Monday, June 30, 2014

It wasn’t all bad

For Anuson Poolsawat, customer satisfaction always comes first. The Alaskan restaurant owner had already done Mike Laiti and his friend a favor by staying open late. When the two called from the highway to cancel their takeout order after a closed bridge halted their drive, Poolsawat shrugged off the hassle. “He called and said, ‘Not a problem, I’ll come cross the waters,’” said Laiti. “‘Should I bring a boat?’” After a 25-mile drive, Poolsawat forded a cold, waist-deep creek carrying cartons of Thai barbecue ribs and fried rice over his head. “He’s just a good guy,” said Laiti. “Definitely a goofball.”

Editor's Note

Thanks to everyone one who participated in this week's hangout. Special thanks to Lynx for showing up just before his birthday party. If you missed the live show you can watch the recording here. Thanks as always to our audience for giving us with feedback and and questions. We always appreciate audience participation. We introduced this week our desire to add prerecorded video questions from our audience members to increase participation. We're going to work out some of the technical details and get back on how that will work.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Amazon unveils the Fire Phone

Amazon’s smartphone is finally here, said James O’Toole in CEO Jeff Bezos last week unveiled the long-rumored smartphone, dubbed the Amazon Fire Phone, but while the device boasts some unique capabilities, it may “not be enough to win over many new customers.” One obstacle is the price. Starting at $199, the Fire Phone costs the same as the latest offerings from Apple and Samsung. So what do you get in return? For one, Fire has a “dynamic perspective” feature, which uses four front-facing cameras to track a user’s head movements, allowing graphics to be rendered in 3-D. But while app developers may yet find “clever new ways” to use the feature, on its own, it’s little more than a gimmick. A more intriguing innovation is called Firefly, which uses the phone’s camera to identify objects—books, games, food, household items—and then gives users “the option to buy all that stuff instantly on Amazon.”

Cellphone Privacy Upheld

In a milestone endorsement of digital privacy rights, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled this week that police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., writing for the court, said the massive amount of personal data stored on phones means they must be protected from routine police inspection. Roberts acknowledged that the decision would make law enforcement more difficult, as cellphones can yield valuable incriminating evidence. “Privacy comes at a cost,” he said.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Obama’s tough decisions in Iraq

Awkward: Kerry and al-Maliki in Baghdad
About 300 U.S. Special Forces soldiers began arriving in Iraq this week to gather intelligence and serve as “military advisers” to the country’s faltering army, as the Obama administration decides whether to use airstrikes against a rampaging Islamic insurgency. Rebels from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group advanced to within 20 miles of Baghdad, and there was fierce fighting between the estimated 10,000 insurgents and government forces in several cities. President Obama pledged “to take targeted and precise military action if and when we determine the situation on the ground requires it,” but he and Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated that any help was conditional on Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki giving minority Sunnis and Kurds a greater role in governing the country. Al-Maliki, whose party won a plurality of seats in the parliamentary election in April, pushed back against calls for the formation of an emergency government comprising all ethnic and religious groups, saying that would represent a “coup against the constitution.”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Political Polarization: Why it Threatens Democracy

The political polarization that’s paralyzed Washington doesn’t end at the Beltway, said Dan Balz in A major new Pew Research study has found the nation is more ideologically divided “than at any time in our recent history,” with the percentage of Americans who are hard-core liberals or conservatives doubling over the past decade.
Political polarization is even shaping Americans’ “everyday lives,” as liberals and conservatives sort themselves geographically into Red and Blue tribes and associate almost exclusively with like-minded people. For conservatives, the “ideal community” is rural, with sprawling houses and wide-open spaces; liberals favor smaller homes in diverse urban settings where you can walk to school and Starbucks. The two sides view one another with outright antipathy, convinced that the other tribe poses “a threat to the nation’s well-being.” So now comes “the chicken-or-egg question,” said Ron Fournier in National Is a polarized electorate pushing politicians to extremes? Or are hyperpartisan leaders “driving voters to ideological corners?”

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What’s New in Tech

Tesla opens patents to rivals

Tesla Motors is making its patents public, said Wayne Cunningham in “In a move calculated to boost the electric vehicle industry,” Tesla will start making all of its patented technology available to all carmakers to encourage other manufacturers to join the emerging electric car market. Competitors could quickly seize on Tesla’s battery technology, which uses “multiple small cells, along with power control software, to prevent thermal overruns.” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he also envisions making the company’s “Supercharger” network of charging stations available to other car makes. That could pave the way for competitors to build Supercharger facilities of their own and lead to the adoption of universal car-charging standards.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The New Populism: Watch Out, Washington

By now, everyone has their own explanation for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s “shocking primary election loss,” said Geoffrey Kabaservice in His support for immigration reform, his personal arrogance, his political inconsistency—all probably played a part. But of far more “enduring significance” is the nature of his opponent’s campaign: College professor Dave Brat provided “a textbook example of the new right-wing populism” sweeping America. Brat’s rhetoric sounds like it came straight from the People’s Party of the late 19th century, with his denunciations of Big Banks, “crony capitalists,” and the “gazillionaires” sucking up too much of America’s wealth. “The Republican Party has been paying too much attention to Wall Street,” Brat said, “and not enough to Main Street.” Clearly, this angry populism is at odds with the GOP’s traditional pro-business stance—but it’s a growing force that the party can’t ignore.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Editor's Notes

Thank you to everyone who participated in the hangout this Saturday. We had scheduled a special guest Demetris Dennis Taylor of Dishing TEA with Big Meach. We were unable to resolve some connectivity issues, but we appreciate him taking the time to prepare and show up for the hangout. Check out his show at: Thank you to everyone who viewed the show and posted questions. Your participation is always appreciated. To view the full hangout visit: and make sure to subscribe to our channel.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Iraq: Who’s Ultimately Responsible?

 Al-Maliki: A big share of the blame
“It is hard to imagine a bigger disaster for American foreign policy,” said Max Boot in, “or a more self-inflicted one.” Iraq is now crumbling, as the black-clad jihadis of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have seized control of the Sunni regions of the country, and are headed toward Shiite-held Baghdad. This Sunni-Shiite civil war—which threatens to engulf the entire region—is vivid proof of the folly of President Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011. If Obama had tried harder to negotiate a status of forces agreement with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, “he probably could have succeeded.” Then al-Maliki would not have been left to his worst, autocratic impulses, which led him to marginalize the Sunni minority. That oppression led directly to the current backlash from the Sunnis and ISIS. Obama grandiosely bragged in 2011 that we were “leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq,” said Kori Schake in, and that he’d fulfilled his campaign promise to “end the war.” The truth, as we’re now seeing in savage detail, was that the war in Iraq hadn’t ended at all. “We just quit fighting it.”

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hillary Clinton: Yep, she’s running

“Hillary Clinton is running for president,” said Chris Cillizza in Of that there can no longer be any doubt, after the release last week of Hard Choices—ostensibly Clinton’s memoir of her years as secretary of state, but very obviously a “campaign book” marking the unofficial start of her run. Clinton is still saying she won’t make an announcement until 2015, but Hard Choices leaves no doubt about her intentions, ending on the words “The time for another hard choice will come soon enough.” Get it? Politics is full of surprises, said Brad Bannon in, but there is simply no Democrat on the horizon who could raise enough money or build a campaign organization to challenge Clinton. And with polls showing her with double-digit leads over every conceivable Republican challenger, the 2016 presidential campaign “is Hillary Clinton’s race to lose.”

Friday, June 20, 2014

Here's the Good News

Schneider and his new dog, Buster
Driving along I-470 in Missouri last week, Aaron Schneider saw a car strike a stray dog that had wandered onto the highway. The Iraq War veteran quickly pulled over and then darted across several lanes of traffic to help the injured pooch. “All these cars were coming at me, honking and flashing their lights,” said Schneider, who fashioned a makeshift stretcher and drove the battered beagle to a nearby animal hospital, where he is expected to make a full recovery. The heroic vet plans to adopt the dog, which he named Buster. “From the moment I saw him get hit, my heart went out to him.”

A Growing Border Crisis

The Obama administration was facing mounting pressure this week over the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where a surge in the number of child immigrants arriving from Central America has stretched authorities close to the breaking point. More than 47,000 unaccompanied minors have been caught crossing the border in the past eight months, and officials expect that number to double by year’s end.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Editor's Note

Thanks to everyone who participated in this week's hangout. To our special guest Quinno Rashad, and our audience, thank you for hanging in there while we dealt with some technical difficulties. Click here to view the recording of the show. We're not exactly sure what happened, but we think Google was making some updates to their user interface. We usually get started around noon eastern for an hour long planning session before we go live at 1. It was after 1:20 or so before we could even get into the hangout interface and we live just a few minutes later. We then had trouble posting the links the view the hangout, and we were bumped at least once during the show. It was amazing just how well it went considering the difficulties we encountered.  I know I was freaking me out when after almost an hour I couldn't get it to work. It was the worst technical issues I've faced in the past year of working with Google Hangouts.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Iraq’s Second City Falls

The Devastation in Mosul
Iraq was on the brink of full-blown civil war this week after Islamist militants seized the northern city of Mosul, forcing around 500,000 residents to flee. As fighters from al Qaida offshoot the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) stormed the city’s airport, TV stations, and governor’s office, government soldiers and police fled their posts, leaving behind their weapons and uniforms.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

This Week in Geek

Microsoft is about to break down language barriers, said Josh Lowensohn in TheVerge .com. The software giant showed off a new feature for Skype last week that will enable users speaking different languages to communicate over video with real-time translation. The feature, called Skype Translator, will allow you to “talk in your native language to another user who speaks a different language” and instantly translate the conversation. Microsoft says the technology, which has been in the works for more than a decade, will roll out as a beta app for Windows 8 by the end of the year and eventually be available “on all devices, big or small.”

Monday, June 09, 2014

Editor's Notes

Thanks to everyone who participated in this week's hangout. It was a great time and a very enlightening conversation. Click Here to view the full hangout. I really appreciate that the guys kept the hangouts going while I was gone last week. We've always had good topics, but when I recently got a new app on my iPad they seem to have gotten a lot better. I have been keeping up on the latest news and talking it out with the guys days in advance. It's been a real pleasure to be able to talk through the important issues of the day with a group of such intelligent men. I find it personally enjoyable and I think the conversations we have on air are valuable to our community as a whole. After I finish this post I will editing a few of the topics down into shorter videos to post on the blog in the coming days. 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Some Feel Good News

When Chinese fisherman Cai Tu hauled in a 200-pound, 100-year-old sea turtle, he knew he had to do the right thing and release the endangered animal. The decision wasn’t easy: Cai could have earned two months’ wages by selling the delicacy to a restaurant, where it would have been made into soup. “I looked into that turtle’s eyes and saw something that was alive before my grandfather was born, and I didn’t want to be the end of that journey,” he said. “I figured he had earned his right to enjoy the rest of his days in the deep.”

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Only In America

A South Carolina pizza delivery man has been arrested after allegedly speeding through the streets with flashing emergency lights in order to make his deliveries faster. Thomas Reid, a volunteer with a rescue squad, was busted after a 911 call about a motorist wearing a Pizza Hut shirt using emergency lights and driving recklessly.