iGadget Steve consulted

Posted in Made in China, Phlogiston at 11:20 am by George Smith

Because Steve Jobs is the most important man in the world, he was apparently consulted by President Obama on how to cure the nation’s ills.

My guess the best advice Jobs could have given would have been telling the President to forget all Americans who don’t have iPhones or iPods. They’re structural drags and don’t count when considering the shining future.

It’s the I-fart-sunshine-and-piss-champagne crowd that’s the fountainhead of innovation, progress and job creation.

Why, if you can’t make an app like Harmonica or Jerk In a Box or Pocket Guitar for the empowerment of tens of thousands of annoying and creepy nerds, what good are you?

The Register drew my attention to the tete a tete here.

Quoth el Reg:

Barack Obama called on Steve Jobs yesterday to discuss the challenges facing the US economy.

As for restoring the competitiveness of the United States? Well, Apple already depends on Chinese workers to build most of its kit. Perhaps Obama can look at shifting key US government technology production over there as well – missiles, nukes, and the like. It’s entirely likely the Chinese already have a pretty good idea of the blueprints anyway, so the US taxpayer might as well get the full benefit by getting the stuff built there as well.

That just leaves energy independence. We’re sure there’s some kind of skunkworks project down Infinite Loop that can take care of this. Presumably the biggest challenge is how to squeeze a nuke plant into a white plastic box with a single button.

Good news, lads! Good news! Welcome to the future. The joke’s on us!

Right before posting an ad to the personals on Craig’s List.

Jump on this grenade if you dare, lads! Half a million views!

Some old dead guy playing real harmonica, not so popular lads!

Here’s a philosophical question for turning you inside out.

What’s better? Buying a Chinese-made 16G Apple iPhone for $299 and Harmonica for 99 cents or buying a Chinese-made real harmonica and a Chinese-made Fender guitar and amp kit in a box for $199?

Congratulations Steve

Posted in War On Terror at 8:42 am by George Smith

Congrats and kudos to Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists for being named the winner of a 2010 Pioneer Award given by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is pleased to announce four winners of its 2010 Pioneer Awards: transparency activist Steven Aftergood; public domain scholar James Boyle; legal blogger Pamela Jones and the website Groklaw; and e-voting researcher Hari Krishna Prasad Vemuru, who was recently released on bail after being imprisoned for his security work in India,” reads the announcement at EFF here.

“Secrecy News … provides direct public access to various official records that have been suppressed, withdrawn, or that are simply hard to find,” EFF adds indisputably.

In one capacity or another, DD has relied on Aftergood for advice, help and careful reflection for at least fifteen years. Never parsimonious with his time, Steve always delivers … um … the goods.



In France (continued)

Posted in Extremism at 12:45 pm by George Smith

The way to do social protest:

With all of France’s oil refineries out of action and a quarter of its filling stations without fuel, Nicolas Sarkozy broke his silence to call for an end to the disruption.

With all of France’s oil refineries out of action and a quarter of its filling stations without fuel, Mr Sarkozy broke his silence to call for an end to the disruption.

“We cannot be the only country in the world where, when there is a reform, a minority wants to block everyone else,” he said.

That from the Telegraph, from coverage of the riots aimed at stopping the French government from hiking the retirement age.

In the United States, the only ‘protesters’ are those who want their life destroyed for the sake of the wealthy class.

Others have noticed, like Digby here.

When the GOP disembowels the US government and goes for Social Security, they’re the kind who will dependably riot and vote in more evil.

Doomsday Bombs

Posted in Crazy Weapons at 8:18 am by George Smith

They all are.

However, in the US arsenal the biggest was the B-53 gravity bomb, a 9-megaton monster to be used on the Soviet leadership.

Jason at Armchair Generalist notes a Post story by Walter Pincus on the slow disassembly of the B-53.

With an explosive power of 9 million tons of TNT — the Nagasaki and Hiroshima 12 kiloton bombs are almost not worth mentioning by comparison — the B-53 was apocalyptic.

It is probably true that no big civilized nation — the US or the Soviet Union — surviving even three or four hits from 9-megaton shots like the B-53. There is no coping with such destruction over an urban area. Government would cease.

The fireball from such an explosion would engulf all five boroughs of NYC.

Now imagine the blast effects. And the fallout from all the debris of incinerated Manhattan tossed into the air and blown downrange. Depending on prevailing winds, virtually entire states could be rendered uninhabitable.

The B-53 was made to take out deep bunkers, delivered so the shockwave would crush them.

Even if a blast wave didn’t collapse such a hiding place, an explosion of such magnitude would guarantee no one emerged. Ever.

For the Strangelovian excercise, there was the succinctly named Nuclear Bomb Effects Computer, a kind of circular slide rule for anyone to use.

And there is this PC weapons simulation calculator, made for the US government. It is in DOS, however.

It will still run on a Windows PC, offering you the option of an unclassified or classified session.

And for everyone else, there is a web-based blast radius calculator here.

Input 9000 kt to make it work. And your favorite city, any country.

I chose OneWest Bank (aka Satan’s Bank of Pasadena) on Lake St. in Pasadena as ground zero. As a near miss on Los Angeles, it would still destroy most of LA County.


In France

Posted in Extremism, Stumble and Fail at 8:15 am by George Smith

“Never try to get your peter sucked in France,” sings Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson on Frank Zappa’s In France. “They got some coffee, eatin’ right through the cup!”

The lyrics are funny, juvenile and half supercilious and but the band can’t wait to get back to France. Well, maybe they can but the view is not as unremittingly hostile as the usual treatment given to the French in the US.

Here’s a rhetorical question: Have you ever not seen some American, when presented with a critical view by a Frenchman (or an Englishman), retaliate with a version of “We saved your rotten asses in WW II!”

Anyway, news from France these days shows the French have guts, something lacking in the land of exceptionalism in all things.

In France:

The Interior Ministry said that 1.1 million people demonstrated throughout France on Tuesday, down from 1.23 million on Oct. 12. In Paris, the police said that 67,000 people demonstrated, down from 89,000. The main union, the C.G.T., said that 3.5 million people demonstrated throughout France on both days.

Unions, students and other workers have protested in a way that’s highly disruptive — blocking fuel distribution, ensuring one third of the country’s gas stations have gone empty. Among with many other actions.

All of it in response to austerity politics by the French government, the raising of the retirement age in France, along with other attacks on the social safetynet, for purposes of deficit cutting have the people in the street.

The French do not want American-style capitalism.

In 2010, that’s a logical and decent view to hold.

In the US, it’s obvious the opposite is in place.

The only social protester is by angry and nuts hick whites who hate the president and everyone not like them, who wish to destroy what little is actually left of any social safetynet. And, of course, protect the very wealthy from taxation.

Like Zappa, you could write a funny song about it. However, generally, the only songs written are like this or this. And they are neither funny nor satirical.

Pete Seeger it ain’t.

In France America.

The French do have some American-style rub off. The current national argument over the Roma has some similarity to the GOP antipathy toward Mexicans and the US Latino population. Only, by our standards, it’s more tepid. Their social generosity and tolerance would still seem to currently be much greater than ours.

The Tea Party has nothing on France.

These people are rattling wealth and the corporate establishment, something our protesters would never dream of doing:

“If it is not stopped quickly, this disorder which is aimed at paralysing the country could have consequences for jobs by damaging the normal running of economic activity,” [Sarkozy] said in a statement yesterday.

Jean Pelin, director general of France’s chemical industries association, said that the strike had already cost his sector an estimated billion euros in lost turnover, around 100 million euros (£88 million) for every extra strike day.


Economic collapse causes road paint shortage

Posted in Stumble and Fail at 9:18 am by George Smith

In the past few months there have been many stories, often buried inside newspapers, on a national shortage of road paint.

It’s a complicated picture but mainly has to do with the economic collapse and subsequent shortages of raw materials, one of which is made in China.

A collection of road paint shortage stories can be seen here using Google.

A report by the American Traffic Safety Services Association is here and describes the issues succinctly.

The problem is global in nature, the report states in its overview.

“The raw materials shortages are a result of limited availability of certain resins and rosins … as well as a shortage of titanium dioxide,” it continues.

As a result pavement marking paint manufacturers have been running below capacity in the US. And since many small business contractors are responsible for distributing and marking roadways throughout the US, their business has slumped. In the ATSSA June report reads “[this] would … likely result in bankruptcies and layoffs, thereby possibly reducing competition in the future when the market normalizes.”

In other words, only the strong survive.

“The chemical industry, as a whole, has endured the global economic downturn … and was forced to reduce production to retain profitability,” it reads.

Phenol and rosin ester production, key materials in the chain of paint manufacturing, slumped in the US. The economic collapse also brought about the shuttering of one Dow Chemical plant for the sake of retaining profit margins, thereby killing one third of American capacity.

China came through the global collapse in good shape and its roadway construction has soared.

Consequently, it has reserved all its production of titanium dioxide, another raw material used in road paint, for internal use.

And you have guessed it, the US gets fifteen percent of its titanium dioxide from China.

Oof! Another epic fail.

“These events have had a devastating impact on US production of roadway marking materials,” the report reads glumly.

“Now as the economy has begun to improve, overall demand has increased, but full production has not returned thereby exacerbating shortages.”

The ATTSA consulted chemical manufacturers in hopes of coming up with alternative courses of action for responding to the roadway marking paint crisis.

But no alternatives exist to the current market and conditions.

“Seventy eight percent of manufacturers reported they were having difficulty obtaining resins/binders to produce pavement marking materials while 56 percent reported difficulty in obtaining titanium dioxide,” it said.

The ATTSA suggested alternatives to roadway paint, in the meantime.

These included “temporary markers” and “flexible channelizers.”

“The shortage of materials has not affected tape, so inlay tape could be substituted on new asphalt.”

This year’s dead opossums will have to wait.


Right wing web only newspaper wonders about CA

Posted in Stumble and Fail at 12:18 pm by George Smith

“In some key Senate and governors’ races, the ‘left coast’ of California, Washington, and Oregon isn’t tilting toward GOP as much as the rest of the country,” writes the Christian Science Monitor. “Why not?”

Essentially, it must be because we’re all anti-American anti-family anti-values gays and/or weirdos who smoke pot and still wear hippie clothes. Yep, guilty as charged.

It’s pretty simple, really.

It’s a bad time — in California, anyway — to be seen as a vain rich person from the Silicon Valley.

Barbara Boxer’s ads on Carly Fiorina aridly speaking of outsourcing HP jobs to China have killed her.

The imagery is stark and ugly.

As for Meg Whitman, she was called ‘robotic’ by the Los Angeles Times and pilloried over the lie detector thing by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez. She also has the great reputation one accrues when tagged with having spent more of your own money on your campaign than anyone else in US history, ever. So if you want to create the impression that you stand for something besides government that can be bought by great personal wealth …

Whitman and Fiorina are repugnant candidates in a blue state where repugnance hasn’t been transformed into a character asset. Notably, Governor Arnold has not rushed to aid Whitman.

As for the Tea Party, it would be expected to be almost non-existent in LA County and around San Francisco, and it is.

It’s not South Dakota here, where 250 at a Ted Nugent showing in Rapid City is news.

When the Tea Party has made news in the local paper, it was to be made fun of for its rally in Beverly Hills starring Pat Boone and Victoria Jackson. It merited two articles in the LATimes, both ridiculing. The people in attendance, drily noted as examples of there not being many of the GOP over on the west side.

So despite the sign in the guarded property across the el Molino Street bridge in Pasadena, the one stating “Putting liberals in Congress is like putting PIRANHAS in your child’s playpool,” we’re immune.

It hasn’t helped that the Latino voting block largely despises the GOP.

“But the perception that the tea party has no effect in California is off base, says Eric Garris, a Republican activist and founder of Antiwar.com. He says he was at a tea party rally with more than 1,000 people a few weeks ago, but it received no press coverage,” added the Monitor.

One thousand is a counting error here.

Made in China: The whine of the US businessman

Posted in Made in China at 8:40 am by George Smith

Opinion headline in today’s Wall Street Journal: Stop Bashing Business, Mr. President.


Ken Langone, the alleged co-founder of Home Depot, is peeved. Mandatory health insurance for his employees! Rapacious trial lawyers!

“If we tried to start The Home Depot today, under the kind of onerous regulatory controls that you have advocated, it’s a stone cold certainty that it would never have gotten off the ground,” Langone writes.

You mean to tell us there would be one less giant chain store — the kind lampooned in various famous cartoon series — selling nothing but goods made exclusively in China, toilet seats, hardwares and such, staffed by grossly underpaid Wal-Mart-type workers?

And that would have been bad?

DD has an app for that.

Langone cues the fiddles and his Horatio Alger story:

[You] seem obsessed with repealing tax cuts for “millionaires and billionaires.” Contrary to what you might assume, I didn’t start with any advantages and neither did most of the successful people I know. I am the grandson of immigrants who came to this country seeking basic economic and personal liberty. My parents worked tirelessly to build on that opportunity. My first job was as a day laborer on the construction of the Long Island Expressway more than 50 years ago.

DD is the grandson of immigrants who came to this country seeking basic economic and personal liberty.

It seemed like the thing for them to do — nothing more, nothing less.

Made in China: Rare earth elements, US deindustrialization

Posted in Made in China, Stumble and Fail at 8:05 am by George Smith

About a month ago, Steve Aftergood’s Secrecy blog published one of the many Congressional Research Reports, a taxpayer funded analysis withheld from the public.

It’s title: Rare Earth Elements: The Global Supply Chain.

And it is here.

It discussed China’s virtual monopoly on the rare earth elements “needed in many industrial and national security applications, from flat panel displays to jet fighter engines.”

And over the past few weeks, news agencies in the US have published stories, usually in the backpages, on China cutting Japan off from rare earth shipments in a trade war, political retaliation for the latter country’s seizing of a Chinese ship.

Faced with separation from rare earth shipments, Japan promptly caved in.

The Congressional Research Service issues studies on policy issues when they’re requested by various members of that body, usually in advance of hearings or possible proposed legislation. The CRS reports do not reveal the identity of the requestors.

Today in the New York Times, Paul Krugman addresses China’s monopoly on the rare earth elements. It is just another example of American corporate business and political shortsightedness.

Or the attitude that rare earth mining had to be disposed of in the US because it was too damn dirty and there was so much more money to be made by shipping it to China and turning to financial instruments made by Wall Street.

Writes Krugman:

I don’t know about you, but I find this story deeply disturbing, both for what it says about China and what it says about us. On one side, the affair highlights the fecklessness of U.S. policy makers, who did nothing while an unreliable regime acquired a stranglehold on key materials. On the other side, the incident shows a Chinese government that is dangerously trigger-happy, willing to wage economic warfare on the slightest provocation …

You really have to wonder why nobody raised an alarm while this was happening, if only on national security grounds. But policy makers simply stood by as the U.S. rare earth industry shut down. In at least one case, in 2003 — a time when, if you believed the Bush administration, considerations of national security governed every aspect of U.S. policy — the Chinese literally packed up all the equipment in a U.S. production facility and shipped it to China.

The news here, as usual in the US of Fail, is all bad.

“The United States was once self-reliant in domestically produced [rare earth elements], but over the past 15 years has become 100% reliant on imports, primarily from China …” states the Congressional Research Report at Secrecy blog.

Notably, manufacturing of all the domestic consumer products requiring the rare earths was also shipped to China.

Military hardware and weapons production that requires them — stealth bombers and smart bombs … was not.

But you knew that without me having to tell you.


Tea Party in South Dakota with Ted

Posted in Extremism, Ted Nugent at 11:59 am by George Smith

Ted Nugent, in line with his career aim of being a spokesmodel at Tea Party events, was in Rapid City, South Dakota to rally the troops.

Reported the local newspaper:

Before appearing on stage Saturday night, rocker and activist Ted Nugent went pheasant hunting. But once he grabbed the microphone, it was red meat that Nugent threw out to an appreciative audience.

“The evidence is overwhelming if you’re not asleep,??? Nugent told the small crowd at the rally sponsored by Citizens For Liberty, a tea party group. “If we don’t make a dramatic change this November, we’re done. They will rape and pillage your paychecks to reward monsters.???

Nugent castigated Democrats in Washington and around the nation, describing them as tyrants and power abusers. He told the audience of about 250 people that it wasn’t enough for them to vote out “leftists.???

The Mao Tse-Tung Fan Club in the White House, his positions “reek” of logic, etc.

The entirety — here.

Population of Rapid City, SD: 59,607
Population of Pasadena, CA: 143,667

Population of South Dakota: 812,383
Population of LA County: 9,862,049

Vis-a-vis the US, South Dakota is essentially well within a counting error.

The Tea Party group bringing in Ted Nugent has its problems, as noted here. It is said to have a membership of 1,500. Most of them did not show up.

Newspaper comments were spirited.

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