29 June 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Rampant Speculation Points to Crash

Another sign of the oncoming crash. Vast quantities of capital racing hither and yon looking for the next big "15 minutes of fame" thing.

It's a sign that the market is over capitalized and over priced, and due for a major correction.

It's a game of musical chairs, and it gets most frantic towards the end.
Here comes China 2.0

By Paul R. La Monica, CNNMoney.com editor at large
June 28 2007: 1:41 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- As Google's stock slouches toward $600 a share and Wall Street debates the future of Yahoo following the ouster of Terry Semel, it's easy to forget that there are other Internet stocks out there competing for investor attention.

But for those who prefer to take a more worldly view of the World Wide Web, paying attention to areas outside of the U.S. has been incredibly rewarding, particularly for investors that have discovered the booming Internet sector in China.

Several Chinese Internet stocks trade in the U.S. on Nasdaq so investing in these companies is as easy as buying shares of Google (Charts, Fortune 500) and Yahoo (Charts, Fortune 500). And many Chinese Internet stocks have far outperformed America's big two Net giants this year.

Shares of search engine Baidu, portals Sina and Sohu, online gaming companies The 9 Limited and Shanda Interactive and online travel site Ctrip.com are each up at least 20 percent this year, compared to gains of 8 percent and 14 percent for Yahoo and Google respectively.


Cessna and Thielert collaborate on diesel aircraft programmes

I've always liked the aircraft diesel technology.

This is a VERY important development for Thielert.
Cessna and Thielert collaborate on diesel aircraft programmes

Cessna has reached and agreement with Germany's Thielert Aircraft Engines (TAE) to collaborate on future programmes centred on the Thielert diesel engine.

Although both companies are remaining tight-lipped on specific developments, the first programme is likely to be a 135hp (100kW) Centurion 2.0-powered version of the 172 Skyhawk.The engine is already available as a retrofit on the piston single type, but the venture is the first time Cessna will offer a diesel version as standard.


PICTURES - Cirrus unveils single-engine personal jet

That plane is dirt cheap. Even assuming that the range drops by half with a full load of people and luggage, it's a very good deal.
PICTURES - Cirrus unveils single-engine personal jet
Cirrus Design has taken the wraps off its first jet, and the manufacturer of the popular SR22 piston-single light aircraft is bracing for a major sales boost.

Seating up to seven people, "the-jet" has its single Williams FJ33-4 turbofan mounted above the fuselage and exhausting between the V-tail, in a similar arrangement to the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft.

"We're not going to be a smaller business jet. We're trying to be a bigger SR22," said CEO and co-founder Alan Klapmeier at the 28 June event.


As for price, Klapmeier says: "Our goal is to have it be about $1 million". The final price is uncertain, he cautions, since the certification date is unknown along with many other factors.

The fuel capacity will be "well over 1,000lb", depending on the number of passengers, and range will be more than 1,000nm with only one pilot aboard and less than that when carrying seven people."



Completely NO Surprise

Actually, I know people who work for the Redmond Borg, and there is a level of real stupidity there that drives them crazy.
Microsoft security engineer makes top-10 worst jobs list

By Lewis Page
Published Wednesday 27th June 2007 11:39 GMT

Summer's here, and 'tis the season to be compiling lists. One of the most eagerly awaited is the Ten Worst Jobs in Science, issued by Popular Science magazine. This year the roster of horrible occupations has gained widespread attention because it includes "Microsoft Security Grunt".

Working at the Microsoft Security Response Centre (MSRC), according to the PopSci writers, is "like wearing a big sign that says 'hack me'... It's tedious work... to most hackers, crippling Microsoft is the geek equivalent of taking down the Death Star, so the assault is relentless."

PopSci places a job on the Redmond battlements at number five, worse than whale-dung analyst, corpse-maggot expert, Olympic drug tester and zero gee health-effects guinea pig.

The only things worse than standing between Windows users and the ravening haxor hordes were being a rubbish-dump researcher, elephant vasectomist, oceanographer - because the oceans are getting so polluted - and at number one, hazmat diver. ("They swim in sewage. Enough said.")


Russia Tests 3M14 Bulava SS-N-30

Note that the name Akula is the Russian name for the Typhoon class mammoth SSBN. What the West calls the Akula is called the Bars class in Russia.

She SS-N-30 is basically a cut down Topol.

3M14 Bulava SS-N-30

On 28 June 2007 Russia successfully tested the new Bulava (SS-NX-30) sea-based ballistic missile after several previous failures. Capt. Igor Dygalo told The Associated Press that the Bulava missile hit its target on the Pacific peninsula of Kamchatka, about 6,700 kilometers (4,200 miles) east of Moscow, after being launched in northern Russia's White Sea from the submarine Dmitry Donskoi, a 941 Akula / TYPHOON class submarine outfited in 2005 as the SS-N-30 Bulava test platform.

The Bulava (SS-NX-30) is the submarine-launched version of Russia’s most advanced missile, the Topol-M (SS-27) solid fuel ICBM. The SS-NX-30 is a derivative of the SS-27, except for a slight decrease in range due to conversion of the design for submarine launch. The SS-27 has is 21.9 meters long, far too large to fit in a typical submarine. The largest previously deployed Russian SLBM was the R-39 / SS-N-20 STURGEON, which was 16 meters long. Russian sources report that the Bulava SS-N-30 ballistic missile can carry ten warheads to a range of 8,000km. Other sources suggest that the Bulava probably might have a range of 10,000 km, and is reportedly features a 550 kT yield nuclear warhead. Apparently up to six MIRVs can be placed at the cost of offloading warhead shielding and decoys.


DARPA Wants A Few Good Men

These are the guys who invented the internet.


Request for Information
Routing Protocols and Management (RPM) for High Capacity Networks

- Request for Information Word Version 01 - Posted on Jun 22, 2007

General Information
Document Type: Special Notice
Solicitation Number: Reference-Number-SN07-39
Posted Date:
Original Response Date: 06 August 2007
Current Response Date:
Original Archive Date:
Current Archive Date:
Classification Code: A -- Research & Development
Naics Code: 541710 -- Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences

Contracting Office Address

Other Defense Agencies, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Contracts Management Office, 3701 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA, 22203-1714, United States


REQUEST FOR INFORMATION - Routing Protocols and Management (RPM) for High Capacity Networks

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Strategic Technology Office (STO) is requesting information on revolutionary ideas and approaches to map administrative, business, and war fighting mission requirements to the supporting networks and information systems. The requested information is sought to determine if industry has ideas that warrant specific project-oriented investment by DARPA in this area. No funding has currently been allocated to this effort. A Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) and/or other solicitation may or may not result from the findings of this Request for Information (RFI).


Modern communications networks were designed and developed when memory and processing power were limiting factors rather than plentiful and generally ubiquitous throughout the network. Today's environment finds memory and processing power available even at the tactical edge of the Global Information Grid (GIG). Routing Protocols and Management (RPM) for High Capacity Networks is considering methods to re-think and potentially redesign some of the basic concepts that have shaped today's Internet technology. The goal of any DARPA program in this area is to improve transfer speeds, network routing efficiency, reliability, simplify network configuration, and reduce cost.

Problem Definition

Modern communications networks were designed and developed when memory and processing power were limiting factors rather than plentiful and generally ubiquitous throughout the network. Today's environment finds memory and processing power available even at the tactical edge of the Global Information Grid (GIG). Routing Protocols and Management (RPM) for High Capacity Networks is considering methods to re-think and potentially redesign some of the basic concepts that have shaped today's Internet technology. The goal of any DARPA program in this area is to improve transfer speeds, network routing efficiency, reliability, simplify network configuration, and reduce cost.

Problem Definition

DARPA is interested in ideas that will lead to the development of new addressing schemes (e.g., a structured hierarchical addressing system) to supplement the current IP scheme. New addressing schemes should make the network faster, cheaper, or easier to administer. Additionally, we hope to implement a prioritization system to allow higher priority traffic faster service through the network, along with the authentication system such a system requires.

This RFI seeks ways to enhance network prioritization and authentication for priority users; create multipath route discovery and distribution; lower manpower requirements for network configuration; and efficiently connect Dense Wave Division Multiplex (DWDM) networks and conventional IP networks. The program assumes the existence of DWDM switched networks and seeks to make the connection between a normal IP network and a DWDM switched network as simple and efficient as possible.

The long-term goal is to develop new systems that use network capacity as efficiently and inexpensively as possible. Ideas that require modifications to addressing schemes (e.g., modifying IP), changes to the Domain Name Server (DNS), or other established Internet Standards are acceptable as long as these changes can be justified.

DARPA is interested in responses describing the solution with low granularity, at the device or process level, rather than at the macro or enterprise level. DARPA is interested in autonomic or semi-autonomic systems that require little manual intervention. Finally, simplicity and ability to transition a solution are of interest - large theoretical systems that require extensive training to operate would be of little value as a potential program.

DARPA is not interested in evolutionary improvements to existing fielded or commercial systems, nor funding requests or investment opportunities to bring existing work into production. This RFI seeks potential high-risk, high payoff research opportunities related to Routing Protocols and Management for High Capacity Networks that may provide revolutionary capabilities for the Department of Defense.

Request for Information Focus Areas

In an effort to shape future work on Routing Protocols and Management for High Capacity Networks, DARPA/STO is soliciting position papers addressing the following areas:
1. Concepts and ideas for novel methods to allow multipath route discovery and multipath route distribution; improve network routing efficiency and reliability; simplify network configuration and management; provide for different levels of priority and precedence; and improve authentication/attribution.

2. Technical methods to efficiently and inexpensively interconnect DWDM networks and conventional IP networks. These can be linked to, a part of, or separate from a submission for #1 above.
3. The impact of your proposed idea(s) on the personnel needed to operate networks
4. Potential metrics to measure the effectiveness of what you propose


DARPA will hold a workshop for selected RFI respondents in the vicinity of Arlington, VA in October 07. The workshop may include an overview of previous DARPA programs, historical assumptions, today's requirements and challenges, invited presentations, submitter presentations, discussions, and Q&A. Respondents interested in attending should visit the registration website at https://www.enstg.com/Signup/default.cfm?ThisCode=NEX74474

This announcement contains all information required to submit a position paper. No additional forms, kits or other materials are needed.

DARPA appreciates responses from all capable and qualified sources including but not limited to universities, university affiliated research centers, federally-funded research centers, private or public companies and Government research laboratories.

Position papers have the following formatting requirements:
a) A one page cover sheet that identifies the title, organization(s), responder's technical and administrative points of contact - including names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, and email addresses of all co-authors;
b) An executive summary with a one page limit summarizing the key ideas;
c) A single overview briefing chart graphically depicting the key ideas;
d) A technical response to one or more of the 4 RFI Focused Areas posed above in question/answer format, with a 10 page limit in 10 point font;
e) An optional list of citations including URLs if available;
f) An optional briefing if the submitter wishes to be considered to present at the workshop;
g) The above should be submitted as MS Word, PDF, and/or MS PowerPoint documents.

Respondents are encouraged to be as succinct as possible while at the same time providing actionable insight.

Respondents must submit one original and one paper copy of the full response and one electronic copy of the full RFI response (in Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF, and/or Microsoft PowerPoint on a single CD ROM). Disks must be clearly labeled with RFI SN07-39 the offering organization, and points of contact. The full RFI response (original and designated number of hard and electronic copies) must be submitted to: DARPA/STO, Attn: Dr. Timothy Gibson, 3701 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203-1714. Responses to this Request for Information (RFI) are due no later than 2:00pm, Local Time, Arlington, VA, on 06 August 2007. ANY INQUIRIES ON THIS REQUEST FOR INFORMATION AND/OR WORKSHOP MUST BE SUBMITTED TO RPM07-39@darpa.mil. NO TELEPHONIC INQUIRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED.

DARPA will host a web site in support of RFI SN07-39, Routing Protocols and Management (RPM). The web site will contain information supplementary to this document such as Question & Answer lists in the event that clarifications are needed. The URL for the web site is http://www.darpa.mil/sto/solicitations/RPM/index.html. In the event of any discrepancies between material published on this web site and FedBizOps, FedBizOps takes precedence.


This is a Request for Information issued solely for information and new program planning purposes and does not constitute a solicitation. No proprietary or classified information should be submitted. Respondents are advised that DARPA is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information received, or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted under this RFI. It is the respondent's responsibility to ensure the material has been approved for public release by the organization that funded the research.

In accordance with FAR 15.201(e) responses to this notice are not offers and cannot be accepted glby the Government to form a binding contract. Responders are solely responsible for all expenses associated with responding to this RFI.

Submissions may be reviewed by: the Government (DARPA and partners including but not limited to AFRL and OSD-NII); Federally Funded R&D Centers (such as MITRE and Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Lincoln Laboratories); and Systems Engineering and Technical Assistance (SETA) contractors (Booz Allen Hamilton and SRS Technologies).

Point of Contact

Timothy Gibson, Ph.D., Program Manager, Email timothy.gibson (at) darpa.mil

Point of Contact
Timothy Gibson, DARPA Program Manager, Phone 000-000-0000, Fax null, Email Timothy.Gibson@darpa.mil

Rubber Ducky, You're the one.

Thousands of rubber ducks to land on British shores after 15 year journey
Thousands of rubber ducks to land on British shores after 15 year journey
By BEN CLERKIN - More by this author » Last updated at 22:00pm on 27th June 2007

Comments Comments (9)
They were toys destined only to bob up and down in nothing bigger than a child's bath - but so far they have floated halfway around the world.

The armada of 29,000 plastic yellow ducks, blue turtles and green frogs broke free from a cargo ship 15 years ago.

Since then they have travelled 17,000 miles, floating over the site where the Titanic sank, landing in Hawaii and even spending years frozen in an Arctic ice pack.

And now they are heading straight for Britain. At some point this summer they are expected to be spotted on beaches in South-West England.

While the ducks are undoubtedly a loss to the bath-time fun of thousands of children, their adventures at sea have proved an innvaluable aid to science"

The toys have helped researchers to chart the great ocean currents because when they are spotted bobbing on the waves they are much more likely to be reported to the authorities than the floats which scientists normally use.


Just When I Thought That They Could Not Get Any Stupider


This is so stupid, it shocks me, and I though I had become inured to stupidity flowing from Shrub's mouth.
Bush cites Israel as model for Iraq

By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 3 minutes ago

President Bush held up Israel as a model for defining success in Iraq Thursday, saying the U.S. goal there is not to eliminate attacks but to enable a democracy that can function despite violence.


Still, he laid out in some of his plainest terms yet how to define when the U.S. presence in Iraq has achieved its goals.

"Our success in Iraq must not be measured by the enemy's ability to get a car bombing in the evening news," he said. "No matter how good the security, terrorists will always be able to explode a bomb on a crowded street."

He suggested Israel as a model.

There, Bush said, "Terrorists have taken innocent human life for years in suicide attacks. The difference is that Israel is a functioning democracy and it's not prevented from carrying out its responsibilities. And that's a good indicator of success that we're looking for in Iraq."

It was likely to be controversial — and possibly even explosive — for Bush to set out Israel as a model for a Muslim Middle Eastern nation. Israel has been locked for decades in an intractable dispute with Palestinians in the neighboring occupied territories, a conflict that is viewed as a major recruiting tool for Islamic extremist groups like al-Qaida.


All-White Jury. Nope, no racism here.

Bet you haven't heard about this in the news, but a European paper, the International Herald Tribune, did.
All-white jury likely to hear racial fight case in Louisiana

The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

JENA, Louisiana: An all-white jury was seated Tuesday to hear the case against the first of the "Jena Six" — a group of black youths accused of beating a white fellow student amid racial discord at a Louisiana school.

Five women and a man will hear opening arguments Wednesday morning at the courthouse in LaSalle Parish, Louisiana, where the black population is only about 12 percent.


The approaching trial had led to allegations of racism from parents of the accused, who said the original charges — attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder — were out of proportion to the crime. The charges carry a combined sentence of 80 years.


The racial tension began in late August in Jena — a central Louisiana town of 2,900 with about 350 black residents — after a black student sat under a tree traditionally used as a gathering spot by white students. The next month, three nooses were hanging in the tree when students arrived on campus.


The school's principal recommended the students who hung the nooses be expelled, but they served brief suspensions instead.

On Dec. 4, Justin Barker, who is white, was attacked at school by a small group of black students. He was treated at a hospital.

RIAA Victim Goes RICO On Their Asses.

Here's hoping that the RIAA gets really shafted.
RIAA tried to shake down 10-year-old daughter, suit claims
By Dan Goodin in San Francisco
Published Wednesday 27th June 2007 18:45 GMT

An unemployed single mom with health problems has renewed her legal challenge of the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA) with unseemly new details. They include accusations that the cartel's goons tried to contact the woman's 10-year-old daughter at school by impersonating the girl's grandmother on the phone.

RIAA agents pursuing bogus copyright violations also called the apartment of Tanya Andersen looking for her daughter Kylee and demanded they take the girl's deposition, according to a complaint filed last week in federal court in Portland, Oregon.

Later, during settlement discussions, the RIAA told Andersen she had to abandon all legal rights she may have in a countersuit or the association would once again demand to "interrogate and confront her little girl at the offices of the RIAA lawyers," according to the suit.
This crosses so many lines, both ethically and legally.
"Defendants' lawyer threatened persecution of Kylee in an effort to force Ms. Andersen to abandon her counterclaims against the defendant record companies," Andersen's complaint claims. "Their demand for face-to-face confrontation with Ms. Andersen's then 10 year-old child in a deposition at the offices of RIAA lawyers were also intended to coerce and threaten her."
She going RICO on all this. I hope that some goes Abu Ghraib on these bastards.
Careful readers will remember Andersen, now 44 years old, countersued the RIAA (http://www.theregister.com/2005/10/04/riaa_sued/) in late 2005 after being accused of illegally downloading gangster rap tunes such as "Shake that Ass Bitch," "Bullet in the Head," "I Stab People" and several with titles that even we cannot publish.

Her counterclaims equated the RIAA to thugs that knowingly employed illegal investigative methods and pursued factually flawed charges. Suing under state and federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization laws designed to target organized crime rings, Andersen became something of a folk hero for her refusal to submit to the 800-pound gorilla.


28 June 2007

Wanker of the Day: Patent Troll Edition.

Daniel Leckrone, the Chairman of TPL Group.

The TPL Group describes itself as:
TPL has been "purpose built" to deliver an array of services that are fundamental to streamlining the development and commercialization of proprietary products and technologies. By consistently delivering innovation and opportunity, TPL has earned a reputation of being a trusted partner that can enable constructive licensing programs as well as new product development programs that leverage the IP assets within its patent portfolios.
These folks are patent trolls, and Mr. Leckrone is their chief.
Misnamed Patent Reform Act would stifle innovation

By Daniel E. Leckrone
San Jose Mercury News
Article Launched:06/27/2007 01:31:51 AM PDT

While U.S. patent law has been effective in protecting the intellectual property of inventors, which has fueled productivity growth and the U.S. economy for more than two centuries, the so-called "Patent Reform Act" introduced in Congress this year proposes major changes to the law governing how patents are obtained and enforced. Ironically, these changes are being promoted by the most powerful and prosperous high-tech corporations - the "Patent Goliaths" - which came to power based on the patent system as it now stands.

In mounting their full-scale invasion of the territory protected by patent laws, the Goliaths continue to amass political support which, if not effectively challenged, will lead to an unwarranted degradation of the legendary patent system established by the U.S. Constitution. Even the lethargic Department of Commerce has vigorously opposed most of the sweeping changes proposed by this act, as the Department of Commerce explained in its recent 11-page letter to House Judiciary Subcommittee Chairman Howard Berman, a lead sponsor of this misguided legislative effort.

The author is a patent troll, and he has an interest in keeping his "automatic injunction" shakedown legal.

The rise of patent trolls, in mobile phones, internet connectivity, etc. the Euros and Japanese are increasingly eating out lunch. You can't make a move in the US these days without getting approval from lawyers.

It not only prevents innovation generally, it makes it prohibitively expensive for the small inventor to actually bring a product to market, because of fears that it might violate a undeveloped, and frequently completely obvious, patent held by the parasites.

There is no need for an injunction with patent trolls. They have no intention of developing a market, they are just getting money for someone else's work.

This means that they can be made whole at any time by damages with interest.

There is no irreparable damage, so no need for an injunction.

Of course, this means that any company can tell the patent troll to take it to court rather than paying their blackmail, and this is what he fears.

This is NOT Piracy

I understand that people like to call ANY threat to profits "Piracy", but this ain't it.

This is like GM chipping cans of motor oil so that only Delco cans work in your car.
Can cryptography prevent printer-ink piracy?

By Erica Ogg

Story last modified Wed Jun 27 10:37:34 PDT 2007

In the computer printer business, everyone knows the big money comes from the sale of ink cartridges.

Most of these cartridges are made by printer manufacturers and sell for a substantial premium. Some come from unauthorized sources, sell for substantially less and attract the attention of antipiracy lawyers.

Cryptography Research Inc. (CRI), a San Francisco company, is developing chip technology aimed at helping printer manufacturers protect this primary source of profit. The company's chips use cryptography designed to make it harder for printers to use off-brand and counterfeit cartridges.

"We're not saying we can end piracy, but our system is designed to recover from failure," said Kit Rodgers, CRI's vice president of business development.

Not all ink-cartridge remanufacturing is illegal--much of it is, in fact, legitimate--but pirated ink-cartridge technology cuts substantially into original manufacturers' profits.

There are three main ways the $60 billion-a-year worldwide printing industry loses money:

• Used cartridges get refilled and sold as "new"-- instead of as remanufactured.
You will note here that this will potentially block ALL non OEM cartridge remanufacturing. In fact, most non OEM remanufactured cartridges are sold as remanufactured such and are legal.

There are already laws against fraud.

• Cartridges get illegally replicated through reverse engineering.
You need to explain to me how it's illegal. Every non OEM ink manufacturer has to reverse-engineer the cartridges, and I don't see court cases, except in the case of fraudulent labeling.

• Printers get hacked or physically altered to use any type of ink.

Umm...You're telling me that my use of an ink refiller on my machine is piracy?

And here is the kicker:

In a high-profile 2003 case, Lexmark International, the company that makes printers for Dell, took printer-supplies specialist Static Control Components to court for selling a chip that allowed Lexmark printers to accept any kind of ink cartridge. Lexmark ultimately lost the case, but it hasn't stopped others from trying fiercely to protect their business.

What they are trying to do is block legal competitors to their markets.


The problem is very simple. We are having meltdowns in instruments that do not trade in the normal way.

If one of these funds go under, there is no way on knowing what, if anything the holders of the loan will get from selling these assets.

That's why everyone freaked when Merril Lynch said that it would be selling off those assets from the Bear Sterns fund.

They are rated on face value, and the bids were coming in at far less than that.

When these sales occur, the assets necessarily get revalued at the auction price (willing sale, willing buyer), and suddenly hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars of funds become insolvent.
When hedge funds implode

By Axel Merk

The US trade deficit with the rest of the world leapfrogged in recent days. Aside from goods and services, the United States is now importing "consensus-based crisis management" from Japan.

Out of fear that a cleanup of bad loans would trigger widespread defaults, Japanese banks got themselves deeper and deeper into trouble by hushing up the problems. We are talking about the crisis at Bear Sterns' subprime hedge fund. The crisis shows that major adjustments on how the market prices risks are overdue; this may have negative implications for stocks, bonds, and commodities, as well as the US dollar.

Bear Sterns is a leading provider of services to hedge funds; it is also one of the largest originators of subprime-backed collateralized debt obligations. CDOs are what their name implies: a security backed by collateral. CDOs are created when mortgages with various risk profiles are grouped into different tranches or segments. Among others, Bear Sterns would create a CDO in a bundle according to a client's specifications. Indeed, Bear Sterns would work with a rating agency, such as Moody's, to obtain the desired rating (a practice likely to face more scrutiny as some allege that Moody's no longer acts as an independent rating agency, but as a syndicator in the offering).

The explosive demand in this sector has attracted ever more creative structures. Investors should have grown concerned when dealmakers started suggesting that one can create a higher-grade security by grouping together a couple of lower-grade securities; it is rare that 1 + 1 = 3. As these instruments have grown more complex, the clients buying these instruments often do not have a full understanding of what they buy.

How do you make a best-seller better? You introduce leverage. Not only can leverage be introduced in the credit derivatives that define some of these securities, but brokers eager to attract hedge-fund business may also accept CDOs as collateral to lend money. The hedge fund now attracting so much attention is Bear Sterns' High Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund, launched only 10 months ago. It shall be noted that Bear Sterns did not put much of its own money into the fund, but supplied many of the CDOs. A total of US$600 million in invested capital was boosted with borrowings of about $6 billion.


In the brokerage industry, when a margin call is not met (when the borrower cannot provide sufficient collateral), the broker may seize the collateral and liquidate open positions. While a forced sale of the collateral may be painful for the borrower, it protects the system as a whole. Such forced sales happen all the time in the futures market, where positions are "marked to market" every day to evaluate the profitability and risk of open positions.

But the CDO market is not a regulated futures market; there is no daily market price that would allow one to assess the value of the collateral. The primary methods used to value CDOs are called "mark to market" and "mark to model". In the more conservative "mark to market" approach, independent parties are asked to value the securities; as the name implies, the "mark to model" approach is more aggressive and uses a computed, theoretical value.

But because these instruments are sold in privately negotiated transactions, rather than a regulated and liquid market, neither valuation method is suitable in case of a forced liquidation.

I'm not sure why, perhaps because it is not dependent on US realtors for ad revenues, the Asia times has been ahead of the game on this.
Banks 'set to call in a swathe of loans

The United States faces a severe credit crunch as mounting losses on risky forms of debt catch up with the banks and force them to curb lending and call in existing loans, according to a report by Lombard Street Research.

Bear Stearns headquarters: Banks 'set to call in a swathe of loans'
Bear Stearns headquarters in New York

The group said the fast-moving crisis at two Bear Stearns hedge funds had exposed the underlying rot in the US sub-prime mortgage market, and the vast nexus of collateralised debt obligations known as CDOs.

"Excess liquidity in the global system will be slashed," it said. "Banks' capital is about to be decimated, which will require calling in a swathe of loans. This is going to aggravate the US hard landing."

Charles Dumas, the group's global strategist, said the failed auction of assets seized from one of the Bear Stearns funds by Merrill Lynch had revealed the dark secret of the CDO debt market. The sale had to be called off after buyers took just $200m of the $850m mix.

"The banks were not prepared to bid over 85pc of face value for CDOs rated "A" or better," he said.

"God knows how low the price would have dropped if they had kept on going. We hear buyers were lobbing bids at just 30pc.

"We don't know what the value of this debt is because the investment banks shut down the market in a cover-up so that nobody would know. There is $750bn of dubious paper out there in the form of CDOs held by banks that have a total capitalisation of $850bn."

US property writer Paul Muolo described the Bearn Stearns crisis as the “subprime Chernobyl”, saying the bank had created a “cone of silence”.

Abandoned by fellow banks, Bear Stearns has now put up $3.2bn of its own money to rescue one of the funds, a quarter of its capital.


The Mortgage Lender Implode-Meter that tracks the US housing markets claims that 86 major lenders have gone bankrupt or shut their doors since the crash began.

The latest are Aegis Lending, Oak Street Mortgage and The Mortgage Warehouse.


Nouriel Roubini, economics professor at New York University, said there were now concerns about “systemic risk fall-out” from the Bear Stearns debacle as investors look more closely at the real value of CDOs.

FWIW, Roubini is a VERY sharp guy. He's been well ahead of the market and the conventional wisdom again and again.

Goldman-issued subprime bonds lead downgrades-Citi
Mon Jun 25, 2007 1:50 PM ET

NEW YORK, June 25 (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc. subprime mortgage bonds issued last year are being downgraded by rating companies at the fastest rate of any issuer, according to Citigroup Inc. research dated June 22.

Nearly 70 of Goldman's GSAMP-issued bonds, which include subprime loans from a variety of lenders, have been downgraded by Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service in the year through June 15, with 60 of those issued in 2006, analysts at Citigroup Global Markets said in a weekly note.

Downgrades are accelerating on mortgage bonds backed by loans to the riskiest borrowers following an ongoing surge in delinquencies and foreclosures. Lenders loosened underwriting standards in the years through 2006, creating loans whose poor quality became apparent as the U.S. housing slump began.
Goldman Sachs?

Seriously when these funds actually get a fair assessment, a lot of these banks will be insolvent.

ES&S Gives Up Source Code In California

These machines are expensive, slow, and not trusted. Just dump them.
E-voting vendor succumbs to California source code demands

By Dan Goodin in San Francisco
Published Thursday 28th June 2007 01:50 GMT

Electronic voting machines vendor Election Systems & Software Inc. has finally given in to demands by California's Secretary of State office that it submit the source code used in one of its products. But it made it abundantly clear it is unhappy about the requirement.

ES&S complied with the demand in an overnight package that was received yesterday by the office of Secretary of State (SOS) Debra Bowen, about three months past due date. Of the four e-voting firms selling products to California counties, only ES&S failed to meet the deadline.



That's Lewis I. "Scooter" Libby.

Libby, Libby who can I turn to
You give me something I can hold on to
I know you'll think I'm like the others before
Who saw your name and number on the wall
Libby I've got your number
I need to make you mine
Libby don't change your number
2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6 (2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6)
2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6 (2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6)
Libby, Libby you're the bitch for me
You don't know me but you make me so happy
I tried to call you before
But I lost my nerve
I tried my imagination
But I was disturbed
Libby I've got your number
I need to make you mine
Libby don't change your number
2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6 (2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6)
2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6 (2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6)
I got it (I got it), I got it
I got your number on the wall
I got it (I got it), I got it
For a good time call
Libby don't change your number
I need to make you mine
Libby I've got your number
2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6 (2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6)
2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6 (2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6)


Libby don't change your number
I need to make you mine
Libby I call your number
2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6 (2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6)
2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6 (2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6)
Next two lines sung over
background refrain of "28301-016"
Libby, Libby who can I turn to
For the price of a dime
I can always turn to you
2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6 (2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6)
2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6 (2 8 3 0 1-0 1 6)
Fade out repeating "1016"

Meanwhile The Surge Continues

Yes, our presence is helping the Iraqi people, in the same way that John Wilkes Booth helped people enjoy their time in the theater.
New Level of Horror in Iraq: 20 Beheaded, Bound Corpses Discovered in Baghdad
20 Beheaded Bodies Found on Banks of the Tigris River Southeast of Baghdad, Iraqi Police Say
The Associated Press


Twenty beheaded bodies were discovered Thursday on the banks of the Tigris River southeast of Baghdad, while a parked car bomb killed another 20 people in one of the capital's busy outdoor bus stations, police said.

The beheaded remains were found in the Sunni Muslim village of Um al-Abeed, near the city of Salman Pak, which lies 14 miles southeast of Baghdad.

The bodies all men aged 20 to 40 years old had their hands and legs bound, and some of the heads were found next to the bodies, two officers said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

Meanwhile, a parked car bomb ripped through a crowded transport hub in southwest Baghdad's Baiyaa neighborhood at morning rush hour, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 50, another officer said on the same condition.

Many of the victims had been lining up for buses, awaiting a ride to work. Some 40 minibuses were incinerated in the explosion, police said.

Associated Press Television News video showed an open square strewn with smoldering car parts and charred bodies with clothes in tatters. Bystanders, some weeping, gingerly loaded human remains into ambulances.

A pickup truck rumbled slowly away from the scene, with two pairs of legs the dead bodies of victims dangling out of the back.

One of the police officers who gave information about the ghastly discovery of bodies southeast of Baghdad is based at Interior Ministry headquarters in the capital, and the other is based in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad.


Amazing LEGO Aircraft Carrier

LEGO Aircraft Carrier

Useful Stuff: Independent Evaluation of AV Software.

For your information, here is the link

AV-Comparatives - Independent comparatives for Anti-Virus software

For Your Amusement, Truth in Advertising

Don't know the original source.

MiG-35 Details Given

My money is on India going with Russia, they already have a lot fo the support infrastructure there.

Also note that the Mig-35, Su-27 variants, Typhoon, Rafale, and Gripen are all offering AESA upgrades.

The USAF is billing as a great ace in the hole, and it seems not so tough to do.

Bangalore air show: MiG-35 makes debut at Aero India

RSK MiG chose Aero India to display the MiG-35 publicly for the first time. A land-based version of the Indian navy's MiG-29KUB, the aircraft was first flown last month. The MiG-35 is being offered to meet the Indian air force's requirement for 126 multirole fighters.


The MiG-35 is first Russian aircraft fitted with an active electronically scanned array radar. The Phazotron-NIIR Zhuk-MA was publicly revealed by removing the aircraft's nosecone. The Zhuk-MA's antenna consists of 160 modules, each with four receive-and-transmit modules. It is believed to offer a 160km (85nm) air target detection radius and 300km for surface ships. ....

The MiG-35 is powered by two RD-33MKBs that can be fitted with KliVT swivel-nozzles and a thrust vectoring control (TVC) system. .....

Good News: Immigration Bill Takes Body Blow

Quite frankly, I'm not concerned about amnesty.

I object to the slave labor guest worker program. It's a deal breaker for me.

I also think that the wall is bull$%#@. 30% of illegals overstay visas, and the draw is employers.

Strong anti-employer measures is what is needed.

Additionally, this is a Bush loss, and makes him even more toxic, which might help in getting us out of Iraq.

Yes, I am suggesting that absent a need to pass any bill right now, it's best to take Bush a notch.

We can do something with a Dem in the WH.
Senate immigration bill suffers crushing defeat
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's immigration bill suffered a crushing defeat Thursday in the Senate, when members voted against advancing the controversial legislation.

A final tally for the vote has not yet been announced.

The bill would provides a path to citizenship for some of the 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. and toughens border security.

If the bill fails, supporters and opponents of the controversial legislation claim there is no way to bring it back before this Congress ends.

Senators voting against cutting off debate and referring the bill for a final vote. The cloture vote required a three-fifths majority, or 60 votes.


First completed Boeing 787 leaves assembly hall for paint shop-27/06/2007-Flightglobal.com

My money is that there will be some delays in deliveries of the aircraft, and then the bankers wringing their hands over Airbus, will whine about boeing.
PICTURES: First completed Boeing 787 leaves assembly hall for paint shop

Flightglobal.com has obtained pictures of the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner headed for the paint shop earlier this week at Boeing's assembly plant in Everett, Washington. The aircraft is scheduled to be formally rolled out on 8 July (7/8/7 using the US date convention) and fly for the first time in August or September. Entry into service with launch customer, All Nippon Airways, is slated for next May.


Toles on Cheney

Coulter's words help Edwards raise cash

If I ever run for office, I'm going to need to call Ann Coulter a c*cks*ck*r.
Coulter's words help Edwards raise cash

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press WriterThu Jun 28, 1:33 AM ET

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Wednesday encouraged his supporters to donate to his campaign in response to "hateful" comments from conservative author Ann Coulter.

Edwards made his first comments to The Associated Press in response to Coulter's suggestion that she wished he would be "killed in a terrorist assassination plot." His campaign cited her remarks in two e-mails and a telephone text message to supporters for donations, with the fundraising deadline on Saturday.

It's not the first time Coulter has given the Edwards campaign a financial boost. In March, she called Edwards a "faggot" and the campaign used video of the comment to help raise $300,000 before the end of the first quarter.

In the e-mails, the campaign asked supporters to send donations to defy her remarks and help Edwards meet his goal of raising $9 million in the second quarter. The first e-mail from campaign adviser Joe Trippi showed a clip of Coulter on ABC's "Good Morning America," where she made the comments on Monday.


27 June 2007

Some Interesting News for Al Gore Watchers

I'm just putting this out, that's all.

My guess is that there were either translation errors, or that Tien is reading too much in between the lines.

This is not something that would leak out in Taiwan first.

My sign that Al Gore is running will be if he is literally running, you know, doing the treadmill, getting slimmed down for the campaign, etc.
Taiwan Quick Take


Al Gore visit postponed
Former US vice president Al Gore will not be able to make it to Taiwan this September to address the issue of global warming, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said yesterday. Tien, who invited Gore to visit Taiwan to promote awareness on global warming, told reporters yesterday that she received an e-mail from the Harry Walker Agency, which has the exclusive right to arrange Gore's speeches, saying that Gore had canceled all his scheduled events in the next six months. The visit to Taiwan had been postponed to next year, she added. Tien said the reason for the cancelation was that Gore was considering a presidential bid.

For the Record, I've Never Been THIS Drunk

Damn, that's the 2nd drunkest that I've ever heard of.
Man mistakes straw bale for stricken woman, gives it CPR

By Daniel Brownstein

A Hilton Head Island man confused bales of pine straw with a dead woman, and tried to resuscitate them early Tuesday morning, according to a sheriff's report.

The 39-year-old called deputies to the parking lot of Hilton Head Cabanas, 32 South Forest Beach Drive, at 1:49 a.m., saying he had just tried to perform CPR on a dead woman, according to the sheriff's report.

They arrived to find him talking to a large bale of pine straw.

When asked where the woman was, he pointed to the straw, the report stated.


Billo Is Now Calling 16 Year Olds Names

Classy, ClaSSY guy, Bill O'Reilly is

Olbermann, who completely 0\X/|\|$(owns) this guy, tipped me off on this.

So today, Billo is our Wanker of the day.

You've GOT to Be Kidding Me!!!!

6 Months late on this breaking story, but at least he's not singing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
Shatner Sells Kidney Stone
Star Trek star William Shatner sold a kidney stone to an online casino for $25,000 to benefit charity, the Reuters news service reported.

Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk, sold the stone to GoldenPalace.com, and proceeds of the sale will go to Habitat for Humanity.

Shatner told Reuters that it wasn't easy parting with a kidney stone, even if it had already left his body. He also said he would never sell unless he had visitation rights. "When I was contacted about selling my kidney stone to GoldenPalace.com for an original price of $15,000, I turned it down, knowing that my tunics from Star Trek have commanded more than $100,000," Shatner said, adding that he countered by offering to sell the ring-sized stone for $25,000.


Your Ears Will Bleed, and So Will Your Eyes

Possibility of rectal bleeding too.

I'd rather hear Nimoy do the Ballad of Frodo, Or Shatner do "Rocketman".

It's the Goatse of music videos.

Where Housing is Right Now

I've post dated this a bit, because I think that it is a wonderful picture, and really shows where this all comes from.

The source of this picture is the Irvine Housing Blog's Article, Houses Should Not Be a Commodity, which I found care of Peter Viles's LA Land Blog.

It is accompanied by well written descriptions of the stages, which are analogous to the stages of grief.

About the only thing I differ with this at all is that I believe that the overshoot on the downside will be much worse. It may not be recorded in house sales though, as the market is likely to become largely illiquid, so you will simply be stuck with your home and mortgage debt.

In the Irvine blog, the basic point is that when housing simply becomes a traded commodity, it does far more harm than good. It creates wild swings in prices driven by speculators, that alternately price people out of, or wipe out, people attempting to obtain a stable necessity.

Speculation in the housing market gets you here: Image from the Irvine blog.

He has a somehwat more informative picture too:

This scary picture is an artifact as housing as volatile speculatively traded commodity. People use sophisticated instruments to buy into a speculative bubble, because of the desire to purchase a rapidly appreciating comodity, and for fear of permanently being priced out if they do not purchase immediately.

Karl Auerbach on ICANN

I agree with Mr. Auerbach. ICANN is not much good for anything but collecting fees.

About the only good thing to come out of it this far was that it showed up Esther Dyson for being a poseur.

Read the Interview.
ICANN is the USSR of the internet - Karl Auerbach speaks out

HP Ships Hybrid Blu-ray/HD DVD Drives

I'm still betting (for bragging rights only) on HD-DVD, and it's interesting that a Blue-ray early adopter, HP, is now hedging its bets.

This runs the opposite indication as Blockbuster's decision to go Blue-ray.

FWIW, my advice is to sit tight until one or the other conclusively wins in the next 18-24 months.
HP coughs up surprise update to desktop PC range

By Kelly Fiveash
Published Tuesday 26th June 2007 11:46 GMT

HP has quietly snuck through an update to its home desktop PC range with the computer giant now officially shipping its media centre systems with hybrid Blu-ray/HD DVD drives.

The firm has added the drives to both its Intel (m8010y) and AMD (m8100e) processor-powered Pavilion media centre models.

HP's decision to adopt the Blu-ray format, which is already backed by Sony as well as many of the Hollywood studios, alongside high definition DVD could satisfy consumers who are stuck with having to make a choice between the two competing formats.


Now THIS is Customer Service

It would appear that I'm not the only one sick to death of iPhone mania. I just want my phone to complete calls.
Tired of iPhone and/or Apple news on Engadget?

Ok, we'll level with you. It's our job to cover the gadgets and consumer electronics space the best we possibly can -- and that often includes covering gadgets that one crowd or another isn't particularly interested in. (See: iPod fans when we blew the door off the Zune launch; or Microsoft fans when we took over WWDC this year.)

So here's the straight dope: it's not like we're going to ignore the iPhone or anything, so for those of you told us you wanted to opt out of our iPhone or Apple coverage, we hear ya! We whipped up some slightly modified Engadget RSS feeds with Yahoo Pipes; we wouldn't suggest using these forever, but until we get our blog platform up to speed on exclusionary news it's a good enough temporary solution.

Opt out of Apple / iPhone news
Engadget classic without any iPhone news - RSS feed, Pipes page
Engadget classic without any Apple news - RSS feed, Pipes page

Engadget Mobile without any iPhone news - RSS feed, Pipes page
Engadget Mobile without any Apple news - RSS feed, Pipes page

More Bad Housing News

Note that existing home sales lag 1-2 months behind new home sales, because the latter is recorded when the offer is accepted, and the former when the property closes.

Also note that new home sales do not include cancellations, which are not a part of the stats generally.
New home sales fall more than expected in May.

May reading shows ongoing slump at start of key selling season; prices fall; April sales revised lower.
By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com senior writer
June 26 2007: 11:10 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- New home sales posted a surprising drop at the start of the crucial spring selling season in May - the latest sign that the battered housing market could have a ways to go before hitting bottom.

The pace of new home sales fell 1.6 percent to an annual rate of 915,000 last month, the Census Bureau reported, from April's 930,000 pace, which itself was revised lower. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a rate of 925,000.

While sales picked up from the early part of the year, they tumbled 15.8 percent from May 2006 - marking the 18th straight month of year-over-year declines.

Columnist proud member of Slimed by O’Reilly Club: HeraldTimesOnline.com

I had a similar experience once. I was the subject of a front page editorial of the Black student paper at U. Mass, Nummo News.

I did not realize this until I got numerous high-5s at the student senate meeting that day.

Columnist proud member of Slimed by O’Reilly Club

By Mike Leonard H-T columnist
June 26, 2007
PHILADELPHIA — I didn’t win the prestigious Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award last weekend at the 31st annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

That honor went to Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune.

I didn’t win the next-most revered prize, the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, which recognizes a columnist whose good works extend beyond the printed page.

That went to Mike Harden of the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch.

I didn’t win anything, actually. No prizes in the “general interest,” “humor” or “items” categories. Not even the enigmatic “Jeff Kramer Mystic Memorial Tie,” which is presented to the columnist who comes up with the most over-the-top example of intentionally bad writing in a competition staged during the conference.

But I can brag that no one at the annual columnists’ conference received more pats on the back, hearty handshakes and “Way to go!” congratulations.

I got slimed by Fox News program host Bill O’Reilly. It was a little like having a skunk tell you that you smell bad. Many of my colleagues expressed envy.

Each year, columnists who attend the conference submit one column for inclusion in a booklet distributed to attendees. Knowing that the bombastic host of “The O’Reilly Factor” would be a speaker at the conference, I mischievously offered up a May column I’d written concerning the Fox News host. Basically, the column was about the blowback from O’Reilly and Fox after Indiana University researchers analyzed more than 100 episodes of “The O’Reilly Factor” and concluded that the program host is a propagandist whose techniques are “heavier” and “less nuanced” than the notorious 1930s radio commentator Father Charles Coughlin.

Frankly, I didn’t expect O’Reilly to read the columnists’ booklet. But I was thrilled to see that he’d ripped my handiwork out of the bound volume and carried it up to the lectern with him. Roughly 13 minutes into his address and after repeated admonitions that people hate us, O’Reilly asked if Mike Leonard of the Hoosier Times was in the audience. (Stories printed off our Web site indicate they are copyrighted by the Hoosier Times, the parent company of the Bloomington, Bedford and Martinsville papers).

“Sorry, Mike, but you’re a dishonest guy in this column,” O’Reilly charged.

“Right back at you, Bill,” I shouted.

O’Reilly went on to deride the IU study, using the same rhetorical tools the study exposed: name-calling, distortion and inferences that lead his viewers to unfair and imbalanced conclusions.

He claimed, for example, that Fox has a “brain room” where researchers meticulously analyze information for and about Fox News. He said they studied the IU research and reported the following:

“The first few times they submitted the study, Mike, it was rejected. Rejected!” O’Reilly said. “The methodology was faulty, all right?”


Google: This is Enlightened Self Interest

Not a return to their policy of "don't be evil".

They will still keep your data for as they possibly can. Thankfully, the European Union is putting some limits on this.
Google seeks U.S. government support in fighting Internet censorship abroad

Associated Press
Article Launched: 06/22/2007 11:27:09 AM PDT

WASHINGTON - Once relatively indifferent to government affairs, Google Inc. is seeking help inside the Beltway to fight the rise of Web censorship worldwide.

The online search giant is taking a novel approach to the problem by asking U.S. trade officials to treat Internet restrictions as international trade barriers, similar to other hurdles to global commerce, such as tariffs.

Google sees the dramatic increase in government Net censorship, particularly in Asia and the Middle East, as a potential threat to its advertising-driven business model, and wants government officials to consider the issue in economic, rather than just political, terms.

"It's fair to say that censorship is the No. 1 barrier to trade that we face," said Andrew McLaughlin, Google's director of public policy and government affairs. A Google spokesman said Monday that McLaughlin has met with officials from the U.S. Trade Representative's office several times this year to discuss the issue.


Is Opera Software In Trouble?

Generally, this sort of shakeup does not occur in a vacuum.

Disclosure: I do NOT use their software.
Norway's Opera Software reshuffles board after power struggle

Associated Press
Article Launched: 06/22/2007 01:02:56 PM PDT

OSLO, Norway - Key shareholders in Opera Software ASA have reshuffled the board of directors after a reported power struggle between board members and the company's chief executive and founder, Jon S. von Tetzchner.

Five of the seven board members, including chairman Nils A. Foldal, were fired at a shareholder's meeting Thursday, company spokesman Tor Odland said Friday.

They were replaced by three new board members, and the total number of board members was reduced to five.

Norwegian business daily Dagens Naeringsliv reported that the move came after the ousted board members failed to remove Tetzchner as head of the company, which makes Web browsers for personal computers, mobile phones and personal digital assistants.

The paper reported that the board was growing impatient with Tetzchner because of the company's poor performance - the share price has dropped more than 50 percent in the past year.

The chief executive declined to comment on the power struggle but told Dagens Naeringsliv he had no plans to step down.

"I feel that I have an important job for the company, shareholders and the board," Tetzchner was quoted as saying.


Criminals in Journalism

This guy moved to a competitor, and stole proprietary data. He thought he could get away with it because of who his father is (see last paragraph).

I've always thought that the large corporate media chains were pond scum, and now it is confirmed.
Ridder says he shared Pioneer Press data
Publisher denies breaking noncompete pact
Pioneer Press
Article Last Updated: 06/25/2007 09:46:57 PM CDT

Star Tribune Publisher Par Ridder acknowledged taking confidential financial information from his former employer, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, to his new job at the Minneapolis paper; separately, he insisted his noncompete agreement with the Pioneer Press had been waived, making him free to go.

Ridder's videotaped testimony, played Monday in Ramsey County District Court, started a three-day hearing for a temporary injunction against Ridder's employment at the Star Tribune. The Pioneer Press has sued the Star Tribune over Ridder's departure in March and is seeking to hold Ridder and two other former Pioneer Press employees to their noncompete agreements, barring them from working at the rival paper for one year.

In addition to determining whether the noncompete agreements are valid, Ramsey County District Court Judge David Higgs must decide whether the spreadsheets Ridder allegedly purloined constitute trade secrets. The judge also must decide whether the Pioneer Press will be irreparably harmed by the Star Tribune's having them.

In a brief filed last week, the Star Tribune argued that the noncompete contracts aren't binding. It also argued that the electronic data Ridder and the other employees took may have been sensitive but weren't all that important. The Star Tribune said it didn't use the data and it didn't hurt the Pioneer Press.


Ridder said it was "inappropriate" for him to have taken Pioneer Press personnel paperwork - the disputed noncompete agreements - from the Pioneer Press building. He also said he told his new bosses at the Star Tribune "that I would do this differently," referring to loading up his laptop with confidential Pioneer Press financial information and then distributing it via e-mail to top executives at the Star Tribune.


Ridder testified that after speaking with Cartalucca about how to handle the paperwork, he called his father for advice. Ridder's father is Tony Ridder, former CEO of the dismantled Knight Ridder newspaper chain.


26 June 2007

Oops!! We Bruied ROMANS with Full Military Honors????

I'm of the opinion that anything which is single sourced by Josephus should be taken with a grain of salt.

There was clearly a siege, but the mass suicide mirrors Josephus' account of his own surrender to the Romans.
New theory questions Masada account

Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST Jun. 22, 2007

An Israeli anthropologist is using modern forensics and an obscure Biblical passage to challenge the accepted wisdom about mysterious human remains found at Masada, the desert fortress famous as the scene of a mass suicide nearly 2,000 years ago.

A new research paper published Friday takes another look at the remains of three people found in a bathhouse at the site - two male skeletons and a full head of women's hair, including two braids. They were long thought to have belonged to a family of Zealots, the fanatic Jewish rebels said to have killed themselves rather than fall into Roman slavery in the spring of 73 CE, a story that became an important part of Israel's national mythology.

Along with other bodies found at Masada, the three were recognized as Jewish heroes by Israel's government in 1969 and given a state burial, complete with Israeli soldiers carrying flag-draped coffins.

But Israel might have mistakenly bestowed that posthumous honor on three Romans, according to a paper in the June issue of the journal Near Eastern Archaeology by anthropologist Joe Zias and forensics expert Azriel Gorski.

The remains of the three became a key part of the site's story when Masada was excavated in the 1960s. Yigael Yadin, the renowned Israeli archeologist in charge of the dig, thought they illustrated the historical account of Zealot men killing their wives and children and then themselves before the Roman legionnaires breached Masada's defenses.

Upon finding the remains, the crew "relived the final and most tragic moments of the drama at Masada," Yadin wrote in his book documenting the dig, mentioning that the woman's "dark hair, beautifully plaited, looked as if it had just been freshly coiffeured."

"There could be no doubt," Yadin wrote, "that what our eyes beheld were the remains of some of the defenders of Masada."

The new paper focuses on the hair, noting the odd absence of a skeleton to go with it. The researchers' new forensic analysis showed an even stranger fact - the hair had been cut off the woman's head with a sharp instrument while she was still alive.

The new findings could not be reconciled with the original identification of the remains.

The new findings could not be reconciled with the original identification of the remains.

Zias' attempt to explain the discrepancy led him to the Old Testament's Book of Deuteronomy, where a passage requires that foreign women captured in battle by Jews cut off all their hair, apparently an attempt to make them less attractive to their captors.

Zias concluded that the hair belonged not to a Jewish woman but to a foreign woman who fell captive in the hands of Jewish fighters.

In his scenario, the woman was attached to the Roman garrison stationed at Masada in 66 CE, when the Zealots took over the fortress and killed the Roman soldiers. Jewish fighters in Masada's northern palace threw two Roman bodies into the bathhouse, which Zias thinks the Zealots used as a garbage dump because of other debris found inside. They took the woman captive and treated her according to Jewish law, cutting off her hair, which they threw in along with the bodies.


Why You Should All Read The Register

Most computer publications won't use terms like "Crapware", but the Register does, and in so doing eliminates 3 boring paragraphs of explanation.
Dell cleans up crapware
By Austin Modine in Mountain View
Published Monday 25th June 2007 21:11 GMT

Dell's tradition of shoveling bloatware into newborn PCs may be coming to a close. All it took was a few years of outrage.

Previously, only Dell XPS systems had the privilege of shipping with a "no software preinstalled" option. But vigilant e-coniptions on Dell's IdeaStorm (http://www.ideastorm.com/) feedback site has prompted Dimension desktops and Inspiron notebooks to join the party.


There's also the fact that Dell has been hemorrhaging, because it decided to save a few bucks by hiring incompetent Indian tech support, and users, particularly business users, have been fleeing to HP.

Their tech support could be either incompetent or Indian, and they would probably have been OK, but together, not so good.

Customers who configure either system on Dell.com can now choose to forgo unhappy hours of removing unwanted "productivity," ISP, media software such as QuickBooks Trial, NetZero Installers, Earthlink Setup, Wanadoo Europe Installer, Norton Ghost 10.0, MS Plus Photo Story 2LE, MS Plus Digital Media Installer, AOL US, AOL UK, MusicMatch Music Services, Corel Snapfire Plus SE, Yahoo! Music Jukebox, Roxio RecordNow, Sonic RecordNow Audio, Dell Search Assistant — and the rest of the gang.

But not all software gets cut by Occam's pre-configuration razor. Dimension and Inspiron systems will still ship with trial version of anti-virus software, Acrobat Reader and Google tools.


Yes, Virginia, There are Scummier People than Realtors

The changes in ground rent law were a result of a very good Baltimore Sun Expose (Part 1, Part 2, and part 3) about how a relatively small number of ground rent holders are regularly using this to screw people.

These people should be hung by their tongues and their genitals.
Ground rent suit is filed
Action challenges new laws reforming a system that had cost hundreds their homes

By June Arney
sun reporter

June 26, 2007

A trustee for a ground rent owner has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of new laws intended to reform a system that had cost hundreds of people their homes.

In the suit filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, Charles Muskin seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to block measures that end ejectment - the seizure of a property for nonpayment of ground rents - and require a registry of ground rents.

The laws, which would take effect July 1, were part of a reform package enacted in the last session of the General Assembly in the wake of an investigative series published by The Sun . The articles reported that ground rent holders had sued to get possession of homes nearly 4,000 times over six years - sometimes over unpaid sums of as little as $24. Baltimore judges awarded houses to ground rent holders at least 521 times between 2000 and the end of March 2006.

In many cases, ground rent holders used their power under state law to oust homeowners, then sold the properties, sometimes for tens of thousands of dollars in profit. Some homeowners were able to reach settlements to regain their houses by paying legal and other fees many times the amount of ground rent owed.

In addition to stopping ejectments and creating the registry, the package of reform laws also banned the creation of new ground rents and made it easier for homeowners to redeem - buy out - ground rents.

Muskin, a trustee for two trusts from his grandfather's estate that include about 300 ground rents in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County, testified against some of the bills before the General Assembly last session.


Rick Abbruzzese, spokesman for Gov. Martin O'Malley, said yesterday the state will stand by the new laws.

"We will defend, and we are confident the court will uphold this important legislation," he said. O'Malley supported the reform package and signed it into law.

Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said the suit had been received and was being reviewed, but declined further comment.

Brian E. Frosh, chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, which considered the bills, said lawmakers "got advice from the attorney general that the legislation was constitutional, particularly with respect to the claims made" in the suit.

The laws changed "not a property right, but a remedy," said Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat. "It used to be you could toss somebody out of their house for a $20 payment. Now you can get the 20 bucks, but you have to follow a different procedure."

Under the new laws, if all else fails and a house is sold, Frosh said, the ground rent holder collects only what he is owed, and the homeowner gets the balance.


OMFG!!! This is Grim!

This is the scariest power point presentation that I've ever seen in my life.
You can see the whole presentation along with analysis at the link.
Closing the 'Collapse Gap': the USSR was better prepared for peak oil than the US

Realtors Fighting Over Spin on Bad News

Their participation made it too difficult for them to lie.

The way the current market is, they need a significant information asymmetry to make any money at all.
Realtor groups may quit statewide reports


The Naples Area Board of Realtors has long wanted to report that city's results undiluted by lower-priced and worse-performing neighbors.

In fact, for the past few months, the board has refused to submit its sales and price numbers to the Florida Association of Realtors for its comprehensive monthly reports.

Marla Martin, an FAR spokeswoman, said the Naples board -- representing the wealthiest median home sales prices in Florida -- had raised issues with the state association relating to the presentation of the board's sales and price data.

Martin said there have been recent meetings about the matter, and she expected some resolution soon.

Observers say that Naples' strong, expensive but medium-small market does not want to be lumped into any other database because it could drag down the statistics.

With much the same sentiment, the Sarasota Association of Realtors would prefer to be judged only within the boundaries of its Multiple Listing Service, and it issues a monthly release timed to coincide with the FAR's monthly statistics.

But it is uncertain where the group sets the MLS boundaries.


Abramoff Snares Doolittle

Someone here is going to talk. Either Doolittle will roll to protect his wife, or she'll talk when she finds out that Doolittle has thrown her under a bus.

I would bet on his wife rolling on him though, as he has already fingered her to the press about this entire thing.
Feds contact ex-Doolittle aide
By ERICA WERNER Associated Press Writer
© 2007 The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — California GOP Rep. John Doolittle's former chief of staff is providing documents to federal prosecutors investigating Doolittle and his wife in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal, the aide's attorney told The Associated Press on Monday.

The aide, David Lopez, who was Doolittle's longtime chief of staff until 2005 and continued to work for him as a campaign consultant for about a year after that, has turned over several hundred pages of campaign finance records to the Justice Department under subpoena, said his attorney, Bill Portanova.

A different former Doolittle staffer, Kevin Ring, who went on to work as a lobbyist with Abramoff, was already known to be under investigation in the wide-ranging probe. Portanova's comments marked the first public confirmation that prosecutors have sought to interview other former Doolittle aides.


How Not To Sell a Magazine

I was reading Dan Froomkin (He's on my blogroll), and there was this ad for Newsmax:

This won't get me to buy their pseudo magazine. It just created a Pavlovian association:





I Don't know about you, but I wouldn't touch that magazine with a 10 foot Anne Heche.

Iraqi Ally Takes Money and Runs

Courtesy of Abu Aardvark.
Abu Aardvark: Anbar Salvation Council head skips town?

This story from al-Malaf is currently the talk of the forums: Sitar Abu Risha, head of the Anbar Salvation Council, has allegedly fled Iraq with $75 million that the Americans had given him to fight al-Qaeda.

The article is in Arabic, which I cannot read, but it matches my cynicism.

We can't even f&^%ing bribe people competently.

What a mess.

A Historic First: Heath Shuler's Play Calling DOESN'T Suck

Seriously, I'm a Redskins fan, and what a bust he was. (Yes, I know that this is bad English)

Seriously, he had a cannon for an arm, but he had maracas for his head.

I think that Gus Frerrotte, the league minimum 2nd stringer who outplayed him in every imaginable way, is still in the NFL
Rep. slammed as 'chickenshit thief' for 'borrowing' Democrat's sign

A Republican House member (pictured) was slammed by a Democratic colleague as a "chickenshit thief" after borrowing one of his signs, a Capitol Hill newspaper reports.

"On Thursday, during House votes, a very angry Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) had some distinctly non-collegial words for Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)," Emily Heil reports for Roll Call's "Heard on the Hill." "The words 'gutless,' 'chickens--t' and 'thief' were flung."

The paper reports, "Shuler, a former NFL quarterback, was spotted towering over a seated Gohmert, wagging a finger in his face during the heated session, spies tell HOH."

"Gohmert’s crime?" Heil continues. "Shuler and his gang, the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats, say the Texas Republican pulled off a high-stakes heist."

Heil observes, "Next time Gohmert gets the urge to steal — or borrow — something, HOH humbly suggests he chooses a less physically intimidating target."


What Mr. Willis said

One of the nice things about the blogosphere is that you can always find someone who makes the point you wanted to make better than you ever could.

In this case, it's Oliver Willis (like Kryptonite to stupid).
Margaret Carlson Had A Column To Fill
A long time ago I used to believe that a lot of these people were just talking over my head, their discourse too lofty for a regular guy like myself. But that isn't true. They're just stupid.