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Assorted Links 2/22/10 Archives

Assorted Links 2/22/10

School Accused Of Spying On Kids In Their Homes With Spyware That Secretly Activated Webcams

  • The President's Budget, February 23, 2010
  • The Defense Budget, February 26, 2010
  • Capitol Hill Workshop, March 3-5, 2010
  • Speechwriting: Preparing Speeches and Oral Presentations, March 12, 2010
  • State and Local governments going broke - "While union membership has fallen in the private sector, many government employees work under union contracts. Combine that with the ability of union support to sway election results (and have union government employees serving in legislatures) at the state and local level and it's a recipe for fiscal disaster."
  • States Sink in Benefits Hole - "The pension problems started well before the recession. Even in good times, states were skipping pension payments, leaving larger holes to fill in future years. State legislatures also increased benefit levels without setting aside extra money to pay for them.

    As a result, annual pension costs for states and participating local governments more than doubled, to more than $64 billion, from fiscal 2000 to fiscal 2008, said Susan Urahn, the research group's managing director."
  • Just What I Needed - "let me address the gold / silver / fiat money question.

    I have just never understood why there is so much concern over currency, as if this were the number one problem. No question that a fiat money does in fact give the government enormous power. But the currency is more a reflection of power the state already has, rather than a cause of it.
    . . .
    Here's the thing: the government doesn't control the money supply NOW. If you have a credit card, or several, you can create large amounts of new money, all by yourself. Anytime you secure a new line of credit, and actually spend it.... there goes the money supply. And if the government buys bonds, in 'open market operations,' that doesn't mean that banks will lend. The velocity of money is endogenous, as we have seen recently as credit dried up and people (and banks) held much larger cash balances in the forms of savings and reserves.

    Again, I'm not denying that a fiat money creates enormous power for the state. Of course it does. But the war on drugs, the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, restrictions on the right to marry, restrictions on hiring, regulations and taxes on small business, involuntary annexation....I could go on. Why would you start with money, as the number one problem?"
  • MSM denial over IRS bomber's left-wing discontent - "Before crashing his plane into an IRS office building, Joe Stack wrote and posted online a diatribe against insurance and drug companies, private health care, George W. Bush, and the Catholic Church. Subtract out the subtle hints at his planned terror act, and a similar rant could have appeared in some form on any of several left-wing message boards.

    Despite this, it isn't just willfully blind posters on those same left-wing message boards that are trying to insinuate some connection between the Tea Party movement and this apparent tax-evader and suicide pilot, who railed against Congress for failing to pass health reform."
  • School Accused Of Spying On Kids In Their Homes With Spyware That Secretly Activated Webcams - "A whole bunch of you are sending in this absolutely horrifying story of a school district outside of Philadelphia that apparently gave its students laptops that included hidden software that allowed district officials to secretly turn on the laptops' webcams and monitor student activities, no matter where they were. This all came to light when a student was disciplined for 'improper behavior in his home' with the evidence being a photo of the kid from his laptop webcam. The district is now being sued for this. It's rather stunning that anyone thought this was a good idea. Secretly spying on children in their homes when they have a very real expectation of privacy is downright horrifying. It's not hard to see how this could be abused in very dangerous ways."
  • Buy an iPhone or get a million dollars - (wise cartoon)
  • Where Did Our Real Wealth Go? - "In other words, Greece is the canary in the mine of the impending crack-up of the modern welfare state. It is a great gift to us all, this example. A year ago, the socialists, even as they were juggling and falsifying their books, were bragging that the Wall Street meltdown was a referendum -- and capitalism was doomed. Now, the entire socialist dream is exposed and even the most ardent statist knows that there is no longer enough 'others' to pay the tab.

    The poor EU learned that the Greek siesta, the 10PM Athenian dinners, the state power company vans at the beaches in the workday afternoons, the kafenions full of 50-year-old men at 11AM, the angry students perpetually in the streets at each hinted reform, and the moonlighting telephone employees all came at the expense of far harder-working Scandinavian and German socialists, who apparently now realize a nice two weeks each year on Santorini or Crete aren’t worth billions of their own Euros in rescue bailouts.
    . . .
    So for a while longer, we need the miner, the oil pumper, the farmer, the fabricator, the carpenter, the road-builder, the railroad guy, the cement layer, the chemist, the computer engineer -- and the system that allows them all to create wealth unimpeded by government and in an environment in which the citizen who benefits from their labor appreciates their industry.

    Yes, before we have the actor, the writer, the professor, the insurer, the investor, the regulator, and the politicians, we need the elemental among us to find or create material wealth. We, the sloganeering class, forgot that, and so subsidize our high living either on borrowed money or the prior productive investment of those now in the grave yards."
  • Putting “Holds” on Hold - "What is missed in the debate over holds is whether the Senate should be moving nominations by unanimous consent in the first place. President Obama’s supporters contend that his nominees deserve an up or down vote. Yet that is exactly what is required by a hold: an up or down vote. Holds do not have to be honored by the Majority Leader (else why doesn’t someone just place a hold on health care?). In fact, nominations are privileged motions, meaning the Majority Leader can bring up a nomination for debate and vote at any time."
  • Get Over It because there will be no Housing Boom This Decade – 5 Factors That Will Drag Housing Down in the Next Ten Years. - "Now one month doesn’t make a trend of course but if you only listen to the real estate industry and banking cabal you would think that all of a sudden we are circa 2003 real estate. There is this pervasive speculative attitude once again in the air even in the face of a 12.4 percent unemployment rate. The unemployment situation was revised last month nationwide and the BLS upped the number of jobs lost in this recession from the 'low' 7 million to 8.4 million. So basically we were underestimating how 'good' things were for an entire year (the BLS has suspect numbers because of their methodology). Yet this is part of the new economic psychology where real data is ignored in exchange for bread and circus statistics and political theatre. The reality is we are not going to see any sort of housing boom for the next decade. In fact, housing will be weak for the next ten years (at least) regardless of what the government and Wall Street attempts to do.
    . . .
    With most conservative estimates, 25 percent of current mortgage holders are underwater. That is, they owe more on their home than it is worth.
    . . .
    Baby boomers to a large extent drove this housing bubble. Many had purchased in the 1990s so were able to ride the mega bubble or trade up in housing. Many also sucked the equity out of their homes to fill every nook and cranny with new stainless steel fridges and flat screen televisions. As the housing bubble ramped up they saw their housing porn shows telling them to purchase granite countertops because no home is complete without putting shiny rocks in your kitchen. But as the bubble of a decade recedes, people are left with artifacts of consumption and no real wealth. It isn’t like a cow that you can live off but these items are sitting there reflecting years of consumption. Massive gas sucking SUVs sit parked in the driveway ready to suck your wallet dry at the next trip to the gas station."
  • Are prices going up or down? - "Meanwhile, John Williams at reports: 'Adjusted to pre-Clinton (1990) methodology, annual CPI eased to roughly 6.0% growth in January from to 6.1% in December, while the SGS-Alternate Consumer Inflation Measure, which reverses gimmicked changes to official CPI reporting methodologies back to 1980, rose to about 9.8% (9.76% for those using the extra digit) in January, versus 9.7% in December.'"
  • Repeat after me: Opportunity Cost - "Holy half-wit, Batman! This person has zero concept of opportunity cost.

    Hard to tell, exactly, but I think the implied value of this person's time is about $6 per hour. So, if you are making minimum wage, by all means take his advice.

    Otherwise, read this, and stop shopping once you have to make a new reservation for $1 decrements in plane fare."
  • Amnesty International and the World of International NGOs - "Be careful what you wish for when you wish for American decline. American decline would almost certainly entail the decline of those universal values and, along with them, the human monitors whose universal claims are unlikely to thrive under a multipolarity championed by, for example, China. (Perhaps the most depressing phenomenon in all this, however, is the Obama administration’s embrace of ideological decline in advance of any historically materialist (what we Marxists like to call 'objective') reason to do so. I refer particularly to the entirely unnecessary group hug of the demotion of free speech by the US at the UN Human Rights Council.)"
  • Toyota: New State Farm Disclosures Trigger Accusations Of Lackadaisical NHTSA - "Akio Toyoda is spending the weekend in Japan, being prepped for his appearance in front of the modern day version of the tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition, better known as a Congressional Hearing.

    According to Reuters, and as suggested by TTAC, Toyoda 'is likely to undergo intense preparation. Toyota may hire lawyers to drill him with mock questions, one consultant said. A company source said it had not yet been decided whether Toyoda would speak in Japanese or English, but the company has already contacted some translation companies.'

    The weekend drill was interrupted by the news that State Farm had informed the NHTSA as early as February 27, 2004, that the insurance company had five claims of unwanted acceleration in the 2002 Lexus ES 300 during the previous 12 months. Reuters broke the story, writing 'the insurer said earlier this month it had contacted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in late 2007. However, prompted by the public interest in Toyota, the insurer reviewed its records again and has now found that it contacted safety regulators initially in 2004.' All hell broke loose …"
  • Great Moments in (Anti) Stimulus - "There were many reasons to oppose last year’s so-called stimulus legislation. But perhaps one of the most compelling reasons is that politicians and bureaucrats inevitably do really stupid things because the federal budget is a racket designed to funnel the maximum amount of money to powerful interest groups."

How a Movement is Made

  • Poor Teen Sleeping Due To Lack Of Blue Light? - "The kids need more blue light in their classrooms in the morning to get their melatonin production and circadian cycle working correctly."
  • Before You Go Locking Up All Of Those “Crazy” People… - "If we were to start locking up all of the people who exhibit warning signs for violent behavior, we would be committing a lot of Type I error, not to mention trouncing on people’s civil liberties. We’re then faced with a tradeoff- is it worth infringing on the rights of many people in order to prevent the few that turn out to be crazy from acting on their craziness? Given the often-made point that we all probably exhibit some sort of warning sign at one point or another, I’m guessing that that answer is a no. That said, the Huntsville woman shot her brother and wasn’t charged because her mom said it was an accident. Next time, maybe we’ll have a lesson on credibility and conflict of interest."
  • Domestic Violence and Abuse: Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships - "Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Emotional abuse is often minimized, yet it can leave deep and lasting scars.

    Noticing and acknowledging the warning signs and symptoms of domestic violence and abuse is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out."
  • Is Your Partner Emotionally Abusive? - "Just because you aren't getting smacked around doesn't mean you aren't suffering. In fact, verbal abuse and emotional abuse in relationships is on the rise, and the psychological damage it inflicts can be crippling. To escape this insidious torment, you have to be able to spot the symptoms."
  • Wheat Ridge High School Class of 1970 - "The reonion committee is working away planning the 40th reunion the weekend of August 13-15, 2010. Wheat Ridge, Colorado"
  • Common Market Food Co-op - "Common Market Food Co-op was a 'new wave food co-op' located at 1329 California Street in Denver, Colorado, from 1975 - 1980. It started as a buying club at the University of Denver in the late 1960s, and for a few years prior to moving to the old Safeway at 13th and California Streets, Common Market operated out of a small storefront on Champa Street."

LAPD hassles food trucks

  • Why I'm Dropping Google - "For a company whose unofficial slogan is 'Don't Be Evil,' Google has been ignoring its so-called core value with alarming frequency as of late. And because of that, I decided to delete my Gmail account, along with all other Google services that I am able to do without. I have also deleted as much personal information as possible from my Google profile.
    . . .
    But not only does Google dominate the search (and, hence, advertising) market, it also knows a lot about you. By adding more and more 'free' services--free in exchange for the annoyance of ads, and for users' giving up their privacy--Google accumulates a wealth of information about your interests, your browsing habits, your contacts, the blogs you visit (using your Google profile), pictures of your home, and much more. (Do you know how much information Google has connected to your Gmail address? Check here: You may be surprised.) Not only does Google have this information on its servers, but if anyone were to be able to hack into your Google account, they'd have a wealth of information about you too (and your business, if you use Google Docs for business documents)."
  • Reminder: You Don't Compete With Piracy By Being Lame, The DVD Edition - "It's a point we've tried to make over and over again: you don't compete with "piracy" by offering a product that's a lot worse. And yet, so many people do. A bunch of you have sent over the following image that highlights this in the DVD world (tragically, no one seems to know who made this image -- but if anyone knows, please tell us in the comments and we'll add it to the post). It shows how an unauthorized downloaded copy of The Matrix lets you start watching it immediately. But if you purchase the legitimate DVD, it forces you to sit through multiple FBI warnings and multiple trailers for other movies, with no ability to skip past them. It's humorous, but the point it makes is really important. When your product is less valuable (and yes, that includes being more annoying) than the unauthorized alternatives, you're going to be hard pressed to get people to agree to pay you for your product. "

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February 22, 2010 09:57 AM    Caught Our Eye

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