank look in much of the movie and barely speaks. I guess his character is the strong silent type but Aaron Paul is a great actor and I would have loved to see him do more actual emoting. They did give him a little red meat to chew when his friend was killed by the evil bad guy but I would have liked to see more.

However, he did have decent chemistry with Poots and they made a very good road trip couple. However there was a scene where Paul was weaving backwards through traffic that would have been interesting if Poots was checking her phone and not at all freaked out by Paul's driving. It would have showed that ice water was in the veins of the female lead and been pretty funny as well. Instead she freaked out in typical Hollywood fashion. Although there was a nice scene where she was super excited by a Dukes of Hazard style jump over an expressway.

Also one of the main characters of a movie like this was the cars. Lots of $250K Koenigseggs and Lamborghini Huracáns flying around at top speeds. You also get to see them crash and get totaled as well. That should make any car nut cringe in horror. Also much of the film the main characters drive in a stock-looking Mustang that was supposed to be specially made and cost $2 million. I am not a car guy but it just looked kind of generic to me. I wanted them to tool around in a Corvette or a muscle car from the 60s. Instead it was a generic looking Mustang that looked like it needed an alignment adjustment that was the star of the show. It was like watching a Call of Duty: Ghosts movie and seeing the main character using an M1 Garand to fight the bad guys.

In any case if you want to see a fun movie that moves at top speed and don't need all that much acting chops then this is one to Redbox when it comes out. There really isn't much reason to watch it at the theater but it is a fun movie to watch with your buddies with a case of beer.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Is it Time to Switch to T-Mobile? If Softbank Buys Them Out a "Price War" Will Be Launched

I like the idea of a billionaire with a huge Japanese company buying a US company and then fighting for my business.

SoftBank Corp. President Masayoshi Son will start a "massive price war" if U.S. regulators allow his company to purchase T-Mobile US Inc., he said in an interview with PBS's Charlie Rose. 

The billionaire, who bought control of Sprint Corp. last year, said combining the third- and fourth-largest U.S. mobile-phone carriers would give him enough scale to compete against larger operators AT&T Inc. (T) and Verizon Communications Inc. 

Sounds like the kind of changes that will benefit consumers in the short term. They are already buying out contracts so switching to them will hopefully be pain-free.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Um, Yeah I think There is Another Tech Bubble

This article makes quite a bit of sense.

In reality, Facebook can afford to spend 11% of its already sky-high $180 billion market cap in the hope of capturing nearly a billion eyeballs, so the valuation doesn’t have to make sense to the social network. Zuckerberg is just playing with funny money.

The comparison of Verizon’s nearly 100 million subscribers that spend about $70 a month to unmonetized users of a messaging app makes little sense. And Verizon is an established market leader with essentially two competitors while WhatsApp competes with dozens of other messaging apps. The competitive barriers are in now way comparable. 

Yes Facebook paid $19 billion for a messaging app when there are perhaps 5 that I have heard of people using. All of them are very similar and are really not worth $19 billion to tell the truth. I mean I cannot tell much of a difference between Snapchat, Whatsapp, Kik or any of the others. They do different things and have different amounts of installed base but $19 billion worth?

I'm not even sure how Facebook will make that money back because I have serious problems with the advertising model when it comes to free apps. The only time I have ever clicked through a mobile ad was in error. The top of the ad would sometimes stick up onto the regular part of an app that I was using. I ended up uninstalling the app and getting something that was similar.

In any case I think the bubble is in place and something will come along and pop it in the next few years. I thought it would be something like Facebook and Twitter new users finally slowing down but it seems to be inflating right along. But I think sooner rather than later we will have our at the Super Bowl moment. Could $19 billion for Whatsapp be it?

Paul Ryan: Please Lay off the Free School Lunches; Almost no one is Against a Free Meal for a Child

From the "own-goal department" of the GOP we have Paul Ryan trying to take food out of the mouth of babes. (The easy liberal counterattack if I have ever seen one)

“The left is making a big mistake here. What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul. The American people want more than that. This reminds me of a story I heard from Eloise Anderson. She serves in the cabinet of my buddy, Governor Scott Walker. She once met a young boy from a very poor family, and every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. He told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand.”

So taking away that government program will suddenly get this poor kid a sack lunch? There might be a decent chance he will not get to eat and be hungry throughout the day. It just seems heartless to try to deny this kid some sustenance that the parents obviously cannot afford. Plus hungry kids test poorly and don't learn well so that puts this kid even further behind.

Instead of offering someone a full soul but an empty stomach why don't you offer his parents a job instead. This is exactly why I don't understand why the GOP is dead-set against a minimum wage hike. If you pay people $3 more per hour we might have more sack lunches and less free school lunches. McDonalds and Walmart might lose money but I'm sure they have smart managers that can make up the difference.

This rush to cut food stamps and free school lunches just makes the GOP look mean-spirited. The least thing this mighty and rich country can do is to make sure that there are no hungry people within its borders. It is very Christian to feed the hungry and clothe the destitute. But when the government takes on this task all the GOP wants to do is cut these programs. The "full soul, empty stomach" principal is just not something most people will get behind.

Finally, what is the savings that can come from these cuts? How could that money be better spent? I would be willing to bet it just a few billion that can be cut out of some other program. Or it can just be gleaned from reducing fraud, waste, and abuse. Shouldn't feeding people be a good use of ones tax money?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dems Pull Stunt to Combat Climate Change: Is Hot Air a Greenhouse Gas?

It seems that the Dems are trying to pull a publicity stunt for Climate Change awareness.

"Despite overwhelming scientific evidence and overwhelming public opinion, climate change deniers still exist," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said. "They exist in this country and in this Congress."

The Nevada Democrat made the comments in kicking off the marathon gabfest at 6:27 p.m. on Monday. The final address is expected to end about 15 hours later, at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Thirty of the Senate's 53 Democrats, plus the two independents who caucus with them, have signed up to participate. The White House said it would post live tweets during the overnight session under the hashtag #up4climate.

I don't deny that climate change might exist. I mean if the scientists didn't cook the books I would be more apt to believe them. Also it seems their models can't explain why the earth is no longer warming for the past decade. It still might be happening but everything has been obscured.

I just don't want us to give $30 billion in graft money to "combat climate change" so that 3rd world dictators can buy attack helicopters. Any UN "climate change fund" will be riddled with corruption and be like a huge gift to diplomats with their hands out. Also I want the Red Chinese to give more because they are polluting far faster than we are.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Sony Video Game Chief Jack Tretton Resigns; I Wonder Why?

The Playstation 4 looks like it is winning the console wars for this cycle and they get rid of the guy that has been there since 1995?

Under his leadership, Sony's latest videogame console that launched in November, the PlayStation 4, was the top-selling console in the United States in January, according to market research form NPD. Sony said on Tuesday that it has sold more than 6 million PlayStation 4 units worldwide as of March 2.

Um, that seems pretty impressive and is beating the crap out of the PS3 at this time from what I can gather. Sony, seems really good at screwing up just when things are going good. They will probably bring in some dolt that will make some mistake to put the XBone back into parity with the PS4.

Harry Reid Calls His Own Democrats Racist

Talk about friendly fire when you are playing the tired old GOP is racist card.

Adegbile had been rejected, the majority leader explained, because "he stood for civil rights," and "Republicans have done everything they can, for a number of years now, to stop people from voting ... "

So welcome to the club, Sens. Chris Coons, Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin, Robert Casey, John Walsh, Joe Donnelly and Mark Pryor. By disagreeing with Reid, you're all honorary racists, which is the same thing as being a Republican, according to the Democratic defamation machine.

Yup racism charges are so ingrained into the Dem attack that it falls on deaf ears for the most part. 

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Tea Party Gets Asses Whipped in Texas

Well it seems that the Eyes of Texas are no longer on some Tea Party challengers.

The show-stealer with national implications was the impressive victory of John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, over conservative Rep. Steve Stockman and six other Republican challengers. Cornyn, the one-time head of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, drew the challenge despite his solid conservative voting record and credentials. He rolled to victory with 61 percent of the overall vote – exceeding a high bar of performance set by many political experts.

At the same time, nine-term Republican Rep. Pete Sessions easily defeated his GOP primary challenger, Katrina Pierson, who was backed by FreedomWorks, a national Tea Party group.

So the Washington insiders beat the crazy Tea Partiers by a pretty wide margin as I expected. I hope Ted Cruz isn't getting too comfortable in his Washington perch right now. It looks more and more like the shutting down the government and threatening a destroying the world economy is turning out to be the Tea Parties Waterloo.

Target Finds a Person to Fall on Her Sword: That Person is Chief Information Officer Beth Jacob

In the words of Metallica: Do my dirty work, scapegoat. Do, do my deeds, for you're the one who's shamed.

Target said Jacob's resignation was her decision. But analysts say Jacob, who brought a series of technology initiatives to Target's stores and its website, was a scapegoat.

"Target has been obviously impacted. People are questioning Target's security. And she was the fall guy," said Walter Loeb, a New York-based independent retail consultant.

It doesn't matter to me if Tony Stark is their computer security person I will not buy anything from Target for any reason. You can't give up 40 million credit and debit card numbers when you pretty much sell the same thing I can buy from Walmart for cheaper.

Radio Shack Circles the Drain: Doesn't Matter to Me

It seems Radio Shack is going the way of Blockbuster as technology makes the store obsolete.

Much of what RadioShack used to stand for, the little esoteric electronics stuff you couldn't get anywhere else, can be (and should be) bought online. The economics of that stuff, as Radio Shack's increasingly death-spiral performance shows, simply doesn't pay. And they don't carry the stuff many of us want. And the sales help -- and this is a big generalization and no disrespect to the many hard working Radio Shack employees -- is hit-and-miss, at best.

I remember Radio Shack was the big bully in the 80s and now they are slowly dying. When Greenberg talks about the Radio Shack employees being poor I would have to agree with him. I remember back in the day when I was a little kid their employees shooing me away from their computers. I wasn't going to hammer the keys or have sticky fingers touching the mouse. I just wanted to interact with the technology that their were selling. The whole ordeal ended up making me against Radio Shack

In fact the only thing I had bought since then was a car charger for my phone when it was nearly dead. I probably could have bought it from Amazon but I needed it that day and Radio Shack was closer than Best Buy. I have never went back since and this was the early 2000s.

It just boils down to tech can be bought cheaper and more conveniently from Amazon. Best Buy is used as Amazon's showroom for tech and can be kept afloat by selling appliances. You still can't drop ship a refrigerator for anything close to a cheap price. But Radio Shack is just an anachronism from an earlier time and needs to go the way of Blockbuster.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Kremlin economic aide Sergei Glazyev Would "Crash" the US Economy if Sanctions are Brought Against Russia

Tough talk Glazyev but our economy is much stronger than you think.

He told the RIA Novosti news agency Russia could stop using dollars for international transactions and create its own payment system using its "wonderful trade and economic relations with our partners in the East and South."

Wait does he mean the Chinese? The Yuan is pegged to the dollar and they have trillions in bonds. If the Russians "crashed" the US financial system it would damage the Red Chinese as well. Also how would this payment system work? You won't be able to convert dollars into rubles? It's not like the rest of the world would stop using dollars because the Russians stop. It would effectively isolate their economy.

Russian firms and banks would also not return loans from American financial institutions, he said.
"An attempt to announce sanctions would end in a crash for the financial system of the United States, which would cause the end of the domination of the United States in the global financial system," he added.

Um, can you say capital flight? The Americans would not be the only ones to pull their money out of Russia. Who knows if the loans of the Red Chinese or the Australians will be the next to be defaulted on. There will be a run on Russian banks that you have never seen before. This would probably collapse these Russian banks and firms as foreign capital will run for the door. I hope the Russians are good at bailing out their banks.

He said that economic sanctions imposed by the European Union would be a "catastrophe" for Europe, saying that Russia could halt gas supplies "which would be beneficial for the Americans" and give the Russian economy a useful "impulse".

This doesn't make sense. It would probably get Europe to increase their buildup of LNG terminals and the natural gas boom in the US will be huge. This would be a great boon for the US economy. Um, thanks Russia you just made one of our big exports even more expensive. Some European nations like Poland will hurt but it won't be a catastrophe for anyone but the Russians. 

Putin Blinks: Rattles the Sabres but the Russian Market Crash May Have Been Too Much

I'm sure Putin is motivated by all sorts of delusions of grandeur but maybe his portfolio (or the portfolios of his ex-KGB cronies) got him to stand down.

Although Putin doesn’t really have much to fear in terms of retribution for making mistakes within his own country, the markets were giving him a different story, as Russia’s MICEX (MICEXINDEXCF.ME) index tumbled a whopping 10.8% yesterday. Recovery in markets abroad, and here in the states (^GSPC, ^DJI), have essentially brought us back to the status quo, something which Zachary Karabell of Envestnet felt was the most likely scenario.

Or conversely maybe he had a massive short trade on and made a quick 10.8% on his billions by essentially using his military to scare the markets. I have a feeling that the MICEX version of the SEC is not as powerful in Putin's Russia so that kind of chicanery might be possible. He probably has money in the US Stock market as well and had a chance to catch the downward move and the recovery as well.

Putin also had a chance to take the temperature of the world while playing the "Great Game" to rebuild a Russian Empire. He pretty much invaded his neighbor using Hitler's Austrian Gambit (I'm protecting ethnic Germans I mean Russians) and all the world did was condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

There were no economic sanctions or aircraft carrier movements by the US. The EU just stamped their feet and did not come to the financial or military aid of the Ukranians. The UN didn't censure him or do much of anything substantial. Putin could have ordered his troops to seize the country and annex it and there would have been no real consequences by the rest of the world.

Now if he is as devious as I think he is, Putin's next plan would be to partition the country using the UN as a tool. His excuse will be "protecting the interests of the Russian minority." Then he creates a satellite of the eastern half of the country with a puppet strongman in place. After all, getting half of a country for free is better than a war of aggression for the whole thing. All the satellite countries but none of that worthless rebuilding that the US has to do all the time.

Russia has loved a buffer zone of countries between it and Europe going back to Peter the Great. So Putin the Great (or Putin the Terrible?) is forming his own in 2014. It is sad that Putin is playing chess in the "Great Game" and the rest of the world is playing Chutes and Ladders.

Dems Might Lose the Senate According to This Poll

It seems that Obama might be a lame duck with two years to go on his second term.

Republicans have a large, 8-point advantage among voters in states with Senate races, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday.

Democrats hold a slight edge in the overall generic congressional ballot. But in the key battle for the Senate, Republicans lead the generic ballot by a 50-42 margin in states with a 2014 Senate race.
Republicans need to pick up six seats in November to retake control of the Senate, something that could instantly make President Barack Obama a lame duck president of sorts in his last two years.

Well Obama can still be weak and ineffectual in foreign policy. I wonder if the Dems will be sad that the only real thing to come out of the Obama years is a flawed health insurance law that almost everyone hates.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Movie Review: Pompeii: Avoid It

Well I saw another bad movie this past week. I was actually excited to see this one because I have studied Pompeii since I was a kid and read this extremely good book The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found. I was strait-up disappointed and I think this movie might kill Roman movies for a while. Hopefully, sword and sandal (which is one of my favorite genres) will be kept going if 300: Rise of an Empire kills it this coming weekend. 

So I was really all set to be taken back to AD 79 through the power of movie magic and CGI. Unfortunately I got a lot of Jon Snow from Game of Thrones (Kit Harington) and a very weird looking woman (Emily Browning) and their various travails. We also have Kiefer Sutherland hamming it up as a Roman General turned Senator who wears his armor everywhere for some reason. He also does this hopeless, affected British accent. It goes to show you that Brits can do American accents but almost never the other way around.

The movie for the most part establishes that Jon Snow is the Celt who is the last of some unnamed horse tribe killed off by Kiefer Sutherland and a sinister looking guy that slightly resembles Anthony Weiner. John Snow is the lone survivor and he becomes a gladiator. Hmm I think there was a movie with a better actor in it called the Gladiator that had a similar plot. In fact we even have a scene where he moves up because he is a badass but goes to Pompeii to fight instead of Rome. Oliver Reed's ghost did not appear.

Well Jon Snow eventually gets to Pompeii but on the road he meets up with Browning when her horse breaks his leg. Well Snow is a bad-assed horseman and euthanized the horse making Browning all sympathetic to him. The two actors did not have very much chemistry so it pretty much amounted to there was writing some where in the script that said "John Snow falls in love with Browning, hijinks ensue"

There is some fighting and a black gladiator is introduced played by Adabisi from Oz (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) who meets up with Russell Crowe I mean John Snow. They become friends while boasting how they will kill each other in the ring. I am just so tired of how gladiators in Hollywood are portrayed in such an a-historical manner. They rarely slaughtered one another and were highly trained warriors that cost big money to maintain. They were, in many ways, like MMA fighters (but even more popular) that used deadly weapons. If you owned a Gladiator school you rarely wanted your trained fighters to die in the ring if you could help it. That was the job of criminals and Christians and such not someone that could potentially make you rich. There is no way that a resort city like Pompeii would have had a bunch of fights to the death in their Arena.

In any case the Gladiators are brought to the house of Browning's parents where they are on display for a roman dinner. Of course it wasn't a true Roman dinner which would have been cool to see on the big screen. Instead it was just some background for the two wooden leads to "fall in love" in front of. Also they establish that Sutherland and Browning were an item (kind of) when she was visiting Rome for some reason or another. Jon Snow steals a horse and other nonsense and he is caught and has to fight in some rigged match instead of Sutherland just killing him.

So the next day instead of Jon Snow fighting Adabisi for "hiiis Freeeedom!" they have to fight a bunch of gladiators dressed as Roman soliders in front of a paper-mache menhir with a spiked collar surrounding its top. I swear it got nabbed from a Warhammer Fantasy Khorne diorama. They even had a True Detective-istic swirl on it to make the derivative-ness complete. The whole set just looked awful and stupid and the entire battle scene just looking like it was taken off the cutting room floor of Gladiator. I especially liked the super dull blades that popped up throughout the movie.

Right after the fight is when Vesuvius blows its top and we go from Gladiator to Volcano without Tommy Lee Jones in 5 seconds. The mountain exploding and the disaster scenes were quite good so I can't fault it here. Lots of fleeing Romans and pyroclasts and the little known part where there was a tsunami that was caused when the mountain blew. In this part people run around, Adabisi saves some kid, and there is a hackneyed chariot chase between Sutherland and Jon Snow. We even have a slow motion death of the slave friend of Browning played by Brit actress Jessica Lucas. Um, quick someone tell the director that there weren't only black slaves in Rome. In fact, they were kind of a rare sight because they would have to have come from thousands of miles away.

In any case the acting was wooden and Kit Harington pretty much has only one expression through the whole movie. Browning was a non-factor and I liked her much better in Sucker Punch. In fact she actually looked like a different person in that movie. Someone had to point out it was the same actress. I was like "wait the beautiful girl from Sucker Punch is this emaciated waif?" I immediately thought "I hope it is just Hollywoods "thin-mania" and not heroin or something sinister like that. Well bottom line is if you want Pompeii read that book I sited above and skip this Gladiator retread full of terrible acting and stupid looking fighting.



Ellen's Oscar Selfie is Priceless

Well it seems this picture broke Twitter for a little while.

The best part is Kevin Spacey making a funny turtle face in the background. Also it seems that half of Jared Leto's face is cut off as well. It is an interesting and candid moment from the Oscars that seemed to go nearly an hour overtime. I think Ellen did a great job as Oscar host.

Also bring back the olden day Oscar setup where the stars sit at tables and can eat and drink. Having them sit in a big auditorium just looks weird and I bet everyone is starving by the time they get to the various parties. I think the Golden Globes have it right. The stars are more relaxed and can have more fun and can get liquored up if they want. For the Oscars you have to have manufactured fun from Ellen to break the tension in the room.