cinnamon colbert writes: Elon Mus is frequently praised by techies and slashdotters as representing a cutting edge entrepreneurial fellow who uses the might of the profit motive to create technology. However, it would appear that his companies are thriving due to billions in tax dollars, aka corporate welfare."both Tesla and Solar City have received over $2 billion each, if you count the value of the subsidies their customers have received for buying Tesla vehicles and Solar City installations. This is more significant in the case of Solar City (about $1 billion) than for Tesla (about $321 million). Even without these sums, the companies have directly received about $3.5 billion, most notably for the new Gigafactory in Nevada and for a solar panel facility in Buffalo, New York."
These sums represent transfers from taxpayers to the 36th wealthiest man in America.
cinnamon colbert writes: I recently heard Katherine Eban talk about her reporting on “fast and furious” on the NPR show “The Connection” (http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/07/02/fast-and-furious-fortune ) If she is right, those people who have been attacking Eric Holder (primarily D Issa and his committee in congress) has been perpetuating an enormous scam, a scam so large that it is astonishing
Under AZ law, it is legal for an 18 year old without a record to walk into a store and buy 20 AK47s with cash (apparently, stores advertise discounts for bulk purchases). And, it is legal for that 18yro to walk outside and sell those guns to someone else. The ATF was monitoring this, but under AZ and Fed law, they could arrest someone only if they had reasonable suspicion that one of the buyers had illegal goal: in the USA, you can't arrest someone cause you don't like em (at least in theory) or you suspect that they are a Drug Cartel Gun Buyer; you need evidence. The ATF could also make an arrest if the saw that the guns were going across the border (a violation of export law). The ATF agents were trying very, very hard to make cases, by monitoring and wiretapping, trying to build cases against this constant illegal activity (upwards of 2,000 guns a DAY go into mexico from the US) However, due to these laws, in many cases they were unable to make a case; in one instance, a gun sale occurred on the Sat of MLK holiday, and by the time the ATF agents got wind of the sale, the guns were gone for 3 days.
Further, there have been accusations that there is a list of “2,000 guns” supposedly walked deliberatley into Mexico so that ATF agents could track the cartel. Total lie – this is just a list the ATF compiled of LEGAL but questionable sales, those same sales they were trying as hard as they could to stop. So, you can see the whole story that the ATF was letting known criminals make straw purchases so they could follow guns is a total perversion of the truth, which is that lax gun laws pushed by the NRA and GOP caused this problem. Further, at least some of the ATF whistleblowers who testified to congress are suspect; one of them was not stationed in Phoenix , nor a part of FnF, and this agent had a long document history of antagonism with his superiors (complaining about the email ringtone on his computer, but, oddly, no complaints about FnF)
For reasons not entirely clear, the Obama admin is going along with this; it could be that they don’t want to upset the NRA/gun lobby prior to the election, or that they are incompetent (their inability to sell healthcare reform points to incompetence or arrogance).
cinnamon colbert writes: I discovered Firefox in version two, and left IE and opera in the dust; I was, in a micro way, an FF evangelist — I got lots of people hooked on FF. Recently, FF has been crashing and freezing, a lot, and the kids tell me to switch to chrome. I would say that at least once a day, I click on a link and *my entire computer* freezes until something happens — not just FF, which is frozen solid, but other programs and the Windows 7 OS They have new revs on what seem like an hourly basis, yet basic functionality, like a usable way to deal with bookmarks (if you have more then 100) is totally lacking. what do you think — time to put FF on the dusty silicon shelf ? PS: as we should all remember, Google sends a lot of money to mozilla, and that money resulted in administrators getting higher salarys then coders. Perhaps the money was a slick google plot to turn FF into an MS like piece of code — slow, bloated, full of bugs with a lousy gui.
cinnamon colbert writes: What is your opinion of the design and layout of the official whitehouse webpage, www.whitehouse.gov, and the special site , www.recovery.gov., which was setup to tell people where the money in the 1T (trillion) dollar stimulus bill is going ? To me, both sites seem glitzy and technically cutting edge — the graphics are great eye candy and there is a lot of fancy video and so forth. But in terms of meeting user needs, the Whitehouse.gov site seems cluttered and dis organized, designed mainly to feed the 24/7 news cycle, by providing a constant update of tidbits that media and news organizations can use. But the site lacks overall focus and organization; in particular, there do not seem to be overview pages that help the ordinary citizen understand all of the stuff related to one issue — if you search "recovery act" you get 1300 odd hits (!) but there is no organization or prioritization of those hits.
I thint the recovery.gov site is a lot better organized; it provides a huge amount of information that you can view in GIS or tabular text format. The site also makes it clear that a lot of people have gotten money; at the micro level, you can search your city or zipcode; in my zipcode alone there are 3 awardees: 225K to some company developing software to analyze 911 calls; 60K to the city for some sort of police training program; and 3K to the city agency that helps poor people. And you can view this info on a map, showing the street grid and the location, or in a text table At the macro level, the site provides good summary statistics of how many jobs (reported by fund reciepients) have been created or saved, and where those jobs are.
What is odd, is that with all this technology and information, the site isn't convincing — you can spend hours pouring over the data without really getting an overview that convinces you that all these billions of dollars are well spent.
cinnamon colbert writes: I'm finishing my taxes (here in eastern MA we have an extension to May 11, due to unusually heavy rains that caused significant flooding), and once again, I'm amazed at how bad turbotax is — all the stuff people like to say about M$ is true about turbotax. Setting aside all the on screen messages that are poorly phrased and cryptic, entering data is a slow and painful process. To enter data, Turbo tax has two main modes; one is the step by step inteview, where you answer one question/screen; the second mode is "forms" where you can enter data directly into whatever form you are interested. To give an example of how bad turbotax is, consider what you have to do to enter cash contribuitons to a charity; it takes something like six screens; the forms method is, if any thing, even worse, since the forms are in a hierarchical manner, with the final entry generated from worksheets. But maybe I'm the only one who feels this way.
cinnamon colbert writes: Although the GOP has denounced the recently enacted health care reform bill, and not one republican member of congress voted for it, The miami herald reports today that one of the chief provisions of the bill, "individual mandates" (you have to buy health insurance, just like you have to buy car insurance) is a Republican idea. I'm sure there is a lot of hypocrisy on both sides; what is your favorite example
cinnamon colbert writes: As a MA voter, I wanted to go and see the President on his visit to our state tomorrow (Sunday, 17 Jan 2010); as many of you may know, there is a special election on Teusday to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Senator Kennedy. Surprisingly, the GOP candidate (Brown) seems to be, according to the polls, tied with the Democratic candidate, state AG Martha Coakley. Thus, even though Coakley should be a shoe-in, she is in a tight race, and the POTUS is coming to MA to help her. (Full Disclosure: as a Liberal, I wish to protest what I perceive as a right wing, pro wall street/anti main street bias in Obama's administration) As of Saturday morning, no details of the visit are available. I can understand, why, for security reasons, they might keep details of Obama's travel under wraps. However, I was very surprised to find that there does not seem to be an online source that describes the Presidents past schedule. Eg, on such and such a day, he was here doing this, then here doing this, and so forth. I can understand, for security reasons, why they might keep upcoming events under tight wraps, but why is there not a detailed daily diary/schedule available for the POTUS ?