Friday, April 30, 2010

New Tobias Stretch video

I've posted about Toby Stretch's work before. One of his associates sent me the link to a new clip.

This is painstaking work. Make sure HD is on and maximize the screen. It really pops.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

How Europeans see Europeans

The place I stole this from labeled the map "How Europeans see Americans," but it was really about how Americans see Americans. Similarly, this map is labeled "How Americans see Europe," but the fact is the vast majority of Americans don't know of Belarus or Macedonia or "Shiza videos" (please don't Google that), so it's really about how Europeans see other Europeans.

Few Americans know about the Manneken Pis statue. And if an American had done this map, he or she would have made a comment or two about the renowned "continental" BO.

Update: Since we're talking about Finland, here's a Monty Python song by Michael Palin.

I think this was off their final "Contractual Obligation" LP.

Why Steve doesn't like Flash

Did he convince you?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dangerous, Violence-Prone Teabaggers

I know these police officers are only doing their job, so I am not criticizing them. I do find it funny that Charles Johnson is afraid of the people these police officers are there to "ward off." Those dangerous tea-bagging grannies!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Greeks to Germans: Thanks, suckers!

Germans are angry.
It is only a matter of days until Germany starts handing out billions in aid to the Greeks, according to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But for some experts, Greece is just a bottomless pit. And now anger is increasing in Germany, with many asking why they should pay for things like the luxury Greek pension system.
Sounds a lot like are public pension system. Pay up, suckers!

Monday, April 26, 2010

How Americans see Americans

A post on Dvorak labels this graphic How Europeans see the US, but I think it applies to Americans as well. Name the prejudice or stereotype and it's there.

Illegal Alien


  • People who say "Arizona residents are racists" and there is no problem with illegal aliens are for the most part wealthy liberal white assholes who haven't seen their neighborhoods transformed. I'd like some forced integration in their neighborhoods and schools. Sort of an experiment to see if they will maintain their opinion.
  • Let's cut to the chase: It's about Mexicans.
  • A bunch of crooks on both sides of the political aisle are making a lot of money off of this issue.
  • I am not into hating Mexicans. I like Mexicans. My chicken-raising Mexican neighbors in the old 'hood are good people and I miss them. I maintain that in 100 years we'll view Mexican immigrants as we view Italian-Americans today. Mexicans are Christians, like to drink, work hard and have the same vices as native-born Americans. And their food is pretty good to boot.
  • I totally understand why so many people here in the US feel overwhelmed by Mexicans. If I lived in Georgia or Iowa or Illinois I'd be freaked out too. Fortunately for me, Texas has always had a strong Tejano culture so for most of us it's no big deal.
  • The immigration laws are broken and we need to be doing more to encourage skilled/educated/monied immigrants instead of throwing up bureaucratic roadblocks.
  • A lot of these people are going back home anyway because the construction jobs have dried up.
And that's what I think.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Save Are Teachers!

Des Moines teachers protest budget cutbacks! Please save are teachers (10 seconds in) so that they can create grammatically correct protest signs. Also, enjoy some astroturfing.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

HISD is a sea of fat people


So HISD is tasked with, among other things, educating kids about proper diets, yet 75% of HISD staffers are fat. This not only sends the wrong message to our kids, obesity-related illness costs Houston taxpayers an extra $25 million each and every year. (Thanks, Rorschach.)

Dissent is unpatriotic

Political dissent became unpatriotic last year. Political dissent is a growing problem. If you are a dissenter, you are clearly a racist who wants to blow up things. If you object to tripling the national debt in two years, bailing out failed businesses, and forcing people by law to purchase services from private businesses, you are clearly a Timothy McVeigh wannabe. There cannot be any other explanation. In fact, if you are a political dissenter you are guilty of sedition and should be arrested.

Shut up you stupid racist redneck uneducated hillbilly teabaggers.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I see fat people

Mish posted about the SEIU thugs and included this video of some eat monsters.

I should lose weight. Many of us should. But I can't recall the last time I saw such a large collection of really obese people. All dressed in purple, all screaming for more of my money.

Why do they need more of my money? They clearly eat a lot more than I do, thereby consuming more resources. Like many of us I am having to get by on a daily basis with less money due to the economy. I struggle to get by and have no fat pension awaiting me at 55. Why can't these people cut back, like I have? If they cut back on their daily visits to McDonald's they'd save money and maybe lose a few dozen pounds in the process.

Southern Poverty Law Center: Ron Paul is a hatemonger

The Southern Poverty Law Center has added Ron Paul to their enemies list. Hear that, Ronulans? Your leader has been certified as a hatemonger. Bwahaha!

To be fair, I think it was stupid to put Ron Paul on this list. He's a nut and a conspiracy 'tard, but lumping him in with the militia sickos is overkill. In fact, it seems they lumped him in with those REALLY bad eggs because of his political beliefs, which for the most part are not all that extreme. They just differ from "mainstream" DNC/RNC talking points.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Goldman Sachs keeps machinists employed

Google queries for Goldman Sachs are currently forced to this page. I guess they are telling us that without Goldman Sachs, Boeing can't build Triple Seven's and US manufacturers will shut their doors. They are doing God's Work.

Donks are playing a game. Not the rank-and-file working stiff Democrats, but the upper echelon of leaders in DC. They do not understand how pissed off Main Street is.

The Smartest Man in China

The smartest man in China is Mr. Wang Liang, a resident of Beijing.
For people on average incomes in Beijing and Shanghai, a regular two-bedroom apartment may cost them 20 to 30 years' income, far higher than the international average of six years. In a healthy market, landlords can reach the break-even point after receiving rents for 16 to 25 years. But in Beijing and Shanghai, they need 36 to 42 years to get the cost back, according to China Index Academy, a real estate research institute. "Buying an apartment, or more accurately, snagging a home at the moment, is no different from putting a time bomb beside you," said Wang Liang, a college teacher who gives up his previous plan to buy a home in Beijing.
Mr. Wang (no offense!) made the smartest decision of his life.

20x-30x average annual income for Beijing and Shanghai. These ratios are reminiscent of the strawberry picker out in California would bought a $700k house, and we all laughed at that. Yet there are millions of Chinese caught up in this mania. It's Dubai x100.

And the international average for mortgage loans is 6x income? It should be along the lines of no more than 2x-3x income. Anything more and I don't see how the buyer can sleep at night. If my mortgage was 6x income I'd have ulcers.

For those of you who think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and you want to jump over (pick your reason: You don't like Obama, you're a gold bug, you believe in chemtrails, America is doomed, neocons run everything, etc.), I think you're making a big mistake. If you vault over the fence you may find yourself landing in a yard infested with fire ants and mounds of dog crap from a Great Dane.

Monday, April 19, 2010

California government employees: "Pay up or else Maria gets it."

Darkforceb says about this video on the SacBee website:
Unfortunately for the Governor he will eventually anger the one person who is losing everything, and that one person will be the one to go postal on him. It is a dangerous game he is playing toying with livelyhoods, and making hard working families suffer. It is best if he stops his pointless attack on state workers for his sake and for Marias. I would hate to read the headline about it all.It is a lesson that past figure heads did not get until it was too late. Why he insists on angering unions, and hard working families is beyond unreasonable at this point. I hope that I am wrong about it but I doubt it, the wrong person will be the one forclosed on, and the wife and kids will leave, because they will see him as a failure that can't provide for them adequately due to 15% pay loss. When a man has nothing left to live for what worth does he have except revenge.Words of advice to GAS, and his cronies, ask the guy who drove his big rig into the Capital.Hopefully I am wrong, but history has a way of repeating itself.


Update: Thanks for the Instalink, Glenn.

Chicago to get headquarters for United Airlines / Continental Airlines merger

A debate on A-Net is where the merged United Airlines and Continental Airlines would set up their headquarters. Houston is the cheaper option, Chicago is the prestigious option. The general feeling is it would remain in Houston.

I disagree. The A-Net people forget who's currently in the White House. I expect that Obama will make not-so-subtle hints to the DoJ and UAL/CAL management that no merger will be allowed unless the headquarters of the combined airline goes to Chicago.

Anise Parker doesn't look like the kind of person who breaks kneecaps. We don't stand a chance against the Chicago political machine. Bye, Continental.

Calamari

Readers and friends know that I think almost all conspiracy theories are stitched together by nut jobs. But like you I can't help but notice a recurring theme.
Philip D. Murphy was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as U.S. Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany on August 7, 2009 and presented his credentials on September 3, 2009. He and his family arrived in Berlin on August 21, 2009.

From 1993-1997, Ambassador Murphy headed Goldman Sachs' Frankfurt office, where he had oversight responsibility for activities in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, as well as in the then-emerging nations of Central Europe. From 1997-1999, Ambassador Murphy served as the President of Goldman Sachs (Asia). In all, he spent 23 years at Goldman Sachs and held a variety of top-level positions before becoming a Senior Director of the firm in 2003, a position he held until his retirement in 2006.

Will California voters care that Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO and Republican candidate for governor, boasts numerous ties to Goldman Sachs, the investment bank that everyone loves to hate?

Ms. Whitman's campaign, meanwhile, points out (candidate Jerry) Brown has a Goldman connection of his own: his sister, Kathleen Brown, is a former California state treasurer and head of public finance for the west region of Goldman Sachs.
I have slowly developed a paranoia for GS over the past few days. It's a weird feeling. I hope my paranoia is unjustified.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Galveston Today

The Flagship is falling apart. Ike wrecked it up pretty well. It's a serious eyesore and needs to be torn down.
Murdoch's has been completely rebuilt and looks perfect. It's been raised up a few more feet. (Here's what it looked like in November 2008.)
Parking is free on the Strand.
Candy cigarettes at La King's . Like Murdoch's they did a fantastic job of re-creating the place prior to Ike. In fact, the only difference I could spot was the saltwater taffy counter was moved. (Interior November 2008.)
Col. Bubbies is open again but the building is looking pretty bad.
I was quite impressed with what Galvestonians have done over the past 1 1/2 years. The Strand looks like it's back to normal, and most of the neighborhoods look like they are in good shape.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Are Canadians Insane?

Judging from the pictures, I'd say that Vancouver BC is now more bubble-riffic than California was at the height of the US real estate mania. $1.18 million for this? Play Crack Shack or Mansion!
Also see: Are Australians insane? and Californians are no longer insane but they once were.

Update: While playing Crack Shack or Mansion? I came across this gem for a mere $1.3 million. Honey, stop the car!

Strawman

A warning to a certain someone who comes by here at least once a day:

The "public strawman Secured Party Creditor UPPER CASE NAME gold-fringed flag" stuff is insanity and leads to bad things 100% of the time. If you can't pay your debts, man up and file for bankruptcy. The Redemption nonsense is pure fraud.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

iPple iPad iPr iBS

Regarding iPad sales figures, Apple's PR machine is cranking furiously and the BS is flowing.
"Although we have delivered more than 500,000 iPads during its first week, demand is far higher than we predicted and will likely continue to exceed our supply over the next several weeks as more people see and touch an iPad," Apple said in a statement this morning.
Yet the reporter is forced to admit that iPads are still available on the store shelves, right there in Silicon Valley, a week and a half after these stores received their allotment. And notice that they didn't use the word "sold."

To really crank up the excitement, Apple's PR people have even ginned up a faux shortage.
People outside the United States who are hoping to get their hands on an iPad will have to wait a little longer than they expected. Apple said on Wednesday that it was delaying international sales of the iPad for at least a month due to strong demand at home.
Oh really? I recall the iPhone was completely out of stock almost immediately after its release. Not so with the iPad, of which there are still plenty left on the store shelves.

Apple's financials will be very interesting next quarter considering that PR people can't spin 10-Qs like they can spin marketing stuff.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Warren Control

I read this comment on Mish yesterday (scroll down through the comments, JS-Kit is having problems again):
If you think about, what are most people looking for out of life? Happiness, security, freedom with little to worry about or fear. It's very simple. And that is what the Danish system offers. Which is why they are happy, even if they pay 70% towards taxes.
I am reminded of Cowslip's Warren from Watership Down. Weird things begin to happen when you have no worries and someone is always there to feed you.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The incredible shrinking iPad sales

I went to the Best Buy at Willowbrook to check out the iPad for myself. They have plenty in stock. It is indeed just a big iPod touch, and the problems with the form factor are immediately obvious.

The iPad is heavier than you would expect. To tap the screen on a smartphone you can just move your thumbs while still holding the device. On the iPad you can't do that - you will need to hold the iPad with one hand while tapping the screen with your other hand. This will quickly grow tiresome due to the weight of the thing and the distance your fingers must travel.

You can't rest it on a table or other hard surface because the iPad will slide and move around as you interact with the screen. Typing is not easy. If you rest it in your lap the only way to interact with the display is by keeping it level with the ground. This is very awkward.

What is Apple's market here? What's the point of it? Why would a road warrior carry around a phone, laptop AND an iPad? The iPad is not a phone, nor is it a useful mobile computer.

It seems that last week the hardcore fanbois turned out, but now... at the Apple display at Best Buy I watched people fart around with the iPad for a minute or two, then move on to the iMacs and MacBook Pros. The "ahhhh" factor was just a lot of hype.

iPad will not save the newspapers.
iPad will not create a new computer goldrush.

iPad is a dead end. It's a very expensive device that will be found in many junk drawers, though.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mafia Wars: Smolensk

As you know,
Polish president Lech Kaczynski and other senior officials are among dozens of people killed when their plane crashed in western Russia.
Like many I suspected this was one of Putin's ops when I first heard the news. But as I think about it further, I do think the accident was due to pilot error. Putin is anything but stupid, and surely he knows that any suspicions would instantly point in his direction. And frankly it was pretty stupid of the Polish government to put so many high-ranking leaders on one plane.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Get rich quick!

It has a nouveau riche quality.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

US Airways, United in Merger Talks

Per the WSJ:
US Airways Group Inc. is in talks to merge with the parent of United Airlines in a move that would create the country's second-largest carrier, according to people familiar with the situation.

The discussions have heated up in recent weeks, according to the people, while the move is also viewed by some in the industry as an effort by United to rekindle a deal with Continental Airlines Inc.
Please keep Continental far, far away from this abomination. I like my hometown airline. Let United and US Air go TU so the stronger carriers can pick up the pieces.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fort Bend ISD layoffs

Fort Bend ISD is a wealthy school district to the southwest of Houston. They are laying off front-line teachers. Property tax revenues are down like everywhere else, so they are facing a budget crunch.

Meanwhile, there appears to be a lot of fat that can be cut on the non-instructional side. Not one high school principal is in the top 10 salary range. I'm no fan of the teachers' union mentality, but it seems to me that a lot of instructors can be kept if they chopped the highly-paid admins that don't teach. (For readers in high-cost parts of the US, to you these salaries may seem reasonable. But keep in mind that the cost of living here is far less. Way far less.)

Today, another kerfuffle. Mary Ann Simpson, Fort Bend ISD's Chief Communications Officer (refer to salary list), says that "Fort Bend ISD has in the past hired a limited number of teachers who hold H1B visas, but only to fill vacancies that no U.S. citizen was qualified to fill. The practice of international hiring has all but stopped in the last year."

Notice the qualifier "all but stopped". I am sorry for being skeptical, but I have my doubts that there are no qualified American ESL teachers looking for work.

Monday, April 5, 2010

iPad fail

Uh oh.
Apple sold about 300,000 iPads on the tablet computing device’s first day on the market, falling short of the most bullish projections and charting a course for a more modest initial adoption trend.
Those 300,000 people that showed up in the stores are the ones that absolutely, positively, must purchase anything that comes from Apple. That leaves the rest of us. I very much appreciate Apple's fine products and use them every day, but the iPad will crash and burn along with that TV thing Apple came out with that no one uses. To the reader who scolded me for my prediction:
Anonymous said:
Apple sold 600 thou.
It was half of that.
Apple shareholders better watch their portfolio. Microsoft has lousy marketing, but as I said a few months ago Windows Phone 7 may end up being the Windows 95 of smartphones.

Tablets? Maybe someday. Not yet.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

iPad haiku

The Apple iPad:
It is just an iPod touch,
But more expensive.

The iPad touch screen,
A big sheet of fragile glass.
Oops! I dropped it. Dang!

Steve has a vision:
Computing for the hipsters.
iPad equals fail.

$500 dollars.
You need a new battery.
Tough! Send it to us.

Update: $500 dumbasses.

Deserted California toll road (update)

A year ago while watching one of Jim the Realtor's videos, I remarked about how empty San Diego's South Bay Expressway tollroad was. I wrote, "Betcha there will be some financial problems in the very near future."

No surprise, the toll road authority just went belly up and floated to the surface.
South Bay Expressway LP filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week in the Southern District of California, citing low traffic levels that render it unable to meet its debt-service demands, combined with uncertainty caused by ongoing litigation between the toll-road firm and its primary construction contractor.

The highway did not open until November 2007 — just in time for the subprime mortgage market to unravel, taking a major toll (no pun intended?) on the suburban communities the expressway was built to serve.
A major Spanish bank and US federal taxpayers are being told to pound sand.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Illinois Congressman Phil Hare's handlers are not happy

I give props to Illinois Congressman Phil Hare.

He said something stupid, but at least he has the balls to defend his position in front of his constituents. I suspect that his handlers won't allow him to be exposed to his constituents again in such a manner.

Congressmen are supposed to be Average Joe's serving a term or two and senators the deep thinkers serving in DC for the long haul. That's what I was taught in civics classes.

So while I disagree with Congressman Hare, I deeply appreciate his willingness to sit there and get hammered.

Europe's lack of entrepreneurship

Kamal Ahmed at the UK Telegraph asks a good question:
Recently, George Osborne asked why it was that, as yet, no Facebook or Google or Apple or YouTube had been launched on this side of the Atlantic.

He argued that there was something in our business investing culture that made it difficult to back innovative winners in the digital world and that the Government had failed to create the right culture of risk taking in business.
I think it boils down to critical mass. Once a location has reached that point, people everywhere flock to it, creating a hub for certain types of economic activity. This is why Houston is a global center for energy, LA is a global center for entertainment, NYC, London and Frankfurt are centers for finance. Government attempts to create artificial centers of economic activity (other than government centers of power) always fail. There's really nothing a government can do to encourage this other than get out of the way.