Monday, January 30, 2012

Name That Party!

Freelancer Steven Adams, writing for Reuters, offers up this article about electoral shenanigans in West Virginia:
A West Virginia sheriff pleaded guilty to voter fraud in the state's 2010 primary election including illegally filling in some absentee ballots out of fear he might lose a close election, authorities said on Monday.

Lincoln County, West Virginia Sheriff Jerry Bowman admitted falsifying absentee ballots in a case stemming from an investigation by federal authorities, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Also pleading guilty to lying to investigators was Lincoln County Clerk Donald Whitten, the U.S. Attorney said.
The article--with "Editing By Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune"--goes on for another eight paragraphs before admitting, "Both men, who are Democrats, also agreed to resign from office."

But I'm sure that's just an innocent editorial decision. Just like vote fraud is a "right-wing myth."

Friday, January 27, 2012

Previews Of Coming Attractions

Ferris Bueller, 2012.

UPDATE: This is another one of those cases where the trailer is better than the actual movie--or in this case, commercial. But if you want to see the whole thing (a Honda Super Bowl ad affectionately spoofing "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"), you can watch it here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

MegaProtectionism For The Record Companies?

Here's an interesting take on the recent government takedown of Megaupload, which had been a large-scale digital "locker" site where people could upload large files for public access. Megaupload had been ostensibly targeted because of pirated movie and music files, but Matt Burns at TechCrunch voices suspicious that the company may have been taken down because it was preparing to launch a service that would have competed directly and legally with the record companies:
Megabox was just in beta at that time with listed partners of 7digital, Gracenote, Rovi, and Amazon. Megaupload was in a heated marketing battle with the RIAA and MPAA who featured Kim Dotcom in an anti-piracy movie (5:10 mark). The site had just sued Universal Music Group for wrongly blocking Megaupload’s recent star-studded YouTube campaign. Things were getting vicious in December but the quiet launch of Megabox might have been the straw that broke the millionaire’s back.

Dotcom described Megabox as Megaupload’s iTunes competitor, which would even eventually offer free premium movies via Megamovie, a site set to launch in 2012. This service would take Megaupload from being just a digital locker site to a full-fledged player in the digital content game.

The kicker was Megabox would cater to unsigned artists and allow anyone to sell their creations while allowing the artist to retain 90% of the earnings. Or, artists could even giveaway their songs and would be paid through a service called Megakey. “Yes that’s right, we will pay artists even for free downloads. The Megakey business model has been tested with over a million users and it works,” Kim Dotcom told TorrentFreak in December. Megabox was planning on bypassing the labels, RIAA, and the entire music establishment.
Copyright protection is a legitimate problem in the digital age, but if the speculation here turns out to be accurate, the Justice Department has been used to facilitate the crib death of a legal competitor to the RIAA. If that pans out, we've got a much bigger problem than piracy to worry about.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Read This, You Knob

Rick Moranis, once better known as his Hoser alter ego Bob McKenzie, has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today:
I ran a hot iron quickly over the front of a previously worn shirt, saddened at the thought of the jolly staff at my local dry cleaner who will suffer because of my thrifty initiative and tolerance for rumpled, mildly aromatic haberdashery.

I jumped into a cab, thinking about the MTA's budget deficit and my part in not helping to reduce it.

The traffic was terrible. Here I was, going nowhere, idling in a quick-ticking metered medallion taxi, driving up the price of oil, edging the country further into runaway inflation while spewing noxious fumes into the precious air around me. I am such a horrible person.

The driver, a pleasant Middle-Eastern man who I did not suspect was part of, or supporting, any terrorist organizations, was sipping a very large cup from one of several dozen popular coffee shop locations within a three-block radius of my home. I was pleased that at least one of us was supporting the hardworking baristas of this great nation.

I wondered out loud if the driver thought the price of his beverage would be higher or lower if baristas were unionized. He told me that in his country only men could be baristas and if a woman was caught even trying to be a barista she would be roasted, percolated and covered in scalding, foamy nonfat goat's milk. He said "Only America is free. Only America is great. God Bless America."
Beauty, eh?


Jonah Goldberg:
Very soon Wikipedia will go dark for a day to protest something called SOPA. During this event — future historians will call it a “knowledge eclipse” — no one under the age of thirty will know how to confirm or disprove a statement of fact.

It’ll be awesome.

Tomorrow you should go up to a 20-something and tell them things like “the fern is the world’s most popular carnivorous plant” and “Henry VIII invented the internal combustion engine, but kept it secret to protect the environment” and they will have no choice but to believe you as they will have no idea how to use, never mind find, a “reference book.”

Monday, January 16, 2012

Can't Wait For the Bye-Ku

To the disappointment of literally dozens of people (many of them named "David" and collecting checks from media organizations), Jon Huntsman stopped running for president today.

The 99% of you who just muttered, "Jon who?", carry on. You didn't miss anything.

UPDATE: Taranto's Bye-Ku was, in fact, worth the wait.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Stephen Green, better know as the VodkaPundit, celebrates his ten-year blogaversary today.

I stumbled across Steve's site sometime in 2003 or so, thanks to nothing more than seeing the words "VodkaPundit" on Glenn Reynolds' blogroll and thinking, "That's a cool name."

It turned out to be a cool blog as well. Steve was a natural for the new media: smart and witty, with an omnivorous curiosity and an uncanny knack for sniffing out not just interesting stories, but also the various dogs lurking within them that had mysteriously failed to bark.

Somewhere along the way I dashed off an email on a topic I happened to have personal knowledge of, and we've basically been friends ever since. In early '04, just before taking off on vacation, Steve sent me a login for the site and basically said, "Go nuts while I'm gone!" I wound up hanging around as a co-blogger for the better part of the next four years.

That was an interesting week for me. From 1997 through the beginning of 2001, I'd been what would eventually be called a blogger, publishing a twice-weekly opinion column to my original site (creatively called "Will's World"). But--establishing my well-known sense of impeccably-reversed timing--I'd burned out just before blogs broke through as a feasible mass medium, and hadn't joined in with the rest of the crowd up until that point.

"I'm not a blogger," I said to myself. "I don't do this one- or two-line, 'hey, go read this' stuff--I write columns." A couple of days guesting for Steve cured me of that myopia, and I've been happily blogging ever since. I stuck around at VodkaPundit until it and Steve were assimilated into the PJ Media empire in 2008, and along the way wound up as a columnist for two national sites as well as starting two blogs of my own, and even broke through to the dreaded Mainstream Media on occasion.

And it probably never would have happened if Martini Boy hadn't had to go run off to Mexico and drink with his new bride, leaving the keys to his bar in my surprised digital palm. Funny how life works, isn't it?

¡Salud, 'mano!

Monday, January 9, 2012


I confess that I pay very little attention these days to anything written either by or about the New York Times' stable of editorial propagandists, but this Kevin D. Williamson demolition of the most recent Paul Krugman effluence is well worth a read.

Reminds me a bit of this old instance of Brad Delong indulging his inner Pauline Kael...

Crumbled Curtain

Check out these stunning photos of the Russian NPO Energomash rocket factory, just outside of Moscow. Despite the rundown appearance, it's a working operation that supplies Soyuz and other rockets for civilian and military purposes (although given the recent rash of Soyuz failures, perhaps that's not so surprising).

As io9's Jesus Diaz notes, this one in particular is amazing, it looks like Geiger concept art from an Alien movie:

The pictures were taken by a young Russian blogger who hopped over an unguarded fence, and apparently had the run of the place for quite a while. To no one's particular surprise, the Russian authorities are not terribly happy about all of this; hopefully young Lana will get some kind of commendation for revealing lax security instead of a "friendly" visit from the current revision of the KGB.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Larry Downes of Forbes has an absolutely brutal--and accurate--article on why Best Buy is a dead company walking. Shorter version: Best Buy's management is focused on making things easier for themselves, while successful companies (Amazon is Downes' example) make it easy on their customers. A sample:

[Best Buy] Management, at least, still believes it has competitive advantages–advantages that even make it attractive to shareholders. According to the company’s most recent annual report,

"We believe our dedicated and knowledgeable people, store and online experience, broad product assortment, distinct store formats and brand marketing strategies differentiate us from our competitors by positioning our stores and Web sites as the preferred destination for new technology and entertainment products in a fun and informative shopping environment."

There’s just one problem. Not one word of that, at least in my experience, is true. Their “people” are not knowledgeable; they are annoying. The store “format” is entirely generic; perhaps a little confusing. The stores and Websites are not “preferred destinations”—they are destinations, at best, of inertia, or in the case of exclusives, destinations of the only resort. The “shopping environment” is the opposite of fun and informative. It’s depressing and humiliating, as in “I can’t believe I had to go to Best Buy to get this.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What He Said

Jonah Goldberg lays the wood to the asininity of the Iowa Caucuses in USA Today this morning:
The problem with this demographic critique is that you can make a similar complaint of any state. If New Mexico had been first in the nation since 1972, we'd all be familiar with the rich democratic traditions and civic-mindedness of New Mexicans. Journalists would tell war stories about Albuquerque instead of Des Moines. D.C. would be filled with generations of grizzled New Mexico veterans selling their contacts, e-mail lists and homespun insights into the unique contours of the New Mexican political landscape. Meanwhile, people would laugh at the very suggestion that Iowa — Iowa! — be given the pride of place in our precious electoral system.

The real problem with the Iowa caucuses is simply that they confer too much entrenched arbitrary power on one state in perpetuity. For instance, without the Iowa caucuses we would never have wasted billions of dollars on environmentally damaging and economically wasteful ethanol subsidies.

It's nice that Iowa is the Saudi Arabia of corn, but there's no reason for presidential aspirants to kowtow to Big Corn's interests every four years. Even worse, every politician who even fantasizes about sitting in the Oval Office pays obeisance to the preservation of government moonshine.

Read the whole thing. It ought to be required reading for the leadership of both parties.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Early Leader

Here’s a vote for the most unintentionally (I have to assume) funny headline of the new year:

Some Iowans fear irrelevance if Paul wins

Presidents Gephart, Harkin, Robertson and Huckabee were unavailable for comment.

(H/T to Martini Boy for reminding me I ought to post this sort of thing on my blog instead of just emailing it to another blogger...)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Music Therapy at the AFLAC Cancer Center

While driving my wife-to-be to dinner on our first date not quite ten years ago, I asked her what her job was. I knew she worked at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (since mutual friends who also worked there had set us up), but I couldn't remember what exactly she did at the hospital.

"Music Therapy," she replied. My inner crusty engineer kicked in, and I immediately thought (but fortunately didn't say aloud), "That's pretty fru-fru."

Then at dinner, she told me about how that very day she'd asked the mother of a comatose kid who'd been in an awful car accident what his favorite song was. Beth picked up her guitar, started playing that song, and the kid woke up out of the coma singing it back to her.

At that point I felt like I was approximately two feet tall and covered with camel mucus. Wasn't the last time she'd get in the last word on a subject without so much as lifting an eyebrow.

Anyway, that's more than enough about me; here's a great feature WSB-TV in Atlanta did about Beth and her job over the holiday weekend:

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is a nonprofit hospital, and music therapy at the AFLAC Cancer Center is 100% supported by private donations.