Archive for November, 2006

Multistream CableCards Due for Vista Release

Monday, November 20th, 2006

CableLabs is moving forward on plans to certify multistream CableCards. CableLabs published a new procedure for testing compatibility with the multistream standard, and says it will begin offering verification for devices like personal video recorders starting in January.

PVR Wire Link

About the only thing that sucks here is that the cable company will naturally charge you for each CableCard – Cox for example charges around 40.00 per card per month. That’s a pretty hefty increase in charges for cable service. The alternative is to stick with analog which you can split repeatedly, but that means being stuck with 720×480 (NTSC) or 720×576 (PAL) resolutions. Ultimately though I think the pros will outway the cons and I’ll go with dual tuner support.

All in all the whole digital home plan has really come together over the last six months. A dual tuner PVR streaming hi-def content to a 360 hub in the living room combined with the recently announced hi-def video rental service? Things are looking pretty sweet.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Technology | Comment now »

 

Bubble.. Bubble.. bubble.. Pop!

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Sales of existing homes fell in 38 states during the summer, led by steep declines in Nevada, Arizona, Florida and California, as the once-booming housing market showed further signs of a steep slowdown.
..
The nationwide 12.7 percent fall in sales was from a summer 2005 pace of 7.18 million units, which was the second highest in history. The all-time record sales pace was an annual rate of 7.19 million units set in the April-June quarter of last year.

AP Link

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Economy | Comment now »

 

Two Gems

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Found, two absolute gems on the Cato-at-Liberty blog –

Free Lunch Project

Are you frustrated at the loss of a free-ride and sense of entitlement in America, while the growth of government involvement and distribution of wealth stalls? Do you want to live in communities where your right to three meals a day and universal healthcare are respected? Do you want people to be responsible for the needy by taking the earnings of those who worked hard for them and redistributing it? Are you looking for freedom without responsibility?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then the Free Lunch Project has a solution for you.

Free State Project

Are you frustrated at the loss of freedom and responsibility in America, while the growth of government and taxes continues unabated? Do you want to live in strong communities where your rights are respected, and people exercise responsibility for themselves and in their dealings with each other?

If you answered “yes” to those questions, then the Free State Project has a solution for you.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Culture | Comment now »

 

Ethics Reform is Total Crap

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

In his first interview since reportedly calling a Democratic bill on lobbying and ethics “total crap,” Rep. John Murtha told “Hardball” host Chris Matthews he meant it was “crap” to deal with ethics problems when there are more serious issues facing the nation such as the war in Iraq.

“It is total crap that we have to deal with an issue like this when we’ve got a war going on and we got all these other issues,” Murtha said.

MSNBC Link

Ethics reform is Pelosi’s #1 item to tackle in her first 100 hours, and was second in importance to voters in the exit polls.

Personally I’m 100% behind Pelosi on major ethics reform. It’s obvious it really makes no difference which party your a part of. What I don’t understand is why she’s promoting somebody who’s known for both porkbarrel spending and corruption for a top position. This guy is going to represent the Democratic Party in the House. Crazy.

The good thing about all this is that this stink is going to push ethics reform square into the lime light. Congress ‘forgot’ about ethics reform shortly after the Abramoff scandal died off early last year, but this time somehow I think reform will stay front and center until something gets passed.

On a more humorous note, doesn’t that picture remind you of the Penguin from Batman?

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Politics | Comment now »

 

Smooch

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006


Eva Longoria and Beyonce as lesbian lovers? Aww, damn! Daaaaaaamn! Awwww, daaaaaaaaamn! Aw-damn! Aw-damn! Awwwwwww, daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn! Daaaaaaaaaaamn! Aww, daaaaaamn! Now high fives.

I Watch Stuff Link

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Culture, Films | Comment now »

 

Murtha Bashing

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

Murtha, a longtime senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, has battled accusations over the years that he has traded federal spending for campaign contributions, that he has abused his post as ranking party member on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, and that he has stood in the way of ethics investigations. Those charges come on top of Murtha’s involvement 26 years ago in the FBI’s Abscam bribery sting.

“Pelosi’s endorsement suggests to me she was interested in the culture of corruption only as a campaign issue and has no real interest in true reform,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a Democratic-leaning group. “It is shocking to me that someone with [Murtha’s] ethics problems could be number two in the House leadership.”

..

At issue is Murtha’s relationships with two defense lobbyists. Paul Magliocchetti of the PMA Group is a former aide to the lawmaker, and Robert “Kit” Murtha is his brother and was a senior partner at KSA Consulting from 2002 to 2005.

The PMA Group has become the go-to firm to approach Murtha as ranking Democrat on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, CREW charges. In the 2006 defense appropriations bill, PMA clients reaped at least 60 special provisions, or “earmarks,” worth more than $95 million.

The PMA Group and its clients have been top campaign contributors for Murtha: $274,649 in the 2006 campaign cycle, $236,799 in the 2004 cycle and $279,074 in the 2002 cycle, according to CREW’s tallies.

After Kit Murtha joined KSA Consulting in 2002, one of his first clients was a wireless networking company called Aeptec Microsystems Inc., which was seeking to build a business complex in Murtha’s district with a Pennsylvania state grant. Aeptec executive Michael Hoban contributed $2,000 to Murtha’s campaign that year.

In 2004, Murtha helped secure the grant. A few months later, the Appropriations subcommittee approved a $4.2 million earmark for the company.

All I can say is it’s really nice to see the Washington Post bashing Democrats instead of Republicans for a change.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Politics | Comment now »

 

New SSL Certs On The Way

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

Interesting read over on CNet regarding the new EV SSL (Extended Validation) secure certificates for e-commerce web sites which will soon be available. Browsers that detect these new certs will indicate their presence using color coded background painting of the address bar as an visual cue. This will replace that little yellow lock icon we’re all accustomed to ignoring today. The lock icon is pretty worthless as a trust indicator due to a whole slew of small, cheap cert companies that basically do little or no background checking before selling someone a new cert for their web site. The new EV SSL guidelines require a signifigant amount of background checking before the cert is issued. This is going to be a boon to companies like VeriSign which have always had a system of background checking in place for cert applicants but have seen their business underminded by the cost differences between issuing VeriSign high trust certs and the cheaper “limited trust” cert sellers.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Technology | Comment now »

 

Push This Button For Self Destruct

Monday, November 13th, 2006

Lobbyists for the American Civil Liberties Union, for example, are all but counting on Democrats to repeal the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act, the anti-terrorist law pushed by the White House that some critics call unconstitutional. They also want to end President Bush’s domestic wiretapping program.

“We are not going to let them off the hook,” said Caroline Fredrickson, the ACLU’s legislative director, of the newly empowered Democratic leaders in Congress.

“We will hold their feet to the fire and use all the tools we can to mobilize our members.”

Similar vows are coming from lobbyists for abortion rights, who want to expand family-planning options for poor women and scale back Bush’s focus on abstinence education, and from gun-control advocates, who hope to revive a lapsed ban on assault weapons. Labor unions, a core Democratic constituency, are demanding universal healthcare and laws discouraging corporations from seeking inexpensive labor overseas.

Several of the labor movement’s less-controversial goals, such as raising the minimum wage and allowing Medicare to seek discounts on drug prices, are found both in the AFL-CIO’s brochures and on a Democratic leadership wish list designed to appeal across ideological lines.

But labor officials said they expected Pelosi, Reid and others to go further.

The day after the election, labor leaders declared a mandate for their causes and called on the new Congress to immediately reverse anti-union policies enacted by the Bush administration and promote affordable healthcare “for all.”

L.A. Times Link

I’d be lying if I said I thought the Dems won’t push this agenda. Some Dem friends say this is not the case. Time will tell. I really am not that concerned about a modest increase in the minimum wage or discounts on drug prices. But when politicians start talking about policies that smack the face of the core principals this country was founded upon, I get concerned. I think the majority of the people in this country feel the same way. My Libertarian friends would tell me not to worry, gridlock is what we want. For me though that’s not functional, and since we currently have some very serious problems mounting on the horizon disfunctional government is not what I’m looking for.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Politics | Comment now »

 

Second Life Ladies

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

“The world’s oldest profession has made quick inroads into virtual life. You can make a quick buck if you’re willing to accept in-game money for sexual services –whether that’s just dirty chat, or full-on animated action.”

NextNature Link

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Culture, Technology | Comment now »

 

Recession Sounds

Friday, November 10th, 2006

Nouriel Roubini might be among the most bearish economists on Wall Street this year, but as shown again on Friday with the release of much weaker-than-expected third-quarter growth numbers, he’s also been among the most accurate.

That fact may be chilling, given that Roubini, a professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University and chairman of Roubini Global Economics, predicts a housing-led recession will be in place by the first quarter of 2007, or in the second quarter at the latest.

Few on Wall Street dare make that prediction. Economists employed by investment banks, of course, may have an implicit interest in being cheerleaders for economic growth. Growth implies earnings growth and stock market gains, and therefore more money for their firms. Investors won’t be drawn to the stock market if they know a recession is coming.

Federal Reserve officials, likewise, continue to predict a soft-landing for the economy even as they again left interest rates unchanged on Wednesday.

Yet, the facts remain that Roubini’s forecasts are amongst the most accurate – and prescient — so far.

..

By then, “expect a nasty bear market in equities – in the average recession the S&P falls by 28% – once the delusional dream of permabulls leads them to wake up to the reality of the nasty and deep recession ahead,” Roubini wrote.

Marketwatch Link

Nouriel Roubini’s recent comments on his blog

Combine this with the announced rollback of some personal and corporate tax cuts and things could get ugly. I hope not though, the market seems to be doing really well now. It would really suck to go back into another moderate to heavy recessionary period.. but if it is, I want to be ready for it. Time to drill the investment advisor on what’s up ahead.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Economy | Comment now »