Friday, November 28, 2008

Incurable

Thanks Slashdot:
Students at an Ottawa university are pulling out of a Canada-wide fundraiser that provides close to $1 million a year for cystic fibrosis research and treatment, arguing that the disease "has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men" — something experts say is untrue.
If they think I should die, then what do I think they should do?

Just about every disease has different infection rates across different races and sexes with some contained to only one group. I anxiously await this groups rules for the proper infection distributions that must be obtained before a disease is politically correct enough to back the fundraising for cures.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Economics by Jar Jar

Steve Sailer has had a couple posts up about how Bush helped to, more or less, eliminate credit worthiness for government backed debt, namely home loans; the result of which poisoned the world financial system (though other governments have their own culpability). So we have Bush, the last line of defense against Wall Streeters and Spend-a-holic lefties and he decides to go in with them on their bad ideas. I can't help but remember back to that horrible Star Wars movie where Jar Jar Binks demonstrated his moronic naivete by voting to begin the dissolution of the federation.

Now Obama has several ideas in the pipe on what to do that range from bad to useless. I don't think those idiots have a clue about what's around the corner. DoctorHousingBubble notes:
So every action that we take to intervene in the markets is done via two methods. One, we borrow the money which has been the status quo. The second method is printing money which given the magnitude and the commitment of funds will shortly arrive at our doorstep. It doesn’t seem like many people care about the moral responsibility of leaving a better country for those that come after us and once again this selfish egocentric give me everything now mentality is dominating Wall Street and Washington. God forbid that consumers will have to watch their spending for even one freaking holiday season. You wouldn’t want your kid to go another year without that third edition of Tickle me Elmo.

He then goes on to note that the bailouts have left around 7 TRILLION worth of liabilities on the government's books, liabilities that will come due sooner than anyone cares to think about. If I had to guess, I don't think that the 7 trillion he notes even includes the 5 trillion in liability exposure from Fannie and Freddie. Those liabilities plus the existing debt easily put us in the 150% debt to earnings ratio with our GDP. With the other coming unhandled government liabilities (social security, medicare, pensions, etc.) and more ineptitude (wind farms and bailouts) a run on the currency is hardly unlikely:
An entire generation of American policy-makers - Clinton, Bush, Rubin, Greenspan, and the Congressional leadership of both parties - has come perilously close to ruining a great nation. The creation of the credit bubble was one of the most disgraceful episodes of economic government in western history.
The author of the linked article then paints a possible rosey outcome that's based around the late September bailout liability numbers of 1.6 trillion.

I'd tell you to buy gold, but apparently you already knew that.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Night

Taking a break from overly critical reviews and unstable rants, I'm posting to pass on the news that our dog Nox has passed away. I know, pet obits are the height of cheese, but please humor me.


His old pal Sylva is on the left, Nox on the right

Nox was an awful dog in almost every way; however he was also very sweet and never brought any harm to anyone or anything. I gave him a pass on a lot of his mannerisms since it was obvious he drew a hard lot and it was difficult not to feel sorry for him. Then as he aged his aggravating personality traits dulled making him all the more endearing. Needless to say, he will be missed dearly.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

PixelJunk Monsters



The PixelJunk series of games have been crafted as PlayStation 3 exclusives by a studio in Kyoto, Japan that's run by an American. As such they sport an off-beat style that makes them immediately engaging. 'Monsters' is PixelJunk's take on a tower defense game which is itself a stripped down version of traditional real time strategy games.

The game itself was fairly entertaining at first then annoying, and eventually "throw your controller through the TV aggravating". This followed a similar theme through other PixelJunk games where they start with a unique art style, solid gameplay and a great soundtrack, but then the developer finds that's not enough to stretch out over the length of even a $10 game. Given that, they resort to making the game more and more difficult, not more strategically challenging mind you, just harder. Enemies take more hits to take down, they flood your defenses more, etc. Whenever I see such a cheap stunt I recall American McGee equating this technique to making a book harder to read the closer you get to the end.

The game's one redeeming 'post aggravation' attribute is the co-op gameplay which enabled Kid Sandmich and me to spread the difficulty between the two of us. This team dynamic is what eventually made the game difficult to put down. Despite my initial hatred of the single player, when we came to the end of the co-op game I was disappointed that it was over. Sure it was a ten dollar game, but with such cheap mechanics there really wasn't any reason not to pack in a couple more levels.

Like PixelJunk Eden, this game is packed with promise but falls short of where my expectation level is. It might just be that I knew that ten bucks could have gotten me a good PS2 game down at Gamestop, so my expectations might be misplaced.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Bailout Follies #2

The big three say that one or more of them will be bankrupt before the end of the year if they don't get more free money. Let's hope for our sake they are.

Why's that? Well the fix is in with Mr. Change:
Wagoner has warned GM needs an infusion of cash in the coming weeks to prevent a devastating bankruptcy at the nation's largest automaker and cannot wait until president-elect Barack Obama -- who has promised to bail out the sector -- is sworn in on January 20.
Mr. Corporate welfare has a plan though. Obama, Pelosi, Schumer, etc., you know, the same people who told the lending companies who to lend to, are going to tell the automobile manufacturers what cars to build. Ahh that old time socialism, how could that NOT end in disaster? The only thing to be done after forcing Detroit to build a car that won't sell is to give consumers no choice about what to buy.

Another core issue in this whole debate is that the big three need to A) make fewer cars and B) make them less expensively. Unfortunately from my automotive-supplier side seat, when they try to make fewer cars, their economy of scale decreases and the cost for their supplies goes up. This starts a feedback loop where the costs continually go up at the precise moment they need them to go down. The long and short is that they need to find those cost savings from somewhere else, namely the outrageous top to bottom employee benefits.

As a tech dude I've seen computer prices fall year after year while their functionality has gone up. While not everything can hold to this curve, it's unnatural that while the cost on most manufactured items has gone down, the price of cars has continually gone up. That can't last, bailout or no.

On a related aside, I liked this piece by Eric Lundquist on the lack of a government bailout for the dotcom crash. That crash really hit home for me since so many people with my skill set were suddenly dumped onto the market, but I was grateful this alternate history wasn't the end result:
The revolutionary idea that companies don’t need products, expertise or sales was a concept that had to be preserved and encouraged. Without the government’s willingness to step in and grow the dot-com company creation economy, startups would have been forced to come up with real products for which real customers would plunk down real cash. Aren’t we glad that never happened?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Terror on the Seas

Ha ha, the Saudis had one of their oil tankers pirated away from them. There's been noise about doing 'something' about the Somali/Yemen pirates, but thus far nothing has happened. A Brit columnist writes that maybe nothing should happen, at least from the elite navies of the world:
If we're happy to let mainly Third-World sailors run a serious risk of disastrous shipwreck to move our stuff more cheaply - and we are apparently quite happy with that, have been for a long time - it's difficult to see why we care about them running similar risks of being pirated. If we care about poor sailormen's safety, we might do at least as well to crack down on the shipowners' use of flags of convenience and poorly-paid, poorly-trained crews.

One might find a clue to the current UK press outcry in the fact that most of the world's shipping deals are still struck in London's financial centres, but arguably the majority of us who don't work in the City have no great reason to spend our money and our servicemen's time in order to make life easier for the Square Mile's many shipowners, brokers and insurers.
I'd forgotten about the fact that ship owners poo-poo'd being a U.S. flagged vessel, favoring instead cheap, 'ask no questions' operators like Panama. Well to them all I can say is that maybe if you ask nicely, the Panamanian navy might stop by and help you out with that pirate problem.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Bailout Follies

Unable to get anyone else to invest in their lousy operations, auto manufacturers are now hitting up Uncle Sam. The main issue is that these large companies have unresolved labor issues which will still be unresolved after they soak up a couple billion dollars, and so they will need a couple billion more sometime in the not too distant future in order to put more patches on the sinking ship. What's worse is that the big three have spent the past ten or so years exporting their issues into the U.S. economy by using their largess to extort ridiculous terms from dealers and near (and beyond near) bankruptcy level pricing from suppliers.

Since the trough was opened up after AIG, everyone has been looking a for a piece. I wonder myself if it's not too late to form the 'Sandmich Saving and Loan' so that I can get a 1% loan with a 500 year payback timetable.

Inevitably, poorly managed areas have come to the fore looking for goodies which will inevitably be paid off (if they ever are) by the better managed locations:
The three mayors proposed providing loans to help cities pay pension costs. They also want $50 billion in loans for investment in infrastructure, and additional one-year loans to cities unable to borrow cash because of the tight credit markets.
The pension issue is related to the fact that these gutless politicians refuse to stand up to their government unions and demand compensation levels that, you know, they can afford. The last I checked, roads (i.e. "infrastructure") don't pay taxes, buy washing machines, or pay for their own maintenance. And the reason these cities can't get money? The same reason GM and Ford can't, they suck.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bento Watch #39

I wish I could report a lot of variation, but my bentos lately have been some form of the following.

This is hamburger coated with that Japanese hamburger sauce (ketchup + soy sauce), what appears to be apples (probably with a light sugar and lemon juice coat), teriyaki green beans, rice covered with that rice covering stuff (furikake), and miso soup which I didn't put in either picture.

This is grilled salmon with said green beans and rice with an umeboshi. Through an unintentional accident we now have a quince tree in our yard. For those of you who are unfamiliar with quinces, they're like a not very tasty apple, almost like an apple you picked a month or two early. I fixed them up with A LOT of sugar and a little lemon juice.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Make Them Volunteer!

John Derbyshire (who else?) points out our future lord and master's desire to use corvée labor in the interest of The State:
Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.
Perhaps Obama can get his youth brigades to go around their neighborhoods to make sure every home has a properly displayed picture of the Dear Leader hanging in a clean, prominent position.
My favorite bit is having seniors 'volunteer'. "You want Social Security? Get out there and break some rocks!"

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Red Cube

I've taken some solace from this site, and I must admit that I enjoyed this bit:



It also included this quip (among others of various quality):
People could afford housing and healthcare without the government - if it weren't for the government.
All that and more (with some NSFW) at The People's Cube:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Michael Crichton: RIP

It goes without saying that the passing of Michael Crichton sucks. He was one of the few scientists brave enough to go against popular orthodoxy and global warming in particular. However he also had well founded issues with items such as cloning (The Lost World) and 'little green men' (Sphere).

His wit and wisdom will be missed, and yes, I forgive him for being a party to cursing the planet with George Clooney.

2008 Election Notes

Although the final tally isn't in, it looks like I called the ballot issues mostly right. Can't go wrong with betting on lazy American's desire to get something for nothing.

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Deroy Murdock writes about voting issues in Cuyahoga county and East Cleveland in particular. I've wondered about this myself as I'm not brave enough to spend any quantifiable amount of time in East Cleveland without a conceal carry permit. I'm heartened to know that there are Republicans brave enough to act as observers in these third world haunts. My favorite though is this line:
Ecuador has more voting integrity than we have here in East Cleveland today.
When voting is a joke then democracy is a joke, alas. I guess the Democrats would rather settle it with firearms like they do in other scenic areas of the world where voting is a put-on? I myself would rather live someplace civilized, but some of my fellow citizens are so spoiled by civic peace that they're willing to risk civil unrest.

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On November 3rd, Steve Sailer wrote an article on how McCain, and to a lessor extent Republicans, blew it.

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Can we now agree that white guilt is now dead? Is it now fair game for persons of pallor to make points that might have some relation to race? I sure the hell hope so or this experiment will all be for naught. Of course many Obama supporters wanted him elected so that every other racial group would forget about race like whites supposedly had; idiots.

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Though it had some appeal, can conservatives now agree that Bush's presidency has been a failure for them? We kept hitting the snooze button, content to sleep through his inadequacies (not that we had much of a choice). Unfortunately he was a weak man with weak ideals and left us all the weaker for it. He's still far preferable to the alternatives that were presented, but for as much as I'd like it to be, that's not a selling point.

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John Derbyshire has written that we're at the end game where the government breaks the levy and no longer feels compelled to justify it's bloated existence. A sufficient number of government employees and dependents will exist and that the private sector will be present for the only purpose of being looted for big government aims. This revolved around a point he was making that one should push their kids into government work as in the near future there will be only be government stooges and serfs for said stooges.

All I can say is, I hope that he's wrong.

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I also have some...odd news. It appears that the Sandmich will personally profit from an Obama presidency, at least in the short run. For a while now my place of work was looking to acquire another business, but the owner had been putting off any kind of decision, until he was faced with the Democrat's pitch for a capital gains hike. The (hopeful) future acquisition will add a little job stability for my field of work that generally favors instability.

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On that last note, I wonder if the employees for the company that is being acquired voted for Obama. I just recall Obama's class bating where he egged on the ravenous crowd with "How many of you make less than $250,000?". I felt like asking the crowd "How many of you work for someone who makes more than $250,000? What's going to take a hit first, his paycheck or your job?"

Well a lot of people, at least in the private sector, are about to find out the answer. It might be time to investigate that government job, but I'll hold onto hope that the government will fade out of business.

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Speaking of which, who is buying our debt? Now that the deficit is busting all barriers, there's certainly a non-zero percent chance of debt purchasers not being back, or at least having their 'investment' run into the ground by inflation. Who would take that risk at a 1% interest rate? I'd hate to think that anyone with $500 billion laying around had nothing better to do with than to flush it down the toilet bowl on the Potomac.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Non-Cheap Date

I remember hearing about these Bose noise cancellation headphones when they came out. I was intrigued by the idea, but they're $300, for headphones!?

As fate might have it though, I won a set of those at a conference I recently attended. I wish I could remember the name of the vendor who offered them as a prize, but alas...

I gave half a thought to selling them on EBay, but didn't see the point in maybe getting $100 for a $300 set of headphones. Having resolved to keep them I fired them up and was amazed at the audio quality. The noise cancellation pushes ambient noise away and makes everything sound as if it's ten feet further away, and then all the nuances of whatever music I was listening to were coming through crystal clear. I can now see how it might get obsessive for some people as they upgrade every piece of their audio equipment in order to preserve every wavelength of sound quality.

It is an amazing product, but is it worth the price?

They're headphones....they're $300.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Beginning of the End

Q: Boy Sandmich, you sure have pointed to a lot of bad Obama items, but you haven't said anything all that great about McCain?
A: No, I haven't

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Even if McCain pulls out a victory, his will be a punt presidency more than anything else. There's nothing wrong with that, in fact it's preferable. Why rush to the day of reckoning when you can push it off for a couple years and maybe even delay it indefinitely (a big 'maybe'). However, there are three issues that trouble me greatly with this election:

  1. Obama's goons (and yes they are his, he's sent them a truck full of money) are engaging in widespread vote rigging in all the close states.


  2. The press has exceeded their regular bias and have become a very loud mouthpiece for the Obama campaign.


  3. Obama has ignored campaign finance regulations with de facto encouragement of illegal donations (particularly of foreigners).
If the press is a propaganda organ for the government and the leader of the government has obtained that power by explicit fraud it's difficult for me to see what the difference between that situation and any other totalitarian regime*. Soft totalitarianism to be (hopefully) sure, but totalitarianism none the less.

What's in it then for those that oppose government policies? It's not as if their concerns are given a fair airing, and it's not as if it would make difference in governance if they were. Additionally, since the federal government is coming up on it's spending limit, the carrots it's used to keep states in line (highway, medicare, and education money) will start to evaporate. With that, then how long before the additional pressure of extreme leftist policies cause some states to wonder about the benefits of being tied to the hip of Washington D.C.? I wouldn't picture anything so far as seccesion, but I can picture a state at some point working up the math on the taxes and regulations on their populace and determining that the cost/benefit of subservience to D.C. just isn't worthwhile and that the time had come to just ignore what D.C. has to say about pretty much everything.

Wishful thinking on my part, I know. However, the future is a bit more likely to shake out as I stated than the possibility that the government will find a magic money pot to fund all their stated obligations (to say nothing of the future).

*I cannot find who to attribute this to, but I'd read on someone's blog that America already has an issue with the person in the presidency being constantly derided as a dictator, but what happens when the president actually is a dictator?

Battery Powered

The miracle of the next gen electric cars is based on the use of lithium-ion batteries (i.e., 'laptop' batteries). Coming to a car near you:
The U.S. government issued on Thursday a recall of 35,000 Sony batteries and the Tokyo-based company said it would recall a further 65,000 batteries worldwide.

PC makers have reported 40 cases of overheating, including four cases where users suffered minor burns, and 21 cases of minor damage from fires and overheating, a Sony spokeswoman said.