Month: December 2007

Jumping Carcharodon megalodon

Yep, the RIAA is at it again.

This time, they are claiming that copying from a CD to your computer is a copyright violation, so if you want to mix on your iPod, you are SOL:

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry’s lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are “unauthorized copies” of copyrighted recordings.

More on CIA Tapes Coverup

This article shows that it was pretty clear that the goal was to prevent future prosecutions. It appears that the CIA was less concerned about what would happen in congress or a future administration than being hung out to dry by Bush and His Evil Minions.

One half of the definitive word, however, comes from former C.I.A. deputy director, John C. Gannon, “To a spectator it would look like torture and torture is wrong.”

The other half is that it was torture, and these men did the wrong thing.

My Predictions On Iowa


  1. Huckabee
  2. Romney
  3. Everyone else

I think that Huckabee and Romney are the only two who will break the double digits, and Huckabee’s supporters are more than enthusiastic. What the heck are the Romney supporters going for anyway, that hair?


  1. Edwards
  2. Clinton
  3. Obama
  4. Dodd
  5. Everyone else.

I’m much less sure of these, but here goes:

Edwards and Clinton will be very close, with the fact that Edwards is the 2nd choice of almost all the minor candidates giving him more than a boost than Hillary’s supporters being more politically tied in.

The fact that Edwards has spent the past 3 years building a network will help too.

Obama will come in firmly in 3rd. He’s gots “lots of young new voters”, all of whom will get completly owned in the complex Iowa Democratic Caucus Structure.

Dodd, with his filibuster in the senate floor, will, I think, end up a firm 4th place, though there is a possibility of him taking 3rd.

Given my record, I think trhat I’m something like 0 for 23 on everything, not just politics, I’d love to hear your predictions.

Add more details.

Hail to the Redskins!

27-6 over Americas Team Most Wanted.

Dallas had all of 1 yard rushing. Was Jessica Simpson in the crowd or something?

Hail to the Redskins!
Hail Victory!
Braves on the Warpath!
Fight for old D.C.!
Run or pass and score — we want a lot more!
Beat ’em, Swamp ’em,
Touchdown! — Let the points soar!
Fight on, fight on ‘Til you have won
Sons of Wash-ing-ton. Rah!, Rah!, Rah!

Hail to the Redskins!
Hail Victory!
Braves on the Warpath!
Fight for old D.C.!

FWIW, if you find this song offensive, you should see the original lyrics.

Developments in Pakistan, and A Possible Real Effect in Iowa

It looks like Pakistan will be delaying elections for a few weeks in the wake of the Bhutto assassination.

Considering the unrest, it’s probably a good idea, though considering the iron grip that Musharraf has of the electoral process, I also think that it is not unlikely that the accusation of Bhutto’s PPP, that this is an attempt to game the system is true, but with at least 11 elections offices torched, there is not much of an option.

However, the effect on the US presidential campaign might be more than people have believed.

Specifically, with the appointment of Bilalwal Bhutto as the PPP party head, albeit in a purely ceremonial manner, with the acting head being the phenomenally corrupt (even by Pakistani standards!!!) Asif “Mr 10%” Ali Zedari, it raises dynastic issues, and might make people wonder as to whether the electoral process in the United states is more like Pakistan than we would like to think.

The entire Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton thing may very well bite Hillary, though the effect is likely

Conservative Affirmative Action in Action: Bill Kristol Edition

It looks like the New York Times will be offering Bill Kristol a columnist gig for the next year.

It seems to be rather more limited than usual, with only 1 column a week, normally it’s 2, and only a year long contract.

While not as egregious a case as Jonah Goldberg*, Bill Kristol is the beneficiary of “Conservative Affirmative Action”, much as is the brothers Kagan, who all seem to dance from position to position based on little more than who their parents were.

Nepotism is a problem because you end up with idiot sons managing things that they have no business managing. You can refer to Andrew Sullivan’s post about John Podhoretz becoming editor of Commentary if you want it in the short form with lots of snark.

I’m not a fan of Mr. Sullivan, but when he’s on, he can be amusing.

*Seriously, I’m embarrassed by this guy because we share the same nationality, I know his mom is a “person of note” in the community, but you need to find someone with more of a flair for original thought, like Jayson Blair of Stephen Glass.
Carrot Top fills me with the same feelings too.

Bear Stearns Says Studios are Full of It on Writers Strike

Of course, given their track record recently, I have put them in my investment bank dead pool because of their missteps on the credit crisis, but they have issued a report explicitly stating that the writers demands would have a negligible impact on the industry (Original is sub reqd, excerpt is from Hollywood United):

“From Wall Street’s perspective, we estimate the impact of accepting the [writers’] proposal is largely negligible,” Bear Stearns wrote in a report last week.
The firm estimates that the $120 million figure would carry an average impact of less than 1% on annual earnings per share for the media companies. That does not factor in any concessions by the writers’ side (the WGA), where the principal issue is a desire for a piece of ad dollars from new-media distribution.
The potentially small financial impact suggests that studios (Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers) are more concerned about setting a precedent in new-media revenue sharing. However, Bear Stearns wrote that the writers’ forecast for that market “strikes us as fairly aggressive.” The firm hinted that studios are looking to the future. They are concerned that a favorable settlement would embolden directors and actors in their coming renegotiations.

From the reports that I’ve read, it appears that the chief negotiator is the same guy who suckered the writers on DVDs many years back, and he’s operating on his own need for legacy, and some of the studios, particularly those heavily into TV production, are not happy with him.

Indo-Russian Collaboration on PAF FA (T-50)

This plane is intended to replace the Su-27 series, and it now appears that
Russia and India are in a 50-50 workshare.

I’m not entirely sure what this would mean, though the Indians are looking to use this aircraft on their carrier.

The company-to-company discussions ffollow an October 2007 intergovernmental agreement between Russia and India signed an on the cooperative development of a fifth-generation multi-role fighter. “This will be 50/50 cooperation in terms of intellectual property, resources and money,” said [Sukhoi CEO Mikhail] Pogosyan.

It appears that the Indian variants will have entirely Indian avionics, which is likely the result of Indian industrial policy.

In developing independent avionics, they may have an opening with upgrades of the aircraft sold to 3rd countries.

As to the 50/50 split, my guess is that this is more of offset numbers than real sharing. This is the crown jewels of Russian aerospace.

A quick note, the fact that the project is called the T-50 means that it has some variant of a delta wing. Were it swept wing, it would be something like S-50, which is why Sukhoi’s forward swept wing demonstrator was called the S-37.

Why Obama’s Talking of Reconciliation is Both Naive and Dangerous

Lambert of Corrente makes the point that Barack Obama’s speeches on reconciliation are dangerously naive, and I’d tend to agree.

He makes the point that much of the “flying wing-nut monkey” aspects of American conservatism have been the result of very people, primarily those got their money from dead ancestors as opposed to working for a living, have had a direct economic interest in the “flying wing-nut monkey” policies. It’s more than ideology, it is a deliberate and effective accumulation of both additional wealth and power.

If he is right, and my recent dust-up with the readers of The National Review over a comment about a writing gig for Ramesh Ponnuru*, whose career has largely been bankrolled by these interests, is evidence of the nature of the structures put in place by wealthy heirs for their own benefit.

To quote Lambert, who also got a nod from Krugman:

For these billionaires, the ROI of the Conservative Movement is absolutely spectacular. At the micro level, for example, if you want to create an aristocracy, then you want to eliminate any taxes on inherited wealth, despite what Warren Buffet or Bill Gates might say about the values entailed by that project. So, the Conservative Movement goes to work, develops and successfully propagates the term “death tax” — which they may even believe in, as if sincerity were the point — and voila! Whoever thought that “family values” would translate to “feudal values” and dynastic wealth? At the macro level, their ROI has been spectacular as well. Real wages have been flat for a generation; unions have been disempowered; the powers of corporations greatly increased; government has become an agent for the corporations, rather than a protector of the people; the safety net has been shredded; and so on and on and on.

Ponnuru is where he is because the right wing infrastructure recognizes him as an asset that offers a very good return on investment.

What the supporters of Obama maintain, at least the ones that I deal with in my Pinko Commie circles, is that this is largely a campaign tactic, and that he recognizes it as the reality of the situation, or to quote “Amadan” a poster on the (by invitation only) Stellar Parthenon BBS,

But let’s face it, Obama has to dance around in a tutu and fairy wings or he goes from “friendly magical Negro who just might be electable” to “Angry Scary Black Man.

Personally, I’m not inclined to believe this. Even if was the intent, behavior becomes internalized through habit. Eventually, you become what you are pretending to be.

*No, I’m not picking a fight, or implying a lack of intellect, but according to the NRO’s bio of him, he graduated summa cum laude from Princeton’s history department, Wiki says with a BA degree.

The BA is not the professional degree in History, the PhD. is, hence the jokes about history majors delivering pizzas, so normally the career path would involve an MA, JD (law degree), or PhD in something more specific.

As a result of his work on The Sentinel, a now-defunct conservative campus magazine at Princeton and other venues, he was recognized, and recruited, as a writer/editor/fellow at various right wing institutions.

I love “the Google” as a research tool.

I actually mean this as a compliment. Seriously.

My Proposals on Immigration

Note that I don’t mention a fence. I think that addressing the demand pull is what should be done first….After about 1/3 of the illegal aliens in the US entered legally and overstayed their visas.

My Proposals:

  • Change the law penalizing employers for hiring illegal aliens. Make it for negligently hiring illegals, not knowingly hiring illegals. It’s easier to prosecute, and the defense is ordinary care.
  • Create a new law for those who knowingly hire illegals, include long prison sentences, and asset forfeiture.
  • Create a bounty program for illegals. If an illegal alien rats out an employer, they get a 5 year green card. These green cards can be added up, or used to bring the rest of his family across the border.
  • Add a cash bounty for ratting out employers for legal residents.
  • Increase the fees on H1b and L1 visas so that it will always more expensive to go this route. If you really need that guy you should be willing to pay 50 grand in fees.

This increases the regulatory cost of employing illegals, and so reduces the demand.

Economic Update, Housing Crash, Exotic Financial Instruments

In real estate, we have new home sales at a 12 year low, and we have the phenomenon returning of people just walking out on their homes. The pertinent quote is, “Lewis’ comments came as a new expression – “jingle mail” – referring to the growing trend where Americans mail the keys to their homes to the lenders before vacating, entered the US lexicon.”

With all the news, the financial press is finally noticing that maybe, just maybe, those predictions of a quick rebound are a bunch of bullsh@$.

All in all, this is not surprising. News gathering is paid for by ad revenue, sales and subscriptions really only pay for ink and paper, not the words and pictures made with the ink and paper. Given the huge role that real estate pays in ad revenues, it’s unavoidable that the news media, notwithstanding the “Chinese Walls” will be the biggest boosters of real estate this side of Remax.

And in the department of the blindingly obvious, the Journal has an article saying that thecomplex financial instruments have magnified the credit crunch.

Well, duh. As much as people want to talk about innovation and the free market, much of that innovation has a seamy side.

The first man to rob a train was an innovator, and in financial markets we have a long (over 200 years just in the US) tradition of both fraud, and complex activities to benefit one entities, and transfer the downside of these activities to another.

At some point, society has to say that certain activities, like dope dealing and unsafe financial practices, are simply too damaging to society and they must be regulated.

Vulture Shopping

Well, we just came back from shopping at CompUseless, aka CompUSA.

When we got there, my son Charlie asked, why we were going there, and I replied, “Because they are going out of business because they suck, and no one wants to shop there.”

After a pause, I realized that an 8 year old might not understand the subtext, and I continued, “Since they are going out of business, they are discounting stuff, so we are hoping to find a good deal.”

He expressed wonderment, not at the idea that a business going under would discount, but because I had anticipated his next question. He’s a bright kid, but having Aspergers, sometime there are social jumps like that seem to him to be magic.

My anticipating his next question rather impressed him.

It’s noteworthy because he spends so much time confounding me with things like fairly abstruse questions about microbiology, the nature of black holes and the big bang (I send him in the direction of my elder brother, who has a PhD in high energy physics), and meteorology (he loves the Weather Channel).

We scored a UPS, a color laser printer (about $220 after discount, which will replace my wife’s ruinously expensive ink addiction), a DVD burner, and some blank DVDs.

Blue Bush Dogs: Not Moderate, Just Corrupt

Davit Sirota has a very good analysis of the despicable betrayal of the American people by the so called “moderate” Blue Bush Dog Democrats with regards to basic fairness and the economic stability of the United States.

The bill in question, HR 3609, is rather simple: It would allow a bankruptcy judge, “To ameliorate the terms of abusive “subprime” mortgages.” Under the current law, judges can already do this for investment properties, and for vacation homes, but for primary homes? Das ist Verboten.

So the judge could vitiate prepayment penalties to allow for refinance, or change interest rates, or modify fees charged for things like taking a phone call from a customer, though it would not give the judge power to forgive principal, since a mortgage is, after all, a secured loan.

While I favor a more expansive bill, one that would cover all consumers, this could go a long way towards fixing the system. As it currently stands, many loan servicers are legally unable to modify the terms of a loan, because their contracts with the bond holders prohibit it.

Even when they can, there is little incentive for them to negotiate in good faith.

What this means, of course, is more Chapter 7 liquidations, as opposed to Chapter 11 reorgs, more foreclosures, more empty houses blighting more neighborhoods, and more turmoil on wall street. It is The Tragedy of the Commons writ with trillions of dollars to be eventually be baid for by all of us.

Bush Pocket Veto of Troops Pay Raise is Invalid

I understand that Bush is threatening a veto of the latest defense authorization bill.

It appears that inconveniencing banks means more to him than giving our troops the payraise they deserve.

That being, this rather insightful analysis is correct: If he wants to do this, then he has to put his name on the veto with those crayons sharpies that he is so fond of. He cannot use the pocket veto, because Congress is still technically in session.

The Senate has remained in session to prevent recess appointments, and as such his claim, “The adjournment of the Congress has prevented my return of H.R. 1585 within the meaning of Article I, section 7, clause 2 of the Constitution”, is completely without merit.

If you really find this provision so bad, stop behaving like what Ahnuld would call a “Girlie Man”, and put your name on a veto that cuts pay for the troops.

Don’t worry, it’s not like any or your kids will be affected.