David Kirkpatrick

February 28, 2009

Rush Limbaugh, traitor — Act II

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:02 pm

Anyone who hopes a sitting president of the United States of America is a failure is engaging in some level of sedition by definition. Anyone who does this in the first five weeks of the president’s first term is nosing against treason. Doing it with a national audience? Clear and simple, a traitor to the nation of the United States.

Rush is a fool and if he remains the “voice” of the GOP, the party deserves to fail.

“The dirty little secret … is that every Republican in this country wants Obama to fail, but none of them have the guts to say so; I am willing to say it,” – Rush Limbaugh.

(Hat tip — the Daily Dish)

February 27, 2009

Bobby Jindal, fallen star

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:22 pm

Before he even had the chance to really shine, the ethnically-diverse, bright and clean-smelling hope for the GOP tripped and face planted in a muddy hole.

Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, was chosen to present the rebuttal to Obama’s not-the-State-of-the-Union-Address this week. By all accounts his speech was very weak sauce and widely likened to freshman debate class practice session. Not a great coming out party for the supposed class of the GOP — he’s smart (read: anti-Palin), not white (read: Obama-lite) and a born-again Catholic (read: the moron Evangelicals no longer want to lynch Catholics, too so he’s okay).

The biggest problem with Jindal’s rebuttal wasn’t the schoolboy in a tight, starched shirt presentation, the problem was the outright lies— fact-checkable lies — he spun out of whole cloth. Lies his staff is now obliquely owning up to.

Jindal’s national political career? Over.

From the link:

A spokeswoman for Bobby Jindal says the Louisiana governor didn’t intend to imply that an anecdote about battling bureaucrats during Katrina directly involved the governor or took place during the heat of a fight to release rescue boats.

The spokeswoman, Melissa Sellers, said the story Jindal told in his response to Obama actually took place some days later in Lee’s office — though still in Katrina’s chaotic aftermath —  as Lee was “recounting” his frustrations with the bureaucracy to someone else on the telephone.

February 26, 2009

Tweeting CPAC

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:57 pm

Here’s a collection of Twitter tweets with the #cpac09 hashtag. I’m guessing many are coming from the wankfest that is CPAC 2009.

If you want to follow this yourself just head to Twitter and do a search for the #cpac09hash (or just hit the convenient link I provided).

And now, the tweets:

Shoq: LOL 11 people show at Borders for Joe The Plumber book signing. 5 copies sold at #cpac09. See? Conservatives DO know piffle!

MattFriedeman: The 2% illusion…take all they’ve got and it still won’t be enough! (WSJ) http://tinyurl.com/bv7xjo (expand) #tcot #cpac09

MartyEisenstadt: Katherine Harris minus Overdone Makeup equals Michelle Bachmann. No? #cpac09

jmp5329: Us making fun of Joe the Plumber, no matter if you like him or not, is as bad as Chris Matthews making fun of Jindal #cpac09

CoraleneLayer: So nice to pray with a whole room and not need to be in church. #Cpac09

Pal2Pal: @jmp5329 Making fun of Joe or Sarah is elitists admitting they have no answers for common sense & are afraid the people are right. #cpac09

I’ll update this list a bit later.

Update 7:30 — Upon reflection, to Pal2Pal above, I must an elitist with no answers for common sense. Because we all know both Palin and (not)Joe the fool are paragons of all sorts of sense.

More tweets:

lenejohansen: Still think Palin was the freshest breath of the four that battled it out Nov 4th, no matter what issues we disagre on. #tcot #cpac09

dmataconis: wonders why the guy who questioned Obama’s citizenship wasn’t booed off the stage at #cpac09

ultimatejosh: White Nationalist group “Youth for Western Civilization” allowed at #CPAC09 http://tinyurl.com/aatlmx (expand) #tcot

Tuck23: Blog updated http://arob.tumblr.com pullin no punches…UN has it coming going after free speech #politics #cpac09 #tcot

Dems are stupid, too

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:59 pm

Learning nothing from the recent plight of the GOP and its circular-firing squad method of enforcing purity within the ranks, the left-wing has loosed this bit of stupidity. Defeat from the jaws of victory is there for the taking.

Maybe the GOP isn’t totally sunk just yet …

From the link:

Congressional Democrats who vote out of line with their more liberal constituencies will face some tough times in the next election cycle.

With the goal of using “primaries to hold incumbents to account for voting with corporate interests instead of their constituents,” a group of grassroots activist organizations, including Daily Kos, have come together to form the Accountability Now PAC.

Accountability Now has a “single guiding principle,” said co-founder Glenn Greenwald, “of challenging the institutional power structures that make it so easy, so consequence-free for Congress to open up the government coffers for looting by corporate America while people across the country are losing their jobs and their basic constitutional rights while unable to afford basic health care.”

Cato Institute’s response to Obama’s congressional address

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:31 pm

Here’s a roundup of responses from the Cato Institute on Obama’s not-the-State-of-the-Union-Address:

Obama Outlines National Plan in First Address to Congress

President Obama’s first address to Congress laid out a laundry list of new spending and provided hints as to what will be contained in the budget — a  so-called “blueprint for America’s future”— he submitted to lawmakers Thursday.

In a new video, Cato Institute scholars offer their analyses of the president’s non-State-of-the-Union Address.

While watching the speech, Cato scholars offered live commentary on Cato’s blog and Twitter feed.

Expanding on his recent article,Obama’s Shock Doctrine,” Cato Executive Vice President David Boaz says that Obama’s speech further proves that his administration is using scare tactics and the financial crisis to further an agenda that will expand the size of government.

President Obama made good on his reputation for giving excellent speeches. He seemed calm and confident. It’s no wonder that instant polls show that most viewers liked it.

That reaction is all part of the guiding strategy of this administration: using a crisis atmosphere to amass more money and power in Washington. There’s a long history of government growth in times of crisis such as wars, natural disasters, or economic shocks. Think of FDR’s revolutionary “first 100 days” or LBJ’s driving through his Great Society programs in the wake of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

George W. Bush did it, too, with both the Patriot Act and the invasion of Iraq after the shock of 9/11. And in so doing, he left his successor both a presidency and a federal government with unprecedented powers, ready to be employed for a different agenda.

For analysis of Obama’s speech, Cato scholars weigh in by topic on the president’s plans for America’s future. 

Free markets=crazy?

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:03 pm

I’m thinking Harvard Law is the one full of the crazy here.

From the  link:

I don’t know whether this belongs in the comic-relief category or the future-threats category, but the Harvard Law School is having a conference to analyze the “free market mindset.” The basic premise of the conference seems to be that people who believe in limited government are psychologically troubled.

The conference schedule features presentations such as “How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community” and “Addicted to Incentives: How the Ideology of Self Interest Can Be Self-Fulfilling.” The most absurd presentation, though, may be the one entitled, “Colossal Failure: The Output Bias of Market Economies.” According to the description, the author argues that the market “delivers excessive levels of consumption.” Damn those entrepreneurs for creating so much wealth!

Google tweets …

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:26 pm

… a riddle.

The first tweet from Google’s Twitter account (@google):

google-twitter

And here’s some context and explanation:

Roughly translated to : I’m F E E L I N G L U C K Y

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a sign. No, it’s not a sign of a Google acquisition, although John Battelle did start off my morning with an excellent post on how Twitter is the new YouTube :

So why did Google really buy YouTube? My answer, which of course looks brilliant given it’s 20/20 hindsight: YouTube was a massive search asset.

After all, YouTube now gets more searches than Yahoo, Google’s closest search rival.

Battelle argues that Twitters main asset may not be its userbase or its buzz, but its “Real time. Converational Search

So, does Google opening up it’s Twitter account with binary riddles spell the ultimate acquisition of Twitter by Google. Not really. Instead it more or less signifies that Google has accepted Twitter as a form of mass communication in the same way that Google was interested in Blogger and Blogging. Remember when the Official Google Blog was first launched in 2004? Before that, Google relied on Google Groups and various webmaster forums to communicate with its users, webmasters, publishers and other target audiences.

H+ Magazine spring issue out

Filed under: Business, Media, Politics, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:54 am

From KurzweilAI.net — H+ spring issue is out and features Vernor Vinge on Singularity 101, nanobots, the economy and more.

H+ Magazine Spring issue published
KurzweilAI.net, Feb. 26, 2009

Singularity 101 with Vernor Vinge, Space Solar, First Steps Toward Post Scarcity, Building Your Perfect Memory, Hacking The Economy, and Nanobots in the Bloodstream are among the articles in the impressive new Spring 2009 issue of the online trendsetting edge-culture magazine H+.

Nanotube devices closer to market

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:50 am

I can blog all day about nanotechnology breakthroughs and we can get excited about the theoretical improvements nanotech promises, but the proof in the pudding is getting nanotech to the market. Particularly some of the more dramatic applications. Improving existing items through nanotech is great, but I want the game-changers to get out there in the real world.

It look like electronic application for nanotube devices are getting close to that point. Couldn’t happen too fast for me.

From the link:

Circuits made from carbon nanotubes are intrinsically faster than those made from silicon. But while products from tennis rackets to bike frames take advantage of nanotubes’ light weight and strength, no commercial devices have yet exploited their remarkable electrical properties.

That’s partly because researchers have had difficulty creating films or other assemblies of nanotubes that preserve those properties: nanotube arrays, for example, proved nowhere near as electrically conductive as tubes taken singly. But a number of groups have found ways around that ­obstacle, and the result has been a flurry of prototype electronic devices that use nanotubes. Here is a sampling.

Stretchy speakers: A transparent, stretchable film of carbon nanotubes made by Shoushan Fan at Tsinghua University in China can act as a loudspeaker even when mounted on a waving flag. Credit: American Chemical Society

Stretchy speakers: A transparent, stretchable film of carbon nanotubes made by Shoushan Fan at Tsinghua University in China can act as a loudspeaker even when mounted on a waving flag. Credit: American Chemical Society

Obama’s massive deficit

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:41 am

Obama is about to forecast a deficit of $1.75 trillion in the 2009 budget proposal. This number is 12.3% of GDP and represents the largest percentage since World War II. He’s also pledged to halve the over $1 trillion deficit he inherited from the Bush administration in four years.

I’m guessing these developments have most of namby-pamby Washington in utter confusion. The budget doesn’t hide the outrageous cost of real-world activities — can anyone say keeping the Iraq war costs out of the budget? — and actually looks toward future financial prudence instead of cheap political points for today.

Who would’ve guessed it would take a Democrat widely reviled in GOP circles as the “most liberal Senator” and a Manchurian candidate ready to turn the US into Western Europe-lite to actually take fiscal charge of the nation and fix the big government shambles created by, gasp, eight years of GOP rule in the White House — six of those with GOP control over the entire governing apparatus.

And now the Republicans get their fiscal conservatism backs up? Too little, too late for this round, and very possibly too little, too late to save the party. GOP behavior since Obama has taken office has turned me even farther away from the party. Not necessarily into the arms of the Democrats, but the GOP is an electoral joke and not worth saving any longer. The party of Rush and Joe the Plumber deserves the long slide into ignominy that is now well underway.

From the link way up there:

But spending would increase to meet key objectives. The budget sets aside $250 billion as a “placeholder” if Obama decides to ask Congress for more money to help the troubled U.S. financial system. No such decision has been made yet, officials said.

It also includes a 10-year, $634-billion reserve fund to help pay for the president’s proposed healthcare reforms.

Another official said the budget included hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues, starting in 2012 and going over many years, from a greenhouse gas emissions trading system, one of Obama’s key proposals to fight global warming.

Officials planned a high profile roll-out of the 134-page budget outline on Thursday. A more detailed version will come out in mid or late April.

The budget, for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1, 2009, requires passage by Congress to take effect.

Obama’s $1.75 trillion budget deficit forecast for this year reflects shortfalls accumulated under Bush as well as new spending proposals under the $787 economic stimulus package that the Democratic president recently signed.

Update — I left this out of the original post and it’s been written a lot lately — I’m no innocent, there — but, man isn’t it great to have adults in charge of the nation again? No political shenanigans, no Monty Python sketch- level operations. Just intelligent people who want to solve the very difficult problems of today in the best possible way.

Update pt. 2 — Here’s more on the budgetary items hidden during the Bush 43 years:

President Barack Obama‘s budget director said on Thursday that without a shift in policies the U.S. deficit would reach $9 trillion over the next decade.

White House budget chief Peter Orszag said the Obama administration’s budget outline reflects costs for the war in Iraq and other items that were previously not included in the budget.

“All told we are showing $2.7 trillion in costs in this budget that were excluded from previous budgets and I think that is a mark of the honesty and responsibility contained in this document,” he said.

Ultra high-density computer memory

Density to the tune of 10 terabits per square inch through use of a nanomaterial.

From the link:

The self-assembling of materials known as block copolymers could provide a low-cost, efficient way to fabricate ultra-high-density computer memory. Block copolymers, which are made of chemically different polymers linked together, can arrange themselves into arrays of nanoscale dots on surfaces, which could be used as templates for creating tiny magnetic bits that store data on hard disks. Until now, though, there was no simple, quick way to coax the block copolymer to make the desired arrays over large areas.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst have found a simple way to coat square inches of substrate with block copolymers. The highly ordered pattern formed by the copolymers could be used to create hard disks with 10 terabits squeezed into a square inch, the researchers report this week in Science.

Derbyshire on conservative talk radio

This is a wonderful article by John Derbyshire (of National Review and Secular Right fame) at The American Conservative on conservative talk radio and how it has slowly wrecked the GOP.

I’ve blogged on the negative influence of Limbaugh, et.al. in the past, and I think the echo-chamber of idiots totally primed the path for the state of the Republican Party today. A party that may not exist as a serious national political force in ten years time.

Couldn’t tell you what the answer is to the rapid decline of the
GOP, and even worse for the party the fact that decline continues unabated to this very minute. Obama’s powerful speech and Jindal’s weak sauce response last night pretty much sum up the tall and short of it.

Whether current political winds make you happy or leave you in dispair, take the time to read Derby’s entire piece. It’s worth the time.

From the link:

With reasons for gratitude duly noted, are there some downsides to conservative talk radio? Taking the conservative project as a whole—limited government, fiscal prudence, equality under law, personal liberty, patriotism, realism abroad—has talk radio helped or hurt? All those good things are plainly off the table for the next four years at least, a prospect that conservatives can only view with anguish. Did the Limbaughs, Hannitys, Savages, and Ingrahams lead us to this sorry state of affairs?

They surely did. At the very least, by yoking themselves to the clueless George W. Bush and his free-spending administration, they helped create the great debt bubble that has now burst so spectacularly. The big names, too, were all uncritical of the decade-long (at least) efforts to “build democracy” in no-account nations with politically primitive populations. Sean Hannity called the Iraq War a “massive success,” and in January 2008 deemed the U.S. economy “phenomenal.”

Much as their blind loyalty discredited the Right, perhaps the worst effect of Limbaugh et al.has been their draining away of political energy from what might have been a much more worthwhile project: the fostering of a middlebrow conservatism. There is nothing wrong with lowbrow conservatism. It’s energizing and fun. What’s wrong is the impression fixed in the minds of too many Americans that conservatism is always lowbrow, an impression our enemies gleefully reinforce when the opportunity arises. Thus a liberal like E.J. Dionne can write, “The cause of Edmund Burke, Leo Strauss, Robert Nisbet and William F. Buckley Jr. is now in the hands of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity. … Reason has been overwhelmed by propaganda, ideas by slogans.” Talk radio has contributed mightily to this development.

February 25, 2009

Twitter raising $250M

Looks like Twitter it capitalizing on the exponential increase in publicity this year.

Find me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/davidkonline.

From the link in the intro sentence:

Twitter, which just recently turned down a half billion dollar acquisition offer from Facebook (albeit to be paid mostly with Facebook stock), is dipping back into the venture capital market, we’ve heard from a source with knowledge of the deal. They’ve signed a term sheet with at least one venture fund to raise a new round at a $250 million valuation. We are still gathering information on how much they’re raising and from whom.

It’s likely they’ll raise more than the $20 million in capital they’ve taken in over two previous rounds. Their last round, raised in June 2008, was a $15 million raise from new investors Spark Capital and Bezos Expeditions. Union Square Ventures and Digital Garage increased their previous investment.

Rumor is Twitter hit up more than a few venture firms to pitch the $250 million valuation, and got more than one “no.” But someone’s bit, perhaps encouraged by Twitter’s breakneck growth and the interest from Facebook. That means Twitter gets a new cash injection and time to figure out its business model at an even more leisurely pace.

Update: We’ve heard from two sources the venture firm that signed the term sheet is IVP.

(Hat tip — socialmediawiz)

Is Twitter the future of PR?

One word — no. But it will become a very interesting public relations/media relations toolas new ways of utilizing the social networking microblogging app gain currency. Twitter is already a PR/MR soapbox with very unique abilities and limitations.

I’m looking forward to seeing what comes over the next six months to year. Twitter has absolutely exploded in 2009 so I expect some exciting, and probably totally unexpected, things to burst onto the scene.

From the link:

High Tech Computer (HTC), the Taiwanese maker of Windows Mobilehandsets, last week employed the popular microblogging/social networking service Twitter to confirmthat its latest high-end business smartphone, the HTC Touch Pro2, will be coming to North America. The potential of Twitter as a marketing tool is becoming obvious to many traditional PR shops, and more and more are creating official Twitter accounts to help reach journalists and writers. And that’s just fine by me. Keep reading for my reasons why.

HTC is one of the few handset makers with a consistent presence on Twitter, which lets you post 140-character “status updates” and communicate with other users and “followers,” who elect to receive your updates. Palmis another smartphone maker that effectively employs Twitter to disseminate its marketing message and communicate with users. RIM has an official Twitter account, but it abruptly stopped posting last summer. Windows Mobileand Nokia have a presence on Twitter, as well, though I’ve yet to find an official account for either.

PowerPoint don’ts

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:55 pm

By example.

From CIO.com, trainwreck number five:

Fun with Arrows: Part 2

This slide comes from a presentation that Jesper Laugesen sat through (Laugesen thought it worthy of a nomination for the “world’s worst” PPT slide). If the “community” is supposed to rally around this PowerPoint slide, then there might be a lot of confusion about just where to get started. PowerPoint experts say that bullet points and arrows shouldn’t be used (or kept to just a few). These arrows are quite disorienting.

Snooze Scale: ZZZ

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Text of Obama’s address to joint session of Congress

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:54 am

The text as prepared for delivery:

Madame Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, and the First Lady of the United States:

I’ve come here tonight not only to address the distinguished men and women in this great chamber, but to speak frankly and directly to the men and women who sent us here.

I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven’t been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has—a friend; a neighbor; a member of your family. You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It’s the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It’s the job you thought you’d retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that’s now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.

But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this:

We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before. (more…)

Ford stares, UAW blinks

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:51 am

Maybe sensing the hand tugging the rope around its neck was its own, the United Auto Workers has made concessions to help keep Ford Motor afloat.

From the link:

Signaling that it is willing to do whatever it can to save Detroit automakers, the United Automobile Workers union has agreed to concessions with the Ford Motor Company on its retiree health care fund.

The agreement, announced Monday, would allow Ford to substitute its stock for as much as half of the $13.6 billion it owes the fund.

 

It could also form the basis for similar deals with General Motors and Chrysler, which need to cut costs and demonstrate that they can survive under the terms of their loans from the federal government.

”What they negotiated today at Ford is really something that unions aren’t made to talk about,” said Gary N. Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. ”This is the union trying to hold onto a benefit that few retired workers enjoy and doing it at a cost that may be prohibitively high.”

But U.A.W. leaders clearly see the alternative to making such concessions as far worse for their membership.

”The modifications will protect jobs for U.A.W. members by ensuring the long-term viability of the company,” the union’s president, Ron Gettelfinger, said Monday in a statement.

February 24, 2009

Is social networking turning us into babies?

I’m going to get out there on a limb and say no.

Didn’t stop this Brit professor to state otherwise. Sadly, her comment is very indicative of the overall quality of UK medical research and opinion. Check out some of the bogus “research” published by the Lancet over the last few years to get a broader picture. Overt bias and research driven to meet pre-ordained results seems the order of the day across the pond.

From the link:

No less an authority on the brain’s workings than Susan Greenfield, a professor of pharmacology at Oxford University and the director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, told a British newspaper on Tuesday that social networking sites remind her of the way that “small babies need constant reassurance that they exist” and make her worry about the effects that this sort of stimulation is having on the brains of users. Lady Greenfield (she’s a neuroscientist and a baroness) told the Daily Mail:

My fear is that these technologies are infantilizing the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights, who have a small attention span and who live for the moment.

Richard Perle — a bit confused …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:37 pm

… or a smoke-blowin’ ass monkey? You be the judge.

I’ve always found it amazing that once he bailed on the Bush 43 regime he’s gone somewhat unchallenged when making wild statements that could be generously called “truth challenged.”

From the link:

The “people who wound up in important positions” were key neoconservatives like Douglas Feith, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, and others, who had been openly calling for regime change in Iraq since the late 1990s and who used their positions in the Bush administration to make the case for war after 9/11, aided by a chorus of sympathetic pundits at places like the American Enterprise Institute, and the Weekly Standard. The neocons were hardly some secret cabal or conspiracy, as they were making their case loudly and in public, and no serious scholar claims that they “bamboozled” Bush and Cheney into a war. Rather, numerous accounts have documented that they had been openly pushing for war since 1998 and they continued to do so after 9/11. As neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan later admitted, he and his fellow neoconservatives were successful in part because they had a “ready-made approach to the world” that seemed to provide an answer to the challenges the U.S. faced after 9/11.

The bottom line is simple: Richard Perle is lying. What is disturbing about this case is is not that a former official is trying to falsify the record in such a brazen fashion; Perle is hardly the first policymaker to kick up dust about his record and he certainly won’t be the last. The real cause for concern is that there are hardly any consequences for the critical role that Perle and the neoconservatives played for their pivotal role in causing one of the great foreign policy disasters in American history. If somebody can help engineer a foolish war and remain a respected Washington insider — as is the case with Perle — what harm is likely to befall them if they lie about it later?

(Hat tip — Cato-at-Liberty)

NASA research sat fails

Didn’t make it to orbit and now resides in the ocean.

From the link:

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory lifted off on schedule at 1:55 a.m. Pacific time from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a four-stage Taurus XL rocket.

But three minutes later, during the burning of the third stage, the payload fairing — a clamshell nose cone that protects the satellite as it rises through the atmosphere — failed to separate as commanded.

The third and fourth stages burned properly, but because of the added weight of the nose cone, the satellite did not reach orbit.

“The fairing has considerable weight relative to the portion of the vehicle that’s flying,” said John Brunschwyler, manager of the Taurus rocket program for Orbital Sciences of Virginia, which built both the rocket and the satellite.

“So when it separates off, you get a jump in acceleration,” said Mr. Brunschwyler. “We did not have that jump in acceleration. As a direct result of carrying that extra weight, we could not make orbit.”

The satellite fell back to Earth, landing in the ocean just short of Antarctica.

Economic predictions for 2009 and 2010

I’ve heard all manner of speculation since the financial crisis came to full boil last fall. First was we’ll know nothing good or bad until May or June of this year. Right on the heels of that analysis was to completely write-off 2009, ride it out and look for more clarity in 2010. The most recent buzz has been even gloomier, predicting a bad 2009 and an even worse 2010.

If that’s where you stand right now, this survey by the National Association for Business Economics is downright rosy.

(Note: the above link seems to be a little dodgy. If it gives you problems try this instead.)

From the link, first the expected bad news:

The recession is projected to worsen this year. The country stands to lose a sizable chunk of economic activity in 2009 as consumers at home and abroad retrench in the face of persistent economic troubles. And the U.S. unemployment rate _ now at 7.6 percent, the highest in more than 16 years _ is expected hit a peak of 9 percent this year.

That gloomy outlook came from leading forecasters in the latest survey by the National Association for Business Economics to be released Monday. The new estimates are roughly in line with other recent projections, including those released last week by the Federal Reserve.

“The steady drumbeat of weak economic and financial market data have made business economists decidedly more pessimistic on the economic outlook for the next several quarters,” said NABE president Chris Varvares, head of Macroeconomic Advisers.

All told, Varvares and his fellow forecasters now expect the economy to shrink by 1.9 percent this year, a much deeper contraction than the 0.2 percent dip projected in the fall.

If the new forecast is correct, it would mark the first time since 1991 the economy actually contracted over a full year and would be the worst showing since 1982, when the country had suffered through a severe recession.

And then some unexpected — well not good, but certainly better — news:

“A meaningful recovery is not expected to take hold until next year,” said Varvares.

NABE predicts GDP will rebound in 2010, averaging 2.4 percent over the course of the year. The Fed, too, is forecasting that the economy will grow again in 2010_ and will pick up momentum in 2011.

Even so, the Fed is still guarded about any turnaround.

 Update: Maybe not so fast there according to Ben Bernanke:

Mr. Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee that the Federal Reserve was doing everything it could to unlock credit markets and ease the financial crisis. But a full recovery, he said, is months, if not years away.

“If actions taken by the administration, the Congress, and the Federal Reserve are successful in restoring some measure of financial stability — and only if that is the case, in my view — there is a reasonable prospect that the current recession will end in 2009 and that 2010 will be a year of recovery,” Mr. Bernanke said.

Major what-ifs included the ramifications of an increasingly global financial crisis, as well as a negative feedback loop as lower confidence translates to worsening market conditions, and vice versa.

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Filed under: Arts, et.al. — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:01 pm

Hope everyone has a fun and safe Mardi Gras. For my part we boiled 70 pounds of crawfish on Saturday. Mmmmm.

Mardi Gras in 'nawlins

Mardi Gras in 'nawlins

February 23, 2009

Look out for the millennials

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:10 pm

They voted for change, and change may be coming as they age into power.

From the link:

In her research with Neil Howe, also of LifeCourse, they noted that the youngest generation is a consensus-driven bunch. Professors have noticed that group is less likely to engage in debates in class and more likely to come up with a conclusion everyone can agree upon. Howe predicted a “very different kind of political discourse 10 to 15 years from now,” when millennials are not only in Congress but also influencing the media. (He pointed out that right now the media is run by baby boomers and generation Xers “who love that kind of carnival culture.”)

If that’s the case, it’ll be interesting to see whether that influences the political system for better or for worse. Despite all of the striving for bipartisanship, could there be merits in partisan politics?

Former Republican Rep. Tom Delay of Texas certainly thought so. In his farewell speech he said, “We debate here on the House floor, we debate in committees, we debate on television and on radio and on the Internet and in the newspapers and then every two years, we have a huge debate. And then in November, we see who won. That is not rancor, that is democracy. You show me a nation without partisanship, and I’ll show you a tyranny. For all its faults, it is partisanship, based on core principles, that clarifies our debates, that prevents one party from straying too far from the mainstream, and that constantly refreshes our politics with new ideas and new leaders.”

It’s far too soon to tell if millennials will remain a consensus-driven, left of center bunch. But if that’s the case, the idea of “change” in American politics has only just begun.

IRS releases new tax withholding tables

A press release from the Internal Revenue Service:

New Withholding Tables Now Available on IRS.gov; Most Workers Will See Bigger Paychecks this Spring

 
IR-2009-13, Feb 21, 2009

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service today released new withholding tables that will result in more take-home pay this spring for millions of American workers.

The new tables incorporate the new Making Work Pay credit, one of the key tax provisions included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that became law earlier this week.

“For most taxpayers, the additional credit will automatically start showing up in their paychecks this spring,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “Since employers and payroll companies will handle this change, people typically won’t need to take any additional action. The IRS will continue working to implement this and other provisions of the new law as quickly as possible.”

The new withholding tables, along with other instructions related to the new tax law, will be incorporated in new Publication 15-T. This publication will be posted to this Web site next week and mailed to more than 9 million employers in mid-March. The IRS asks that employers start using these new tables as soon as possible but not later than April 1. Most workers will see a boost in their take-home pay soon thereafter.

Eligible workers will get the benefit of this change without any action on their part. This means that workers don’t need to fill out a new W-4 withholding form to get the Making Work Pay credit reflected in their take-home pay. A Form W-4 will not need to be submitted for the automatic withholding change. Individuals and couples with multiple jobs may want to submit revised Form W-4 forms to ensure enough withholding is held to cover the tax for the combined income. Publication 919 provides additional guidance for tax withholding.

Available for tax years 2009 and 2010, the Making Work Pay credit is 6.2 percent of a taxpayer’s earned income with a maximum credit of $800 for a married couple filing a joint return and $400 for other taxpayers, but it is phased out for higher income taxpayers. Most workers will qualify for the maximum credit. Because the credit is refundable (people can get it even if they owe no tax), most low-income workers will also qualify for the full credit.

Though all eligible taxpayers will need to claim the credit when they file their 2009 income tax return next year, the benefit will generally be spread out over the paychecks they receive beginning this spring and continue until the end of the year.

Many higher-income taxpayers will see little or no change in their take-home pay. That’s because the Making Work Pay credit is phased out for a married couple filing a joint return whose modified adjusted gross income (AGI) is between $150,000 and $190,000 and other taxpayers whose modified AGI is between $75,000 and $95,000.

Taxpayers will not get a separate, special check mailed to them from the IRS like last year’s economic stimulus payment.

 

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: February 21, 2009

February 22, 2009

Health insurance benefits laws from EBSA

Here’s a quick listing of employer-based health insurance benefits law from the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration. This article was written for insurance quote aggregator, WeCompareInsurance.com.

From the link:

Health Insurance Benefit Laws

 

Once you’re done comparing health insurance quotes and plans and you’ve settled on employer-based health insurance, it’s good to keep in mind the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) administers a number of laws that cover these health insurance plans.

Here is a list of some of the laws affecting health insurance:

  1. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act – This law protects people in retirement, health and other benefit plans through private employers by providing rights to information and a grievance and appeals process for private employer health insurance participants.
  2. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act – This law only applies to special instances, but if you qualify as a former employee, retiree, spouse or dependent child you can purchase a temporary continuation of health insurance at group rates.
  3. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – This law applies to working Americans and families with preexisting medical conditions. Through this act there is a guarantee of individual health insurance policies for eligible people and it prohibits discrimination in health care coverage.
  4. The Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act – Just as it sounds, this law offers rules on minimum health insurance coverage on how long the mother and child can stay in the hospital after childbirth.
  5. Mental Health Parity Act – This law ensures mental health is given as much emphasis as physical health by requiring annual, or lifetime, limits on mental health benefits to be no lower than limits for medical and surgical benefits provided by a group health insurance plan.
  6. Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act – Breast cancer is a frightening diagnosis and treatment runs a wide range of intensity and invasiveness. This law protects breast cancer patients who want to have a breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.

When you are part of an employer-based health insurance plan the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration is a great source of information on subjects such as your rights to information on how your plan works, how to quality benefits available in your plan and how to make claims on your health insurance plan.

Remember EBSA administers these laws that help protect your health insurance when you lose coverage, change jobs or if you suffer from certain special medical conditions. Also remember when choosing employer-based plans to carefully compare your health insurance options to make sure your plan works best for you and your family’s medical needs.

Find out more about EBSA on the web at www.dol.gov/ebsa

Obama sides with Bush on missing email

A disappointing stance from an administration making claims of  transparency in government.

From the link:

The Obama administration, siding with former President George W. Bush, is trying to kill a lawsuit that seeks to recover what could be millions of missing White House e-mails.

Two advocacy groups suing the Executive Office of the President say that large amounts of White House e-mail documenting Bush’s eight years in office may still be missing, and that the government must undertake an extensive recovery effort. They expressed disappointment that Obama’s Justice Department is continuing the Bush administration’s bid to get the lawsuits dismissed.

During its first term, the Bush White House failed to install electronic record-keeping for e-mail when it switched to a new system, resulting in millions of messages that could not be found.

The Bush White House discovered the problem in 2005 and rejected a proposed solution.

Recently, the Bush White House said it had located 14 million e-mails that were misplaced and that the White House had restored hundreds of thousands of other e-mails from computer backup tapes.

The steps the White House took are inadequate, one of the two groups, the National Security Archive, told a federal judge in court papers filed Friday.

“We do not know how many more e-mails could be restored but have not been, because defendants have not looked,” the National Security Archive said in the court papers.

“The new administration seems no more eager than the last” to deal with the issue, said Anne Weismann, chief counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the other group that sued the EOP.

Obama’s first budget …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:06 pm

… looks to be pretty dramatic. I think this is an area, unlike the unprecdented stimulus plan, to do some tea leaf reading on Obama’s fiscal governing style.

From the link:

President Obama is putting the finishing touches on an ambitious first budget that seeks to cut the federal deficit in half over the next four years, primarily by raising taxes on businesses and the wealthy and by slashing spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, administration officials said.

In addition to tackling a deficit swollen by the $787 billion stimulus package and other efforts to ease the nation’s economic crisis, the budget blueprint will press aggressively for progress on the domestic agenda Obama outlined during the presidential campaign. This would include key changes to environmental policies and a major expansion of health coverage that he hopes to enact later this year.

A summary of Obama’s budget request for the fiscal year that begins in October will be delivered to Congress on Thursday, with the complete, multi-hundred-page document to follow in April. But Obama plans to unveil his goals for scaling back record deficits and rebuilding the nation’s costly and inefficient health care system tomorrow, when he addresses lawmakers and budget experts at a White House summit on restoring “fiscal responsibility” to Washington.

Yesterday in his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said he is determined to “get exploding deficits under control” and said his budget request is “sober in its assessments, honest in its accounting, and lays out in detail my strategy for investing in what we need, cutting what we don’t, and restoring fiscal discipline.”

Reducing the deficit, he said, is critical: “We can’t generate sustained growth without getting our deficits under control.”

Preview of March 2, 2009 international edition of Newsweek

Filed under: Business, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:39 pm

A release from today:

NEWSWEEK: International Editions: Highlights and Exclusives, March 2, 2009 Issue

COVER: The Education of Larry Summers (All overseas editions).  Senior Editor Michael Hirsh and Editor-At-Large Evan Thomas profile Larry Summers, Obama’s top economic adviser.  Summers has gone from being part of the government that got out of the way of the markets in the freewheeling days of the late 1990s to become the man mainly in charge of the immense government bailout.  Summers’s greatest test will be persuading Congress to vote for “entitlement reforms” — i.e., cutbacks and/or higher taxes on Social Security and health benefits for the poor and elderly.  Summers plans to urge the president and Congress to venture into an area where politicians have long feared to tread, the so-called third rail of politics.  “Necessity requires it, he says — if the United States cannot curb its spending and debt, interest rates will soar and the economy will plunge once more.”

http://www.newsweek.com/id/185934

America’s New Shrink. Every day seems to bring bad news, with more on the way, observes Senior Editor Jonathan Alter. The nation is in a pessimistic mood and although Obama is popular and refreshing, he is still well short of transformative.  “For all of the legislative achievements of his first month in office, Americans have not yet had their faith in the future restored,” Alter writes.  Despite Obama’s initial stumbles, which include mistakes in cabinet selection, Alter believes President Obama has a good chance of restoring confidence and pulling America back from the brink.  He writes, “My take on Obama… is that he has a firm grasp of the psychological and substantive challenges of the presidency. Equally important, his 2008 campaign proved that he possesses a superior sense of timing.”

http://www.newsweek.com/id/185800

The No-Risk Culture. Special Correspondent Tracy McNicoll reports that despite the French’s long held negative beliefs about entrepreneurship, there is a new law aimed at simplifying and promoting business startups. At the start of this year, a law took effect that allows just about anyone to become their own boss, without endless bureaucracy and fees. Retirees, students, workers, the unemployed and even bureaucrats can sign up online in 15 minutes and start building their own businesses, without losing their existing publicly funded pensions and unemployment and other benefits. By mid-February, there were already 62,000 auto-entrepreneurs on the books, suggesting that the number of startups could surpass half a million by the end of the year. Finance Minister Christine Lagarde says the figures “will explode the initial objective.” Philippe Hayat, founder of 100,000 Entrepreneurs, a network of businesspeople that has been trying to change French attitudes toward entrepreneurship, calls the legislation “a revolution.”

http://www.newsweek.com/id/185810

Going Back To the Farm. Special Correspondent Mary Hennock reports over the last 30 years, as its economy has raced ahead, China has witnessed the world’s largest internal migration, with some 250 million farmers and others abandoning its impoverished heartland in search of factory work and a better life on the coast. Now, as the economy slows, many of those factories have shut down, and unemployment is thought to have hit 10 percent. Among the most worrisome effects: some 20 million migrant workers have returned home, flooding areas where able-bodied youngsters were recently a rarity. This is producing great anxiety among Chinese officials, who have begun warning of civil unrest in unusually stark terms. The fear is that jobless workers — many of them young men — will band together and turn to violence or crime.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/185811

GLOBAL INVESTOR: Keeping Stability at All Costs. Ruchir Sharma, head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, writes about Brazil’s divergent attitude toward the global economic crisis. It’s not as if Brazil is completely unaffected by the worldwide collapse in economic growth. After expanding at an average of nearly 4 percent over the past five years, the Brazilian economy is set to slow to a crawl in 2009. “But given its long history of crises, Brazil’s reaction to the current shock is more along the lines of ‘we have seen this movie before’ — and its past experience has seasoned the nation to weather such storms,” Sharma writes.  Another reason Brazil is different compared with many emerging markets in Eastern Europe and Asia is the country’s main policy objective this decade of seeking stability above all else, rather than the ‘growth at any cost’ mantra in several other emerging markets.”

http://www.newsweek.com/id/185826

Bring On The Credit. Special Correspondent Barrett Sheridan reports that the problem with China’s banks isn’t their size — the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is the world’s sixth largest corporation, with a market value greater than Microsoft. It’s that, despite their wealth, they don’t lend enough. And what loans they do make go mostly to large companies and state-owned businesses. According to research by Morgan Stanley, just 7 percent of the loans made last December went to households. This isn’t an accident, but the fruit of a deliberate government policy, a war on lending that Beijing has waged to help keep inflation in check. To keep prices stable during China’s years of torrid growth, Beijing set quotas on how many loans could be issued. Now that the global economy is cooling, inflation is no longer a worry, according to Brad Setser, an economist at the Council on Foreign Relations, Beijing’s policymakers ought to “unshackle the banks.”

http://www.newsweek.com/id/185815

WORLD VIEW: Why Chavez May Outlast Us All. Jorge Castaneda, a former foreign minister of Mexico and Global Distinguished Professor at New York University, writes that Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez may wind up as the longest reigning elected president in history anywhere. To win his last election, “Chavez used every conceivable instrument of the state, every imaginable subterfuge, every trick in the book, to stack the deck in his favor and against his opponents,” Castaneda writes. However, as long as his opposition remains divided, they will have trouble curtailing Chavez’s force. “Their defeat may prove dispiriting, and Chavez has the power to concentrate even more power in his hands, as well as further clamping down on the media, the judiciary, the unions, human-rights groups, the business community, students and the opposition.”

http://www.newsweek.com/id/185825

THE LAST WORD: Igor Yurgens, economic-policy advisor to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Yurgens spoke to Newsweek about his radical prescriptions for reversing Russia’s dependence on oil and what he sees as the main problem with the government’s policies. “Our ideal scenario is that the state should mix liberal and statist policies. They should allow the market to decide what industries should die naturally, but at the same time selectively support the sectors whose collapse would cause the most social upheaval.” He adds that the state should “spend its money on strategic goals like economic diversification, and developing nanotechnology, biotechnology and information technology. The biggest fault is that the government has not explained its strategy to people, and there appears to be favoritism in selecting which businesses to bail out. People believe that the state is helping its friends and letting others fail.”

http://www.newsweek.com/id/185824

/PRNewswire – Feb. 22/

Source: Newsweek
   

Web Site:  http://www.newsweek.com/

February 21, 2009

News from the American Naturalist

A fun group of article summaries from the American Naturalist:

Honest crabs, power to the hungry, nice mice and clever meerkats: News from the American Naturalist

HOW OFTEN DO ANIMALS LIE ABOUT THEIR INTENTIONS?

An article by Princeton Biologist Mark Laidre suggests that when an animal signals an intent to attack, chances are it’s not bluffing. Using hermit crabs as subjects, Laidre tested previous mathematical models that predict animals have a significant incentive to give dishonest signals about their intentions. Some models suggest that animals may lie about their intentions up to 40 percent of the time. Laidre used dummy hermit crabs to invade the personal space of live crabs. Contrary to the models, the crabs nearly always backed up their threats with an attack. Those that didn’t signal a threat nearly always fled. The findings, Lairde says, suggest that animals don’t lie about their actions nearly as much as theorists once predicted.

Mark E. Laidre, “How Often Do Animals Lie About Their Intentions? An Experimental Test,” 173:March.

POWER TO THE HUNGRY: HOW THE NEEDIEST CAN LEAD LARGE GROUPS

Flocks of birds, swarms of insects and herds of ungulates don’t need to take a vote to choose their leaders. According to research led by Larissa Conradt (University of Sussex), leaders in large animal groups can emerge automatically. Conradt and her colleagues created a theoretical model that simulates the movements of a large group in which members have conflicting plans about where they’d like to go. The simulation showed that individuals who valued their preferred destination over group cohesion often led the group—even if they were in the minority. Those who were less concerned about the destination went along for ride just to stay with the group. “As a consequence,” Conradt says, “large groups are often automatically led by those members that are most desperate to reach a particular destination, or are most indifferent as to whether or not the group breaks up.” There’s some empirical evidence to back up the model. Studies have shown that food deprived fish move to the front of shoals, presumably to steer the group toward food.

L. Conrad, J. Krause, I. D. Couzin, and T. J. Roper, “‘Leading According to Need’ in Self-Organizing Groups,” 173:March

GENTLE GIANTS WOO MORE LADIES (IN MICE, ANYWAY)

Sometimes the nice guy gets the girls. At least that’s how it is for striped mice. A research team led by Carsten Schradin (University of Zurich and University of the Witwatersrand) studied the breeding strategies of striped mice in South Africa. They found that dominant males who controlled breeding groups had lower testosterone levels than subdominant males. “What is unusual about this society is that the dominant males are in fact the most sociable, often grooming other group members,” Schradin says. “It is the smaller and solitary living males, which roam from one group to another, that have the highest testosterone levels.” The roaming males try to coerce females to mate, which, as one might imagine, is less successful than establishing a breeding group.

Carsten Schradin, Michael Scantlebury, Neville Pillay, and Barbara König, “Testosterone levels in dominant sociable males are lower than in solitary roamers: physiological differences between three male reproductive tactics in a sociably flexible mammal,” 173:March

MEERKATS AND THE EVOLUTION OF SPECIALIZED ALARM CALLS

Meerkats’ cooperative social structure may have led them to evolve a specialized system of alarm calls, according to an article by Roman Furrer and Marta Manser from the University of Zurich. Meerkats have the ability to vary their alarm calls depending on what type of predator threatens them. In other words, they use one call when threatened from the air by an eagle, and a different call when threatened from the ground by a snake. But Cape ground squirrels, that live side-by-side in the same habitat as meerkats, have not evolved this type of alarm call. So why would such calls evolve on one species and not the other when both live in the same area? Furrer and Manser suggest it has to do with social structure. Meerkats are highly social creatures. They coordinate their foraging activities as well as their escape plans. So knowing what predator is approaching helps in coordination. The ground squirrels, on the other hand, act largely independent of each other and may have less need for specified alarm calls.

Roman D. Furrer and Marta B. Manser, “The evolution of urgency-based and functionally referential alarm calls in ground-dwelling species,” 173:March.

 

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February 20, 2009

Microblogging.com launched today

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:47 pm

Twitter and other microblogging platforms get a clearinghouse.

From the link:

Shaun Morton from Dayton, Ohio, USA, has officially launched Microblogging.com a couple of minutes ago. Congratulations! Microblogging.com is a site dedicated to bringing you the latest news from the microblogging world. Shaun is monitoring the scene for quite a while and you may know him as @microblogging in Twitter and Identi.ca. In the last months we had some interesting conversations which each other by direct messaging and email.

(Hat tip — @socialmediawiz)

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