"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Links of the Week

Obama's Speech on Libya
Today President Obama gave a speech on the US's involvement in the quest for freedom in Libya (transcript at link). I still have not wrapped my head around on what I think of our participation in trying to eliminate Gaddafi who is yet another of Ronald Reagan era puppets that have come to bite us on the rear along with Hussein, Osama, and pretty much every other conflict from the last 30 years. When was the last time Republicans made a major nationwide impacting decision that didn't turn out to be wrong in hindsight? Yeah I can't remember one either. The idea of the US truly fighting for freedom is a nice change of pace considering in most cases we have either been trying to force freedom on others or simply preserving the oil flow. On the other hand, we are still fighting two other Republican created wars that seem to have no real end in sight and even if Obama has an exit plan (another nice change of pace), a third front just seems to be two too many. We are committed, I hope it works but the line should stop at us providing soldiers on the ground or helping in the rebuilding effort. At this point if the "rebels" cannot take the country by convincing the military to join them, it becomes a moot point as the US simply cannot afford to take on a unified Libya. Sure we could beat them, very easily but as we already learned with Iraq and Afghanistan, defining when victory has actually occurred is a murky line that we can't seem to identify.

Most Corporations Don't Pay Taxes
Right now Republicans are continuing the argument that if we do everything we can to make rich people and corporations happy, they just might be kind enough to create jobs for the rest of us. This belief extends to profits where 2/3 of US corporations doesn’t pay taxes and in fact often get paid by tax papers for simply existing. An example, from the Daily Show, is GE which made $14.2 billion in profits and was paid $3.2 billion in tax benefits. Yet we should give up more. Sure we have been making them happy for more than 30 years with constant drops in taxes, eliminating regulations, and so much more. Rich Republicans are demanding we ignore that the average American's income has remained stagnant for 30 years while the rich has grown over 500%. Ignore that corporations are showing the largest jump in profits since 1950 and most are not only showing record profits but have a lot of cash banked. Instead they say everyone that isn't part of the top 2% should give up more. Education, labor rights, more taxes, anything and everything that can be given should be given to corporations. Heck we are even giving up our jobs so they can be done overseas but according to Republicans we are just not doing enough. Sure corporations are doing outstanding by cutting jobs and letting Republicans feed the meme but this year will be different! We just have to give up more! And come this time next year what will the Republicans be saying when the job market is about the same for the third year in a row? Yep, we have not given up enough. Just like they have been saying for the last 30 years. When will people get it, the Republican Party has only one agenda - make the rich richer, to hell with the rest.

Comparison of Entertainment Paywalls
Lifehacker put together this interesting chart that shows example per year costs for receiving various forms of streaming entertainment such as music (Pandora), video (Netflix), and news. To no surprise, the type that consistently costs the most is the news as the once newspapers leaders try to force their business model from 1911 industrial age to fit the 2011 digital age by charging the same or more for the digital subscriptions even though going digital cuts distribution and production costs dramatically. It is yet another sign why newspapers (beyond their craptastic reporting) is going to become extinct sooner rather than later as my generation (30s) and younger have not only zero interest in them but zero faith in what the services they claim to provide. This kind of price gouging does little to discourage this viewpoint.

AT&T To Purchase T-Mobile
The largest telecom company in the US is about to drop $39 billion to add T-Mobile's network and 33.7 million customers to its roster making it the largest mobile company in the country too. For now the sale has some hoops to go through but AT&T bought the right politicians a long time ago to make sure this goes through. No one knows what this will mean long term but a whole lot of T-Mobile employees are going to be out of a job along with a bunch of stores as AT&T eliminates those areas of overlap. While AT&T can now claim a strong 4G network chances are they will spread their practice of higher prices while trying to force less use of their network. Long story short, this isn't good news for anyone but the executives who are about to receive some hefty bonuses.

Nintendo 3DS Review
Nintendo has released its latest iteration of the DS and the results are in. The system is fun, the games are good, it will give you a headache is using it to long and the battery life sucks. Also highly debatable if worth the $250 price tag. Wal-Mart is running a buyback program through April 30th in the South where a good condition DS can give you up to $100 towards purchase of the 3DS but unless you are willing to give up your essentially new DS XL or DSi, you are not going to get that $100. Right now the release line up of games isn't worth it and I recommend waiting until either the inevitable price drop or the library improves.

Atari 2600 + XBox 360
Ben Heckendorn's latest episode of the Ben Heck Show has him put an XBox 360 in a portable case that is inspired by the Atari 2600. The result is pretty darn cool. Amazingly I still have my Atari 2600 and games and the suckers still work when checked about two years ago.

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