31 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Masters of the Universe

Der Spiegel reports that the current killer cold wave in Europe has a corporate sponsor–the manufacturers of the German version of the Mini Cooper:

It’s a simple process — you can go online and sponsor a high for €299 ($394) or a low for €199 ($262), with the difference in price due to the fact that high pressure systems stay on the weather map for longer. The sponsor puts forward a name which must be acknowledged by the German registry office as an acceptable first name. Hyphenated names and special characters (barring German umlauts) are banned. That means company or product names are only accepted if they are also first names, as is the case with Minnie and Cooper. The sponsor also receives detailed material, including weather maps, charting the “life story” of the weather system.

Now that’s cold.

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31 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Beyond Beyond the Fringe

Seventy-one Fahrenheits and healthy foot-tall daffodils preparing to bloom are not proper on a Junuary January (clearly I misplet “January,” but perhaps “Junuary” is appropriate) day in these lattitudes.

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31 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Theatre

Steven M. predicts that, if Mitt the Flip does indeed lock down the Republican nomination for president, the punditocracy will convince itself that the Republican Party has beaten back the crazy and returned to being the party of Ev Dirksen and Nelson Rockefeller.*

“Look at what’s going in the states,” counsels Steven M. citing several examples, “and don’t buy the myth of a mellower GOP.”

. . .the press never wants to acknowledge the party’s extremism. The press wants to say that the party is fine, our two-party system is fine, and anything intemperate that Republicans have ever done is anomalous, and unrepresentative of the fine folks all insider journalists meet at cocktail parties.

__________________

*The evidence is that Mitt wears nice suits, doesn’t shout, and looks good in group photos

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31 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Theatre

George Monbiot, writing at the Guardian, dissects the arrogant wantonness of raining death from the skies. A nugget:

. . . it must also be true that the easier and less risky a deployment is, the more likely it is to happen.

This danger is acknowledged in a remarkably candid assessment published by the UK’s Ministry of Defence, which also deploys drones, and has also used them to kill civilians. It maintains that the undeclared air war in Pakistan and Yemen “is totally a function of the existence of an unmanned capability – it is unlikely a similar scale of force would be used if this capability were not available”.

Aside:

I do think that drawing a parallel between President George the Worst and President Obama, as he does in an early paragraph, is an example of rhetoric outdistancing evidence–not that I would ever fall into that trap–but the author’s larger point stands.
/strong

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31 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Masters of the Universe

Comparing Trader and Teacher

Via Political Prof.

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31 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Theatre

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31 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Masters of the Universe

Graphics comparing Mitt Romney's tax payments with regular persons' tax burden

Via Bob Cesca’s Awesome Blog.

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31 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: First Looks

Harry Truman, from PoliticalProf.

Supporter: “Give ‘em Hell, Harry!”

Harry Truman: “I don’t give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it’s Hell.”

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30 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Masters of the Universe

Thom Hartmann discusses Bank of America’s gag response. From the blurb:

According to BusinessWeek, Bank of America is pushing back when offering loan modifications to people who are complaining publicly. The catch is the borrower must stay quiet and remove any previous criticisms of the bank from public records, like tweets or facebook.

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30 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

The new beauty (sic) secret:

Fotoshop by Adobé from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

Via PoliticalProf.

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30 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Drumbeats

. . .by raining death from the skies in far away places with strange sounding names.

Dick Destiny explains.

No one will say it in formal circles: Use of drones outside the US is all about bombing paupers or — ahem — the impoverished places of the world, if something less blunt sounding is needed. That’s the US strategic plant coupled to the story on budget cuts. It’s a strategic triad with two of legs — drones and special forces — aimed at going after people who largely cannot defend themselves in any serious way, always poorer, weaker, and generally of different color and religion in desperate regions. And the third leg of the triad — the Navy — is aimed at people who definitely can shoot back, the Chinese. But whom we won’t get into a war with for the obvious reason that they make all our pipe and wires and telephones and computers and underwear and everything else except drones and most of the kit that the special forces use.

One wonders when it becomes killing fighting merely for the sake of killing fighting.

Follow the link for the rest.

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30 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

In the Guardian, Charlie Booker considers sharing, the automated electronic version that strips your computer life naked by default.

A nugget:

It’ll only get worse. Here’s what I am listening to on Spotify. This is the page of the book I am reading. I am currently watching the 43rd minute of a Will Ferrell movie. And I’m not telling you this stuff. The software is. I am a character in The Sims. Hover the cursor over my head and watch that stat feed scroll.

You know how annoying it is when you’re sitting on the train with a magazine and the person sitting beside you starts reading over your shoulder? Welcome to every single moment of your future. Might as well get used to it. It’s an experience we’ll all be sharing.

Read the rest.

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30 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

The Guardian reports that Apple “has come out fighting” in response to the increasing public awareness that its overpriced, over-hyped iGadgets are produced by an exploited, underpaid, off-shore labor force.

A snippet from the end of the article:

In a lengthy email sent to Apple staff, chief executive Tim Cook met the allegations head-on. “We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern,” Cook said. He went on to slam critics of the company. “Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us… accusations like these are contrary to our values.”

(snip)

However, the company’s own list made for grim reading. It revealed that a staggering 62% of the 229 facilities that it was involved with were not in compliance with Apple’s 60-hour maximum working week policy. Almost a third had problem with hazardous waste.

Certainly the “accusations . . . are contrary to” their values.

Accusations are contrary to my values to.

Especially when I’m guilty.

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30 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Theatre

Images of racisim, sexism, religious bigotry; NJ Gov. Christie saying about gay marriage,

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30 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: First Looks

Corazon Aquino, from the Quotemaster (subscribe here):

It is true you cannot eat freedom and you cannot power machinery with democracy. But then neither can political prisoners turn on the light in the cells of a dictatorship.

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29 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: First Looks

Great Dismal Swamp“Maroons” was a term applied to escaped African slaves rumored to have hidden for generations in the Great Dismal Swamp, which at one time covered over 1,000,000 acres in this part of the world (what’s left is about a tenth that size and still trackless).

The local rag has an excellent story on the efforts of an archaeologist to discover whether the rumors were true. While you are reading it, ask yourself this:

If slavery were so benign an institution as supporters of the Lost Cause pretend (here’s Chauncey Devega dismembering one such statement by Ron Paul), why were the slaveholders’ biggest fears escape and revolt?

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29 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Masters of the Universe

Such as this possible side effect of Romney’s sense of entitlement to the Presidency:

Mitt Romney’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination may be costing his private- equity backers a lot more than they bargained for.

Attacks by opponents portraying Bain Capital LLC, Romney and other buyout managers as corporate looters who enrich themselves at the expense of ordinary workers have put a spotlight on the industry that will affect negotiations about future investments,

(snip)

“Private-equity managers’ wealth and tax rates are on display at a time when pensions are getting squeezed,” said Joseph Alejandro, treasurer of the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. “Public investors should raise questions about whether the business is overly generous for managers. I hope the renewed attention on the industry will lead to discussions on fees and greater controls like claw-backs.”

The more scrutiny they get, the worse they are going to look.

The shadows are their best friends.

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29 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Theatre

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29 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

If you’re still not sure why all the fuss about SOPA/PIPA, listen to last week’s episode of the Network Security Podcast (podcast download at the link).

The podcast normally reviews computer security news from the week, concentrating on issues of substance, rather than the gee-whiz scary stories and consultant hackery that makes it into television news and newspapers. Such stories are designed to create FUD leading to consultancy contracts to design defenses that won’t work against threats that don’t exist. (Dick Destiny keeps a close eye on that kind of stuff).

On last week’s NetSec podcast, the panelists chose to concentrate on one issue: SOPA/PIPA and the internet protest of a week ago Wednesday. That spun into a fascinating conversation that explored copyright, piracy and allegations of piracy, and corporate business models and practices for nearly an hour–twice the usual length of the podcast.

If you were unclear on the implications of SOPA/PIPA/ACTA before, you won’t be after loading this up in your podplayer.

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29 January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Gunnuttery

Impoliteness breeds politeness:

A spilled drink may have led to four people, including two innocent bystanders, being shot early Saturday at a Stone Mountain (Georgia–ed.) night club, police said.

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