Failing Infrastructure is not News

Online NewsHour: America’s Infrastructure Needs Crucial Repairs — April 4, 2006

Ever since one of the major bridges connecting Minneapolis to suburbs across the Mississippi river spontaneously collapsed, considerable time has been spent on the discussion of the state of the American infrastructure. In all of these discussion, little mention was ever made of the bipartisan report commissioned by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The results were released over a year and a half ago, and the commission endorsed the findings of the Association of Civil Engineers’ estimates.

What the association of civil engineers has done — and they do this every two or three years — is they do some kind of a balance sheet of the nation’s public assets. And they give it a grade, about A, B, C, D, on the level of being adequate.

And they’ve come up — their latest figure is that it would take a $1.6 trillion dollars to bring the infrastructure of this country up to an acceptable level of decency. We’re falling another $300 billion every two or three years behind because we don’t provide adequate support to this problem.

Now, I can also tell you that it’s very difficult to do this if you religiously think that you can’t raise taxes, and that you can’t raise revenues, and that fees are a problem, and, certainly, taxes are a problem.

Future failures of the sort that unraveled so dramatically in Minnesota in August of 2007 should therefore come as no surprise to anyone. We were all adequately forewarned, it would seem.

Apple’s Ace in the Hole: Music Industry Stupidity

Technology News: Music: SpiralFrog Hops Into Digital Music Pond With Free Downloads

Undoubtedly, the greatest challenge to Apple’s dominance of the digital music market has come from the Russian pseudopirates allofmp3.com. Fortunately for Apple, allofmp3.com was shut down recently by a Russian court responding to international charges of piracy, but unfortunately for Apple, another Russian court recently ruled that allofmp3.com’s operation are legal, and allofmp3.com will be operational again, soon.

In the meantime, the American record industry has been wasting its resources with perhaps the dumbest idea ever to emerge from this industry: www.spiralfrog.com. According to the article linked above:

Once downloaded, the user can play the songs via a PC through Windows Media Player or a portable player that supports WMA files. SpiralFrog doesn’t support playback on Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPod line or even Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) Zune, nor does it provide a solution for Mac OS X users. The service only works via Windows XP or Vista PCs.

Furthermore, the user must remain active on the web site while songs are downloaded one at a time.

In other words, the recording industry has elected to challenge Apple’s service–which is functional and portable on Mac and Windows platforms–with a service that is functional only on the Windows platform and portable on no platform: the songs cannot be transported even on Microsoft’s Zune player. Spiralfrog.com seeks to challenge Apple by offering none of the features for which iTunes users are willing to spend hundreds of dollars (on an iPod, iPhone or other media player), and then charging the users by taxing their time in front of the computer.

Virtually all economic systems–barter, capitalism, communism, etc.–are based on the principle of quid pro quo, exchanging this for that. In total ignorance of the centuries of economic development that have resulted from the acceptance of this principle, the American recording industry is putting its weight behind a system that gives users absolutely nothing in exchange for their time and trouble. If spiralfrog.com is to be in anyway construed as a symbol of American capitalism, then heaven help the United States. The country will collapse under the weight of such stupidity long before any terrorist group can dream of executing another well coordinated attack.

As long as Apple’s iTunes Music Store is countered by such moronic efforts, buy Apple stock. 🙂

PS Universal Music has an inkling of business savvy left in its brain trusty by virtue of the Gbox service that it started in collaboration with Google. Unfortunately, this service is still for the Windows platform only, but it does sell DRM-free music in mp3 format. So, it may well become a viable challenge to Apple. PNM

“Bush is a Moron” Declares Alan Greenspan

Greenspan Is Critical Of Bush in Memoir | washingtonpost.com

The meaning is quite unmistakable. The implicit comparison between Clinton and Bush (W) made by Greenspan in the following paragraph (page two of the article linked above) necessarily leads to the conclusion stated in the title of this post.

However, he calls Clinton a “risk taker” who had shown a “preference for dealing in facts,” and presents Clinton and himself almost as soul mates. “Here was a fellow information hound. . . . We both read books and were curious and thoughtful about the world. . . . I never ceased to be surprised by his fascination with economic detail: the effect of Canadian lumber on housing prices and inflation. . . . He had an eye for the big picture too.”

In the rest of article, of course, Greenspan lambastes every Republican official from Bush down to Hastert and DeLay. His acerbic language (in the context of Greenspanese like “irrational exuberance”) leads one to think of how incredibly poorly these politicians must have acted in order to draw the ire of the most stolid man on the planet. Greenspan’s reaction is not just extreme by Greenspan’s own standards. It is unprecedented in American history.

Is it not?

Beauty

YouTube – Miss Teen USA 2007 – South Carolina answers a question

There is little doubt that this young woman’s public humiliation is being exploited by the neanderthal institution of “beauty contests” to gain free publicity for an event that hardly gets any attention anymore. Women will feel vindicated. Men will drool over a woman who is clearly beautiful and manifestly dumb and pliable. And, the entire ruse might actually work.

One question is, will she get her fair shake? Probably. The other question is, what does this do to the credibility of the “smart is the new sexy” billboards that have cropped up all over the skyline of the primordial soup?

Come, Swim in LA’s Cess Pools

Best (and worst) beaches in the U.S. – Today Show – MSNBC.com

The primordial soup prides itself on being a heavenly place, a paradise of a big city by virtue of its location on the Pacific coast, its eternally sunny climate and its “casual” attitude.

Look closely, however, and you will see that the “casual” attitude is a ploy to hide the aggression that roils inside everyone, and that the city’s largest tourist attraction and crown jewel, Venice Beach, remains one of the nation’s filthiest. Considering the fact that, after 50 years of operation, the Hyperion Treatment Plant has not managed to remove this stigma from the promordial soup’s beaches, one begins to grasp neglect that the prevailing “casual” attitude has cultivated in this city.

And, just to think that it used to be worse.

Working too Hard? You Had Better not Be!

Interesting news about the office workaholics | Oddly Enough | Reuters.com

This fact alone can potentially explains so much about the primordial soup: the long work hours, the unnerving sexual frustration that everybody exudes, the practice of sexual predation that passes for “dating” in this city and the emergence of the largest pornography industry on the planet. Yes, people work very hard in the primordial soup because hardly anything else ever works here.

Did Dick Cheney Arise from the Primordial Soup?

Bad bosses get promoted, not punished? | Oddly Enough | Reuters.com

By nearly all accounts, this is the standard M.O. in the primordial soup.

And, this begs the question in the title of this post. Or is it the case that the primordial soup acquired its ways from Cheney’s ilk?

Ving Rhames, Slave Owner?

Ving Rhames’ Dogs Kill His Maid

The primordial soup is the mother liqueur that gives rise to sensational lives and deaths. It is with some frequency that the sensational lives are intertwined with sensational deaths, and on this day, Ving Rhames’ quote about his special breed of slave-keeping dogs is raising the mauling of his housekeeper by his dogs to the level of a sensation so powerful that it just might overshadow the misfortunes of Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie.

The primordial soup changes everyone. Once immersed, no mortal can survive its influence.

California Elections Go from Mediocre to Ludicrous

State decides to secure electronic voting machines – Los Angeles Times

It seems as if Debra Bowen, California’s Secretary of State, is screaming “Damn it! We can be a greater laughing stock than Florida, and we ain’t gonna quite until we are!”

Brooklyn Cheese

I have no inkling as to why Brooklyn cheese is in any form a desirable variety of cheese, but this pizza delivery outfit that services Beverly Hills felt it was necessary to boast about its use of “Brooklyn Cheese” on it’s New York style thin pizzas.

It is a sign, indeed, that one is living in the primordial soup. WhereFlyer from local Pizza delivery restaurant in Beverly Hills else would those who have boasted about the California style brick oven pizza express any desire for a style of pizza that is outdated and, in this instance, clearly artificial. As expected, the people in a state where the dairy industry has spent billions advertising California cheese are craving more and more cheese from places that are known for cheese: Spain, France, the Netherlands. Yet, there are so many who crave a cheese with no pedigree, no reputation and no real existence. And, they descend upon Los Angeles–the primordial soup that accommodates them–in droves.

Stay tuned for kosher pork.