SocraticGadfly: 10/9/11 - 10/16/11

October 15, 2011

#TeapotTommy loves him some #Rahmbo

Only in the mind of someone like "My Head is Flat" Thomas Friedman could Rahm Emanuel be a progressive. The man who recruited Blue Dog Democrats Republicans like Heath Shuler? The man who helped persuade Obama to cut back on stimulus size?

A progressive in the age of Big Biz like this?
Doug Oberhelman, the C.E.O. of Caterpillar, which is based in Illinois, was quoted in Crain’s Chicago Business on Sept. 13 as saying: “We cannot find qualified hourly production people, and, for that matter, many technical, engineering service technicians, and even welders, and it is hurting our manufacturing base in the United States. The education system in the United States basically has failed them, and we have to retrain every person we hire.”
With big biz that won't pay more for better education?

Oh, I'm not saying that public-sector bureaucracies can't get better. Ditto, though, for private-sector bureaucracies. And, not just by cutting staff.

Meanwhile, Rahmbo buys into this:
On a good day, such as last week, a firm like Accenture announces it is adding 500 jobs in Chicago. And, on a bad day, Emanuel notes, he finds himself “staring right into the whites of the eyes of the skills shortage.” His city has thousands of job openings going unfilled, he says: “I had two young C.E.O.’s in the health care software business in the other day, sitting at this table. I asked them: ‘What can I do to help you?’ They said, ‘We have 50 job openings today, and we can’t find people.’ ”
Dude, when your neolib big biz friends cut and dump people by the bushel rather than investing in retraining them in the first place, they're part of the problem. And, you're part of the problem.

#Obamiacs leaders of #OWS? Political whores are, too

First of all, let's repeat. If you have an inner circle, if you have that inner circle patrolled with security guards, you have leaders. If one of your major websites has been around since June 2010, and is deliberately obfuscating who's behind it, you have leaders. (Meanwhile, there's falsehoods being told by either leaders or myth-believers, like the claim that the 1960s civil rights movement was "leaderless." Twould be news indeed to the NAACP, SCLC, SNCC and others. The same story includes a claim that civil rights leaders didn't come out with a "laundry list" early on. Again, simply not true.)

And, are at least some of the leaders Obamiacs? Still delusional about Dear Leader?

Well, it's possible, and it's not just me saying that, per this excellent blog post.
Overwhelmingly the people most involved in the General Assembly – the people who facilitate, who offer reports from working groups and who pose questions, are clearly of the professional classes, which is betrayed instantly by their appearance and communication style, their savviness in directing discussion and giving instructions, and by the preening, extroverted style that marks many of today’s professionals from both working stiffs and their stodgier predecessors. In other words, they look exactly like the kind of people who went literally insane for Obama in 2008 and many, if not most, probably did.
The narrative that you get from liberals all over New York, that Obama means well but has been bullied by the right-wing or The System, is not at all uncommon among people who have embraced #OWS including its founding members.  One occupation resident I spoke to estimated that about 3 in 10 people in the movement are very much in favor of Obama. Furthermore, the movement is on extremely friendly terms with – a top-down partisan Democrat campaign organization – and the most Dem-friendly factions of organized labor. Both the 10,000 strong march of a few weeks back and the marches to billionaires homes (which, by the way, only make stops at Republican bogeymen like Rupert Murdoch) were Move On/labor events with what managers would call a dotted line to #OWS.
Glenn Greenwald wrote earlier this week on the Center for American Progress, as well as the Democratic Party, also seemingly wanting to co-opt OWS as a Democratic movement. He cites this NYT story:
The Center for American Progress, a liberal organization run by John D. Podesta, who helped lead Mr. Obama’s 2008 transition, credits the protests with tapping into pent-up anger over a political system that it says rewards the rich over the working class — a populist theme now being emphasized by the White House and the party. The center has encouraged and sought to help coordinate protests in different cities.
CAP and MoveOn are both political whores, no less than Ralph Nader is, in a different way, and no less than Gang Green environmental organizations are for ultimately focusing on "Democratic Party access" as  being so vital. And, while I've railed about Glenn not touting third-party voting, this link indicates maybe he will soon?

Repeat: CAP and MoveOn are both political whores. (And, Amy Goodman is either a political whore or clueless.)
It's possible that, per the Adbusters part of OWS backing, the "hey, look at me be young, cool and hip, why didn't you ad agencies hire me?" part of OWS backing, though, that many "everyday" OWS protesters don't care. Per the top link:
Hence, for the moment, #OWS is, like the Obama ‘movement’, very much more about itself than about anything else.
 That would be partly behind the pretentiousness to claim this is really like Tahrir Square.

Oh, there's commonalities. Per my deliberately snide take on Adbusters, a take I've had for about ... 15 years ... "branding" is a huge commonality between these folks and Dear Leader and his team.

Again, this is the Obama who gets plenty of campaign money from the 1 percenters. This is the same Obama who has time to "worry about" busting medical marijuana in California, promoting "free trade" deals and many other things, besides legitimate OWS complaints.

So, you have a mix of political whores and Obamiacs intermixing with a group that's primarily politically naive with a sprinkling of largely nonviolent anarchists. Well, the civil rights movement got things done by having both an actual leadership and organization that formulated actual strategy and tactics.

October 14, 2011

Some top #SteveJobs jokes

Update, Oct. 5, 2011: Steve Jobs is dead. Of course, this post, written on the day and day after he resigned as Apple CEO, is hashtagged and getting plenty of hits. Jobs was a marketing genius, if nothing else, even if his creativity level took a back seat during his second Apple stint. That said, is his death like that of John Lennon's? Well, maybe in that both were overmourned.

One obit, reaching for historic gravitas, compared Jobs to Thomas Edison. On the side of myth, I'd say that's about right. Edison's myth was different: Many of "his" inventions were created by assistants in Edison's labs.

Is it the degree of authoritarianism, even by modern CEO standards? Is it the personal marketing intermingled with the product marketing? I personally don't "get" what has driven the Steve Jobs hagiography. That said, going beyond Adbusters types, I can be non-commercial without trying to commercialize myself by the back door, including thinking that Apple is somehow anti-capitalist.

So, in doing an irreverent take on the cultic reverence for Jobs and his self-marketed image, I offer a mix of one-liners and zingers, at least some of them with serious thought behind the zing.

OH, and  do NOT forget your WWJobsD bracelets! Since we're already being told that Jobs would support "Occupy Wall Street" (I kind of doubt it), we will surely be bombarded with his alleged wisdom in the future.

The iCoffin! Stylish Apple coloring.
Speaking of marketing, branding and cultic angles, I have no doubt people are already Photoshopping the silver Apple logo onto the lids of black walnut Mac AirBook caskets, Photoshopping Apple aficionados crying silver Apple logo tears and more. And, to beat them to the punch ... on the left, I introduce the iCoffin! No word if you can jailbreak this baby, or if it's one size fits all. And, that's the Classic version. The iCoffin Touch? You touch the Apple logo to scroll through all the different iTunes-recorded eulogies. Press the center of the logo, and a holographic Jobs "shuffles"! The Nano iCoffin? It cryogenically preserves Steve Jobs for re-integration as an Apple iBorg!

And, speaking of iBorgs and hagiography, get a load of a worshiper's art, at left. That MacBook is probably worth more disassembled than it was put together.

Speaking of the funeral, will we have a funeral as hagiographic as that of Ayatollah Khomenei? It wouldn't surprise me, the way I see people talking in semi-salvific terms about Jobs. Speaking of that, will we have Sevener and Twelver Appleholics battling over the location of The Hidden Imam Jobs? People fighting to touch the casket? The hem of Jobs' black burial turtleneck? Hoping for magical healing powers?

I guess we won't,  if it's going to be private .. but ... I bet somebody arranges at least one "surrogate funeral," or wake, or something.

Will we get a Steve Jobs funeral iPhone/iPad app? Maybe there's one called iMourn. When you launch the app, a Chinese worker at Foxconn gets Tasered into crying. That would be followed by iMourn2, where Chinese workers at fake Apple stores go into fake mourning, which may be happening. Or worse, they actually are mourning as much as Appleholics here in America.

And, it's nice to see the cultists doing most my Photoshopping work for me. I still haven't gotten around to Photoshopping Apples being crapped in the punchbowl.

Anyway, if not the iMourn, we could have the iDie, an app that connects you to the Hemlock Society.

And, will Apple release a "Steve Jobs' favorites" music list available for iTunes download? Will we get his Illinois commencement speech and other words of Jobs' wisdom also available for download? Since others compare him to John Lennon, that music list would include "While My iPod Gently Weeps," right? Snark aside, ti would not surprise me one whit if they actually happened.

Will Jobs dial all Apple product users with a final message, "Sent from my iCoffin - Steve Jobs"?

Was the iPhone 4S ... 4 Steve? (More serious "hagiography" - was it rushed out because his demise was known to be imminent, even though it wasn't an iPhone 5? So ... how do you kill the iPhone 5? You kill Steve Jobs!)

Will we see the lakes turn Apple rainbow colors? The skies rain silver Apples? Is the iApocalypse here?

No, but "The Second Coming of Steve Jobs" is! Seriously, I've put this unauthorized bio in my Amazon cart. Deutschman accurately compares Jobs, one reviewer says, to a televangelist.

If he's not a televangelist, did you know Jobs is an iCon? Well, he's an icon to worshipers, but an iCon, pun obviously intended, to an even harder hitting biographer. (That said, this book sounds a bit more iffy.)

Did you know Jobs had no big brother? That's because he WAS Big Brother!

Meanwhile, on with the jokes!

What the iGenius who has everything, including monetarily, should get his iDaughter? Nothing! You deny paternity instead!

What do you call Jobs' business model for Apple? It's iProfit!

Or, there’s the iFlop app. When you launch this, you immediately get a list of the:
1. Apple III (unreliable)
2. Lisa (underpriced by the Mac)
3. NeXT Computer (overpriced)
4. Puck Mouse (stupid, and showing Jobs’ design instinct wasn’t unerring)
5. The Cube (overpriced based only on design)
6. iTunes phone (don’t want to forget this)
7. Apple TV (Jobs would like to forget this)
8. Add to this AP list the decision to kill the Mac clones market.

That said ... continue on to additional jokes below the fold, written on the day Jobs announced his resignation as Apple CEO. (The one about rising three days later might be apropos.) There's also more seriousness about Foxconn and other Apple reality behind the Apple myth. (And welcome, whoever was visitor 10,000  at about 2 a.m. Eastern time Oct. 7.)

Is tech industry "infantile"? Did #SteveJobs add to it?

Mike Daisey thinks so. He's a techie of sorts and a definite performance artist, now doing a monologue on Steve Jobs.

He shone a light last year on the horrific work practices at Apple's Foxconn factories. And, he notes now that there's simply no financial reason to invest in such abusive practices, since the labor cost of an iPhone is only $8. In other words, there's simply no excuse for outsourcing these jobs. Period. Daisey notes:
"My job is to shine a light on and through something," he says. "My job isn't actually to stop people from buying devices. My job is to ensure that these circumstances are part of the conversation."
He takes that light shining to the modern tech industry in general. And, not just to the Chinese production, but the branding, the conspicuous consumption and more.
"I have to say, all the mourning for my hobby aside, there's a real joy to being freed from the infantilism of the tech world. There's a real infantilism in being obsessed with just how fast you can render a web page," he says. "I never really appreciated how imbedded I was until I stepped out of it."

He hopes to someday have a sweatshop-free certification of tech products.

Good luck with that, Mike. As I've blogged before, Silicon Valley is exploitive of its non-techie workers here in the U.S. Frankly, I think it's in part due to the same type of class/employment based cultural arrogance that seems to have driven Jobs himself. I mean, you can't outsource your U.S. janitorial work to China, so how you treat blue-collar local employees is probably a good reflection in general.

Read Daisey's own blog here. Read his NYT op-ed on Jobs' death here.

October 13, 2011

The #neolib budget sellout by #DearLeader starts

C'mon, now. Unless you're a diehard Obamiac, don't tell me you didn't see some of this coming months ago, no, more than a year ago, when he created the Catfood Commission.

From the latest on "debt supercommission" talks:
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said President Barack Obama shares his view that the Pentagon should be shielded from any additional budget cutting.
 Showing just what's wrong with an imperialistic economy based on the military-industrial complex, Panetta then personalized the issue from his days in Congress:
Recalling his time as a member of the U.S. House, Panetta noted that a military base in his district was cut in 1994.
"I lost Fort Ord. ... That represented 25 percent of my local economy. So I know what it means to go through this process," he said. "We have to do this right, and we can do it right."
Fort Ord is in Monterey Bay. Monterey. Carmel. Garlic and strawberry growing capitals of the U.S. just a few miles inland, centered on Gilroy and Hollister. Santa Cruz and a university to the north.

Rather, Panetta should have been decrying that a fort was 25 percent of the economy in his 17th Congressional District. (Then the 16th.)

Don't think Sarah Palin is "gone"

Just because she's not seeking the GOP nod. She could run as an independent (what a scary thought). And, I think there's a semblance of official Reform Party structure (per Wikipedia) available to be hijacked. Or there's the Constitution Party, the official party for Christian wingnuttery.

What would this look like? Per the first link:
Dartmouth Professor Brendan Nyhan, a best-selling media critic, said the prospect would raise overwhelming flash — if not overwhelming results at the ballot box. 
“It would be a spectacle,” Nyhan said, “but I don’t think she’d be taken nearly as seriously by the press as a centrist third-party candidate like Perot would be. Perot actually briefly led in the polls, whereas she has negative ratings well over 50 percent and would be lucky to get double digits.”
Nyhan overlooks that "spectacle" is Palin's middle name, though! (As well as a great source of limelight, money, etc.) Running for president via a third-party movement would require a lot less work than doing so as a true independent, so, don't be surprised if you haven't heard the last of Sarah Palin.

And, that wouldn't end her ability to stick her toes in GOP waters. Plenty a Republican, including cantankerous wingnut Ron Paul, has had some sort of flirtation with the Constitution Party. Pat Buchanon ran for president on the Reform Party ticket.

And, to riff on Marx's quote about history repeating itself, first as tragedy, then as farce? In this case, farce was already the first act. The recurrence would be torture.

OTOH, Salon's Steve Kornacki says it's too bad she didn't run. That way, she could have gotten her ass kicked and her bubble would have been fully burst, once and for all.

#BrianDunning: No wonder he's such a libertarian

 UPDATE, Oct. 29, 2011: Welcome, Skeptic's Guide to the Universe readers. I don't have a "vendetta" against Skepticblog, just against ideology masquerading as skepticism. Brian Dunning and Michael Shermer both do it regularly with their libertarianism. (So does non-Skepticblog Skeptic Penn Jillette, the magician.) Shermer also leaves himself "open" to critical purview otherwise, for having known racialists on his magazine's masthead.

UPDATE 2, Dec. 31, 2011: Apparently, I've gotten too far under Dunning's skin; I've been blocked from posting at Skepticblog.

Why pointing these things out should be considered a possible "problem," I don't know.

And, if you'll click either the skepticism or pseudoskepticism tags, you'll note that I take a skeptical eye at skeptics outside the magazine, like the above-named Penn and others who are Gnu Atheist evangelists (P.Z. Myers is a favorite target), or even occasionally a Chris Mooney type.

Conduct that leads to an FBI criminal fraud investigation and criminal indictment is a "good" reason indeed to be a libertarian. But, it rightfully draws skepticism about just how "good" of a skeptic a self-proclaimed skeptic, and peer-accepted skeptical leader, is.

Dunning, the host of the Skeptoid podcast on skeptical issues as well as a blogger on Skepticblog, has had his hands slapped before by me and other skeptics for letting libertarian political beliefs bend his skepticism at times.

UPDATE, Oct. 6, 2011: Dunning is now (in a lawyer-vetted blog post) making this hilarious claim:
What’s written on my Wikipedia page is factually true, through grossly misleading.
So's your own post. The top link notes that the charges are against Kessler's Flying Circus, not Skeptoid Media. Nice try, but a #fail.

He then claims that "cookie stuffing" is just the act of dropping third-party cookies on someone's browser. Well, per this link, that's not what the suit/charges are about (what cookie stuffing actually is will be explained below that):
But within this scandal can be found some very useful information.  The ebay lawsuit document details a lot of very interesting methods for cookie stuffing that shawn + friends were [allegedly] using.  Cakes isn’t going to detail everything about cookie stuffing for any newbies reading, but basically how it works is, if you are part of the ebay affiliate program, and you run a high traffic website, you can leave ebay cookies on visitors computers which will give you a cut of any transactions they do on ebay within the next 30 days or so.  Stuff enough peoples computers with said cookies and you stand to make a signficant amount of cash based on sheer volume.

Heres a few interesting bits gleaned from the pdf docs:
Shawn + friends had a system set up that would record each individual computer they had stuffed in order to not attempt to stuff cookies on that same computer again.  This not only makes things look more legit on ebay’s side in the logs, but prevents anyone trying to observe something shady from duplicating it.  Also, they attempted to geotarget the traffic and prevent any computers located in Santa Barbara, CA (headquarters of Commission Junction, who hosted ebay’s affiliate program) and San Jose, CA (ebay’s headquarters).  This was done to hide the cookie stuffing from ebay and CJ employees (obviously).  Interesting stuff indeed!

The PDF of the legal filing, linked within the pull quotes, on page 2 notes that Dunning had more than one seemingly quasi-shell company going, either on his own or with (his brother?) Todd Dunning. Pages 4-5 describe more how the cookie stuffing allegedly worked.

It's also worth noting that, while Dunning bitches about his Wiki page, Wiki itself explains what cookie stuffing actually is, not Dunning's seeming attempt to explain it away, complete with vetting by lawyers. And, given how much Dunning markets his "Skeptoid swag" ...

Now, back to the original thread of this post ...

Well, imagine my surprise, but not, really, my "surprise," at hearing this:
# Between 2006 and June 2007, Shawn Hogan (Digital Point Solutions) earned approximately $15.5 million in commissions from eBay. Hogan was eBay’s number one affiliate.
# Between 2006 and June 2007, Dunning (Kessler’s Flying Circus) earned approximately $5.3 million in commissions from eBay. Dunning was eBay’s number two affiliate.
# Hogan and Dunning are accused of generating hidden forced clicks on both their own web sites as well as sites not connected with the defendants in order to increase the number of computers storing the eBay affiliate tracking cookie.
# The legal criteria for wire fraud was established not on money (commissions) being transferred over the wires, but because of transmission of the tracking cookie between states and internationally.
Brian ... or anybody else ... care to comment? Guess not, since you said you've got a "partial explanation." Lawyers probably said that's all you could say.

That said, two questions:
1. Why say anything?
2. Why now?

On No. 1, the criminal and civil filings have been out there for months. Your partial explanation won't stop further speculation. But, you probably couldn't resist. Or, maybe you're losing that many donations to Skeptoid. Even though Skeptoid isn't the entity being sued, well, Brian, you've allegedly made your own bed ...

On. No. 2, are we nearing a trial date? Are settlement talks heating up?

Being sued is at one level. With the usual boilerpoint caveat about how people are presumed innocent until proven guilty, being investigated for criminal fraud is another level, and being indicted for that is yet another level. (Here's the PDF of the criminal indictment.)

(A FB friend saw the link on the FB page of a friend of his and emailed me, on the original thread.)

October 12, 2011

Underwater homes, underwater recovery

Until we get housing and mortgage debt issues addressed, places like Phoenix and Las Vegas, where home prices fell another 10 percent in just the second quarter of this year, are going to be a long-term drag on the economy.

Former Reaganite economics adviser Martin Feldstein has some reasonably sensible ideas, focused on wiping all debt above 110 percent of a home's current value off the books, with owners in turn signing a simple, hardcore statement that if they accept the cramdown, they could lose other assets in case of a default. 

As he puts it, large parts of the country are in a deflationary housing market.

That said, this isn't enough. We need to address the larger issues of:
1. Tax deductions for mortgage interest;
2. The myth of home as investment;
3. The quasi-myth, at least, of home as ATM.

And, that's just within the world of housing. We're not even talking about things like the widening income gap.

Until we look at the larger context, we will have some variant, if not as big, on this housing bubble in the future.

#Obamacare and the #1percenters

Here's notehr reason, speaking from the left, that Obamacare isn't likely to work so well, and that gets at its fundamental problem ... insiders helping write the bill.

Nearly one-sixth of the "1 percent" at the top of the economic pyramid work in medicine. To me, this shows that without lots of regulation (which it doesn't have) Obamacare is not going to work so well. When it came down the pike that Obamacare had little in the way of regulatory teeth, I knew it was dicey. That said, was that deliberate, for campaign politics reasons? One wonders.

October 11, 2011

Silence ain't bliss for Rick Perry either

Per a Wall Street Journal live blog of the latest GOP debate, it sounds like Tricky Ricky:

1. Was ignored by Romney as much as possible;
2. Whiffed on even a couple of softball questions.

On No. 2, I mean, calling Romney a perennial candidate when you've been Texas gov since 1999? You're lucky Mitt was choosing to ignore you so as not to give you air time.

I'll offer 50-50 odds he gets to full Phil Gramm meltdown by New Hampshire primary times.

Who does that leave against the Mittster? The Pizza Man, Mr. Token? He's no more serious a candidate than Bachmann. Huntsman? Still not a chance. Paul? Besides still being a wingnut of wingnuts under his suaver exterior, the pro-war wing of the GOP hates him.

Everybody else is even more of a bottom feeder.

#DavidBrooks: There's no boboes in #99ers at #OWS

Well, the folks at Zucotti Park? You've really done it now; you've made David Brooks mad, mad enough to call you small thinkers.

That said, he's only about 80 percent wrong, or maybe 90 percent.

See, in part, that's because the top 10 percent have been getting economic separation from the other 90 percent for a full decade. And that top 10 percent, even, has felt relatively little economic pain the past three years. It's even true to a degree of the top 20 percent.

Of course, none of that is mentioned by Brooks; he's just lucky to be 10-20 percent right and give me a narrative hook.

He is, though, right about the Adbusters affiliation. (Brooks' column links to an Adbusters' story from 2006 that is at least borderline antisemitic.) You have "look at me" types a-plenty there, even if to rely on that narrative hook too much is stereotyping. Then you have Anonymous, which likes protest and monkey-wrenching for their own sake. And, you have the 99ers themselves, not leaderless at all, since the official website was started in June, 2010.

Whether it's founder(s), too, believe in protest as art form remains to be seen.

One friend kind of wondered if the situation wasn't somewhat equivalent to ANSWER's involvement in anti-Iraq War protests. No, not really. It was not a primary organizer of any protests as much as it was a piggybacker. Adbusters and Anonymous, though, are major propellers of Occupy Wall Street. And, should OWS gain more traction, more David Brooks-type columns will appear. Given that a person affiliated with Adbusters blatantly photoshopped a picture to inflate crowd size claims two weeks ago, this could be a problem.

No, it is a problem. It's just not that public a problem yet.

But, let's not forget that Brooks is still at least 80 percent wrong. That's because he's a fake centrist, as Gene Lyons points out so well, along with Teapot Tommy Friedman. It's no wonder the two of them are leading pushers of a fake third party "centrist" movement, that's really as conservative as late-70s Republicanism.

October 10, 2011

Untrue #RIPSteveJobs eulogies

We need one of Satan welcoming him to Foxconn-employee hell.
Moving beyond my Steve Jobs jokes post, I've decided to start this blog post, collecting eulogies to him that simply aren't true. The editorial cartoon shows the fawning and lack of truth aren't limited to words; my caption suggests the alternative we need.

This story in the NYT inspired me, or drove me. Author Steve Lohr, in describing Jobs as a risk-taker, says this on page 2:
Mr. Jobs made a lot of money over the years, for himself and for Apple shareholders. But money never seemed to be his principal motivation.
Really? If it wasn't, then why did he overcharge for so much of his stuff? Why did he outsource to places like Foxconn? Why did he outsource and STILL overcharge? True, he doesn't have Bill Gates' money, but taking things relative to product market share, he's still in the same neighborhood.

Linking within the NYT, I came to this one, comparing public eulogies of Jobs and Thomas Edison. It concludes:
The public tributes to Edison in 1931 and those to Mr. Jobs 80 years later were similar, but only superficially. With Edison, the public thought of the Wizard, an outsize persona, through which it was impossible to see an actual person. But with Mr. Jobs, the tributes were to a fellow mortal, exactly our own height, just as vulnerable as we all are to the random strike of a life-ending catastrophe.
Really? In actuality, everything Randall Stross says about Edison's eulogies applies to the way Jobs is being eulogized.

At least Wired was honest enough to start upfront with the BS. In the opening paragraph:
No one will take issue with the official Apple statement that “The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.”
Really? Beyond the technical sense in which brilliance in something like marketing/branding maynot be "measurable," I think a lot of people take issue with such a claim.

And, what is called Jobs' genius was luck. Specifically, one huge case of luck. AS Wred's own story notes, Jobs originally wanted the iPod to be useable only with Mac computers, and an employee had to talk him out of that. What if Jobs had had his usual level of stubbornness?

Here's another, that complains it's unfair to claim Apple was "anything but a business," despite the fact it was Jobs himself who, as part of Apple's "branding," developed that illusion.

There's a good roundup of reality-based Steve Jobs eulogizing here. It includes this from Wired:
Apple has built a little slab of Disneyland with its iPad, which is meant to be an experience unsullied by provocative or crude material. It’s beautiful and enticing — the company has already sold more than a half million of them in the first two weeks it’s been available — but it’s not the real world.
Anyway, that's a starter. If you have more examples to contribute, hit me up in comments.

High-speed trades regulation: U.S. vs Europe

I think even a lot of Wall Street types agree that modern high-speed computerized trading is as much bane as boon to the financial sector. (Of course, they usually have selfish reasons for doing so; the more people recognize that computers are doing more and more trading, and the more and more they think of these computers in terms of beasties akin to Jeopardy-winning "Watson" and not home PCs, they'll say, WTF do I pay for Wall Streed advice for?)

The New York Times details some of the issues and problems involved:

Regulators are playing catch-up. In the United States and Europe, they have recently fined traders for using computers to gain advantage over slower investors by illegally manipulating prices, and they suspect other market abuse could be going on. ...

Perhaps regulators’ biggest worry is over the unknown dynamics of the computerized stock market world that the firms are part of — and the risk that at any moment it could spin out of control. ...

When British regulators noticed strange price movements in a range of shares on the London Stock Exchange, they tracked them to a Canadian firm issuing thousands of computerized orders allegedly designed to mislead other investors. 

In August, regulators fined the firm, Swift Trade, £8 million, or $13.1 million, for a technique called layering. ...

In the United States, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority last year fined Trillium Brokerage Services, a New York firm, and some of its employees $2.3 million for layering. 

Even the traders’ authorized activities are coming under fire, especially their tendency to shoot off thousands of orders a second and suddenly cancel many. Long-term investors like pension funds complain that the practice makes their trading harder.
So, we need more regulation, right? The story notes that an international regulatory body will make suggestions soon. It added that European, Canadian and even American officials are considering using fees to regulate volume, or like AT&T on cell phones, charge extra for higher volumes.

But, what's missing in the U.S.? This:
One of the most controversial actions has been the European Commission’s recent proposal for a financial transaction tax on speculators, which would hit high-frequency firms and curtail volumes. The proposed tax would apply to all trades in stocks, bonds and derivatives, and may face stiff opposition from European governments. Many such firms are based in Britain or the Netherlands, and authorities fear a loss of business.
As long as either the current crop of Democrats, like Dear Leader, or any Republicans of note with the possible exception of longer-shot-than-Jon-Huntsman candidate Buddy Roemer, have control of the wheels of power, this will never even come up on the U.S. radar screen. And, British and Dutch authorities will use exactly that as part of their fear-mongering within the EC/EU.

However, even the Europeans are missing the boat if commodities futures aren't part of what gets a financial tax. When oil hit $147/bbl in 2008, guesstimates were that $20-25 of that price, at least, was purely speculators' froth.

The real goal should go beyond reigning in high-speed trades to reigning in trade that is unproductive even by the loose standards of "productive" in the modern financial world.

October 09, 2011

Bill Keller: Clueless about #RickPerry and #teaparty

Somehow the NYT's former executive editor thinks Rick Perry should be or is a tea partier favorite, and the fact that, according to polls, he's not getting more tea party support shows the tea party is in trouble.

Even stupider, on the second page, he claims that Perry is TPers' ideal candidate:
In this race, Rick Perry is the Tea Party’s dream candidate, the one remaining figure who could translate a noisy backlash into serious power. If Rick Perry loses, the Tea Party will have missed the opportunity of a lifetime. If he wins, Perry being Perry, it’s not entirely clear whether he will appease its members, but my guess is he’ll try.
“Rick Perry is the only candidate who would actually close down a cabinet department,” one longtime admirer told me, when I asked whether a President Perry would disappoint the Tea Party. “You would see a very happy base — at least for the first term.”
Not true.

"One remaining figure ... " only per MSM calculations the GOP nomination is now a two-person race.

Second, aside from that, he says "in this race." Really not true. Bachmann is definitely more a dream candidate than Perry. Paul and Santorum are at least Perry's equals.

The fact that Perry, wounded and all, gets more polling overall than any of them? THAT shows TPer weakness. And, that money and branding are at the heart of the GOP.

#StlCards lose game 1? Blame #TLR

UPDATE, Oct. 9: TLR is mismanaging the bullpen in Game 1 of the LCS, with "perfect bad timing," even as this post was originally about Game 1 of the LDS. But, yes, it's arguably that Tony the Pony is at fault this time, too.

As Yahoo Sports' Les Carpenter notes, Tony La Russa had nobody warming up in the bullpen, not just before Ryan Howard's three-run smash, but afterward, too. Yes, the pen's been iffy.  But, as Carpenter notes, junkball artist Kyle Lohse in a bandbox ballpark was playing with fire all along. (Unfortunately, the team is stuck with  $12M of playing with his fire next year,)

Anyway, WHY Marc Rzepczynski wasn't warming up for the one-batter scenario against Howard, if nothing else, I have NO idea. How much is Tony the Pony's fault? How much is Dave Duncan being distracted by his wife's brain tumor situation?

But, this shouldn't have happened.

But, this isn't an isolated incident in the series.

He lost Game 3 through telling Jaime Garcia to intentionally walk Carlos Ruiz to face Ben Francisco. He almost lost Game 2, IMO, by pulling Chris Carpenter when he did rather than calling for a safety squeeze.