November 13, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 7:26 PM

SOMETHING PERSONAL:

Misreading Election 2012 (Andrew Kohut, 11/13/12, WSJ)

[M]ost observers are overstating the gravity of the GOP's problem. In particular, they are paying too little attention to how weak a candidate Mitt Romney was, and how much that hurt Republican prospects.

Here is what the exit poll found. Mr. Romney's personal image took a hard hit during the primary campaign and remained weak on election day. Just 47% of exit-poll respondents viewed him favorably, compared with 53% for Mr. Obama. Throughout the campaign, Mr. Romney's favorable ratings were among the lowest recorded for a presidential candidate in the modern era. A persistent problem was doubt about his empathy with the average voter. By 53% to 43%, exit-poll respondents said that Mr. Obama was more in touch than Mr. Romney with people like themselves.

Mr. Romney was never fully embraced by Republicans themselves, which may have inhibited the expected strong Republican turnout. Pew's election-weekend survey found Mr. Romney with fewer strong supporters (33%) than Mr. Obama (39%). Similarly, a much greater percentage of Obama supporters (80%) than Romney supporters (60%) told Pew that they were voting for their candidate rather than against his opponent.

Posted by orrinj at 3:57 PM

THAT WAS EASY ENOUGH:

Bright LED Bulbs Arrive At Last (Martin LaMonica, November 13, 2012, Technology Review)

Osram Sylvania this week is shipping an LED light bulb that gives off as much light as a 100-watt incandescent, a sign that lighting manufacturers have successfully tackled the technical challenge of making bright LED bulbs.

The bulb gives off light in all directions, making it suitable for most applications, and consumes 20 watts of power. The expected retail price is just under $50. Osram Sylvania estimates that the bulb will save $220 over its life, assuming consumers pay the national average of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Posted by orrinj at 3:36 PM

PUNJABI POPULIST:

Jindal: End 'dumbed-down conservatism' (Jonathan Martin, November 13, 2012, Politico)

"We've got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything," Jindal told POLITICO in a 45-minute telephone interview. "We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys." [...]

Declaring that Republicans "can't be beholden to special interests or banks," the successor to Huey P. Long indicated support for provisions in the Dodd-Frank law, which requires banks to increase their reserves to prevent future taxpayer-funded bailouts.

Even more notably, Jindal suggested he'd look favorably on something akin to the "Volcker rule."

"You've seen some conservatives come around to the idea that if banks are going to be using FDIC-insured deposits, they shouldn't be allowed to co-mingle those funds with some of their riskier investment banking activity," Jindal said. "There needs to be stronger walls between insured deposits, the taxpayer protected side of business and riskier side of business that generate these risks and profits."

Asked if Wall Street generally has too much influence on Republicans, he said: "I think special interests in general have certainly too much influence in Washington, D.C."

In comments that will raise eyebrows among some of the RGA's donors, Jindal decried "agnostic" lobbyists who work both parties.

"They're access donors because they know whoever is in power -- that's who they want to be friends with to get their special perks in the Tax Code," he said.

Jindal said he didn't want to see tax rate increases but called for broad tax reform to rid the code of loopholes and make it fairer for more Americans.

"Depending on the other reforms that are made, certainly I'd be open to the idea of having more deductions, credits available to lower-income [filers]," he said.

Posted by orrinj at 5:21 AM

...AND CHEAPER...:

Text Messaging Declines in U.S. for First Time, Report Says (BRIAN X. CHEN, 11/12/12,  The New York Times)

For the first time, the American wireless market saw a decline in the total number of messages sent by each customer each month, according to a report published Monday by Chetan Sharma, an independent mobile analyst who is a consultant for wireless carriers. In the third quarter of this year, cellphone owners sent an average of 678 texts a month, down from 696 texts a month in the previous quarter.

Though that's a small dip, the change is noteworthy because for several years, text messaging had been steadily growing in the United States. Mr. Sharma said it was too early to tell whether the decline here would continue, but he noted that Internet-based messaging services, like Facebook messaging and Apple's iMessage, had been chomping away at SMS usage. He said the decline would become more pronounced as more people buy smartphones. A bit more than 50 percent of cellphone owners here have smartphones.

Posted by orrinj at 5:18 AM

NO HEAVY LIFTING REQUIRED:

'Congratulations, Partner': What Boehner Could Say in a Memo to President Obama (IRA STOLL, 11/12/12, NY Sun)

[W]e'll go even further than the ObamaCare tax. We'll offer up something that Mitt Romney was talking about in the presidential campaign, which was limiting the value of tax deductions for upper-income taxpayers. As Greg Mankiw, the chairman of the economics department at Harvard and a Romney campaign adviser, pointed out over the weekend, capping itemized deductions at $50,000 for each filer and keeping tax rates where they are today would raise $749 billion in tax revenue over ten years, with 79.9 percent of that coming from the top one percent of taxpayers.

And if the ObamaCare Medicare tax, the increase in state income taxes, and a new limit on deductions aren't enough for you, we'll go even further in the direction of balancing the budget on the backs of the rich by doing something the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, talked about in his interview with the Wall Street Journal published this past weekend. The Journal said Mr. McConnell "wants means-testing for programs like Medicare." "Warren Buffett's always complaining about not paying enough in taxes," the Journal quoted Mr. McConnell as saying. "What really irritates me is I'm paying for his Medicare."

So those are my "gives." Let's get to the "asks." All the other rates -- income, capital gains, dividends, payroll -- stay the same for another four years as they were in 2012. I would go down to two years on this if you want to make the 2014 midterm elections about this issue, but I think it's better for reduction of uncertainty to go at least four years out. The one exception is the corporate tax rate, where even you've said that for international competitiveness reasons we need to bring the rate down. My people are going to be annoyed by these increases in the Medicare tax and by the ceiling on deductions. But since the corporate taxes are really paid in the end by the shareholders, a cut in the corporate tax rate would allow me to say to Republican donors that on a net basis they're coming out unscathed, while you can go to the Democratic base and say "we finally forced those rich bastards to pay more taxes -- I mean 'asked people like me to pay a little more.'" It's a win-win.

Posted by orrinj at 5:13 AM

LIKE WORDS WITH FRIENDS, BUT WITH FRIENDS:

Board games are growing in popularity again : Table-top games, once overshadowed by video games, are drawing people who want more social forms of entertainment. Still, it's a tough business for publishers. (Todd Martens, 11/12/12, Los Angeles Times)

Blockbuster board games are unusual, but Days of Wonder has one in its Ticket to Ride.

The already-classic cardboard game, in which players strategize over how to build the best railway routes, was released in 2004 and has worldwide sales of "several hundred thousand units per year," said Eric Hautemont, co-founder of the Los Altos, Calif., game company.

That places it in the forefront of a blossoming independent game world, in which new titles such as monster bonanza King of Tokyo and kingdom-building game Dominion are fighting to join traditional classics such as Monopoly and Sorry.

Driven by online word of mouth on board game websites such as BoardGameGeek and by the popularity of online digital games, including Days of Wonder's Small World, old-fashioned board games have acquired cult status and are growing in popularity.

The American board game thriller Pandemic and imports such as Carcassone and the Settlers of Catan are the titles most often cited as having fueled the table-top renaissance. They have been followed by hits such as the celebration of misery game Gloom, the civilization epic 7 Wonders and the galactic adventure Race for the Galaxy.
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