11 December 2013 — Wednesday

Santa - IN SPACE!

I have been seeing many advertisements for local Santa Claus’ for the kids and I couldn’t help but wonder how that will work once we have interplanetary / interstellar colonies. Vacuum and hyperspace capable reindeer? Or is that likely to have passed away culturally before then?

17 November 2013 — Sunday

Surprise! Words are not always sufficient

“Now, let’s face it, a lot of us didn’t realize that passing the law was the easy part.” — President Obama sums up the Modern American Left in one sentence. This is precisely what I mean by “Logo-Realism” and it is, I think, a Kinsley gaffe.

As we look back at a government effort which failed primarily because political considerations were far more important than technical ones to conceal the actual details of the program, some wonder about Obama’s credibility. I don’t see why, Obama has never depended on credibility in the normal sense. For his supports, he was a miracle figure who status did not depend on accomplishment of any sort. This isn’t much difference than the Obama quote at the start — his supporters thought electing Obama was the hard part, all Good Things would simply happen as natural consequence of that. Yet Democratic Party Congressmen wonder “I don’t know how he [Obama] f—-ed this up so badly”. Um, because he, like you, thought only the politics of it mattered, and that implementation was not a serious concern?

UPDATE

It is important to note that POR-care is an entire onion patch of failure. That is, multiple independent failures each of which is itself a nested set of failures. The IT project failure for healthcare.gov is but one layer in all of that.

For parallel IT failures, let us consider

In the onion we have other disasters waiting to be peeled off for POR-care including unsustainable Medicaid expansion and adverse selection problems, probably leading to a massive bailout for insurance companies. This is without even considering the security problems which make the website a target rich environment for black hat hackers, and the failure to vet the “navigators” who will have access to sensitive and private information about consumers.

We can start with how the self-employed losing their insurance is just the start. Even the Obama Administration admits that even people in group health plans will be reeducated forced in to insurance plans the federal government likes, rather than what the consumers or their employers want. This will be followed by the ever growing sticker shock.

But perhaps there is hope — HHS Secretary Sebelius wants an investigation in to the failure of healthcare.gov. Presumably so someone else can explain to her why she’s incompetent.

And of course, to defend the President the race card must be played because it can never, ever, be the fault of the hero.

Meanwhile, illustrating one of my other points, the Obama Administration thinks a blizzard of words can fix all of these problems, in a clap your hands if you believe style of governing. But, it seems, young people increasingly don’t believe and don’t want to join the White House Youth. Maybe due to the massive prevarications needed to fool the public into not punishing the political party that created it. Yet the effort at pep rallies and mass action to “fix” POR-care continues.

But in the end, this effort is shifting public opinion on universal health care, so you have to give the tranzis that.

P.S. I have some additional links about the Logo-Realism on display here, but I want to deal with that in a separate post. This time I wanted to do a link dump to reduce my open browser tabs.

14 October 2013 — Monday

It's not enough to help, you must punish success and prudence too

Other people are starting to notice that not only does POR-care raise insurance rates, it also negatively affects coverage with regard to deductibles.

My question for anyone who support POR-care is, why is it necessary to control how I spend my health care insurance premiums? How does that benefit anyone except the power grubbing appartchiks that populate the State? Given how few additional uninsured will now get insurance, what is the putative point of POR-care? Is it just because the State can’t tolerate success by others and must destroy it?

Finally, can any one help me understand all the people who deeply distrust the government and politicians yet consistently support giving them ever more control over our lives? “Yeah, those guys are corrupt, childish, selfish, and out of touch — let’s have them control our health care too!”. How can that seem like a reasonable thing to so many people?

To ban something, ban it

The Supreme Court will be deciding another “affirmative action” case, again in Michigan regarding race based admission policies. I am on the side of “no race based admission policies in public schools”. The plaintiffs, however, simply “don’t believe in the colorblind Constitution”. As through history, the Republicans are opposing race based law, while the Democratic Party and its supporters favor such things. The only difference between now and then is which specific races are to benefit, but the essentialist racist view remains.

10 October 2013 — Thursday

Austerity in action

Look at that, Wisconsin cut taxes and spending and now they are improving economically and getting more tax revenue. Another one the austerity promoters got wrong, I suppose.

09 October 2013 — Wednesday

The joys of the market

In much more important news, Blizzard is removing the online auction house from Diablo III. Although I played endless hours of Diablo and Diablo II, I only played about the first half of the first act of Diablo III primarily because it was online only. Therefore this isn’t much of a personal issue with me, although based on my game design experience I think the critics have it mostly right.

What I find interesting, though is this quote —

Many players supposedly spend more time in the Auction House than they do the actual campaign

I could have told them that before they started. I used to play a multiplayer online dungeon games1 back in the late 1970s In fact, I knew the guy who first sold virtual gaming gear for real money. Although that was unusual, I knew a number of gamers who, having mostly mastered the game, still spent hours and hours playing but just trading items, not actually playing the game as intended. They did it mainly because they enjoyed the social interaction and trading, but if you have a game where particular types of gear are a status marker, you will have players who spend all their time trading to get it. Those will soon be followed by gamer sweatshops of people grinding the game to generate in game resources.

Successful multiplayer games also tend to have the same (if much simpler) economic problems as real world economies. In this case due to early mover advantage and grinder bots, the system was hit with massive inflation, stifling the ability of new players to succeed. While I think Blizzard handled this poorly without, apparently, thinking it through, it is not in fact an easy problem. I think it would do wonders for economists to have to manage such things before being allowed to experiment in the real world.


1 One of them, “avatar”, was clearly the inspiration for the successful Wizardry series.

Toddlers with machine guns

Time for another dip in the pool of Old Media bias and incompetence. Today’s edition will also touch on cowardice and how the “truth to power” meme is just a poser’s tale told by comfortably ensconced appartchiks.

Let’s start with fear and a report on how the press corp fears Obama. It is interesting to me how these same journalists had no fear of former President Bush, because they knew (despite what they wrote) that he wouldn’t really use the power of his administration to punish them. Obama, however, is clearly different and this certainly gets results and quite a lot of Sargent Schultz dereliction. It also means that when something that fits the Narrative comes along, it gets reported without any actual fact checking because Obama!

But, let me be clear - it’s not always cowardice matched with stalker level obsession, sometimes it’s just rank incompetence of people who simply have no clue about the subject of their writing.

Keep this in mind the next time someone tells you “all I read in the New York Times”.

P.S. The hits just keep coming —

Comrade, they buy the rope for us!

This article makes a point that occurred to me after I read Russian President Vladimir Putin’s editorial in the New York Times. That is, Putin’s writers clearly have read the works of the MAL and cleverly served up their own tropes to smash President Obama. This puts Obama and his supporters in a bind, because to argue against Putin’s agitprop they would have to disown their own well recorded oikophobia which would be more hurtful than taking the hit from Putin. It is a measure of the MAL’s parochialism and lack of thoughtfulness that enables brutes like Putin to get away with being brutes will styming any reponse from the USA as long as it has a MAList government.

But of course, for the MAL, there are no foreign enemies, only domestic ones. That’s why Obama will eagerly (if not pathetically) grasp any negotiating straw from place like Iran, but won’t talk to the Congressional GOP. One can’t help but laugh, though, at Obama cancelling his Asian trip so he can sit in the White House and not negotiate. Surely he could have done that in Asia too, or would it have been too much for him to talk with foreign leaders and not talk to domestic ones at the same time?

07 October 2013 — Monday

Warmenists hit by reality

Now that the agitprop phase has passed, the actual IPCC AR5 is being released and so far it looks like it basically retracts the “catastrophic” part of global warmening. It would be interesting to compare that with the NASA “we’re all doomed! DOOMED!” chart…

P.S. Regulators and activists hardest hit.

06 October 2013 — Sunday

Bureaucrats are people too

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

— James Madison Federalist Paper #51

This is the key point that the regulators always forget — they look at stupid things people do and want to stop them from doing such things, without ever considering how giving people power and money makes them better people.

02 October 2013 — Wednesday

The spiteful wrath of the ruling class

We have the amazing spectacle of the National Park Service shutting down open air mall sites that do not require any staff so that WWII veterans are denied access. Let it be clear that these sites have never been closed until now but suddenly, in the midst of a government slimdown, the NPS has the staff and time to put up barrycades. Can some one explain this as other than in effect, hostage taking by the Obama Administration?

In the same vein we have other parks being shutdown that have no dependency whatsoever on the NPS and indeed, in some cases being net revenue generators for the federal government. That means the Obama Administration, in the midst of the upcoming debt ceiling limit, is willing to forgo revenue in order to punish the public for not getting his way. Yet people claim Obama has the best interests of the citizenry at heart…

P.S. Meanwhile The New Republic is apparently calling for using tanks against the Republicans in the House of Representatives, while former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recommends bypassing Congress. And schools show “I pledge to serve Barak Obama” videos. Where did all the civility go? Perhaps it’s never been there.

01 October 2013 — Tuesday

Borrowing money to pay back borrowed money

I see this kind of statement made frequently with regard to the federal debt ceiling —

A failure to raise the debt ceiling to pay for bills that Congress has already contracted could lead to a worldwide recession or worse.

No! How can any one be that clueless? You don’t borrow money to pay off previously borrowed money. The term for doing that is “bankruptcy”. You pay off debts by using your revenue stream and the federal government revenues are not dependent in any way on the debt ceiling.

Of course, we have President Obama who is dumb enough to say in public “raising the debt ceiling does not increase our debt […] All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress”. That’s pathetic, even for a guy who regularly muffs his facts.

Meanwhile we are having an actual issue with passing a continuing resolution to keep the government funded (which could actually impact debt payments), which is primarily because the Democratic Party, particularly those in the Senate, have been massively derelict in their duties while the GOP in the House has at least made an effort. Yet I am confident Old Media will hold the former blameless, because Obama!

P.S. The story of legislation trying to express the Constitutional requirements in law but blocked, of course, by the Democratic Party, which has no interest in Constitutionality and fiscal responsibility.

30 September 2013 — Monday

Bringing back unions

I saw this article on the desperate plight of private sector unions in the USA (although public unions have their problems as well) which details how the AFL-CIO is attempting to expand its membership base. I thought, you know, if a union could get an exemption from POR-care for its members, it could massively expand itself by providing that exemption to new members. Start a shell company that hires people for, say, $100 / year, unionize the “employees”, merge that with the original union and boom! Massive membership win!

P.S. This is an illustration of this point.

Delivering the benefits of socialism

We just got our POR-care notification and we’ll get to pay 168% more for our healthcare. We could hold that down to only 104% more if we significantly increased our deductible. And of course, we have to change our health insurance plan — the old was was wrong and, as serfs instead of free citizens, we cannot be permitted to keep it. But of course, it’s for The People. As we know, we have 30 million without health insurance in the USA. The CBO estimates that POR-care will, after a few years, reduce this to … 30 million. Plus, the chocolate ration will be increased to 40 grams.

Meanwhile, we can see where our ruling class is taking us if we dare to ask how can a rich country have shortages? All it takes is enough governing.

27 September 2013 — Friday

Let them hate, so long as they fear

News from the the global warmening crew, this time from Germany

the German ministries insist that it is important not to detract from the effectiveness of climate change warnings by discussing the past 15 years’ lack of global warming. Doing so, they say, would result in a loss of the support necessary for pursuing rigorous climate policies. “Climate policy needs the element of fear,” [German Green Party politician Hermann] Ott openly admits. “Otherwise, no politician would take on this topic.”

Well, we certainly wouldn’t want any sort of dispassionate, rational discussion on the subject. It might not come out they way the EUlite want!

I did like this bit, though — not connecting the dots. Earlier in the article we have

A survey conducted on behalf of SPIEGEL found a dramatic shift in public opinion — Germans are losing their fear of climate change. While in 2006 a sizeable majority of 62 percent expressed a fear of global warning, that number has now become a minority of just 39 percent.

Is that what Ott considers to be the “effectiveness of climate change warnings”? I’m all for that kind of “effectiveness”.

P.S. Isn’t it amazing how people can see this, yet think “that couldn’t happen with other government regulatory policies I support”?

24 September 2013 — Tuesday

Holland says, “oh yeah, that welfare state thing just doesn't work”

Dutch King Willem-Alexander gave a nationally televised speech to his nation’s Parliament on September 16th declaring that the welfare state was dead. The message, written for the King by Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government, stated that current levels of state spending for unemployment benefits and subsidized health care are unsustainable amid Europe’s ongoing economic malaise. With Moody’s credit rating agency threatening to downgrade Dutch debt, the King announced that citizens soon will be expected to create their own social and financial safety nets with much less help from the state.

Chriss Street

We should be more like Europe, you say? Interesting…

This way to the money purging system

Former President Bill Clinton — we need young people to get financially reamed by POR-care to make it work. Yeah, that’ll sell it to the youngsters. I mean, I know they’ll respond enthusiastically when I tell them “you have to join up so you can pay for geezers like me!”

Or maybe Clinton should have just said “sign up, young people, because Obama!”. Works for so many other things…

Reading like Pravda

A big recent story is that President Obama’s push for changing our health care system had its genesis in a throw away line from a speech. I’ve seen some counter evidence (such as Obama promoting government payer health care in 2003) but I want to wonder about the back story — why was this story published?

While Politico isn’t as in the tank as say the New York Times it certainly has a strong pro-Obama bias and I have little doubt this piece, which isn’t really news, was published with some political purpose in mind. Are they trying to distance Obama from the now obvious to all but the totally blinkered train wreck? Shift the blame to the Democratic Congress that actually wrote the legislation? I call it “POR-care” because it was far more then House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid who created and passed it, with Obama mainly standing around trying to look involved between golf outings.

The article certainly does not, in my view, reflect well on Obama that he would make such a major change on what’s basically a whim. It could be Politico trying to distance itself from the debacle. But I do think it’s neat that with a free press, one still has to read it as the Soviets did Pravda.

23 September 2013 — Monday

Mystery of purpose

Apparently amnesty for illegal immigrants is switching to Plan B after the initial partially honest plan failed to come together. I understand why the oikophobic Democratic Party wants to do this (to help with that “fundamental transformation” of the USA) but what could the GOP supporters possibly see in it, other than ‘I’ll gladly sell out my party and my nation for a nickel”? There’s no political upside for the GOP nor for the supporters personally, except a momentary stroke by Old Media (which will last until a villain is needed for The Narrative). These people are utterly incomprehensible to me. Can any one explain it to me?

Results watch

Connecticut — another success story of tax and spend policies.

Creeping of various sorts

Conservatives are frequently (if not autonomically) accused of being fascist wannabes, but when actual fascism tries to creep in, it’s almost always via the Modern American Left. Today’s case in point is New York City and it’s likely next mayor who seems to have been a big fan of the Sandinistas and the Castro regime in Cuba. The MAL, who attack people for being on the same stage as some one else who’s been on the same stage as a fascist, seem as usual completely unconcerned about one of their own who has literally supported fascists. Any estimates on (1) how soon this will inflict massive damage on New York City and (2) how long after that it’s blamed on conservatives?

Meanwhile, of the team reveals the creeping socialism he sees in the “government take over of the bond market”.

Biometrics on portable devices

I was discussing the new fingerprint technology for the iPhone with SWIPIAW because she’s a computer security expert and that’s how we roll with our pillow talk.

One thing she pointed out that I had not realized is that it is in fact very hard to secure biometric information. For a password or key phrase, you get it right or you don’t. Only exact matches count. For this reason you can encrypt the actual plain text and compare only the encrypted version of the user input to that. There is no need to store the actual password so even if the device is stolen, retrieving the password is difficult.

Biometrics are quite different in that, being biological, things are never quite the same. Therefore you have to compare the key data with the input data to see if they are close enough. You can’t encrypt it because the whole point of an encryption algorithm is to scatter the input, to make sure that two inputs that are “close” end up “far away” after being encrypted.

The result here is that if you use biometrics, stealing the device easily gets you the raw biometric data, from which you can may be able to construct a facsimile for use elsewhere. Moreover, unless you want your biometric data stored everywhere, remote systems must depend on the physical device (the iPhone) to do the verification. That means physical possession is enough, the software can easily be hacked in that situation to send “it’s really him” regardless of the input or without any input at all.

On the other hand, SWIPIAW points out that many (most?) cell phone users both store sensitive data on their phones and use no security at all. Biometric may be weak, but at least it’s something so this may improve the over all security situation.

Untrue and irrelevant

As I understand it, the latest debate tactic among the Democrat chattering class of political wingnuts is to point out that Obamacare is nothing more than a 1999 Republican plan with a touch of Romneycare thrown in. So, why are they now so desperate to destroy this legislation they were for before they were against it.

Jack is Back

Yes, I’ve encountered that myself (I’m waiting for our Mr. Eagar to lay it on us, he seems to do an excellent job of firing off the latest MAList talking points).

Of course, at a base level this is like blaming a book author for the flop of a Hollywood movie based on the book for which the author was never consulted.

On a deeper level, what is actually the point? That the GOP can promote stupid, damaging policies too? You don’t have to work to convince me of that. Even if the claim is true, it makes this stupid, damaging legislation not a problem because…? I suspect that because of the ingrained group think / political correctness that prevails on the MAL these days, they consider it a strong argument. After all, whatever gonzo policy President Obama trots out they support, because Obama!

21 September 2013 — Saturday

Political prosecution

Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay’s conviction was overturned with the appeals court ruling that the evidence was “legally insufficient” to sustain the charges.

This follows in the former Senator Ted Stevens case (which also involved prosecutorial misconduct) and the hounding of then Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on bogus ethics charges. At what point do we being to wonder if our criminal justice system is being used as a partisan weapon via unsustainable indictments?

All of this in addition to the targeting of groups by the IRS based on their political views and, in some cases, anti-Obama rhetoric. Targeting that continued after the IRS claimed it had stopped. As has been pointed out it is in fact more concerning that there doesn’t seem to have been any high level direction of this activity, it was spontaneous inside the IRS, even though it was clearly inspired by the Obama Administration and Old Media agitprop. That’s a level of corruption far beyond what Nixon managed. Why should a conservative have any faith in the government or regulation when it’s so blatantly used for political advantage?

Casting call gone wrong

The coverage of the Navy Yard shooting seems to have crested rather abruptly. I agree that it’s because the actual details don’t fit The Narrative and are therefore not politically useful to Old Media. It was big news when the shooter was from Texas but now that he’s a black Obama supporter and not a stereotypical Texan, it’s not something to talk about. Better to just misidentify the perpetrator.