Saturday Reads: Jupiter and the Moon, the Myth of the Dying PC, and the Strange Psychology of Barack Obama

Jupiter (Photo : NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Goddard Space Flight Center)

Jupiter (Photo : NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Goddard Space Flight Center)

Good Morning!!

If you have clear skies where you live this weekend, you might be able to see some spectacular views of Jupiter and the Moon. National Geographic reports:

Up first on Saturday, April 13, look towards the high western sky after local sunset for a waxing crescent Moon. Look to its far upper left and you will see a super-bright star – that is planet Jupiter- visible easily even from within heavily light polluted city limits.

As the sky darkens -about an hour after local sunset – look to the Moon’s immediate left and you will notice a distinctly orange-tinged, twinkling star. Aldebaran represents the red eye of Taurus, the bull constellation and is 65.1 light years from Earth. A true monster compared to our little Sun- Aldebaran’s diameter would reach beyond the orbit of Mars if it replaced our Sun at the center of the solar system.

The crescent Moon will guide skywatchers to star clusters within Taurus constellation on April 13th. Credit: A. Fazekas/Starry Night software

The crescent Moon will guide skywatchers to star clusters within Taurus constellation on April 13th. Credit: A. Fazekas/Starry Night software

Look carefully between Aldebaran and the Moon in a darkened sky and the Hyades star cluster will come into view. Binoculars may help make out the distinctive V-shape of this 250 light year distant star association – one of the closest to Earth.

Now scan to the lower right of the Moon and a tight hazy patch of little stars can be glimpsed even with the naked eye from suburban skies. Known as the Seven sisters, the Pleiades is one of the better known sky targets for backyard stargazers. This rich open cluster actually has more than 40 young stars as members – no more than 10 million years old – and most can be seen with binoculars and small telescopes, however with the unaided eye will pick out the brightest five to seven of its stars.

By Sunday night, April 14th, the Moon will have risen higher in the western evening sky for a striking visual pairing with brilliant Jupiter. The cosmic duo will appear to be separated by only a couple of degrees – less than the width of your two middle fingers held at arm’s length.

In addition, on Sunday, you might be able to see Jupiter in the daytime according to Science World Report.

Tomorrow, April 14, you could have the chance of seeing Jupiter during the daytime and join the ranks of people that have spotted the giant plant while the sun is in the sky.

During daylight, the sky can look like an unbroken swathe of blue on a clear, sunny day. This makes it difficult to pick out celestial features since there are no “markers” to go by. The night sky, in contrast, has the benefit of possessing constellations to navigate by.

Yet tomorrow, the moon will be up during the daytime, which makes all of the difference in the world. The day sky is, in fact, just as transparent in daylight as it is on a dark night. If you know exactly where to look and have something to focus your eyes on, you can see the brighter and larger planets in the blue sky.

So what planets can you see? You can spot Venus easily during the daytime. In fact, during Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration, large numbers of people in the crowd were able to see Venus over the Capitol Dome. Jupiter, which will be making an appearance tomorrow, is slightly more difficult to spot. It’s further from the sun, which means that it’s less well lit than Venus.

I’m hoping it will clear up here so I can try to spot Jupiter in the sky tomorrow. It’s supposed to rain today, so I don’t know if I can see the starts this evening, but I plan to give it a try.

I’m writing this post on a laptop computer that I bought in August 2008. It runs on Windows Vista. It used to be that I’d have to buy a new computer every couple of years, but I’ve had this one for more than four years and it’s showing no sign of breaking down or running out of memory. I do have a back-up laptop that is a bit newer, but I still like this one better.

The reason why I bring this up is that I’ve been seeing articles recently about the death of the PC and how pretty soon PCs will be replaced with other, more exciting gadgets. These rumors are based on sales data that shows people aren’t buying as many PC’s as they used to. This may be bad news for some corporations, but it’s good news for us customers.

At Slate, Will Oremus explains: “The Real Reason No One’s Buying PCs Anymore: They’ve Gotten Too Good.”

It’s certainly true that people are increasingly spending money on new tablets and smartphones rather than new computers. But reports of the PC’s demise are grossly exaggerated. If the PC is dead, what am I typing this on? If the PC is dead, what are office-workers all over the world sitting in front of all day while they work? The reason people aren’t buying new PCs isn’t that they don’t need a PC. It’s that, for the most part, they’re getting along just fine with the one they already have.

In the past, you had to replace your computer every few years or else it would become hopelessly bogged down trying to deal with the latest desktop applications, operating systems, and Internet technologies. But thanks to Moore’s Law, your average PC’s processing power now exceeds most people’s daily needs by a healthy margin. Meanwhile, the rise of the cloud has reduced the need for extra memory. And as ZDNet’s Simon Bisson explains in depth, a strategic shift by Microsoft in recent years has meant that you no longer need to buy a new machine in order to take advantage of each new operating system. The result is that PCs have become more durable than smartphones and tablets, which are still puny enough in their powers that you have to upgrade them regularly.

PC makers probably didn’t mean for that to happen, but there you have it. They’re a victim of unplanned non-obsolescence.

Joseph Cannon has also weighed in on the rumored death of the PC.

…the makers of desktop computers and laptops must learn that today’s machines have become really, really good — better than most people need. They do not require replacement every few years. Maybe once a decade. When you buy a high-quality raincoat, paintbrush, coffee table or carpet, you’re investing in something built to last. So too, now, with computers.

Here’s another reason PC sales have slowed: Windows 8 blows like a tornado and sucks like a black hole.

I’m not even that wild about Windows 7 myself.

Have you noticed I’m avoiding the political news this morning? I’m still flummoxed by James Carville’s comments yesterday on Morning Joe about President Obama’s priorities (courtesy of Talking Points Memo).

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Carville said he thinks Obama relishes the commendation he’s received from deficit hawks like New York Times columnist David Brooks and host Joe Scarborough. Asked by co-host Mike Barnicle how the President will respond to the outrage from the left-wing of the Democratic Party, Carville was blunt.

“I think he likes that,” Carville said. “I don’t think he’s upset. He got a very favorable Washington Post editorial. ‘Morning Joe,’ very favorable commentary right here. I guarantee you if he’s up watching this right now. Got a good David Brooks column. He’s kind of excited this morning. This is kind of important to him.”

Folks at DailyKos interpreted this as Carville agreeing with Obama (see comments and prepare for some Hillary hate as well). I don’t think so. I think Carville sees this as idiotic. He doesn’t much care for Obama, and he’s outing the president as a pathetic media suckup.

The sad thing is that I believe Carville. I really think Obama is completely so much in thrall to the DC elite that he’s willing to hurt his own reputation in order to please them. Obama is the opposite of Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt reveled in insulting the establishment, especially the bankers. Obama releases a draconian austerity budget, celebrates the reviews from the Washington Post and David Brooks, and the next day he meets with Wall Street criminals Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein, among others.

I need to work out a new psychological profile of Barack Obama. What is his deal anyway? During the 2012 campaign, he began to talk like a liberal and a populist. The more he got out with real people, the more he seemed to be able to empathize with them a little bit. But as soon as he was reelected and went back to the Village bubble, he reverted to form. In the 1970s Obama would have been a Republican and considerably to the right of Richard Nixon.

The fascinating thing is that I think Obama actually understands that his policies are going to hurt the economy. He has said repeatedly that he thinks stimulating the economy is important. He also knows that health care costs are the real problem and that Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Back in January, John Boehner told the Wall Street Journal about a “frustrating” conversation he had with Obama.

What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: “At one point several weeks ago,” Mr. Boehner says, “the president said to me, ‘We don’t have a spending problem.’ ” [….]

The president’s insistence that Washington doesn’t have a spending problem, Mr. Boehner says, is predicated on the belief that massive federal deficits stem from what Mr. Obama called “a health-care problem.” Mr. Boehner says that after he recovered from his astonishment—”They blame all of the fiscal woes on our health-care system”—he replied: “Clearly we have a health-care problem, which is about to get worse with ObamaCare. But, Mr. President, we have a very serious spending problem.” He repeated this message so often, he says, that toward the end of the negotiations, the president became irritated and said: “I’m getting tired of hearing you say that.”

Nevertheless, as we have seen, Obama’s budget would increase health care costs, wouldn’t raise much revenue, and would drastically increase income inequality. The only thing that is saving us from Obama’s folly is that Republicans are even nuttier in their obsession with avoiding tax increases on rich people.

There has to be a psychological explanation for Obama’s obsession with trying to win over people who hate and despise him and will never like him no matter what he does. I assume it at least partially goes back to his childhood and being abandoned by both of his parents. Obama even chooses advisers who will convince him to advance Republican policies!

At the moment, it looks to me as if Obama has made himself a lame duck with this budget, even if it never gets a vote (and it probably won’t). Democratic candidates will have to distance themselves from him if they want to be elected or reelected. Why would he do that to himself? And I reject the idea that he’s just evil incarnate as some people who drop in here occasionally seem to think.

I’m sure Obama must care about his legacy, but somehow he still can’t screw up the courage to buck the establishment that really doesn’t like and and never will. As of now, it looks like he could go down in history as a very bad President–maybe even as bad as George W. Bush. But we’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out over the next few years.

Anyway, I’ve rambled long enough. I know this is a strange post, but it’s all I’ve got this morning. What’s on your mind today? Please post your links in the comments, and have a great weekend!

29 Comments on “Saturday Reads: Jupiter and the Moon, the Myth of the Dying PC, and the Strange Psychology of Barack Obama”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    Barack Obama may find a lesson in the life of Jackie Robinson who had to overcome sheer, unadulterated hatred when he broke the race barrier 60 years ago.

    Jackie took let his talent speak for him without resorting to “kissing ass” with people who were never going to “love” him no matter how many games he won. He went through personal heel both on an off the field but he never wavered in the face of that ugly racism.

    Obama, on the other hand, appears more like a rejected suitor who will agree to anything the Right proposes in an effort to force them into acceptance. Won’t happen because for one thing they can “smell” that desperation from a mile away. This is what they depend upon to turn him into a eunuch!

    He would rather “sell out” the rest of us in order to get a good op/ed from news outlets than in sticking the the principles most of us support.

    He continues to be the wrong man for his time. What was needed was “guts” and he doesn’t exhibit much.

  2. hyperjoy says:

    Jackie took let his talent speak for him

    Obama doesn’t have any talent to let speak for him. He was nominated to keep Hillary Clinton, a member of an even more despised minority (majority) group, women, out of the presidency, and elected in the general election because 8 years of GWB made the election of a republican candidate almost impossible.

  3. I think Carville sees this as idiotic. He doesn’t much care for Obama, and he’s outing the president as a pathetic media suckup.

    The sad thing is that I believe Carville. I really think Obama is completely so much in thrall to the DC elite that he’s willing to hurt his own reputation in order to please them. Obama is the opposite of Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt reveled in insulting the establishment, especially the bankers. Obama releases a draconian austerity budget, celebrates the reviews from the Washington Post and David Brooks, and the next day he meets with Wall Street criminals Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein, among others.

    Oh yeah, I totally agree with you on that.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      I always saw Carville as a populist. I doubt he has much love or respect for Obama.

      Being praised by David Brooks is not going to do it for the progressives.

  4. I don’t think Obama is evil incarnate. I think Obama is an asshole.

    He talks big on healthcare, then gives us a shitty deal that benefits big insurance companies.

    He talks about free birth control, then gives in to religious nuts.

    He talks about gun control and saving lives of school children, then orders drone attacks that kill kids.

    I could go on, but you all know too well what the man has done.

    I think Obama has always been a two faced right leaning opportunist who will say one thing, but do the opposite…or take the “easy” route by voting present.

    This is compounded by the fact that he looks for approval from the white male establishment…I should say white republican wealthy male establishment.

    I think Obama has issues with women too. He may be attracted to them, but he doesn’t like them. And he will use them as the stereotypical woman (nagging wife, dominating wife, good looking AG, etc) as a frame around his own appearances.

    I think his obsession with media and pundit (specifically right leaning) pundit approval comes from that narcissistic megalomaniac personality, because not only does he think so highly of himself…everyone has to love and think highly him.

    And honestly, I do not think Obama was ever a true democrat…period.

    As far as his legacy goes, if the man’s favorite president is Reagan…nuff said.

    (I think the Lincoln stuff is just for show, because it is expected of him.)

    • bostonboomer says:

      I can’t disagree with anything you wrote, except for that part about his wanting everyone to think highly of him.

      Obama really wants liberals to hate him. That’s the thing that to me really indicates he has serious childhood issues. I think unconsciously he really hated his mother and longed for approval from his absent father. His mother was pretty radical politically, so now he’s projecting those feelings on the “professional left” and projecting the need for approval from someone who couldn’t care less about him–his father–onto the media, the Wall Street CEOs, and the Republicans who each look down him in utter disdain.

      That’s my current hypothesis.

      • Yeah I guess you are right about that. But I still can’t help thinking there is still that bit of having everyone fawn over him, when he seems to promise one thing for the liberals to get their approval and then does the opposite to get the rights approval. Even though he won’t get the white GOP approval no matter what he does.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        And a pretty good one at that!

        His mother more or less left him in the care of others while she pursued her own interests elsewhere. You can chalk this up to her having a baby while still in her teens but that “abandonment” was a result of her own liberal views that preceded her parenting. He was only 10 when sent to Hawaii and his grandparents.

        She was older and more mature when she remarried and had another child and her career had been established to some extent.

        It would be interesting to hear the differing interpretations of the mother as told by both Obama and his sister.

        But i agree that he is not a “liberal” at heart,. Nothing that he had done so far would justify saying that.

      • I mean I do think you are right about the republican disdain and professional left

      • mjames says:

        How about this? He was abandoned by those on whom he depended so he grows up to abandon those who depended on him. Merely repeating the pattern, like sexual abusers who were sexually abused themselves as children (although, in my book, Obama has no sexuality – more of a eunuch.)

    • quixote says:

      Childhood issues? I don’t see that as the simplest explanation. I’ve seen Obama’s kind many times. They hang about on the fringes of Old Money or the aristocracy (in other countries), desperate to toady their way in to acceptance. And since the quickest way to hang with the ingroup is to despise the outgroup, Obama has always shown distaste for those not rich and powerful (and in his case male, as far as I can tell).

      The sad thing is the toadies can never feel like they’ve arrived. It’s not in their DNA. Otherwise it would be obvious to the meanest intelligence that being President of the Yoonited States was enough to get you into any aristocracy. You can stop punching the hippies and kicking the “losers.” But he can’t, because he has to constantly prove his allegiance against the 99%.

      And that’s what he gets out of those pledges of allegiance. The hope of acceptance. The fact that it destroys people is just an unfortunate side effect.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That’s a description of Obama’s behavior, not an explanation for it. I’m interested in what caused his behavior and his thinking processes. I’m interested in the development of personality, which begins in early childhood in an infant’s attachment relationship to his/her primary caregivers.

        You can dismiss my focus if you wish. No problem. I’m still interested in personality and how it explains adult behavior. Not surprising, since I’ve spent years studying it.

  5. ecocatwoman says:

    Sorry to go OT but a friend sent this link to me ( about Margaret Thatcher. I couldn’t agree more with this article. Thatcher & her great buddy Raygun were both loathsome & (imho) responsible for the dreadful economy we live with worldwide. Their disdain for working people, especially those who struggle the most, has become the political meme. Then there’s the story that Ding Dong the Witch is Dead made #3 on the charts in the UK (a movement to “commemorate Thatcher’s death) but the pop station has refused to play it because they consider it in poor taste since Thatcher isn’t even in the ground yet. BS – pure & simple.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Nothing is OT. This is an open morning thread.

    • NW Luna says:

      LONDON — The British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) faced a dilemma Friday: Would it play “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead” when everyone knows the song has become a biting reference to the late Margaret Thatcher?

      The network’s solution: turn the song into a sound bite.

      Amid divisive reactions to the death Monday of the former prime minister, anti-Thatcher protesters have campaigned to bring the song from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” to the top of the charts in time for a BBC program Sunday night that counts down the current top hits.

      By late Friday the online campaign had propelled the “Wizard of Oz” song to No. 1 on British iTunes and into the top three of the music chart used by the BBC to compile its weekly radio countdown.
      After a furious debate — with Thatcher supporters calling on the BBC to ban the song and anti-Thatcherites demanding the broadcaster give vent to lingering anger over her social and economic policies — the BBC decided it would air a 5-second taste of the tune.

  6. RalphB says:

    Seems to me the salient part of all the analysis is that Obama is an untrustworthy asshole. Once that’s established, the rest is all academic to me.

  7. Have you all seen this shit?

    Alan Gottlieb | Background Checks | Manchin-Toomey Bill | Mediaite

    “I spent hours and hours with Senator Manchin and Pat Toomey going over what’s in that bill,” Gottlieb told the crowd. He went on the outline the various “protections” he says he helped insert into the amendment that would prevent gun dealers from prison terms and lawsuits for failing to properly conduct the background checks that the bill is intended to require.

    “It’s a Christmas Tree,” Gottlieb asserted, “and we just hung a million ornaments on it. We’re taking the background check and making it a pro-gun bill.” He predicted, “this will probably break on Monday in the Wall Street Journal. So your getting a little ‘inside baseball’ right now.” He admitted that he was working to implement some background checks in an effort to prevent more comprehensive and effective legislation from passing in Congress. “I think we snookered the other side,” Gottlieb concluded, “and they haven’t figured it out yet.”

    While he was allegedly working with the senators behind closed doors to water down their background checks amendment, Gottlieb was also advocating publicly against a so-called “gun registry” in an op-ed published this past Wednesday in U.S. News and World Report. He did not disclose his role in writing the senate bill in that article.

    I’m already in a bad mood because I am so sick and tired of finding piss all over the toilet seat…thank you son, the kid is 15 dammit. WTF?

    I think I will check out for a while.

    • Oh, and while this comical looking Gottlieb was saying all this crap (it was video taped, you can see it at the link) Toomey and Manchin were sitting right there.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      I was wondering when someone, somewhere would say something about this bi-partisan bill. It was either Chris Hayes or Rachel Maddow last week that went through it on air and it sounded to me as if this bill didn’t have more restrictions/laws but less. And I’ll bet few of our elected officials will even bother to read it.

  8. Take a look at this:

  9. Pilgrim says:

    Boomer, your thoughts on Obama are interesting. I agree with them. You indicate you are continuing to try to figure him out. As are we all.

    Someone mentioned he lacks guts. Yes. Also a spine.

    I think too he really wants to be in with the rich people. Have finished reading “Bailout” by Neil Barofsky. Another example of pretending to care about the little people whilst all the while sticking up for criminal Tim Geithner and similar ilk.

    As you mention, he would have been very much to the right of Nixon. Agreed. And that he would probably turn out to be a pretty bad prez. Agreed.

    Minkoff has cogent observations at 9:57. For example, she opines that Obama may be “attracted” to women (on some level), but does not really like them.

    • quixote says:

      Two minds with similar thoughts :). “He really wants to be in with the rich people” is exactly what I was saying — with more longwindedness — upthread a ways.

      • Pilgrim says:

        Your comment is very insightful……for example, “the quickest way to hang with the ingroup is to despise the out group.” So like junior high school kiddies.

        It will be interesting to watch Obama’s progress after he leaves the presidency. I think he is paving the way for his clubbing with the rich people.

        Would he do anything like Bill Clinton’s efforts such as his Global Initiative. I just can’t see Obama putting out the energy needed for something like that.

      • NW Luna says:

        Yep, in with the rich kids, and never really thinks about anyone less lucky than he is. That would be thinking about folks who don’t hand with the rich kids.

  10. Fannie says:

    My personal feelings about Obama always goes up and go down, and it’s always how I feel. I don’t know all about his family, and the deep roots he comes from. I have never read his self reflection books, and don’t intend to. What does piss me off, is his continue need to add fuel to the fire………..the fucking country has been gutted economically, and we are looking for stability somewhere, and I thought it might be Social Security Program and Medicare. Maybe there was no stability in his parental relationships, and maybe he hates confrontations because of those experiences, but he doesn’t have to turn the entire democratic party into a living nightmare, right before our fucking eyes.

    I mean, we’ve seen all the stats, all the numbers and figures offered up, even by the likes of Scarface Joe. And we here, have been looking everything over, and looking at changes, and have all agreed, Social Security is the wrong the way to make changes. Of course when he ran for office 5 years ago, the definition of change was part for all Americans………Is the problem then about attitudinal changes? Because to be honest, no fucking positive improvements have been made…………not for blacks, not for women, and not for gays…… fact there is more psychological seperation now than ever before……..I had thought we came a long way, only to have learned that he has not accepted the social identity of liberals, it appears that who ever said it earlier,his identity seems to have been given to him by those powers to be:
    Bankers, and Wall Street……….He’s more what might be called latent conservative, if you ask me. He may never truly accpet who he is, but I can tell you he needs to talk to his barber.

  11. affinis says:

    There’s no need for a new psychological profile. His behavior is entirely typical of many NPDs. Those that the NPD has captured (has won over) are ultimately devalued and held in contempt, while they try to romance those that they have not yet captured. And the adulation of the “esteemed” (Beltway insiders, etc.) would be of particular importance. And NPDs – at least those that are skilled – know how to project the appearance of empathy, etc. when it’s desirable.

    NPD is highly heritable (some twin studies show a heritability of ~0.7) and you can see the traits very clearly in his father (and I suspect also in his maternal grandfather – it was said he could “charm the legs off a table”). And abandonment (a factor you note) and instability of childhood environment appear to be environmental risk factors. The behavior and values of Lolo Soetoro (his stepfather) probably didn’t help. And Lolo Soetoro and Obama’s maternal grandfather (who helped raise him) were both likely alcoholics – so not the healthiest environment to grow up in.

    Obama has been telegraphing his desire to cut Social Security and Medicare for years. I had his number back in 2007 – an NPD, who spent much of his life sucking up to those in power. And fundamentally a neoliberal (who specifically picked Lieberman as his Senate mentor, praised Reagan, involved himself with the Hamilton Project, sucked up to investment bankers in private soirees, etc.). Back in 2007 I predicted that he would likely win the Presidency (people respond to the charisma of narcissists) and proceed to do exactly what he has done (I specifically predicted that he would seek to cut entitlements per the desires of Wall St and Broderistic pundits, try to push through very corporate-friendly heath reform – that could be viewed as his “historical legacy”, cater to banks, infringe on civil liberties, clamp down on whistleblowers – to control image, expand foreign military intervention, and expand the Imperial Presidency). His psychology and many of the specific likely consequences of that were clear as day many years ago.