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Two Brits coming to the US to get trashed and “destroy America” and “dig up Marilyn Monroe” were deported. Whether digging up Marilyn Monroe is terrorism remains to be seen – after all, the two weren’t Muslims, which is supposed to be criteria numero uno

In any case, don’t try to engage Homeland Security’s humor, because it hasn’t got one. A bit of common sense and cultural reference also place high on Homeland Sec’s Wishlist on Amazon. Sadly, no one’s offering to pony up to help our new men in black/blue look a little less ‘tarded.

According to the Daily Mail, Bunting said: “The officials told us we were not allowed in to the country because of Leigh’s tweet. They wanted to know what we were going to do. They asked why we wanted to destroy America and we tried to explain it meant to get trashed and party.

“I almost burst out laughing when they asked me if I was going to be Leigh’s lookout while he dug up Marilyn Monroe. I couldn’t believe it because it was a quote from the comedy Family Guy which is an American show.”

Sadly, 235 years after the Revolution, the Brits still haven’t lost their ability to overestimate us no matter how silly we act. No wonder we remain fast friends. Now where shall we jointly invade *this* week?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012 10:38

Navy Seals to Divorce Heidi Klum

I don't know if this will hurt our war on terror, or otherwise limit success on new Bin Laden-style actions, but the announcement that the Navy Seals and Heidi Klum are breaking up took me by surprise. First, because I hadn't realized they were an item. Second, I thought she could do better. Two-and-a-halfth, I wondered if she'd done any of that deep sea demolition / sabotage stuff, or just beach shots - what were their vacations like? Three-and-three-quarters, I wonder what she'll get for alimony - Annapolis? CNIC San Diego? Or just Diego Garcia? (the island, not the actor)

I guess ever since some company wanted to do a mobile game based on the Seals rescue targeted assassination capture oops deep sea disposal strike against terror, it was just a matter of time before the human side of the Navy Seals came out. With the capture of 2 Seals in Somalia, we can see the damaging side effects of relationship depression - first Demi Moore, now this?

And how come Heidi Klum? Couldn't the Seals get a Made in America supermodel? I mean, it's not all Lindsay Lohan / Paris Hilton... There's always Miley Cyrus. Hmmm, okay, maybe not. Lady Gaga? Perhaps a security risk, at least on CD. Maybe this is Demi's chance - a Navy Seal Jane sequel? (of GI Jane, not the Charlie Sheen movie)

Good luck, kids - hope you're back on your feet real quick.

[Full disclosure - I've been meaning to write about something absurd and meaningless for some time, but Wendy kept beating me to it. This time I've got her in a Bulgarian strangle hold. And about time - I'd been working on a "Davos the Fish" column, and she goes and blows me out of the water. Well, try to make *this* one seriously. #Occupy Heidi? ]

Thursday, 19 January 2012 12:26

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 2012

As Hunter Thompson seems strangely absent from this year's mesmerizing contests, I thought I'd do my best to report live from the Palmetto State (via my tracking equipment in my bedroom 8000 miles away.

Here are the top stories from this Thursday, less than 48 hours before voting begins.

Obama rakes the media for depicting him as being cold and aloof just because he's cold and aloof.

Michelle Bachmann memorializes role played by Concord, South Carolina in the Revolution.

Rick Perry reveals faith inspired his decision to quit race, saying, "God wanted me to be #5".

Santorum stance increases due to gay support. Campaign says Santorum actually prefers frothy beer to frothy mixtures of lube and fecal matter - but keeps donations anyway.

Mitt Romney sympathizes with Newt Gingrich on "Open Marriage"; offers to teach him about polygamy.

Bill Clinton calls Obama's speech a "fairy tale"; Obama team calls him a dumb racist cracker. Nabisco sues.

Ron Paul proposes "Occupy Fort Knox" trying to blur a return to the Gold standard with support from the 99%.

Fox News protests Clinton's portrayal of "our own Fox channel", offers to change slogan to "Fairly Unbalanced"

South Carolina's largest paper endorses "None of the Above"; says hasn't seen such a pack of white trash losers since Sherman pushed the remnants of Lee's Army to the sea.

John Huntsman quits race for 2nd time, as most Americans didn't notice the first.

Latest Gallup/MSNBC poll shows most Americans thought the election was next year; confused whether it's in London or Sochi.

Candidates ready final push of campaign ads, finding voters are more persuaded with videos of cool phones than issue statements. Endorsements from iPhone, Razr and Galaxy S still up for grabs, while Nokia's WinPhone based Lumia's reported to be in Mitt's pocket. (Blackberry has been polling in the low single digits among predominantly white conservative voters)

Sexual harassment and gay bashing reported in early polling as voters confused about terms like "Unaffiliated Voters", "Crossover Ballot" and "Open Primaries".

Newt continues his conversion from rockbed conservative to socialist lite, revamping his campaign to re-focus New Hampshire's "vampire capitalism" theme to his new "sharing" message, apparently in an attempt to pull in female voters. Herman Cain speaking earlier today on Meet the Press expressed skepticism at this new strategy.

Cain is testing changes in FEC rules on the 2 year anniversary of the Citizens United ruling by offering a large for the price of a medium and a jumbo-size drink with every ballot.

Monday, 16 January 2012 10:34

Welcome to "Blame Whitey Day"

Now that we've had a Sunday where our most revered Christian white person blew the Super Bowl and exposed our sins and failings, we're in the perfect spirit to embrace MLK Day. (And Robert E. Lee Day, for those 3 unrepentent, recidivist Southern states).

We've a holiday calendar chock full of days to feel good about ourselves - Fourth of July (kick an Englishman day), Memorial Day (kick all those other people day), Labor Day (kick off early day), Thanksgiving (great we had those injuns nice enough to bring us food to keep us around to kick their ass later day), and Halloween (kick a pumpkin day).

Presumably we could have had 2 days to feel repentant - Easter, which we turned from just another lynching of a brown person into a surreal Bunny Day (aka Bonne Idée from the original French) laying eggs of all things, however you're supposed to interpret this. (some cultures have turned that into a large phallic stick and an as yet unfertilized egg, if you get my drift - thank God we left all that crap in Europe.

And Christmas, which we rebranded from the birth of that lynched brown guy into either the White Man's Burden, jolly bearded fat white man passing presents around, or December Madness sale. (The only holy person I remember from my church upbringing was St. Macy)

So while those on the conservative aisle will be up in arms (literally) over a perceived anti-whitey day, well, so what? If there's one day we can bond together and feel a little sorry for being white assholes, it's this day. Hey, don't think it's just a black thing, despite Malcolm.

We can toss a bit of remorse towards Mexicans we wiped out and whose land we sold, and who we're evicting at record numbers now. (Okay, the Mexican Americans are breeding at record numbers too, but we'll work that out on say - Cinco de Mayo? Alamo Day kinda has mixed reactions.) There are the Native Americans we slaughtered (sure, the bit about smallpox blankets was made up, but the bit about random shooting out of trains - kinda like those Blackwater videos in Iraq? yes, a staple of obnoxious white boy asshole behavior since time memorial). Golden Spike? Thanks to the Chinese, who we worked to death and then threw out of the country.

So, just as Tebow will be down on bended knee regretting some lapse in piety, the rest of us (whiteys, of course) can take a day to take cognizance of what jerks we've been. After all, 364 days of the year, it's great to be white. What's the problem of taking 1 day to do things different?


And about that President's Day? Well, I could never remember which one was Washington and which Lincoln anyway - and besides, they're on our money - every day is Washington's Birthday when you spend a buck or a quarter, Lincoln's when you spend a fiver or a nickel. And if you want a permanent memorial to white boy-ism, we have the $10 bill, named after Alexander Hamilton, who was the Geithner of his day. And the $20 bill, emblazoned with Andrew Jackson, who makes Ron Paul look like a social worker. Andrew Jackson destroyed the national bank, put the spoils system on steroids to enhance his own power, used war and treaty and connivance to push out the Indian Tribes, backed the theft of Texas from Mexico, and fostered the "Union above all" attitude with his military threats against South Carolina in the Nullification crisis. While people of color may get their days on the calendar and place in the Oval Office. But as the real estate gal says, "location, location, location" - until they have a place on our money, well, ain't good enough.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012 22:04

The Failed Generation

We're about to lose the reins of power for a generation.

Maybe hyperbole, but the Republicans know how to pile on, and Obama will be the "failed president", just like Carter.

Mitt will be the pro-business alternative, and through their magic pixie dust, the Republicans will get Americans to vote for the Dow Jones, because it looks just like the NCAA standings or March Madness to them - they just like to gamble, even with their own future.

(of course conservatives are still kicking tires and looking for alternatives, and Politico naïvely proposes that Mitt's "finished first but battered", but everyone else gets it - it's all about the VP now, which I'd hazard to guess won't be Newt)

While my forays to that other blog are not of mathematical significance, I think aside from a few like Greenwald and Stoller that the "left" side of the aisle just doesn't get Ron Paul or even where the popularity of conservatism lies.

Something I read yesterday noted that liberals should have 60-70% of the electorate at this point if you believe position polls.

But they just can't close the deal.

Too many weasel words, too much scoffing, too little understanding "the customer".

And in baseball terms, we haven't been working on our farm clubs - everything's been Obama of late. A recent flurry of speculation went up about Hillary as VP and then Prez in 2016. Really? God love her, but after 2009 meltdown, Occupy Wall Street, and 4 more years of counter-productive and expensive foreign wars, don't we have any new cards up our sleeves?

The sad answer is, "not really". I like Alan Grayson, but I have trouble imagining him as nationally electable. Perhaps Al Franken, who has both the charismatic personality and the command of issues. Short of that, it's blahsville. We don't even have characters that are significantly annoying (i.e. any publicity is good publicity - where's our Palin?)

Or why do I say "we"? Do I care about the Democratic Party? With its anti-labor caviling, its fellow-traveler support for the war on terror, its fear-induced defaults on the Constitution and fiscal responsibility and social commitment, I'm just not into it anymore. When something as basic as Social Security became an unnecessary bargaining chip for deficits, when Democrats couldn't even articulate the business needs for universal health care, I pretty well checked out.

Don't know what to think. My only optimism is that Ron Paul got some traction, but I'm still not sure that traction is because he's the only one talking at least some sense on the most pertinent issues (much more a straight shooter than the mealy mouthed McCain), or that that straight-shooting is just a lead-in to whacked out implementation (Paul's Web site implies the latter, and the company you keep...)

So grin and bear it. Occupy Mancos, as that might be the only unclaimed turf for the next generation. Unless they strike oil, and then I don't know how we'll keep Wendy down on the farm. Perhaps buy her one of those New Mexican UFOs like they used for Dennis Kucinich. Hey, if you're going to do Sangre de Cristo, you might as well watch Jodorowsky's Santa Sangre. (Sadly we'll never see his version of Dune)

Tuesday, 03 January 2012 04:43

No Core Beliefs - A Tale of Two Candidates

It's curious that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have so much in common. They were both raised in Indonesia. They are both tall and healthy looking. They both belong to un-American religions. They both stand for absolutely nothing.

The Politico review scourges Romney for having "No Core Beliefs" as if that's a bad thing. Al Gore had core beliefs. Howard Dean too. Bill Clinton? Well, he did have a certain form of sincerity and ability to carry the brand, but not wedded to a particular cause - how else would he get along with Obama?

Obama's made a career of moving up the ladder, pushing off one benefactor for the next, adopting a new community to sustain him until he goes for the next. A bit like Dylan in his early days, but then Dylan grew up (might have been that motorcycle crash, but so many other influences...). Obama's Core Brand is to have no Core Beliefs while pretending he does. Any sort of behavior fits into Le Pôt Obama.

Republicans have shown themselves fickle to Core Beliefs - they want Beliefs worn on sleeves. How else would a lech like Gingrich stand a chance among "religious" folk? How could the shallow and self-indulgent W be their leader 2 elections in a row? They want an uncompassionate bastard who swears he's a Christian, and then so much the better if he shows some sincere nastiness just to stress the "compassionate" part.

But Romney isn't even very good at wearing his beliefs on his sleeves. Which ironically makes him the more electable, and more detested among his cohort.

I have a rather curious feeling about today's caucus and the elections it kicks off. I think we're going to find that Citizen Mitt is every bit the contestant Obama feared. I noted yesterday that part of Obama's strength is he never fights back (except his known fits of pique). Romney is probably his match.

And while 2008 brand Obama was the candidate we were waiting for, 2012 Obama reeks of Hope fatigue and the candidate's smug expectations. And they almost worked - while Ron Paul may be occasionally inspirational, the rest of the pack is a bunch of loose cannons far from set for prime time. Except for Mitt. The New York Times has been trying to smear him for a year now, and all Gail Collins can bring up (incessantly) is the one about his dog on vacation. That's pretty solid - no gaffes about Sarajevo coming out of this dude, no soundbites like "Mission Accomplished" or "no governing legal authority" or even "I did not have sex with that woman". [many thanks to Herman Cain for getting our obligatory election sex scandal out of the way early in the season]

Mitt may be a real Nowhere Man, and right now that's better than being a candidate people love to hate. Sure, they distrust him for his religion and his inability to act like an irritable born-again nutcake. And the left is assured he'll do something horrible, whether it's appoint the wrong judges or be too friendly to Wall Street. But there's just not enough venom to go around.

Obama's a penny-pinching poker player and a conservative basketball player. He's been playing rope-a-dope and run-out-the-clock since April 2008. And he almost made it. But now there are 10 months to election time, and he's met a character just as bland and unprincipled as him, but without the dirt and the failed rhetoric, the unfulfilled expectations and the slow drag of an underperforming economy.

If I wind up what's happening now, my usually inaccurate crystal ball sees a Romney/Paul ticket going up against Obama/Biden. And in another year of anti-incumbantism tied to "men's men" succeeding in the free market (see Mitt gut that new acquistion; see Ron birth triplets while giving his anti-cross of gold speech), our bumbling bureaucratic duo are going to be seen as no match.

Tick tick tick. The real clock starts now. How do you see that timebomb?


Okay, I got sucked into Dennis' Beatles overview at Digby's place.

And then I say Ron Paul decrying student loans.

I'm waiting for sincere Paul to confront America's "greatest generation" and call them out.

"Hey, you bunch of ass-licking panty-waist losers, you got GI Bill for school, home loans, free health care, veterans' preference on jobs - never has there been a generation who sucked off the government harder, making Linda Lovelace look like a rank amateur 15-year-old with no pool, a plain old Nokia feature phone and a bad case of strep throat."

Rick, Paul, George and Dingo (Cain). And Michele, ma belle.

It's amazing - there's never been this unpresidential of a lineup.

Most of them look hard-pressed to make it to campus glee club.

Student president looks like a reach.

Why should "Mormon" be an issue more than "Moron"?

These guys are one Godfather's pizza short of a home delivery.

They're like a pepperoni short of the pep.

I feel embarrassed that this is our "two-party system".

"Baby we were born to run?" Run run run run away.

I'm embarrassed that they make Obama look good.

How do we make any progress with this disaster?

"Occupy Washington" might as well be "cockpit found abandoned"

Lights off, nobody home. Unbelievable. "Greatest nation on earth"

Dictated by fucktard principles. Am I the only one that sees a problem with that?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011 22:55

Arbitrage: Stock Brokers are Victims Too

Well, I looked at how badly my stocks have been doing. I realized that over the years, how even in "boom years" only a few stocks did well, many of the sectors tanked.

Investment's not an easy business. Especially when insiders hedge off part of the market, short-sellers bring down well-run companies, government's handing out free money to your competitors....

Some article yesterday wrote that "honest bankers are victims too", and while it's tempting to believe otherwise, anyone who doesn't treat the market illegally can't compete. So honest traders are victims too.

The people making the profits aren't doing it on the market side of the business - they've gamed it so they get revenues whatever they do. That's a kind of "arbitrage", where you've got a guaranteed non-competitive profit stream.

Of course they get these illegally and immorally, whatever the machinations and protests of their lobbyists.

Honest bankers, honest stock traders should be pissed too - the money's coming out of their pockets for the sake of a few.

While we see skyrocketing profits on Wall Street and in banking, I'm sure if you look at the figures closely, you'll find that it's still a minority who are making a bonanza. Okay, and if you're a clerk at one of these companies, you probably get some trickle down effect, while the rest of us get the full douche.

What do the 99% want? An end to the free lunch at Tiffany's.

[David Brooks comments on Steve Jobs & "decline of innovation". Thanks, granddad.]

This graph shows huge crop yield improvements since 1960:

















The modern PC world is only 30 years old, and is hitting a completely new era with flash hard drives and optical/nano chips and cloud computing infrastructure in the next 3 years.

Computer-assisted drug tech is just hitting stride, such as a major breakthrough in finding the genetic origin of ALS.

Genome mapping was only finalized in the last decade.

We're in the middle of a major shift from internal combustion to electric vehicles.

US manufacturing output is about the same as China's with 1/9th the workers:

There are major advances in alternate energy, as well as decreases in energy consumption.

There are major efforts on environmental cleanup.

Maglev & other transportation technologies - gains in flight efficiency can be seen here:

Possibly the only good to come out of our wars is a major advance in medical technology, such as artificial limbs.

It's also useful to understand that compared to the 1800's, the 1900's discoveries were pretty name - nothing life-changing like electricity, refrigeration, automobiles & the internal combustion engine, air flight (ok, 1903, but pretty much there), vaccines and bacteriology, genetics & evolution (plus Lamarckism which we'll see more of a revival over the next decade), the Curies' work on radiation.

Even Einstein's theory of Relativity was published in 1905.

What Brooks undoubtedly misses is that it's more of an age for cooperative work than individual heroes. Project Management is picking up as a way of guaranteeing results. Social media and internet collaboration from open source to teleconferencing to telecommuting tie into a connected way of working. Teamwork becomes more important than pure "leadership" - companies can't risk depending on a single hero.

The amount of information processed by kids today might be 100 times what they got in the 1960's in terms of vivid cultural information, access to language, display of scientific principles, access to on-line dictionaries & encyclopedias, even translation services.

What's also missed is what innovation is. It's hard to say that Steve Jobs invented anything. I had the same idea for iTunes as he did as early as 1994, and I certainly was no genius or unique. But iTunes succeeded through organization, not innovation - a successful business model, key agreements with industry professionals plus harnessing the right delivery mechanisms.

One of Steve Jobs' key advantages is Supply Chain Management, an aspect few people think about. Besides being a bastard about sourcing at extremely low prices, he was also a genius at keeping parts & total units delivered on time, as well as cornering the market on key components to give his competitors headaches. The Mac came from Xerox, and while Apple probably had innovations, the main bit was design and a business case - Xerox was too stodgy to productize its research, but Jobs & Woz paid to get in the door and walked out with all the ideas they needed.

Pixar was a technical innovation by George Lucas - Jobs turned it into a business success, with key Disney deals. If anything, Jobs was better at killing technology and dumbing down devices if he didn't see an immediate purpose. The iPad was released to ridicule at how much it was missing.

As interesting as "innovation" is, something like distribution is likely much more important. Nokia phones weren't so innovative - they were just great at getting solid phones everywhere in the world. Wal-Mart grew to a behemoth based on innovative distribution technology. Ikea's advantage is distribution and design for DIY construction. Amazon's distribution network is every bit as important as its on-line access, and that network has turned into a successful cloud computing business as well, with data centers the size of multiple football fields.

Even with agricultural productivity, the bigger issue is distribution - famines only occur due to wars and natural catastrophes like earthquakes now - even something like flowers can be sourced from South Africa and distributed around Europe. And I doubt someone like David Brooks has taste for anything as mundane as distribution.

A while ago a well known economist studied the question of how it was possible to walk out of his office in Manhattan and get a sandwich with fresh tomato and lettuce - what were all the processes that went into making this tiny miracle? Forget all the innovation doomsdayers.

It was just 22 years ago that we still had the Cold War with us, staring down Russia and the antagonistic China, concerned about imminent overpopulation. Now we have a friendly China with no population growth that's rounded the bend in feeding its population, and handling the migration from rural to urban, and starting on the trip to managing the environment. We have a defanged Russia, with no new military menace (other than ourselves). We have major innovations in computing, dispersed communications, production and cooperation to drive new growth.

The main thing working against us is an idiotic, vampire banking system that's sucked much of the innovation out of the system. And that's something Brooks seems to support.

Occupy the New York Times


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