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Yes, We Can

Posted on February 2nd, 2008 at 20:04 by John Sinteur in category: Indecision 2008

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It’s the economy, stupid.

Posted on February 2nd, 2008 at 18:23 by John Sinteur in category: Indecision 2008


The return of tight money fiscal conservatism? Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker endorses Barack Obama.

This could be a big deal for economic conservatives, as Volcker, though appointed by Carter, was the Fed chairman during the Reagan administration’s best economic years. (Greenspan oversaw the late 80’s recession. Many wanted Volcker to replace Greenspan at that time.)

In sharp contrast to Alan Greenspan’s career, however, Volcker was openly critical of large tax cuts and deficit spending. (from Time, 1982)

Volcker’s Fed is widely credited with ending the United States’ stagflation crisis of the 1970s by limiting the growth of the money supply. Inflation, which peaked at 13.5% in 1981, was successfully lowered to 3.2% by 1983. However, the real estate market plumetted as a result, and farmers, hurt by high interest rates, marched on Washington. In recent years, he has warned of a major upcoming currency crisis and has criticized both Greenspan and Bernanke for policies that encourage a bubble economy, saying “It’s not fun raising interest rates.”

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Posted on February 2nd, 2008 at 12:35 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture, Microsoft



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I’ll be president of Europe if you give me the power – Blair

Posted on February 2nd, 2008 at 12:25 by John Sinteur in category: News


Tony Blair has been holding discussions with some of his oldest allies on how he could mount a campaign later this year to become full-time president of the EU council, the prestigious new job characterised as “president of Europe”. Blair, currently the Middle East envoy for the US, Russia, EU and the UN, has told friends he has made no final decision, but is increasingly willing to put himself forward for the job if it comes with real powers to intervene in defence and trade affairs.

I wouldn’t trust him with the power to tie his own shoes…

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MacBook Air

Posted on February 2nd, 2008 at 12:14 by John Sinteur in category: Apple

Every new Apple product gets this treatment within days of shipping….



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Sony Laptop Locks Out non-Sony Battery

Posted on February 2nd, 2008 at 12:13 by John Sinteur in category: They never learn


Yesterday I received a generic replacement battery that I had ordered for my Sony VGN-FS840/W laptop. When placed in the laptop the battery indicator flashes rapidly. The laptop will not turn on with the battery inserted, even if the AC cord is also used. The battery shows no charge and does not charge. Reading online I learned that Sony apparently uses a hardware lock in certain of its laptop models to prevent the use of non-Sony replacement batteries. See, for example, these blog posts.

As I said before, avoid all products with the Sony label – they’re out to screw you.

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‘IP’ Police Line — Do Not Cross

Posted on February 2nd, 2008 at 12:04 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


I don’t know about you, but I read books so that I can learn how to do something. If a book carries a warning label which states that I’m putting myself at risk of patent litigation by implementing the ideas in the book, I’ve got a problem with that. A big enough problem that I’m not going to reading it.

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Back to Reality…

Posted on February 2nd, 2008 at 12:02 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture



For several months now, Burger King and the Florida tomato growers’ lobby have joined forces to “debunk the myth” of farmworker poverty, in their effort to fight back against workers demanding a raise in the picking piece rate.

The piece rate — defined as the price paid to pickers for every 32-lb bucket of tomatoes they pick — has remained effectively stagnant for nearly thirty years. In 1980, the going piece rate was 40 cents per bucket. Today, twenty eight years later, workers are paid an average of only 45 cents per bucket.

These pictures were taken in December of 2007. They capture work and life as a tomato picker in Immokalee as it is today: Looking for work before dawn, picking for 10 to 12 hours a day under Florida’s relentless sun, and returning after a long day to the one-room cinderblock apartments and broken-down trailers that are home during Immokalee’s 8-9 month-long season.

Burger King and Florida’s tomato growers say farmworker poverty is a “myth.” The US Department of Labor says farmworkers are “a labor force in significant economic distress,” suffering “low wages (and) sub-poverty annual earnings.”

What’s myth and what’s reality? We hope these pictures can help you decide for yourself

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Motivated by a Tax, Irish Spurn Plastic Bags

Posted on February 2nd, 2008 at 11:51 by John Sinteur in category: News



There is something missing from this otherwise typical bustling cityscape. There are taxis and buses. There are hip bars and pollution. Every other person is talking into a cellphone. But there are no plastic shopping bags, the ubiquitous symbol of urban life.

In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts.

Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable — on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one’s dog.

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  1. Sounds good. But what do they use for putting out their rubbish? Do they buy bin bags which they carry home in their recyclable plastic bags? Does the tax not apply to bin bags? Is it really the case that a lesser amount of plastic discarded?

  2. As unacceptable as not picking up after one’s dog? Sorry but I was in Waterford last year and the riverwalk was a huge mess o’ dog poo. As for plastic bin liners, they mostly use garbage bins, as I remember. However the point is taken about plastic bags. You can change behaviour by means of taxes.

a day in the life of a cat and dog

Posted on February 2nd, 2008 at 11:49 by John Sinteur in category: Funny!


The Dog’s Diary

8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!

9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!

9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!

10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!

12:00 PM – Milk bones! My favorite thing!

1:00 PM – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!

3:00 PM – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!

5:00 PM – Dinner! My favorite thing!

7:00 PM – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!

8:00 PM – Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!

11:00 PM – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

The Cat’s Diary

Day 983 of my captivity.

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.

They dine l avishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash
or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations
perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an Attempt to
disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse
and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike
fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates my capabilities.
However, they merely made condescending comments about what a “good little
hunter” I am. Bastards!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed
in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear
the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to
the power of “allergies.” I must learn what this means, and how to use it to
my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my
tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this
again tomorrow, but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and Snitches.
The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released, and seems to
be more than willing to return. He is obviously Retarded.

The bird must be an informant. I observe him communicate with the Guards
regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have
arranged protective custody for him in an Elevated Cell, so he is safe.

For now.

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  1. Gosh, I hope momas liittle sweeties don’t feel
    that way !!!! Makes you think what our babies really think of us ole humans, right ?

Sitation Normal: All Fucked Up

Posted on February 2nd, 2008 at 10:19 by John Sinteur in category: News



Back in July 1994, a patrol of French blue helmets discovered, to their utter bemusement, a derelict Douglas C-47 “Dakota” in the midst of MiG carcasses in the Rajlovac airfield in Bosnia. They were intrigued enough to write down its serial number: Serial Nr. 43/15073 turned out to be a veteran of Normandy, Provence, Market Garden, the Bulge, and the Rhine.

Now SNAFU Special is back in Normandy, where it is being restored to become a centerpiece of the Merville Battery Museum.

After the war, SNAFU Special had been successively owned by the Czechoslovak airline CSA, the French Air Force, and the Yugoslav Air Force. Damaged on the ground by Serbian forces during the Bosnian war, it became after its rediscovery a bar for the French helicopter detachment.
In 2007, the Bosnian government handed it over as a gift to France. In a nice historical touch, German engineering troops from EUFOR assisted to its transport.

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The Beloit College Mindset List

Posted on February 2nd, 2008 at 10:12 by John Sinteur in category: News

When they welcome the class of 2011 in the coming weeks, American colleges and universities will be saying hello to the generation born as the Cold War was ending. For them, a Russia with multiple political parties and a China with multiple business enterprises seems quite normal. They’ve grown up in a time of triumphant capitalism, where it’s common for stadiums to be named after corporations and where product placements have always been yet another clever way for companies to sell their wares.

Each August for the past decade, as faculty prepare for the academic year, Beloit College in Wisconsin has released the Beloit College Mindset List. Its 70 items provide a look at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of today’s first-year students, most of them born in 1989. It is the creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief.


Most of the students entering College this fall, members of the Class of 2011, were born in 1989. For them, Alvin Ailey, Andrei Sakharov, Huey Newton, Emperor Hirohito, Ted Bundy, Abbie Hoffman, and Don the Beachcomber have always been dead.

1. What Berlin wall?

4. They never “rolled down” a car window.

11. Rap music has always been mainstream.
12. Religious leaders have always been telling politicians what to do, or else!
13. “Off the hook” has never had anything to do with a telephone.
14. Music has always been “unplugged.”
15. Russia has always had a multi-party political system.

34. They were introduced to Jack Nicholson as “The Joker.”

53. Tiananmen Square is a 2008 Olympics venue, not the scene of a massacre.

55. MTV has never featured music videos.
56. The space program has never really caught their attention except in disasters.

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Microsoft Offers $44.6 Billion for Yahoo

Posted on February 2nd, 2008 at 9:59 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


Engineering-wise, it’s interesting. Yahoo’s stuff is almost all written in PHP, and runs on FreeBSD and Red Hat Linux servers. I don’t think Microsoft has ever bought — and maintained — a significant software product that wasn’t written against Microsoft technology. E.g., when they bought Hotmail, the migration from FreeBSD/Apache to Windows 2000 was painful and difficult. Hotmail was just one product (albeit a popular one). Yahoo has hundreds of properties, several of them, I’m guessing, more popular than Hotmail was back in 2000.

So there’s a paradox: technically, I can’t see how Microsoft would migrate all of Yahoo to Windows servers and software. But culturally, it just isn’t in Microsoft’s DNA to accept and maintain all of these PHP/FreeBSD/Linux products. My gut feeling is that Microsoft’s culture is the driving force here. I don’t think they care about any of Yahoo’s technology, with the possible exception of Yahoo Search. What Microsoft sees in Yahoo isn’t software but pageviews and advertisers. So rather than, say, rewriting Yahoo Mail using Windows technology, I expect them to just force Yahoo Mail users over to Windows Live Hotmail.


In short, while I expect Yahoo to accept the offer, I think it’s the end of Yahoo as we know it. Andy Baio’s analogy seems perfectly apt: “It’s like tying the Titanic to the iceberg. It’d keep you from sinking just long enough to freeze to death.”


If Yahoo agrees to the deal with Microsoft, it will be a shotgun marriage, but it will be Google holding the shotgun.

If Yahoo’s management says “yes, I do”, it will be an admission that its attempts to turn around the company have failed.

Yahoo shareholders, in turn, will not be able to believe their luck. Microsoft was probably the only company with pockets deep enough to bail them out.

For Microsoft, however, this is the deal that could break it.

Making the offer is an admission that Microsoft’s management has been scared by the success of Google.

The bid is also an acknowledgement that its numerous attempts to become a dominant internet content provider have failed.

But to make it pay, Microsoft will have to demonstrate that the combined company can offer a superior business model.


Sources at Yahoo tell me that Microsoft made its most recent overtures right after Yahoo announced its earnings Tuesday and then told Yahoo execs they had two days to respond or Microsoft would go public with the offer.

When Yahoo balked at the heavy-handed tactic, guess what? Microsoft went public.

Now Yahoo is scrambling to figure out a response to the overture, but is looking for any other option but Microsoft.


“I woke up this morning and couldn’t believe that they did it,” said one exec. “They had made a lot of overtures, but this was astonishing. I could not believe Microsoft would be so aggressive.”

Believe it.

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  1. Why bid so high? Is the idea that this will force Yahoo to sell since it would offer such a tidy profit to shareholders Yahoo doesn’t dare refuse? I would think the shareholders would be glad to jump at an offer half that big. Yahoo is a dying brand (and deservedly so, like Facebook, Digg, and even Google, too, the Internet is rife with grossly overpriced stocks), and that is what this is really about, brand and mindshare. Google has it, at least for now, and I don’t see how jamming Microsoft’s bitter peanut butter in Yahoo’s stale chocolate is going to produce a winner. I can’t wait for the Microsoft stockholder class action suit over this if it tanks.