Monday, February 28, 2011

Rebuilding Trust Starts With A Few Bucks Here And There

I think this is an outstanding article at the whole thing:

After betraying the American trust in the Republican brand, Americans booted Republicans from power in 2006. The Republicans flopped around ignoring the obvious. So Americans booted them again in 2008. Republicans still didn’t get it. They picked moderate mealy-mouthed candidates. So, the Tea Party picked new ones and pushed back against a recalcitrant Republican party.

What didn’t they get? Republicans didn’t get that by expanding government, participating in government take-overs of private business, and bailing out irresponsible industries, they destroyed their own brand. Republicans stood for small government, personal responsibility, and low taxation. They voted against these core tenets over and over. Voters were not pleased.

Republicans now say they got the message.

They made promises trying to woo frustrated voters back. One of them was that they’d cut 100 billion from the new budget. 100 billion is a nice round number and with a gazillion dollar deficit, seemed reasonable. (The deficit is actually 1.4 trillion–that is the government, in one year, is taking in 1.4 trillion LESS than it spends.) To illustrate this number, watch this:

So yeah, 100 billion is a small, stiff shot in the scheme of the deficit. Moreover, the Republicans promised to cut it this year.

Now, they’re not doing it. And like a wife listening to the excuses for the perfume smell, the Republican base is giving the Republicans the skeptical head waggle. Why? Past behavior doesn’t buy them much patience.

Here’s the thing, it’s not about 100 billion. The Republicans don’t have a math problem. They have a relationship problem. Nobody believes them.

The American people trusted them, but they still feel betrayed. They expected the Republicans, at least, to be fiscally responsible. Kinda like people expect their cell phone to have service. Oh wait…

So, the Republican Party needs to rebuild their reputation. They’ve done remarkably well in the short time they’ve been in office. But it’s been a short time.

The Republicans have also been aided by a Democratic party who turned so far left that they freaked everyone out. 14 trillion is a terrifying number and one the Democrats created while promising “fiscal responsibility.” But the Republicans can’t count on the fear of out-of-control Dems to keep people close to them.

Republicans need to recognize they have a brand and reputation and they need to guard it. They need to act with integrity and protect it. It is everything.

Americans distrust their institutions. They see the collective–church, school, government, union, business, bank, environment–protected over the individual.

Republicans, as an institution, need to demonstrate that they’re for the individual. That means keeping promises and not making foolish promises to begin with.

Rebuilding trust takes a while. Republicans need to make keeping their word their first priority. If the people don’t trust them, their gains will be lost in the haze of feeling lied to.

Republicans, keep your word. Put promises first, the power will follow.

That's exactly the point, but these Washington types rarely get that. So, let's take a look at one of the biggest moves of the new Congress, the repeal of Obamacare:

The GOP-controlled House passed HR1 last week after plenty of debate and votes on amendments, in what is now a rare open-rules process. The overall bill passed mainly on a party-line vote, but the amendments got less attention. Heritage’s Action for America blog drilled down through all of the votes and built a handy tool for constituents to determine exactly how their Representative did on supporting spending cuts:

Heritage Action compiled all of the votes on the amendments that proposed to cut non-security spending. We excluded amendments that proposed to shift spending from one program to another or sought to block various Obama policies—whether it be the many amendments to defund Obamacare or turn off the EPA’s rule making authority. For this exercise, we chose to look solely at the unambiguous spending cuts and to see how Congress did.

The data may surprise a few people. For instance, how many House Democrats refused to vote for any spending cut out of the 21 proposed? 96. Almost 100 Democrats — one shy of half of their caucus — couldn’t find any spending cuts they could support. And beyond those 96, another 47 could only vote to support one tax cut. Combined, that means that 143 out of 193 Democrats could only find one or less spending cut to support — or 71% of their caucus. The highest-ranking Democrat on spending-cut votes is Robert Costa of California, who supported 50% of the proposals.

On the other end of the spectrum, how many Republicans voted for every spending cut proposed? Out of 241 Republicans, that number was … 47. Most Republicans supported most of the cuts, however, although Heritage does list the “most reluctant” GOP spending cutters. The most reluctant? David Reichert of Washington, with a 19% rating, followed closely by Steve LaTourette of Ohio at 24%.

Pretty telling on both sides, huh? Looks like the GOP may finally be getting it...maybe. At least partially. We need to poke them until they get it completely. For what it's worth, here are Kansas and Missouri:

How are your representatives representing you in terms of the one thing every sane person knows needs to happen right now in a big way - cutting back spending? And does this help illustrate the fact that Democrats simply cannot be trusted to run the country any longer?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Internet Regulation: A Different Tactic

I've posted before about how the Obama administration has taken steps toward regulating the Internet and net neutrality, but here's a new tactic that's recently come to light. It sounds harmless enough on the face of it, but there are some real questions that need to be asked and answered before a secure online ID is made standard practice.
President Obama is planning to hand the U.S. Commerce Department authority over a forthcoming cybersecurity effort to create an Internet ID for Americans, a White House official said here today.

It's "the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government" to centralize efforts toward creating an "identity ecosystem" for the Internet, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said.


The Obama administration is currently drafting what it's calling the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, which Locke said will be released by the president in the next few months. (An early version was publicly released last summer.)

"We are not talking about a national ID card," Locke said at the Stanford event. "We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy, and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities."

The Commerce Department will be setting up a national program office to work on this project, Locke said.

Details about the "trusted identity" project are remarkably scarce. Last year's announcement referenced a possible forthcoming smart card or digital certificate that would prove that online users are who they say they are. These digital IDs would be offered to consumers by online vendors for financial transactions.

In my opinion, the first red flag is the fact that it's another initiative coming from the Obama White House. The second red flag is the fact that details are 'remarkably scarce'. The third red flag is that this is completely unnecessary:
...its relatively benign purpose doesn’t make it a good idea. Users would essentially trade self-management of security to third parties, which sounds great in theory but in practice could mean all sorts of problems once hackers know how to break the codes. If that happens, then neither the user nor the vendor could protect their data or systems from incursions, and the damage and its source would take longer to discover.

Besides, if the private sector sees a need for this, why does government need to intervene to create the demand? No one is preventing innovators from creating online secure IDs now. If vendors see value in this approach, and users see value in adopting the IDs, then the open and free market on the Internet will produce such a market. It would be a lot more likely to produce a product class that actually meets the needs of the market than something designed not by stakeholders but by bureaucrats at Commerce. The government has better ways to spend its money, or more accurately, hasn’t got the money to waste on creating voluntary security products that few seem to want or need.

Most Americans seem to agree with all of these red flags, as a recent survey revealed that a whopping 77% of Americans think that the government has no business regulating search engines. Only 21% think that the FCC should regulate the Internet like it does radio and TV, and most people think that such regulation would be used for pushing political agendas. Interestingly, this opposition spans almost all demographic groups, with more opposition occurring in groups who use the Internet more, and vice versa.

Smart people, us Americans. Too bad we've been asleep at the wheel of the voting booth for too long, and only recently woke up.

Still, it's a good sign, because what the American people want, the American people usually get. Eventually, anyway.

I came across this video recently and thought it was a great explanation of net neutrality and Internet regulation:

This is definitely something to watch. For my thoughts on precisely why, check out my earlier blog posts on the subject here and here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Story Behind Rising Gas Prices

I'm sure you've noticed, but gas is now at or above $3/gallon, at least here in Kansas City.  Oil is currently at its highest price since 2008.  Wonder why?  The short answer is that prices are being driven up (at least here in the U.S.) because of higher fees and more regulations on companies that are already sitting idle because of Obama's policies.  We've talked about the drilling ban before, but now he's ignoring a legal order to finish processing more permits that have been held in limbo for months.  He's enacting these policies through a renegade EPA that is ignoring Congressional legal authority.  The reality is that Obama and his radical Leftist buddies want higher gas prices, and are doing exactly what they need to ensure we get them.

Allow Heritage to explain:

This week the media's attention is finally focused on oil prices. After two years of continually rising consumer gas prices in America, the oil futures market has captivated the Mideast storyline. And attention is much needed. December 2010 saw the highest gas prices for the month of December in our nation's history. This month, we're setting similar records with the national average of $3.14/gallon–fifty cents higher than it was a year ago. If this trend continues, the summer of 2011 will hit consumers much harder than in the summer of 2008 when prices soared above $4/gallon.

But if you only read, hear or see this week's news reports, you would think that oil and gas prices were doing just fine until the historic events in Egypt, Libya and across the Middle East unfolded this past month and caused spikes in the futures market. Unfortunately, that is not the case. President Obama has been unilaterally taking steps to increase the cost of gasoline for two years. Here are ten things you need to know about gas prices that you may not hear reported elsewhere:

    1. Gas Prices Are Skyrocketing Under President Obama: The oil futures market is just that, a futures market. The price-per-barrel spikes in oil this week have not affected the domestic market yet. In fact, former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister made the prediction in December 2010 that America wouldface $5/gallon gasoline by 2012, a full month before the revolution in Egypt began. At the end of President George W. Bush's two terms in office, prices were 9% lower than when he took office (adjusted for inflation). The day before President Obama was inaugurated; the average price of a gallon of gas was$1.83. Today, that average is $3.14.
    2. President Obama Has Crippled Domestic Oil Exploration: Putting aside calls from some who want to increase domestic exploration to areas in Alaska and elsewhere, President Obama has completely shut down the existing oil drilling infrastructure in the U.S. At least 103 permits are awaiting review by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. The federal government has not approved a single new exploratory drilling plan in the Gulf of Mexico since Obama "lifted" his deepwater drilling moratorium in October 2010. Obama also reversed an earlier decision by his administration to open access to coastal waters for exploration, instead placing a seven-year ban on drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and Eastern Gulf of Mexico as part of the government's 2012-2017 Outer Continental Shelf Program.
    3. The Obama Permitorium is Costing the Government Much-Needed Revenue: The Gulf accounts for more than 25 percent of domestic oil production. With production in the Gulf expected to drop in 2011 by 220,000 barrels per day, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates the U.S. will suffer $3.7 million in lost revenue per day as a result of lost royalties. If that holds, the federal government would lose more than $1.35 billion from royalty payments, just this year.
    4. The Obama Administration Has Been Held in Contempt of Court: Federal District Court Judge Martin Feldman held the Obama Interior Department in contempt of court on February 2, 2011, for dismissively ignoring his ruling to cease the drilling moratorium which the judge had previously struck down as "arbitrary and capricious." Judge Feldman has since given the Administration 30 days to act on permits it has needlessly and purposefully delayed saying inaction was "not a lawful option."
    5. Jobs Are Being Killed by Obama's Oil Policies: As a direct result of Obama's oil policies, companies that help supply our domestic energy needs are going out of business. Most recently, Houston-based Seahawk Drilling filed for bankruptcy. The Chief Operating Officer of the offshore drilling company, Randy Stilley, stated: "The decision by regulators to arbitrarily construct unnecessary barriers to obtaining permits they had traditionally authorized has had an adverse impact not only on Seahawk, but on the sector as a whole."
    6. And More Jobs Are Being Killed: Vendors, suppliers, even restaurants and retailers are losing ground or going out of business as a result of the economically crippling policies Obama has unilaterally imposed. According to Reuters, many of the thirty-plus deepwater rigs in the Gulf have moved to other markets. Each rig directly employs approximately 200 people, but that doesn't even count the ripple effect across the nation. One industry official told CNBC that the industry was on "life support." But President Obama is spending billions to finance offshore jobs…in Brazil. The Obama Administration committed at least $2 billion in 2009 towards Petrobras, one of the largest offshore oil drilling companies in the world.
    7. Decreasing Our Domestic Supply Increases Foreign Dependence: Even Energy Secretary Steven Chu admits that "any disruption in the Middle East means a partial disruption in the oil we import. It's a world market and [a disruption] could actually have real harm of the price." If this is the case, then cutting our domestic supply hardly seems like an appropriate response. Rather than face this reality, Secretary Chu ridiculously called for an increase in renewable energy investments, which is a complete non-sequitur.
    8. Renewable Energy Is Not the Answer to Mideast Turmoil: According to the EIA, petroleum accounts for less than one percent of electricity production. So wind and solar, which do not produce transportation fuel even if Obama's $40,000 Chevy Volt quadruples production, can only replace coal and natural gas, of which America has an abundant supply. As for biomass, over 40 percent of domestic corn consumption goes to ethanol, which provides less than 10 percent of our transportation fuel and causes food prices to increase. Three large production platforms in the Gulf could provide an amount equivalent to all of the biofuels produced in the U.S.
    9. Regulations and Delays: The Obama EPA has added costly new regulations to refineries in the name of global warming, while the Obama Interior Department issues new rules that make it much harder to develop natural resources on government land. The EPA is also denying approval of the Keystone pipeline which would increase the amount of oil the U.S. receives from our friendly neighbor Canada by over a million barrels per day.
    10. The Middle East Is Not the Sole Cause of Rising Oil Prices: Global oil prices have been rising steadily for months based on variety of factors including those listed above and as the world economy pulls out of a recession. In fact, Egypt is not a major producer of petroleum, and only 2-3 percent of the world's supply moves through the Suez Canal. Certain spikes are not abnormal and can be more easily weathered with a smarter domestic energy strategy.

This week, Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman told Bloomberg Television: "We're hoping capacity will be brought to bear so it will continue to support our economic recovery." Mr. Poneman needs to head down his hallway to meet with his boss Secretary Chu and explain how energy prices affect an economic recovery. Because it was Chu who, in the name of environmental radicalism, stated in 2008: "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." It would seem President Obama and Secretary Chu are getting their wish and you are paying for it every day.

Bingo.  Step one in fixing this is for Congress to forcefully reign in the EPA, even to the point of defunding it if necessary.  Then we need sane people in the corridors of power making sane energy decisions.  Stop forcing car companies to make uber-expensive and wasteful alternative-energy vehicles, stop the policy of being the only country in the world that is ruling its own oil reserves off-limits to drilling, and stop the idiotic policies like banning cheap and safe energy in the form of incandescent light bulbs!  Until these things start to happen, our energy costs will only skyrocket...just as Obama predicted and demanded on the campaign trail back in 2008.

So, every time you fill up your tank and shake your head at how painful it is, just remember who's causing that pain, and remember that your pain is their intention.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Time Warner Cable: Pulling It Out, Or Falling Flat?

Many of you know that I've recently been on a quest for better Internet/TV/phone services.  In the interest of helping out anyone else who may be considering these options, I thought I'd share our experience.  First, some background...

We've been using Time Warner Cable for several years, but I've been completely underwhelmed by it.  We purchased the all in one package, with the digital phone, expanded basic cable, and 7MB/1.5MB Internet.  The phone has been fine, no complaints there.  The cable is generally pretty good, with good picture quality on the HD channels.  To their credit, they have done a good job of increasing the number of HD channels over the past couple years.  I can't remember the last time I watched anything in standard definition.  The DVR boxes stink up the joint, though.  They need to be rebooted every few weeks, or they start getting jitters (the picture on the screen literally shakes back and forth).  Sure, you can return the box to any TWC location and swap it out for free, but their hours are too short and the lines are too long.  And besides, every time you do that you lose all the customizations, settings, and programming that you've set up.  There's a USB port on the front of the box, but it's inactive, and there's no way to save your settings or copy them to the replacement box.  Nice.  The user interface sucks, too, and has little thought toward being user friendly.  One example is the fact that they have no manual or guide to explain how to do anything.  I called TWC when we first got the DVRs and asked about that, and was told to just 'play around with it' until I 'figured it out'.  Nice.  Also, the packages they sell to customers include way more channels than necessary.  I think we have something like 1600 channels.  Of course, several hundred of them are pay-per-view that we'll never use and don't ever want to see, but is there a way to drop them off of the channel guide list?  Nope.  You would think that setting the relative handful of channels that we actually do watch as favorite channels would help tighten things up, right?  Nope.  You still have to scroll through the entire list to see what's on, even in your favorite channels.

The Internet has been less than excellent, too.  Using the speed tests that TWC endorses, we get download speeds of anywhere from 7MB to 16MB.  Yeah, right.  If that was the case, we wouldn't ever have a problem with our Netflix streaming service...but somehow Netflix can't maintain an HD signal for more than a few minutes at a time, and rarely maintains any level of signal at all for the full duration of a 22 minute sitcom, let alone a feature length movie.  I've spoken with Netflix customer service, and they have data showing the dips in bandwidth coming from TWC.  So, that's why I regard TWC's speed tests as irrelevant, and tend to lean more heavily on other online speed tests, which reflect much more closely with our real world experience and show a range of .5MB-2MB download speeds.

That, plus the ridiculously common short service outages -- 8 hours here, 24 hours there -- that occur every couple of months, and it's a lackluster experience overall.  So, I was considering switching to AT&T U-Verse.  I have a co-worker who's had good luck with it, and it offers several features that I like, including an all-house DVR and the ability to record four shows at one time.  I checked with some friends and acquaintances to see what they thought of U-Verse and got some mixed responses.  Basically, there are problems with both TWC and U-Verse, so it's kind of a toss-up.  I was still thinking about taking the plunge, just to snub TWC.

Then I got an e-mail about TWC's new Signature Home service.  It promised a veritable utopia of service offerings, including 'blazing fast' Internet, all-house DVRs, the ability to record four shows at once, and lots of other features, and for just a small increase over what we were already paying.  I called and asked a few more questions.  Apparently, 'blazing fast' Internet was 50MB download and 5MB upload speeds.  Wow!  If that's the case, that should at least quadruple our current Internet speeds, maybe more (even figuring for the inevitable overblown TWC-endorsed speed tests).  They also made a big deal about how Signature Home Network customers got priority service for outages, actual appointment times (not 4-hour ranges...times), and a customer support phone number that bypassed the normal TWC support line.  All good stuff, if they follow through.

We talked it over, and decided to give it a shot for 12 months and see what happened.

The installation was Tuesday night.  A very nice man named Chester came by (early) and did his thing.  It was a 3-hour process, but they warned us it could take up to 4 hours, so no biggie.  In the process of talking with him about the new features, he mentioned that the 50MB/5MB Internet speeds weren't actually in production yet, but were supposed to kick in 'soon' (aneurysm warning!!!  More on that in a moment).  But it wasn't an issue he could address at all, so I held my tongue for the moment.  Our LG Blu-Ray player isn't connecting to the wireless Internet for some reason, but I suspect that's more an issue with the player itself than the TWC service, so I'll have to work with LG to figure that one out.  I'm slightly disappointed about the 'all-house' DVRs - apparently, it's a read-only 'all-house' functionality.  For example, if I record a show on DVR A, I can watch it on either DVR A or DVR B, but once I'm done watching it I can only delete it from DVR A.  Not a big thing, but given that we tend to watch-then-delete a lot, it'll be a minor annoyance.  It works the same way for setting up programming, too.  I thought we could just manage all of our recorded shows from one (let's call it the primary) DVR and only use the other one as a read-only DVR...until I tried to record 4 shows at once from the primary DVR.  Can't do it.  Their promise of recording 4 shows at once is contingent upon recording two shows from each DVR, not from a single one.  So, scratch the idea of managing all shows from any DVR.  But, this is just an annoyance, not a critical problem.

Since the installation was completed, I've done a little bit of playing with things, and my conclusions include: the user interface is the same - still clunky and sucky.  The HD quality is still good.  Though the all-house DVR thing is a bit messy, it's still better than having to fully manage two completely separate boxes.  We'll have to wait and see if they get the jitters over time; they look like the same hardware, so I suspect so, but maybe I'll be surprised.  I have yet to delve into the new phone features, so I'll reserve comment on that.

Now, the big one: the 'blazing fast' Internet that wasn't.  I called the dedicated customer support line this morning to discuss the Internet speeds.  The rep I spoke with told me that the sales person should not have promised me the 50MB/5MB speed because it's not yet available in our area.  I said that that may be true, but it was sold to me that way, and since TWC wasn't delivering on the promise, I felt that a discount was in order (until the full speed was implemented).  After haggling a bit, he said he'd have his supervisor pull the call logs to listen to the conversation, and if the sales person had, in fact, incorrectly sold me the product, a discount may be in order.  I'm supposed to hear back in 48 hours.

I have to say that that's far better customer support than I've previously had from TWC, which usually consists of a brain-dead moron following a script to tell me to reboot and then swap the box.  If they follow through and give me the discount, I'll be thrilled, and all will be well.  If not, well, we'll just deal with it if/when it happens.  Thus far, I'd say I'm cautiously optimistic.  Whether or not Time Warner Cable will pull it out or fall flat will become crystal clear in time.  I'll let you know.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Mess In Wisconsin

So, what's all the sound and fury going on in Wisconsin right now? Here's the nutshell.

It all started when the Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, submitted a budget that was balanced by including the restructuring of public sector unions and some reductions of pensions and benefits, and collective bargaining rights. The proverbial stuff hit the fan, big time
. Naturally, Walker's a racist for doing this. And by the way, collective bargaining rights are for the children. Everyone knows that. Anyway, a standoff ensued.

Walker made use of his bully pulpit in the state and publicly challenged them to do their jobs, which, as you can imagine, went over like a load of bricks.
President Obama, firmly in the pocket of unions for years...

...immediately leaped to their defense, accusing Walker of conducting an 'assault on unions'. Very presidential, don't you think? But wait, it gets better.

Protests erupted, teachers embarked upon a sickout (enabled by doctors providing them fake sick notes), and hysterics ensued. After all, unions simply don't give up any money or benefits. They also totally misrepresented Walker's position, saying he wouldn't even 'come to the table' to compromise.

Anyway, then, peculiarly, the Dems in the Wisconsin state Senate did something very odd. They ran away. Literally. They left the state (
go watch the video at that last link - it's really funny to watch the union rep's reaction when the reporter asks her opinion of the Dems running away from the table. Priceless!). The thought was that if the state Senate didn't have a quorum, no votes could be taken on this new budget, so they would be saved from having to choose between their biggest supporters (unions) and the masses of non-union taxpayers (also called voters) who stenciled the words GO AWAY in Democrats' foreheads last November. Still, running away doesn't do much for the complaint that Walker isn't 'coming to the table'.

So the Governor sent out State Troopers to bring them back, and discovered they were hiding out in Chicago Obamaland. Hm, what a shock.

Of course, having the Dems playing MIA in Obamaland is not all bad. Fiscal bills require a 3/5 majority to hold a vote in Wisconsin, but others only require a simple majority. So, the GOP is apparently considering moving ahead to pass some other legislation in their absence. First up is an ever-controversial voter ID bill, but there's a whole list of things just waiting to be passed fast, including concealed carry, school choice, and so on, each and every one something that Dems absolutely loathe. Well played, WI GOP, keep it up!

And, roughly, that's where we are today. The new conservative Governor made the tough choices necessary to balance the state budget, the Dems ran away from the debate, Walker appears resolute, and the situation speaks to a much bigger issue that has massive repercussions for the country at large.

You see,
unions are not about democracy or standing up for the little guys. They're about power. Specifically, their own, and their power to influence buy spineless politicians.

Those protests that are raging through the streets? They're being coordinated by the Obama administration. In fact, the Obama administration is brazenly coordinating similar efforts in at least two other states. At the same time, unions are fading:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the precentage of Americans belonging to unions fell to 11.9 percent from 12.3 percent a year earlier. And only one out of 10 non-union workers reports any desire to unionize.

And the percentage is much lower if you only look at the private sector -- just 7 percent of the private sector workforce is unionized. Last year, for the first time, the number of public sector union members outnumbered union workers in the private sector.

And yet, despite the shrinking numbers, just look at the power they have exerted on the country over the past few years! Given the fact they even they admit their existence has little to do with helping the children or the downtrodden, but rather their own power, this is a problem that needs to be addressed head on. And, as I mentioned before, the big picture has tremendously huge stakes. This is about the future of America:

With unions’ ability to collect union dues at risk, as well as the possibility that they may have to get re-certified every year by the people they represent, Republican Scott Walker’s proposals strike at the very foundation of any union’s existence—union dues and union ’security.’ Yet, there is more at stake than even this. The Wisconsin union battle is about the raw union power that unions wield over the local, state and federal governments and, ultimately, the power unions have over children, both through the budgets, as well as school children’s curriculum.

For a long time, unions have known that grooming good, little collectivists begins at a young age. In Wisconsin, however, unions have even gone so far as to enact their progressive brainwashing into Wisconsin state law, as a few of us union watchers tried to draw attention to more than a year ago.

We noted then that unions were force-feeding union propaganda to schoolchildren when governor Jim Doyle signed legislation mandating the teaching of progressive labor history to students. ...

So, as you watch the scene unfold in Wisconsin and spread across the nation, you need to know, this is not just about “Wisconsin.” This is about union power and, more specifically, how much union power unions hold over you and your children.

The fight is here. It is yours to win or lose for your kids and grandkids.

And the question is: what are you going to do about it?
At this very moment, the battle for America’s future is happening in states all around the country as newly-elected governors try to wrest control from tax-eating unions. Today’s battle is just the beginning of what America will be facing through 2012 and beyond. It is a battle that, if lost, will likely have catastrophic consequences on the fiscal well being of many of the states and, as a result, the nation as a whole. ...

Make no mistake, this is a battle for America’s economic future. It is one that will ultimately decide whether Americans will be enslaved by debt created by a government beholden to public-sector union bosses, or whether some sort of fiscal sanity can be restored before the system collapses due to the weight from years of cronyism.

As labor activists strategize for “class war,” Leftist union bosses also know they may be losing their grip on taxpayers’ throats and they are desperate to keep it there. They’re not going to let go easily either. They’re organized and they have millions to spend on marches, sickouts, protests, candlelight vigils, and advertising.

Unions have become dangerous to America and need to be reigned in. And polls show that most Americans agree. Maybe that explains why the Obama administration has suddenly backed off:

Now Obama is trying to disown his support for the Wisconsin public unions because it is as monumental a political blunder as was the Obamacrats cramming the unpopular ObamaCare down our throats in the face strong public opposition. Like the ObamaCare, Public workers’ unions are not popular.

Last week Rasmussen Reports released a poll that found 70% of likely voters think voters are more willing to make the hard choices needed to reduce federal spending than elected politicians are. Fifty-five percent (55%) don’t think President Obama’s proposed $3.7 trillion 2012 budget includes enough spending cuts, and 40% of don’t think the GOP spending cuts go far enough either.

Also, A poll from the Clarus Group found that 64% do not think that government employees should be represented by labor unions.

Perhaps more important, Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll finds Obama’s popularity has returned to pre-tax deal levels. Obama’s Strongly Disapprove numbers are back in 40% range, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -18. These are similar to disapproval ratings Obama had during the midterms when the Democrats got shellacked.

Maybe that also helps explain why Democrats have been hemorrhaging self-identified voters all across the country for the last few years. Regardless, it appears that his outright support of unions on this one was a big, big mistake.

A mistake that will inevitably swamp state after state, and then the nation, if it is not corrected.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What We Believe - American Exceptionalism

Despite this entire series being outstanding, this is hands down my favorite segment. This is the core belief of conservatives, and, I would venture to say, true patriots. I simply don't understand Americans who seem hell-bent on self-loathing, self-bashing, or America-hating, and those who seem to think that America is the root of all evil in the world befuddle me. Bill Whittle addresses this topic by establishing in no uncertain terms just how exceptional America is:

It's incredible. No, it's exceptional.

God bless America!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What We Believe - Natural Law

If you read about the Founders and what they actually believed and intended for this country, you'll find that their belief in God and His blessing was woven through all of it. Even the least religious of the Founders agreed on the concept of natural law, which is essentially the embodiment of God's establishment of truths that transcend human laws. If you're interested in learning more, check out The 5000 Year Leap: The Miracle That Changed The World.

And watch this, of course:

What We Believe - Wealth Creation

It's too bad the government run public education system is so awful nowadays. If they actually taught some decent real world economics, videos like this would be unnecessary. But, since they don't, it is. Dig in, this is good stuff!

Friday, February 18, 2011

What We Believe - The Problem With Elitism

Another way that makes sense to me to think about this one is that whole two-sets-of-rules thing. When there's one set of rules for certain people and another set of rules for most everyone else, you have elitism. Global warming is a beautiful example of this, where rich Hollywood types can have their multiple gigantic mansions, private planes, and frivolous lifestyle, but they simultaneously chastise you and me for driving an SUV to work because its massive carbon footprint is going to destroy the planet. Two sets of rules. Elitism.

What We Believe - Small Government And Free Enterprise

I've posted a couple of these over the past few months, but the entire series is now complete so I wanted to make sure to get them all up here in one big group.

Bill Whittle has one of the most outstanding video series I've ever seen
called What We Believe that is a phenomenal way of explaining conservatism in the context of the real world on real issues. Over the next few posts, I'm going to put up all of these videos. I cannot encourage you strongly enough to take the few minutes it takes to watch each and every one of these. If you wonder what conservatives believe and why, these videos are for you. If you think you're a conservative but have a hard time explaining yourself to other people, these videos are for you. If you struggle yourself with some of the biggest hot button issues of the day and how they fit into the conservative world view, these videos are for you.

The first one is, appropriately, focused on small government and free enterprise. Commence the awesomeness now...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fun Videos

We've all had this maddening conversation at one point or another, haven't we?

So true!

Now, for a genuinely mind-bending video. First, recall this brilliant M.C. Escher painting:

Neat picture, but physically impossible, right? Not so! Now see it in real life:


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How To Save The Imploding Economy

As the Obama administration released his latest budget, renewed scrutiny has been focused on the economy. Without getting into the minutiae, let's cut straight to the heart of it with Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters and this sobering factoid (emphasis mine):
The 2011 budget shortfall, which is the responsibility of the previous Congress, is now projected to be $1.65 trillion.

If accurate, this means that since the Democrats took over Congress in 2007, we have posted over $5 trillion in deficits.

For the record, that's more combined non-inflation-adjusted red ink than the United States of America had created in all of the years of its existence prior to that point.

In just four years, the Democrats recorded combined deficits greater than what had been posted in the prior 220.

We had smaller deficits during the Great Depression and World War 2.

Yep, it's that bad.

In fact, Heritage Foundation predicts -- if we do not change course, and fast -- permanent trillion-dollar deficits...until the nation implodes. The immediate thing to do would be to revert current spending levels back to what they were in 2008, or, even better, 2006. Surely the government-dependent Left will moan and wail about starving senior citizens and absolutely critical social services that will be wiped out, but just ask yourself - was the government being unnecessarily frugal back then, to the point of forcing seniors to starve and social services to be insufficient? If you cannot honestly answer that question with a yes, then there should be no trouble in rolling back the spending. It would be a tremendous first step, and should be a regular topic every time you contact one of your elected representatives from now on.

But don't despair - there is hope. The CATO Institute shares two examples of successfully reigning in government spending in recent memory, one from each political party:

This can be done. It must be done. NOW.

Call and e-mail your Senators and Rep, and demand they cut the spending. Then do it again. We just elected a whole bunch of newbies to Congress last November, and they're licking their chops to do just that, but the old guard is dragging their feet big time. The only way we can salvage our horrenous and unsustainable economic situation is to literally hammer the message through to ALL of them -- in both parties -- that this is no longer an option. Make it clear that this is your highest priority, that they're going to be up for re-election soon, and that you will remember their actions on this subject, and vote accordingly.

When your house is on fire, you don't sit around in your recliner finishing the last episode of American Idol, do you? Of course not! You take drastic measures and fight the flames

And this is no TV show - the future of this country is quite literally at stake. Get busy and do your part to save it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Monster Jam!

Just returned home a bit ago from the Monster Jam event at the Sprint Center, and it was a blast. In case you're unfamiliar with Monster Jam, just think Bigfoot and you've got it (though ironically, Bigfoot isn't affiliated with the Monster Jam series). But it's the same idea: huge trucks crushing things and jumping high.

A highlight of this year was that our good friends Scott and Spencer joined us this year, as did Kylee. We arrived early for autographs and got pics and signings with everyone but Grave Digger (the line was obnoxiously long).
Then we sat back and enjoyed the spectacle of ear-busting, car-crushing, gigantic trucks throwing themselves around the arena floor. Below are the kiddos with the some of the more high profile trucks:

Aaron Basl, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Dan Evans, Destroyer

(we snuck up to the back of Grave Digger for this one...Pablo Huffaker, the #2 GD driver, is about six feet to the left just out of the picture)

The standard Monster Jam event that you see on TV includes two main pieces: a race, and freestyle. Last year's race was really silly because the Sprint Center floor is so small - they basically started, jumped one car, and stopped. Fortunately, this year they decided not to even attempt a race, so they brought out some smaller freestylists instead, and that was much more fun. The finale was having motocross, BMX bikes, and four wheelers going simultaneously, which was really cool stuff:

There were several monster truck events, including donuts and wheelies, and closing out with the freestyle competition. The winners were given plaques which they autographed and then handed out to a kid in the crowd who was decked with their truck's gear or holding a sign. I was particularly glad to see Aaron Basl (TMNT) find a kid in the handicapped section to give his to. Class act.

There were a couple of trucks participating that I've not heard of before. I suspect that they are regional trucks, or maybe just second-tier trucks who haven't gotten the same national exposure of the big names. Or, maybe they just suck so badly that no one cares about them. Seriously, a couple of them were so lame on their runs that I began to wonder if they had been deliberately told to be lame in order to make sure that the big name trucks win. Not sure about the seedy underbelly of this industry, but that's how bad they were.

Still, as bad as the no-name trucks were, the big name ones were great.
By far the best was Grave Digger, so here is his winning freestyle run (the blue truck parked off to the side broke down earlier, so it was just moved out of the way):

I doubt the KC event will be televised, but many other cities are. If you're interested in checking it out,
you can get a regular fix on Speed TV, so check your cable listings. The Monster Jam world championship competition is coming up in a few weeks, and that's the best of the best drivers and trucks in a top-notch arena, so it would be a great place to take your first look.

All in all, it was a really fun event. The kids seemed to enjoy it, we got some good autographs, and some good memories, too.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

White Is Black, Up Is Down, Hot Is Cold

If you live pretty much anywhere in the U.S., you've experienced the massive winter storms that have raged across most of the country in recent weeks. We've dug out of two storms that have dumped close to two feet on us just days apart; many parts of the country have been hit even harder.

Naturally, this nasty winter weather is caused by global warming.

What? What's that you say? Ridiculous?? Oh no, my friend, it's not. Just listen to the Inventor Of The Internet, Mr. Almost-President and current High Priest of the Church of Green, Al Gore:

As it turns out, the scientific community has been addressing this particular question for some time now and they say that increased heavy snowfalls are completely consistent with what they have been predicting as a consequence of man-made global warming:

“In fact, scientists have been warning for at least two decades that global warming could make snowstorms more severe. Snow has two simple ingredients: cold and moisture. Warmer air collects moisture like a sponge until it hits a patch of cold air. When temperatures dip below freezing, a lot of moisture creates a lot of snow.”

“A rise in global temperature can create all sorts of havoc, ranging from hotter dry spells to colder winters, along with increasingly violent storms, flooding, forest fires and loss of endangered species.”

Hm. So, according to Gore, pretty much every possible phenomenon that occurs in nature is caused by man-made global warming. Riiiiight...

Unlike Gore's *ahem* science, there's an actual (demonstrable) phenomenon called the Gore Effect that I find immensely hilarious:

“With the UN Climate Change Conference underway in Cancun to discuss the dangers of Global Warming, the resort host location is experiencing its third straight day of record cold temperatures,” says reader Richard Nathan.

Today the mercury fell to 53F in Cancun. The record for this date – 57F – was set in 2000.

And Gore was there. You see, seemingly everywhere that Gore travels to rail against the dangers of man-made global warming, the temperatures drop. It's seriously like God is messing with him, but Gore doggedly insists on peddling his junk science, elevating self-parody to previously unforeseen new heights.

Speaking of vicious cold, let's examine a couple of the environmentalist's favorite props that can supposedly save the planet, wind farms and battery powered cars. While they may have their (small) place in providing energy savings for tens of...well, tens of people, can they really do the heavy lifting when the snow and ice are coming down thick and hard?

Wind farms

Some media groups like to refer to themselves as ‘no spin zones’. But among energy insiders the phrase has been applied to wind farms, given that turbines mostly operate at well below 30 percent of installed capacity. Recently, serious cold weather has badly affected Britain and its much-vaunted ‘wind power experience’ and it turns out that wind farms are, quite literally in deepest winter, no spin zones.

Such is the grip the Big Freeze has had on Britain (as in northern Europe and the eastern U.S.) since early November that leading industrialists have forcibly reiterated last years’ warning about growing over-reliance on wind power. As the latest figures show, just when Britain was in the greatest need from its burgeoning wind farm industry to perform from November through January with temperatures plunging to as much as minus 20 celsius, wind power failed miserably.

Battery powered cars
On Wednesday a snowstorm hit D.C. commuters harder than usual, causing gridlock on the road and dragging a normally 20-minute commute into, in some cases, over six hours as people crowded the roads struggling to get home.

With current technology, electric cars typically have much shorter battery lives, especially in cold weather. In an instance where a regular combustion engine car would keep its occupants safe and warm while idling for hours, an electric car would have left them stranded. In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama expressed his desire to keep the U.S. one step ahead technologically and environmentally by embracing electric vehicles. However, a single snowstorm has shown, once again, that the market has always been and will always be better at spurring innovation and picking product winners and losers than the government could ever be.

But hey, is it really an unacceptable sacrifice to lose a few hardcore environmentalists to the cold when their Priuses die in the middle of a blizzard, just to learn the lesson? I kid, I kid. Seriously, though, these are not small concerns, and only serve to illustrate how foolish and dangerous it is for the government to artificially dictate what forms of electricity should be used.

Make no mistake, that's exactly what they're doing.

In fact, as the EPA is beginning to flex its vast new muscle -- granted by numerous Obama and Congressional moves that detach it from Congressional oversight and thrust it into the position of controlling American energy policy as a whole -- we see dangerous precedents becoming reality, such as:
- gas prices rising
- new regulatory costs killing jobs
- rolling blackouts

Perhaps most disturbingly of all, the EPA appears to be operating without oversight, changing their own rules as they see fit. Remember those waivers that the Obama administration granted to certain preferred unions and companies because the costs of implementing Obamacare would do irreparable damage to those companies? Now energy companies have started getting waivers, too. Ask yourself: if these major pieces of legislation are so destructive and oppressive that the biggest and most profitable companies in the country can't afford to operate by them, are they really doing anyone any good? Outside of the corridors of governmental power and lobbyist money, no. Quite the opposite. On a broader scale, do we really want or need a government that operates via regulatory whim rather than laws that apply equally and fairly to everyone? That's what we've got now, and it's becoming increasingly obvious with each new waiver granted.

When will the new Republican-led Congress start reigning them in? It needs to happen fast, but it won't be easy. For one thing, President Obama has pledged to veto any bill that would limit the EPA's power. You know what? As gas prices rise to $3.50 or $4 per gallon again, I'd love to see him do that. GOP, this is another golden opportunity, just like Obamacare...make him do it, and make him defend it.

But don't worry. We'll always have rich liberals to chastise us for destroying the planet while they conveniently overlook their own massive carbon footprints and personal gain from the very things they condemn in the rest of us:

Coming soon in a future blog post: the almost extinct incandescent light bulb. Because we'd all rather have a curly light bulb that gives off crappy light and is filled with toxic chemicals that costs 5 times as much as what we've got now...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What's New With Obamacare?

In case you haven't heard, some monster news came down on Obamacare a week or two ago. Here's the bottom line:

Obamacare was ruled unconstitutional.

Here's the heart of the matter:

Today’s decision by Judge Vinson is another stinging defeat for the administration in its defense of Obamacare. Defenders of the health care bill had tried to paint any legal challenge as “frivolous.” When then-Speaker Pelosi was asked by a reporter “where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate,” Pelosi responded incredulously, “Are you serious? Are you serious?” To wit, Judge Vinson offered a serious response, striking down not only the mandate, but the whole of the health care bill.

In a 78-page opinion, Judge Vinson dissects the two major claims at issue in this case: whether Obamacare violates the spending clause, particularly the coercion principles announced in South Dakota v. Dole, and whether the mandate to purchase health insurance violates the Commerce Clause.

On the first claim, Judge Vinson sided with the administration. In the second, he offered a detailed analysis of the law which reads like a treatise. Rather than picking and choosing his cases, as many proponents of Obamacare like to do, he went through all of the relevant case law at length before concluding that the mandate violated the Commerce Clause. He correctly observed that “it would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause.” He then concluded that “the individual mandate and the remaining provisions are all inextricably bound together in purpose and must stand or fall as a single unit. The individual mandate cannot be severed.” As such, he appropriately struck down the entire law.
And that there's the kicker. Apparently, there's a legal term called 'severability', which basically means that if any part of a law is ruled unconstitutional, the rest of it still stands. Without a severability clause, if any part of a law is ruled unconstitutional, the whole thing gets chucked. That's what happened here - no severability, so it all got chucked.

In addition to the 26 states suing to opt-out of Obamacare, ten states are attempting to outright nullify the law, which is considered by many to be the crown jewel of socialism.

Naturally, President Obama threw a most unPresidential snitfit, using the following as a defense:
History and the facts are on our side. Similar legal challenges to major new laws — including the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act — were all filed and all failed. And contrary to what opponents argue the new law falls well within Congress’s power to regulate economic activity under the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the General Welfare Clause.
Except that, well...
Quick: name the private-sector goods and services that the federal government requires in the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, or even the Social Security Act. Answer? None. Social Security is a tax system with defined benefits payouts from the government, and no one doubts that the federal government has the power to tax. The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act require the federal government to enforce the Constitution, not citizens to buy sample ballots or shop at certain stores. The entire response is a big non-sequitur — and if this is how they defended ObamaCare in Vinson’s court, small wonder they lost, and lost big.
Remember, the key argument here is the government's authority to regulate commerce, which is clearly outlined in the Constitution. Problem is, that authority only applies to commerce that is already taking place. What Obamacare would do -- or, more precisely, what the individual mandate requiring every American to purchase health insurance would do -- would force commerce to materialize where it did not exist before. That's an entirely different thing, and well outside the authority of the Constitution. In short, if the government can legally require all American citizens to initiate commerce for any reason whatsoever, then there is literally nothing that the government cannot require all American citizens to do (or not do).

This is why those who are fighting Obamacare are doing so partly on the basis of it being a line-in-the-sand issue for individual freedom in America.

But this ruling is just one of an increasing number of lower court decisions that will ultimately come down to one whopper of a judicial battle that will be one for the history books:
There’s no question that the Supreme Court will eventually take this matter up, and given how profound the constitutional objection to the mandate is, there’s no chance that they’ll let “deference” to lower-court rulings shape their opinion on the matter. What we’re doing with these district court rulings — which now stand evenly split on ObamaCare, two finding it constitutional and two not — is going through the procedural motions until the Supremes get down to business. The only bit of significance these decisions might have is that they may move the Overton window of possible outcomes in Anthony Kennedy’s mind. After O-Care was passed, I remember some constitutional law experts citing the Court’s liberal Commerce Clause jurisprudence and claiming that they’d probably uphold it on something like an 8-1 vote. That seems impossible now; I’d bet 6-3 at worst, with a very fair chance of a 5-4 win for conservatives. The more anti-ObamaCare lower court rulings there are, the more political cover Kennedy has to vote with the conservative wing of the Court if he’s so inclined. If.
Time will tell.

But the plot thickens even more. After the repeal easily passed the House, Senate Republicans managed to bring it to a vote despite the Democrats' pledge it wouldn't happen. Not surprisingly, all Reps voted for it and all Dems voted against it. That should provide a great club for 2012 campaign commercials. I hope the GOP keeps bringing it up and forcing the Dems to defend something that most Americans still don't want.

Oh, and remember those waivers that the Obama administration likes to hand out to its most favoritest unions and companies on account of how Obamacare would be prohibitively expensive and therefore would threaten the company's existence? At last count it was over it's spiked to over 700! And waivers are also being granted to soon-to-be victims of the Obama administration's environmental policies. More on that soon...

But, until then, let's examine a preview of Obamacare's practical reality:

For more than six months, breast cancer patients have been stuck in a horrible limbo, being forced to wait and watch the rationing battle over Avastin play out in a debate between government bureaucrats with little concern for their well being at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There has been an ongoing battle between victims rights groups, families of cancer victims and the FDA specific to the drug, and other life saving drugs. The stakes could not be higher when you are talking about a debate over a drug that has proven to extend the life of cancer patients. Expect this debate to expand to other drugs and services if ObamaCare is allowed to continue to exist.

Conservatives are against big government and the federal goverment spending your tax dollars on health care. It is wrong for the government to spend so much money on drugs and health care services that cause massive inflation for drugs and care for those paying with after tax dollars. Just try to fill a prescription without health care insurance and you will feel the sting of health care inflation. Things would be much better if the federal government just got out of the business of spending your tax dollars on health care services and drugs.

That being said, cancer patients should be left harmless from our dysfunctional health care system. Yes, these life saving drugs carry a high cost, yet they are extending life. These cancer patients did not set up our government heavy health care regime and they should not pay the price for a government run health care system experiencing massive inflation.

The FDA is forging forward to de-label the drug Avastin, which means that unless they change their mind in the appeals process, Medicare will soon refuse to pay for the cost of it. Furthermore, since private health insurance takes their cues from the government most private health insurance plans are likely to stop covering this drug as well. The drug has proven to work and the FDA is basically saying that costs is a factor in approving the life extending drug.

This is a preview to the world we shall live in under ObamaCare. If the law is not stricken from the law by the U.S. Supreme Court, expect this fact pattern to repeat over and over again. If the FDA stands by this move the drug will still be available to those who can afford it, but for those who can’t it’s a different, potentially tragic, story.

The Brits have the National Health Services program that openly rations care. The designers of Obamacare worship at the altar of the British health care system. One of those worshippers, President Obama’s head of Medicare and Medicaid services Donald Berwick has said the following:

The decision is not whether or not we will ration care–the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.

Take the case of Christie Turnage. She is a breast cancer survivor who is fighting a government rationing decision by the FDA. Expect more Christie Turnages if ObamaCare moves forward, because the government will ration care and drugs. The fight over full repeal of ObamaCare is a very important issue for those who are worried that the Avastin matter will be repeated on a mass level for every American seeking expensive care and products.

A death panel by another name is still a death panel. And that's exactly what we'll get if Obamacare isn't repealed.

Monday, February 7, 2011

IPv4 To IPv6 Transition...Huh??

Cue the Lifehacker expertise:

The transition from IPv4 to IPv6 is kind of confusing if you've never really read much about it, but the idea is pretty simple. IPv4 is what we currently use, and it results in IP addresses with four sets of numbers. For example, the IP address to your router is probably or (or something similar).

The periods separate each number, and there are a total of four. Because there are only so many combinations, we've actually managed to (essentially) run out of IPv4 addresses. Without IP addresses, we can't keep adding more computers to the internet. That's a simplified explanation of the problem, but that's essentially the issue. The solution is iPv6, which results in longer addresses that look like this: 3ffe:1900:4545:3:200:f8ff:fe21:67cf. This offers up many, many more combinations so we'll be able to allocate new IPv6 addresses for a long time. For a good overview of the whole situation, check out this infographic.

How the Change Affects You

What Does the IPv6 Transition Mean to Me?It's pretty easy to memorize an IPv4 address—it's not much different than memorizing a phone number—but IPv6 addresses are quite a bit more difficult. On the surface, you're dealing with something a bit more complex. Beneath the surface, IPv6 also works a bit differently than IPv4 and requires both hardware and software support to function. IPv6 support is built in to most modern computer hardware, but not all. If you want to check if your hardware supports IPv6, the easiest thing to do is head for the command line. In Windows you can run ipconfig. On a Mac or Linux machine you can run ifconfig. These commands should list IPv4 and IPv6 addresses for your hardware. If you see an IPv6 address listed, you're good.

Sort of.

Software support is also necessary for IPv6 to work. You can't just enter an address like 3ffe:1900:4545:3:200:f8ff:fe21:67cf because, at the moment, your browser probably doesn't recognize the format (or sort of does). Fortunately there isn't much to worry about here because, 1) you can't do anything about this and 2) software support will be on its way.

When the Change is Coming

June 8, 2011, is World IPv6 Day, during which web companies like Google and Facebook are participating in a 24-hour test of IPv6. In reality, the IPv6 change isn't likely to mean much to you for quite some time. In the United States, the IPv6 compatibility deadline set by the federal government is September 30, 2012, according to Information Week. This is the date after which "webmail, domain name server (DNS), and Internet service provider (ISP) services, must operationally use native IPv6." This is soon, but not terribly soon, and for most of us, that deadline won't really mean a lot. If you're running a popular browser, you can expect compatibility by the time you'll need it, and likewise with most hardware. Chances are you won't have to do anything other than keep your software up to date, but if you have IPv6-incompatible hardware, you'll likely have updated anything that isn't compatible by then. While the IPv6 transition won't halt your ability to access the internet, it could cause some issues moving forward.

Hope that helps!

So how many IP addresses is this, anyway? For some fun ways to describe it, check this out:

I wanted to make a cool graphic to show the relative sizes of the IPv4 and IPv6 address spaces. You know, where I’d show the IPv6 address space as a big box and the IPv4 address space as a tiny one. The problem is that the IPv6 address space is so much larger than the IPv4 space that there is no way to show it to scale!

To make this diagram to scale, imagine the IPv4 address space is the 1.6-inch square above. In that case, the IPv6 address space would be represented by a square the size of the solar system.

Or this:

It’s pretty hard to grasp just how large this number is. Consider:

  • It’s enough addresses for many trillions of addresses to be assigned to every human being on the planet.
  • The earth is about 4.5 billion years old. If we had been assigning IPv6 addresses at a rate of 1 billion per second since the earth was formed, we would have by now used up less than one trillionth of the address space.
  • The earth’s surface area is about 510 trillion square meters. If a typical computer has a footprint of about a tenth of a square meter, we would have to stack computers 10 billion high blanketing the entire surface of the earth to use up that same trillionth of the address space.

Or these:

Wikipedia: It’s 252 addresses for every observable star in the known universe.

Random bogger: We could assign an IPv6 address to every atom on the surface of the earth – and have enough addresses left over for another hundred earths.

It’s a lot of addresses. We won’t run out. Whatever else happens, we won’t run out.

I think that's a safe statement! Of course, it probably won't be a transition without troubles, but hopefully it won't be too bad:
Traffic running on IPv6 equipment is invisible to IPv4 equipment in almost every way. The committee made a decision not to pursue backward compatibility, which probably made a lot of technical issues easier but leaves us with difficult problems now that we’ve procrastinated and there’s no time to ease into things. It’s going to take equipment changes up and down the line, from the largest ISPs and global routers down to your office, before we will be able to deal with IPv4 and IPv6 traffic at the same time. No one knows whether that will be important to those of us in small businesses or not; that will evolve from all the confusion over our heads in the next few years. With luck, a working connection will be delivered to us, we’ll buy some new Netgear equipment, and someone else will have gone prematurely grey to make it work easily for us.

At least we're not seeing catastrophic predictions of the end of the world, like with the Millennium Bug. Regardless, now you know...and now you can sleep at night.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Ads...Early!

This is absolutely priceless...

Perfect!!! Whoever created that commercial deserves a gigantic raise. Here are some other Super Bowl ads, but honestly, none are as good as the one above. If you need something a bit more practical, here's a guide on how to tweak your HDTV to get the best possible Super Bowl experience.

Enjoy the game!