3DS Coming Early 2011

Kinda sorta excited about this one.

Nintendo’s 3DS, the first portable game device with a 3D screen, will go on sale in Japan on Feb. 26 next year, the company said Wednesday.

The 3DS will cost ¥25,000 (US$298), Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s president, told a packed news conference in Chiba, near Tokyo. It will launch in Europe, Australia and the U.S. in March. Precise details will be announced by local Nintendo subsidiaries at a later date. (A video of the announcement has been posted at YouTube.)

The device has a screen that doesn’t require the user to wear 3D glasses. Instead, a filter over the display splits the on-screen image and sends slightly different images towards the user’s right and left eyes, providing the illusion of depth.

I’m not so excited about the price, however.  $300 for a Gameboy is a bit steep.  I was slightly surprised to hear that Nintendo has been getting hammered as of late in the marketplace…

Nintendo had sold 132 million of the portable devices from the launch through June this year, but recently sales have been slipping. Between April and June this year, quarterly sales of the device dropped by almost half.

Then I looked at my own gaming habits concerning the DS and realized why…the iPhone/iPad/Droid phenom is now competing directly with the DS in the handheld market.   Most of my handheld gaming in 2010 has been on a smartphone, and the DS has been largely gathering dust.

Will 3-D breathe some life back into the dedicated handheld gaming device market?   If you count the number of qualifiers I had to put on that market segment, you probably won’t be surprised about my conclusion: not likely.  

NOTE: this is without actually seeing the 3DS in action.  If the 3D is good enough to change the game, I’m probably wrong.  If it’s even slightly less than amazing, the Gameboy is probably dead as a long term platform.

NOTE2: I’m curious to see how they are going to try and market this thing.  By its very nature, 3D applications can’t be represented accurately in 2D media, so only a hands-on test will let people know how this thing works in the real world.

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Republicans Protect BP (again)

Here’s the rub [and video]..

The Democrats asked for unanimous consent in the Senate to pass legislation that would give the BP Oil Spill Commission subpoena power — and surprise, surprise! Guess who stood up for them and objected? Wingnut Teabagger King Jim DeMint. Republicans don’t want BP executives or any of the rest of them to have to testify under oath.I’d be surprised if that commission was going to yield any news we haven’t already heard anyway from those executives who did nothing but stonewall the last time they testified before a Congressional committee, but it looks like the Republicans don’t want to take any chances and assure the committee will be toothless.

This is unfortunate, as stories continue to come out about how BP hid data, lied about what was going on, and waged a huge PR campaign that seemed to dwarf actual efforts to clean up.   Indeed, in retrospect, many of their efforts seemed aimed more at cleaning up their image than cleaning up the Gulf.

Now they get to come and obfuscate and stonewall and nothing can be done to them.    I’m pretty sure this won’t turn the Tea Baggers off DeMint (although this is exactly the type of thing they profess to hate, and DeMint is their hero), but it should give rational people a bit of pause before the election.

Taibbi Nails the Baggers

This is as solid a summation as I’ve seen.

The individuals in the Tea Party may come from very different walks of life, but most of them have a few things in common. After nearly a year of talking with Tea Party members from Nevada to New Jersey, I can count on one hand the key elements I expect to hear in nearly every interview. One: Every single one of them was that exceptional Republican who did protest the spending in the Bush years, and not one of them is the hypocrite who only took to the streets when a black Democratic president launched an emergency stimulus program. (“Not me — I was protesting!” is a common exclamation.) Two: Each and every one of them is the only person in America who has ever read the Constitution or watched Schoolhouse Rock. (Here they have guidance from Armey, who explains that the problem with “people who do not cherish America the way we do” is that “they did not read the Federalist Papers.”) Three: They are all furious at the implication that race is a factor in their political views — despite the fact that they blame the financial crisis on poor black homeowners, spend months on end engrossed by reports about how the New Black Panthers want to kill “cracker babies,” support politicians who think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an overreach of government power, tried to enact South African-style immigration laws in Arizona and obsess over Charlie Rangel, ACORN and Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Four: In fact, some of their best friends are black! (Reporters in Kentucky invented a game called “White Male Liberty Patriot Bingo,” checking off a box every time a Tea Partier mentions a black friend.) And five: Everyone who disagrees with them is a radical leftist who hates America.

It would be inaccurate to say the Tea Partiers are racists. What they are, in truth, are narcissists. They’re completely blind to how offensive the very nature of their rhetoric is to the rest of the country. I’m an ordinary middle-aged guy who pays taxes and lives in the suburbs with his wife and dog — and I’m a radical communist? I don’t love my country? I’m a redcoat? Fuck you! These are the kinds of thoughts that go through your head as you listen to Tea Partiers expound at awesome length upon their cultural victimhood, surrounded as they are by America-haters like you and me or, in the case of foreign-born president Barack Obama, people who are literally not Americans in the way they are.

It’s not like the Tea Partiers hate black people. It’s just that they’re shockingly willing to believe the appalling horseshit fantasy about how white people in the age of Obama are some kind of oppressed minority. That may not be racism, but it is incredibly, earth-shatteringly stupid.

He didn’t really get too far into the Tea Party Truism that Taxes = Deficits (“All we need to do to fix the deficit is cut taxes! herp derp!”), but he nails them on quite a few other fronts.   Fun reading, if a bit heavy on the fucking expletives.

That cinches it, we totally need waaay bigger tax cuts for the rich

Here’s the news, unsurprising to those who follow this sort of stuff… 

WASHINGTON — The income gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew last year to its widest amount on record as young adults and children in particular struggled to stay afloat in the recession. 

The top-earning 20 percent of Americans — those making more than $100,000 each year — received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line, according to newly released census figures. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968. 

A different measure, the international Gini index, found U.S. income inequality at its highest level since the Census Bureau began tracking household income in 1967. The U.S. also has the greatest disparity among Western industrialized nations. 

At the top, the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans, who earn more than $180,000, added slightly to their annual incomes last year, census data show. Families at the $50,000 median level slipped lower. 

And the “money” quote… 

Rea Hederman Jr., a senior policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, agreed that census data show families of all income levels had tepid earnings in 2009, with poorer Americans taking a larger hit. “It’s certainly going to take a while for people to recover,” he said

Yes, it’s going to take a while, especially if we extend Bush’s tax-cut giveaway to the rich while pililng debt on everyone else.   And his “a while to recover” is actually more accurately phrased as “never”.  There isn’t going to be a recovery, in this sense, given the current environment. 

And what is the current environment, you ask?   Here’s a hint… 

More people are getting their news about the upcoming election from cable television than any other source, and from Fox News more than any other cable channel, according to a POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll released Monday. 

The poll found that 81 percent of those polled get their news about the midterm elections from cable channels, like Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, or their websites, compared with 71 percent from national network news channels, such as ABC, NBC or CBS, and their websites. 

Among cable news channels, Fox was the clear winner, with 42 percent of respondents saying it is their main source, compared with 30 percent who cited CNN and 12 percent who rely on MSNBC

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0910/42738.html#ixzz10ptAiPJ4 

You know the sad part?  The most popular news outlet is the one claiming to be the least popular, continuously.   It’s become a cliche even, with the most powerful player and victimizer claiming to be the weakest and the victimized.   Sure, study after study shows that Fox News viewers have a faulty view of reality (death panels, illegals covered under HCR, WMD in Iraq, Saddam and 9/11, Obama’s a socialist who the world hates, etc, etc…) but that doesn’t even slow them down.  After all, studies and learnin’ are liberal, and therefore evil, ideas.

Heck, even today Mr. Murdoch has one of his minions arguing that his taxes need to be cut even lower (BTW, that article is filled with the usual Fox wharrgarbl, damned lies and statistics [compare]).   It’s also an argument for how News Corpse taxes should be cut…again.  This picture seems somewhat appropriate…. 

 
…especially when we look at the rest of the data from that first link. 

_The poorest poor are at record highs. The share of Americans below half the poverty line — $10,977 for a family of four — rose from 5.7 percent in 2008 to 6.3 percent. It was the highest level since the government began tracking that group in 1975. 

_The poverty gap between young and old has doubled since 2000, due partly to the strength of Social Security in helping buoy Americans 65 and over. Child poverty is now 21 percent compared with 9 percent for older Americans. In 2000, when child poverty was at 16 percent, elderly poverty stood at 10 percent. 

_Safety nets are helping fill health gaps. The percentage of children covered by government-sponsored health insurance such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program jumped to 37 percent, or 27.6 million, from 24 percent in 2000. That helped offset steady losses in employer-sponsored insurance. 

And so it goes… 

BTW, this angle of analysis (income disparity) was probably the strongest indicator that we were headed for a collapse.  Previous to the recent economic troubles, the last time the U.S. had diverged so far between the haves and have nots was right before the Great Depression.   

When the labor force of a country realizes that no matter how hard they work they won’t make any progress, and the real money is being made by people who do no real work, it has far-reaching consequences. 

UPDATE:  Oh, and I missed this horribleness…. 

Fox’s opinionated personalities were also rated as having the greatest positive impact on the political debate in the country. Bill O’Reilly was rated as having, by far, the greatest positive impact, with 49 percent of respondents rating him positively, and 32 percent negatively. 

Glenn Beck was the second most-positively rated personality, with 38 percent of respondents saying he had a positive impact, and 32 percent saying he had a negative impact. 

..
 
MSNBC’s personalities were largely ranked as unknown by respondents: 70 percent said they had never heard of Ed Schultz, 55 percent said they had never heard of Rachel Maddow and 42 percent said they had never heard of Keith Olbermann.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0910/42738_Page2.html#ixzz10q0UG2Wn

Again, this demonstrates rather forcefully that those referencing the “lamestream media” (you know, people who use those terms, like girls in junior high school) are talking about Fox.

This poll seemed somewhat off, and I finally saw the bright spot and the explanation…

This result might, to some extent, be explained by the age of those polled. The largest segment of respondents, 21 percent, were between 55 years old and 64 years old, with 20 percent between 45 and 54. Only 5 percent were between 18 and 24, and 7 percent were between 25 and 29.

Other recent polls have shown that the largest segment of “The Daily Show’s” audience is under 30, while the largest segment of Fox News’s audience is over 60.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0910/42738_Page2.html#ixzz10q0UG2Wn

This is something of a side note and a bit of positive news for the future.  Once the Boomers die off, we might actually have a chance of having an informed  (rather than faux outraged) electorate again.   Unfortunately they’ll be so cynical and snarky anyone endeavoring to actually fix the huge mess the Boomers will leave us with will face constant ridicule.   Hmmm, maybe we already live in the  future…

Republicans Unveil “Contract With America 2: Rhetorical Bugaloo”

Here’s an officially looking news story.  You can read that for the basics.

To go right to the source, this is your click.  I actually read through this entire thing.  It is completely in keeping with the Republican tradition (enshrined since Reagan) of the “Two Santa Clauses“.   This is the rhetorical political device of promsing to do exactly what people want (cut taxes and increase/sustain services), without having to do the nasty part of paying for it.  There is a twist this year though, as Republicans are promising to not only cut taxes and sustain services ( and expand the military) but *also* they are going to cut the deficit.

This pie in the sky dreaming is exactly what the American people want.

With economic worries dominating the run-up to the elections, 57 percent of Americans want the U.S. government to cut the deficit in hard economic times while 39 percent support deficit spending to stimulate the economy.

Three quarters of Americans believe persistently high unemployment is a sign that something in the economy is broken, the poll found, and only 22 percent thought it was part of the natural economic cycle.

That second part I found interesting.  The jobs in America have been shipped overseas for a number of years now.  This is largely the reason India was one of the few countries in the world to have a positive opinion of George W. Bush near the end of his debacle, err, term.   Bush tax cuts allowed a HUGE amount of capital to flow overseas as investment, as ROI is usually far higher in developing economies and India and China, with their huge populations of new consumers, were perfect targets for that investment. 

So we cut taxes, that money flowed mainly to the wealthy, which then flowed out of the country in the form of foreign investment, taking millions of jobs along with it.    The money that was flowing *into* our country was mainly into our “innovative” investment vehicles (i.e. sub-prime mortgage shenanigans).  It wasn’t flowing into actual companies selling actual products employing actual people.  Then that all crashed, somewhat predictably (the only question was when) and we found ourselves stuck without all that money and without all those jobs and with all that debt we used to finance the whole game.

That’s where the jobs went, that’s what’s broken.

This is why I find the current debate regarding the Bush tax cuts somewhat infuriating.  Contrary to the beliefs of the dementia-driven hordes of Beck/Palin devotees, the U.S has one of the lowest tax rates in the developed world and the lowest tax rates we’ve had in over 50 years.  Thirty years of running on the “Two Santa Clauses” philosophy *has* had an effect.   Congrats, you won.  Tax rates are lower than they’ve ever been in your life.

But where are the jobs? (overseas, as I mentioned)

See, this is the problem with the current debate.  We had huge tax cuts.  We didn’t have huge job gains (we ended the Bush era with just about the same number of jobs as we started it, and with about 30 million more Americans, you can see how this was a problem). 

So how is it, precisely, that keeping these tax cuts, and not changing the status quo, is all of a sudden going to create millions of jobs when it hasn’t over the past 10 years?   Why is it all of a sudden just going to start working?

The only answer I get from this document is…well…just because tax cuts create jobs.   Even though they haven’t for the last 10 years, they just do.

So when the facts don’t matter, only the words you use do, what you get is “Contract with America 2: Rhetorical Bugaloo”.

[NOTE: for another example of this, check out this post.  In it you get to see that as much as Republicans profess to hate “Obamacare” they basically want to repeal it and replace it, with the exact same thing (but with protections for doctors and drug companies who kill people and then get sued.  They want to stop that.  The suing not the killing.)]

  Affordable Care Act GOP’s ‘Pledge To America’  
Insurance Across State Lines Allows for the creation of State Health Insurance Compacts – permits states to enter into agreements to allow for the sale of insurance across state lines. (SEC. 1333; p. 100-101) “We will allow individuals to buy health care coverage outside of the state in which they live. ” (p. 15)
High-Risk Insurance Pools The states and the federal government have already established high-risk insurance pools to provide temporary coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions until 2014. (SEC. 1101; p. 30-33) “We will expand state high-­‐risk pools, reinsurance programs and reduce the cost of coverage” (p. 15)
Pre-Existing Conditions Children cannot be denied coverage starting today, but beginning in 204, insurers must accept everyone who applies. (SEC. 2702-2705; p. 46-51) “We will make it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a pre-­‐existing condition.” (p. 15)
Lifetime and Annual Caps A health insurer cannot impose lifetime limits and will be prohibited from placing annual limits on plans beginning in 2014. (SEC. 2711; p. 14) “[E]liminate annual and lifetime spending caps” (p.15)
Recissions A health insurance issuer cannot rescind a policy except for in cases of fraud. (SEC. 2712; p. 14) “[P]revent insurers from dropping your coverage just because you get sick.” (p.15)
State Innovation States can receive waives from certain requirements if they can cover the uninsured and lower health costs in a more innovative manner. (SEC. 1332; p. 98-100) “We will incentivize states to develop innovative programs that lower premiums and reduce the number of uninsured Americans.” (p.15)
Conscience Protections The law does not affect existing conscience protections or discriminate “on the basis of the willingness or refusal to provide, pay for, cover, or refer for abortion or to provide or participate in training to provide abortion.” (SEC. 1303; p. 67) “We will also enact into law conscience protections for health care providers, including doctors, nurses

Yes, that’s right.  The main problem, we see now, that Republicans had with Obamacare was that A) it paid for itself (they want to cut the taxes that do so) and B) they didn’t pass it.  Oh, and it didn’t protect doctors and drug companies from lawsuits after they kill people.

UPDATE:  Boehner came out and agreed with me, this document is nothing but empty rhetoric.

WALLACE: Congressman Boehner, as Willie Sutton said about banks, entitlements are where the money is. More than 40% of the budget. Yet, I’ve looked through this pledge and there is not one single proposal to cut social security, medicare, medicaid.

BOEHNER: Chris, we make it clear in there that we’re going to lay out a plan to work toward a balanced budget and deal with the entitlement crisis. Chris, it’s time for us as americans to have an adult conversation with each other about the serious challenges our country faces. And we can’t have that serious conversation until we lay out the size of the problem. Once Americans understand how big the problem is, then we can begin to talk about potential solutions. […]

WALLACE: Forgive me, sir, isn’t the right time to have the adult conversation now before the election when you have this document? Why not make a single proposal to cut social security, medicare and medicaid?

BOEHNER: Chris, this is what happens here in washington. When you start down that path, you just invite all kind of problems. I know. I’ve been there. I think we need to do this in a more systemic way and have this conversation first. Let’s not get to the potential solutions. Let’s make sure americans understand how big the problem is. Then we can talk about possible solutions and then work ourselves into those solutions that are doable.

I like “Diabetes Juice” (but then again, I’m honest and not selling it)

Here’s the question:

The companies that make high-fructose corn syrup want to pick a new name for the sweetener, so we’re asking Well readers to help.

We asked a panel of nutrition experts what they thought about the term “corn sugar,” which is the name suggested by the Corn Refiners Association. We also asked them to offer their own ideas.

Other suggestions are here

Health Care Reform Starts to Take Effect

…and now we get to see the people the Republicans are pledging to screw back over (they’ve made it a major part of their platform to rescind the new changes, much like how insurance companies use to be able to rescind policies of people who got sick (and will be able to again if the R’s succeed)).

Insurance brokers have told the Cunninghams they won’t write a policy that covers Ryan.”They could cover the rest of us, but they couldn’t give it to us for Ryan,” Michelle Cunningham said. “We’re willing to pay a fair premium, but they weren’t willing to sell it to us at any price.”

Under the new health care law, the family will be able to buy insurance covering their son. That means Bob Cunningham can pursue his small business dream, instead of plugging away at a discouraging search for employment that provides health benefits.

“If the subject of health care reform comes up, I try to tell people about our situation every time I get a chance,” said Michelle Cunningham. “I want them to know that sick children really were being denied access to insurance.”

More stories here.  I’ve actually seen quite a few of these, including a few in comment threads.  Usually it will start with some Paultard/Tea Bagger going on and on about socialism and commies and death panels and then someone will comment with something like, “well, yea, I guess, but now my son/daughter/aunt/parent can get coverage and they couldn’t before.  I work and am willing to pay, but no one would sell us insurance.”

This was a real problem that got fixed.  Unfixing it is now a major platform for the other party.  Hopefully some of the real stories about change and improvement will get out before the election, but from experience I know most of the teabagger crowd doesn’t believe the news unless it is forwarded to them in an email by a fellow “concerned citizen”.

For some unfathomable reason (probably explained as “because socialism”) many of the illustioned want to *return* to a system that does this to people…

Problem: Insurer retroactively canceled his coverage after he suffered a stroke.

How law will help: A provision barring insurers from rescinding policies comes too late for Janis, but he may get coverage through another provision of the law.

Out of the blue, Scott Janis suffered a massive stroke in November. As his medical bills reached $175,000 a few months later, his insurance company canceled his policy.

“It’s despicable to leave a man who’s recovering from a stroke with no insurance,” said Scott’s father, Ray Janis. His parents told his story because Janis has trouble communicating following the stroke.

The joys of the evolved taste

A Perk of Our Evolution – Pleasure in Pain of Chilies – NYTimes.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/21/science/21peppers.html?_r=1

But he has evidence for what he calls benign masochism. For example, he tested chili eaters by gradually increasing the pain, or, as the pros call it, the pungency, of the food, right up to the point at which the subjects said they just could not go further. When asked after the test what level of heat they liked the best, they chose the highest level they could stand, “just below the level of unbearable pain.” As Delbert McClinton sings (about a different line of research), “It felt so good to hurt so bad.”

NFL Players are sooo sexist…

…heard about this story yesterday.  Here’s the details…

NEW YORK — New York Jets owner Woody Johnson told USA TODAY Monday he offered his “apology” to a female TV reporter whose treatment Saturday at Jets practice is being investigated by the NFL.NFL and team officials said Sunday they were looking into a complaint made by the Association of Women in Sports Media that the Jets made suggestive comments to Ines Sainz of Mexico’s TV Azteca during and after a weekend practice at their Florham Park, NJ, facility.

The New York Post reported Monday that during the portion of practice open to the media, Jets head coach Rex Ryan and defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman purposely overthrew passes during a drill so they would land near Sainz.

I heard this and was kinda curious as to what would cause NFL players, who generally have their pick of women (and golddiggers), to react so strongly.  Then I heard she was a former Ms. Universe.  Then I saw this pic…

…and I realized this story has some legs….oh my does this story have legs…

Here’s a hint, Ines.  If you want more respect for your journalistic chops, don’t wear painted-on jeans and backless, sexy-shirts.  That’s the kind of stuff you wear when all you want is people to see how ridiculously hot you are.  

You have to dress for respect, people.  And how you dress tends to define the context of that respect.

UPDATE: Just to be clear, she wasn’t wearing the above very revealing top when the incident occured, but this shot confirms she stuck with the spray-on jeans.  

 

And finally, Ines…if, *for any reason*, you ever need a spanking, know that nobody spanks like a Robot Pirate Ninja.