Jaw Drop

Link: sevenload.com

What’ really frightening is that this appears to be a common theme amoung Democrats these days. Case and point – a post from HuffPo yesterday –

President Bush in a press conference today strongly supported drilling, arguing that it would greatly enhance supply and take pressure off of oil prices.

Well and good. But if this is the moment to consider opening large swaths of offshore federal lands to drilling it should also be the moment to consider the creation of an American National Oil Trust, much in keeping with the highly successful and citizen-owned Norwegian Oil Trust.


Is this for real? Do a majority of Democrats really feel this is the right solution?

Safety Nets vs. Entitlements

WSJ: What about the role of taxation? … For the most part, the way I look at your tax policy, seems to me that you look at it and say, tax policy over the past decade, and maybe even before that, has produced an outcome that has benefited people mostly at the top, and your goal is to try to redistribute it in a different fashion.

Sen. Obama: Here’s what I would say: I do believe the tax policies over the last eight years have been badly skewed towards the winners of the global economy. And I do think there is a function for tax policy in making sure that everybody benefits from globalization or at least the benefits and burdens are shared a little more easily. If, as some talk about, we’ve got a winner-take-all economy where the highly skilled, highly educated are reaping huge rewards and the unskilled or even semi-skilled are getting a much smaller share of the economy, then our tax policies can help cushion some of the blow through providing health care. So if people lose their jobs they’re not losing their health care as well. That actually makes a more flexible work force that makes workers more mobile and less resistant to change.

While I agree with Obama on the basic point that “cushioning the blow” can be the role of government, he doesn’t seem to understand the difference between entitlements and safety nets. Welfare prior to its reform is a perfect example of good intentions gone bad – when you permanently remove an incentive to work and grow, productivity falls. It is a dependence on government services that causes the workforce to become more resistant to change, not less.


Complete and Total Failure

Under either Senator Obama’s or Senator McCain’s plan, however, the debt would likely continue to rise as it has over the past eight years, even under the CBO’s relatively optimistic assumptions about spending. Senator Obama’s plan would add $3.3 trillion to the national debt (including additional interest costs) while Senator McCain’s plan would add $4.5 trillion. This does not include the cost of expanding health insurance coverage and assumes that Senator McCain’s proposals phase in and phase out on schedule. It also assumes that all of the candidates’ optimistic revenue offsets materialize. If any of these assumptions turned out to be unwarranted, the national debt would grow even more.

Read the whole thing from Brookings Institute. Have some Tums at the ready. No balanced budget for you!

My New Ride


So the Z4 lease finally came to a close, and I decided to give it up rather than purchase. Overall the Z4 was a really nice ride, it turned a lot of heads and was an absolute blast to drive (especially at night down I-10). I wouldn’t say it was perfect though, two complaints, one minor, one major –

– The cup holders were worthless. I never managed to figure out how a cup was actually supposed to fit in them.
– The handling on uneven pavement was horrible, if not dangerous. I’m not sure what this was due to, but on one stretch of highway near my house the car would yank me all over the road. Changing lanes was a frightening experience.

Other than that, no other complaints. It was a fun car to own.

One other conclusion – leases are a waste of money. After running the final numbers based on a conservative sale price after 3 years, the lease on the BMW cost me an additional 3-5 grand compared to an outright purchase. I won’t lease again.

My new ride? A 2008 Jeep Wrangler –

I paid cash. The savings I’ll reap over the BMW are significant – my insurance costs have been halved, and I’m not paying any financing. Quite honestly, I’m enjoying the Jeep just as much as I enjoyed the BMW. Gas mileage is worse but decent, about 20mpg. Since I work from home though that won’t hurt much. Plus, I can now drive on the beach in Walton County. 🙂 Time to go fishing!

This also represents the fullfilment of a life long promise I made to myself when I was 17 – “one day when you can afford it, you will walk into a Jeep dealership in torn jeans and a t-shirt, and plunk down cash for a brand new CJ-7”.. and that’s exactly what I did.

Dell Support Rocks

Long story short – my Dell XPS 210 had some memory in it that started going bad. This resulted in sporadic blue screening in various services, often during memory intensive jobs like compiling Firefox. Initially Vista wasn’t able to diagnose the problem – I’d get a message on reboot saying Microsoft was working on the problem and would contact me when the problem was solved. After a month or so, this changed when I received a message stating my 210 might have a memory problem, and that I should run a memory diagnosis check with Vista’s built in memory diagnosis tool. (That’s actually pretty cool, I had no idea it came with this.) After running the diagnosis, which required a reboot, the tool informed me my 210 had a memory problem, and that I should contact the vendor for support.

So I opened up Dell’s little support tool, which included its own diagnosis tool. This ran, and detected the results of Vista’s diagnosis, and suggested I contact support. I chose email support as I’m not a fan of 1-800 numbers or snail mail. The first response was an email back, which basically just returned a FAQ and some suggestions based on a parsing the text in my original report, none of which were useful. At the bottom was a note to reply to the first response if nothing in the FAQ helped, which I did.

One hour later, Dell Support calls me, on the phone. This blew me away. The guy who called walked me through a more thorough diagnostic test tool built into the bios. (Again, I had no idea this was there, and it was very good.) You reboot and hit a certain function key and up pops this GUI based diagnostic tool that tests everything. This tool detected the bad memory as well. So what did Dell Support do? Mail me new memory? Nope. They FedEx’d new memory to a service center in Pensacola, and a few days later a Dell support tech shows up at my front door to install and test it. Problem solved.

That’s the best tech support I’ve ever received on any product I’ve ever purchase, except maybe my BMW. Unbelievable. I’m sold on Dell for a lifetime.


What do desktop companies do when challanged by web 2.0 companies like Google? Compete, and tie those services heavily to their desktop experience. From TechCrunch –

As was widely speculated before Steve Jobs’ keynote address today, Apple is relaunching its .Mac service as mobileme. The service syncs emails, photos, contacts, calendars, and other information between your iPhone and different computers. It works not only on Macs, but also on Windows. It will cost $99 a year, with 20 Gigabytes of online storage. The service, which will replace .Mac, will be available in early July.

Apple calls it “Exchange for the rest of us.” Interesting positioning. Usually Apple does not aspire to be like Microsoft.

Both Microsoft and Apple are in the same “fight of their lives” on this one, so similarity in their approaches is easy to understand. Apple’s $99 per year though, I don’t think that’s going to work. I don’t see how they can compete with all the free email/im/sync services out there that cost nothing. It has to be free. My guess is it will be at some point. This is “old Apple”, my guess is it will take Jobs leaving the company before they’ll give up approaches like this.

Too Rich

Year after year, decade upon decade, the U.S. Senate’s network of restaurants has lost staggering amounts of money — more than $18 million since 1993, according to one report, and an estimated $2 million this year alone, according to another.


The embarrassment of the Senate food service struggling like some neighborhood pizza joint has quietly sparked change previously unthinkable for Democrats. Last week, in a late-night voice vote, the Senate agreed to privatize the operation of its food service, a decision that would, for the first time, put it under the control of a contractor and all but guarantee lower wages and benefits for the outfit’s new hires.


The House is expected to agree — its food service operation has been in private hands since the 1980s — and President Bush’s signature on the bill would officially end a seven-month Democratic feud and more than four decades of taxpayer bailouts.


In a masterful bit of understatement, Feinstein blamed “noticeably subpar” food and service. Foot traffic bears that out. Come lunchtime, many Senate staffers trudge across the Capitol and down into the basement cafeteria on the House side. On Wednesdays, the lines can be 30 or 40 people long.


They’ve got better things to do than run restaurants anyway. Running your healthcare, for example, is high on the priority list of future pet projects.

There’s a lot more from that WaPo link, including a number of Democrats lementing the irony of it all. A great read.

Nixing Moderated Debates

McCain and Obama shut down the idea of a moderated Town Hall debate in New York. I’m really starting to like both these guys, maybe they should join together on a single ticket. Throughout this campaign, the MSM has shown a complete inability to do it’s job, resulting in both candidates getting the shaft at one point or another. Now both sides look to be putting a little smack-down on the MSM – great to see.