The Vulcan Death Grip works

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 12:44 pm by George Smith

Why do we have a President now? Answer: To order drone attacks on various paupers.

Raul Grijalva at Daily Kos:

Republicans have succeeded in imposing their vision of a country without real economic hope. Their message has no public appeal, and Democrats have had every opportunity to stand firm in the face of their irrational demands …

The Democratic Party, no less than the Republican Party, is at a very serious crossroads at this moment. For decades Democrats have stood for a capable, meaningful government a government that works for the people, not just the powerful, and that represents everyone fairly and equally. This deal weakens the Democratic Party as badly as it weakens the country. We have given much and received nothing in return. The lesson today is that Republicans can hold their breath long enough to get what they want.

Sniveling will be adequate to describe all subsequent Dem appearances on TV.

Hey big newspaper, wontcha do the right thing, huh?

Posted in Decline and Fall, Made in China, Rock 'n' Roll at 9:26 am by George Smith

It’s apparent that big American companies simply won’t do the right thing, even if it’s small.

Personally experiences, over the weekend, with the Washington Post and DD’s discovery of it running a banner ad for Chinese-made electric guitars specifically aimed at fraudulently trafficking on American products.

And it was still running the banner yesterday. Maybe today. I don’t check the place every day.

Do your part to destroy any American manufacturing, even if it’s only small. Every little bit helps.

You can read the entire dissection here.

The nut of is that the banner ad run by the Post was from some operation selling knock-offs of famous Gibson guitars. Gibson, an iconic guitar manufacturer, does have factories making electric guitars in China. But those guitars, sold in the American market as a cheaper alternative to domestically made instruments from Gibson’s Nashville facilities, are -specifically- recognizable as Epiphones.

Their headstocks, trademark names and various different choices in hardware mark them as such.

The instruments advertised through the banner running at the Washington Post do not fall into this category. They are either cheap knock-offs, counterfeits, advertised in some fraudulent way, or a combination of these.

The Washington Post does not need to help in the job of undercutting US business for the sake a few Internet advertising dollars. In this, it is on the side of the bad guys.

DD knows the line about capitalists willing to sell one the rope you’ll hang them with. But really now …

Not lost in translation

Posted in Phlogiston, Rock 'n' Roll at 8:33 am by George Smith

Chinese users of YouTube were drawn to things that mentioned Wendi Deng, Rupert Murdoch’s wife, nemesis of Brit “comedian” Jonnie Marbles.

So, on a lark I decided to see how the lyrics translated using Google. The second copy is the result pasted back into the translation service, for comparative purpose with the original. Which you can hear.

?????Jonnie Pantywaist?????????
??????????Jonnie Pantywaist

??Jonnie Pantywaist???Jonnie Pantywaist


????????Jonnie Pantywaist
Jonnie Pantywaist??????????????????

??Jonnie Pantywaist???Jonnie Pantywaist

This is the story of Jonnie Pantywaist, he really messed up
He prepared a shaving cream pie, he tried to throw it away
Beat a girl, it was Jonnie Pantywaist (Oof, not quite.)

Can not even play for the elderly, the girl stopped him cold
This is Jonnie Pantywaist, which is Jonnie Pantywaist

Jonnie really screw up the news, he completely messed up
He was ready to twitter tweet
But the police took him to the shitter right
Can not even play for the elderly, the girl stopped him cold
Made us feel that the British are cowards, we feel that the British are cowards

Hear the big story Jonnie Pantywaist
Shaving cream pie he really ace, it ended up back in his face
Jonnie Pantywaist have a plan, but he is a clumsy man
He beat by a girl

This is Jonnie Pantywaist, which is Jonnie Pantywaist

The Empire’s Dog Feces: One of the ex-dogs speaks

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, War On Terror at 8:15 am by George Smith

From Aspen, another posh nesting spot for all the nation’s “good boys,” an ex-dog regrets. Bomb the paupers strategy, no good, he sez.

‘Course, you knew all this if you read the news or even come here a lot.

Hat tip to GoodShit.


Vulcan Death Grip

Posted in Decline and Fall at 3:08 pm by George Smith

Intrade item for probability of raising the debit ceiling crashes. Seven percent chance of, bet essentially worthless unless you took the short position, maybe.

The President must surely now realize the Tea Party/GOP has him and the government in the equivalent of a Vulcan Death Grip/choke hold/full nelson.

This is their historical moment. As I’ve said before one can almost admire the purity of their desire to bring down Obama and the US government whatever the personal cost.

Knowing the psychology, it’s obvious they think of the president as the devil. When they have a shot at destroying his presidency, perhaps their only one, why would they stay the hand?

Here’s the mentality — at the LehighValleyConservative. It continues to startle me that very few in the media actually mention the obvious — that pure raging animosity is driving a lot of this.

How did the President not see that given a chance, they’d do this to him and everyone else? Historians might figure it out years from now.


Made in China: Les Paul counterfeits

Posted in Made in China, Rock 'n' Roll at 2:46 pm by George Smith


Rarely does stuff like this fall into your lap.

Some readers may recall my continued posts about American classic rock electric guitar making being offshored to China. This was part of a decade long migration aimed at taking advantage of cheap overseas labor while trying to preserve a high end customer base for much more expensive custom-shop guitars made domestically.

Fender and Gibson, the two most iconic American guitar companies, moved manufacturing to China. Indeed, the Gibson website brags, if you dig deep enough, about how it trained Chinese laborers to make cheaper Gibson models under the brand name Epiphone. One company employee indicated that there was just about no difference between its manufacturing facilities in China and its domestic manufacturing in Nashville.

Counterfeiting has been an obvious problem for the US guitar industry. The pictures here show the result of the outsourcing devil’s bargain. An inability to control abuse, flagrantly shown through advertising on prime Internet real estate provided in the US — the Washington Post.

Here’s how it went down.

(Large version here.)

Idly browsing the Washington Post today, DD was reading an opinion piece on Obama being no FDR when a big ad at the top of the page caught my eye. It was for cheap guitars sold off TradeTang. And they all looked like Gibsons. The pictures in the ad were cleverly cropped, however, to avoid … discerning eyes. (Most specifically, the sales pages stay away from presenting clear and complete front photos of the headstocks. There is simply no legitimate reason for that.)

Here’s the sales website that came up once you clicked through to the actual ad site.

Here’s a small shot.

A large screen image is here.

And here’s an image of a “Les Paul” for sale. Note that it is clearly marked “Made in USA” and has, although laymen might not recognize it, the iconic Gibson headstock.

Licensed Chinese made Gibson Les Pauls are branded Epiphones and do not have the same headstock as those made in Nashville.

They also don’t say “Made in USA” or have a serial numbering scheme seemingly aimed at making them look like American-made Gibsons.

A large version of the same screenshot is here.

The sales price snapshot:

A larger shot is here.

The link for the larger shot shows prices for Les Pauls that are complete frauds unless you know you’re purchasing knock-offs. You can’t buy these instruments new for $280 – $300 plus dollars in the States. Many of them sell for ten times those amounts although some rock bottom end models go for around one thousand.

Here’s another example of some kind of fraud using the Gibson brand, either in the photograph, what’s being presented, or what’s being sold:

Larger shot, again, here. Whatever it is, it looks like a mess to me. It’s a Les Paul headstock but with tuners I see more commonly on offshored Epiphones and the front view is not presented. Which is a bit of a giveaway.

Here’s the pricing for the same advertised instrument, again indicating a misuse of the Gibson brand of some kind:

Larger shot here.

New “Made in USA” Gibson Les Pauls do not sell for $269.10, ever. Cheap knock-offs and counterfeits might, though.


Whatever is going on here, it smells strongly of shit. Suspiciously, the front of the headstocks on these guitars are not shown. Only the backs, which resemble Gibson Les Pauls closely enough to be in lawsuit territory.

I’m assuming, perhaps wrongly, that this is the loophole the seller is reliant upon. If it can’t actually see if it says … Gibson … then buyer beware.

All hitching a ride on banner ad Washington Post advertising. Cool!

Gibson’s page on made-in-China Les Paul counterfeits.


Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Phlogiston at 1:12 pm by George Smith

Foolish news item — no link — on the Kingdom of iSteve having more cash on hand than the US Treasury affords me opportunity to tell my favorite hate-on-iKit story.

The genius of iSteve is partially in the offshore manufacturing of a trinket that destroyed the US recording industry. But that was only trivial business.

The real majesty in innovation, observed up close, was in how the iTrinket induced the drummer in DD band (he’s older than me) to throw away all his perfectly good vinyl and start freeloading the same stuff, except in lower fidelity, off Limewire until they closed that down. (This, a compulsion implanted in hundreds of millions of others.)

The sheer brilliance of this was squared by the observation that he uses iTrinkets as jukebox front ends for an expensive high living room stereo set which plays the music at much lower fidelity than the recordings he used to have in his vinyl record collection.

Apparently he can’t hear the difference. But I can. What was warm and inviting has an ever present patina of coldness attached to it now.

Yesterday, I smilingly suffered through some said-to-be-famous nerd playing Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean on a ukulele, delivered through this iKit stereo. It was so excruciating and annoyingly arch, I wanted to scream. But I bit the tongue. It had sold hundreds of thousands of copies through the iStore, I was informed. Or maybe I just dreamed that it had made that much and, instead, it had just been freeloaded from Limewire or some other pirate site before they were censured.

iKing, as I’ve written before, is perfectly positioned as mass artisan manufacturing for the future world plutocracy. It has all its stuff made by Chinese labor, material things whose primary value is that of status symbol baubles among lower upper class shoeshiners to the plutocrats.

The plutocrats, I’m guessing, still buy expensive tube amplifier sound systems. Or maybe not.

iKing, mass maker of phones which will run more apps than there are people in Pasadena. And at least ten of them involve putting iKit in your mouth or pretending it’s something that it isn’t which you haven’t the skill to actually use.

Ah, kids, I remember reading many years ago how iSteve developed the vaccination which granted immunity to smallpox … Wait, whadda you mean …

Ring the telephones lameness

Posted in Decline and Fall, Extremism at 12:02 pm by George Smith

I can’t figure out why the President thinks asking the public to launch what amounts to denial-of-service attacks on Congressional telephones and websites means anything.

Does anyone with a brain think anyone in the building even remotely cares if staffers have a hard day, inbound goes directly to voice mail and servers time out?

Why would you even waste time on television triggering it?

If I had the psychology of the GOP I’d see it as an indication to keep on, only even harder. You can almost admire the maniacal desire to bring down the enemy no matter the cost, the pure kamikaze nature of it.

And all the opposition can do is ring the phones? It’s pathetic.

Reminds me a little of the few books of fiction on nuclear conflict I read during the Cold War where the tit-for-tat limited escalations become unmanageable. Both sides found it impossible to avert total calamity because communication and control were swept away while they were caught thinking they still had enough time and maneuvering room to say “Stop.”

Corporate buyer’s remorse

Posted in Decline and Fall at 9:47 am by George Smith

Featured in All The Lazy Bums, three steps down.

Worth a smirk, Wall Street and US big business’ alarm over the debt ceiling crisis.

The kings of the world went out of their way to put the extremists in power in 2010, all for fighting the “socialist/communist” in the White House. And it’s the people they bankrolled who are going to hurt them the most if it all goes very bad next week.

Law of unintended consequences, the plutocrats so busy recruiting and financing cats paws they neglected to apply reliability testing, winding up with General Jack D. Rippers in power, people who don’t care if the mansions get singed while they’re burning down the country for the sake of the jihad against Obama.

Yes, you can have my great and first official DD blog T-shirt. And I don’t even get a cut.

(As a general rule, and anyone who has tried to sell these types of goods through the Internet finds out, even without taking a cut buy-on-demand pricing is fairly bad. Buying one T-shirt is no bargain. In fact, they only become sort of reasonable when one agrees to purchase 100. Which cancels all the reason for publishing/manufacturing-on-demand, anyway. So don’t be thinking I don’t already know a single sale isn’t a particularly good deal. Even if I decline to make a single penny from it. Its only saving grace — besides my dark sense of humor in the design — is that you can have a T-shirt that exists in small enough numbers to be totally unique in your neighborhood. As for Internet business being empowering to little guys, that’s mostly mythic rubbish peddled by people in corporate tech America you should be paying no attention to.)

Buy it here, courtesy DD. Be sure to check the attractive back design, too.

Lemme know if you take the plunge in the comments section or in e-mail so I can give warm thanks and a bonus No-Prize.

Old Mr. Urban Slum

Posted in Imminent Catastrophe at 8:33 am by George Smith

Pine View Farm again points out a diverting read, this one in the Asia Times by old Mr. Urban Slum himself, Mike Davis. Ever since DD has been in southern California, Davis has been semi-famous for his role as the teller of the stories on how everything will slowly collapse. (From the perspective of someone monitoring urban decay in SoCal.)

And entropy being what it is, along with current trends, who am I to argue?

In any case, in my estimation Davis probably peaked about seven years ago, a little too far ahead of the best downhill slope we’re seeing now.

But he still easily gets in some good lines:

As a result, like the Phoenicians in the Bible, we’ll sacrifice our children (and their schoolteachers) to Moloch, now called Deficit. The bloodbath in the public sector, together with an abrupt shutoff of unemployment benefits, will negatively multiply through the demand side of the economy until joblessness is in teenage digits and Lady Gaga is singing Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Lest we forget, we also live in a globalized economy where Americans are the consumers of last resort and the dollar is still the safe haven for the planet’s hoarded surplus value. The new recession that the Republicans are engineering with such impunity will instantly put into doubt all three pillars of McWorld, each already shakier than generally imagined: American consumption, European stability, and Chinese growth.

It’s not difficult to see that if the Republicans worsen the economy significantly with a debt ceiling crack-up, the resulting lay-offs and even more hardship in the US will ripple across the Pacific to Chinese manufacturing. Again. Like in 2008. Because we buy all their shit, in fact – it’s all we can buy, y’know.

Davis also gets into China’s business adoption of predatory US practices in shadow banking, over-leveraged lending and housing bubble creation. (Since I mentioned James K. Galbraith’s Predator State book yesterday, it’s worth citing again. In Galbraith’s discussion of China’s controlled economy he argued it could easily fall prey to the same predatory financial behavior that has destroyed the US middle class and the government’s ability to effectively do what government is supposed to do in big advanced nations.)

Davis sees an impending collision between a China bubble and the Republicans taking the US economy over the cliff. Almost everyone dies in a fiery wreck, like in a trio of teen hot car novels he read as a child.


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