April 5, 2013

The Craig Tries to Build a Company in a Weekend

So I've signed up for Sacramento Startup Weekend, a weekend workshop/hack-a-thon with the pretty ridiculous goal of creating a viable start-up in the course of one 54-hour weekend. These events attrack a variety of talents, computer programmers (Not Me!, marketers (Kinda?), and wana-be entrepreneurs (Ding, Ding, Ding).

Everyone will pitch ideas tonight, the projects get voted on, and teams form around the winners and we are off the races. Sunday night we present what we've created and are judged for our efforts, fame and glory going to the winners. Should be fun eh?

The pitch I'm working on is based on my work related to my other site, and has to do with creating an app that will help fight promoters connect fighters with spaces on their cards. I'll have one minute to pitch the idea.

Fingers crossed.

March 18, 2013

Well, That was Easy

Seriously, did someone at Human Right Campaign just push the Easy Button? A new ABC/WaPost poll has support for Gay Marriage up to 58% nationwide. That's up 28% in just eight years. Honestly, that's amazing. I don't know if there is anything close to that big and fast a swing in public opinion on a major issue of the day.

I could have sworn that those fighting for Gay Marriage were in for at least a decade of long hard slog to win nationally. This issue looked to be demographicly driven, with the young in favor and the old opposed. The Country was sure to change, but it would change slowly, as the young got old enough to vote and the old, er, "left" the Country. But this is a much faster change. This is people changing their minds.

Eight years ago Republicans were using anti-Gay marriage measures to drum up support. Now its conceivable that Democrats in 2016 could attack conservatives with Pro-Gay marriage measures.

March 11, 2013

Why Hire Them

Pretty mind-blowing story from Joe Nocera about how Goldman Sacks rigged the IPO process of a tech company (EToys). The company sold stock at 20 bucks a share. It immediately went to 77 bucks a share (it was 1999, these sorts of things happened.) Good for people who got the stock at the IPO price, terrible for the company, which missed out on hundreds of millions of dollars.

This being America, a lawsuit followed and it turns out EToy's banker Goldman Sack not only deliberately set the stock price too low to give its preferred clients the bump, it took kickback (in the form of "commissions") of up to 50%. I.E. Goldman Sacks gets me stock I can buy at $20 that's really worth $78 and I give Goldman half of what I make. Great scam.

But why do companies stand for this? This is not little old ladies getting taken by Nigerian E-mails. These are real companies, with accountants and lawyers and Boards of Directors. How can such people get taken like this? Are they really that dumb? Is Goldman really the only game in town?

March 6, 2013

Notes on Hugo Chavez

So Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has kicked. Not at all an expert on South American politics, but since when has that ever me from opining.

-First off, thanks to Chavez for illustrating what an actual Socialist looks like. His government seized all kinds of industries, oil, steel, and so on. He spent massive amounts of money on programs for the poor, built hospitals and schools and heaped all kinds of rhetorical abuse on capitalism. Obama hasn't done any of this. Obama is not a Socialist. Chavez is a Socialist.

-A good way to judge how someone stands on Chavez is to see what they call him. "Dictator" and "Strongman" seems to be the preferred title of the haters. His formal title was "President." He really was elected, so "dictator" seems an ill fit. But was pretty nasty in his suppression of opposition. I think we need a new category of leader (Putin in Russia is another) of guys who genuinely win elections, but cheat all the norms of democracy such a free press.

-On foreign policy, the funny thing about Chavez is that his famous antagonism was waged entirely at the level of rhetoric. He called W. "the devil" and railed against the US in general. But the US was Venezuela's main buyer of oil and still is, we were never going to draw guns on each other. Without all the bombast, Venezuela would join the large club of countries that just are, not allies, not enemies, just trading partners.

-The political scientist in me always finds Battles of Succession to be fascinating. Who rules? The chosen successor? Rivals within the movement? Long shut-out opposition?

March 5, 2013

Mitt Romney and the Winklevi

So lots of people having been having lots of fun with the Mitt Romney interview on Fox News Sunday, where the man gets to relive his loss and generally revel in his loserdom. What strikes me is how enjoyable it is to see Romney lose. It is the same joy to had from watching the Winklevoss twins get beat in The Social Network. To see men who have every advantage in life -money, connections, jawline get got. Both Romney and the Winklevi have the casual arrogance of never ever having anything go wrong for them in their life. I imagine righties got the same joy watching John Kerry lose in 2004.

But just the fact that Romney can say things like "What I said is not what I believe." like its some kind of useful excuse is just too perfect. Romney doesn't believe anything that he says. We all know that. Everyone who voted for him knows that. Mitt Romney will say whatever he needs to say, full stop. Its one of many reasons that he isn't President now.

February 27, 2013

The Return of Chenyism

Liz Cheney, daughter of Dick and very much his heir, has moved to Wyoming, surrounded by rumors of a possible Senate run.

Unlike the Darth Vader story, the children of Darth Cheney will not redeem him. Liz Cheney has been a vigorous defender of the worst parts of her Father's regime (which she served in), including torture, Iraq and so on. Liz does not offer a new, improved version of the ideology that ruined the beginning of the 21st Century.

The path Liz is on is a return to power, not a return to the light.

February 26, 2013

February 25, 2013

Oscar Review

Man there was a lot of singing in that one.

Seth MacFarlane was terrible. Awful delivery of lazy dumb jokes. Actresses have boobs! Jews run Hollywood! We can't understand what Salma Hayek says, but we don't care cause she's so good looking? Plus he's so shifty and insincere in his delivery, like he doesn't believe what he's saying or someone else is making him do this.

I honestly believe that Ann Hathaway should have won for Catwoman in Dark Knight Rises and not for Le Mis.

Good on Argo, both for best picture and for best adapted screenplay, for truly the screenplay was the best part of the movie. Thanking Canda was a nice touch.

Daniel Day Lewis winning for being Lincoln was the most predictable of wins. I shall maintain that Jessica Chastain was robbed until I actually see Silver Linings Playbook.

February 24, 2013

Can Drones Be Beat?

It seems to me that drones have been portrayed in the media as completely unstoppable death-robots akin to the Terminator, only better. XYCD sums things up pretty well:

After recent operations in Mali, a list of Al-Qaeda's tips to countering drones was found and published in the Telegraph. Most of the list is some variation on "Run and Hide" but there also seems to be some ideas for techniques to try and jam the signals that control the drone and even a suggestion that snipers could take out a drone, a la the newest, Bourne movie.

All told, the best tactic for drone dodging seems to be "don't be Al-Qaeda."

Lucky for me, figuring out how to beat drones is more of an intellectual exercise or though-experiment for my in-the-works action movie script than a real life-or-death dilemma.

February 18, 2013


So thanks to MSNBC, Rachel Maddow and David Corn and their well-done documentary "Hubris: Selling the Iraq War," I got to relive and the greatest hits of the run-up to the Iraq war: Curveball, Yellowcake, greeted at liberators and all the rest. I'm reconnecting with my Bush rage.

Its been buried deep, under layers of Obama Joy and Obama Frustration, but its always been there. Lying us into a war! A war! We fought a war we didn't need to!

All those wasted lives! And for what! Grrrr



February 17, 2013

Chemical Worker's Song

What need around here are more songs on topic. Today: Working conditions.

February 14, 2013


Senate Republicans blocked the vote on Chuck Hagel to be Defense Secretary. This marks the first time a minority of Senators has ever used the Filibuster to prevent the conformation of a Cabinet nominee. The Filibuster has gotten worse and worse over time. It used to be only used to block major pieces of legislation, like Civil Rights. Then it was used to block every single piece of legislation ever. And then it was used to prevent judges and mid-level staffing of government. And now its being use to prevent the staffing of high government offices.

The Filibuster, rules that allow the minority to block the will of the majority in the Senate, has rendered the United States Government incapable of action. It is a fundamental breakdown of the governing structure of the Country.

February 13, 2013

Completely Cynical SOTU Analysis

A long list of good public policy ideas, many of them very good and needed, presented in a dramatic and emotionally appealing way. Almost all of whom need to be passed by both Houses of the United States Congress, an institution broken beyond any hope when it comes to acting on issues of public policy. A Senate that is controlled by the filibuster rule and has at least 40 Republicans is not going to raise the minimum wage or help anyone go to pre-school. And if by some miracle of lobbying and Presidential arm-twisting and citizen involvement, the Senate does pass something, the House is firmly in the hands of the GOP and the House GOP is firmly in the hands of the Ted Nugent wing of the party. So that's that.

Also Rubio did look silly with the water. The same logic applies to his list of policy ideas, none of which are going anywhere while Obama is President and the Dems control the Senate. So we might as well spend time taking about the water.

February 12, 2013

Big Beer vs Small Beer

One Possible Future
Via LG&M, may I direct your attention to a fascinating article on the state of competition between the super-mega-conglomerate beer makers and the army of craft breweries.

The vast majority of the American beer market is in the hands of just two players: Anheuser-Busch who has about 47% of the market and MillerCoors which has 30%. The Justice department has sued to prevent Anheuser-Busch from buying up Mexico's Modelo, the marker of Corona and other brands, which who give them another 6% of the market. Over 50% of the market in the hands of A-B would be a total disaster. My God, Bud Light Lime. Total crap product sold to the public with boobs and sappy horse commercials. Plus, the bigger they get the more they can set prices, which means we all pay more for the bad beer.

But small craft breweries, employing a novel tactic called "brewing good beer" are growing rapidly. They should make up 10% of the market in a couple of years. So big beer is doing all they can to crush small beer, represented in the story by Boston Beer Company, the biggest of the small. Big beer is creating brands that look like micro-brews, like Shock Top and Blue Moon, but ain't. They are using their distribution muscle to push small breweries off the shelves of your local connivance store. They are just going to buy out the little guys.

The fight for beer worth drinking is on! We shall fight them in the corporate boardrooms! We will fight them in the courtrooms! We shall fight them in the brewpubs! I shall will do my part (sip). Will you?

February 11, 2013

The Pope is Resigning

So long, and thanks for all the lawsuits.
Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he is stepping down as Pope, a really amazing turn of events considering that a Pope hasn't stepped down in 600 years. It kind of makes me dizzy contemplating an institution that has that much of a history you can reference.

First off, good for Benedict to make this choice and hopefully set a president. Elderly, sick leaders, obvious puppets of their young aids, do no one any good, in the Church, Boardroom, Presidential Palace or Senate. The rest of Benedict's record is pretty bad. He has renewed the Church's commitments on social justice issues, but has doubled down on the social issues - no to birth control, female priests, and so on. Benedict was neck-deep in the child abuse scandal, a issue which in a better world than this would have completely destroyed the Church's moral authority for at least a generation.

The Conclave to elect a new Pope with kick off next month. A better world is possible. There are cardinals, including leading candidates that are reformers and will change the Church for the better. (Current candidates and odds are here) Of course, its not in the hands of the people, just the select few. Oh and God, I guess. For the political science of Pope selection, see here.