Rahm-dom Insider Factoid

The former Illionois Representative and current WH COS still works out at the House member's gym. For those keeping score at home, that means George Washington University won't let alumni use its gyms, but the House will.


Would It Kill You To Watch This Movie?

Hm. Will a movie with the same tone and feel as the book, the Omnivore's Dilemma, featuring the writer of Fast Food Nation be enough to attract the less bookish to the cause of food movements? I am not a member of any of these movements. I ain't a locavore (local foods), a whole foodie (organics), a vegan/vegetarian, or otherwise. For the most part, I try to eat things I recognize in their original form. Homemade bread, fruits, and veggies. Some cheese, but not cheese product. It does me good.


Heard it Here First: "Sixting"

The act of texting/iming/emailing/tooting horns from the hilltops a la Riccola ads to announce to all your left-leaning friends that Spector had switched cloaks, giving the Dems the magic 60 needed in the Senate to defeat a filibuster...just as soon as Franken joins the fray.

Re: Your Brains

I rarely share stuff like this, but this is the song that has been stuck in my head for a month. www.JonathanCoulton.com - titled, re: Your Brains. Have fun.

[HT: Dan]

100 Days Don't Matter

This is not the first post about whether the first 100 days of Obama's administration tell us anything. There was a lot of discussion in the first week of the administration about whether the paradigm applied to a President who had done more in his transition, directly lobbying Congress and deflecting international overtures, than many are called upon to do in their first three months. There was also a sense that the 24 hour media cycle had rendered the 100 days obsolete. To the contrary, for lack of anything better to fill the time (except swine flu), the 100 days offer a time-honored "tradition" of media navel contemplation.

Of course, what the administration has worked on so far hasn't helped answer the question either - though perhaps that, in itself, is the answer. Obama didn't have a 100 day agenda. He didn't have milestones to hit by now, at least none to which anyone inside gave any voice. The projects are all bigger than that. Can we talk cogently about 100 days Obama stimulus, or do you have to back to his encouraging Congress to pass the second half of the stimulus before he took office? How about economic recovery, led by a man who was involved in the bailout while Barack was still stumping? How about healthcare, stymied initially by the Debaschle but now on track again? Or international relations, with an ongoing stream of meetings with EU leaders, the G20, the Summit of the Americas, etc., none of which run on Washington's schedule? Jobs and homes? Those programs are just in the first stages of being implemented.

What emerges instead of a 100 day picture is a sense of, "My gosh, he's really pushing all of these items as part of an ambitious agenda. He'll continue to work the agenda, and, perhaps most importantly, he isn't thinking 100 days at a time." Give it a year, maybe two, and we'll know how this presidency is really shaping up. Of course, by then, it'll be time to start running for re-election.


Something you might not know about me - I love racing. I don't have 3 hours on a Sunday to watch it, but I have loved it ever since I was a kid. Open wheel, nascar, dirt track, you name it.

Part of what I love about racing happens at about 1:10 in the video above. Carl Edwards' lifts off the track, does a nose-down spin, hits the protective fence, rolls 360 degrees while spinning again, and settles on the track spewing some smoke and little fire. It also spews Carl, unharmed from the cockpit. Fans go nuts - and they should.

There is a lot of controversy today about restrictor plates (makes the cars go slower) and other tech that ostensibly keeps the cars stuck to the pavement and whether it needs work. Carl thinks so. I am not so sure.

This is 200 miles an hour, even with the "restrictor." At these speeds, nudges mean the difference between straight and spinning out of control. It means bone rattling down force. It means risk. And risk is what the fans pay to see by the hundreds of thousands. They want more than the risk of a baseball bat flying into the stands. They want more than the chance that puck might carom off the glass. And they understand, despite anything their lawyer might tell your lawyer a month from now, that the spectacular crash on the track has a tiny, but very real risk, of coming right at them. That's part of what gets their hearts pounding as the pack booms and roars past over and over and over.

I think it is great that NASCAR wants to make this safe for the fans and the drivers. I was watching when the Intimidator hit the wall on the last turns of the 500, so I know what we're protecting. But I think we can go, and perhaps we already have gone, too far. Let's leave some racing in the racing, shall we?

Oh, and Carl, I am glad you walked away. And, Hooo-weeee! Didjo seee thaaht?!

A Law School Final If Ever There Was One

It had to happen. Someone has tracked the legal misdeeds, including citations to the particular sections, in Ferris Beuller's Day Off. To you law professors out there: this is a great fact pattern. Just provide a summary and ask folks to spot it. Heck, you can include the breaking and entering by the principle and the dog bite tort for kicks.


The Universe May Taste of Raspberries.

Actually, that's not true. It's just one galaxy.


My Eyes! The Diplomatic Immunities, They Do Naahsing!

Hillary Clinton with Libyan National Security Advisor Mutassim Qadhafi, son of
the Libyan leader, at the State Department today. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
--Michael Crowley
(Stunned silence)


Say what you want...

...if everyone making what Hill staffers make was of that caliber, the U.S. would rank no. 1 in pretty much everything.

Free Cone Day.

At Ben and Jerrys. I can't remember the last time I had one. Made me happy. Also made me realize that I really don't need ice cream in more than a 3 oz. serving. (smiles).


I'm On a Stamp! S-T-M-P!

I mean, S-T-A-M-P. How can you resist? Filatelallyourfriendstobuythem! - USPS.

Uncle Festo's World of Wonders

[Festo YouTube Video] Festo has developed robotic penguins that use "bionic" tech - i.e. that modeled on the mechanics of living tissue. The result is something eerily "real." Add to that the fact that the things are autonomous and I am hooked. Of course, Festo didn't stop at the fluid dynamics of water. They have flying penguins too (at around the 1:00 mark). Take that nature!

In other news, YouTube now suspends embedding at the request of a video's poster. A lot of people are taking advantage of this. I suspect we'll see a lot of disabling initially, followed by an equilibrium as people realize that embedding means more views and more views means more exposure, no matter where it happens.


Teleprompters for the rest of us.

And, actually, for the pros too. This is proPrompter. $100 gets you the rig, which screws in to the bottom of a standard camera mount. The app is free in the iTunes shop. Thing is, even the pros don't have teleprompter capability out in the field, so this could really change things for them. I wonder if you can tell that the person is looking just off to the right of the frame when they are 15 feet away.


Now THIS is an American Car

This is the http://www.arielatom.com/. Doesn't it look like the 600HP, 0-60 in 2.9 second banshee that it is? It's faster than a superbike, with better cornering, and no helmet requirement. Did I mention this beauty starts around $40K and is street legal? All built right here in the US.

Current Tiny Thing. Next Big Thing.

This TED talk is about how bacteria "talk" to each other. More accurately, it about how they sense when there is a critical mass of bacteria and then act in concert. When the bacteria is virulent, this means you get sick. Solution: Block the sensors, stop the behavior. Amazing.


Holy Crap, Good Sense Might Be Winning the Day

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Full Metal Budget
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

The Pentagon slashed Boeing's airborne laser program, citing "technology" and "affordability" concerns. Right - doesn't work and really expensive. Here we call that a "lemon." I won't go into why the system is flawed here, but suffice it say that, to work, the system would have to be aloft 24/7/365 and close enough to every single possible launch site to shoot at a missile in the boost phase. Oh, and these launch sites include unknown places in the middle of the ocean because of nuclear subs.

It was a cool idea, but it needed to go. Good work!


It is in full swing, which means I didn't post at the end of last week, and I won't post the middle of this week. I'll be back on a full schedule by next week!

Well, You're Memorable...

I got on the train this morning and saw a woman whose profile looked familiar. There was some of that passive-aggressive commuter glancing as I tried to place her. Two minutes later I got it, but byt then I really couldn't take my eyes off her. She looked like the late twenties urban professional mimeograph of what might have been the Cat in the Hat's sister. I can't have been the first person to see the resemblance. I wonder if she's seen it, or better yet, if she owns the hat. Let's just give her theoretical kudos for that, shall we?


Smoking - in any form - Kills.

Just have to read it to believe it: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6639461.stm.

Suddenly, I am lot more sympathetic to the argument that you may have a shorter life, but it will be worth living.


Something for All (Well, Most) of My Neighbors

The DC City Council today voted to recognize gay marriages of other states. DC is odd because legalizing gay marriage outright may require Congressional approval, and I don't have to tell you how fun that would be.

I was going to put in a note that some states require you to be resident before you can get a same-sex marriage, but I just looked and nobody has one. MA dropped its requirement in July 2008. The new law in IA doesn't have one.

Whichever side of the debate you occupy, these sure are interesting times.


Two amazing videos.

First - A floating cannonball. Yes, a real cannonball.

Second - Floating hubcaps. Just creepy really.


Chinese Have a Missile that Can Sink a Carrier By Itself

It's the new Dong Feng. Specs: Low radar signature, advanced navigation system (read: ability to zig zag and fly low), a warhead big enough to sink a carrier, and a top speed of mach 10. Have I been out of the loop that long? Since when have missiles traveled at Mach 10? The AIM-9 sidewinder, admittedly air-to-air, has a top speed of just Mach 2.65. The Patriot ground-to-air has a top speed of Mach 5 - same as the missiles it is intended to shoot down. Also, how much zig-zagging do you need to do at that speed? How much can you do?


Do Sightless Keypads Make Sense?

Here is a concept from Android developers for a keypad that you don't have to look at. It's actually an amazingly simple idea, which is what makes it so brilliant. Anywhere you put your finger on the screen becomes "5." You then stroke up for "2", down for "8", etc. The system even has a haptic feedback (a tactile vibration) when you have stroked far enough. That let's you find "0" which is 2 numbers below "5." You stroke through the first vibration for "8".

Thing is, the stroking is slower than a normal keypad. Also, it is only useful if you can't see the keys, and it requires that you remember numbers. In that scenario, it is a lot faster to use voice dailing because I can just say the same of the contact. Even if the computer needs to "confirm" what I said, it is still faster.

Great tech, but it may solve a problem few have.

[HT www.gizmodo.com ]


107M Ski Cliff Jump

Wow. That's over 300 feet, and he lived. See photos here.

Going From Severely to Woefully Underpaid is No Bonus

Another dig at the WSJ I am afraid. This time, it took TWO writers to muck up a simple story, and they work for the paper. You see, Congresspeople are giving people bonuses. Bonuses! How could anyone get a bonus in this economy? Clearly, everyone has done a terrible job. You there - in the Congressman's back office in charge of healthcare issues (that have nothing to do with the economic downturn), who worked 9am-9pm, 6.4 days a week, for the past year with 2 recesses that you spent with me in the district - you can't have a $3,000 bonus, bringing your salary to $33,000. That's $33K in a major metropolitan area, where you have to eat out more than most because you barely see your apartment.

The article never mentions how little congressional staffers actually make. There is a pithy quote from Pelosi's aide placed, it seemed to me, in ironic counterpoint, noting that these bonuses help hard-working aides who are underpaid. No numbers. Instead, there is a note that out of 2,000 staffers, 3 got $14,000. So, less than one percent got a "big" bonus? Hm. I just can't get angry about that. Sounds quite responsible really. Oh, and could you mention for the folks out there that most of these people have college debt, many including graduate degree debt?

I sound ticked don't I? I know a lot of staffers on both sides of Congress. Whatever you may think of their members, these aides think less. They are nose to the grindstone policy wonks who deal directly with constituents daily to bring the local concerns to Washington. They aren't doing it for the money, that's for sure. Even the power isn't enough to keep you going. It has to a sense of service. Crapping on these people because their bosses can provide a little extra to show their gratitude - and I do mean a little - that's low.


What Are You Smoking?

Brad Shiller claims in the WSJ that the Obama administration's new federal tobacco tax amounts to increased taxes on the poor. Prof. Shiller does not cite any source noting that cigarettes are the purview of the poor. He does not indicate how much the actual tax increase would affect the average smoker. Indeed, after 2-3 sentences about how this constitutes a reneging of campaign promises, Prof. Shiller spends the rest of the article on 2 points:

(a) "Fairness": This will cost states a lot of tax revenue because higher taxes mean lower cigarette sales, and
(b) "Security": This will increase the level of tobacco smuggling.

To Shiller's first real point: let's talk about the real cost of cigarette smoking - the health costs that many of us bear either in the increased cost of private insurance or the outlays of public moneys in public hospital bills. Shiller never mentions what the reduction in cigarette sales could mean to that number.

Further, I have no idea what this has to do with fairness. Sure, the tax will have more of an effect on sales in states where the smokestax is lower. Would Prof. Shiller really have the federal government set a different tax level in each state? How unfair!

To his second point regarding smuggling. I imagine the increased cost would raise smuggling. That's why we have an ATF. Shiller's statement that this money likely funds terrorists is again, just a bald statement.

To the editorial staff of the Wall Street Journal - how about demanding a little integrity from your writers?