Friday, 17 July 2009

Linkage

Life would be incomplete without it...

Wonders of Technology Dept

Begin by adding a canholder.  Then...
All it needs is a cigar lighter and you’ll have your alcohol, tobacco, and firearms covered in one tidy package.
...sez Alice H at doubleplusundead, where you can see what this one is hanging off of.


(Frank J. gets the blame for starting this.)

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Linkage

Random Linkage - July 17, 2009

I can’t write because I’m too busy reading Dept

Mmm-mmm Good!
Thanks to “Mætenloch’s” comment at Ace: Oatmeal Stout and Heath Bar Ice Cream
(I wonder if that recipe would work with Taddy Porter and Oreos?)

O’Sullivan’s First Law Strikes Again
Dick Morris considers Obamacare’s likely effect on the elderly and wonders, “Where’s the AARP?” (Hey, It’s not about the old folks, it’s about advancing the progressive agenda!)
Via Billy Beck, who says the AARP’s “foolishness” is
...like watching people dressed in their Sunday best, laughing and having a good time on line for the Zyklon B salad-bar.
and that the answer is not the status quo, but to destroy the current “evil-in-its-roots” (socialist) system altogether. (HT: Tam.)

Shall we blame Canad(a/ians)?
Joanna contemplates Canadian-style healthcare:
They were completely helpless in the face of outside forces, so instead of taking initiative to try and solve a problem or expedite a process, they let the system roll over them

Candidate for The Curmudgeons Club
Blue Witch:
It seems that I'm not the only one who finds the whole current obsession with fluffy unreal electronically-based “life” less than fulfilling and completely unstimulating/incomprehensible.
(Go look, there’s even a Venn Diagram!)

Long time passing...
McGehee and Charles G. Hill, each musing on auld acquaintance.
(One whose words I miss is Will Warren, whose “Unremitting Verse” brightened and enlightened the days after 9/11. A partial archive remains here. It’s more than worth a perusal.)

You’ll never miss me till I’m gone
In which Brigid demonstrates that one of the best ways to provoke reader comments is to make your reputation as a great writer, then anounce a blogging hiatus.

Better ask Rachel Lucas

Don’t let ’em push your Guilt Button

...which segues right into: Cat stuff
They do, in fact, control their owners
... not that this should be news, particularly. (HT: Joanna)
A pair of 2nd Birthdays at Breda’s
Happy Birthday, Tighe and Ronan!
It’s Cats and Kids at Meryl’s
Laurence has a Hipcat.
“...like a Senator and his doxy, frozen in scandal”
(So where’s the pictures, already?)

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The Press

Well, *I’D* be embarrassed!


From my mailbox...
Appears all.those.layoffs.at.the.Star included everyone who knew from apostrophes...

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Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Clipfile

Clipfile - July 15, 2009

“I've seen Mythbusters; there’s no way that was just one stick of dynamite!” - Joanna

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Rants

Raise taxes! (This time, For the ANIMALS!)


Boston Globe:

The Franklin Park Zoo, a Boston institution that has drawn generations of city and suburban families, might be forced to close its doors and possibly euthanize some of its animals as a result of the deep budget cuts imposed by Governor Deval Patrick, zoo officials said Friday.

Without more state funding, those zoo officials said, they will run out of money by October and have to close both the Franklin Park Zoo and its smaller counterpart, the Stone Zoo in Stoneham.  They would lay off most of their 165 employees and attempt to find new homes for more than 1,000 animals, the officials said.

The zoo officials, in a written statement that echoed a letter sent earlier to legislative leaders, said they would be unlikely to find homes for at least 20 percent of the animals, “requiring either destroying them, or the care of the animals in perpetuity.”
...
The Legislature had originally provided $6.5 million to the zoos – which accounts for more than half of their budget – but Patrick, using a line-item veto, cut the state funding to $2.5 million.
...
The total operations budget for the zoos last year was $11 million, about 60 percent of which came from state funding.  The remainder came through admissions, food and gift shop sales, memberships, and fund-raising.
(OK, anyone who hasn’t recognized the usual “We’re gonna lay off all the cops and firemen and close all the schools and let your trash pile up and EVERYBODY’S GONNA DIE unless you let us raise your taxes” whining[1] might as well stop reading right now.  The rest of us will continue...)

Via Alice H, who, in a post titled “But I thought liberals *loved* animals,” notes:
I’ve figured out what is bothering me so freaking much about this.  The MassHealth program has a FY2010 budget of $10.318 billion.  The cost of shutting down the zoos is $9 million over three years, the cost of keeping the zoos open is $13 million a year (from state funds - I’m certain they’re receiving some sort of private donations).  Now I’m not usually a person to argue that an animal’s life is worth more than a humans, but I’d be willing to bet that at least one half of one percent of the people sucking up MassHealth dollars are perfectly capable of getting up off their lazy asses and getting a job and finding healthcare on their own, but choose to rely on the state to do it for them instead.  That one half of one percent would pay for five years of life for animals who did nothing to humans other than stand around and get captured.
Actually, it’s even worse (or better), because the state’s share of the zoo budget is $6.5 million, so all they’d need would be savings of... let’s see: 6.5/10318... about 6.3x10-4 ... times 5... say .3% (from one year’s MassHealth operations) to pay the state’s share of funding the zoos for five years.

Or if MassCare is Sacred, how about this:  What’s the total cost (pay +benefits +pension contributions) for the typical Massachusetts bureaucrat?  Would you accept $100k (a typical unionized industry figure for an employee with a $60k base salary)?  Well then: If we need to find $6.5m, that’s 65 employees.  Bet I could easily find 65 timeservers in state govt. who could be shoved (nicely) out the door and long gone before anybody (especially the taxpaying public) noticed.  If we started chopping now, we could probably wrap things up before lunch!

And to answer Alice’s question, of course liberals love animals.  Just ask them!

But they love using your money to build their empires and pay off their clients even more.

-----
[1] Except this time, “It’s For The ANIMALS!”

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Meta

Gol-lee! Just four days away!



Whatzit:  The Fabulous July Indy BlogMeet
Whenzit:  Sunday afternoon, July 19, 3:00p.m.
Wherezit:  Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery
Wherezit:  2801 Lake Circle Drive (north side of 86th), Indianapolis
Wherezit:  (they say “College Park,” but it’s actually closer to Township Line Road)
Whozit:

BlogMeets are open to each and every blogger, blog reader and guilty-looking bystander;  there is no fee (other than you’ll have to either pay your own tab or charm someone into paying it for you) and we don’t even have a secret handshake.  Sometimes there are even Fabulous! Prizes!  (for a given value of “fabulous”).
So don’t be shy, lurch right in and join the crowd!

Credits:  Arrangements by Roberta, artwork by Shermlock.

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Monday, 13 July 2009

In Passing

A tale of two companies

More Hope-n-Change Of The Same Dept.

CIT Group, a primary lender for small and midsize businesses, faces bankruptcy because it can’t get government loan guarantees:
[CIT] received a $2.3 billion infusion from the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program in December, after winning approval to become a bank holding company.  But CIT has so far been unable to access another federal program, one that helps banks and thrifts sell debt with government guarantees...

One problem with getting more federal aid is that the government has made it clear it doesn’t see the company as a systematic risk to the financial system...

While CIT has so far missed out on winning the FDIC’s aid, competitors like GE Capital and GMAC have been able to sell debt with the backing of the government’s top credit rating. - “Major Lender Faces Crunch • CIT Hires Bankruptcy Adviser as Payment Looms; Financier to 1 Million Businesses” by Jeffrey McCracken and Serena Ng, The Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2009, page A1 [not found online]
And small businesses are already feeling the effects...
For much of the past decade, CIT was one of the country’s top lenders to enterpreneurs and small businesses, many of which were shunned by traditional banks.  CIT was the country’s top lender to small businesses under a Small Business Administration program, making $770 million in loans last year.  But since the credit crunch... CIT’s small-business lending unit made just $59 million in loans between October 2008 and May 2009.
...
David Marcantonio, who runs... a commercial- and business-loan broker... said CIT often was more willing to work with small businesses... “We would do 20 CIT loans for every one GE [GE Capital] loan, and they [CIT] are still much more active than GE ever was... If they go away, banks are not going to be able to fill that gap...” - “Business Owners Ache as CIT Scales Back” by Serena Ng, The Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2009, Page C4 [article preview here]

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs, Wall Street’s quintessential “insider” firm, is expected to report record profits tomorrow, nine months after it got $12.9 billion in bailout money.

So, as usual, Wall Street gets taken care of while Main Street gets screwed.


(Goldman story/links via R.S. McCain.)

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Clipfile

Clipfile - July 13, 2009

“If companies that are ‘too big to fail’ are too big to exist, then bills that are ‘too long to read’ are too long to pass.  This sort of behavior — passing bills that no one has read — or, that in the case of the healthcare ‘bill’ haven’t even actually been written — represents political corruption of the first order. 
If representation is the basis on which laws bind the citizen, then why should citizens regard themselves as bound by laws that their representatives haven’t read, or, sometimes, even written yet?”
- Glenn Reynolds

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The Press

The demise of “objective media”

...and why the Wall Street Journal has the largest circulation in the U.S.

I linked this column by Carl Cannon in the Noonan post below, but I want to do so again to highlight this important bit of what’s-wrong-with-the-media wisdom contained therein:[1]
Concerns about “liberal bias” arose [even during the]... supposed Golden Age [of newspapers], but we had an answer for that: Sure, reporters are liberal, we told our sources, but the publisher is conservative.  The ideal being peddled was that, yes, a Depression-era reporter making $8 a week will likely pen pieces extolling the New Deal, but meanwhile the owner/publisher is commissioning editorials lamenting Franklin Roosevelt's assault on capitalism.  It sounds esoteric now, but when newspapers were king it worked...[2]
So what changed?
If being “liberal” now meant sympathy for the Democratic Party, and being conservative implied sympathy for Republicans, all those liberal newsrooms across the country were gradually going to alienate themselves from about half their readers.

That this might pose a problem never dawned on the men and women who controlled the media – even as it drove their right-of-center readers and viewers away in droves.  When I tell my friends working in places like The New York Times that they created Rush Limbaugh, they respond with shock and disbelief.
Cannon’s thesis makes an interesting contrast with that of Kenneth Anderson.  In Cannon’s world, newsrooms were always “liberal;” the shift in institutional balance (and the resulting loss of reader acceptance) was (mostly) a result of external factors (e.g., the replacement of newspapers by radio and television as a hard-news source; the realignment - and ideological purification - of the political parties).  Anderson, on the other hand, acknowledges the “two audiences” model while positing a conscious business decision (at least in the case of the New York Times) to taylor its product to its perceived market:
The Wall Street Journal, by contrast, always had to remain anchored in the core presentation of semi-specialized facts and data to satisfy a hard nosed business audience, but it wrapped that staid, fact-oriented newspaper around a conservative, polemical editorial page, while keeping them emphatically separate, and so got two national audiences for one paper.  The Times could not do that.  It correctly understood that its new, national target audience was what David Brooks famously called the Bobos, the market oriented yet professional, bourgeois yet bohemian, affluent and self-regarding, self-involved elites of the major cities.  [This audience] didn’t seek facts as such from the New York Times.  They already had the ones that really mattered from other, more specialized sources.[3]...What the Bobos sought instead... was a cultural attitude, confirmation of who they were.  The Times, for them, was less about sense than sensibility...
One shortcoming of the two-audiences theory is that it fails to account for the success of the “reliably liberal” papers; those which had always combined a “liberal” (perhaps a better “golden age” characteriztion would be “populist”) editorial page with similar coverage point-of-view. But it does seem a possible starting point for building a successful paper,[4] and the theory could certainly lead to an interesting argument the next time you hear a bunch of old newsies bitching about the troglodytes on the editorial page.[5]

Another of Cannon’s points - the cluelessness of “the men and women who controlled the media” - ties exactly to Mark Steyn’s condemnation of the industry’s use of The Times as Market Model:
The net result of the industry’s craven abasement before the Times is that American newspapering is dead as dead can be — and certainly far deader than its cousins in Britain, Australia, India, or even Canada.
...although perhaps not so much in Steyn’s cited aspect of agenda-setting as in the failure of managers and owners to recognize that adopting the Times’ “Bobo” customer model would be doomed to failure anywhere except in the Times’ specialized market.

Cannon’s piece is also important because (to the best of my memory) this is one of the few times someone who qualifies as part of the media establishment[6] has openly acknowledged this dynamic. It’s unfortunate that it probably comes too late to qualify as anything but post-mortem analysis.

Still, if the decline of newspapers interests or concerns you, you’ll find much food for thought in both Cannon (start with paragraph 6, if you want to avoid the Sarah stuff) and Anderson.   Read ’em both.


Thanks again to Roberta X for the pointer.

Related:
John Robson: Stop the presses?

Previously:

-----
[1]  This for the benefit of those who might have skipped the article, thinking it was simply Yet Another Sarah Piece.

[2]  Thus, papers had appeal for both “liberals” and “conservatives.”  In citing this “two audiences” factor as one reason for newspapers’ past success, Cannon also notes:
The lone news outlet in North America that still operates under this model is The Wall Street Journal.  Its editorial pages have been conservative for decades; a recent study found its news pages to be the most liberal in the mainstream media.  Guess what: The Journal is the largest circulation paper in this country.

[3]  The Snark in me says: This audience is one that already has its mind made up, (especially) doesn’t want to be confronted with contrary information, and uses its news media mostly for validation and reenforcement.

[4]  Although not, by itself, sufficient. 

[5]  Had planned on linking a thread or two at Ruth’s Blog, but discovered that when she changed software a couple of months back she didn’t migrate the comments, so all I could find were a couple of rants about Gary Varvel.  Sigh!

[6]  I don’t include Bernard Goldberg.

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Saturday, 11 July 2009

In Passing

Mr. Congressman, sir! I have a question!


Found in the comments, here:

In the name of HOMELAND SECURITY we have to have passports to go to Canada and come home. Funny thing though, if an illegal sneaks across the border, it is a misdemeanor and will get said illegal a trip back to the border. If a U.S. citizen tries the same stunt, it is a felony that could get him/her twenty years in Leavenworth.

I have two questions.

1. Why does an illeagal alien have more freedoms in this country than a citizen?
Because illegal aliens don’t have any assets for the government to steal?
2. How does this make the U.S. safer?
Oh, snap!

Via: Dustbury (sort of)

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