Saturday, December 29, 2007

How to blow $4,200,000,000

  1. Buy the company that made the first mass-market internet browser with a 90%+ share of users just as the internet is exploding.
  2. Watch as the company that owns the desktop on 95% of the world's computers makes its own browser and distributes it for free. (Microsoft learned early that the internet wants to be free).
  3. Make numerous unsuccessful attempts to monetize your browser as its market share plummets. Then make numerous unsuccessful attempts to monetize the brand as a web site.
  4. Give up.

R. I. P.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The origin of lolcats

Great piece, but what I really think was the progenitor of lolcats was Cat by B. Kliban.

Cat was also one of the books that launched the "trade paperback" revolution in publishing. Prior to the 70s, paperbacks were generally just reprints of hardcovers or pulp fiction (now called "mass market paperback"). Now, there was a new kind of higher quality paperback that was an original work.

We were early adopters of Cat. In addition to the book, we bought the first set of Cat posters including this one:

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Democratic Candidates,Take The Pledge: "If Nominated, I Will Not Hire Bob Shrum"

Experience vs. judgment.

Bob Schrum has experience, lots of it.

By Mark Leibovich
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 10, 2004; Page C01

Each day at the Democratic convention in Boston, a team of 10 speechwriters would convene in a windowless office behind the Fleet Center podium to help compose and polish that night's speeches. In the spirit of camaraderie, the speechwriters discussed making T-shirts for themselves.

One suggested a design featuring the slogan "Reverse the Curse" over a picture of Bob Shrum, the Democratic strategist whom many perceived to be presidential candidate John Kerry's closest adviser. "The Curse" referred to Shrum's career-long slump in presidential campaigns, a well-catalogued losing streak that runs from George McGovern to Al Gore.

The shirts were never made for fear of offending Shrum. But the slogan endures as a joke among Kerry staffers. The implication is that Kerry is battling not just President Bush, but also the history of his ever-present aide-de-camp. It also underscores the degree to which Shrum's 0-7 win-loss record in presidential elections has become ensconced in the psyches of the campaigns he orchestrates.

Well, that was before the 2004 election. Now he's 0-8. From today's New York Times:

It was the spring of 2004, and Senator John Kerry had just secured the Democratic presidential nomination. But as huge sums of money began pouring into his campaign, his top strategists had more on their minds than just getting ready for a tough race against President Bush.

Behind the scenes, they were fighting over the lucrative fees for handling Mr. Kerry’s television advertising. The campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, became so fed up over the squabbling that she told the consultants, led by Robert Shrum, one of the most prominent and highly paid figures in the business, to figure out how to split the money themselves.

Divvy it up they did. Though the final tally has never been publicly disclosed, interviews and records show that the five strategists and their firms ultimately took in nearly $9 million, the richest payday for any Democratic media consultants up to then and roughly what the Bush campaign paid its consultants for a more extensive ad campaign.

Mr. Shrum and his two partners, Tad Devine and Mike Donilon, walked away with $5 million of the total. And that was after Ms. Cahill, in the closing stages of the race that fall, diverted $1 million that would otherwise have gone to the consultants to buying more advertising time in what turned out to be an unsuccessful effort to defeat Mr. Bush.

It's time for the Democratic candidates to pledge that, if nominated, they won't use Shrum. Can you point to a recent Democratic candidate who did not hire Shrum? That's right, Bill Clinton.

Let's get Carville and Begala back on board!

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Monday, December 24, 2007

He tried to nail her

OK, not really funny, but...

It's evidently a Colorado thing...

Nail found embedded in construction worker's skull
Updated 1/17/2005 8:05 AM

LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) — A dentist found the source of the toothache Patrick Lawler was complaining about on the roof of his mouth: a four-inch nail the construction worker had unknowingly embedded in his skull six days earlier.

A nail gun backfired on Lawler, 23, on Jan. 6 while working in Breckenridge, a ski resort town in the central Colorado mountains. The tool sent a nail into a piece of wood nearby, but Lawler didn't realize a second nail had shot through his mouth, said his sister, Lisa Metcalse.

Following the accident, Lawler had what he thought was a minor toothache and blurry vision. On Wednesday, after painkillers and ice didn't ease the pain, he went to a dental office where his wife, Katerina, works.

"We all are friends, so I thought the (dentists) were joking ... then the doctor came out and said 'There's really a nail,'" Katerina Lawler said. "Patrick just broke down. I mean, he had been eating ice cream to help the swelling."

He was taken to a suburban Denver hospital, where he underwent a four-hour surgery. The nail had plunged 1 1/2 inches into his brain, barely missing his right eye, Metcalse said.

"This is the second one we've seen in this hospital where the person was injured by the nail gun and didn't actually realize the nail had been imbedded in their skull," neurosurgeon Sean Markey told KUSA-TV in Denver. "But it's a pretty rare injury."

Lawler was recovering Sunday in the hospital, where he was expected to spend several more days.

Despite his lack of medical insurance and hospital bills between $80,000 and $100,000, Katerina Lawler said her husband is in good spirits.

"The doctors said, 'If you're going to have a nail in the brain, that's the way you want it to be,'" she said. "He's the luckiest guy, ever."

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Monday, December 17, 2007

No Alternative

Congress is fiddling while 202,000 Long Island taxpayers, right in the crosshairs of the alternative minimum tax, squirm. They're among the 21 million taxpayers across the nation who'll be socked with an average of $2,000 in additional federal income taxes this year, unless Congress does something to waylay the runaway AMT.

Lawmakers aren't likely to let that happen. They can't want to shock that many voters with higher taxes in an election year. The problem tying Congress in knots is who's going to cover the $50 billion it will cost to blunt the AMT for another year.

Republicans, incredibly, want to borrow the money and leave our children on the hook to pay it back. Democrats think a few thousand wealthy private equity and hedge fund managers should pick up the tab. They've voted to close tax loopholes that have unjustifiably lowered those high earners' taxes. Republicans should give our kids a break.

President George W. Bush said he will veto any AMT fix that raises anybody's taxes. This from a president who has presided over record deficits and already added $3 trillion to the national debt. Washington needs to get real, pass an AMT fix and pay for it. It's the responsible thing to do.

- Newsday editorial Dec. 17, 2007

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No Immunity for Telecoms

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who sits on the Select Committee on Intelligence, said the administration's case for immunity is thin. Members of the intelligence and judiciary committees have been permitted to see a set of the classified documents that lay out the administration's legal opinions on immunity and its information requests to companies.

"I have read the documents and senators who haven't read them would be shocked to see how flimsy the case is on which the administration bases its case for immunity," said Wyden, who is prevented from discussing the details of the documents because they are classified. "As far as I can tell, these documents are being kept secret to protect the president's political security, not national security."

- FOX News

The telecoms argue that they didn't know they had the right to refuse to hand over personal data. That they didn't have leverage against a big ol' gummint coming to them demanding it. Yet one of the smallest of them, Qwest, refused. Told those gummint guys to get a court order. Never heard from 'em again.

I'm not saying there's never a reason for the feds to get this kind of info, only that there need to be controls. If the White House can run roughshod over private businesses, who are lilylivered and choose to be run over, and then are protected from the results of those actions, might as well chuck the 1st amendment and any right to privacy.

Of course, them Republickans don't believe in a right to privacy (the legal basis for Roe v. Wade).

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

How's that again, Bill?

"When is the last time we elected a president based on one year of service before he's running?"

"In theory, we could find someone who is a gifted television commentators and let them run. They'd have only one year less experience in national politics..."

- Bill Clinton

Now let's many years of experience in national politics did Bill Clinton have when he was elected president?

Oh yeah, none.

What had Clinton done on the national stage before he ran for president? He gave the keynote speech at a Democratic National Convention. How did that go?

"As it turned out, his keynote address was long-winded and policy-laden, lasting for far more than an hour. Some delegates nodded off and others crept out of the hall as Clinton kept talking. As he prepared to wind up his remarks, a roar of relief erupted from those who had stayed to the end."


Now what later presidential candidate made his first national appearance in the same role? And how did that go?

"Senatorial candidate Barack Obama stirs the crowd at the Democratic Convention with stories of equality and hope in America."


“I’ve been involved in government for over a decade. The notion that there is a particular kind of experience that he has had or his wife has had that is more relevant, I would dispute. I believe that I have the experience that the country needs right now.”

- Barack Obama

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

George loves them parks!

2004: U.S. National Parks Told to Quietly Cut Services

by Stefan Lovgren for National Geographic News

Millions of Americans will flock to the country's national parks this summer. Dazzled by nature and history, will they notice the missing signs, crumbling roads, or disappearance of park rangers?

Facing what some people warn is a "crippling" budget shortfall, many national park superintendents are being asked to consider cutting their ranger staffs, services, and visitor center hours—and possibly even closing down completely on certain days.

Several advocacy groups now charge that the entire National Park System is menaced by a hidden crisis, and that Park Service officials are trying to cover it up. "Make no mistake about it. There is a chill over the National Park Service today," said Denny Huffman of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees in Washington, D.C.

2007: President pushes boost in funding for national parks

by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY

National parks would be a big winner under President Bush's 2008 budget, and a plan to match up to $100 million annually in private donations could guarantee increases for a decade.

Bush's budget, being unveiled today, would give the National Park Service $2.4 billion next year, administration officials told USA TODAY. That includes a $258 million increase for daily operations, up 14.5%. Since 2002, those funds have risen 1.5% above inflation.

The president proposes adding at least $100 million a year for the next 10 years. The funds would be used to hire 3,000 seasonal park rangers, guides and maintenance workers each summer, an increase of more than 50%. In addition, more than 1 million children could be enrolled in youth programs.

Sierra Club:

National Park funding under the Bush administration has fallen by a third -- $600 million -- resulting in the loss of one-third of the visitor education activities at Death Valley and in Yellowstone turning away 60 percent of the school groups that sought to use the park's educational facilities.

In other words, the 2008 proposal restores a fraction of the funding Bush has previously cut.

and now...
Title: Holiday in the National Parks

holiday illustrationThis Christmas season we give thanks for our nation’s abundant blessings.

In the spirit of gratitude for our natural and historic treasures found from sea to shining sea, this year’s theme highlights America’s national parks. From breathtaking landscapes to important historical sites, generations have marveled at God’s magnificent creation and cherished memories of visits to these special places.

George W. Bush | Laura Bush

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Monday, December 10, 2007

What Jews Do on Christmas II

Brandon Walker has come out with an upgraded version of the song shown here this time last year.

We'll be back to the Empress this year. Deciding now what movie to see. I think it's gonna be Walk Hard.

Meanwhile, enjoy...

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