Weekend Open Thread

“The fool knows after he has suffered.”

–Hesiod

63 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Aristotle says:

    That is all. 🙂

  2. DavidThi808 says:

    David Wessel/WSJ

    On both continents, there is no longer any doubt about the severity of the threat or the urgent need for better policies. Yet the players seem spectacularly unable to act.

    What’s taking so long?



    Deciding who will get stuck with the tab.

    “In every crisis, you have to allocate the losses between debtors, creditors and taxpayers,” says Anna Gelpern, an American University law professor and former Treasury official. “It’s a shockingly simple concept, and completely intractable.”

    “By definition, it’s a political problem,” she adds. “Even if you came up with an optimal allocation, if it’s not politically salable, it can’t happen.”

    Stephen J. Dubner/Freakonomics

    To my mind, much of the trouble lies in how politicians’ incentives are badly misaligned: they are rewarded for short-term, self-interested activities (raising money, getting re-elected, coming down on the right side of short-term public opinion) while the goals the public really wants accomplished are long-term, public-interest works (which have almost nothing to do with raising money, electing politicians, or getting a good headline).

  3. DavidThi808 says:

    Robert Reich

    The biggest question right now on Planet Washington is whether the congressional supercommittee will reach an agreement.

    That’s the wrong question. Agreement or not, Washington is on the road to making budget cuts that will slow the economy, increase unemployment, and impose additional hardship on millions of Americans.

    The real question is how to stop this austerity train wreck

    • VanDammer says:

      So if they did’nt come up with a viable plan or if Congress doesn’t vote to accept the SuperComm plan then mandated cuts kick in.  What a stinkin’ bit of cowardice.

      Both sides get to blame the other.  Neither side had the backbone to do what’s right for jobs, for healthcare, for the electorate.  No, both sides use this mandated cop out to say the cuts are not their fault.  

      This was a friggin’ puppet show from the start, only diff is that we are the ones being manipulated by cold indifferent hands up our backsides.

      All the budget & govt shut down games played this summer and fall are being spooled up again for another go round in ’12 .  Rather than a happy new year it’s happy same shit again from our ever-caring Congress.

      • Is it time to start being the entrenched Left, for political purposes, and give up trying to be the responsible “trying to keep the government running day-to-day” party?

        Just a question, not saying I disagree with you on it.  We’re not getting much done by trying to negotiate with the GOP – they’re not interested in anything but “my way or the highway”.

  4. DavidThi808 says:

    They’re using Bill Clinton quotes (out of context) to speak against Obama and the higher taxes he’s proposing. (No they don’t mention that the proposed taxes are on millionaires only – go figure.)

  5. Libertad says:

    At least 5 members of the PERA board are concerned that the defined benefit plans ability to service it’s obligations is highly questionable. Sure returns are part of the issue, but the plans structure that affords government workers outsized lifetime earning abilities remains a benefit unequaled within any other economic sector.

    A handful of board members said they wanted to lower the rate to 7.25 or 7.5 percent.

    “Our economy has gone through a fundamental shift,” said Lynn Turner, a governor-appointed board member and former chief accountant for the Securities and Exchange Commission. He warned the board could play a role in causing “the end of the plan.”

    Turner called the 1990s a “once-in-a-lifetime” market boom that the board shouldn’t count on for the long haul.

    But the majority opinion was to put off any decision until further review in 2012.

    “If we deal with it as a math problem first, the data does not support a change at this time,” said trustee Howard Crane. “The reason we are having this discussion is by and large a political problem.”

    Trustee Timothy O’Brien, a retired state auditor, said he didn’t want to base his decision “just by recent history.” The fund’s investment returns were 3.3 percent over the past 10 years and 9.3 percent over the past 25 years.

    The pension board has had a tumultuous year. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a board member, sued the pension system after he was denied financial data on the top 20 percent of beneficiaries. Stapleton calls the 8 percent expectation unrealistic.

    Read more: PERA sticks with 8% projection for pension investment return – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news

    Read The Denver Post’s Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/term

    Anyone ever hear if State Treasurer Stapleton received the PERA data he was seeking?

  6. Pita says:

    http://openchannel.msnbc.msn.c

    A well-known Washington lobbying firm with links to the financial industry has proposed an $850,000 plan to take on Occupy Wall Street and politicians who might express sympathy for the protests, according to a memo obtained by the MSNBC program

    Personally, I think it’s going to take a lot more than $850,000 for these over paid consultants to undermine OWS.  When those bonus come out at the end of the year – Katie bar the door!

  7. DavidThi808 says:

    Yes, Mr. President, Americans can be ‘lazy’

    Maybe part of the problem is the American culture rewards weakness. If America wants to be the absolute best, we must stop telling our children that they are so exceptional when they are not. If your kid can’t shoot, pass, dribble or rebound, guess what? They are terrible at basketball and should find a new sport. If it’s just about the enjoyment, fine. But if it’s about winning, they can’t cut it.

    I was talking to a CNN colleague whose mother is a teacher and she said that her mom can’t grade papers in red ink anymore because that is considered too aggressive. Really? Has America become so weak that we can’t even handle a school paper graded in red?



    In Walter Isaacson’s excellent book, “Steve Jobs,” the co-founder of Apple is blasted by some for his treatment of workers and competitors. Was some of Jobs’ stuff over the top? Sure. But what was he trying to do? He was trying to create a world-class company that could withstand the test of time and wasn’t filled with a bunch of B players. He wanted excellence in every spot, and would rather fire a B or C player on the spot than accept shoddy work.



    I’ll guarantee you this: Weak and lazy corporate bosses allow weak and lazy employees to stick around. And weak and lazy employees tend to turn out a weak and sorry product that nobody wants. And weak and lazy people accept mediocrity with ease.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      If America wants to be the absolute best, we must stop telling our children that they are so exceptional when they are not. If your kid can’t shoot, pass, dribble or rebound, guess what? They are terrible at basketball and should find a new sport. If it’s just about the enjoyment, fine. But if it’s about winning, they can’t cut it.

      is not whether, or how well, our kids can shoot, pass, run, throw, tackle . . . but that far, far too many or our schools, parents, colleges, citizens, and government officials don’t give two measley shits about the kids that can’t, or don’t, do these things well.

      You’ve seen that commerical with the couple that has taught their 5-year old to dunk so that he can go to college?  It wouldn’t be nearly as funny if it weren’t so sadly close to today’s truth.

      The extent to which we fund and reward athletics at every level, so often at the expense of other more meaningful and worthwhile pursuits, particulary in our public education sphere is nothing short of criminal.  I’m happy that we can find the money to fully fund every fucking one of our middle school and high school football teams, but why not fully fund a few of those same schools science, mathematics, and language departments at the same time?  (Wanna bet on how many of Hick’s next round of education cuts results in elimination of some athletic programs?  Music programs?  Art programs?)

      Gawddamitall, when are we ever going to start seeing the value of our future citizens who aren’t standout athletes?  (Probably the same day when a pundit can write an opinion piece without lamenting the state of our athletics programs — i.e., never)

      Oh, and BTW, don’t forget to catch the game this weekend.  Go [whoevers]!!

  8. DavidThi808 says:

    from Tech Crunch

    It’s just depressing. How can we expect the publishing industry to adapt, evolve, and thrive in the digital world when, four years after the Kindle was introduced, they still haven’t even figured out how to format e-books correctly?

    It gets even worse at the bookseller level. After Amazon negotiated a deal with DC Comics for the exclusive digital rights to some graphic novels, Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million stopped selling those books in their stores. (Full disclosure: I’m also the author of a graphic novel for DC’s Vertigo imprint, though I don’t think it’s part of this deal.) Ah, the old “angrily depriving our customers of the ability to buy stuff they might want” business model. Strange how that never seems to work.

    • The publishing industries just don’t seem to understand that the best way to sell product is to make product available to the broadest market.  No – they’d rather kill off anything that doesn’t meet some marketing meathead’s idea of a “good deal” on some exclusive content delivery offering.

      There is absolutely no reason to agree to this kind of offer unless the content deliverer is offering either kickbacks or the threat of a near-monopoly extortion plot.  

  9. DavidThi808 says:

    How Pursuit of Profits Kills Innovation and the U.S. Economy

    Christensen also describes the impact of foreign outsourcing on many other companies, including the steel companies, the automakers, the oil companies, the pharmaceuticals, and now even software development. These firms are steadily becoming primarily marketing agencies and brands: they are lopping off the expertise that is needed to make anything anymore.  In the process, major segments of the US economy have been lost, in some cases, forever.



    “You Americans measure profitability by a ratio. There’s a problem with that. No banks accept deposits denominated in ratios. The way we measure profitability is in ‘tons of money’.

    • sxp151 says:

      The author says business should start giving customers things that they like! It’s revolutionary!

      Seriously, every time I hear a management consultant speak, he sounds like a sleazy scam artist, and it only works because so many business managers are stupid and gullible. “You’re telling me the same thing everyone else is, but you have a new word for it! Wow!”

    • ardy39 says:

      when you wrote this?

      The problem that you are just now recognizing is related to the catechism of “efficiency” as you have described it glowingly in the past (for a mild example, there’s this).

      As long as business “leaders” continue to receive outsized awards for increasing “efficiency” in terms of American-person-hours while not recognizing the ridiculous loss of efficiency in energetic terms, outsourcing and other race-to-the-bottom business strategies will continue to be celebrated.

      • DavidThi808 says:

        Take one example, Dell is busy trying to maximize ROI while actually doing as little as possible. On the flip side Apple is keeping everything impacting their core business in house. Guess which will still be in business in 10 years.

        This is one of the two main reasons I won’t outsource any software development, not even internal systems. It’s key that we ourselves do all development.

        • sxp151 says:

          I really don’t think Apple and Dell are as different as you think they are.

          • DavidThi808 says:

            If you manufacturer, you generally use UPS & FedEx for shipping. Apple is heavily involved in the manufacturing process with their engineers managing how the devices are manufactured. It might be better if they owned the factory too, but they are retaining the manufacturing expertise. Cisco operates this way too.

            • I hate to be a downer on the Apple parade, but I feel I have a right to as an Apple supporter from the Apple ][ days.

              Apple retains exactly three things over Dell in its product cycle: aesthetic design, exclusive OS, and marketing.  That’s it.  It farms out all of the hardware work overseas and hasn’t taken much of an interest in the labor markets it is using.

              Quality-wise, I’d trust a Dell as soon as I’d trust an Apple these days – and I get a better warranty from Dell.  As a techie, for upgrade and maintenance factor the Dell also wins.  And until I see a change in direction, Apple’s growing need to control its external app market and programming capabilities are a huge downer to my need to continue to like the company.

              Apple’s success isn’t due to its management of the day-to-day sales of existing products; it has risen to glory because it continues to find (large) niches where its human interface and aesthetic engineering expertise can be applied to create new winning products.

              As companies, both Dell and Apple are likely to be around and strong in 10 years.  Whether they continue to hold their respective positions in the industry is up to Apple’s ability to continue innovating and Dell’s ability to continue providing stable systems in a timely manner.

  10. DavidThi808 says:

    I’ve bitched about some of the IT disasters we’ve seen from the state it’s only fair to comment on one done well. I just renewed my drivers license online and the web site to do so works well and is very straight-forward. Very well done.

    Two nits (and they are nits). First, change the field names so Google AutoFill works. Second, have an option to pre-populate the credit card address with the drivers license address.

    • harrydoby says:

      I just ran through the online demo of renewing my driver’s license.  As Dave indicates, it’s pretty slick. 10 minute renewal and/or change of address is fantastic.

      However, it appears the photo can’t be updated using this system, and that could be a problem.

      Because I renewed my license by mail last time (10 year license), they reused my photo from the 5 year old previous license.  So the picture is approaching 15 years old.  While I appreciate the opportunity to remain forever young, I’ve already started getting the evil eye from the TSA when I fly.  They think Gramps is trying to use Son’s license until they check the birthdate.

      Hopefully, by the time I actually need to renew my license next year, they will have added the ability to upload a new picture as well.

      While that might allow a few jokers to abuse the process, the consequences would be pretty severe the first time they got pulled over and had to explain the mug shot of Mickey Mouse on their license.

      On the other hand, I’m going to have to get a hair transplant and dye job if I want to continue flying for the next year 😉

      • With photo alteration software so readily available, it’s easy enough to fake up a few dozen alternate aged photos of a person, nevermind just putting Mickey Mouse in as a substitute.

        Since photo IDs are becoming something of a requirement despite best efforts, we need to be able to have a photo that’s accurate.  This is one of those things that seems to be a great idea until you consider the side effects.

        It is, however, something we could easily do as a third-party service a la passport photos.  Allow the third party to submit the photo digitally, but only the photo – the applicant still has to submit the renewal request; any outfit caught submitting fraudulent photos is charged with something like falsifying documents, is penalized heavily and it and its employees at the time banned from ever coming near a state contract again.

        • harrydoby says:

          As I recall, when I renewed my passport a few years ago, all I had to do was mail the pictures with my $45 ($65?) check and swear everything on my renewal application was true.

          There was no verifiable chain of custody with the pictures I provided.

          However, I agree, digital technology makes fraud easier.  But it also has the potential to make it more secure — digital signing or certification of the photos would be great, as long as it is within the grasp of the majority of internet users.

          But, my original point remains — if you don’t look like the picture on your drivers license, whether by fraud or by the current remote renewal process, there will be a price to be paid.  For me, a little inconvenience, for the crook — jail.

          • There aren’t a lot of serious security thinkers designing our government systems.

            We’ve got voting machines that can be easily tampered with, following procedures that are substandard by early 20th century knowledge.  We’ve got unverified photos going on peoples’ passports, which opens up identity theft possibilities.  We have a Social Security ID system that at any one time has fully a third of its IDs in use, with numbering that makes it possible to guess a person’s full ID – again allowing for identity theft.

            If this knowledge is so hard to come by in the government, I’d be glad to serve as an advisor in any administration who is willing to listen to me…

  11. DavidThi808 says:

    Lobbying Firm Memo To Advise Wall Street Clients On Occupy Movement

    Leading Democratic party strategists have begun to openly discuss the benefits of embracing the growing and increasingly organized Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement to prevent Republican gains in Congress and the White House next year. We have seen this process of adopting extreme positions and movements to increase base voter turnout, including in the 2005-2006 immigration debate. This would mean more than just short-term discomfort for Wall Street firms. If vilifying the leading companies of this sector is allowed to become an unchallenged centerpiece of a coordinated Democratic campaign, it has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye.

    It shouldn’t be surprising that the Democratic party or even President Obama’s re-election team would campaign against Wall Street in this cycle. However the bigger concern should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies — and might start running against them too.

  12. DavidThi808 says:

    UC Davis Police Pepper-Spray Seated Students In Occupy Dispute

    On Friday, a group of University of California, Davis students, part of the Occupy Wall Street movement on campus, became the latest victims of alleged police brutality to be captured on video. The videos show the students seated on the ground as a UC Davis police officer brandishes a red canister of pepper spray, showing it off for the crowd before dousing the seated students in a heavy, thick mist.

    • Gray in Mountains says:

      and once again demonstrates how those in power will misuse it time after time

      • DavidThi808 says:

        The bad news is the school administrators at first came out totally supporting the police.

        The good news is those same tools have switched 180 degrees and are saying that it was totally unjustified. They’re clearly only doing it to keep their jobs, but the good news is keeping their jobs is now requiring them to do the right thing.

        End result is people 1, bankers 0.

  13. dwyer says:

    Andrew Romanoff is thinking of challenging Coffman in the new 6th District.  

  14. Sir Robin says:

    Forbes.com columnist and international lawyer, writing in his new book “The Coming Collapse of China”, Mr. Chang has lived and worked in China for many years:

    Starting at the end of next year, the Communist party is going to change the officers of their Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of political power in China. We are going to have a new General Party Secretary. And then in the early part of 2013, the government officers change. And sometime after that, the all-important Central Military Commission has a revamp of membership. And so at this time of political transition, the important economic decisions are not being made.

    But it is even worse than that, because corruption indeed is engulfing the political system. It is causing so much friction in society. The Communist Party is not able to mediate conflict and its only answer is to increase coercion.

    Sounds oh so familiar in too many ways, imho.

  15. dwyer says:

    I presume that it came from the Romanoff camp because I did donate or support or something and the email came to my email address…so someone is identifying his supporters.

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