Archive for September, 2008

Cookery

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

My wife has been learning to cook over the last couple years, and some of her creations are quite excellent.

The other day she made some cookies, and man… She should sell these. Basically peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, but she’s (semi-accidentally) discovered a top-secret technique for keeping them soft long after they’ve cooled. (She made them two days ago, and I just ate one — still out-of-the-oven soft. Yum.) Yes, I know commercially made cookies do this frequently, but I’m a bit afraid of what they put in them to keep them that way for weeks — ingredients with lots and lots of syllables. Nor did she do the old “only bake them partway” trick. Subway appears to do that with their cookies, and I’ve gotten some from there that were inedible they were so undercooked.

So anyway…. a little more practice and she could go into a new line of work! 😉

QED on the death penalty

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

The mere existence of people such as this are the reason I believe in the death penalty.

Whodunnit?

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

This is the type of thing that could decide an election — but only if the media actually reported on it…. (more…)

Now and Then, Again

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

I’ve been (rightly) chastised by my mother for not citing sources in my recent post, Now and Then.

So I went back and did an update, with proper attribution and sources. In the process, I found a choice excerpt from the New York Times:

The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry.

The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.

Bush saw it coming. The Republicans introduced this as legislation, and the Democrats blocked it, because it would slow the growth of home ownership and hurt the housing market. The great market the Democrats were protecting was, as we know now, and Bush knew then, a bubble that could not possibly be sustained.

What’s Wrong With Microsoft’s ‘Mojave Experiment’?

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Mike Elgan has written an excellent article regarding Microsoft’s so-called “Mojave Experiment”.

This is not simple Microsoft-bashing (of which I am not fond). It’s a well-thought out article, and a good discussion of how companies and marketers should relate to customers, and how not to.

Microsoft held a series of videotaped focus groups and told attendees — all non-Vista users — they would be shown a future version of Windows called “Mojave.”

First, they were asked what they thought of Windows Vista, and many comments were negative. A Microsoft representative showed them a variety of specific features of “Mojave,” and comments were positive. Then, Microsoft told them “Mojave” was in fact Vista, and some attendees said the Experiment had changed their thinking about Vista.

Microsoft gathered the most favorable comments and placed them on a site called The Mohave Experiment.

Since Microsoft cast this marketing push as an “Experiment” — i.e., science — I would like to hereby publicly challenge Microsoft to answer the following questions:

? The Mojave Experiment involved 120 people. But the Web site shows 55 people saying nice things about Vista. What did the other 65 people think?

? Most or all Mojave Experiment videos posted to date feature an expert or marketing person showing neato features to someone. If Vista is so great, why didn’t you let people touch the computers?

Go read the whole thing — it’s not that long… 🙂

Now and Then

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

I found a few interesting quotes regarding the financial crisis. Let’s take a look at what people (that is, Democrats) are saying Now, versus what they were saying Then.

Now:

The fundamental issue is we have got to put an end to this situation in which there is no sensible regulation, and irresponsible individuals in the private market, or unwise individuals in the private market can incur the kind of risks that put us in a threatening situation.

Barney Frank (D-MA), September, 2008

Then:

These two entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not facing any kind of financial crisis. The more people exaggerate these problems…the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.

Barney Frank, (D-MA) Sept 11, 2003
source: New York Times

What was Frank responding to? From the same NYT article:

The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry.

The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.

That is, Bush was pushing for oversight in the increasingly risky portfolio (i.e. mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them). The legislation, introduced by Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) was blocked by the Democrats in Congress. Barney Frank at the time was the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee.

Harry Reid, on the same legislation:

The legislation from the Senate Banking Committee passed today on a party-line vote by the Republican majority, includes measures that could cripple the ability of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to carry out their mission of expanding home ownership. While I favor approving oversight by our federal housing regulators, to ensure safety and soundness, we cannot pass legislation that could limit Americans from owning homes and potentially harm our economy in the process.

Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Minority Leader
Press Release, July 28, 2005
(also quoted here and here)

The Republicans saw it coming, and Democrats blocked their efforts to avert disaster. (Of course, by “expanding home ownership”, he means giving out mortgages to as many people as you possibly can — give out zero down, interest-only mortgages so people can “own” a house.)

That same bill reappeared as S-190, the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, sponsored by Sen. Charles Hagel [R-NE], and co-sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Dole [R-NC], John Sununu [R-NH], and (wait for it…) John McCain [R-AZ].

Now:

8 years of de-regulatory zeal by the Bush Administration, an attitude of “The market can do no wrong” have led us down the short path to economic recession. From the unregulated mortgage brokers, to the opaque credit default swaps market, to aggressive Short Sellers who were driving down the price of even healthy financial institutions based on innuendo, this Administration has failed to take the steps necessary to protect both Main Street and Wall Street.

Chuck Schumer (D-NY), September 2008

Then:

With the benefit of hindsight, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which imposed a new regulatory framework on all public companies doing business in the U.S., also needs to be re-examined. Since its passage, auditing expenses for companies doing business in the U.S. have grown far beyond anything Congress had anticipated. Of course, we must not in any way diminish our ability to detect corporate fraud and protect investors. But there appears to be a worrisome trend of corporate leaders focusing inordinate time on compliance minutiae rather than innovative strategies for growth, for fear of facing personal financial penalties from overzealous regulators.

Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Michael Bloomberg (Mayor of New York)
To Save New York, Learn From London“, Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2006

In their infinite wisdom, they were arguing to reduce the regulations passed after the fall of Enron.

They’re liars. All of them.

But remember: it’s all Bush’s fault.

[cribbed from Smallest Minority]

[Significant Update Sept 27: Added source links in quotes; added additional excerpt from NYT, and rewrote some text.]

Survivor: Washington

Monday, September 15th, 2008

In a comment to a post on this blog, I’ve received the following joke:

?What?s the difference between Sarah Palin and Barack Obama??

?One is a well turned-out, good-looking, and let?s be honest, pretty sexy piece of eye-candy.

?The other kills her own food.?

You say that as though it’s a bad thing?

Tell you what… Let?s give Palin and Obama each a rifle, some ammo, and a hunting knife, and see who makes it off the island.

[Update — Lileks did it way better (from 2004):

You have Bush. You have Saddam.

One is a meglomanical dictator with a small moustache who killed millions, gassed ethnic minorities, annexed a neighbor state and paid underlings to kill Jews.

The other is Hitler.

I know I?m an unsophisticated partisan blinded by ideology, but something about that equation just strikes me wrong.

I love that quote. :)]

Alas, Poor Leftists….

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

On this blog, over four years ago, I said:

To be blunt: The Democrat Party as we know it will no longer exist in 20 years. Possibly 10 years.

Modern liberalism is in its death throes. I predict that Bush will win this fall?s election by a handy margin, and that Hillary Clinton?s 2008 presidential run will be the last stand for modern leftists in this country. If they win 2008 they have a few more decades; if not, they?re toast.

Someone will of course take their place ? perhaps Ross Perot?s party. Sorry Libertarians, I don?t think it?s gonna be you?.

If I recall correctly, Hillary at the time was publicly saying that she was not considering running for president. I’ll admit I didn’t see Obama coming in to snatch the ticket from Hillary. Heh.

Anyways — The leftist implosion over Sarah Palin is quite a thing to see. The media keeps flinging shit, and are surprised when nothing sticks. Guys — here’s a hint — Your stories will get more traction if they’re…. oh, what’s that word… “true”.

“She tried to ban books” — No she didn’t. Funny how the list of books she wanted to ban includes books that didn’t exist at the time. Funny how it is in fact a well-known list of “books that have been banned somewhere, at some time, in the United States”.

“She supported the Bridge to Nowhere” — She shot down the Bridge at a point when both Obama and Biden still supported it.

“Can she been Vice Pres and still raise kids?” — Would anyone ever ask this if she were male? You’re showing your true colors there, Democrats. By the by, her husband is a full-time dad.

“She was a member of an Alaskan Separatist group” — Has anyone backed this up with anything? Anywhere? Buehler? I suspect the only “source” for this is anonymous — nobody seems to know where it came from.

“Other Republicans have denounced her, so she must be bad” — Yeah, the Republicans she opposed in winning the governorship. Oh no, her political opponent said something bad about her — it must be true!!?????

“She’s a religious zealot and has said that invading Iraq is ‘God’s Will'” — She said, in a church, that they all should pray that it is God’s will. There’s a big difference between saying “This is true” and “I hope this is true.” Charlie Gibson’s “exact words” quotation, and a few YouTube videos I’ve seen, all cut in in the middle of a sentence.

These are not a mistakes — they’re lies. In her case they are such bizarrely blatant lies that the public is catching on. Finally. It’s going to be an interesting two months.

[Update: This post was inspired by an article at American Digest]

[Update: Oh, you wanted a source? Here ya go.]

McCain release video

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

This is interesting. A reporter in… Sweden?… has discovered a unique bit of archive footage: John McCain’s release from Vietnamese prison. He is among a number of other prisoners being released. He is notably pretty gray-haired already, I would guess form his ordeal, and is walking with a significant limp.

The page is not in English, but the video works just fine. Here’s the link:

John McCain release from prison video

Some day, when I’m bored, I should try this.

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Heh