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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, May 04, 2012

WORD AROUND THE NET

“He kept pushing this change, change, change, and he hasn’t done anything.”

Mostly Peaceful
Video Game Czar for the White House, what a job. Gamer girl Constance Steinkuhler was hired on by the Obama administration to be his video games adviser "shaping the Obama administration's policies around games that improve health, education, civic engagement and the environment, among other areas." You're paying for that with your taxes. I must have missed where in the US Constitution the federal government is given the power to do so.

Phillip K Dick wrote the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which is what the movie Blade Runner was based on. In fact Hollywood seems to love making his stories into films, from Total Recall to Minority Report, a total of nine films have been made from his books, with two more on the way and a remake of Total Recall as well. When he saw Blade Runner, Phillip's response was... glowing:
The impact of Blade Runner is simply going to be overwhelming both on the public and on creative people -- and I believe on science fiction as a field.
...
Nothing we [sci fi writers of the last 20 years] individually or collectively, matches Blade Runner.
Then he gets even more complimentary and amazing in his praise. In fact, I think the movie is better than the confusing and meandering book. Not sci fi necessarily, but better. And it certainly did change how sci fi was portrayed and understood in movies.

While I do understand the frustration and annoyance that police have at being filmed doing their jobs (would you like someone doing that to you?) that's just part of modern life. And there's been enough problem lately with cops arresting people for filming them that the state of Connecticut Senate has passed a law which would allow citizens to sue individual police officers for doing this. Ordinarily cops are not liable for their specific actions, only the city. This might act to restrain bitter, vengeful police. Why the lawsuits rather than just banning arresting someone for filming you? Because the cops don't charge people for filming, they pick something like public nuisance or privacy laws, or just a material witness.

We've already seen efforts by state and federal governments to boost Volt sales by buying lots of the hybrid for their fleets. That helps the sales numbers look better, without a closer look, but doesn't really make the car any more profitable or popular. Well, turns out they were doing it with the Prius too, if Florida is any guide. It was in Miami where recently a fleet of 300 Priuses were found parked in a lot, totally unused. They were bought with tax dollars and never used. Was it a kickback to a Toyota-dealing donor or friend, or was it just some eco-nut who used tax money to buy lots of the cars to boost sales? Does this use of public funds seem reasonable to you?

Again, I can't help but think maybe we should limit presidents to one term. If this is truly the hardest job in the world, how can they do it and take so much time of their fourth year running for reelection? Case in point President Obama, who has held more fundraisers than any president before him. Most of these have been on taxpayer funds, because he'll go somewhere for an official function then coincidentally hold a few fundraisers in the same area. Yes, you're paying for him to run for office.

This was funny at the Ace of Spades HQ. The headline read "Obama’s Jewish support rises over past six months, AJC poll finds." What the poll actually found is that President Obama's support among polled Jews has plunged 16 points since 2008. Yes, its gone up slightly over the last six months, but 61% is pretty awful for a Democratic Party candidate. Which do you report? Depends on your perspective and how you want people to think about the news.

Not helping President Obama's image among Jews are stunts like a speech praising a Nazi sympathizer. The president made a "proclamation" about Jewish-American Heritage Month (did you even know there was such a thing?) praising various people, including Gertrude Stein, who said:
"I say that Hitler ought to have the peace prize, because he is removing all the elements of contest and of struggle from Germany. By driving out the Jews and the democratic and Left element, he is driving out everything that conduces to activity. That means peace ... By suppressing Jews ... he was ending struggle in Germany."
Those Jews got real peaceful after the showers. Later, the proclamation was edited to leave Stein out. Why praise her in the first place? Well she is an American Jew but she's also a lesbian whose writings are beloved by leftist academics.

Five months ago, Occupy folks began squatting in a house behind on payments to prevent the evil bank from getting any of its loaned money back. Six people moved in claiming they would renovate the house then move a homeless family in. Five months later, the house is in worse shape, and all six were arrested on burglary charges. The man who actually owned the house didn't want them to move in, and couldn't get into his own house. Now the place needs $12,000 in repairs.

Tim McCarver is one of my least favorite baseball announcers. He's gotten better, but he still second guesses managers a lot, and is usually wrong. He's got a good voice but he's not very interesting to listen to. And he's kind of an idiot, having recently claimed that global warming is causing thin air, which has resulted in more home runs. Great catcher, great hitter... not so smart when it comes to science.

Can you resist the police when they are doing something wrong? Generally no. If they kick down your door while trying to raid your neighbor's house, you have to just sit and take it, normally. However, Michigan's Supreme Court recently affirmed that the public does have the right to resist the police short of lethal force, if the cops are doing something wrong. Like most conservatives, I'm all for law and order, but the police have been getting a bit out of hand in some places.

Wind power, what can't it do? Recently it was revealed that several environmental groups have been getting large sums of money from wind power start ups (money from tax dollars funneled to them through subsidies and loans by various governments). Now, that doesn't mean they're necessarily saying things they're told to by the Big Wind Farm, but isn't that the argument they use against oil money being sent to anyone?

Chances are you've seen this in your email box:
Rent and Minimum WageIts a chart showing how many hours a minimum wage worker has to work in each state to afford one month's rent. In my home state of Oregon, the chart says it takes 71 hours in, about 11 days work, not bad. But in New York State the chart says it takes 136 hours, or around 20 days. That's basically a full month of labor to pay for rent! The problem is the chart is at best misleading. First off it takes the average cost of housing in a state, and in New York City that's a pretty broad range. In Upper Manhattan it can cost thousands of dollars a month for a shabby little place, but in rural New York you can get a fairly nice place for under a thousand a month.

As Minimum Wage.com points out, few people working minimum wage actually are paying for their own place (usually they're sharing a place or living at home) and almost all of them get the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is basically money the government gives you for being too poor. On average the Minimum Wage would have to be raised to $25 an hour to make people able to comfortably able to afford a two-bedroom home (the goal of advocates), or a tripling of the current level. Imagine what that would do to prices...

Vancouver is a place of stark terror after scientists discovered that the sea levels there after 100 years has risen by... zero millimeters. A recent news report, however, notes that scientists are warning that the sea level could rise from one to five meters in the next century, a rate so blazingly fast no one could possibly react in time.

When Barack Obama ran for the presidency, he blamed President Bush for ruining the middle class, even though Bush wasn't actually running for election. It was all Bush's fault (and the Republicans who hadn't been in control of congress for 2 years) that middle class incomes were not growing to match inflation. Now President Obama has been in office for 3 years, and that slide has not slowed, or stopped. Its gotten worse, as Mike Dorning writes at Bloomberg:
He cited census figures showing that median income for working-age households -- those headed by someone younger than 65 -- had dropped more than $2,000 after inflation during the first seven years of Bush’s time in office.

Yet real median household income in March was down $4,300 since Obama took office in January 2009
Well technically, getting worse is change.

Part of the reason I agree with Paul Krugman that we're in a depression is what has happened to wages and jobs. Many economists fear we'll never get the jobs back that were lost, and so many have disappeared its difficult to foresee digging out of this situation for a long time. And incomes have suffered greatly as well. For two years, income has shown virtually no growth after a rapid plunge the previous two years. That means as inflation continues, especially in food and gasoline, your dollar is steadily worth less and less. And it means we're far worse off than is being generally reported or even understood by the usual economic pair of growth and inflation.

Hulu has decided they aren't making enough money with their current revenue model (mostly free content with some pay). In order to make more money, the TV content website has decided to chase off even more customers by charging for all their content instead of just some. The FCC is investigating to see if Comcast had anything to do with this decision.

Not long ago, California had to change their welfare system because people were using public assistance cards (sort of like a debit card with a monthly account the government gives to help poor people) to pull money out of cash machines in places like strip clubs and casinos. In a shocking development, other states have discovered that folks are doing the same thing, this time in Oregon. This is why Food Stamps worked better: they only worked on food, no matter what. These cards are a bit more flexible, shall we say.

Slush fund is a term that came from old warships where the "slush" or cooking fat was sold off at port and the money used for luxuries for the crew (or, often, just the cook). Today it means a pool of money often used for political advantage, usually gathered without any specific definition. The Government Health Insurance Takeover Act designated some funds to be set aside for use to fight obesity, but are instead being used to help offset medicare reductions and in part to pay for spaying and neutering dogs. Why? Joggers are scared of dogs, so people won't jog if there are lots of stray ones, and thus will put on weight and be a cost to health care. Or, alternately, this helps a cause someone in the office liked and might even benefit a donor.

This week has been "Obama Bin Laden Death celebration week" at the White House and on television, commemorating the one year anniversary of the announcement of Bin Laden's demise. Gabriel Malor notes at the Ace HQ that previously unknown documents about the raid were released this week, but the spokesman said that the timing was unrelated to the week long victory dance by President Obama. Yeah, that's the ticket.

This week has been tough on supporters of the Occupy movement. Not only were five members arrested in a bombing attempt, but one was arrested for bashing a cop over the head with a drum, one thhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifrew a brick at a passerby and hit a fellow occupier, and one is a neo nazi vigilante the police arrested for a shooting in Arizona. Notice this Yahoo article mentions he claimed to be part of the Minutemen (something they deny) but misses that he was an Occupy "enforcer" allegedly protecting the protesters from the police. They're mostly peaceful, these folks. You can help them out now. For just 60 cents a day you can rescue an occupier, thanks to Occupy Angels.

California has been voted the worst state in the union for business, again. The state had tough competition from Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, and New York, but managed to win a clean victory. There's something about these states that ties them all together but I can't quite put my finger on it, something about the color blue...

Wisconsin's big recall battle to protect unions and warn other states not to fight against their budget-bankrupting influence continues. What's not being reported in the legacy media is how the union left recall efforts are being led and financed by the richest people in and out of the state; what occupy folks call the "one percent." Big money is only bad if the Koch brothers are involved.

Just in time for your summer, the economic news is down again. Unemployment is up slightly and hiring slowed significantly in April. We'll see what the carefully-massaged official unemployment numbers are in a few days, but its still over 8% even on those terms. We don't see big soup lines and Hoovervilles in the news, but that doesn't mean we're doing any better. Then again, imagine just how horrible the economy would be doing were a Republican in office and every news broadcast started with misery and how bad things are.

Hush Fox? Well that's what is being attempted by a group, to shut down Fox News. Appealing to a US law that states broadcast licenses should only be issued to people of "good character," they argue that since a Murdoch-owned paper was busted for doing what several other papers in the UK do by hacking cell phones to record conversations, he shouldn't be allowed to have a network in the US. That same law also says the channels have to be used "in the public interest" and it seems to me that this better fits MSNBC, especially based on several loathsome comments made on there over the last few years.

Germany has announced a plan to shut down all their clean, efficient, and cheap nuclear power plants and shift to expensive, inefficient "renewable" energy sources like wind. In the process, energy prices continue to "necessarily skyrocket" and have gotten so expensive 15% of the population cannot afford energy any longer and 600,000 buildings a year have their power shut off. This is why when you read that a "right wing" government has been elected in Europe you should realize that it doesn't mean the same thing there as it does in the US.

Saturday Night Live is a comedy show that isn't very funny very often and drags on for segment after segment between incredibly long, annoying advertisement. Most of the reason its still even on the air is that late night air time is cheap to fill and not very important to the profits of a network. And recently, the guy who plays Obama in skits admitted he's a big Obama fan and that the show is biased against Republicans and toward Democrats. Which isn't exactly shocking, other than the unusual honesty.

President Obama's book mentions that the girlfriend in it was a "composite" of previous girlfriends with a fake name. Rush Limbaugh brings up something to consider, though:
He was such a "cool guy," you would think women would be falling out of the woodwork here telling us what a great, cool dude Obama was. And people inspired by his professorship at the University of Chicago teaching how to overthrow private sector governments and so forth, too. You would think there would be a lot of people coming forth and saying, "Yeah, Obama, he was such a cool guy. He really inspired me!" You can't find these people. You can't find 'em.
Where, indeed? In today's celebrity-worshiping culture you can't find even one person to run to a camera and talk about him? Not one?

Skyrim is doing big sales, like its predecessor Oblivion. Those two games, and the two before it - Daggerfall and Arena - have all been praised and liked by fans and reviewers alike. And now the company is going to create a Massively Multiplayer Online Game based on the game setting. Lets hope they do it well, its a terrific setting.

Hilariously, the legacy media has been bashing Ann Romney for the expense of her wardrobe (like they tried with Sarah Palin). The Right Sphere compiles some of the headlines:
Huh, funny how I don't recall the same sort of focus on source and cost when Michelle Obama trotted out a new outfit. In fact, they didn't, they claimed she looked like a model and was incredibly beautiful, waxing poetic about her "toned arms" and how she was the next Jackie O. You don't see so much of that these days, since it went over like a lead scarf, but Tommy at the site has a few examples of how much her stuff cost, to compare.

Korea insists that the Sea of Japan should be called the East Sea, so much so that they crashed the White House servers with petitions to change the name. Word is President Obama is unsure who to bow to.

And that's the Word Around the Net for May 4, 2012.

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