Saturday, December 26, 2009


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
Fossil range: 39.75–0 Ma
Late Eocene - Recent
Golden Jackal (Canis aureus)
Scientific classification
Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Caniformia
Family: Canidae
G. Fischer de Waldheim, 1817
Genera and species

See text

Canidae (pronounced /ˈkænɨdiː/[2]) is the biological family of carnivorous and omnivorous mammals that includes the wolves, foxes, jackals, coyotes, and the domestic dog; a member of this family is called a canid (/ˈkeɪnɨd/). The Canidae family is divided into the "wolf-like" and "dog-like" animals of the tribe Canini and the "foxes" of the tribe Vulpini. The two species of the basal Caninae are more primitive and do not fit into either tribe.




Norfolk jacket

Norfolk jacket

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
Norfolk jackets

A Norfolk jacket is a loose, belted, single-breasted jacket with box pleats on the back (and sometimes front), now with a belt or half-belt. The style was long popular for boys' jackets and suits, and is still used in some (primarily military and police) uniforms. It was originally designed as a shooting coat that did not bind when the elbow was raised to fire. It was named either after the Duke of Norfolk or after the county of Norfolk and was made fashionable after the 1860s in the sporting circle of the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, whose country residence was Sandringham House in Norfolk.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Conceit of Government

Conceit of Government
Why are our politicians so full of themselves?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 12:01 A.M. EDT

What's wrong with them? That's what I'm thinking more and more as I watch the news from Washington.

A few weeks ago it was the senators who announced the judicial compromise. There is nothing wrong with compromise and nothing wrong with announcements, but the senators who spoke referred to themselves with such flights of vanity and conceit--we're so brave, so farsighted, so high-minded--that it was embarrassing. They patted themselves on the back so hard they looked like a bevy of big breasted pigeons in a mass wing-flap. Little grey feathers and bits of corn came through my TV screen, and I had to sweep up when they were done.

This week comes the previously careful Sen. Barack Obama, flapping his wings in Time magazine and explaining that he's a lot like Abraham Lincoln, only sort of better. "In Lincoln's rise from poverty, his ultimate mastery of language and law, his capacity to overcome personal loss and remain determined in the face of repeated defeat--in all this he reminded me not just of my own struggles."

Oh. So that's what Lincoln's for. Actually Lincoln's life is a lot like Mr. Obama's. Lincoln came from a lean-to in the backwoods. His mother died when he was 9. The Lincolns had no money, no standing. Lincoln educated himself, reading law on his own, working as a field hand, a store clerk and a raft hand on the Mississippi. He also split some rails. He entered politics, knew more defeat than victory, and went on to lead the nation through its greatest trauma, the Civil War, and past its greatest sin, slavery.

Barack Obama, the son of two University of Hawaii students, went to Columbia and Harvard Law after attending a private academy that taught the children of the Hawaiian royal family. He made his name in politics as an aggressive Chicago vote hustler in Bill Clinton's first campaign for the presidency.

You see the similarities.

There is nothing wrong with Barack Obama's résumé, but it is a log-cabin-free zone. So far it also is a greatness-free zone. If he keeps talking about himself like this it always will be.

Mr. Obama said he keeps a photographic portrait of Lincoln on the wall of his office, and that "it asks me questions."

I'm sure it does. I'm sure it says, "Barack, why are you such an egomaniac?" Or perhaps, "Is it no longer possible in American politics to speak of another's greatness without suggesting your own?"

Even so sober an actor as Bill Frist has gotten into the act. This is the beginning of his Heritage Foundation speech yesterday:

You might have been wondering these last few months: Why would a doctor take on an issue like the judicial confirmation process? About 10 years ago, I set aside my medical career to run for the Senate. But I didn't set aside my compassion. I didn't set aside my character. And I sure as heck didn't set aside my principles. I got into politics for the same reason I got into medicine. I wanted to help people. And I wanted to heal. I just felt that, in politics, I could help and heal more than one patient at a time.
I admire Bill Frist, but can you imagine George Washington referring in public, or in private for that matter, to his many virtues? In normal America if you have a high character you don't wrestle people to the ground until they acknowledge it. You certainly don't announce it. If you are compassionate, you are compassionate; if others see it, fine. If you hold to principle it will become clear. You don't proclaim these things. You can't, for the same reason that to brag about your modesty is to undercut the truth of the claim.

And there are the Clintons. There are always the Clintons. The man for whom Barack Obama worked so hard in 1992 showed up with his wife this week to take center stage at Billy Graham's last crusade in New York. Billy Graham is a great man. He bears within him deep reservoirs of sweetness, and the reservoirs often overflow. It was embarrassing to see America's two most famous political grifters plop themselves in the first row dressed in telegenic silk and allow themselves to become the focus of sweet words they knew would come.

Why did they feel it right to inject a partisan political component into a spiritual event? Why take advantage of the good nature and generosity of an old hero? Why, after spending their entire adulthoods in public life, have they not developed or at least learned to imitate simple class?

How exactly does it work? How does legitimate self-confidence become wildly inflated self-regard? How does self respect become unblinking conceit? How exactly does one's character become destabilized in Washington?

The Supreme Court this week and last issued many rulings, and though they were on different issues the decisions themselves had at least one thing in common: They seemed to reflect a lack of basic human modesty on the part of many of the justices. Many are famously very old, and they have been together as a court for a very long time. One wonders if they have lost all understanding of how privileged they are to have lifetime sinecures of power and authority. Do they have any sense anymore of common human wisdom, of the normal human arrangements by which Americans live?

Maybe a lot of them aren't bothering to think. Maybe Ruth Bader Ginsburg is no longer in the habit of listening to arguments but only of watching William Rehnquist, and if he nods up and down she knows to vote "no," and if he shakes his head she knows to vote "yes." That might explain some of the lack of seriousness in the decisions. Local government can bulldoze Grandma's house because it's in the way of a future strip mall that will add more to the tax base? The Ten Commandments can appear on public land but not in a courthouse, but Moses, who received the Ten Commandments can appear in the frieze of the House but he'll be sandblasted off the Supreme Court? Or do I have that the other way around?

What are they doing? All this hair splitting, this dithering, this cutting and pasting--all this lack of serious and defining principle. All this vanity.

Perhaps Justice Ginsburg or Justice Stevens will retire soon and write a memoir: Like Jefferson I held to principle, and like Lincoln I often lacked air conditioning. But in my intellectual gifts I've always found myself to be more like Oliver Wendell Holmes . . .

What is in the air there in Washington, what is in the water?

What is wrong with them? This is not a rhetorical question. I think it is unspoken question No. 1 as Americans look at so many of the individuals in our government. What is wrong with them?


by Ann Coulter
December 23, 2009

Irritated at the bumps on the road to the Democrats' Thousand-Year Reich, liberals are now claiming that Republican Senator Tom Coburn requested a prayer for the death of Sen. Bob Byrd during the health care debate last Saturday night.

Here is what Coburn actually said: "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight. That's what they ought to pray."

After reporting Coburn's remark, The Washington Post's Dana Milbank added: "It was difficult to escape the conclusion that Coburn was referring to the 92-year-old, wheelchair-bound Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.)."

Contrary to Milbank's claim, I find it extremely easy to get away from that conclusion. In fact, I'm a regular Houdini when it comes to that conclusion. That conclusion couldn't hold me for a second.

There are a million ways a senator could miss a vote, other than by dying. Ask Patrick Kennedy. At 1 a.m. on a Sunday night in the middle of a historic blizzard in the nation's capital, I don't think the first thing that came to anyone's mind was death. More likely it was: "Last call."

Milbank was employing the MSNBC motto, "In Other Words," which provides the formula for 90 percent of the political commentary on that network. The MSNBC host quotes a Republican, then says "in other words," translates the statement into something that would be stupid to say, and spends the next 10 minutes ridiculing the translated version. Which no one said. Except the host.

Also, by the way, Sen. Coburn did not "go to the Senate floor to propose a prayer," as Milbank reported. He was giving a floor speech in which he used the turn of phrase, "What the American people ought to pray is ..."

Inasmuch as liberals want to talk about anything but their plan to take over one-sixth of the American economy, let's talk about health care!

Democrats tout Medicare as their model for a government-run health care system, bragging about what an extremely popular government program it is.

Medicare is tens of trillions of dollars in the red
. It is expected to go bankrupt by 2017. In order to pay for Medicare alone, the government will either have to cut every other federal program in existence, or raise federal income taxes to rates as high as 77 percent.

Medicare is like a $500 hamburger: I assume it's good -- it had better be -- but no one would say, "THAT'S A FANTASTIC SUCCESS!"

Until 10 minutes ago, the liberal argument for national health care was that it wasn't fair that some people -- "the rich" -- have access to better health care than others.

In liberals' ideal world, everyone lives in abject poverty and stands in long lines, but we all live in the same abject poverty and stand in the same long lines -- just like in their beloved Soviet Union of recent memory! (Except the commissars, who get excellent health care, food, housing, maid service and no lines.)

Instead of being honest and telling us that their plan is to make health care worse and more expensive -- but fairer! -- liberals have recently begun claiming that providing universal health care will actually save money. Overnight, they went from wailing about basic human needs being "more important than bombs" to claiming: "Our plan will be cheaper!"

Hmmm, I didn't make any notes to debate the manifestly insane points. But I'm pretty sure that extending full medical benefits to 30 million people who don't currently have them -- 47 million once the federal health commission rules that illegal aliens are covered -- will not be less expensive than the current system.

You can say -- mistakenly -- that the liberals' plan is more compassionate. You can say -- also incorrectly -- that it will be fairer. On no set of facts can you say it will be cheaper.

Democrats keep citing the Congressional Budget Office's "scoring" of their bills as if that means something.

The CBO is required to score a bill based on the assumptions provided by the bill's authors. It's worth about as much as a report card filled out by the student himself.

Democrats could write a bill saying: "Assume we invent a magic pill that will make cars get 1,000 miles per gallon. Now, CBO, would that save money?"

The CBO would have to conclude: Yes, that bill will save money.

Among the tricks the Democrats put into their health care bills for the CBO is that the government will collect taxes for 10 years, but only pay out benefits for the last six years. Will that save money? Yes, the CBO says, this bill is "deficit neutral"!

But what about the next 10 years and the next 10 years and the next 10 years after that? Will the health care plan continually pay benefits only in the last six years of every 10-year period? I think their plan assumes we'll all be dead from global warming in a decade.

Also, I note that the Democrats claim it's urgent that we pass ObamaCare by Christmas, but the bill doesn't get around to paying out any benefits until 2014. Poor uninsured chumps.

In other words ... Democrats are praying for the death of Bob Byrd!


How Real Health Reform Was Killed by Politicians Trying to Look 'Moderate'

By James Ridgeway, CounterPunch. Posted December 23, 2009.

'Moderation' has come to mean weighing the interests of campaign contributors -- Big Pharma vs. the insurance companies -- with little concern for the American people.
Upcoming AlterNet stories on Digg

Plenty of countries have created excellent health care systems largely through regulation -- so why can’t we do the same? The French and Japanese health care systems, for example, do not exclude private industry. They are not socialist in any sense of the word, and even retain a role for private insurance companies. What each system consists of is a regulatory apparatus that serves as the instrument for carrying out national policy -- which is providing high quality health care for all the country’s citizens, at a reasonable cost. The regulation works because you can’t get around it, and because it was designed -- and actually operates -- in the public interest.

To achieve anything similar in the United States, however, would require a virtual revolution in how our government operates. Our system of government regulations isn’t really what we think of as regulation at all. Rather, it throws up a facade of rules, which corporations walk right through. And no wonder, since although the regulations are supposed to be arrived at independently and designed for the public good, corporations have long had a hand in writing them, as well, thanks to the power of lobbying, campaign contributions, and the revolving door between business and government.

Rather than being enacted to protect the public from the limitless greed of private industry, many regulations are actually passed in support of corporations. The worst example is probably the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is just a clubhouse for Wall Street. Another top contender is the Food and Drug Administration. The basic legislation passed by Congress in the 1930s and updated in the early 1960s set policy governing the sale and use of drugs, which demanded that companies demonstrate the proposed product is safe and efficacious. But that policy directive was quickly abandoned. Today the drug manufacturers breeze through the FDA, setting their own rules for use, establishing their own prices, and exercising their monopoly rights within the patent system which in the case of pharmaceuticals is maintained for their benefit.

An excellent article in the December Harpers, “Understanding Obamacare” by Luke Mitchell, provides a better understanding of how the American system of regulation in the corporate interest works. “The idea that there is a competitive ‘private sector’ in America is appealing, but generally false,” writes Mitchell. He continues:

No one hates competition more than the managers of corporations. Competition does not enhance shareholder value, and smart managers know they must forsake whatever personal beliefs they may hold about the redemptive power of creative destruction for the more immediate balm of government intervention. This wisdom is expressed most precisely in an underutilized phrase from economics: regulatory capture.

In the case of health care, Mitchell argues, “The health-care industry has captured the regulatory process, and it has used that capture to eliminate any real competition, whether from the government, in the form of a single-payer system, or from new and more efficient competitors in the private sector who might have the audacity to offer a better product at a better price.”

What’s really sharp about Mitchell’s analysis, though, is his recognition that “the polite word for regulatory capture in Washington is ‘moderation.’” As he explains it:

Normally we understand moderation to be a process whereby we balance the conservative-right-red preference for “free markets” with the liberal-left-blue preference for “big government.” Determining the correct level of market intervention means splitting the difference….The contemporary form of moderation, however, simply assumes government growth (i.e., intervention), which occurs under both parties, and instead concerns itself with balancing the regulatory interests of various campaign contributors. The interests of the insurance companies are moderated by the interests of the drug manufacturers, which in turn are moderated by the interests of the trial lawyers and perhaps even by the interests of organized labor, and in this way the locus of competition is transported from the marketplace to the legislature. The result is that mediocre trusts secure the blessing of government sanction even as they avoid any obligation to serve the public good. Prices stay high, producers fail to innovate, and social inequities remain in place.

This seems to me an extremely accurate depiction of the forces that have governed our current health care reform -- from the start, when Big Pharma struck a secret deal with the White House, right up to the present moment, when Big Insurance’s bag man Joe Lieberman is deciding the fate of hundreds of millions of Americans.

And no wonder, since as Mitchell points out, the “moderation” formula has been perfected not by Republicans, but by Democrats: “The triangulating work that began two decades ago under Bill Clinton,” he writes, ”is reaching its apogee under the politically astute guidance of Barack Obama.”

This is exactly how health care reform could have turned out so screwed up despite (or, as the case may be, because of) Democratic control of the White House and Congress.

Senate and House in search of health-care compromise

Senate and House in search of health-care compromise

As the Senate prepares to vote on an overhaul of the nation's health care system, AP reporter Erica Werner explains what it took to get all 60 Democrats on board and why some Republicans say the legislation is a sign of business as usual. (Dec. 22)

Discussion Policy
Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 24, 2009

At 7 a.m. Thursday, the Senate plans to push landmark health-care legislation over the finish line with the last in a string of midnight and daybreak votes capping months of infighting and procedural delays. And with that, the hardest work of all will begin: reckoning with long-standing differences with the House version and uniting behind a single bill that can be sent to the president.

This Story

Democrats are already outlining a strategy to achieve a final compromise that can satisfy the more liberal House without upsetting the painstakingly assembled coalition of 60 Senate Democrats and independents.

Central to those talks, House leaders said, will be the search for an acceptable substitute for a government-run insurance plan that those without medical coverage could purchase, a provision the House designed to compete with private insurers and force them to rein in costs. While the Senate has decisively rejected the "public option," House leaders say they will demand other concessions to ensure that Americans can afford the insurance they will be required to buy if the bill becomes law.

"We have to be absolutely convinced that this is going to accomplish the goal of holding down the cost of health insurance. The American consumer cannot be left hostage to the whims of private insurance," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the House leadership. "We're asking every American to share some responsibility in getting health insurance; we need to ensure that every American can afford it."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has signaled approval for the Senate's solution: the creation of at least two nationwide insurance plans run by private companies but overseen by the Office of Personnel Management, the same federal agency that handles health insurance for members of Congress. In a conference call Wednesday, Pelosi also assured rank-and-file Democrats that they would not be asked to rubber-stamp the Senate bill and began soliciting ideas to improve it.

Among the options under discussion: pressing the Senate to increase the federal subsidies that would be offered to low- and middle-income people who do not have access to affordable coverage through an employer; having a single national marketplace for people buying insurance, rather than 50 state-based exchanges, as the Senate prefers; and moving up the launch date of those marketplaces and subsidies to 2013, one year earlier than under the Senate bill.

With Democrats racing to finish work in time for President Obama's first State of the Union address in late January or early February, those changes promise to increase the cost of the $871 billion Senate package, which is already bumping up against the $900 billion cap Obama set this year.

"The tension is, the more you move toward the House bill, the more you have to pay for that," said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. "There isn't a lot of wiggle room financially, and there isn't a lot of wiggle room politically in any of this."

Other contentious issues must also be resolved in talks between the two chambers, including how to handle abortion coverage and whether to permit undocumented immigrants to use their own money to buy insurance on the exchanges. The House and Senate also differ on which taxes to raise to pay for the most dramatic expansion of insurance coverage since the 1965 creation of Medicare and how to enforce nearly $500 billion in proposed payment cuts to Medicare providers, another major source of financing.

The outlines of a compromise may be emerging on the financial issues. Obama said Wednesday that he expects the Senate's tax on high-cost insurance policies to be included in the final bill, despite persistent opposition in the House and among labor unions, which have bargained away wages for better coverage over the years. Economists say the "Cadillac tax" promises to control health-care costs by encouraging people to buy less luxurious coverage.

House leaders have proposed a surtax on millionaires, but aides say they may settle for an expanded version of the Senate's proposal to raise the Medicare payroll tax on annual income exceeding $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for families, a less confrontational approach to taxing the wealthy.

The White House has also endorsed the Senate's plan to create an independent advisory board with broad powers to cut Medicare spending. Territorial House leaders are reluctant to relinquish congressional authority over the federal health program for retirees, but aides say they may be ready to broker a deal on that front as well.

Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) plan to talk next week about how to move forward, with the most likely course being informal negotiations rather than a formal conference committee. That would give negotiators more flexibility to come up with new policies in service of a compromise and eliminate some complicated procedural obstacles.

This Story

Negotiators from both chambers could rewrite the Senate bill and send it to the House for a vote. The Senate then would give it final approval. Pelosi has asked key House chairmen to return to Washington in the first week in January to launch that effort, with the full House due back a week later. The Senate is out until Jan. 19, leaving little time to push through a final bill.

Senate Republicans have vowed to fight the Senate bill with every parliamentary weapon they can muster. Over the past week, they have forced the Senate to work virtually round the clock, holding votes at odd hours, to finish the Senate bill by Christmas. Late Wednesday afternoon, the Senate voted 60 to 39 to turn back the third and final Republican filibuster attempt.

"We stand on the doorstep of history," Reid said afterward.

Clearly exhausted, Reid told reporters to expect further details on reconciling the two bills "after I go home to Searchlight," his desert home town in Nevada. "But for the time being," he said, "I'm going to focus on this bill passing in the morning. And for a few days after that, frankly, I am going to just sit back and watch my rabbits eat my cactus."

With Thursday's vote, both chambers of Congress will have given preliminary approval to health packages that share remarkably similar visions of reform, despite the remaining differences. Both seek to extend coverage to millions of Americans, in part by establishing insurance exchanges operated by government officials who would be empowered to monitor price increases and the quality of coverage, and to negotiate with insurers. That job would fall to each state in the Senate bill and to the federal government in the House bill.

Both bills also call for the biggest expansion of Medicaid since its creation, guaranteeing public insurance to everyone in the nation under a certain income level, regardless of family status. The House bill is more generous, offering Medicaid eligibility to anyone who earns less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level (a little more than $16,000 a year for an individual), compared with a 133 percent cap in the Senate bill.

Both bills would create a system of insurance subsidies for people who earn less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level (about $88,000 for a family of four) to limit the share of income they would have to spend on premiums. The House bill is more generous to people at the lower end of the scale, while the Senate would offer more assistance at the upper end, capping premium costs at 9.8 percent of income compared with 12 percent in the House bill.

The House bill would cover more people, as many as 36 million, according to congressional budget analysts, compared with 31 million under the Senate bill. But it would cost more than $1 trillion over the next decade, compared with the Senate's $871 billion package.

Many health policy experts are urging the House to press for its national version of the exchange, arguing that state officials would be less likely to enforce new insurance regulations and seek out the best deals for consumers.

"There are hundreds of thousands of decisions that need to be made as these things are being put into place that affect access and costs in a very significant way," said Linda Blumberg of the Urban Institute. "There's a lot at stake here, and we need to be defaulting on the side of uniformity."

The national exchange may also have a political advantage, by appealing to frustrated supporters of the government-run insurance option, who believe they have sacrificed too much.

"It's the last big bone for the liberal camp to build up a more significant role for the federal government, to have a structure to build on for the future," Altman said.

Staff writer Shailagh Murray contributed to this report.

An End to 'Monopoly Money' Government Spending? Obama Touts Contract Cost Savings

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:

Saying that the federal government can no longer spend taxpayers' money like it is “monopoly money,” President Obama today touted that the administration is well on its way to reaching his goal of saving $40 billion by fiscal year 2011.

“In March, I ordered federal departments and agencies to come up with plans to save up to $40 billion a year in contracting by 2011,” Mr. Obama said from the Diplomatic Reception Room today. “And over the past six months, agencies have been making cuts by looking for better deals, by ending contracts, and doing work in- house, and by opening up no-bid contracts to competitive bidding Because of these efforts, I'm proud to announce today that we are on track to meet our goals: 24 departments have identified more than $19 billion in savings for this year alone.”

The President highlighted a report from the Office of Management and Budget that reported on the $19 billion worth of savings that were identified. Between 2002 and 2008, the amount spent on government contracts more than doubled. The amount spent on no-bid, non-competitive contracts jumped by 129 percent.

“This is an inexcusable waste of money,” Mr. Obama said today.

Joining Mr. Obama at the podium today was the SAVE award winner, Nancy Fichtner of Loma, Colorado.

Fichtner, a fiscal support clerk at the VA medical Center in Grand Junction was one of the 38,000 entrants who answered the President’s challenge to all federal employees to submit ideas on how best the government can get rid of wasteful spending.

Fichtner’s winning idea was that the VA should stop throwing away medication that is given to vets in hospital, upon discharge, and instead let them take it home with them.

“Her idea stems from her experience at the VA medical center where she works,” Mr. Obama said today, “She noticed that, whenever patients left the hospital, leftover medications, like eye drops or inhalers, were just thrown away. And often veterans would have to go right back to the pharmacy to refill what was discarded. So the V.A. is paying twice. It's waste, plain and simple.”

Fichtner’s idea, Mr. Obama said, has already begun to be instituted in the system.

The President announced that the SAVE award will be an annual contest, to help identify -- directly from the men and women who work for the federal government -- how the government can do its job better or do the same job for less money.

“After years of irresponsibility, we are once again taking responsibility for every dollar we spend the same way families do. It's true that what I've described today will not be enough to get us out of our fiscal mess by itself. We face a deficit that will take some tough decisions in the next year's budget and in years to come to get under control. But these changes will save the American people billions of dollars. And they'll help to put in place a government that's more efficient and effective, that wastes less money on no-bid contracts, that's cutting bureaucracy and harnessing technology, that's more fiscally responsible and that better serve the American taxpayer.”

The President also announced that next month at the White House he will hold a forum to seek more ideas from the private sector, specifically about how to use technology to reform government.

-- Sunlen Miller

Bryan Singer speaks on "X-Men: First Class" and Magneto

A few days ago, HeatVision posted an interview with superstar director/produce Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns, and Valkyrie). As reported here not too long ago, Bryan has now signed on to direct the upcoming “X-Men: First Class” film currently in the works for Marvel/20th Century Fox.

In the interview, Singer touched on a few things that have lingered in the fans’ minds since the announcement of the film. One question concerning where the Magneto solo film stands is said to have been superseded by the “First Class” film.

He explains that in this film he’s to direct, the story of how the X-Men team was first formed will be told. All in the while, we will find out how a young Xavier and a young Magneto go from friends to adversaries, which was basically what Magneto’s film would have touched on.

Bryan also talks about whom he chose as a writer, what he’s been up to since his last film, Valkyrie, was released, what he thought about James Cameron’s Avatar film, and also what he likes to do during the Holidays.

“X-Men: First Class” is still in the planning stage and is not yet scheduled for a release.

Microsoft Word may get a facelift, post patent loss

Microsoft Word may get a facelift, post patent loss

24 Dec 2009, 0347 hrs IST, Bloomberg

Save Print EMail Share Comment Text:

WASHINGTON: Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker, is preparing to alter its popular Word software after it lost its appeal of a

$200-million patent-infringement verdict won by a Canadian firm. The company, based in Redmond, Washington, was given until January 11 to make the change or stop sales, in a decision released on Wednesday by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington. Word is part of Microsoft’s Office software, used by more than 500 million people.

The court upheld a verdict that has since grown to $290 million, won by closely held I4i of Toronto. The dispute is over an invention related to customising extensible markup language, or XML, a way of encoding data to exchange information among programmes. Microsoft has called it an “obscure functionality.”

Microsoft said it has been working on making the change since the trial judge first ordered a halt in August and has “put the wheels in motion to remove this little-used feature from our products.”

Copies of Word 2007 and Office 2007 with the feature removed will be available for US sale by January 11, and “beta versions of Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Office 2010, which are available now for downloading, don’t contain the technology covered by the injunction,” said Kevin Kutz, a company spokesman. Microsoft is testing Office 2010 with customers and will release the completed version in the first half of next year. The unit that sells Office is Microsoft’s biggest, with $18.9 billion in sales in the year ended June 30. Microsoft can continue to provide technical support to current Word users. It can’t instruct new users who buy Word after the deadline on how to use the custom XML editor or sell copies of Word with the feature, the court said.

The software maker said it may ask the Federal Circuit to reconsider the decision or appeal to the US Supreme Court. The Federal Circuit isn’t likely to grant such a request, and “there’s no issue really sexy or different for the Supreme Court to address either,” said James Kulbaski, a patent lawyer with Oblon Spivak in Alexandria, Virginia, who isn’t part of the case. “This was a small company that appeared to be doing reasonably well, and Microsoft’s product essentially eliminated that part of the business,” Kulbaski said. “I4i could not compete with Microsoft Word incorporating their feature.”

Based on the company’s statement, it’s doubtful that Microsoft will try to reach a licensing deal with I4i, said Matt Rosoff, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, based in Kirkland, Washington. “There may be conversations going on now, but the safest thing is to not include it in 2010,” said Rosoff, whose company is a research firm focused on Microsoft’s technology and business strategy. “They have to look at this feature, see how important it is, who’s using it, and decide how much they’re willing to pay for it.”

I4i’s business was based on preserving its patent rights, and “Microsoft is not entitled to continue infringing simply because it successfully

exploited its infringement,” the three- judge panel said.

“A small company was practicing its patent, only to suffer a loss of market share, brand recognition, and customer goodwill as the result of the defendant’s infringing acts,” the court said. “The district court found that Microsoft captured 80% of the custom XML market with its infringing Word products, forcing I4i to change its business strategy.”

The decision is “an important step in protecting the property rights of small inventors,” Michael Vulpe, I4i’s co- founder, said in an e-mail. Company Chairman Loudon Owen called it “both a vindication for I4i and a war cry for talented inventors whose patents are infringed.”

“The same guts and integrity that are needed to invent and go against the herd, are at the heart of success in patent litigation against a behemoth like Microsoft,” Owen said in a statement.

There was “sufficient evidence” for the jury to reach both its verdict and damage award, the court said. It also upheld the trial judge’s decision to add $40 million to the original $200 million verdict for intentional infringement. The remaining $50 million is for post-verdict damages and interest.

Microsoft claimed the product was a small part of its Word package and the damages are inordinately high. The company also argued in court papers that it was under an unrealistic deadline to “redesign its flagship Word software to remove an obscure functionality” or be “compelled to stop distributing Word and the popular Office software suite.”

The appeals court said the scope of the order was narrow in that it wouldn’t affect existing customers. It did say Microsoft should have been given more time to implement any change to Word, based on a declaration from a Microsoft employee that it would take at least five months to do so. The judge originally allowed just 60 days.

XML is a common way of encoding data, and nothing in the order prevented Microsoft from continuing to offer that feature in Word, or for allowing customized XML when it’s used in plain text. The disputed feature is one used by large companies to add special data to Word files, such as information in forms submitted by customers. I4i’s patent was issued in 1998.

Customized XML is a key feature of the software and services sold by I4i, Owen has said. Customers including drugmakers Merck & Co. and Bayer AG use I4i’s software to make sure that people get the correct and most up-to-date information on the labels of their medicine.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Main Entry: sate
Pronunciation: \ˈsāt\
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): sat·ed; sat·ing
Etymology: probably by shortening & alteration from satiate
Date: 1579

1 : to cloy with overabundance : glut
2 : to appease (as a thirst) by indulging to the full
synonyms see satiate

Monday, December 21, 2009

Copenhagen climate summit: global warming 'caused by sun's radiation'

Copenhagen climate summit: global warming 'caused by sun's radiation'

Global warming is caused by radiation from the sun, according to a leading scientist speaking out at an alternative "sceptics' conference" in Copenhagen.

Climate scientists have criticised the theory that global warming is caused by sunspots. Photo: REUTERS

As the world gathered in the Danish capital for the UN Climate Change Conference, more than 50 scientists, businessmen and lobby groups met to discuss the arguments against man made global warming.

Although the meeting was considerably smaller than the official gathering of 15,000 people meeting down the road, the organisers claimed it could change the course of negotiations.

Professor Henrik Svensmark, a physicist at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen, said the recent warming period was caused by solar activity.

He said the last time the world experienced such high temperatures, during the medieval warming period, the Sun and the Earth were in a similar cycle.

Professor Nils-Axel Morner, a geologist from Stockholm University, said sea level rise has also been exaggerated by the “climate alarmists” using computer models.

He said observational data from lake sediments, coast lines and trees show sea levels have remained stable.

Professor Cliff Ollier, another geologist from the University of Western Australia, also said the environmental lobby have got it wrong on ice caps. He said the melting of ice sheets is caused by geothermal activity rather than global surface temperatures.

Professor Ian Plimer, from the University of Adelaide, claimed carbon dioxide from volcanoes rather than humans is driving warming as part of a natural process.

The meeting was organised by Danish group Climate Sense and the lobby group Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT).

Craig Rucker, Executive Director of CFACT, admitted the organisation have taken funding from Exxon Mobil in the past but pointed out that many environmental groups are also receiving funding from major corporations.

Graham Capper of Climate Sense said manmade global warming was a myth and scientists who said otherwise were lying. :

"There are people who know they are lying and do it simply for money and others who think they are doing good," he said. "But they not good scientists."

Lord Monckton, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, said he was speaking to delegations from the US and Canada about question marks over the science.

He said a recent poll by the Telegraph, that shows only one in two people accept man made climate change, show people are questioning the consensus being pushed by the UN summit.

“As anybody knows who follows the opinion polls in Britain and Australia and the US, in the last few weeks and months there has been a rapid collapse in the global warming chimera so while we still have our freedom, let us speak out.”


-view CSL mobile version -

Webring Translator Thingamajig

Well, you've scrolled to the bottom, press start and help CSL for free!