Friday, March 29, 2013

Applying for Obamacare not easy

Reality starting to kick in--

AP Exclusive: Applying for health care not easy - Yahoo! News: "Applying for benefits under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul could be as daunting as doing your taxes. The government's draft application is now on the Internet. It runs 15 pages for a three-person family. The online version has 21 steps, some with added questions. At least three major federal agencies, including the IRS, will scrutinize your application. That's just the first part of the process, which lets you know if you qualify for financial help. You'd still have to pick a health plan. Some fear that consumers will be overwhelmed and give up."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Google Maps views-- top of the mountain

Check this out--

Latest Google Maps views take you to the top of the mountain | PCWorld: "You can now explore the world from the comfort of your couch with Google Maps’ new mountaintop Street Views. On Monday, Google released images from four of the world’s highest summits: Everest Base Camp in Nepal, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Russia’s Mount Elbrus, and Argentina’s Aconcagua. The latest addition to Google Maps lets you scale those famous peaks without an extensive training regimen or an expensive plane ticket."

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Washington Dysfunction

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Lawmaker's and Attorney's General are Still Calling for Ed DeMarco's Head | " the government must always consider the idea of fairness as well. And I’m sure there are plenty in the Obama Administration who would like to simply avoid the political headaches that come with opening such a can of worms. Especially when they have Ed DeMarco to take the heat for them."

Sounds like dysfunctional Washington!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Chicago alderman tells gang members it’s OK to kill

Jonylah Watkins’ father cooperating with police, pastor says - Chicago Sun-Times: "On Tuesday, Ald. Willie Cochran (20th), a former Chicago Police officer, said he has taken the unprecedented step of calling on gang leaders to essentially deliver the message that it’s OK to kill each other, but don’t kill innocent people and certainly not kids. Cochran was joined by several other African-American aldermen and a former gang member at a City Hall news conference to condemn the murder. “We’ve talked with some of the gang leaders, and we’ve talked about how important it is for them to not harbor offenders that they know are offenders who have committed crimes associated with innocent victims,” Cochran said. “These are acts that are carried out by people on the street. And on the street is where it has to be dealt with.” Cochran said he never talked to the gang leaders about who shot Jonylah. He simply sought and received a “commitment” from them to pass along an important message."

Problem is, once you give permission to kill anyone, innocent bystanders are bound to be shot.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New TSA Rules Draw Praise as Arbitrary

This is a classic--

New T.S.A. Rules Draw Praise of National Arbitrariness Association : The New Yorker: ". . . . the Transportation Safety Administration’s new rules allowing air passengers to carry small knives, baseball bats, golf clubs, and other sporting goods onto airplanes got a vote of confidence today from the National Arbitrariness Association. The N.A.A., whose stated mission is to “enhance the randomness, disorder, and confusion of American life,” called the new list of approved items “just what the doctor ordered.” “We love that the list appears to have been put together with no organizing principle or logical system,” said N.A.A. executive director Carol Foyler. “It combines the virtues of making no sense and being impossible to remember. Knives, bats, golf clubs, billiard cues—it’s like they made this list using refrigerator-poetry magnets.”. . . ."

Monday, March 18, 2013

Unfair Competition "French Style"

What's unfair to incumbents is usually a benefit for humankind--

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Extremely Difficult to Keep Up With Economic Stupidity: "Reflections on "Unfair Competition" - Corporations always consider it "unfair" when any other company can do things faster, smarter, or cheaper than they can. The buggy whip industry once protested cars. Today, land-line telecom companies have to compete with wireless and they don't like it. Now, we see protests about VOIP (voice over internet protocol). Technology marches on. But France does not like it. The French solution is to tax Skype because it has an "unfair advantage". . . . It is a simple statement of fact that the more goods and services we receive for our money, the better off we all are. The cheaper, the better! Time and time again we forget free trade and lower prices are a benefit! We forget because unions, socialists, and corporations forced to compete against the sun (or Skype), scream "unfair advantage" at the top of their lungs, via political contributions to politicians willing to "tax the sun" to be re-elected." Read more at

Friday, March 15, 2013

Seattle dive bar bans Google Glasses

Seattle dive bar becomes first to ban Google Glass | Internet & Media - CNET News: ". . . The 5 Point, a self-described dive bar in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood, posted a notice to its Facebook page this week telling Glass Explorers looking to grab a pint that they will need to remove their $1,500 spectacles. The story was noted today on GeekWire. "For the record, The 5 Point is the first Seattle business to ban in advance Google Glasses," the post reads. "And ass kickings will be encouraged for violators." "I'm a thought leader," deadpanned Dave Meinert, the bar's owner, in an interview on Seattle's KIRO-FM. "First you have to understand the culture of the 5 Point, which is a sometimes seedy, maybe notorious place. People want to go there and be not known...and definitely don't want to be secretly filmed or videotaped and immediately put on the Internet.". . . "

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia Haven't Killed Off Real Estate Brokers

Why Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia Haven't Killed Off Real Estate Brokers - Businessweek: " . . . So far, Redfin hasn’t convinced many people that brokers, or their 6 percent take on most deals, are in any real danger. Last October, at a Seattle technology conference, an audience member asked Spencer Rascoff, Zillow’s CEO, if sales commissions were ever going to decline. “There are other startups that are trying to break down those agent commissions, and I think most of them will fail,” he said. Rascoff said later in an interview that “consumers don’t really care about commissions. They say they care, and they talk a big game in the off-season. But when push comes to shove and it comes time to sell their home, the transaction is so infrequent and so highly emotional and expensive—and consumers are so prone to error—that they turn to a professional.” Economists, like the University of Chicago’s Syverson, watch and wait for a real change in the market. “The Chicagoan in me says there is so much money on the table that someone will figure it out eventually,” he says. “But I will admit, I’ve been impressed with the resilience of the old model.”

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wall Street: Having your cake and eating it too

Abusing The System Pays On Wall Street - Business Insider: "How did it work? If housing prices rose or stayed flat or fell slightly, the bonds paid a small premium, about a quarter of a percent. If however, housing fell dramatically, then the bonds plummeted. From 2003 to 2007 housing prices rose. Wall Street took in record profits as the bonds paid. Bonuses paid to traders and executives were also records, with senior traders and managers receiving bonuses between $3 million and $10 million in 2006. In the middle of 2007 things turned. The housing market did collapse over 30%, triggering huge drops in the bonds. Who lost? Well the banks did, many going broke and requiring a government bailout. The traders and managers who did these trades did well personally. Many were fired, but with enough money to never work again, having collected compensation of roughly $15 million over that period. Many were later rehired, by hedge funds, to buy the securities at cheap prices after the banks disgorged them. Were they doing anything illegal? Hard to say. They were doing what Wall Street incentivised them to do."

Friday, March 8, 2013

Chromebook Pixel or a Legacy Computer

Computing has changed--think about that before you buy your next computer:

MacBook Pro (Retina Display) vs. Chromebook Pixel on video | ZDNet: "I understand Kendrick's need to try do a comparison between a Model T (MacBook Pro) and a Tesla (Chromebook Pixel). But frankly it's apples and oranges (sorry no pun intended). The Chromebook Pixel has better display (even Kendrick admitted this), connectivity (Chromebook 4G LTE vs. MacBook -0-), and storage (Chromebook's 1 TB accessible from any device vs. some local storage on MacBook); throw in the offline functionality of Gmail, Google Drive and Apps, and clearly the Chromebook Pixel is superior (except maybe for those stuck in "legacy thinking" or "incarcerated" in the Apple ecosystem). Computing is changing. The MacBook Pro is a good legacy computer for those who want to remain in the past. For everyone else: Chromebook Pixels!"

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A $40 Million Yacht is Like a Mobile Home

Who needs a $40 million Yacht?

The Heartbreak of a $40 Million Yacht - "Given the money involved, it’s interesting that Doug Von Allmen likens yachts to a mobile home. A. He told me: “Some people have houses in the mountains, some have houses on the beach. I like the idea that if I don’t like the scenery I can move.” These yachts can go anywhere in the world. They have freezers with enough food that you could survive for months. But they often go the same places everyone else goes: the Mediterranean in summer, St. Barts at New Years, runs up the East Coast in June. The owners sometimes act like they’re moving to a series of mobile home parks."

Grand Ambition: The Story of Fort Lauderdale’s Lady Linda: "“If there is a moral to the story, it’s that many of the $15-a-hour people who worked on the boat are happier than the rich people who own it,” Knecht said."

Monday, March 4, 2013

Elizabeth II

How Elizabeth II Burnished Her Monarchy and Earned Dividends for Britain - The New York Sun: " . . . the position of monarch of the United Kingdom and head of the Commonwealth, though unique, is exacting, the more so by its ambivalence in many respects. There have been more glamorous and imaginative monarchs than Elizabeth II, in Britain and elsewhere, and she was long overshadowed by her mother, and briefly somewhat upstaged by Diana. But Elizabeth II stands today not only unsullied by the slightest failing of duty, and universally admired for a long and splendid reign, but illustrative of the virtues of a form of government long discarded as anachronistic, which by her devotion, discretion and monarchic dignity, stands very creditably beside the damaged and fallen idols of popular electoralism, not least obviously the comparative mediocrity of all of the 13 British prime ministers who have served her, except Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, not to mention the job lot of Commonwealth prime ministers who have come and gone from the Queen’s doorstep these 60 years. Long live the Queen."

God Save the Queen!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Lance Armstrong--will it ever end?

I wonder if Lance Armstrong will ever realize all the damage he inflicted on others?

Silicon Valley legend Thomas Weisel entangled in Lance Armstrong's problems - "Armstrong's "confession" could well be a precursor to his cooperating with federal investigators trying to determine if he and others defrauded the government by violating a no-doping clause the team had with its sponsor, the U.S. Postal Service. Weisel, 71, is the founder, owner and chairman of San Francisco-based Tailwind Sports. That was the holding company for the USPS cycling team that Armstrong led to an unbroken string of seven victories in the Tour de France, from 1999 to 2005. . . According to a report from Matt Smith and Lance Williams with the Center for Investigative Reporting, published this week in BusinessWeek, the Postal Service paid out $40 million in federal funds to sponsor the team from 1996 to 2004. Team management, which hired and paid the riders, promised in its contracts not to tolerate doping. If Armstrong now admits to doping, his entire operation could face litigation from the federal government, along with related lawsuits already filed against Tailwind. The New York Times reported that Armstrong was in discussions with the Justice Department to possibly testify against several team officials and owners. . . ."

Reuters: World News

Top Stories - Google (UK) News

Reuters: Technology News

The Register articles by Kieren McCarthy

Altucher Confidential

BuzzMachine - Jeff Jarvis


My Reading List