From Pine View Farm

September, 2007 archive

No New Vistas 2

Vista flops:

(Windows–ed.) XP was supposed to be off the vendor’s (Micro$oft–ed.) price list by the end of January 2008. Now it will stick around until the end of the second quarter. The cut down Starter edition for very low end machines will stay on Microsoft’s price list till 2010.

Mike Nash, Microsoft corporate vice president, Windows product management, put a brave face on the decision, claiming that, “While we’ve been pleased with the positive response we’ve seen and heard from customers using Windows Vista, there are some customers who need a little more time to make the switch to Windows Vista.”

Or put another way, punters are doing anything they can to avoid having to install and run Vista on their machines.


Sub-Prime 0

Robert Reich on bailouts. Read the whole thing. It’s worth three minutes of your time:

It’s true that people tend to be less cautious when they know they’ll be bailed out. Economists call this “moral hazard.” But even when they’re being reasonably careful, people cannot always assess risks accurately. Many of the mostly poor home buyers who got into trouble did NOT in fact know they couldn’t afford the mortgage payments they were signing on to. The banks and mortgage lenders that pulled out all the stops to persuade them to the contrary were in a far better position to know; after all, they had lots of experience at this game. So did the credit-rating agencies that gave these loans solid credit ratings, as did the financiers who bundled them with less-risky loans and sold them to other financial institutions, and the hedge fund managers who quietly tucked them into their portfolios.

The real moral hazard in this saga started when Fed Chair Ben Bernanke cut the Fed’s discount rate (charged on direct federal loans to banks) and announced that the Fed would take whatever action was needed to “promote the orderly financing of markets.” Translated, this means that lenders, credit-rating agencies, financial intermediaries, and hedge funds will be bailed out, one way or another, because they’re simply too big to fail. Note that behind every one of these institutions lie thousands of well-paid executives who would have lost big if the Fed didn’t come to their rescue. Even though they had more information and experience at risk-taking than the suckers who borrowed their money, and even though executives at the top of these instutions typically earn more in a day than the borrowers do in a year, moral hazard somehow doesn’t apply to them.


Four Bathrooms 0

For three summers while I was in college, I worked for the local health department, performing clerical duties and pulling a mobile clinic from place to place–four different locations every week.

The health department had four bathrooms in the waiting area: two labelled “Men” and two labelled “Women,” two in the front of the room and two in the back.

Klutz that I am, it took me a while to realize that, only a few years before, one was labelled, “White Men,” one was labelled “Colored Men,” and–oh, well, you get the picture (yeah, there were two unlabelled water fountains, also).

Dick Polman’s blog post brought those memories back to me.


Who Do You Favor? 2

USA Today claims to be able to help you choose. (Don’t forget to weight the issues after finishing the quiz).


Woof! 1

The world is going to–oh, never mind.

The public is cordially invited to attend a festive wedding celebration to be held this weekend at the spot where the bride and groom first met.

The bride-to-be Nana Taylor and fiance Switzer Naylor met at the public bark park at Carousel Park on Limestone Road in Pike Creek, where their wedding ceremony is to start at 4 p.m. Sunday.

It’s a suitable spot — considering they’re dogs.


Swampwater 0

Dick Polman.

Please read the entire post. It has something the Current Federal Administration does not.


I realize, of course, that the Blackwater dispute isn’t nearly as important as the portentous struggle over a two-week-old newspaper ad; after all, the Blackwater story is merely about the deaths of at least 11 Iraqis and the wounding of 12 more, and we know that, in American politics, those faceless people matter a whole lot less than a few juvenile words aimed at an American military man. But, for the heck of it, consider this chronology:

Eight days ago, armed guards employed by Blackwater (one of the roughly 60 American firms that have profited from the Bush administration’s unprecedented war-fighting privatization program) were involved in a controversial gun battle in Baghdad. The Iraqi government contends that the Blackwater guards, while protecting a U.S. embassy convoy, got spooked by some mortar rounds that had landed nearby, and had then opened fire indiscriminately, killing and wounding the innocent civilians. Three Iraqi ministries have already determined that the Blackwater’s conduct constitutes “a terrorist action against civilians, just like any other terrorist operation.”


Early last week, the Maliki government, which says that the Baghdad incident was the seventh violent episode involving Blackwater this year alone, was making noises about kicking the North Carolina-based firm out of Iraq. That threat didn’t last long. By Friday, a Maliki advisor was telling the press, “The reality of the matter is, we can’t do that.” One big reason: Order 17, signed in 2004 by American occupation chief Paul Bremer, who unilaterally decreed that all U.S. private contractors shall be exempt from Iraqi law.

In other words, “free Iraq” (as Bush likes to call it) shall be considered free as long as it doesn’t try to meddle with the Bush war-fighting privatization program. When it does try to meddle, it is deemed to be a hostage to U.S. interests; as Maliki said yesterday, the Blackwater case poses “serious challenges to the sovereignty of Iraq.” Meanwhile, Blackwater went back on the job last Friday, guarding U.S. convoys, after just a few days in the dog house.


They Call Him the Streak 0

Steve from ASZ strikes again.

Having once driven a getaway car for a streaker, I urge you to check this out.

(Steve’s been on a roll!)


Support Free (If Inelegant) Speech 2

Steve at ASZ.

Here’s a copy of my email.

Though there is no doubt that the editors of the Rocky Mountain Collegian could have expressed themselves with more grace, the sentiment they expressed was well within the borders of free speech.

And one shared by a majority of the American people.

Including this American person, whose son currently serves in Afghanistan.


Morally Clueless (Updated) (Updated Again) 0

President Bush announced new sanctions Tuesday against the military dictatorship in Myanmar, accusing it of imposing “a 19-year reign of fear” that denies basic freedoms of speech, assembly and worship.


“In Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Iran, brutal regimes deny their people the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration” of the United Nations.

This appeal against “brutal regimes” comes from the same bunch who gave the world Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and “black sites,” and who made “waterboarding” a household word.

The hypocrisy is sick-making.

Where’s my Maalox?

Addendum, Later that Same Day:

Judgement at Northwest Washington.

Judging from the internal evidence of the tape and the reference to the upcoming election, it seems like a done deal.

The perps walk.

Via Brendan.

McClatchy, via Atrios.


Strike! (Updated) (Updated Again) 12

Clenched Fist

In the end, the first nationwide strike against General Motors Corp. in 37 years came because the United Auto Workers want something that GM will find difficult to promise: Job security.

A basic principal of labor relations is that unions are the creation of management.

Companies who treat their people decent do not have labor problems.

Yet, it is characteristic of American industry to view unions as the enemy.

Why is that?

Perhaps it is because, when unions hold fast, they bring the incompetence of management to the surface, for all to see.

This is certainly what is happening in the General Motors strike.

Why is GM in such bad shape?

Because of incompetent management.

Incompetent management that gave away the store to the union back in the 50s and 60s when the Big Three were still the Big Three.

Incompetent management that hailed “concealed window wipers” as a great advance even as Honda brought out the 40 plus miles per gallon Civic in the early 70s.

Incompetent management that put all its chips in the storage area of the elephant Tahoe even as fuel prices rocketed to the skies in the 2000s.

Incompetent management that gives itself huge bonuses for its own incompetence even as the elevator falls to the basement.

And, of course, the persons who should pay for this are, needless to say, not the incompetent managers.

There will likely be no winners in the GM strike. If the company goes under, though, remember this: it will not be the fault of the persons who build the vehicles.

It will be fault of the empty suits who have run ran the company into the ground.

Addendum, Later That Same Evening:

Will Bunch.

Addendum, 9/25/2007:

Will Bunch, again.


General Pollyanna 0

I’ve been out of town all day doing the cooling tower thing, but Brendan has more.


It’s the Dumb Ones Who Get Caught 0

The smart ones, of course, become CEOs.

Two Pennsylvania men, accused of breaking into several cars at a mobile home park near Rehoboth Beach, were arrested after one of the men left a cell phone behind in a car he had broken into, state police said today.


Why Johnnie Can’t Add 1

Maybe there’s a clue in this story:

Months after graduating seniors at William Tennent High School in Warminster collected their diplomas, officials acknowledged errors in the class rankings and mailed formal apologies.

Recalculations showed that the rankings of the top two students should have been switched, and that two other students were erroneously excluded from the list of the top 25, who are given special recognition.


I Was Waiting for It (Updated) 1

Factcheck dissects Bush’s lies about SCHIP. Follow the link for the complete, reality-based analysis:

President Bush gave a false description of proposed legislation to expand the 10-year-old federal program to provide health insurance for children in low-income working families.

He said it “would result” in covering children in families with incomes up to $83,000 per year, which isn’t true. The Urban Institute estimated that 70 percent of children who would gain coverage are in families earning half that amount, and the bill contains no requirement for setting income eligibility caps any higher than what’s in the current law.

He also said the program was “meant to help poor children,” when in fact Congress stated that it was meant to expand insurance coverage beyond the poor and to cover millions of “low-income” children who were well above the poverty line. Under current law most states cover children at twice or even three times the official poverty level.

The president also says Congress’ expansion is a step toward government-run health care for all. It’s true that some children and families with private insurance are expected to shift to the government program. But the Congressional Budget Office estimates that such a shift is relatively low considering the number of uninsured these bills would reach.

All the lies.

They do get tiresome.

Addendum, 9/24/2007:

Steve has more.


Drumbeats 0

They think war is good.

They think it is a first, not a last resort.

They are too old to fight. They leave it to the children of others.

They are, in short, disgusting excuses for humanity.

Norman Podhoretz, the “patriarch of neoconservatism,” recently published a book entitled “World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism,” staunchly supporting the Iraq war and pushing for war with Iran. In June, Podhoretz published a controversial piece in Commentary magazine titled “The Case for Bombing Iran.”

They want war.

For its own sake.

Words fail me.

Via Atrios.


DL 0

Tomorrow, Tangier Restaurant, 18th and Lombard, Philadelphia, just a block off South Street.

I’d much rather be there than at the Cooling Tower Place (for one thing, it’s only 25 miles away, not 79 miles away).

Pick up the slack for me, okay?


Since When Did 158.3 Equal Perfect 1

Yesterday, the Fluffia Philadelphia Eagles’s Donovan McNabb had a perfect passing game, according the the NFL’s quarterback rating system. (No, I’m not an Eagles fan. I’m a Redskins fan, so life has no meaning for me. But I do like and respect McNabb, who has more class than do 50 Eagles fans in a bucket.)

The rating for a perfect passing game is 158.3.


So I did a little research (that means two minutes of Googling) to find out how those crazy quarterback ratings work.

The best explanation I found was here (the site includes a spreadsheet you can download to see the formula in action).


Five Brothers 0

I’ve mentioned the five Sullivan brothers before. They were on the campaign trail.

The Pacific Campaign.

Not the flip-flop campaign.

It occurs to me, it must be really difficult to be a Republican. You don’t know what your candidates stand for from one election to another.

Via Andrew Sullivan.


Drumbeats 0

Andrew Sullivan.


Field of Dreams 1

Jon Swift on the Emmys.

Fair and bolloxed.