07/22/2010 archive

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

David Sirota on Tax Cuts and Stupid Wars

In a terrific column for Tax.com, Pulitzer-Prize winner David Cay Johnston breaks down new government data and puts USA Today’s whole “lowest tax bills since 1950” revelation into dollars and cents we can all understand:


 In 1979 federal taxes for the median-income household totaled $6,100, but in 2007 taxes slipped to $6,000. That $100 decline, measured in 2007 dollars, understates what a bargain taxes have become. Back in 1979 federal taxes equaled 18.7 percent of comprehensive household income. By 2007 incomes had grown 28 percent in real terms, so the tax burden not only dropped in absolute dollars, it also fell as a share of median comprehensive income to 14.4 percent. So over 28 years median income has risen in real terms by $9,100 while federal taxes have fallen by $100.

As Johnston points out, this is not something you hear very much about from journalists — or as he puts it, “those who play journalists on television talk shows.” And you certainly don’t hear it from congressional Republicans or rank-and-file conservatives, who continue to bewail allegedly high taxes as our biggest problem, despite the real emergency of cash-strapped communities now slashing police forces, tear up roads and even outsource entire municipal workforces.

Robert Reich says We’re in a One-and-a-Half Dip Recession

We’re not in a double-dip recession yet. We’re in a one and a half dip recession.

Consumer confidence is down. Retail sales are down. Home sales are down. Permits for single-family starts are down. The average work week is down. The only things not down are inventories — unsold stuff is piling up in warehouses and inventories of unsold homes are rising — and defaults on loans.

The 1.5 dip recession should be causing alarm bells to ring all over official Washington. It should cause deficit hawks to stop squawking about future debt, blue-dog Democrats to stop acting like Republicans, and mainstream Democrats to get some backbone.

Thursday Tech Support

So last week I was asked ‘what is a normal question?’

I do upgrades and repairs primarily on XP Systems.  Why XP?  Installed base.  There’s hardly any software out there that won’t run under XP Pro x86 SP 3 except for stuff deliberately designed for other operating systems.

What other operating systems?  Well you may think I’m talking about Mac/Linux issues, but Microsoft offers other operating systems.  You’ve heard about Vista and 7 and there are infinite flavors of them to confuse you, but there are also ‘Business’ oriented variants starting with NT and “progressing” to “improvements” like XP-64 and Server 2008.

The primary characteristic of all these pieces of crap is that your old programs don’t work any more and your user interface changes and you have to learn a new one.

Are you doing something different with your computer than you were a year ago, or would you just like it to be faster?

Unfortunately Microsoft stopped supporting XP about a year ago and it is kind of vulnerable to crankiness like resource hog ‘anti-virus’ programs that behave more like viruses themselves.

Some of these things can be fixed, especially if you can boot from a utility drive (and everyone should know how to build one), others not so much.  The utility environment can do pretty much anything you need to do on the computer, you customize it at your own peril because it’s intended to be reloaded on a blank drive any time you don’t trust the 2 or 3 you have on hand for just such emergencies.

And that may sound like throwing hardware at the problem, but a 16 Gb Thumbdrive can be yours for a mere $30 if you don’t have stacks of old hard drives like I do in which case you will want one of these $25 parts.  The point is to get a utility drive you can boot from to take control of the computer and USB is a good and portable way to handle most modern desktops and laptops.

Next week- Installing XP Pro x86 SP 3, Part 1

Boot ’em all out!

So….. I’m coming home today, and I get on a bus downtown heading my way. In Vancouver a large percentage of the population is Asian.

I get on the bus, and besides me and the driver virtually everyone of the 30 or so people on the bus are Asian.

In the first double seat behind the driver, under the little window sticker that says these are priority seats for elderly and handicapped persons there is a little tiny sparrow of a Chinese lady probably about 85 years old or so sitting in the aisle seat with her grocery bags, so I sit down across the aisle from her.

The bus continues on and at the next stop a fat ugly lard assed white woman about 50 or so gets on the bus who looks, with the miserable scowl on her face, for all the world like a female version of Archie Bunker but not anywhere near as good looking.

She waddles over to the little Chinese lady across from me and motions for her to move over. There is silence on the bus. Chinese lady looks at her and turns sideways in the seat to let Archie in to the window seat.

Archie starts shouting “I’m not sitting in there – shove over or move! Move!

Le Tour: Stage 17

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

Well, everyone is talking tough

Schleck– “There’s only one way and that is the climb of the Tourmalet… I always said the guy who has yellow tomorrow will have the yellow in Paris… Tomorrow is definitely the queen stage.”

“What gives me a lot of confidence is that I just feel I haven’t given everything yet, I still haven’t spoken my last word on this Tour.”

Contador– “(This stage will be) very, very hard…  We can have very big gaps in (this) stage, probably more than in the time trial.”

Johan Bruyneel (manager of Armstrong’s Radio Shack team)- “It’s not yet finished… We’re going to try again.”

You have my analysis from yesterday.  The only thing that’s changed is the weather.  It rained hard last night and as we have seen slippery conditions lead to crashes and unexpected results.

Flaming hunks of twisted metal!  Hurray!

I agree that Armstrong put on quite a show, though whether it was really more significant than the equally symbolic 6th French Stage Victory is certainly arguable.

I also agree with Justin Davis that Schleck really didn’t challenge Contador Tuesday, though most of the attention was on what was probably Lance’s last hurrah.  In news I am not covering are the increasingly strident doping accusations of Greg LeMond (I think there’s more than a touch of jealousy in them) and the factoid that the disgraced Floyd Landis was dropped from the Bahati Team in Oregon’s Cascade Classic and is racing solo in an unmarked jersey.

If you’re looking for examples of ‘sportsmanship’ maybe this piece will warm the cockles of your heart, though to me it reads more like- ‘I planned to wait for the last minute all along’.

We’ll see.

On This Day in History: July 22

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour a cup of your favorite morning beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

On this day in 1933, Wiley Post becomes the first person to fly solo around the world traveling 15,596 miles in 7 days, 18 hours and 45 minutes.

Like many pilots at the time, Post disliked the fact that the speed record for flying around the world was not held by a fixed-wing aircraft, but by the Graf Zeppelin, piloted by Hugo Eckener in 1929 with a time of 21 days. On June 23, 1931, Post and his navigator, Harold Gatty, left Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York in the Winnie Mae with a flight plan that would take them around the world, stopping at Harbour Grace, Flintshire, Hanover twice, Berlin, Moscow, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Blagoveshchensk, Khabarovsk, Nome where his airscrew had to be repaired, Fairbanks where the airscrew was replaced, Edmonton, and Cleveland before returning to Roosevelt Field. They arrived back on July 1, after traveling 15,474 miles in the record time of 8 days and 15 hours and 51 minutes. The reception they received rivaled Lindbergh’s everywhere they went. They had lunch at the White House on July 6, rode in a ticker-tape parade the next day in New York City, and were honored at a banquet given by the Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce of America at the Hotel Astor. After the flight, Post acquired the Winnie Mae from F.C. Hall, and he and Gatty published an account of their journey titled, Around the World in Eight Days, with an introduction by Will Rogers.

His Lockheed Vega aircraft, the Winnie Mae is on display at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, and his pressure suit is being prepared for display at the same location. On August 15, 1935, Post and American  humorist Will Rogers were killed when Post’s aircraft crashed on takeoff from a lagoon near Point Barrow, in Alaska.

Popular Culture (Movies) 20100721: The Night of the Living Dead

OK, I admit that I got you to read this because of its title, but it is not too far from the plot of the old, classic horror flick.  In a nutshell, everyone turns against each other, except for the Living Dead that were united because they had no brain tissue of their own.

The classic line of the film was uttered by the Sheriff, who said, after being asked a question about the motives of the Living Dead, deadpan,, “They’re all messed up.  They’re dead.”

Thus is the performance of the entire cast of the unfortunate episode about the Shirley Sherrod episode, with everyone being brain dead except for her (who acted with dignity), the vile Breitbart, and the FOX “News” Channel.  Please read more.  This is more opinion than fact, but the film puts it in a sort of bizarre perspective.

What Keith Said

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Prime Time

I’m going to have to find something else to write about, this is too damn depressing.

No Keith.  No Jon.  No Stephen.

Rene Russo is the only good thing about Outbreak.  Nats @ Reds.  ID4 was ok the first 15 times, now not so much.  You know there’s something wrong when you’re out acted by Olivia Newton John Vinnie.  Mr. & Mrs. was never good.

There’s a new episode of Chasing Mummies which I’m hoping is better than the first.  This one is about the Grand Gallery.  12 Angry Men kicks off jury night on Turner Classics.  I still haven’t quite figured out what Buster’s Cut is all about unless they’re recycling their web out takes.  Came up with a great myth to test the other day- does recoil depend on the orientation of the gun or is it always in opposition to gravity?

Or more likely Man v. Food.


Murder Most Foul, I’m a great big sucker for Marple mysteries which I know less well than Poirot.  Careers in Science really starts the story of Rusty’s relationship with Jonas.  Virus is no better than Outbreak, just another biowar propoganda piece.

Dave has Bill Murray who might be worth watching.  As far as I’m concerned the best piece he ever did was the monologue about picking up a Subway in his first season on SNL, but even his lesser efforts are often worth the attention.  Also, Alejandro Escovedo.

Alton has Oysters.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Looming storm may threaten battle to plug Gulf well

by Alex Ogle, AFP

22 mins ago

BURAS, Louisiana (AFP) – US officials anxiously eyed bad weather near the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday which may delay efforts to plug the broken BP well, just as the endgame approaches in the three-month oil spill.

US and BP officials were poring over weather data as the National Hurricane Center downgraded an earlier forecast saying there was now a 50 percent chance of the bad weather “becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours.”

Depending on how the system develops, officials may have to issue evacuation orders for hundreds of support ships and engineers trying to complete a relief well being drilled deep under the seabed.