Warren Buffett, the world's richest person, said on Monday the U.S. economy is in a recession that will be more severe than most people expect.
Buffett made his comments on CNBC television after his Berkshire Hathaway Inc agreed to invest $6.5 billion in the takeover of chewing gum maker Wm Wrigley Jr Co by Mars Inc in a $23 billion transaction.
"This is not a field of specialty for me, but my general feeling is that the recession will be longer and deeper than most people think," Buffett said. "This will not be short and shallow.
"I think consumers are feeling gas and food prices," he added, "and not feeling they've got a lot of money for other things."
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
30 April 2008
Clay Shirky: Gin, Television and Social Surplus (HereComesEverybody.org)
I was having dinner with a group of friends about a month ago, and one of them was talking about sitting with his four-year-old daughter watching a DVD. And in the middle of the movie, apropos nothing, she jumps up off the couch and runs around behind the screen. That seems like a cute moment. Maybe she's going back there to see if Dora is really back there or whatever. But that wasn't what she was doing. She started rooting around in the cables. And her dad said, "What you doing?" And she stuck her head out from behind the screen and said, "Looking for the mouse."
Here's something four-year-olds know: A screen that ships without a mouse ships broken. Here's something four-year-olds know: Media that's targeted at you but doesn't include you may not be worth sitting still for. Those are things that make me believe that this is a one-way change. Because four year olds, the people who are soaking most deeply in the current environment, who won't have to go through the trauma that I have to go through of trying to unlearn a childhood spent watching Gilligan's Island, they just assume that media includes consuming, producing and sharing.
Microsoft has developed a small plug-in device that investigators can use to quickly extract forensic data from computers that may have been used in crimes.Seattle Times: Microsoft device helps police pluck evidence from cyberscene of crime
The COFEE, which stands for Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor, is a USB "thumb drive" that was quietly distributed to a handful of law-enforcement agencies last June. Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith described its use to the 350 law-enforcement experts attending a company conference Monday.
The device contains 150 commands that can dramatically cut the time it takes to gather digital evidence, which is becoming more important in real-world crime, as well as cybercrime. It can decrypt passwords and analyze a computer's Internet activity, as well as data stored in the computer.
It also eliminates the need to seize a computer itself, which typically involves disconnecting from a network, turning off the power and potentially losing data. Instead, the investigator can scan for evidence on site.
Why anyone with more than a passing interest in the security of their information would use Microsoft products in the first place is sort of beyond me.
I wonder how many of these little USB drives have gone missing or been copied since the initiation of the COFEE program... and I wonder what the inevitable follow-on DONUT program is going to do. (Talk about pandering to your audience.)
George Atterbury, General Manager of Grayz restaurant, interviewed in Eater's "The Gatekeepers" series
What's the most outrageous request from a customer that you couldn't accommodate?
A customer wanted to dine with their pet monkey in the restaurant. Literally we had a guest walk into the restaurant hand in hand with a monkey and asked to be seated at the best possible table. I have been witness to a lot of different requests since coming form the Modern but that definitely has topped any request. The monkey was even wearing a little Burberry jacket.
29 April 2008
Jim Denevan makes freehand drawings in sand. At low tide on wide beaches Jim searches the shore for a wave tossed stick. After finding a good stick and composing himself in the near and far environment Jim draws-- laboring up to 7 hours and walking as many as 30 miles. The resulting sand drawing is made entirely freehand w/ no measuring aids whatsoever. From the ground, these drawn environments are experienced as places. Places to explore and be, and to see relation and distance. For a time these tangible specific places exist in the indeterminate environment of ocean shore. From high above the marks are seen as isolated phenomena, much like clouds, rivers or buildings. Soon after Jim's motions and marks are completed water moves over and through, leaving nothing.I'm still getting over the fact that the man just walks out on the beach with a pointy stick in his hand and an idea in his head and makes beautiful, large-scale art... that is destined to go away at high tide.
I'd like to grab a copy of every photo on his site and post them here, but that would be rude, and also it would deprive you of the fun of checking them out yourself.
28 April 2008
I have not seen a detailed analysis of how a full hostile takeover might play out -- the kind of analysis that you would be receiving if you were a Microsoft or Yahoo board member.
So I asked a pair of expert corporate attorneys -- Michael Sullivan and Ed Deibert at Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk and Rabkin in San Francisco -- to work up such an analysis. What follows is their take blended with my commentary.
April 28 (Bloomberg) -- Barack Obama's supporters are giving him more than just record amounts of cash. They also are providing personal information that may make his donor list the most powerful tool in U.S. politics.Bloomberg News: Obama's "Gigantic" Database May Make Him Party's Power Broker
Even if the Democratic presidential candidate doesn't succeed in his White House bid, this data will make Obama a power broker in the party for years to come. For the interest groups or Democratic candidates he chooses to sell it to, it would provide a gold mine of information and access to potential donors.
Almost 2 million people have entered personal information on Obama pages on social-networking Web sites such as Facebook, MySpace and his campaign's mybarackobama.com, offering home addresses, phone numbers, their views on specific issues and the names of friends. The data have allowed Obama, 46, to raise more than $200 million, fill sports arenas with supporters across the nation and motivate millions more with custom-tailored messages.
"It's gigantic," said Laura Quinn, chief executive officer of Catalist, a company that maintains a database of 280 million Americans. The list is as "transformational" as the advent of political advertising, she said.
27 April 2008
If we’ve learned any new rule in the 2008 campaign, it’s this: Once our news culture sets a story in stone, chances are it will crumble. But first it must be recycled louder and louder 24/7, as if sheer repetition will transmute conventional wisdom into reality.How McCain Lost Pennsylvania (Frank Rich, New York Times, 27 April 2008)
When the Pennsylvania returns rained down Tuesday night, the narrative became clear fast. The Democrats’ exit polls spelled disaster: Some 25 percent of the primary voters said they would defect to Mr. McCain or not vote at all if Barack Obama were the nominee. How could the party possibly survive this bitter, perhaps race-based civil war?
But as the doomsday alarm grew shrill, few noticed that on this same day in Pennsylvania, 27 percent of Republican primary voters didn’t just tell pollsters they would defect from their party’s standard-bearer; they went to the polls, gas prices be damned, to vote against Mr. McCain. Though ignored by every channel I surfed, there actually was a G.O.P. primary on Tuesday, open only to registered Republicans. And while it was superfluous in determining that party’s nominee, 220,000 Pennsylvania Republicans (out of their total turnout of 807,000) were moved to cast ballots for Mike Huckabee or, more numerously, Ron Paul. That’s more voters than the margin (215,000) that separated Hillary Clinton and Mr. Obama.Those antiwar Paul voters are all potential defectors to the Democrats in November. Mr. Huckabee’s religious conservatives, who rejected Mr. McCain throughout the primary season, might also bolt or stay home. Given that the Democratic ticket beat Bush-Cheney in Pennsylvania by 205,000 votes in 2000 and 144,000 votes in 2004, these are 220,000 voters the G.O.P. can ill-afford to lose.
26 April 2008
Tomorrow --Wood-Chippers and Car Trunks!
Student: So how can we use this information to our advantage?via Overheard in New York, Apr 26, 2008
Professor: Well, if you were ever going to kill someone you would want to bury them in wet ground.
Student: Like a swamp?
Professor, with evil grin: A swamp would be ideal.
--Electromagnetics Lecture, Columbia University
The ribs were so good, that I was using Wildwood's ribs to teach my daughter how competition barbecue is judged. A RESTAURANT RIB. If you've never judged a barbecue contest, you don't understand how rare it is to get ribs of this quality in restaurants. The meat came off the bone only where bitten. The rib sweated lightly where the meat was removed. You could taste the meat and the seasonings and they actually complimented each other!-- The proprietor of White Trash BBQ waxes ecstatic about Wildwood, the latest restaurant entry in New York City's barbecue joint explosion.
25 April 2008
Hell Hath No Fury Like Wednesday One-Liners
Preacher: We've got a lot of tourists here today and we know why you came -you want to see a black gospel church. And that's okay, that's okay! That's what we are. And you know, some of our members, they do it tough. Why, they come from such rough neighbourhoods as Connecticut and upstate New York ...
--Abyssinian Baptist Church, Harlem
via Overheard in New York, Apr 23, 2008
23 April 2008
Coverage of this election cycle has been generally awful, and with rare exceptions (see: David Gergen) last night on CNN was more of the same.
There's just not enough to talk about to fill the hours of airtime on a 24/7 cable news channel, so that's a guaranteed font of babbling vacuity... but with the newspaper business in deep malaise and decline, the journalists who used to turn out crisp reporting and analysis on deadline seem to be missing in action.
Hillary came within six tenths of a point of getting the 10 point victory she needed to "stay alive" in the primary... when you're virtually eliminated mathematically from being selected as the nominee, I'm not sure what kind of life it is, but she's still in it.
Last fall, if you had presented me with *any* scenario in which the Republicans won the White House in November, I'd have dismissed you as a fantasist or a paranoid, depending on your point of origin on the political spectrum.
I did allow at the time, however, that if any political party could figure out a way to lose a sure thing, it would be the Democrats.
Damned if they aren't working on it.
This bitter, brutal, and fratricidal primary looks to continue for several more weeks, if Hillary can raise enough money on the strength of her showing last night. And if enough bitterness is engendered between and among Clinton and Obama partisans, that could be the margin of defeat for the Democrats in November, right there.
John McCain must not be able to believe his luck.
21 April 2008
All we hear these days is whining from reckless home borrowers and their banks.
But did you know that renters are 32 percent of American households? And that homes in foreclosure are less than 2 percent?
So why is Congress rushing to bailout high-flying borrowers and their lenders with our tax dollars?
Unfortunately, renters aren't as good at politics as the small minority of homeowners (and their bankers) who are in trouble. We don't have lobbyists in Washington, DC. We don't get a tax deduction for our rent and we don't get sweetheart government loans.
Quite simply, we are just Angry Renters. And now it is our time to be heard: no government bailouts!
But on impulse, I picked up a copy in the airport over the weekend. There's a terrific article by Kevin Phillips in the May 2008 issue (not available online unless you're a subscriber.) This will give you the flavor of it:
The truth, though it would not exactly set Americans free, would at least open a window to wider economic and political understanding. Readers should ask themselves how much angrier the electorate might be if the media, over the past five years, had been citing 8 percent unemployment (instead of 5 percent), 5 percent inflation (instead of 2 percent), and average annual growth in the 1 percent range (instead of the 3-4 percent range). We might ponder as well who profits from a low-growth US economy hidden under statistical camouflage. Might it be Washington politicos and affluent elites, anxious to mislead voters, coddle the financial markets, and tamp down expensive cost-of-living increases for wages and pensions?(excerpt from "Numbers Racket: Why the economy is worse than we know" by Kevin Phillips, from the May 2008 issue of Harper's Magazine)
Let me stipulate: the deception arose gradually, at no stage stemming from any concerted or cynical scheme. There was no grand conspiracy, just accumulating opportunisms. As we will see, the political blame for the slow, piecemeal distortion is bipartisan--both Democratic and Republican administrations had a hand in the abetting of political dishonesty, reckless debt, and a casino-like financial sector. To see how, we must revisit forty years of economic and statistical dissembling.
The real numbers, to most economically minded Americans, would be a face full of cold water. Based on the criteria in place a quarter-century ago, today's U.S. unemployment rate is somewhere between 9 percent and 12 percent; the inflation rate is as high as 7 or even 10 percent; economic growth since the recession of 2001 has been mediocre, despite a huge surge in the wealth and incomes of the superrich, and we are falling back into recession. If what we have been sold in recent years has been delusional "Pollyanna Creep," what we really need today is a picture of our economy ex-distortion. For what it would reveal is a nation in deep difficulty not just domestically but globally.
20 April 2008
Green Funerals Make For Eco-Exits (Associated Press via Yahoo, 20 April 2008)
has been a world leader in eco-friendly funerals for years and a source of green burial products and ideas for countries like the United States, where the trend is just starting to catch on. Over the weekend in , those in the business showcased their products and services at the Natural Death Center's Green Funeral Exhibition.
Some may expect green funerals to be as cheap as a do-it-yourself project, while others might brace for price hikes similar to those fair trade food.
But, funeral directors say green funerals — like any — run the gamut.
"It's about choice, not price," said Fran Hall, marketing director for Epping Forest Burial Park.
For a concept aimed at saving the Earth by going back to basics, an eco-funeral can be more complicated than it sounds.Death Center provides a handbook that suggests environmental targets for cemeteries.
"You can take any funeral and make it greener," said Michael Jarvis, the center's director.
Arab tribesmen are preoccupied with maintaining deterrence and prepared to use force preemptively, if necessary--rather like über neocons. The ironic but very real parallel is a function of the de facto stateless anarchy in which Arab Bedouin live--and the de facto global anarchy that hawkish conservatives rightly believe to be the underlying reality of the international system. Saddam Hussein's interest in being taken to possess WMDs, whether or not he actually had them, makes sense in light of the link between deterrence and reputation. The emboldening effects of America's pre-9/11 retreats in Somalia, Lebanon, and elsewhere show the reverse of the medal. Although this is a familiar litany, I'd argue that the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the rage against the Muhammad cartoons, the killing of Theo van Gogh, and a host of related acts of intimidation ought to be placed under the heading of pro-active deterrence as well."I and My Brother Against My Cousin" - Stanley Kurtz reviews Philip Carl Salzman's Culture and Conflict in the Middle East in The Weekly Standard
The swift and seemingly disproportionate resort to retaliatory force against apparently trivial offenses is an effective technique for suppressing future challenges. Most of the feuds Salzman describes, however weighty and enduring, break out over seemingly petty and inconsequential matters, like the mistaken appropriation of some palm trunks. Rifle shots, intentionally off the mark, are used to intimidate, as are calculated threats of murder. The careful use of targeted force and credible threats against Western critics of Islamism shows genuine mastery of the technique of deterrent intimidation. Here as elsewhere, an overtly religious action is actually shaped by a hidden tribal template.
Knowingly or unknowingly, American liberals and conservatives highlight sections of the tribal template, though for their own preferred uses. The implicit dovish take on tribalism notes that our own use of force actually serves to unite the foe. By hitting back at terrorist-harboring states, doves remind us, we create the impression of an infidel war against Muslims, thus figuratively recruiting every Muslim lineage into bin Laden's civilizational war party. This danger is real, yet the doves omit the rest. Failure to strike back creates an impression of weakness that invites further attacks.
18 April 2008
But that's not what I'm here to talk about.
I'm here to talk about weirdness.
As a resident of NYC for these last 12 years, I've seen some wonderfully bizarre things. I still cherish the memory of the day I saw a local performance artist peddling down West 4th Street on an elevated tricycle, towing a full-sized concert harp behind her on an attached trailer.
As a connoisseur of weirdness, I have to say: that was prime.
But as I pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant in Apex, I saw something equally wonderful.
A large area of the parking lot was roped off, and there were dozens of small children in karategis, shouting, grunting, and whacking at each other with bō staffs. The sensei was instructing and encouraging them, and I'd swear on a stack of Bibles that at one point, he urged his young charges, "Go with God!"
Any way you parse it, this is great stuff.
Whatever else happens the next time we choose a president, there has got to be a better way to see candidates operate under pressure than the grotesque system that has metastasized during this electoral cycle. It makes candidates into mere props for bullying anchormen-narcissists. It does no one except the anchormen any good. I mentioned earlier the oddity of Jimmy Carter and GW Bush finding common cause about China policy. Maybe the RNC and the DNC can join hands in freeing political debate from the destructive grip of the networks. And if they can't do that, maybe we should just go all the way and have the candidates compete eating pails full of maggots on Fear Factor. That's the logical extension of where we're headed.Sorry if you read this before breakfast, but the man has a point.
17 April 2008
People are too trusting, especially when there’s chocolate on the line.Security is No Match for Chocolate and Good Looking Women (WSJ Technology Blog)
A survey out today by the organizers of the tech-security conference Infosecurity Europe found that 21% of 576 London office workers stopped on the street were willing to share their computer passwords with a good looking woman holding a clipboard. People were offered a chocolate bar in exchange for the information. More than half of the people surveyed said they used the same password for everything.
"Attractive woman holding clipboard and offering chocolate" works on men *and* women, by the way:
61% of workers surveyed shared their birthdates and a similar number – 60% of men and 62% of women – shared their names and telephone numbers.Come on, kids. Let's be safe out there. Resist the siren song of Cadbury Dairy Milk, don't use the same password for everything, and for God's sake don't share personal information with strangers, even (especially!) hotties "taking surveys."
15 April 2008
But when I read a story like this, I sometimes reflect that it's a good thing we're not getting all the government we're paying for.
12 April 2008
...German settlers in Texas would often refer to the armadillo as Panzerschwein ("armored pig").Wikipedia article on armadillos
Ladies and gentlemen, Panzerschwein.
The highbrow cinemaphiles at IFC and the brainy sex kittens at Nerve have combined resources to write their Top 50 list for television sketch comedy:
There's no more sure-fire way to kill something's intrinsic comedic value than to try to examine what makes it funny. The minute you start thinking, you stop laughing. So why, then, have Nerve and IFC.com devoted an enormous amount of time, manpower, monetary resources, server space and posh catered lunches to the pursuit of ranking the boob tube's finest sketch comedy offerings?This list is a lot of fun.
In part, we're here because magical new technology (*coughYouTubecough*) allows us to do more than just pontificate for paragraphs on end — now we can pontificate for paragraphs on end and provide audio-visual evidence to back up those pontifications. We provide the context, share our thoughts and feelings and let you commence with the guffawing and, naturally, the disagreeing. After all, the comedy sketch — short, sweet, completely silly or shot through with social commentary — worms its way into the public mind like nothing else, and has easily made the leap to the web when other forms have faltered.
IFC: 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches
Nerve: 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches
Microsoft makes a ton of revenue on sales of software that sit on the computer. $15 billion a year for Windows alone, and another $16 billion for Office and Exchange Server in 2007. That’s 60% of Microsoft’s total revenue, and profits from those groups float the rest of the company. Microsoft isn’t a viable company without their consumer and business desktop software profits.TechCrunch: Gartner Says Vista Will Collapse. And That's Why The Yahoo Deal Must Happen. (11 April 2008)
The real question isn’t “What can Microsoft do to fix their Windows product?” but rather “Even If Windows and Office were perfect, would it be enough to keep Microsoft relevant in the medium term?” I think the answer to that latter question might be “nope.” And that, of course, is why they want Yahoo so badly. Online advertising revenue is their only real hope of long term survival.
...Jagger's voice has become monotonous. It is impossible not to have some doubts about a 63-year-old--however flat his stomach, however mini his hips--rustling up musical energies (if not from beyond the grave exactly, then) from a time long before punk. It is as if he is caricaturing himself from some dreadful late 1960s TV variety show. Even then, he was much more of a prancer than dancer.James Woodall, "Watching 'Shine A Light'" (More Intelligent Life)
Still, the old hits are here--"Jumping Jack Flash", "Sympathy for the Devil", "Brown Sugar". The best moments are when the band is joined by Buddy Guy, a brilliant old blues man, for a rendition of "Champagne and Reefer", and when Jagger slings a white electric guitar over his shoulder to join his two guitar regulars for a thrumming, visceral "Some Girls".
Both numbers point up the band's elemental strengths: their lashing blues base and their essential structure as a guitar band (just watch those three budding pensioners axe away in "Some Girls"). Rock'n'roll gets neither longer in the tooth nor more basic than this.
11 April 2008
Which Speaker You Find More Annoying Says a Lot About You as a Person
Environmentalist with clipboard: Excuse me, do you have a minute to help save the environment?
Woman in suit: I'm sorry, I already saved the children this morning and then told the Democratic Party to go fuck themselves three blocks ago, so no, I don't have time to save the environment today. Maybe tomorrow, hippie.
--Broadway & Bond
Overheard by: Betty Noir
via Overheard in New York, Apr 11, 2008
Whining, White Smoke & The Mechanics Of Getting Unstuck (43 Folders)
First off, even when it’s yourself, nobody likes a whiner. So it’s worthwhile to be mindful about the extent to which your internal monologue is becoming personally insufferable. As with B.O. and a lack of flossing, the chances are good that others have already noticed things about you before you have, so — you know — congratulations on making it to the party.
But, second, and perhaps more importantly, that whining should be telling you something. Whining is the white smoke in your tailpipe that lets you know you’re burning mental oil. It means you’re unconsciously devoting cycles to something that you can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t be spending time thinking about. Otherwise, why would it be bothering you, right? You’d be either extricated or done with it.
Once you pinpoint where that whine’s coming from, that’s the perfect opportunity to decide what the hell the hang-up is. Because if it’s worth whining and fussing about, it’s worth deciding what obstacle (obstruction?) in either the Real World or your own mind is keeping something from happening.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band had just finished playing a sold-out show at Earls Court in London, and Max Weinberg, the band's longtime drummer, was thinking about countertops.Born To Renovate (Wall Street Journal, 11 April 2008)
Specifically, Kirkstone countertops. Mr. Weinberg wanted the pale green stone for the kitchen in the house he was building back in New Jersey. He knew the stone came from England, and he noted a kitchen-supply store they passed on the way back from the concert. The next day, the store's manager told him that it didn't stock the material but suggested he try the Kirkstone showroom nearby. Mr. Weinberg paid a visit and had the stone shipped across the Atlantic.
We all grow older and grow up, I reckon.
08 April 2008
Hat tip: Carrie
There is no car behind Door 3, since the host opened it, so the last term must be zero. This can be proven using Bayes' theorem and the previous results:
This shows that the winning strategy is to switch the selection to Door 2.
06 April 2008
Avoid navigable waterways. Don’t let yourself be talked into going down by the wild rippling water, the wan water, the salt sea shore, the strand, the lowlands low, the Burning Thames, and any area where the grass grows green on the banks of some pool. Cliffs overlooking navigable waterways aren’t safe either.
Going to sea to avoid marrying your sweetie is an option, but if she hangs herself after your departure (and it’s even money that she’s going to) her Doleful Ghost will arrive on board your ship and the last three stanzas of your life will purely suck.
If you are a young gentleman who had sex it is possible the girl won’t get pregnant. In those rare instances you will either get Saint Cynthia’s Fire or the Great Pox instead. No good will have come of it.
Professions to be particularly wary of: clerks, salty sailors, serving maids, blacksmiths, highwaymen, gamblers, rank robbers, stonemasons, soldiers, tinkers, and millers. Anyone described as “jolly,” “bold,” or “saucy.” Supernatural creatures are best avoided. If they can’t be avoided, they should be addressed respectfully. If a supernatural creature sets you a task you’re well and truly screwed.
UNC collapsed comprehensively in the first half, going into the locker room, unbelievably, almost thirty points down...and though they whittled the Kansas lead to four points briefly in the second half, Kansas led and essentially remained in control for the entire game.
The outcome was never really in doubt.
UNC had a great year. The played a very nearly perfect season and were dominant throughout the tourney.
I had been really looking forward to last night's game, because I expected that it would be the first time the Heels would really be challenged in the tournament.
Be careful what you wish for, I reckon. :-)
The next big news out of Carolina basketball is likely to be Tyler Hansbrough's decision about whether to turn pro.
04 April 2008
I AM THE ONE OUT THERE ON THE STREET!via Overheard in New York, Apr 4, 2008
Four-year-old girl screaming: IT IS MY MONEY AND I WANT IT BACK!
Shockingly calm but exhausted Dad: No Sarah, it is OUR money.
Sarah [chanting over and over while stomping her feet.]: IT IS MY MONEY! I WANT IT BACK!
--Bank, Madison Ave & E 65th
Overheard by: Christina
01 April 2008
Here's a personal favorite:
#5: San SerriffeIn 1977 the British newspaper The Guardian published a special seven-page supplement devoted to San Serriffe, a small republic located in the Indian Ocean consisting of several semi-colon-shaped islands. A series of articles affectionately described the geography and culture of this obscure nation. Its two main islands were named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. Its capital was Bodoni, and its leader was General Pica. The Guardian's phones rang all day as readers sought more information about the idyllic holiday spot. Few noticed that everything about the island was named after printer's terminology. The success of this hoax is widely credited with launching the enthusiasm for April Foolery that gripped the British tabloids in subsequent decades.