28 June, 2012

SCOTUS Rules ObamaCare Mandate is a Tax--Here’s Why

The short version is this: the states never really took the tax argument seriously, and didn’t prepare an adequate defense.

Here’s the longer version.

The tax argument was something of a Hail Mary pass by the government. They believed that ObamaCare is constitutional because of the Welfare clause, the Commerce clause and the Necessary and Proper clause. But they threw the tax argument in as a last resort, basically saying “just in case you don’t agree with us on these three, we still have this arrow in our quiver.”

The states defense against the tax argument amounted to “Nuh uh. It’s not called a tax in the law, and they never called it a tax before. They can’t call it a tax now.”

SCOTUS’ response was “Nuh uh isn’t a valid argument. And it doesn’t matter what it’s called. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”

SCOTUS envisions that the way this will work is that there will be a line on your income tax form that says something like “Provide proof of health care insurance”, and if you don’t, then the next line will be “Otherwise, pay $XXXX”.

While SCOTUS doesn’t say this directly—at least that I’ve seen so far—this is similar to the child care credit. If you provide proof of child care, you get a tax credit for it. Yes, the health care provision works in the opposite direction, in that it’s a penalty, not a credit. But it could have easily been written the other way, to match the child care scenario. Of course the reason it wasn’t is then it would be impossible to argue that it’s not a new tax, which was one of President Barack Obama’s (D-USA) original statements.

The court makes a good point here, and one that it’s really hard to argue against. And maybe the reason the states didn’t prepare a proper defense against this argument isn’t that the didn’t take it seriously, but that there isn’t one.

Still, regardless of what you think of this argument, there’s no doubt that today’s decision is a loss for defenders of personal liberty and freedom in the United States, and a victory for the socialist movement. We must now pin our hopes upon repeal. That won’t be easy, either though. The stamp of approval by SCOTUS will sap quite a bit of the political will for repeal on Capitol Hill. It’s time for the Tea Party to truly show it’s strength, or to quit and admit that the American experiment is a failure.

27 June, 2012

P90X Day 61: Legs & Back

Yes, I know. Yesterday I said today would be Kenpo X. For some reason I was thinking today was Thursday. Tomorrow will be Kenpo.

This workout is just painful. There's no other way to describe it. I think I mentioned last time that I've come to truly hate the pull ups. Every time a pull up set comes, I look at my worksheet to see how many I did last time. These days that's usually followed by shock and anguish. "I did HOW many? I have to do that many AGAIN?" But I do. In fact, except for being completely out of breath at the end of each one, they're really worse in my mind than in reality. For reverse grip chin-ups, I can now whip out 7 or 8 without even taking a break or slowing down. I think I did 17 of them in one set today.

Despite the improvement, I'll definitely be glad when I can start a new round of P90X and set a new baseline for all my pull up numbers. Yes, I'll use my previous ones as a guide, but I may not force myself to better my current numbers the very first week. I want to focus more on form this next time around "quality over quantity". In the beginning of this round of P90X my form was awful on quite a few of the exercises. It's better now on most, but not always perfect, particularly on the last few reps. I'm going to concentrate on better form next time and maybe sacrifice a couple reps for it if necessary.

Since this was a strength training day, of course it ended with the 16 minutes of Hell known more formally as Ab Ripper X. I've complained that in some ways P90X is too short. You only do Chest & Back 5 times for example. But Ab Ripper X appears on the schedule 30 times. And, I think you do Yoga X 16 times. Yoga X contains Yoga Belly 7, which you can think of as Ab Ripper Yoga X. So, in the 90 days, you work your Abs 46 times. That doesn't include the 6 days of Core Synergistics, btw.

Anyway, the point of all of that in the last paragraph, is that you definitely do ab stuff enough to see and feel improvement. I may not have a six pack, but my belly is rock solid. And I'm doing more sit ups in a given week than I can recall doing at any time in my life. Still, I'm happy knowing that I only have to do Ab Ripper X 9 more times this cycle.

Tomorrow, Kenpo X. This time I really mean it.

26 June, 2012

P90X Day 60: Yoga X

Day 60. Two thirds of the way home.

A miracle occurred today. During the two-legged hamstring stretch (you sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you and stretch your hands forward), I touched my toes. Yes, it was brief, and there’s no way I’m even close to being able to hold my toes on that, but I did actually touch them. I probably haven’t been able to do that since I was in college.

So, even on yoga, I am making slow, steady progress forward.

Not much else to report today. For some reason I was absolutely dismal at the Tree pose. Matter of fact, it was quite possibly the worst I’ve ever done at that pose, and I’ve been doing it for six months now. Oddly, I didn’t have the same kinds of problems with the other balance poses. In fact, my Royal Dancer was probably the best one I’ve ever done. And Tree is the easiest of the three. It was very strange.

Not sure why I had so much trouble. I really pushed myself at the end of the movement segment, trying to get my Half Moon and Twisting Half Moon to look somewhat right. The Tree is the first thing after that. I may have just been tired.

Tomorrow, good old Kenpo X. And Friday is X Stretch, but I may slip in an extra Cardio X on Friday as well. I’m going out to eat with my wife, and I’d like to have a few extra calories to spare.

Polling the President—June 2012

It’s that time again. Time for my monthly look at President Barack Obama’s (D-USA) polling figures.

As always, I’ll start with the RealClearPolitics averages. Today, his approval/disapproval number stands at 48.3/47.5. Last month, he was +0.6, today he’s +0.8. That counts as statistical noise, but does include a rather bizarre +9 poll from Bloomberg. Exclude that poll, and it’s a bit of a dip from last month. We’ll see where things stand next month. This is almost exactly where he stood one year ago. But one year ago was the start of a summer swoon for the President. Two years ago the same happened. A third summer of discontent will send the campaign into a panic.

Right Track/Wrong Track contains considerably less good news for the President. Last month the spread was –24.7. Today, the numbers are 31.3/61.5, which is a –30.2 spread. We’re approaching 2:1 on people thinking we’re headed the wrong direction. Those are dismal numbers for a President seeking re-election.

Next, I move on to the Consumer Confidence Index from The Conference Board. Consumer confidence continues to fall. It dropped from 64.4 in May to 62.0 in June. Again, as I keep saying, the only good news here is that these numbers are better than the mid 40 numbers we were seeing last summer. But we’re headed in that direction again. So far there’s little reason to suspect that the July numbers will be any better than June, but they may not be much worse either. Next Friday’s BLS report may give us the biggest indicator as to where consumer confidence will be headed.

Now, on to General Election numbers. The polling average for former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) vs. President Barack Obama (D-USA) are as follows: Obama 46.8, Romney 44.2. Both numbers are higher than last month, and the spread for Obama has increased from 2.0 to 2.6. This is one area where things have gotten a bit better for Obama. And this is the most important average of the bunch. However, this includes a +13 Bloomberg poll. Excluding the Bloomberg poll yields an average spread of 1.3, down pretty markedly from last month. If Bloomberg releases another poll like this next month that is such a significant outlier, I will exclude it from my numbers. For now, though, it stays in.

In addition, the daily tracking polls are looking bad for the President. Romney has led in Rasmussen’s poll for the last 18 straight days. In Gallup, Romney has only trailed one day out of the last 12. You’d have to be an incredible optimist to think this qualifies as good news for the President.

While I personally think that in the end, things will go Romney’s way, the polling hasn’t shifted in his direction as much as I’d expected. But June definitely shows a shift in Romney’s favor. I have been pointing out for several months that the polling numbers were a mixed bag for the President. That is not true this month. The only one that’s not bad news is the General Election average. And the only reason it’s not bad news is the Bloomberg outlier.

Just last month, I said that based upon current polls, I’d give Obama a slight edge in November. That’s been true for several months. I’m officially shifting that to “toss up” as of now. July may be the turning point in the campaign. Either Romney’s momentum fades, or he capitalizes on it, and starts to look like a favorite. A July fade for either campaign will stack the odds heavily against them.

Starting next month, I’ll include some head-to-head numbers in battleground states. Right now, these are the only bright spots for Obama. But just like everywhere else, the trend is in the wrong direction. I will likely do two updates each in July and August, then go to weekly ones starting in September.

25 June, 2012

P90X Day 59: Shoulders & Arms

Another workout that I haven’t done since week 3. If you recall (and you probably don’t since I haven’t mentioned it in 6 weeks), I had trouble finding the proper weights for most of the exercises in this workout. In fact, I think after week 3 I was still searching.

Well, this week I finally found the correct weights for most of them. And, an amazing thing happened. I enjoyed this workout. First time. Sadly, I will only do it one more time before the end of P90X. Well, at least I’ll know for the next cycle.

Yoga X again tomorrow. I’m going to twist my body into a position and get stuck there permanently before this thing ends, I just know it.

24 June, 2012

P90X Day 58: Plyometrics

Jump, squat. Jump, squat. Hop. Spin. Hop. Spin. Hop. Hop. Hop.

Now repeat for the next 45 minutes.

Ok, you’ve just done Plyometrics.

No other workout wears me out as much as this one. I feel like I need two showers afterwards, and that my clothes should just be burned. But, it is fun. And it’s fun seeing yourself get better at doing the workout as time goes by.

I still have my hands on my knees after about 15 minutes, but at least now I know that I’m going to make it through the whole way. There were days early one where I’d reach the half way point and think to myself “Oh my God. There’s still 30 minutes to go???” Not any more. I just happily plug along until there’s about 10-15 minutes left, and I’m amazed that it’s almost over.

Today did show me the importance of wearing the heart rate monitor though. There was one period about halfway through where I eased up just a little bit. And after the set, I knew I had, and needed to push it harder. But was amazed that my heart rate was about 15 bpm lower than it usually is at that point. I had eased up even more than I realized. Made me push myself more the rest of the way.

Tomorrow, Shoulders & Arms. Haven’t done this one since week 3 either.

23 June, 2012

P90X Day 57: Phase III Begins

Ah, Chest & Back. It’s now the start of week 9. I haven’t done Chest & Back since week 3. I had forgotten just how hard this workout is.

It’s mostly push ups and pull ups, if you recall. I exceeded—by large margins, usually—my counts on all the pull ups. That made me feel quite a bit better. But I think I only exceeded my previous push up count on one of the push up exercises. And two of them, I didn’t even match my last count. I’m pretty sure I’m going deeper on all the push ups, though. That’s something I’ve been working on during the other workouts that contain push ups. So, I’m not disappointed. In all cases, I pushed myself hard. I’m happy with the results.

Of course, since it was a strength training day, that means that Ab Ripper X followed. Now, that was awful. Today was the worst I’ve done at Ab Ripper X in several weeks. Part of the problem was the week and a half off, I’m sure. I had problems the first time after the last Recovery week as well. Also, my legs were a little sore this morning, and that noticeably slowed me down on a couple of the exercises.

It probably sounds like today was a step backwards, instead of forward. Perhaps. I don’t think so. Today just proves that every day your body is different. And that if you want to improve, you have to keep at it, every day. Monday will be another Ab Ripper day. I’m sure I’ll do much better Monday than I did today. As for the Chest & Back part…well, I keep saying that it’s all about form. My form on all of these exercises is much better than it was 9 weeks ago. And that makes the exercises both harder and more beneficial.

Oh. Today I had a Pop-Tart for breakfast. Not the healthiest thing in the world. But I was celebrating the fact that I can have carbs again. With all the vitamin supplements I’m taking, I can afford the occasional meal that’s not very nutritious. My snacks today so far have been apple sauce and crackers. Tomorrow, I’ll likely have a banana and a smoothie of some kind. Nice change of pace from all the protein bars, peanuts, almonds, and cashews I’ve been having the last 8 weeks.

Taking the family to see Brave tonight at the drive-in. I may even have a little bit of popcorn. Celebration!

I think this is likely the best way for me to increase my carbs. I’m having little 100 calorie or less snacks that are more carbs than protein. I had been doing it the other way around. I’ll also add a few more carbs to my meals. I’m still not going to have a giant bowl of pasta, or a big plate of Chinese food with white rice. I’m easing into it. I’ll probably end up a little lower than where Beachbody recommends even still. But I can slowly ramp up and watch my BG, then back off if I start having issues.

Tomorrow, Plyometrics. The week after Recovery week sucks.

22 June, 2012

P90X: Diet

Sometimes I almost envy those of you who are overweight and doing P90X. Well, not during Plyometrics or when I’m doing pull ups. Then I laugh at you. But, the rest of the time…

One of the first things you do before starting P90X is to figure out how much you’re supposed to be eating. I’ve mentioned this before, and gone into my calculations. For most of you, if you’re overweight, you’re going to be cutting your caloric intake by a pretty hefty margin, while increasing your physical activity.

That’s the way to do it, for maximum effectiveness. And you’ll feel it, and you’ll see the body changes pretty rapidly. And, once you figure out what the right calorie number is for you, you’re pretty much set for a while.

For thin people, it’s a little harder. When I started P90X, the calorie number was 50% more than what I had been consuming. I tried doing it. I really did. But the first week, I never even made it to the calculated number. I got within a couple hundred calories a couple times, but I felt like I was gorging myself.

And worse, I gained weight. Since I knew I hadn’t been on the program long enough to start increasing muscle mass, I knew exactly what the weight was. Fat.

Well, that didn’t make me happy.

So, I cut my caloric intake back severely again. But it’s not as if I can just pick a number and use it. I have to find the maintain number. Which isn’t that easy. And since I’m working out every day, and hopefully growing muscle, I don’t even really want to maintain. I’m ok with gaining a little weight, as long as it’s not fat. Worse, assuming I do grow muscle, I need more calories to support the increased muscle mass. So, the number isn’t even constant. It’s always changing. Figuring out my ideal calorie number is kind of like trying to hit a moving target with a warped arrow while blindfolded.

And, just when I think I’ve got it figured out, I hit a “Recovery and Ab Focus” week like this week. You still work out every day during the Recovery week, but it’s a much less strenuous week than the typical week. I gained three pounds this week. During the last recovery week, I gained two. And I actually consumed slightly fewer calories than the week before, both times. Still, this shows that I’m going to have to keep doing pretty strenuous workouts on a regular basis if I’m going to keep my weight and my blood sugar in check.

Phase III starts tomorrow. In addition to the challenges I’ve been having, the nutritional elements are quite different during Phase III than during Phase I and Phase II. I can dump the protein bars and shakes for more fruits and veggies, and the occasional smoothie. This means I have to watch my blood sugar even more closely, so Phase III is going to be quite the challenge for me.

Blegh. If only I were fat. Winking smile

In case you’re wondering, my body fat dropped to 10.7% during Phase II, even after gaining three pounds this week. It looks like I should be able to get under 10% by the end of the program, assuming Phase III goes well. In fact, I was almost certainly under 10% at the beginning of this week. Grrrrr.

But the end result of this will be that I’ll be in much better shape, and I’ll know exactly how to eat and what to do to maintain or even improve that shape. I get closer every day. I’m not as close as I’d like to be, but there’s really no comparison between how I feel today vs. how I felt just one year ago.

P90X Days 53-56: Phase II Complete

Day 53: X Stretch

Again, “why do we stretch”? “Pain goes away” -- during the most painful stretch of the day. Ow. Still, there’s no doubt that this is the least strenuous of all the workouts. It’s the only one that doesn’t require me to hop in the shower immediately afterwards. I like this workout, but I continue to wish that my hamstrings weren’t soooooo tight.

Day 54: Core Synergistics

A friend of mine complains about “Legs & Back” because he “goes cardio” early in the workout, and never drops out of it. I didn’t totally understand him on that until doing Core Synergistics this week. This particular time, one of the early exercises really caused my heart rate to increase. I was breathing like a steam engine by the end of it. And I never really came down from that until the workout was over.  Now there are some cardio exercises as part of this workout, but most of it is more ab focused, or focused on strengthening the core. It’s hard to focus on your lifts when you’re…breathing…like…this…and…your…heart…is…pounding. I probably should have taken a longer break at some point and let my heart rate drop some. Too stubborn to do that, I guess.

Day 55: Yoga X

For the first time ever, my Twisting Triangle Pose was actually recognizable. Now, I still don’t look like the peeps in the video, but at least I don’t look like a crippled hunchback on his deathbed. Half Moon and Twisting Half Moon continue to be disasters. Oddly, I had more trouble with Royal Dancer than I’ve ever had before, also, even though I didn’t really have any trouble with the other balance poses. More and more I wish I’d been doing more yoga and stretching over the last 20 years. It’s not too late for me to increase strength, lose weight, and get my heart pumping better, but I fear that I’ll never make significant gains here. Only thing to do is to just keep on keepin’ on though. See what happens.

Day 56: X Stretch

Because I’m a masochist, I pushed myself harder on Bow today. I think it was so I wouldn’t have to hear Tony telling me that the pain goes away during stretching. Why couldn’t I hear him? All I could hear was “unnnnnnngggggghhhhhhhh!” Seriously, Bow is probably the only truly painful exercise in X Stretch. Yes, I still hate the hamstring exercises, but Bow is ten times worse.

Today ends Phase II. 8 weeks down. 5 to go. It’s time for the stretch run now.

21 June, 2012

June 21, 1964

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were lynched by the Ku Klux Klan for their efforts in registering black voters in Mississippi.

I grew up in the deep south. While I haven’t spent much real time there in almost 20 years, I can say that the attitudes that lead to this lynching were still prevalent when I was growing up.

We’ve made much progress in this area, but we also have so much farther to go. Sadly, today, we have people that use events like this to promote more racial discord rather than to end it.

I can only hope that these people, who often pretend to be part of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, will actually remember his words from Aug 28, 1963:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

20 June, 2012

Wide Receiver Is Not Fast And Furious

President Barack Obama’s (D-USA) administration and Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice is deliberately being confusing and obfuscating the truth over the two ATF programs named Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious. Sometimes they pretend they’re the same thing. Sometimes they tell us that when individuals mention one, they in fact mean the other. Sometimes they pretend that Wide Receiver never existed, and there’s only been one program, Fast and Furious, and that it’s been going on for years.

It’s all smoke and mirrors.

Wide Receiver was an ATF program run during the administration of President George W. Bush (R-USA). It was a gunwalking program, with the apparent goals claimed by Fast and Furious. However, there are some key points worth noting about Wide Receiver. The goal was apparently to “catch some big fish” in Mexican drug cartels who were using U.S. manufactured guns in their operations. This program was done with the consent and participation of the Mexican government. It involved a fairly small number of weapons, which were carefully tracked, often even with electronic tracking equipment.

Of course, what happened next will be surprising to no one. Despite the careful tracking, ATF lost some of the guns. When that happened, the program was shut down. You can certainly argue that this was inevitable from the beginning, and the entire program should have never been implemented. I might even agree with you.

Fast and Furious was an ATF program run during the administration of President Barack Obama (D-USA). The claimed goals were the same as Wide Receiver, but there were some significant differences. (And remember, Wide Receiver had already been shut down by this time, due to the inherent and somewhat obvious problems with the program) The differences included, but were not limited to the following. The Mexican government was not involved, and in fact was unaware of the program. The gunwalking was on a much larger scale, and the guns were not tracked (at least as far as we can tell) at all once they left the point of sale.

These differences are significant and are at the heart of the problems with Fast and Furious.

Now, you are probably asking yourself why would someone start a program that’s clearly an expansion of Wide Receiver and without Wide Receiver’s controls, after the failure of Wide Receiver? Or you might be asking yourself, how the people in charge expected it to succeed at the stated goals when the guns were not tracked at all?

Those are the two key questions regarding this program. And, of course, there others, such as, who was in charge of this program, and who approved it? And, if there was a cover-up afterwards, as now appears likely, who ordered the cover-up?

I’m sorry this post is not littered with links as is typical for my posts, but all of the information and much, much more is available in Katie Pavlich’s excellent book, “Fast and Furious: Barack Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up”.

I’m Thrilled That Obama Has Asserted Executive Privilege Over Fast & Furious Documents

Yes, you read that right. For the first time in two years, thinking about Fast & Furious is bringing a smile to my face, rather than raising my blood pressure.

I have said all along that this scandal is bigger than Watergate. And it has infuriated me to no end that it’s been continually brushed under the rug and ignored by the MSM. Attorney General Eric Holder’s stonewalling, lying, and obfuscation over the issue has been making me pull my hair out. As has the long slow slog by Congress to proceed with contempt charges against Mr. Holder.

So, why am I happy today?

President Barack Obama (D-USA) has officially involved himself in this mess now. By asserting executive privilege on the subpoenaed documents, he now owns it. Obama’s ace in the hole this entire time has been that the lapdog media is willing to cover for him. To say that they have not pursued this topic with any diligence is the understatement of the year. NBC Nightly News first mention ever of the scandal was on June 12, 2012! For those keeping score, that’s a mere 545 days after the murder of border patrol agent Brian Terry.

That’s pathetic. It’s beyond pathetic. Its disgusting.

But now, with contempt charges looming against the U.S. Attorney General, and with Obama’s assertion of executive privilege, it will be much harder for the MSM to ignore. We’ve been told for months now that Fast & Furious was a regional program, and that no one at the White House or the upper echelons of the Department of Justice really knew anything about it. That’s been obviously false for some time, but that hasn’t kept Holder from repeating it. But the assertion of executive privilege makes it more difficult for Holder now. If Holder’s been telling the truth, executive privilege wouldn’t be necessary, and in fact, wouldn’t even apply.

This is a big, big problem for Holder and Obama now. And while we still have a lapdog media, there are a few that still try to do their jobs. There are more still that may be biased, but also will smell blood in the water. Another of the many infuriating pieces of this whole story is how Holder and the DoJ have shut down access to the people with firsthand knowledge. You can do that merely by preventing them from appearing before Congressional inquiries, but only if there are no (or few) nosy reporters poking around.

There are going to be more nosy reporters poking around now. And, if there’s anything to find, they’re going to find it. Or they’re going to eventually convince one of these people to talk. And then a second will talk. And then a third. And every time one of these people talks, it’s going to be the lead story of the day. Don’t believe me? Go read “All the President’s Men”. That’s exactly how it went down.

As I keep saying, this is bigger than Watergate. I’m not the only person making that comparison, and after today’s assertion of executive privilege, even more will do so. When people think of executive privilege and scandals, they think of Nixon. That’s not a comparison Obama wants anyone to make.

Again, don’t believe me? Here’s what’s on Drudge right now.

nixon obama

President Obama today just made Fast & Furious a legitimate election issue. It may turn out to be the second biggest issue after the economy. I couldn’t be happier.

19 June, 2012

Microsoft Surface: Fizzle or Flash?

Unless you were out having a life or something, you know that Microsoft yesterday unveiled their new tablet, the Microsoft Surface. You can watch the presentation video below:

There are two models, called Surface and Surface Pro. I’ll go into the differences in a little bit.

There are some impressive features. The integrated kick stand, and their keyboard cover are wonderful. In fact, I’ll admit it. I’m drooling over the keyboard cover. This is without a doubt the best keyboard for a tablet that’s available, anywhere. It is one of the best keyboards, period, available anywhere. Their claims about the dual wifi antenna are impressive. They’ve angled the cameras so that they’re automatically pointed in the right direction when using the kickstand. That’s also impressive. As is the camera integration with Microsoft Office. I’m thrilled about the stylus and digital ink. My iPad still sucks when it comes to writing anything.

And, this device shows off the biggest strength of Windows 8, Microsoft’s ace in the hole. What is that? Enterprise support, and the ability to run essentially the same OS across the desktop, tablet, and phone spaces. That’s a huge deal for business consumers. Tell me that I can run Microsoft Office on my tablet, and interact with my Word and Excel docs in the same way as I do sitting at my desk, and you’ve just made my day. Apple can’t compete with that. Google can’t compete with that. iOS and Android may be nice, but they’re different. I have to relearn how to use Pages. It’s not the same as Word. It doesn’t display quite the same way. Make no mistake about it. This will be a very big selling point for the boys in Redmond.

So, is the Surface an iPad killer? (I’ll discuss Surface Pro in a minute)

In a word, no.

It’s an iPad competitor. It’s got some features that the iPad doesn’t have, that’s for certain. It has ports for one thing. But the Surface is not head and shoulders better than the iPad. And it runs Windows 8, rather than iOS. Windows 8 definitely has some issues. I think it’s a reasonable first attempt at a tablet oriented OS (and make no mistake, that’s what Windows 8 is), but it’s going to need an iteration or two to work out the kinks.

As an iPad competitor, it’s not much competition. Not because it’s not impressive. It is. But because, let’s face it, Apple owns this market. Unless it’s much better (it isn’t), or much less expensive (it won’t be), it’s going to have a hard time competing with the iPad, in terms of sales. At least initially.

So, the folks in Cupertino aren’t worried about the Surface, but what about the folks in Mountain View?

They should be terrified this morning. It’s no secret that outside of the Kindle Fire, that Android tablets have not exactly been flying off the shelves. If the Microsoft Surface can be cost competitive, or even close to it, to Android tablets, Google is in trouble. There’s no way I’d even consider an Android tablet over this device. I wouldn’t even look at one. Game over.

Now, I have been talking about Surface, not Surface Pro. What’s the difference? Well, the Surface runs on an ARM chip and runs Windows 8 RT. That means you live in the Metro UI all the time. That’s where Microsoft wants you to live regardless, but they know they have to care about backwards compatibility. That’s where Surface Pro and Window 8 (non-RT) come into play. In addition to the Metro UI, there’s a traditional Windows desktop, and you can run all your old Windows apps. As time goes by, you’re not going to run many old apps on your Windows 8 devices. But initially, these Metro apps will be limited. You’re going to want/need that backwards compatibility.

So, the Surface Pro is just Surface with backwards compatibility? No. It’s a more powerful environment. This will be something not just on the same plane as the iPad, but clearly superior. It's a desktop computer disguised as a tablet.

So, the Surface Pro is an iPad killer??

In a word, no.

It’s a MacBook Air killer.

The Surface Pro will be more expensive than an iPad, thus out of the price range to be an iPad killer. But it makes the MacBook Air look big, clunky, and twentieth century. Again, unless I really had a need for MacOS, there’s no way I’d consider a MacBook Air over the Surface Pro. I’ve been looking at the Asus Zenbook, and the Dell XPS Ultrabooks. They’re without a doubt the best Ultrabooks available on the market. I’ve been holding off buying one because I wanted to see a real Windows 8 Ultrabook. I knew they’d be a lot better. The Surface Pro is that Ultrabook, and looks like it should blow the doors off the Zenbook and XPS.

So, fizzle or flash? Flash. Definitely flash. But the cost, and the apps will decide everything. Without great Metro apps, it’ll be an uphill climb for Microsoft. Still, they showed yesterday why they’re still the elephant in the room, or the sleeping giant, whichever metaphor you prefer.

Here’s a short summary on specifics on the Surface and Surface Pro from Engadget. Read.

18 June, 2012

P90X Days 49-52

Yes, yes, I know. I’ve got to get back to daily updates. I promise I will. Tomorrow. Smile

Day 49: X Stretch

Well, it’s X Stretch. But it’s also the last “real” day of Phase II. There’s a funny line in X Stretch. At one point Tony asks, “Why do we stretch?” And then he gives several answers, one of which is “to reduce pain”. Of course, he asks this during the most painful stretch of the day (Bow), and I’m always thinking to myself, “reduce pain? riiiiiiight”. Still, I know what he means.

Day 50: Yoga X

And I’m still hopeless at Half Moon and Twisting Half Moon. Maybe not quite so hopeless at Twisting Triangle, although I don’t look much like the people in the vid. I’m starting to almost like Yoga Belly 7. Almost. At least I don’t hate it as much as Ab Ripper X.

Day 51: Core Synergistics

This is a very hard workout. I enjoy it, for the most part, but as I have said before, it is probably the most complete workout in all of P90X. And there were a couple exercises that I figured out that I wasn’t doing correctly last time. Yes, that was 4 weeks ago. I did them better yesterday. And ended up cutting my reps. I hate to do that, but doing the exercise right it was just too hard to match my reps from before. Especially with the pace they set on this video. It goes just too fast. And there’s not enough time between the exercises. There are three places where I have to pause the DVD, not because I need a break, but because they’re moving on to the next exercise, and I’m not finished with the current one yet. I push every single exercise as far as I can take it, and I don’t reach the breaking point on those quick enough. Possible my form isn’t the best, so I need more reps. Will have to watch more closely next time.

Day 52: Kenpo X

Punch. Punch. Kick. Kick. Well, again I’m having a little trouble getting my heart rate up really high. Better reason now, though. My resting heart rate is a lot lower, so I have farther to go. I’m probably getting “in the zone” now at a lower heart rate. That’s nice. Before I started P90X I measured my resting heart rate at 69. I checked it again today, just for fun. 57. It’s never been anywhere near that low in my entire life. I’m beyond thrilled with that number.

Tomorrow is Stretch X again. I also plan on doing a post on diet again either later tonight if I have time (ha!) or tomorrow. Stay tuned.

14 June, 2012

P90X Days 46-48

Yes, I’ve been really bad this week doing my updates.

As I’ve mentioned before, this is the last “real” week of Phase II. Saturday starts the “Recovery & Ab Focus” week. Actually, you could even include tomorrow in that since it’s “Rest or X Stretch”.

Day 46: Yoga X

Those last few minutes of the movement part still get me. Not sure if I’ll ever be able to do those well. The last few minutes of the second part is bad too. Tony calls it “Yoga Belly 7”. We don’t do Ab Ripper X on yoga days, but Yoga Belly 7 will make you feel like you did. It’s Ab Ripper, yoga style. Honestly, what gets me through it is that I know it’s the very end. And I count it out. It’s called Yoga Belly 7 because there are 7 exercises. And I will be going through it, and I’ll tell myself…”Ok, that’s two. Now three.” until the end. I do that now in Ab Ripper X as well. It’s 11 exercises, though, and you move so fast through it, that it’s easy to lose count.

Day 47: Legs & Back

This is just a brutal workout. The leg exercises are just downright painful. There’s no other way to put it. And when you’re not doing the leg stuff, it’s off to pull up world. I was telling a friend at work today, that I’ve grown to hate the pull ups with a passion. In fact, I hate them more now than I did 7 weeks ago. At least the first week, I have no baseline to go against. And when I can only do 2 or 3, or whatever, at least it’s over quickly. Now I’m getting up to a few on most of them. So I’ll look at my sheet from last week, and it’ll say “9”. Then I’ll wander over to the pull up bar, dread in my heart. I start the pull ups, and I whip out 2 or 3, maybe even 4, pretty quick. If I’m lucky I make it to 6 before I need a break. But whenever it is, I take that break, and then remember that last week I did 9. And there’s no way I’m going to do less than 9 this week. In fact, I try to always exceed last week by 1. I don’t always do it. But that’s my goal. I never do fewer than the last week. That means you really have to push yourself. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t pushed so hard in previous weeks. Then I wouldn’t have to push so hard this week to match or exceed it. That’s the thing about P90X. Most of the exercises don’t really get easier, even as you get better. You can always do more pull ups, or push ups, or use heavier weights, or get down lower in your squats, or jump higher, or farther, or reach farther in your stretches. In a lot of ways, P90X seems to actually get harder as you go through it. Isn’t that a comforting feeling? Smile

Oh, yeah, Ab Ripper X was yesterday too. Well, I don’t have to do it again for another week and a half. Yes, I’m going to miss it terribly.


Day 48: Kenpo X

More punching and kicking at air. I was tempted to not wear the heart rate monitor today. In fact, I planned on not wearing it. Early on, sometimes my heart rate was low because I just wasn’t doing an exercise right. But I pretty much know what I’m doing now, so that’s not an issue. I still worry about slacking off though, and just going through the motions. The monitor will let me know if I’m doing that. So, in the end, I put the thing on again.

Tomorrow, X Stretch, and then on to the Recovery week. If you recall from last time, I didn’t think Recovery week was all that easy. Guess we’ll see how I feel about it this time in a couple days.

Jobless Claims

Something has been bothering me for a while about the jobless claims reports, so I went back and checked the data. For once, I’m not going to opine. I’m just going to present the numbers, and let you draw your own conclusion. I report, you decide.

UPDATE 5/18/12: I found the last week that claims were not revised upwards. 6/19/11

Week Jobless Claims Headline Revision after 1 week
7/14/12 386,000 Weekly Claims Post Rebound; Jobs Market Still in Doldrums  
7/7/12 350,000 Weekly jobless claims drop sharply to lowest level in four years 352,000
6/30/12 374,000 New unemployment claims drop; key report projects stronger job growth 376,000
6/23/12 386,000 Jobless Claims in U.S. Hovered Last Week Near 2012 High 388,000
6/16/12 387,000 US jobless claims fall, but 4-wk avg at 6-month high 392,000
6/9/12 386,000 Jobless Claims in U.S. Unexpectedly Rose Last Week 389,000
6/2/12 377,000 U.S. jobless claims fall by 12,000 380,000
5/26/12 383,000 Weekly unemployment claims rise modestly 389,000
5/19/12 370,000 U.S. weekly jobless claims dip slightly to 370,000 373,000
5/12/12 370,000 Jobless claims steady; Mid-Atlantic factories sag 372,000
5/5/12 367,000 Jobless claims fall marginally last week 370,000
4/28/12 365,000 Weekly Jobless Claims Ease; Productivity Drops 0.5% 368,000
4/21/12 388,000 Jobless Claims Fall 1K to 388K 392,000
4/14/12 386,000 Jobless claims –2K to 386K 389,000
4/7/12 380,000 Jobless claims unexpectedly rise 388,000
3/31/12 357,000 Jobless claims fall to lowest since 2008 367,000
3/24/12 359,000 US jobless claims fall to 4 year low in latest week 363,000
3/17/12 348,000 US jobless claims at 4 year low, lift recovery hopes 364,000
3/10/12 351,000 Jobless claims back at 4 year lows 353,000
3/3/12 362,000 US Jobless claims rise, but labor market healing 365,000
2/25/12 351,000 Jobless Claims fall by 2,000 to 351,000 354,000
2/18/12 351,000 Jobless claims hold steady at 4-year low 353,000
2/11/12 348,000 Jobs, factory data strengthen growth outlook 351,000
2/4/12 358,000 Jobless claims drop brightens labor market picture 361,000
1/28/12 367,000 Jobless claims fall, jobs market slowly healing 373,000
1/21/12 377,000 Jobless claims rise in latest week 379,000
1/14/12 352,000 US jobless claims near 4 year low 356,000
1/7/12 399,000 US jobless claims rise 402,000
12/31/11 372,000 Private hiring soars 375,000
12/24/11 381,000 -- 387,000
12/17/11 364,000   366,000
12/10/11 366,000   368,000
12/3/11 381,000   385,000
11/26/11 402,000   404,000
11/19/11 393,000   396,000
11/12/11 388,000   391,000
11/5/11 390,000   393,000
10/29/11 397,000   400,000
10/22/11 402,000   406,000
10/15/11 403,000   404,000
10/8/11 404,000   409,000
10/1/11 401,000   405,000
9/24/11 391,000   395,000
9/17/11 423,000   428,000
9/10/11 428,000   432,000
9/3/11 414,000   417,000
8/27/11 409,000   412,000
8/20/11 417,000   421,000
8/13/11 408,000   412,000
8/6/11 395,000   399,000
7/30/11 400,000   402,000
7/23/11 398,000   401,000
7/16/11 418,000   422,000
7/9/11 405,000   408,000
7/2/11 418,000   427,000
6/25/11 428,000   432,000
6/18/11 429,000   429,000


Getting too hard to find the articles this far back. But you get the point. Every single jobless claims report this year has been revised upwards the following week. And in just about every case, Reuters headline was either negated by the revision, or proven optimistic the very next week.

Here are the 4 week moving averages, as initially reported, and after revised.

Week Initially reported 4 week average After revision
7/14/12 375,500 --
7/7/12 376,500 377,000
6/30/12 385,750 386,250
6/23/12 386,750 387,250
6/16/12 386,250 387,500
6/9/12 382,000 382,750
6/2/12 377,750 378,500
5/26/12 374,500 376,000
5/19/12 370,000 370,750
5/12/12 375,000 375,500
5/5/12 379,000 379,750
4/28/12 383,500 384,250
4/21/12 383,000 384,000
4/14/12 376,000 376,750
4/7/12 368,500 370,500
3/31/12 359,250 361,750
3/24/12 360,250 361,250
3/17/12 355,000 359,000
3/10/12 355,750 356,250
3/3/12 355,000 355,750
2/25/12 354,000 354,750
2/18/12 359,000 359,750
2/11/12 365,250 366,000
2/4/12 367,750 368,500
1/28/12 376,000 377,500
1/21/12 377,500 378,000
1/14/12 379,000 380,000
1/7/12 381,750 382,500
12/31/11 373,250 374,000
12/24/11 375,000 376,000
12/17/11 380,250 380,750
12/10/11 387,750 388,250
12/3/11 393,000 394,000
11/26/11 395,500 396,000
11/19/11 394,250 395,000
11/12/11 396,750 397,500
11/5/11 400,000 400,750
10/29/11 404,000 404,750
10/22/11 405,000 406,000
10/15/11 403,000 403,250
10/8/11 408,000 409,250
10/1/11 414,000 415,000
9/24/11 417,000 418,000
9/17/11 421,000 422,250
9/10/11 419,500 420,500
9/3/11 414,750 415,500
8/27/11 410,250 411,000
8/20/11 407,500 408,500
8/13/11 402,500 403,500
8/6/11 405,000 406,000
7/30/11 407,750 408,250
7/23/11 413,750 414,500
7/16/11 421,250 422,250
7/9/11 423,250 424,000


The short? Jobless claims are lower than they were at the beginning of the year, but the rolling average has been trending the wrong way for the last several weeks. Bet you wouldn’t have guessed that from the Reuters reports, would you?

UPDATE: Added new data from week of 4/14 on 4/19

UPDATE: Added new data from week of 4/21 on 4/26. Also, you may notice that my 4 week rolling averages are slightly different than the released averages. Why? Because I actually take a 4 week average of the released numbers. Imagine that. BLS seasonally adjusts the averages. Of course, the numbers themselves are seasonally adjusted, so doing a second seasonal adjustment after averaging seems like fudging the data to me, but YMMV.

UPDATE 5/3: Added new data from week of 4/28. Big drop this week. But rolling average still going up. And last week’s revised upwards. Again.

I’ve been meaning to include this for the last couple of weeks. This is from ZeroHedge, who noticed not only the upward revisions, but their size:

Times Three: That's How Much The BLS Upwardly Fudges Data During An Election Year

Indeed, the most recent revision was the fourth largest on record.  If one only read the headlines this year (at such blogs that specialize in architectural billings, deliveries by canoe, and what not), one would have the impression that Initial Claims have fallen nearly 25,000 this year.  The revised reality? Barely over 10,000.  And that’s a 10,000 improvement against a number that has been revised upward by 50,000.  So, yeah.

Stay tuned for next week’s update.

UPDATE 5/10: SSDD. At least the 4 week rolling average went down this week. That’s the only silver lining in this week’s report. Well, I suppose there’s one more. This is two weeks in a row we’ve been in the 365k-370k range, a decent improvement from 380k-390k, which is where we were the previous month.

UPDATE 5/17: Repeat of last week. Again, the 4 week average dropped a bit. But it’s still a good 15-20K higher than it was two months ago. And that’s still not good.

UPDATE 5/18: I added a lot more rows to the tables. Last week claims were not revised upwards was 6/19/11. Initial report for that week was 429,000. After revision, 429,000. You’ll notice that it still wasn’t revised downwards. Average revision in the 46 weeks since then: ~+4,000 (3,978.26).

UPDATE 5/24: Ditto on my update of 5/17.

UPDATE 5/31: 48 weeks in a row. Also, a rather large jump over the last month. The last report in April is 365,000. Last report in May is 383,000. And the 4 week rolling average ended it’s three week run of dips.

UPDATE 6/7: 49 weeks in a row. Pretty big upward revision too. Starting next week, the Department of Labor is making some disturbing changes to the way this information is disseminated. But, I’m sure it’s entirely innocent.

Update 6/14: 50 weeks in a row.

Update 6/21: 51 weeks in a row. Oh, and the DoL has decided not to change their rules on publishing their information. For the time being.

12 June, 2012

June 12, 1987

Tear down this wall!

President Ronald Reagan (R-USA) spoke these famous words while standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate at the Berlin Wall.

Much of Reagan’s senior staff was against the inclusion of this phrase in the speech:

Several senior staffers and aides advised against the phrase, saying anything that might cause further East-West tensions or potential embarrassment to Gorbachev, with whom President Reagan had built a good relationship, should be omitted. American officials in West Germany and presidential speechwriters, including Peter Robinson, thought otherwise. Robinson traveled to West Germany to inspect potential speech venues, and gained an overall sense that the majority of West Berliners opposed the wall. Despite getting little support for suggesting Reagan demand the wall's removal, Robinson kept the phrase in the speech text. On May 18, 1987, President Reagan met with his speechwriters and responded to the speech by saying, "I thought it was a good, solid draft." Chief of Staff Howard Baker objected, saying it sounded "extreme" and "unpresidential," and Deputy National Security Advisor Colin Powell agreed. Nevertheless, Reagan liked the passage, saying, "I think we'll leave it in."

Reagan understood the power of words. While many criticized him for being overly antagonistic towards the Soviet Union, he knew that to change the direction of history, he needed to make the entire world understand the clear differences between the United States and the Soviet Union. This speech was one of many attempts to do just that.

Those are the most famous words from the speech, but they weren’t given in isolation. The final paragraph builds up to it. The whole paragraph is a masterpiece of wordsmithing.

We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Twenty-nine months later, on my birthday, the gate was opened, and a few months later, the final dismantling of the Berlin Wall began.

Listen to the speech.

11 June, 2012

P90X Days 42-45: Halfway Home!

Ok, my self-imposed hiatus on Friday turned into a whole weekend spent mostly away from the computer. But, I did do the workouts and have a bit to say.

Day 42: X Stretch

As I said, I got up very early in the morning to do my stretches before starting out on my trip to Chicago. You may recall I mentioned back in week 4 how awful it was when I did Yoga X first thing in the morning. Same here. Stretching that early just doesn’t work for me. I can’t hardly stretch at all. Or maybe that’s a sign that I really need to do it then, and every day. I don’t know. I should probably do some research.

Day 43: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps

I’ve told you the last two weeks that this is a brutal workout. I also mentioned that last week I hurt my shoulders doing it. I did it again, only just the left one, and not nearly as badly. I think it’s the 10th exercise in the series, “Two Twitch Speed Push-up” that’s causing my problems. You’re supposed to do four very fast push-ups followed by three very slow ones. Then repeat that as long as you can. I think I’m pushing myself too hard on this one. Male pride. Need to watch it next time. However, that next time won’t occur for several weeks. And, of course, I forgot about Ab Ripper X. Again. You have no idea how deflating it is when you think you’re all finished, and then the music starts again.

Day 44: Plyometrics

This workout continues to be brutal. But, I continue to do better at it. In fact, if you look at things merely in terms of achieving correct form and doing the required number of reps, this may be the easiest workout. I look pretty much like the people in the video during each exercise. And I manage to do all the exercises for the full 30 or 60 seconds. Now, I’m out of breath between exercises, and bent over with my hands on my knees. So, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I just waltz through this one like I’m Joe Plyometrics. It wipes me out, and does so almost from the very first exercise. All I’m saying is that I’m able to keep up with the people in the video. This may be the only workout where that’s true from beginning to end. Even Kenpo X I struggle with. My legs are so tight that the side kicks are pretty ugly.

Day 45: Back & Biceps

I didn’t show much improvement on this one over last week. For several of the exercises, I was only able to do the exact same number of reps. I think my form was a little better throughout, though, so I’m not upset about it. I also finally found the correct weight for me for the Lawnmower exercises, which I’ve been doing since week 1. The very first week I used resistance bands. In week 2, I used 20 pound weights. This week I used 50 pound weights. To be completely honest, 45 might be the right number. I think I got a little sloppy at the end using the 50s.

Tomorrow is Day 46. This means I’ve made it half way through P90X. I’ll officially be on the downside starting tomorrow. What an amazing feeling. I’m also in the last “real” week of Phase II. Next week is another “Recovery and Ab Focus” week. After that, it’s on to the final phase, Phase III. When I start it, I’m going to up my caloric intake slightly, again. I’ve started losing weight again (not much—I’m talking ounces here, not pounds). I’m not quite at my fat percentage goal, so that doesn’t bother me too much. But, I’d prefer to be gaining weight at this point, not losing it.

Tomorrow is Yoga X. I actually enjoy this workout except for about the last 5-8 minutes of the movement phase. That sequence starting with the Warrior 3 pose and ending with the Twisting Half Moon just kills me. I have to be honest. I don’t know if I’ll ever be good at that part.

07 June, 2012

P90X Day 41: Kenpo X

Yesterday, I said that I expected to be disappointed with the results of Kenpo X today. I was wrong. It was another great workout. My side kicks still need work, but that will come in time as I increase my flexibility. Heart rate was good throughout though. That makes it six days in a row now that I've been pleased with my workout. That must be some kind of record for P90X.

Really don't have much else to say. It's still an hour of punching and kicking at air. Nothing's changed since last week. :)

Tomorrow, I'm making a quick trip to Chicago and back. I'll be leaving here around 5:30 in the morning, and likely won't be back until after 10:30 at night. Tomorrow is "Rest or X Stretch" though. I suppose I could take advantage of my scheduled day of rest. That would be the easy way out, and perhaps the smart way as well.

But there's that calendar staring me in the face. The last day that I did no workout whatsoever was December 25, 2011. That's 166 days ago. I don't want my streak to end. So, I'll be getting up an hour earlier in the morning so I can do the X Stretch before I go.

I told you I was crazy.

I likely won't post tomorrow due to my other commitments, and I am participating in the National Blogger Day of Silence in support of Aaron Walker and other bloggers who are being silenced by Brett Kimberlin and his cohorts.

See you Saturday.

06 June, 2012

P90X Day 40: Legs & Back

It’s strange how your body changes from day to day.

Last week I remember thinking to myself that I could definitely tell that I’d reached Phase II of the program. Despite only two workouts changing, it felt quite a bit harder. Both the new workouts were pretty hard, and I was pushing myself harder on the other five.

Then came last Saturday, which was a disaster for me, as I mentioned at the time.

However, every day since Saturday has been almost pleasurable, if you can actually call a P90X workout pleasurable. I don’t want to call them easy. If a P90X workout is ever “easy”, then you’re probably doing it wrong. But, it seems like I’ve settled into a sort of routine. I know I’m pushing myself harder. I can see it in the increased weights, increased reps, increased heart rate, and increased flexibility. But there are very few exercises that just make me groan in dread when I realize they’re coming up. Maybe it’s because I know I can do them, now. I don’t know.

And, I’m not watching the clock, wondering when it’s going to end. I’m pushing myself to failure on every single exercise, but at the end of the workout, I feel like I could still do more exercises, if there were more to do. That was definitely not the case the first few weeks.

Today, the only exercise that really bothered me was when we got to Single Leg Raises. The pull ups are getting easier every week. I’m still not where I want to be with them, but I’m starting to get pretty close.

And the same is true with Ab Ripper X. I’ve started doing the harder versions of some of the exercises, and my form is getting better on the exercises that are just naturally harder. I almost feel like I’m doing the workout correctly now. Before I was just doing it as correctly as possible considering the shape I was in.

It’s strange, like I said. I feel like I’m going through some sort of metamorphosis. But, if I am, it’s all on the inside so far, because I still look pretty much the same on the outside.

Anyway, that’s enough self-congratulatory babble for me today. Tomorrow is Kenpo X. I’ve only been truly happy once after a Kenpo X workout, so the odds are my bubble will burst a little bit tomorrow. As Doris Day said, “QuĂ© sera sera.”

June 6, 1944

Walker Survives Recall: What Does It Mean?

I have a slightly different take on the WI Governor race than most of my conservative brethren. Last night, Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) survived his recall election against Mayor Tom Barrett (D-Milwaukee). The margin of victory was about 7 points (53%-46%). This exceeds his victory margin from 2010 (also against Barrett) slightly.

Exit polls showed the race a dead heat, at 50/50. These same polls also gave President Barack Obama (D-USA) a 7-9 point edge over former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) in the race for the White House. Conservatives are saying that the exit polls were about 7 points off, so WI is now a battleground state, and is essentially tied.

Maybe. My guess is likely not, but I won’t say that’s certain. I will say that’s the wrong lesson to be taking from last night’s election.

My guess is that Obama still wins WI in November, by about 3-4 points. Now, that’s certainly close enough that it’s worthwhile for Romney to invest some money there and see if he can gain any traction. But, I think it’s unlikely to be a deciding state. If Romney wins WI, look for him to cruise to victory nationally in November, with probably something approaching 350 electoral votes.

That may happen, but few people are betting that way just yet.

I think looking at WI and wondering whether Romney can win it is taking the small view. I’m looking at the big picture. The last 3 elections have all been “wave” elections, with Republicans winning big in 2010, but Democrats winning big in 2008 and 2006. Even 2004 was a small wave for the GOP, in that President George W. Bush (R-USA) expanded his win over 2000 and got expanded majorities in both chambers of Congress, which is exceptionally rare for a 2nd term.

More importantly, the D/R/I breakdowns of the electorate shifted dramatically between 2004 and 2006, and again between 2008 and 2010. We have a very frustrated and volatile electorate right now, which makes prognostication exceedingly difficult. If you’re a pollster and you’re using a model that projects 37% of the electorate will be D, but it turns out to be only 33%, your whole forecast is going to be wrong.

So, the challenge for all the pollsters, and for anyone else who wants to take a stab at projecting 2012 results, is predicting where that D/R/I breakdown is going to land. So far, no one is predicting that 2012 will be a wave election. But, the question in everyone’s mind is whether it will more closely resemble 2008, or 2010.

Walker exceeded his victory margin from 2010 over the same opponent.

That means, in WI at least, 2012 looks like it may be much closer to 2010 than 2008. Perhaps even better than 2010. Will that translate nationally? That’s the billion dollar question. If the answer is yes, Romney can start thinking about who’s going to be in his Cabinet. Obama can not win in a 2010 environment.

Yes, there are some caveats here. Recall elections are oddballs. Also, it’s very possible that WI may be getting sick of elections, so they may not be quite as enthusiastic in November. And, it’s hard to say whether Romney can generate the same kind of enthusiasm in November anywhere that Walker did in WI yesterday.

In other words, it’s just one data point. Don’t read too much into it. But, if you think they’re not smiling in Romney HQ today and panicked in Obama HQ, then you’re not paying attention.

My personal opinion? Lately this feels like a re-run of the summer of 2010. That makes me very happy.

05 June, 2012

P90X Day 39: Yoga X

Yoga X. Easy peasy.

Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration. Same caveats for Twisting Triangle, Half Moon, and Twisting Half Moon still apply. Also realized I wasn’t doing Royal Dancer quite right. The right way is a little bit harder.

But, overall a nice, pleasant 90 minutes. Pretty sad when Yoga becomes one of the workouts you look forward to as part of P90X.

Tomorrow, Legs & Back. And Ab Ripper X. Let me go ahead and get this out of the way now.




Ok, I feel better now. See you tomorrow.

Chris of Rights Will Always Support Free Speech

My wife is upset with me for my post on Brett Kimberlin last week. I understand why. Aaron Walker was arrested for blogging about Kimberlin. Stacy McCain and his family are in hiding for blogging about Kimberlin. Patterico had police with weapons drawn in his house looking for bodies, and all because he dared blog about Kimberlin. And now, blogger and tweeter who tweets under the handle @ali says his family has been threatened for the crime of supporting the people mentioned above.

So, you can understand why my wife might be upset with me for getting involved in this. I’m only semi-anonymous on this blog. It’s not that hard to find out my real name if you want to do a bit of research. I’ve given enough personal information on this blog that you could certainly find me and my family if you knew my name. She doesn’t want our family to go through what others are going through. And that’s a very reasonable viewpoint. And I don’t want my wife upset with me. The quote “happy wife, happy life” is a true one, after all. Nor do I want my wife and children to be in danger. Particularly over something that I use as more of an expressive outlet than anything else. I know I have very few daily readers, and that doesn’t bother me. That’s never been the point. The point is that I get all of this bottled up inside me, and this is my way of expunging it.

Despite that, I have no intention of lessening my support for Aaron Walker, Patterico, Stacy McCain, @ali, or any one else facing the wrath of Kimberlin and his lackeys.

Why? Am I just crazy?

No. Remember the name of this blog. It wasn’t chosen just to be cute. It’s not just happenstance. As I’ve mentioned numerous times, the Bill of Rights, particularly the First Amendment, are extremely important to me. This isn’t a left/right issue. It’s a right/wrong one. If the roles were reversed, and it was Kimberlin who was attempting to blog, and Patterico, for example, had sent police to his house on a fake 911 call, I would still be writing this, only in support of Kimberlin.

I believe in Free Speech. No matter whose speech it is. The left should be coming out in support of these bloggers as well. They need to be shamed into it, if necessary. Freedom of speech is, in my opinion, the most important of our God-given rights. If you let them take that away from you, then they can take anything away from you, including your life.

You need to understand. What’s going on here is beyond terrifying. I try to avoid comparisons to Nazi Germany. I think they’re overdone. And I think that hyperbole tends to weaken, rather than strengthen your argument. But here the comparisons to the Third Reich are warranted.

This is exactly how it started in the 1930s with the Jews. Jews were targeted, isolated, and attacked. And not just Jews, but the people who came out in support of them. Most of the general citizenry of Germany didn’t agree with this. But it was made clear to them early on what happened to people that spoke up in defense of Jews who were unfairly attacked. So, instead of standing up, they lived in fear that the eyes of oppression would turn next to them. And they did their best to hide from those eyes.

I can’t do that. I’m not trying to be macho here, or pretend that I’m displaying real courage. For me, it’s a decision that I can’t live in shame and in fear. I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror every morning and know that I’m a good person and a good father. I couldn’t do that if I didn’t stand up here.

Kimberlin and his associates are trying to destroy freedom of speech in America. The left, in their silence here, is complicit in this. We cannot allow this to continue.

I have one more link, and I want you to follow it, and read every word. It’s from Ace of Spades HQ. I support his decision, and will be participating in the National Day of Blogger Silence on Friday.

One quote, but do read the whole thing:

On Friday, this site will be absolutely dead-silent, which is what Brett Kimberlin and his stalker crew seeks, and what the media and our supposed Representatives in Congress would permit.

The only post on Friday will be a bold-faced Open Letter to Congress, urging them to act and not attempt to pass the buck to others.

They are our representatives; we would like some representation.

They vowed to defend and protect the Constitution; they can honor that vow now.

I will post links of Congressmen's and Senator's email addresses and offices and phone numbers, and urge every concerned American citizen to let them know, in no uncertain terms, that a crime in progress against the First Amendment (and people's safety) is occurring, and we humbly request they take this seriously.

They are literally going to get someone killed. That is their endgame here.

Will the media and Congress pretend "we didn't know" when this happens?

ABCNews knows.

The Weekly Standard knows.

The Daily Caller knows.

And many, but not yet all, Congressmen and Senators know.

I encourage all bloggers and twitterers to essentially strike that day, or write nothing except your desire that you expect your Congressmen to take threats to your First Amendment rights seriously.

04 June, 2012

P90X Day 38: Back & Biceps

Hooray! Today was a red-letter day. I didn't hate doing Ab Ripper X. Pretty sure that's the first time. Not that it was fun, but it wasn't excruciating. My form is definitely getting better for that 16 minutes too. I've definitely made some significant progress. But there's a lot more to make.

As for the main workout, this was the second time around for Back & Biceps. I still like this workout. I mentioned last time that I thought that I had done much better at picking good starting weights for this one than I did for others. I was correct, and it definitely helped this week having a good solid baseline from last week. For every exercise, I either increased my weight from last week, or increased the number of reps. And, for a couple, I actually did both. Still, I landed in the 8-10 reps range for almost all of the exercises. I need to review my sheet from today and see if it'll be necessary for me to pick up some more barbells this week. I don't think so, but I could be wrong. After next week, I don't return to Back & Biceps for a few weeks. I'll almost certainly want some more weight by then, but I'll have plenty of time to make those adjustments.

One thing I am noticing now that I'm working with heavier weights is a marked difference between my left and right side. I can usually get out one more rep, and sometimes two, with my left arm, than I can with the right. I'm not sure if I should start working on using different weights or not. If I don't, it seems like they'll eventually get closer together, because the right will be getting more of a workout than the left. However, that also means that I won't get all the benefits on the left side. I need to think about this.

A friend of mine who's also doing P90X has been doing some of the workouts outside. I haven't done this yet. If I could figure out a way to do pull-ups outside, I might for this one though. I think this one would be a fun one to do outside. You need several different weights, and even though I'm doing it in a decently sized room, I have to be careful that the weights I need are both easily accessible, and not in my way.

Of course, the Superman exercise might lead to grass stains, but that's ok. It's amazing how hard that particular exercise is. Try it. Lay on the floor on your stomach with your arms stretched out in front of you like you're Superman flying. Then lift up your arms and legs and hold them up for 10 seconds. Put them back down for another five. Repeat this whole thing 5 times, and make sure you really stretch when you're lifting. You'll definitely feel it.

(And I haven't even mentioned "Superman-Banana"--don't ask)

Tomorrow, Yoga X. I'm actually looking forward to it. Really, I should have my mental health checked. ;)

03 June, 2012

P90X Day 37: Plyometrics

Or…What a Difference a Day Makes

If you recall, I wasn’t too happy yesterday. And, Plyometrics is one of my least favorite days, so I wasn’t looking forward to today at all.

Still, today ended up being pretty fun. It still kicked my butt, don’t get me wrong. And it probably did so harder than ever before. My heart rate was consistently in the 160s from almost the opening seconds. And that might even be a bit high for me. Still, I enjoyed the workout even though I was completely drained afterwards.

While jumping around like crazy today, I let my mind wander a bit. Not really sure why anyone complains about Plyometrics, to be honest. It’s a mere 58 minutes long. And about 16 minutes of that is warm up & cool down stuff. That only leaves 42 minutes. But it’s not even that bad.

During those 42 minutes, you do 32 exercises that are 30 seconds each. You also do 11 exercises that are 1 minute each. That’s a total of a mere 27 minutes. The remaining 15 minutes, you’re just standing around doing nothing. Winking smile

There are a few 30 second breaks, but most of that 15 minutes comes from the short downtime between each of the exercises. These breaks are about 10-15 seconds on average. The first couple times you do Plyometrics, you might wonder why these little pauses are there, but by the time you get to week five, you’ve learned to take advantage of them. In fact, you take advantage of every single second of downtime you can get during this particular workout. You need them.

And you’re still drenched with sweat and out of breath at the end.

Tomorrow: Back & Biceps. That’s another of my favorites, so with luck I’ll still be smiling tomorrow. See you then!