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Assembled in the USA from 100% Chinese parts.

History

1st October 2008

2:55pm: I'm going to predict that Sarah Palin does much better in the debate than expected.

It may not have been their intent, but the Republicans have played the expectations game beautifully so far. All she has to do is to go out and speak in complete sentences, and she'll be seen to outperform expectations.
3:49pm: McCain Aides Make The Political Case For Sarah Palin
From Marc Ambinder's blog in The Atlantic:
McCain campaign aides have a set of arguments and data points that amount to a political case -- an answer of sorts to those who believe that McCain fundamentally erred in picking the governor of Alaska.

Palin is directly responsible for doubling the size of the campaign's field operation, according to a senior campaign official, as she's been a huge fundraising draw, bringing in, according one reliable estimate, more than $30 million for the RNC and its joint accounts. In the 12 hours after the announcement, she raised $4.4 million for the campaign.

She is directly responsible for luring more than 100,000 people to McCain-Palin events -- and that's on the low end of a guesstimate.

She has helped the campaign recruit thousands of additional volunteers. In the last two weeks, for the first time this year, the campaign has recorded more volunteer door knocks and phone calls than the same weeks 4 years ago.

"Given that 2004 is the measuring stick, we're proud of that," a campaign official says. "We were nowhere close to 2004 stats until about 3 weeks ago."

Her choice has gotten some of the louder social conservative voices to shut the heck up and stop complaining about McCain. The money and people that she has brought has been put towards opening at least 100 new field offices over the past two weeks alone.

Had McCain not found a way to gin up enthusiasm for his ticket, his get-out-the-vote machine would likely be half its size.

The thinking in Arlington (most of it, anyway) is that if Palin escapes relatively unscathed Thursday, she will simply cease to be an election issue.
5:09pm: This winter may be a good time to buy a new car.
Winter is usually a slow time for car dealers, so it's often a good time for a buyer to drive a hard bargain. This winter looks like it'll be even better than usual, because those dealers are lean and hungry.

From http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2008/10/auto-sales-tank.html:

Auto sales, which were weak over the past 11 months, simply went into freefall in September:
  • Ford Motor posted a 34% drop. Their truck and van sales fell 39%, SUV sales plummeted 57% and F-series truck sales dropped 42%.

  • Honda reported a 24% decline in sales;

  • Toyota U.S. Sept. sales drop 32.3%, light truck sales dropped 38%

  • Lexus sales -- Toyota's luxury nameplate -- fell 37.7%;

  • Chrysler U.S. September sales fall 33%

  • Volvo sales slumped 51.8%;

  • Porsche tumbled 45%;

  • General Motors sales down 15.6% (better than the expectations of -26%)
According to the Detroit Free Press, the seasonally adjusted annual SAAR for the past decade has ranged between 14 million and 17 million vehicles. Since December, the SAAR has been in a free-fall, and September now looks like its going to hit 13 million annualized sales. Edmonds.com noted that the last time fewer than 1 million new vehicles were sold in a month was February 1993.

In a related Reuters story, a new study says that nearly 1 in 5 car dealerships could fail.
5:21pm: The Steamy Way to Dinner
From http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/01/dining/01rice.html:
SHIRLEY CHAN, a Chinese-American Web site designer, was born in Hong Kong, lives in Brooklyn, and has never cooked a pot of rice in her life. “One billion Chinese people cannot be wrong about rice,” she said: virtually every household has at least a basic rice cooker. As a child, it was her chore before each meal to wash the rice, measure it into the machine, and press the button. “It always, always comes out perfect,” she said. “Until I came here, I never even knew rice could burn.”

How does the machine know when the rice is done? A built-in thermostat tracks the temperature of the bubbling mixture of rice and water. When the water boils and turns to steam, the temperature in the pot begins to rise, which signals the cooker to switch to warm.

But it’s easy to override the machine’s small brain. Press the “cook” button, melt butter in the bowl, and sweat a finely diced shallot in it until soft — then add rice, broth and saffron strands, and start the machine again to make a daffodil-yellow pilaf. Cook some short-grain rice, then drizzle in some sesame oil and switch back to “cook,” mix in some kimchi and break eggs on top for a simple bibimbap, the Korean-American staple of rice “and whatever is in the refrigerator,” Mr. Park said.

Make grits, risotto or any grain cooked by the absorption method simply by adding extra liquid and stirring often. The machine has plenty of built-in cushions for the cook: the temperature never gets very high, the surface is nonstick, and everything happens in a kind of slow-motion.

The new-model rice cookers, with digital menus and “fuzzy logic” operation, are actually less flexible than their one-button ancestors. The machines have their own ideas about brown rice, porridge, sushi rice and sometimes more.
It's true. My rice cooker is an old-fashioned one, and I really prefer its versatility.
11:17pm: Bailout won't pass? Throw in more pork.
As it turns out, one of the ways Congress has come up with to get the MOAB (Mother of All Bailouts) to pass is the time-honored way of adding more pork to it. Mmmm...pork.

From http://tbm.thebigmoney.com/articles/juicy-bits/2008/10/01/bailout-baloney:
Save the world economy! Save the wooden arrows for children! The Senate is doing both tonight. The 451-page Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 includes a number of tax relief measures added in presumably to garner votes; certainly few seem to respond to an emergency, or do anything particularly stabilizing. Here are the juicy bits from the bill that help some special interests or regions.

DIVISION C-TAX EXTENDERS AND ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX RELIEF

SEC. 308. INCREASE IN LIMIT ON COVER OVER OF RUM EXCISE TAX TO PUERTO RICO AND THE VIRGIN ISLANDS.

SEC. 309. EXTENSION OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CREDIT FOR AMERICAN SAMOA.

SEC. 317. SEVEN-YEAR COST RECOVERY PERIOD FOR MOTORSPORTS RACING TRACK FACILITY.

SEC. 325. EXTENSION AND MODIFICATION OF DUTY SUSPENSION ON WOOL PRODUCTS; WOOL RESEARCH FUND; WOOL DUTY REFUNDS.

SEC. 503. EXEMPTION FROM EXCISE TAX FOR CERTAIN WOODEN ARROWS DESIGNED FOR USE BY CHILDREN.
Perhaps modifications like this will help get them the votes they need in the House.

Edit: According to Forbes, the additional provisions add $110 billion to the cost of the bailout, which makes it an $810 billion package.
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