Archive for November, 2008

Ooooh Sony… how we hate you… let me count the ways!

Last week Xbox 360 had an update to their User Interface… along with it came a few other new enhancements like the Netflixstreaming feature allowing users who are Netflix subscribers to stream up to 12,000 titles to their home theaters.  Well… apparently Sony didn’t like the idea of Microsoft streaming Sony movies (from LA Times and Motley Fool)?  So Sony decided pull 200 of their titles from being able to stream to the Xbox 360… the Roku player and PC will still work fine.  Sony this is exactly why we hate you… your arrogance and bully attitude is what leads you to think about your self-interests over your customers’ interests.  Just so you know… I used to be pretty loyal to the Sony brand… but over the last 5 years I have not made a Sony purchase – after this move I will try to make it at least another 5 years before I buy another one of your products.

Fear and Loathing in Minneapolis

Maybe it’s just November (I actually recited My November Guest to my buddies at the bar the other night) or maybe the economy is in the tank and my 401k is approaching 50% of what it was just 6 months ago.  Anyhow, I feel low down.

Tamar Lewin of the NYT recently pointed out that in times like these hemlines fall, crime rates go up and people prefer songs like “‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,’ and ‘That’s What Friends Are For,’. In better times, it’s more likely to be faster, upbeat songs like ‘Macarena.’ ”   So, I cehcked what’s topping the charts today – it’s T.I. – “Live Your Life” which instructs us to “make the most of the life you’ve got.”  What’s more depressing than that is even “Playboy bunnies are beginning to look more mature – older, heavier, more reassuring.” 

Oy vey.

Franken or Coleman? Odds Favor A1.

A week later, we still don’t know who the 2nd Senator from Minnesota will be.  The margin between Coleman and Franken has shrunk over the last week to 221 or .0001% (there were 2,833,089 votes cast in the Senate race).

538.com has some excellent analysis on the probability of who is more likely to win in a recount.  It turns out that if 51.25% of uncounted votes (25,000 or 0.9%) turn out to be votes for Franken, he has a 98.8% chance of ultimately winning.

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Also, more details have emerged regarding Coleman’s friend and supporter Nasser Kazeminy improperly channeling $75,000 to Coleman in 2007 through Coleman’s wife’s employer.

Funny story: a friend of mine got a call from the Franken campaign.  They asked “are you going to vote for A-one Franken?”  Apparently, the L looked like a 1.  Ha!  Good on a steak, but for Senate?  Moral of the story: when you’re paying someone to call potential voters, you should make sure the people calling can read.

Nodal Point

Since this is a book Fight Club, and Rich H. can’t seem to make a decision, I’ll throw out another recommendation: Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America by Jay Parini.  This book is right in our wheelhouse.  The book is not about great literature – so, you fictionophobes need not worry about Moby Dick and Gatsby being on the list.  Rather, the author selects books, many non-fiction, that are “nodal points, places where vast areas of thought and feeling gathered and dispersed.”  And, it would be a fitting send-off for our sparring partner Ami.

These 13 are: “Of PlymouthPlantation” by William Bradford; “The Federalist Papers,” essays published under the pseudonym Publius but written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay; “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin”; “The Journals of Lewis and Clark”; “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau; “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe; “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain; “The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. Du Bois; “The Promised Land” by Mary Antin; “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie; “The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care” by Benjamin Spock, M.D.; “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac; “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan.

So, what do you say Rich?  Call the ball.

13books

WSJ Opinion Suggests Treatment of George W. Bush Has Been Disgrace?

Last week Jeffrey Scott Shapiro suggested in a WSJ Opinion article that the treatment of George W. Bush has been a disgrace – citing as an example the San Francisco proposal suggesting to name a sewage treatment plant after him.  Mr. Shapiro suggests that like President Harry S. Truman, who also had a low approval rating of 22% before he left office but is now ranked as one of our most popular presidents, George W. Bush will also be seen as a strong president who lead our nation during a difficult time.  Mr. Shapiro further suggests that our disloyalty to our current president is a “shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House.”

 

Well Mr. Shapiro… you are a patsy.  President George W. Bush is a disgrace but I also believe that he has also been played like a fiddle by his own team.  Cheney, Rumsfeld and their policy wonk lawyers (like Douglas Feith) have been of equal disgrace.  This president and his staff have lied to the American people on numerous occasions and put to doubt the patriotism of the American’s who have questioned his strategy and motives with the “embolden the terrorists” rhetoric.  America is great not because we all fall in line but because we think and we question, we have the courage to point out our flaws and shortcomings and not by covering them with the American flag in blind patriotism.  When faced with the conclusions of the bi-partisan 9/11 Commission Report, the president was asked if he agreed with their recommendations – his answer was “I didn’t read it” and that was his same response on the memos concerning “aggressive interrogation techniques”.

 

Well Mr. President, I am sorry to say that it is your job to read these opinions – whether you agree with them or not.  Your arrogance, hubris, and lack of respect for all of us “non-Bushies” is your legacy and you will have to live with that in infamy.

Turn of the Tide

The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I’ve been struggling with what to post on the recent election.  But, I just got off the phone with a friend in the UK who was more enthusiastic about Obama than I was, and I voted for him!  And, then Bill B. forwarded this article by William Kole who got a kiss from a stranger on the train in Vienna because he’s American. 

So, I realized that after spending 21 months immersed in this election, I lack perspective.  And, while I’m relieved that Obama was finally elected, I haven’t had a sense for how huge this is.  Looking at the election from the outside, whether you’re a foreigner or an expatriate, it’s obvious.

Along these same lines, Nicholas Kristof wrote a column three weeks ago titled “Rebranding the US with Obama” about a conversation he had with a friend in Beijing:

She: Obama? But he’s the black man, isn’t he?

Me: Yes, exactly.

She: But surely a black man couldn’t become president of the United States?

Me: It looks as if he’ll be elected.

She: But president? That’s such an important job! In America, I thought blacks were janitors and laborers.

Me: No, blacks have all kinds of jobs.

She: What do white people think about that, about getting a black president? Are they upset? Are they angry?

Me: No, of course not! If Obama is elected, it’ll be because white people voted for him.

[Long pause.]

She: Really? Unbelievable! What an amazing country!

We are at the lowest ebb.  The tide is turning.  What an amazing country, indeed.

What are the responsibilities of Mayor of Wasilla?

There were a few folks after John McCain announced his running mate that drew the comparison between Sarah Palin and Teddy Roosevelt for their short time as governors and of course their leadership capabilities.  You know… leader of the First Calvary (Rough Riders) and Mayor of Wasilla… obvious conclusions.  And then there was the comment during Palin’s RNC address where she chided Obama about being a “community organizer” while she was just a small town Mayor with “Responsibilities.”  Well thank God for investigative journalism… we now know ALL of the details that the Mayor of Wasilla is responsible for… and it is a LONG list!  Watch for yourself from The Daily Show (details at the 2 minute mark).


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