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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, January 06, 2012

WORD AROUND THE NET

"George McGovern, who was the Democratic party candidate 40 years ago, when he retired from politics he did a sort of Bob Newhart thing, he bought a bed and breakfast in Vermont and started running it, and gave it up after a few years because he was horrified, he had no idea...this is a man who spent his entire life in politics, and he had no idea of how regulation cripples small business."
-Mark Steyn

Blu-Ray, we're told won the "disc wars." How do we know? Because the media told us so. But if you go to any place movies are sold, only 10% of the shelf space is for Blu-Ray. if you check any movie catalog, only a small portion is Blu-Ray. If you look at Netflix, only a small part of their catalog is Blu-Ray. I'm not even sure you can buy a Blu-Ray disc player for your computer. Total Blu-Ray sales are 12% of the movie market. So saying Blu-Ray won is like saying Mac won the personal computer wars. So why do they say this?

Well, because there was a battle between two different HD-DVD formats. You can get a DVD of a certain quality, or a high end DVD of a higher quality. This higher end quality is Blu-Ray. But it costs more, and while the quality is higher, its only visible on an HD TV and its not that much better to justify the higher expense of replacing your player and all your discs, let alone buying a new disc for that price. So technically Blu-Ray won, but only in a format most people don't care to buy. And as the market progresses, people are actually buying fewer DVDs, so its kind of a hollow victory for Sony.

The unemployment rate crept down slightly again, to 8.5%. Although new jobs created was the lowest in a long time, this is good news. As James Pethokoukis points out, if the work force was as big as when President Obama took office, the rate would be nearly 11%, but still, a reduction is a reduction. Its not very much good news, but at least we're moving in the right direction. I credit this to a combination of businesses being willing to take a risk that the Obama administration will be gone in a few quarters and people falling off the unemployment rolls. Probably a few businesses are just tired of not hiring or growing and are making a few hires just because they can't sit pat for any longer.

We're seeing a shortage of certain kinds of prescription drugs. I recall early in the Bush administration how when there was a shortage of flu shots, they called it an example of the evil Chimperor oppressing the poor. This time around, its the fault of the evil big pharmacy corporations. Except... like last time, it has to do with government regulation:
What happened? As is often the case, government price and output controls are largely to blame for shortages, which have killed at least 15 people since 2010.

Take Medicare. It limits the prices it pays for drugs. But in Medicare's Plan B, reimbursements to drugmakers often don't cover the cost of a drug — or shrink profits to such low levels it's no longer worth making it.
...
Just as bad, the Food and Drug Administration imposes strict controls on pharmaceutical companies' output.
Its almost as if centrally planning your economy doesn't work. But never fear, they want to do it even more. Just keep giving them a shot, they'll eventually get it right, right?

Expect Jon Huntsman to see a surge in polling. I figure he'll hit around 20% or so before he falls. Huntsman is not bad for a Democrat - I'd have voted for him over McCain, for instance. But he's lousy as a Republican. If he's the GOP nominee, I'd vote for him, but reluctantly because he would do nothing to reverse Obama's damage and would probably veto at least some GOP efforts to do so. On the other hand, he'd be a useful foil for a GOP-controlled congress.

Doctors Steven Chase Brigham and Nicola Irene Riley have been charged with murder. They were doing unlicensed abortions of late-term babies, which under state law is murder (it has to do with killing viable babies while in the commission of another felony, which is practicing medicine without a license). It turns out that these doctors had been banned from doing any abortions in any state, due to various lies and criminal activities in the past.

Now it turns out that the clinic had over a dozen frozen fetuses kept in it at a time, and the New York State officials pressured prosecutors to ignore the abortion and licensing violations:
John Meekins, a former assistant attorney general who worked the case, said that his supervisors in New York City instructed him to pursue Medicaid fraud charges related to the illegal billing practices at Brigham's clinics.

"They said stick with just the Medicaid fraud," Meekins said. "We were forbidden to do anything without their approval."Because that sacrament of the left has to be protected. No bad news about abortion allowed, don't even look closely into the practices and finances of these clinics.

California's State Assembly passed a law which required all fuel to be low-carbon-emissions fuel to save the planet from evil SUVs and Republicans. However, a judge recently ruled that the law unlawfully discriminates against out of state oil producers, creating a favored business class within California, which is unconstitutional by the state's laws. Now if they could just do so with the other nanny state laws California is adopting, forcing the whole nation to go along.

Another "green energy" start up favored by the federal government (this time the Bush administration) and given millions has died. Range Fuels is a biomass ethanol producer which found out that its too expensive and totally impractical to harvest materials spread one inch thick over thousands of square miles. The plant was sold to a New Zealand business for $5, after getting $65 million on state and federal funds just to stay open. The plant never produced any ethanol and will likely be converted to another use.

Dance for Peace! That's the plan of the US State Department. I'm not making this up. The US State Department has announced the DanceMovement Tour for a second season (somehow I missed the first, apparently). Here's how the US Government webpage describes the tour:
DanceMotion USASM sends American dance companies overseas to engage with audiences and communities, especially underserved youth, through dance and a variety of other means. DanceMotion USASM builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power” diplomacy. It embraces the full use of diplomatic tools, in this case dance, to engage people and create opportunities for greater understanding.
I'm not a big dance guy to begin with but this just is beyond the parody horizon.

Because of various leftist people controlling elections in Wisconsin, the petition forms for the Governor Walker recall effort were not going to be disqualified for fake names. That was an official decision by the state's Government Accountability Board: note, but take no action against or to stop petitions because of fake names. Well, a judge has ordered them to actually follow election law and do their jobs. The only question is whether anyone will actually have the pills to challenge this ruling.

Speaking of Wisconsin, at least one group of SEIU union thugs have had a warrant put out for them because they came to the state, registered to vote and voted in a hotel in the last state election (the recall effort). These cheating efforts failed but they still are illegal, corrupt, and completely predictable. Expect more of these warrants and arrests to be announced.

Pedophilia continues getting the academic whitewash, with a new group trying to define the disgusting abuse as "intergenerational intimacy." Expect an assault on the concept of "consent" to begin in the legal community in coming years. Some slopes really are slippery.

Parkway school district in Missouri has come up with a great new way to help kids stay in shape: slap permanent monitors on all grade school kids that check their health and activity at home or at school. They didn't bother asking parents about this, and the parents are less than amused at the school strapping monitoring devices on their kids. The monitors check heart rate, sleep cycles, and so on and are to be worn 24 hours a day. I think not.

Inflation for food prices may have peaked, or so the US Department of Agriculture hopes. Although not counted in the Consumer Price Index that the federal government uses for official inflation reports, food prices have been going up steadily for years (something I'm sure everyone who reads this is aware of). World food prices have been dropping, so the USDA hopes that will translate to flattening or even reductions in food prices in stores.

President Obama is hoping that he can win reelection by running against... congress. He's been attacking congress as obstructionist and failed for months now, touring the country and making speech after speech about how evil they are. In every speech he either specifically blames or implies heavily that Republicans are to blame for everything bad people feel about congress. The problem for President Obama is that Republicans don't control the Senate and have a thin margin of control in the House. Further, although the polling numbers for congress are abysmal, that's not because people are mad at congress stopping his agenda. That's what the 2010 elections were all about. They were sent to congress to do just that: stop Obama. What people are mad about is that congress doesn't seem to be doing anything constructive in the process.

PBS is afraid of a Romney presidency. In a speech, Mitt Romney promised to cut funding for the Public Broadcasting System, which he could do by moving it to other aspects of funding in thLinke department. PBS says they'd just fold if they can't get their money from the federal government. The problem with this scenario is that they also keep saying they don't get much of their budget from the government when folks complain they're paying for obnoxious leftist propaganda. So which is it? Could you not possibly survive by advertising more, or are you really not that dependent on the federal teat?

DC relaunched their entire comics line, rebooting their universe (again) in 2011. Apparently the reboot made a lot of comic buyers curious, because for the first time in decades, DC outsold Marvel Comics last year. The problem is, according to all I've read, the reboots... suck. So they shouldn't expect to see any lasting success with this effort unless they really make some changes. However Marvel Comics should also take a long, hard look at their brutal gritty non-heroes with angsty stories and sexual content designed to attract 20 year old "action figure" collectors.

Occupy continues to fall apart. People have a generally poor opinion of the entire movement and now Occupy Charlotte has split, breaking into two groups. The catalyst was the arrest of several members of the movement for lighting a fire in public that was burning park foliage. It turns out the fire was started by burning flags, and the new movement "People's Coalition of the Carolinas" is opposed to burning flags. Apparently they aren't opposed to creepy totalitarian Marxist names.

Meanwhile, Occupy is facing a typical problem with any leftist "revolutionary" group: their leadership is corrupt and unaccountable. Lee Stranahan at Big Government tells the tale of several accounting problems and the refusal of the money holders of these groups to answer to anyone, going so far as to hold secret meetings and undisclosed places and times to avoid troublemakers for them. And the use of the money?
This is what’s really going on:

The people with access to the office get the $100 daily allotment of money. They use it on whatever they want. I heard one member of finance state, ”Buy drugs if you want, just make a receipt for something…”

The OWS COMHUB Group recently ratified the NYCGA so that many groups will be pushed out. In this way the pool of money will have less hands to go for. And the people in the office with direct access to the finance working group will have money longer. Meanwhile, they encourage you to go out and get arrested and stand up for the cause and raise donations! Any and all donations must be taken by the Finance Working Group because your autonomous beautiful self is too stupid to handle the money! The finance group should handle it for you We’re all brother’s and sister’s in one occupation though, so don’t worry! We will take care of you!

Ya, right! After the raid, the finance working group completely disappeared. And time and again they are no where to be found when shit hits the fan and people need resources. However, large sums of money have routinely gone missing! And there is no effort made to be transparent or show who the people controlling the money really are…
When you believe your cause is so just you can defy law, social practice, and morality, why would anyone be surprised you'd mistreat one another? What possible basis would you have for ethics?

Requiring a high school diploma may be banned by federal law, if the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has its way. Dave Boyer at the Washington Times reports:
Employers are facing more uncertainty in the wake of a letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warning them that requiring a high school diploma from a job applicant might violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
...
The “informal discussion letter” from the EEOC said an employer’s requirement of a high school diploma, long a standard criterion for screening potential employees, must be “job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.” The letter was posted on the commission’s website on Dec. 2.
Clearly, its discriminatory against the unqualified to require qualifications. The ADA has long been the source of ridiculous, abusive rulings against businesses because of its absurdly vague and overly broad wording. Drunk? Lazy? Drug addict? That's been found a disability which you cannot discriminate against in various rulings.

Verity Jones at Digging In The Clay looked at the latest UN IPCC report draft and noticed something about its references:
My counting is manual so I hope someone can redo this with an automated counter to get the numbers correct. The low numbers will stand up:

Lindzen = 0 …….That’s OK as Richard is not into Paleo.
Baliunas = 0 …….Do they think we have forgotten?
Soon = 0 …….The IPCC ignores measurements and work confirming Hubert Lamb’s MWP.
Shariv = 0 …….No need to even mention cosmic rays!
Kirkby = 0 …….The IPCC scorns hard science. CERN schmern! CO2 rools!
Loehle = 1 …….Dismissed as a “Low Resolution” study. (Translation “No Dendrochronology”)
Briffa = 16 …….Trees rool!
Jones = 19 …….Still a star in spite of some naughtiness.
Ammann = 52 ……A legend in his own mind.
Mann = 109 ……The IPCC still loves the Hockey Team! Penn State keep circling the wagons.

The IPCC’s blinkers prevent them from seeing anything but CO2. Pitiful!
When science shows problems with your work, you have two choices: change your work or ignore the people interfering with your grant machine. If you pretend those problematic dissenters don't exist, maybe they'll just go away. Or so apparently the UN hopes.

Father Christmas, or the Soviet version called "Father Frost" apparently disturbs Muslims. A man dressed in the traditional costume was knifed to death in Tajikstan after a Mullah ruled that decorating a tree and "dancing before it" was idolatry and prohibited to Muslims.

This is a story I've heard before, but the full version makes even more sense and gives you a greater level of respect for Van Halen as a band. In their contract for each show they did, Van Halen required a bowl of M&Ms... without brown ones. Why this silly requirement, were they just being petulant spoiled rock stars? No. Tim Ferrist at Four Hour Work Week has the tale:
As Roth explained in his memoir, Crazy from the Heat, “Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, thirdlevel markets.

We’d pull up with nine 18-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move thegear through. The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function.” So just as a little test, buried somewhere in the middle of the rider, would be article 126, the no-brown-M&M’s clause. “When I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl,” he wrote, “well, we’d line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error… Guaranteed you’d run into a problem.”
There's actually a good business lesson in there.

Last week I wrote about how the Girl Scouts of America recommended hard left propaganda site Media Matters for news fact checking to their girls in official materials. Since then the GSA have decided to drop that reference, thankfully. Media Matters leaped on the story, trying to save face. Guess the long march has a few obstacles in the way, such as the truth.

Although the US is far from the fattest country on earth, you wouldn't know that from all the jokes and stereotypes. And apparently, the obesity rate is actually dropping in the US, possibly due to relentless pressure to lose weight and possibly due to people being poor and the economy being so tough. Now if we could just get the official definition of obesity to take into account activity, metabolism, and body type.

Instapundit has been posting for ten years now, an awful long time for blogs. He's been going through archives remembering old posts, and among them was this one about Ronald Reagan's death:
BERNARD GOLDBERG'S BOOK, BIAS is getting a lot of attention -- including not one, but two pieces in the Wall Street Journal. But this piece from The Idler [now a dead link] adds to the chorus with an independent story of how newsies cheered Reagan's near-assassination. I was working in Democratic politics then, and I can attest that there were some people hoping he'd die.

So what? Well, yes. Except that (1) bigshot media like the New York Times and CBS pretend not to be biased -- though I agree with Andrew Sullivan that it's silly for Fox to pretend the same thing; and (2) Democrats are always portrayed in those media as compassionate while Republicans are "haters" (unless they're Paul Gigot, in which case it's newsworthy that they're not haters).
Readers provide many more examples and support the story. They didn't just disagree with Ronald Reagan, they hated him. They thought he was more evil than the Soviet leaders he defeated.

Just so you know, the rich aren't paying their home loans, either. A lot of people who were buying property and flipping it for profit got caught without a chair when the housing market crashed, at least ones not warned by the Fed Chairman. Dr Housing Bubble writes:
According to LPS Applied Analytics nearly 40% of homeowners in default have not made a payment in at least two years. The typical foreclosure now takes 674 days. It is one thing to talk about some middle class family in a $150,000 home struggling to get by because of a job loss or illness. But what about squatters sitting in million dollar homes in prime locations?
...
One of the most prime zip codes in Orange County has 28 distressed properties. The average loan balance on the 28 distressed properties? $1.39 million. Some of the listed shadow inventory barely has a notice of default filed and there has been no payment for over a year! So much for the notion that everyone is being kicked out equally or that the “rich” are making more payments on their underwater homes. In fact, it appears that only the poor and middle class are being foreclosed on while some of these million dollar shadow properties linger for ages.
The housing market got used up and a lot of rich people are mad they lost money on an investment and are just refusing to pay.

Every day I get a chart from Investor's Business Daily in my email, and most of them are only somewhat interesting but here's one for people to consider. Its how every major asset performed in 2011:

2011 Assets

Its never the case in economic downturns that everything does poorly. The federal government always does well, for example. What's interesting to me is that T-Bills did far better than gold, which did phenomenally well. I'd bail on the Euro, if I were you. And I would be really nervous about those obviously over valued T-Bills, given that the US as an investment was downgraded in 2011.

Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi announced that city hall was the city's "living room" and said that the occupy movement should be allowed to squat eternally in violation of city code on the capitol lawn because:
It’s funny, the number of people who have talked to me in the last couple of days who have said ‘the Occupy Calgary people need to get off Olympic Plaza so that all citizens can have rights to their front lawn.’ And I say, OK, so all citizens except the ones you don’t like should have a right to the front lawn. Because all means all in my opinion.
Of course, when Artur Pawlowski, lead pastor of Calgary’s Street Church went into City Hall to sing Christmas Carols and read from the Bible, he was arrested and hauled off. All doesn't mean all, apparently. In fact, the pastor has been arrested 70 times for bringing food to homeless people because he doesn't buy a permit. Then again, neither did the Occupy Calgary guys, who have since fled the winter.

General Motors is not just in hock to the US taxpayer by billions (despite claiming they've paid off their loan). They owe Quebec $110 million dollars as well. The loan was extended in 1987 and has never been paid off, plus their plant in the city has been closed and torn down for ten years. But hey, the unwanted, combustible Volt will save the company, right Obama?

And that's the Word Around the Net for January 6, 2011. Happy Epiphany!

1 Comments:

Anonymous JoelAT said...

"at least one group of SEIU union thugs have had a warrant put out for them because they came to the state, registered to vote and voted in a hotel in the last state election" Interestingly this is the same thing that happened when Kansas was voting on statehood, as to whether they would join the union as a pro-slave or no-slave state. it is essentially the catalyst that kicked off the revolutionary war. The attempt was being mad, to ensure a majority of states in the union that were pro-slavery.

2:31 PM, January 06, 2012  

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