Monday, October 24, 2011

A Republican-To-English Translation Aid

  • Liberal: A person who should be rounded up and shot but not really.
  • Marxism: A political and economic philosophy developed by Karl Marx and promulgated by Paul Krugman.
  • Media (Mainstream): Where you won't hear things.
  • Medicare: A fraudulent, socialistic boondoggle that is sacrosanct.
  • Mexicans: Brown people who have it coming.
  • Mountaintops: Ancient rock formations that have it coming.
  • Muslims: Brown people who have it coming.
  • News: Fox News
  • Obamacare: A Federally-mandated policy to address the national oversupply of grandparents through euthanasia.
  • Organic: Eaten by lesbians.
  • Party (Tea): A grass-roots movement of patriotic Americans fighting for the principle of "No Taxation With Representation."
  • Poll: A survey used to determine, to within a margin of error, what percentage of Americans are right.
  • Poverty: The condition of having inadequate financial or material resources due to not trying hard enough.
  • Propaganda: The politically motivated dissemination of biased information, opinion, or data through its publication in the New York Times.
  • Punishment (Capital): The legally authorized killing by the State of someone who is definitely guilty.
  • Racism: A form of discrimination that typically happens in reverse.
  • Regulation: Rules issued by a government agency for no reason.
  • Ronald Reagan: A fictional character based loosely on President Ronald Reagan.
  • Scientist: A person who employs a rigorous system of observation, experiment, measurement, and verification to perpetuate his Godless left-wing agenda.
  • Social Security: A redistributionist Ponzi scheme that is sacrosanct.
  • Socialism: An economic system invented by FDR.
  • Taxes: Levies imposed by the government that raise more revenue the lower they are.
  • Torture: A method of interrogation that does not rise to the level of torture.
More where that came from when you click on the link.

The 6 Lies About The Economy Republicans Tell

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones sums up 6 fundamental lies about the economy that are demonstrably false.

I'll force you to click on the link to see why and how they are false (mostly actual data, studies, and historical facts), but I will summarize them here:

LIE #1: The stimulus failed. SUMMARY: It was too little, too late, but the people's whose opinions actually matter all agree it stopped an economic disaster.  See "Mistake of 1937" for what not to do, and why we are repeating it.

LIE #2: The deficit is our biggest problem right now. SUMMARY: With T bond interest rates near 0%, trust in America's ability to pay debts has never been higher.  Long term, yes, it's a problem.  Short term, worry about the economy.

LIE #3: Lower taxes are the best way to grow the economy. SUMMARY: No historical correlation to prove that is the case.  Last time taxes were raised (under Clinton), economy surged ahead.  Last time taxes were cut (under Bush), economy stagnated.

LIE #4: Regulatory uncertainty is clogging the economy. SUMMARY: No business owner who was asked agreed with that fact.  And, current administration has not been active at all in ramping up regulations in the business sector anyway.

LIE #5: Obama is debasing the dollar. SUMMARY: "Printing money" had no effect on dollar value. Exchange rates prove that.  (And, we should wish the dollar value would collapse, because the value of American exports would increase.)

LIE #6: If you unshackle the rich, they'll rev up the economy. SUMMARY: Rich people are more rich now than ever before and corporate profits are at record levels, but they are waiting for economic improvement to invest in or expand their business ventures.

Self-Driving Cars Are Here... Quite Soon

Based on what I'm seeing in this video with Google's driverless car program, we should see the first self-driving cars in showrooms in 2 or 3 years. Their prototype cars have driven over 100,000 miles with not a single incident. (Okay, one human driver incident.)

It's a pretty geeky 15-minute video, but completely fascinating for anybody who has been waiting for a true self-driving car. (And, just because it needs to be said: This driving is done on today's roads... no special futuristic road construction to instruct the driverless cars or anything.)

What this means is that we are fast approaching the moment in time when you can get into your car, program the destination, and then sit back and relax (preferably with a foot near the brake pedal... just in case) with a good book, video, or conversation. (And, the moment in time will arrive shortly after that when the first ticket for "driving while sleeping" will be issued.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What "The 99%" Is Trying To Say

Sometimes, you get an idea in your head that you cannot quite put into words. Then I read the "Open Letter To That 53% Guy", and it all suddenly became easy to explain.

The "53% Guy" is some otherwise-nameless young fellow who put up a picture of himself holding up a sign that said, "I am a former Marine. I work two jobs. I don’t have health insurance. I worked 60-70 hours a week for 8 years to pay my way through college. I haven’t had 4 consecutive days off in over 4 years. But I don’t blame Wall Street. Suck it up you whiners. I am the 53%. God bless the USA!"

In the open letter, the author finally stated what I had been trying to verbalize for a while:
Do you really want the bar set this high? Do you really want to live in a society where just getting by requires a person to hold down two jobs and work 60 to 70 hours a week? Is that your idea of the American Dream?

Look kid, I don’t want you to “get by” working two jobs and 60 to 70 hours a week. If you’re willing to put in that kind of effort, I want you to get rich. I want you to have a comprehensive healthcare plan. I want you vacationing in the Bahamas every couple of years, with your beautiful wife and healthy, happy kids. I want you rewarded for your hard work, and I want your exceptional effort to reap exceptional rewards. I want you to accumulate wealth and invest it in Wall Street. And I want you to make more money from those investments.

I understand that a prosperous America needs people with money to invest, and I’ve got no problem with that. All other things being equal, I want all the rich people to keep being rich. And clever financiers who find ways to get more money into the hands of promising entrepreneurs should be rewarded for their contributions as well.

I think Wall Street has an important job to do, I just don’t think they’ve been doing it. And I resent their sense of entitlement – their sense that they are special and deserve to be rewarded extravagantly even when they screw everything up.

The American middle class lifestyle is slowly being eroded away in order that our corporations become more profitable, more able to compete on the global stage. Look at my so-called "job" as a medical transcriptionist: I used to earn $40 an hour doing that work as recently as 5 years ago. Now, it pays less than half that. Why? For my company, it is because Indians can do my work more cheaply. Hospitals know this, and demand lower prices and force my company to slash wages, cut operating costs, and outsource work. In other areas of industry, skilled jobs and salaried positions are being replaced by semi-skilled or non-skilled hourly workers.  (Do you see an MD doctor when you for a health checkup these days, or a physician assistant... or a nurse practicioner?)   Other companies are streamlining production and improving efficiencies of workers without raising pay... or even paying them less (again, as with my company and its' "voice recognition" software).

Another quote from the "Open Letter":
Here’s how a liberal looks at it: a long time ago workers in this country realized that industrialization wasn’t making their lives better, but worse. The captains of industry were making a ton of money and living a merry life far away from the dirty, dangerous factories they owned, and far away from the even dirtier and more dangerous mines that fed raw materials to those factories.

The workers quickly decided that this arrangement didn’t work for them. If they were going to work as cogs in machines designed to build wealth for the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Carnegies, they wanted a cut. They wanted a share of the wealth that they were helping create. And that didn’t mean just more money; it meant a better quality of life. It meant reasonable hours and better working conditions.
We're going through something similar again: A new era of "improvements" in production whose benefits do not trickle down to the working class. It's generally unfair that this rising tide of technological know-how and improved production and management methods is decreasing prosperity, not increasing it.

And the question needs to be asked: Why make Wall Street the target of our anger? Did they cause this situation? Well, yes. They did. Another excellent thought regarding the anger directed at banks comes from a Washington Post opinion piece by Harold Meyerson:
Whence this fall — if not from grace (a state that few of us, and even fewer bankers, attain), then from the occasional decent opinion of humankind? At its root is the simple fact that the Wall Street banks over the past quarter-century have done none of the things that a financial sector should do. They have not helped preserve the thriving economy that America once enjoyed. They have not funded our boldest new companies. (That’s fallen to venture capitalists.) They haven’t provided the financing to maintain our infrastructure, nor ponied up the capital for manufacturing to modernize and grow here (as opposed to in China). Instead, they’ve grown fat on the credit they extended when Americans’ incomes stopped rising. They’ve grown plump on proprietary trading and by selling bad deals to suckers. (Citigroup, like Goldman before it, just agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to settle charges that it defrauded investors.)

The original J.P. Morgan was hardly a beloved figure. But in the course of attending to his business, he helped form the American economy. He consolidated railroads, cobbled together the companies that became U.S. Steel and General Electric. In pursuit of profit, he helped build the country. By no stretch of the imagination is that what today’s Wall Street is about. The country isn’t being built; no one’s been building it for the past 30 years. Wall Street’s interests are elsewhere, in realizing huge profits and bonuses for arbitrage and paper-swapping that has brought little but debt and ruin to the larger economy.
Again: Precisely. Remember back in the day when brokers and bankers invested in actual industries? Remember that other famous line from The Graduate? "One word: Plastics." Investors back then were all about emerging technologies and growing industries. Now everyone is involved in derivatives and futures and silly computer-generated everyone-wins investments that have no basis in the nuts-and-bolts reality of the business world. Now the only thing that attracts investors is proven and continued profit. Speculative investment in new areas has vanished. It's all just a game now among millionaires and billionaires — and politicians and CEOs — and the American middle class are disposable playing pieces.

And it was with that thought that I realized how to explain where we are at as a country:  The return of the industrial era, where 99% of the American population is nothing more than a factor of production that can be squeezed and manipulated and used with as little care and consideration as the law will allow.

To quote one more time from the above-mentioned Open Letter, the fellow writes, "[T]he commitment we’ve made to the working class since the 1940s is something that we should both support and be willing to fight for, whether we are liberal or conservative. We should both be willing to fight for the American Dream. And we should agree that anybody trying to steal that dream from us is to be resisted, not defended."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More Republican Hypocrisy From The Daily Show

John Stewart has some more fun, showing endless clips of Republican politicians urging Americans to "take to the streets", to "take our country back"... and then those same Republicans expressing concern about the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Deadly Indy Crash

It does not get any worse or impressive than this. Prayers to the family of British driver Dan Wheldon who died.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Natural Disasters In US Over Time

1980 to 2011, natural disasters in the United States

Red - seismologic (earthquakes / volcano)
Green - meteorologic (storms / blizzards)
Blue - hydrologic (floods / landslides)
Orange - climatologic (heat wave / drout / forest fire)

 (Hat tip Sullivan.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bad To Say, Even If It Is True?

The U.S. Ambassador to The Philippines rubbed his host country the wrong way when he cited the statistic, "40% of male tourists come to The Philippines for sex."

I hate to say it, but... only 40%?  Well, perhaps 40% of male tourists to the Philippines, when asked to list ALL the things that they plan to do while in The Philippines put "sex" as the #1 item, another 40% have it further down the list.

The final 20% are mongers from Thailand who are actually just taking a weekend break from all the sex they are having in Bangkok.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I Finally Figured Out What Republicans Are Doing

I finally figured out why the Republicans are trying to roll back banking regulations to the way the regulations were right before the banking collapse; why they are trying to make it easier for corporations to ship jobs overseas, to pollute, to cut salaries, to cut corners; why they are making it harder for unions to bargain; why they favor health insurance company profits over patient care; why keeping taxes low for millionaires is more important than creating jobs for the unemployed.  I've finally figured out why Republicans are blatantly working to increase the wealth of America's wealthy and improve the unbridled power of America's corporations at the expense of America's middle class on down.

The Republicans expect — as do I — that in the very near future, the world economy is going to collapse and the planet will enter a global depression of an unknowable-but-probably-catastrophic degree.  Like it or not, what they are doing is putting as much wealth and power in the hands of as few Americans as possible before this disaster hits.

Why is this?  Two simple reasons:

(1)  With government spending cut as low as it can get... and taxes as low as they can get... and corporate and millionaires' income as high as it can get, and their investment coffers as full as they can get at the onset of this disaster, less American wealth will be frittered away on saving poor Americans from utter ruin, or be depleted by the massive swath of middle-class unemployed Americans using their life savings on day-to-day expenses.

Instead, that wealth can be used for the aggressive purchases of depressed foreign assets.  The wealth can be used for the propping up of wealth-generating American assets that might otherwise flounder.  The wealth can be used to give American business the financial ammunition (along with the free rein from legislative burdens) to fight against China and other countries' governments over resource allocation (food, fuel, and factors of production) and market share.  The wealth will give corporate America what it needs to survive, and to emerge after the worst of the global economic collapse has passed in a stronger position than its competitors.  The ability of America's largest corporations to survive in as free a market model as the Republicans can create will keep many more Americans employed than any government program could (although the collapse of small business in America will be a collateral result).  America's corporate and personal wealth, in other words, will not have to be used to save "ordinary" Americans, but instead be used to preserve American corporations and American world economic dominance.

(2)  The second reason is that when the American people start screaming, "Save me!  Save me!", the American government (i.e. the Democrats, who will obviously be voted into power to enact some kind of modern New Deal) will (a) be too late to enact legislation/taxes to undo the massive "fortress of wealth" the Republicans have created, or (b) those same Democrats will see the logic in what the Republicans have done and might even join them in leaving the American middle class on down to weather the storm on their own while the "1%" keeps on accumulating and prospering.

In other words, Republicans are working hard to set up an economic/political system that will allow American economic hegemony to emerge victorious in the upcoming world financial/economic collapse at the expense of the American people.

So yes, like it or not, the Republicans are not worried about you, the "99%" — as the Occupy Wall Street people have come to call you.  They do not care whether you have a job or not, or really if you even survive at all.  They are only focused on America's long-term economic and geopolitical survival.  I can't say, if — given the facts as the Republicans see them — I would disagree with the Republican plan, which I must say is a strong change of mindset from where I was before this realization.  But I do think that America should be more concerned about its people's welfare than the Republicans are... or ever will be.

But, as I see it:  There is my realization — stark in its truth and depressing in its consequences.  Feel free to disagree if you want, but I personally do not see any other way to explain the otherwise-crazy shit that the Republicans are trying to accomplish and politically suicidal stands that they are trying to make... at least without just concluding that they are simply evil bastards, which I'm moderately inclined to think is probably wrong.

The Republicans are building a Noah's Ark for America... and you're not invited.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Daily Report: Update

Epril's visa package is now in the American Embassy in Manila, and they have contacted her with the date for her interview:  November 8th.  In addition, she has her medical exam in Manila coming up on October 19th.  Epril expects to receive her visa / green card on November 22nd, and we hope she will be in Florida by November 24th — Thanksgiving.

At worst, I'll be flying to Cagayan De Oro to help Epril pack, going to her Despidida party, and then bringing her back to America.  Based on the money situation (still in flux) I may be leaving for The Philippines the day before Epril's interview on November 8th, or even the day before her medical exam, October 19th — though the 19th is quite unlikely at this point.

PeGreSol's first sales presentation will be around the same time, October 18th, and we should be getting our first set of general commitments from clients around then.  (I had hoped that the first sales presentations would be this past week, but I am unfamiliar with how things work, and unaware of the logistics involved in getting a bunch of peripatetic oil executives in the same place at the same time.  (UPDATE: Mike lets me know in the comments section, "The first seminar is on Thurs 13th in Brunei, the next on Mon 17th in Miri, KL Tue 18th and Kertih Wed 19th." I don't put up business details like that without permission... and I figure Mike's comment would represent that permission.)

But, PeGreSol has been contacted by several of the giants of the oil industry (both corporations and countries) and meetings with them will follow quickly on the heels of those clients scheduled later this month. Hopefully this Christmas will be of a sort Epril and I previously could only dream of.

In other news, Mom and Paul will be returning to Florida on the 26th of October.  My cousin Paul and cousin Bobby from next door have both moved out of the house to embark on their respective futures.  My piano playing is still coming along.  My diet has sadly faltered over the last few weeks and I need to get back on track.  The weather was glorious up until today when heavy cloud cover moved in.  The season finales of both Doctor Who and Top Gear have come and gone and I don't have anything to look forward to on the television.

So I'm still waiting — rather impatiently I'm afraid.  The days are starting to blur together though in a mind-numbing and meaningless light-outside-my-window/dark-outside-my-window asleep/awake process that is actually making the days go by much more quickly.  So thank God for the doldrums, I suppose.  I will be glad to see the doldrums go with news from PeGreSol that we have landed our first contract, but for now the doldrums are the anesthetic to my life's dreary and repetitive days, which are only there to measure the time between now... and then.

And now at least with Epril's Visa adventure finally drawing to a close, I have some definite thens to look forward to.  I just need to get through these final nows.

Sarah Palin The Scammer

John Stewart pieces together how Sarah Palin scammed lots of people: SarahPAC, which is in essence, Sarah Palin herself, sent out a mailer to her supporters that said literally, "Send in a donation to show how you support Sarah Palin running for President."

Then John Stewart first ran down the list of things that money donated to SarahPAC was spent on (including $10,000 to her parents for "signing cards") to show that the money was pissed away. Then he showed Sarah Palin's daughter back in June stating that Sarah Palin had already made up her mind about whether or not she would run for President.

In other words: Sarah Palin scammed people straight up; she used the "give me money and maybe I'll do something even though I've already decided not to" scam.

It truly amazes me that there are still people in this country who are obtuse and gullible enough to vote for this scumbag for President of the United States.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Comparison Taste: Glayva, Drambuie, Benedictine

My friend Mike recently was extolling the "best liqueur in the world", an herb-infused scotch called "Glayva". Being rather familiar with the two other famous herb-infused concoctions, Drambuie and Bénédictine, I decided to buy a bottle of Glayva and do a side-by-side 3-way taste test.

First off, getting Glayva in America is frickin' hard. The number of places that stock this beverage is minimal. You might wind up having to order over the internet (and thus tacking on $10 or $15 to the cost of a bottle). Prices for Glayva are roughly the same as that of Drambuie and Benedictine: About $31 to $34 per 700 mL bottle.

1. Drambuie.

The principal taste of Drambuie is its scotch foundation, with the common alcoholic tingling and oak bouquet of the breed. Following this is a combination of honey wrapped around licorice/anise. Finally, as the alcoholic scotch tang settles, a gentle waft of spices, like opening your mother's spice cabinet, comes to the fore, and your mouth is warmed. It's not subtle or mild (but only in a way that foreshadows what I am going to say about the other 2 brands featured), but it is a fantastically friendly drink without a kick or harshness to it.

2. Glayva.

In comparison to Drambuie, the scotch foundation has disappeared completely. The mild alcohol twang is about 75% of the previous, and it comes after the honey flavor instead of in front of it as in the previous, and the nip of licorice is replaced with a comfortable, fruity accent to the honey. The range of spice flavor at the back end trends slightly more toward a dusky and smoky "French boulangerie" than the Drambuie's bright "Italian kitchen" range. Glayva is much more a liqueur while Drambuie is more a fortified scotch.

3. Bénédictine.

Where Drambuie and Glayva hung the honey flavor up in the pole position, Benedictine has almost no honey flavor at all. No scotch flavor either. I've drank more Bénédictine than either of the other liqueurs, and I always think that the principal aspect of Bénédictine is "essence of pine tree with a background of French toast and an aftertaste of pepper." If I had to carry on with the "kitchen comparisons" that I used for the previous two liqueurs, it would be "Christmas hearth fire". It has about the same alcohol twang as the Glayva, and occupies the same beverage niche as Glayva as well.


All three of these drinks are excellent in their own way. Glayva and Bénédictine are much more closely related to each other than either is to the Drambuie, which really stands as a separate type of liqueur from the other two. Drambuie is best enjoyed alone with a cigar and a pair of slippers. Glayva and Bénédictine are best enjoyed at the dining room table after dinner with friends.

I consider Glayva and Bénédictine equals in terms of quality of taste. I personally find Bénédictine to have a more complex taste and if I had to make a choice between that or the Glayva, that would be it. But that is merely a personal preference between two excellent, competing beverages. Neither will ever be boring, common, or comparable to any other liqueur on earth. I only wish Glayva were sold in more places in America so that it could get the attention and exposure it deserves.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Farangs Will Realize It's Not A Joke But Still Laugh

There are Thai minds that really function at this level, especially male Thai minds, especially when drunk — which is often.
Thai man kills friend in Russian roulette

A 23-year-old Thai man has been arrested on murder charges after winning a game of Russian roulette with his friend, who was asleep at the time.

Ponthep told police he was still drinking on Sunday morning while his two friends, Sanchai and Ton, slept.

Seeing a pistol in Sanchai's belt, Ponthep decided to play a game of Russian roulette with his sleeping friend. He removed all the bullets but one, held it to his own head and fired. Nothing happened.

Ponthep then held the gun to the sleeping Sanchai's head and fired, putting a bullet through his skull and killing him instantly.

"Ponthep said he was shocked by what happened. He threw the gun away and ran home, where we found him," Uthai district police superintendent Thanaporn Pohthisuk said.
It was back when I first arrived to Thailand, when a British friend of mine told me that his gardener had got out a pair of shears and cut the garden hose in half to make the water come out twice as fast, that I realized that Thai people are pretty much capable of any thought, and acting upon that thought, no matter how ridiculous. A very good thing to know if you ever plan on living in Thailand: Don't just expect the unexpected... but expect the unimaginable.

Thailand is truly the world capital of Darwin Award candidates.

(And no, I don't think it was just a murder. I'm totally able to believe the fact that a drunk Thai guy actually played Russian Roulette with his sleeping friend. If you don't believe it, you just have not lived in Thailand long enough.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

America's Most Dangerous / Safest Cities

America's 25 most dangerous cities (highest violent crime per capita):
  1. Flint, MI.
  2. Detroit, MI.
  3. St. Louis, MO.
  4. New Haven, CT.
  5. Memphis, TN.
  6. Oakland, CA.
  7. Little Rock, AR.
  8. Baltimore, MD.
  9. Rockford, IL.
  10. Stockton, CA.
  11. Buffalo, NY.
  12. Springfield, MA.
  13. Cleveland, OH.
  14. Hartford, CT.
  15. Washington, DC.
  16. Springfield, IL.
  17. Philadelphia, PA.
  18. Lowell, MA.
  19. Richmond, CA.
  20. St. Petersburg, FL.
  21. Nashville, TN.
  22. Kansas City, MO.
  23. Miami, FL
  24. Lansing, MI.
  25. Elizabeth, NJ.
Americas 13 safest cities (lowest violent crime per capita):
  1. Irvine, CA.
  2. Temecula, CA.
  3. Cary, NC.
  4. Murietta, CA.
  5. Gilbert, AZ.
  6. Round Rock, TX.
  7. Frisco, TX.
  8. Simi Valley, CA.
  9. Bellevue, WA.
  10. Orange, CA.
  11. Amherst Town, NY.
  12. Thousand Oaks, CA.
  13. Surprise, AZ.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Niggerhead: It's Not Uncommon

Presidential candidate Rick Perry is getting a lot of heat for having had a ranch (inherited from his father, name changed decades ago) called "Niggerhead".

Simple fact is, "Niggerhead" used to be thrown around quite a bit. Andrew Sullivan's readers wrote in regarding all the different examples of "Niggerhead" that they knew of from the past:

  • It used to refer to the flower more commonly known as a black-eyed Susan (hence the name of Perry's ranch).
  • There was a shrimp brand by that name.
  • Types of coral and various rock formations were called that as well.
  • It was the name of a pond in Vermont and still is the name of a hill in Alaska.
So:  In summary, much ado about nothing.  Rick Perry's father bought Niggerhead Ranch back in the 1980s, and first thing he did was paint over the sign that named it so.  Yes, obviously the word comes from people who were specifically thinking about black people when they said it, and it is obviously no longer an appropriate appellation in any use... except historically, as in this instance.  But Rick Perry had nothing to do with the name given to the ranch before he (or his father) owned it, and his father had enough common sense (or, better yet: the knowledge that racism is wrong) to change the name.  That's all he could do, and I consider the matter settled.

The Cleverest Thing Ever

Conservative pundits were having fits last month after they (mis)read Michelle Obama's lips at a September 11 Memorial event, and claimed she was saying derogatory things about the American flag. As always happens, some creative mind with a bit too much time, and wanting to add to their portfolio of creative works, comes up with the perfect response: a website dedicated to bad lip reading:

Actually, Congresswoman Bachman makes about the same amount of sense in this video as she does in her usual speeches. ("Tell her I'll break a tree root up in her shrimp." "Jackpot Fishy Poopy-Pants!" Ah, pure genius.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Coolest Internet Thingy Ever

Google Maps now has "fly-by" mode as part of its "get directions".

Step 1: Go to Google Maps
Step 2: Select "Get Directions".
Step 3: (I recommend:) Type in "San Francisco, CA" to "Danville, CA". (Lots of buildings and mountains to fly past.)
Step 4: Click on the "3D" button.
Step 5: (Important:) Click on the "Pause" button at the lower left hand corner of the map so that everything can load properly. You'll be loading a virtual version of every building, highway, and bridge in the Bay Area.
Step 6: Once it is loaded, let it fly. (Additional pauses may be necessary for people with slower internet connections.)
Step 7: Don't zoom around too much while paused (although you can): The program is still a bit buggy and may "kick you out" to a standard grey street map.