Tuesday, September 29, 2009


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Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Time reports what is essentially the only possible explanation for the sudden concern on the part of the as-yet-briefed:

[...] two former ranking CIA officials have told TIME that there's another equally plausible possibility: The program could have required the Agency to spy on Americans. Domestic surveillance is outside the CIA's purview -– it's usually the FBI's job – and it's easy to see why Cheney would have wanted to keep it from Congress. Both officials say they were never told what was in the program, and that they're only making calculated guesses. But their theory gibes with other reports, quoting ex-CIA officials, that say the program had to do with intelligence collection, not assassinations.
Let's face it, were it just some legally questionable assassination orders for high ranking al Qaeda folks operating, say, inside an ostensibly friendly country (er, Pakistan?) and carrying out said orders would be a violation of various treaties and maybe even a few international laws...there'd be no significant dust-up whatsoever over this. Instead, even GOPers apprised of the situation are well off their normal "partisan witch hunt!" game and actually showing some sober adult sides to themselves that Our Staff never knew existed. And, in fact, that sort of program would hold no real reason to order the CIA to keep it off the books.
The only possible explanation that rises to the occasion (and explains the barely concealed outrage at its outing) is that they were planning to engage in plainly illegal acts, which probably includes but is not limited to: wide scale surveillance of US citizens as well as clearance to execute same without prior authorization. There is no doubt in my mind that the details, should they ever emerge, will fall loosely along these lines. No other reason to conceal at this level. Even for Cheney, whose first impulse is always: conceal.

For far too long now, the CIA has been the go-to agency when illegal acts are called for. Time to shut that agency down. We have far, far too many agencies competing in the spying and secrets arena as it is. Clear the slate and start over with a single, well regulated, and clearly delineated agency. And, just to make this move politically realistic: put John McCain in charge of the panel that lays it all out.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Colonel Sanders

One of those quotes that needs no introduction; independent Senator Bernie Sanders:

"I think that with Al Franken coming on board, you have effectively 60 Democrats in the caucus, 58 and two Independents," Sanders said in an interview with the Huffington Post. "I think the strategy should be to say, it doesn't take 60 votes to pass a piece of legislation. It takes 60 votes to stop a filibuster. I think the strategy should be that every Democrat, no matter whether or not they ultimately end up voting for the final bill, is to say we are going to vote together to stop a Republican filibuster. And if somebody who votes for that ends up saying, 'I'm not gonna vote for this bill, it's too radical, blah, blah, blah, that's fine.'"
Exactly. Naturally, no Democrat in the Senate will see it this way, and they'll continue to be feckless drones to whatever the David Broders of the world seem to think constitutes "serious" opinion. Step Two: ? Step Three: Profit!

Monday, June 22, 2009

PAMtastic Questions and Answers

Still a few days to go, but I think we already have the answer to this little prediction from Palm investor Roger McNamee:
“You know the beautiful thing: June 29, 2009, is the two- year anniversary of the first shipment of the iPhone. Not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later. Think about it - If you bought the first iPhone, you bought it because you wanted the coolest product on the market. Your two-year contract has just expired. Look around. Tell me what they’re going to buy.”
A: (wait for it) iPhones:
Approximately 12% of consumers who visited a retail store this past weekend to make their iPhone 3G S purchase said they were replacing a BlackBerry handset, the latest sign that Apple continues to make headway against rival Research in Motion in the high-stakes smartphone market.
That data point is one of several interesting statistics to come out of a survey by Piper Jaffray of 256 early iPhone 3G S adopters shopping for their new handsets at Apple retail stores in New York and Minnesota this past weekend.
What a remarkable and unpredictable turn of events! Apple convinced another million rubes to buy their products that, as we all know, are only a temporary fashion and not indicative of a new usage model at all. I thought this introduction would mark the end of the iPhone era as hordes of dissatisfied users fled the sinking, née doomed platform for the Elysian fields of Windows Mobile and Blackberry or scrappy up-and-comer Palm Pre. After all, they've got tiny keyboards. And some other features that are...probably important! RIM (and the rest) can't possibly fail. Right? You don't just walk in and create a "decent phone." It's just not possible. Well, I'm sure these poor, misguided users will be off to RIM, Pre, or Android any day now...

Friday, June 12, 2009


Time for prediction accuracy measurement everyone! Yes, it's delicious PAM; this time, we review our psychohistorical analysis re: iPhone, Mac OS X 10.6 (aka Snow Leopard), and the magical mystical marble interface. Let's review. I said:
So, carve it in stone: Snow Leopard will be announced and a full demo given at WWDC, cost $129.00, only run on Intel-based Macs, and probably ship reasonably soon after announcement, say right around 9/1/09.
Alright, Snow Leopard was announced and given demo at WWDC: +1
SL will cost, um, $29.00: -1(00)
SL will indeed run only on Intel-based Macs: +1
SL will indeed ship "in September": +1

75%. Not too shabby. Take that, eternal asshat Rob Enderle.
On Marble: Clearly, that'll be the reason the next update reverts to $129 pricing...

iPhone Mini: I "have my doubts" and still do. +1, huzzah! Also a bonus dose of goodwill for noting the notion that existing iPhone tech takes up the "low end" (whether in Mini form or not) while shiny new iPhonery takes the old price-point with feature/memory extension. Fish in a barrel, that one.

The tablet: too soon to score. Certainly the animus directed at AT&T onstage implies a "hey look, it's that Verizon guy!" attitude amongst the Apple powers that be. We shall see. Score it a zero for now, though.

That gives the staff a 4 out of 5, for a glittering 80%. Everyone feel free to take one extra mint on the way out of the office tonight.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Darkside (of the moon)

Lord Cheney of Darkside, until recently so endlessly ensconced in undisclosed locations now can't seem to stop yapping; perhaps his long, silent sojourn on Moonbase Alpha has left him with lots to say. All of it apparently the kind of thing that you just can't hope to get across in any meaningful way to Sandra Benes during long overnight bull-sessions. Among them was a shout-out to Rush, he of the positively delightful, drug addled romps with what will inevitably turn out to be 12 year old boys:
Well, if I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I'd go with Rush Limbaugh, I think. I think my take on it was Colin [Powell] had already left the party. I didn't know he was still a Republican.
Rush, upon reading the statement (recall his oxycontin-abuse-induced deafness), returned the favor:
What motivates Dick Cheney? He doesn't need the money. He has no further political ambitions. He is not hot for interns. He is not a torture freak. He knows that he is toxic and despised by the drive-by media and the Democrat party and the left in this country. "What motivation does Dick Cheney have to go out and say these things? Is it possible that Dick Cheney is motivated by national interest? Is it possible that Dick Cheney is motivated by love of and for his country? Is it possible that Dick Cheney is speaking from his heart and is not speaking politically?
Love of country? Let's put on our Dr. Sean Maguire hats for a response: It is not an excuse. It is not an excuse. It is not an excuse. It is not an excuse. It is not an excuse.

Does anyone doubt (Godwin's Law alert!) that Hitler loved his country? Or, are we meant to assume that the big H had it in for Germany all along? Can we then agree that it matters not what Cheney is thinking, or what he thinks he is accomplishing, or hoping to accomplish, but instead what really matters are the results of said thoughts? Actual outcome? Then can we just put the motherfucker in jail for the rest of his inexplicably long, evil-extended life span? I hear Noriega has a spare bunk and a lot on his mind.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


This is one of the strangest statements I've seen in a long time:

We see that when people buy a Kindle, they actually continue to buy the same number of physical books going forward as they did before they owned a Kindle. And then incrementally, they buy about 1.6 to 1.7 electronic books, Kindle books, for every physical book that they buy.

That's Amazon honcho Jeff Bezos as quoted in the NYT (reporting on the introduction of the NOW! Bigger! Kindle DX).

Amazon reports rather impressive sales of Kindle-books, especially given that the article states there are probably fewer than 1M Kindles in circulation as of today. And yet, people who buy the Kindle (a device whose chief benefit would appear to be the avoidance of buying dead-tree books that the buyer has to lug around, store, and etc...) keep right on buying dead-tree books they have to lug around at the same rate as before...they simply supplement those with some Kindle-books.

Are these gift books? Do these buyers understand what their Kindle does (and that it does more than calculate tips)? Particular authors that are not available on the Kindle for some reason? What possible explanation can there be (if we assume that Bezos is being completely open about the underlying stats and isn't simply mistaken on some point). Seriously, this seems to me to be the key moment of the whole presser but it's reported without too much note.
But this admission does go a long way towards explaining why Amazon decided to put out a Kindle reader app for the iPhone: it's unlimited upside to them. If they sell a Kindle once you've read some of their books on the iPhone (and presumably discovered that you could read on the little screen after all, but decide you would prefer to do so on a Kindle for one reason or another) then it's even more profit for them. But, if you don't make the leap to their device, you're still apparently going to buy just as many dead-tree books as you ever did, plus some number of Kindle-reader books for the iPhone.

Vaguely unbelievable, but apparently true.