Friday, March 14, 2014

Someone's selling all your heroes, and they seem so tame

I've had a deep emotional connection to Neil Young's music since I was a young 'un. Just a huge huge fan.

But now Neil is turned entrepreneur / evangelist for "high quality music", launching his own PONO music player.

I have to admit, I was expecting something amazing. But it's just a Toblerone bar that plays FLAC files!

Holy spumoli, Neil, what gives? 1997 called and they want their technology back! I guess I had so much respect and appreciation for Neil that I just assumed PONO would actually be an amazing step forward.

But it's not.

First off, you don't need to spend $400 to get a player that will play FLAC files. Your phone will do that, if you just feed it FLAC files.

Second, for most people using earbuds or cheap headphones, the sound differences between MP3 and FLAC will be negligible.

Third, probably the biggest sound quality issue in modern music is that bands are getting their music mixed with very little dynamic range and little concern for traditional audiophile qualities, because most folks download / stream the music into earbuds anyway.

It is true that the company making PONO's DAC (the thing that converts the zeros and ones in the FLAC files to amplifiable sound) is built by AYRE who makes an excellent asynchronous USB dac, but I can't tell much about the quality of PONO's dac from their webpage.

The PONO DAC can also handle Hi-REZ files (CDs are 44Khz, HI-REZ is like 96 or 192 Khz), but that is not very relevant in a portable player when you are wearing Beats by Dre headphones!

With a good asynchronous DAC, quality amplification, and physically separated high quality speakers, HI-REZ audio can sound amazing. You can also clearly hear that CDs ripped into FLAC files sound better than when they are ripped into MP3 files.

But the target audience of PONO is extremely unlikely to be using it that way.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Can't Even Lie Straight

The only way that Obamacare could work is if he doubled down on the lie that "if you like your current health care plan, you can keep it." That was never true.  The only hope was to charge much higher prices to healthy people so that the government can force insurance companies to offer "insurance" to folks with pre-existing conditions or who were too poor to pay the actuarially fair rate for that policy.  There  is no way to offer insurance far below cost to some people without raising the costs to other people.

It was ALWAYS a lie.  It had to be.  But at least it would have "worked," in the sense that he could have had most people forced--yes, at gunpoint, forced, but at least they would be included--into the system.  But now the Dems are too chicken-sh*t even to play out their own fraudulent bluff.  They are "extending" and "exempting" like there is no tomorrow.

This is an actual disaster.  Because it means that people who have cheap policies can keep them, but people who must be given cheap policies, people whose expected care far exceed premiums, must be written new policies.  It's Christmas!  The problem with Christmas is that our President is trying to be Santa Claus.  Even a Peronista would look at this and laugh.  "No, you can't back down now!  Grit your teeth and carry out the lie."

To paraphrase Glenn Close, "If you just told us to f**k off, we'd have more respect for you."

UPDATE:  Just when it couldn't get got worse.  They can't keep doing this.  They have to force people to sign up.  It's the logic of the system.  It's based on force, and cross-subsidy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


I know a decent amount about Latin America, and a small amount about Sub-Saharan Africa, and almost nothing about Eastern Europe, so take this with an appropriate amount of salt,  but....

I really don't understand or accept the Putin >> Obama narrative on Ukraine.

As I see it, Putin used to, de facto, have the whole Ukraine. But he and his stooge pushed things too far. Amazing and brave Ukrainians rose up, stood up, and got out from under Putin's thumb. Now as a blustery, face-saving measure, he's got "secret" troops in the Crimean Peninsula and there may be a referendum there about joining Russia.

People, the loser here is..... PUTIN!

Putin, people, not Obama. Obama and the US are fairly close to irrelevant.

Putin is going from de facto control of the whole country with little external costs to him of exercising such control, to perhaps de jure control of the Crimea with significant external costs to him of exercising such control.

That is not how geniuses do things my friends.

Slo-Mo Guys: Airbags

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

LPNC Keynote Speech

Thanks to "intrmntuvdeth" for posting this video of my keynote address at the Libertarian National Convention of May, 2008.  Here is the complete version (30 minutes LOOOONG).

And here is the "music video" version.  Under 5 minutes.

Monday, March 10, 2014

1st Amendment and 2nd Amendment are Just DIFFERENT

Reminded by this story, following up this story, of the difference between 1st Amendment and 2nd Amendment.  Here they are, for your reference:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

So....the 1st Amendment is much more extensive and unlimited.  "No law," which doesn't quite mean no law, but no law is what we are going for.  The 2nd Amendment does also create an individual right, a right that cannot be taken away without due process and good cause.  But the process and the cause for restricting 2nd Amendment rights is much more open to state action.

As I have argued before in this space, the 2nd Amendment creates a right much more like the right to drive.  No law-abiding, responsible citizen can be arbitrarily denied a driver's license.  It's an entitlement:  satisfy these (reasonable) requirements, and you get to drive.  But the state gets to choose the laws, and define responsibility.  Sure, that means that there is the possibility of abuse of gun rights.  But that's because there is the possibility of abuse of guns!  You drive drunk, or recklessly, and you lose your license.  You use your gun irresponsibly, or store it in a way that allows it to be stolen or misused easily, you lose your status as a legal gun keeper and bearer. No outright bans, and no outright bans on regulations, either.  It's in between. 

So, background checks, required training, required registration...those are all things that are well within what is allowed by the 2nd Amendment, while also protecting the right responsibly, law-abiding citizens to own (and bear) arms. 

To drive, you have to take classes, demonstrate proficiency, have insurance, and behave responsibility.  Failure to do these things mean that the right to drive is not granted, or temporarily suspended, or permanently revoked.  There is no other way of interpreting "well-regulated," unless you go all the way to "they were talking about militias, and there is no individual right at all."  I think there is an individual right, and that right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.  As long those people obey the laws, behave responsibly, and (for example) don't fire actual rounds into the air in "celebration."

Monday's Child

1.  Okay....ewwww.  But the guy is British.  What did you expect?

2.  Ouch.  Doggy brain freeze.

3.  Only in America:  Farmers bored in winter, but have excellent equipment.

4.  One way of ensuring "equality" is to punish the smart kids.  If school sucks for most, it must suck for all.  Or something like that.

5.  Lou is subjected to rhetorical questioning.

6.  Paul Samuelson's favorite pickup line.

7.  America!  Where children of five can learn calculus, but adults of twenty-five still never learned it.

8.  Sock puppets on parade!

9. What if they had a spelling bee, and ran out of words?  If only there were a book of some kind, one that had a list of words...and pronunciations....and definitions.  Now THAT would be useful.

10.  Okay, so youse better listen up, see?  Either youse stop this global warming, or the guac gets it in the neck!!

11.  Pretty long, but pretty cool.  Sliced bread.

12.  Self-segregate?  Really?  In my experience, being in a frat made it necessary to deal with people who didn't really like you, and vice versa.  Because you were all in the same organization.  GDIs hang out with much smaller, and more selected, groups.  GDIs self-segregate, IMHO.

13.  Hashtag:  #nosavesies .  Story from Philadelphia (of course).

14.  Write your own joke here.

15.  You are welcome to disrupt my lectures.  That way, they might remember SOMETHING.

16.  So many ways to go with this one.  Just write your own jokes...

17.  Mmmmmm....bacon.

18.  Poorly worded headline, or did they really try to land over the official's son?

19.  Something to watch if you are sad.  Because it's hard to be sad when you hear this.

20.  I think the "rocket cat" is an excellent idea.  Not so much as a weapon as a hobby.  But then I don't much like cats.

21.  La-la-la-la-la-la-la!  Come on to the mystery barge!