So true...

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20150327-absent.jpg

 

Swiped from Mostly Cajun

Lee Kuan Yew died a few days ago - he was the person who brought the nation of Singapore from a backwater to an amazingly sucessful country.

Great writeup at The National Review:

In Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew Built a Welfare State That Works
Obituaries of Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore who died this week at age 91, broke down into roughly two camps:

He was a hero, building a “clean as Disneyland” republic that runs like a Swiss watch.

He was an autocrat, who built a successful economy but crushed opponents and journalists who challenged his “managed” democracy.

Both statements have big elements of truth. I take a third approach, based on a fascinating visit I made to Singapore earlier this month. Lee Kuan Yew, a member of Britain’s left-wing Labour party while a student at Cambridge, managed to create a workable welfare state, one that provides for people without creating Social Security–like Ponzi schemes or unsustainable entitlements. Both liberals and conservatives have much to learn from what he built, the details of which are missing in most of the tributes to him.

Lee’s first priority when he became prime minister in 1959 was to reimagine Singapore’s economy. “Back then, this place was a swamp, with no natural resources, and it even had to import its drinking water from Malaysia,” Jim Rogers, a noted American investor who has lived in Singapore for nearly a decade, told me during my visit there.

By embracing free trade, capital formation, vigorous meritocratic education, low taxes, and a reliable judicial system, Lee raised the per capita income of his country from $500 a year to some $52,000 a year today. That’s 50 percent higher than that of Britain, the colonial power that ruled Singapore for 150 years. Its average annual growth rate has averaged 7 percent since the 1970s. “A 2010 study showed more patents and patent applications from the small city-state of Singapore (population 5.6 million) than from Russia (population 140 million),” noted economist Thomas Sowell observes.

But that wealth wasn’t used to create a traditional welfare state. Economist Mark Skousen notes that Singapore is rated along with Hong Kong as one of the two most free economies in the world. Any expansion of government is gradual and grudging. In 2013, when Singapore broadened its medical-benefits program, the local Straits Times newspaper made clear the government’s philosophy: “The first [priority] is to keep government subsidies targeted at those who most need them, rather than commit to benefits for all. Universal benefits are ‘wasteful and inequitable,’ and hard to take away once given, [finance minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam] said.”

That mindset is embodied in Singapore’s philosophy of welfare, which rests on four pillars:

Each generation should pay its own way.

Each family should pay its own way.

Each individual should pay his own way.

Only after passing through these three filters should anyone turn to the government for help. But it will be there when needed.

This nation could be a force of nature (for good) if we adopted these pillars. Instead, we seem to be well on our way to adopting these:

1. Abolition of private property in land and application of all rents of land to public purpose.

2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.

4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.

5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.

6. Centralization of the means of communication and transportation in the hands of the state.

7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.

8. Equal obligation of all to work.  Establishment of Industrial armies, especially for agriculture.

9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.

10. Free education for all children in government schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc. etc.

Awww crap - RIP John Renborn

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Major folk artist - founded Pentangle. Nice obituary at The Guardian:

John Renbourn: ceaseless explorer of song – an appreciation
It wasn’t the sort of house where you could just drop in and say hi. The converted chapel on the Scottish borders that John Renbourn had called home for the past three decades was far away. Far from pretty much everywhere. And given how remote John’s house was – and that everything in it had got there by being carried along a 200-yard path via a narrow footbridge – it really was astonishing how much stuff there was in it. The 20 or so guitars. The bed in the corner of the large living space. The four or five record players dotted about the place. The thousands of records in the kitchen included an original copy of Lena Hughes – Queen of the Flat-Top Guitar, a privately pressed album of Appalachian folk instrumentals that numbered among his astonishingly diverse influences. The water supply came directly from the river. Mostly it worked, but sometimes, John would have to go outside and fix the pump. There were hundreds and hundreds of dusty tins and condiments, some of which may have dated back to the late 70s – after John moved here from the Oakland ghetto of San Francisco. “I was the only white guy in the neighbourhood,” he told me. “It was rough, but the kids would speak to me in an exaggerated version of what they thought was a 19th-century English accent.”

 

I want to believe

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Not only are the X Files returning, they are being filmed in Vancouver, BC - from the NY Times:

David Duchovny on the New ‘X-Files’ and Why Mulder Was a Terrible F.B.I. Agent
Sometimes you get lucky. We’d arranged to meet with the actor David Duchovny this week in Santa Monica, Calif., to discuss his new series “Aquarius,” a period crime drama coming to NBC on May 28, for a coming article. Then something else came up.

On Tuesday Fox announced that it was bringing back “The X-Files,” which starred Mr. Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as F.B.I. agents investigating alien-related conspiracies and bizarre, often paranormal, crimes. (The Internet noticed.)

The series began as an oddity in 1993 but became a phenomenon, running until 2002 and proving that the audience was out there for smart science fiction, horror and other genre fare. (There were movies in 1998 and 2008.) “The X-Files” became, for a time, Fox’s highest rated show, topping out as the 11th most watched series on television in its 1997-98 season. It also won 16 Emmy Awards, five Golden Globes and a Peabody Award.

A lot more at the article plus a nice Q&A. Looking forward to this...

Humming birds have arrived

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They have been occasional visitors since I put the feeder out almost two weeks ago 

Someone must have spread the word because almost every time I look, there are one or more at the feeder.

Wonder how many 25 pound bags of sugar we will go through this summer - last year it was two.

Two days left

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Doing some last loads of laundry. Lulu and Jimmy were in town yesterday and are coming out this morning.

Heading out for some coffee in a few minutes and then expecting a load of hay in the early afternoon.

Packing photographic equipment and charging all of the batteries.

Got a nine pound pork shoulder thawing out. Put a rub on it later this morning and start smoking it tomorrow early morning.

First - our intellectual betters have zero spine - from The Washington Free Beacon:

U.S. Caves to Key Iranian Demands as Nuke Deal Comes Together
The Obama administration is giving in to Iranian demands about the scope of its nuclear program as negotiators work to finalize a framework agreement in the coming days, according to sources familiar with the administration’s position in the negotiations.

U.S. negotiators are said to have given up ground on demands that Iran be forced to disclose the full range of its nuclear activities at the outset of a nuclear deal, a concession experts say would gut the verification the Obama administration has vowed would stand as the crux of a deal with Iran.

And of course, the adults have to step up - from England's The Independent:

Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
Saudi Arabia will not rule out building or acquiring nuclear weapons, the country’s ambassador to the United States has indicated.

Asked whether Saudi Arabia would ever build nuclear weapons in an interview with US news channel CNN, Adel Al-Jubeir said the subject was “not something we would discuss publicly”.

Pressed later on the subject he said: “This is not something that I can comment on, nor would I comment on.”

Which makes them really really love us all that more because before, they could count on our protection - nuclear umbrella as it were - but now, they have to spend several tens of billions of dollars rolling their own program. Imagine what this will do to the cost of gasoline in the next ten or twenty years...

Consulting - the six rules

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Canonical list from Clients from Hell:

Six simple rules for dealing with clients
1. No matter how many design concepts you produce, the client will always attempt to combine their weakest elements.

2. Keep all emails down to two sentences – three or more and they won’t get read to the end.

3. Never ask two or more questions in an email – you’ll only get one answer.

4. Don’t expect clients to take your written payment terms as more than guidance.

5. If they ask for more it’s trivial. If you ask for more it’s prissy.

6. Any client that says “I could do this myself, but…” actually can’t, and they aren’t worth the hassle.

So true... I weep but it is so true... 

About 30 years ago, I discovered that I could fire problem clients. Greatest revelation in the world for me!

Either tell them that I was way to busy to give them the full attention that they warranted or else, quote them a nose-bleed price and if they agreed, suck it up like a man and do the job and spend the next month somewhere really nice (and away from telephones - this was back in the '80's). Both worked out really well.

Some numbers on raw milk

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BarfBlog is a blog about food safety and public health. Today, they posted about raw milk. Out here in the boonies, we have a lot of people who are into natural living and if a little bit of natural living works for them, a lot more of natural living will be even better.

At the store, we get people asking about having us sell raw milk. As a (partly)trained biologist, this is a subject that I will not even contemplate. I am always polite but the answer is always: I cannot take the risks and lose the store.

From the excellent BarfBlog:

It’s a math thing: Raw milk is 3 percent of the market but causes over 50 percent of milk foodborne illnesses
Most people would be horrified if they went to a restaurant bathroom and saw the chef not bother to wash his hands after using the toilet. It’s a good thing raw milk fad health buyers do not understand cow milking for the same reason.

A new review finds that consumers are nearly 100 times more likely to get foodborne illness from drinking raw milk than they are from drinking pasteurized milk, which is a lower figure than the Centers for Disease Control, which puts that number at 150X. Though a tiny fraction of milk drinkers risk consuming the raw kind, the raw kind accounts for over 50 percent of milk-related foodborne illness.

Given the results, the scholars from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future join the chorus discouraging participants in the raw milk fad.

The problem is that milk is an insanely great culture medium for any kind of bacteria.

Also, the less the milk is "stepped on", the better it tastes. 

There is a great local dairy that uses low-temp batch Pasteurization and they do not homogenize their product - the cream floats to the top of the glass bottle.

Their product shows the work they do - it tastes great. That being said, it is Pasteurized and we gallons of it.

The article has a lot more information - a good read.

From PetaPixel:

Hike-Lapse: Man Walks the 2,600 Miles from Mexico to Canada and Snaps a Selfie Every Mile
A photographer named Andy Davidhazy hiked the 2,600 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. It was both a physical endeavor and a photographic one: every mile he traveled, Davidhazy stopped and took a single selfie. The video above is the time-lapse that he created after his epic journey.

 

 

More at Andy's website: Lost or Found - The end of the trail is the beginning of the story.

Back from town

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It was getting late so I had dinner in town.

Got the truck all ready for the trip - new fluids and filters.

Was looking for a specific lens and saw an ad in Craigslist - the lens was in gorgeous condition and will fill the last hole in my camera collection (for now). Getting it used saves me about $400.

Surf for a bit and then an early bedtime - getting fifty bales of hay delivered tomorrow. Sleep like the dead tomorrow night...

President stompy-feet is at it again

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Obama is an anti-semite - his hatred of the Jewish people and their nation Israel is plain to see.

Now this - from Israel National News:

US Declassifies Document Revealing Israel's Nuclear Program
In a development that has largely been missed by mainstream media, the Pentagon early last month quietly declassified a Department of Defense top-secret document detailing Israel's nuclear program, a highly covert topic that Israel has never formally announced to avoid a regional nuclear arms race, and which the US until now has respected by remaining silent.

But by publishing the declassified document from 1987, the US reportedly breached the silent agreement to keep quiet on Israel's nuclear powers for the first time ever, detailing the nuclear program in great depth.

The timing of the revelation is highly suspect, given that it came as tensions spiraled out of control between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama ahead of Netanyahu's March 3 address in Congress, in which he warned against the dangers of Iran's nuclear program and how the deal being formed on that program leaves the Islamic regime with nuclear breakout capabilities.

Another highly suspicious aspect of the document is that while the Pentagon saw fit to declassify sections on Israel's sensitive nuclear program, it kept sections on Italy, France, West Germany and other NATO countries classified, with those sections blocked out in the document.

More at the site - this is a fscking slap in the face to the only democratic nation in the entire Middle East and our staunch ally...

Three days left

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Off for coffee and then to town to get the truck serviced, see someone about a camera lens and get a pre-paid visa card for Lulu's nephew who will be house sitting for us.

We did most of the packing of the trailer yesterday so things are coming along nicely.

More spew when I get back home again late afternoon...

Now this shows a distinct lack of class - from IT World:

RadioShack puts customer's personal data up for sale in bankruptcy auction
For years, RadioShack made a habit of collecting customers’ contact information at checkout. Now, the bankrupt retailer is putting that data on the auction block.

A list of RadioShack assets for sale includes more than 65 million customer names and physical addresses, and 13 million email addresses. Bloomberg reports that the asset sale may include phone numbers and information on shopping habits as well.

I am very surprised that this is legal. It is not at the state level in Texas:

As Bloomberg points out, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has argued that selling the data would be illegal under state law. Texas doesn’t allow companies to sell personal information in a way that violates their own privacy policies, and signage in RadioShack stores claims that “We pride ourselves on not selling our private mailing list.” Paxton believes that a data sale would affect 117 million people.

I bet the two Deutschmann brothers are spinning in their graves. The brand was a success and Charles Tandy bought the brothers out in 1962 and proceeded to grow it even more. Charles died young in 1978 and the company never fully recovered. Now it is being picked over by banksters and corporatists.

The Buchla lawsuit

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This will be interesting to follow - from FACT Magazine:

Synth pioneer Don Buchla is taking the current owners of his brand to court for $500,000
Don Buchla, the 77-year-old inventor of early synthesizers such as the Series 100 modular, is taking the current owners of the Buchla brand to court for breach of contract.

Buchla sold his original company, Buchla & Associates, in 2012, after a battle with cancer that left him unable to continue with day-to-day tasks like sales and marketing. In order to secure cash for his future and have the freedom to continue developing new products, he sold the Buchla brand to Audio Supermarket Pty. Ltd., an Australia-based music distributor, which formed a new company, Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments.

In a suit filed with the The United States District Court for the Northern District of California yesterday (March 24), Buchla alleges he was promised $440,000 for the sale of the company, but has been paid less than $110,000 so far. It also alleges that the defendants breached the Asset Purchase Agreement of Buchla & Associates by “failing to use reasonable business efforts to reach sales targets.”

According to the suit, Buchla was also employed by BEMI in a development role as chief technology officer, which the suit alleges was terminated “without good cause” in 2013. The suit further alleges that the defendants have acted “in bad faith, and with oppression and malice”, to deny Buchla the benefits of the agreement made between the two parties.

The lawsuit is attempting to regain the original company’s assets, intellectual property and confirmed purchase orders back to Buchla, as well as seeking compensation for damages, by proving that  Buchla was convinced to sign a “highly unfavorable, one-sided Memorandum of Understanding with Audio Supermarket” back in 2012, which the suit alleges “was merely an agreement to negotiate in good faith toward a purchase agreement and not a binding purchase agreement in itself.”

Don's designs are amazing but not for me. I like traditional keyboard-based synthesis and Don's idea was to liberate the composition process from the constraints of a keyboard. There is some amazing work being done with his hardware but again, not for me. I like harmony and melody more than bleeps and bloops.

That being said, I wish him well. Court filing is here. The new company is using his old domain name: Buchla

Good news regarding bad trash

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Excellent news from The Washington Post:

Bowe Bergdahl, once-missing U.S. soldier, charged with desertion
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier who was recovered in Afghanistan last spring after five years in captivity, has been charged with desertion and misbehaving before the enemy, Army officials said Wednesday, setting the stage for emotionally charged court proceedings in coming months.

Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s attorney, told The Washington Post that his client was handed a charge sheet Wednesday. Army officials said in a statement that Bergdahl has been charged with desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty and misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place. His case has been referred to an Article 32 preliminary hearing, which is frequently compared to a grand jury proceeding in civilian court.

A bit more - the possible punishments:

Under the misbehavior-before-the-enemy charge, Bergdahl faces a maximum punishment of confinement for life, a dishonorable discharge, a reduction to private and total forfeiture of pay and allowances since the time of his disappearance, Army officials said. The desertion charge carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison, a dishonorable discharge, a reduction to private and a total forfeiture of pay and allowances.

Desertion has historically been punishable by death, but the Army will not pursue that in Bergdahl’s case. That’s hardly a surprise: No soldier has been executed for desertion since Pvt. Eddie Slovik, who was killed by firing squad in January 1945 for abandoning his unit in France the previous year.

Not mentioned in the Post article is that we lost several of our own when people from his base went out looking for him when he was first found to be missing. This is also the asshole that National Security Advisor Susan Rice said: "served the United States with honor and distinction." Glad that this is being handled in a military court rather than a civil one. Throw away the key...

Done with paperwork

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Broke down and filed an extension for 2014. With the divorce settlement and the ill-fated business, I have a lot to itemize.

Came home and Lulu was packing up the trailer - we both love to cook so it will be nice not to be beholden to local restaurants. It is fun to eat out once in a while but not for 40 days straight...

She is heading into town tomorrow to pack and back Friday morning to help buck some hay - getting 50 bales delivered that afternoon. I am getting an oil and filter change on the truck as well as doing some banking (and meeting someone about a lens - a Craigslist deal).

Got some stuff to do around the house and then surf some more.

Four days left

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Heading out for coffee and then into my office to pay the final bills before the trip.

Leaving Sunday and we are both really looking forward to it - nice to get the Hell out of Dodge for a while...

If it makes you feel better...

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James O’Keefe strikes again

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New O’Keefe Video: Cornell Dean Advises on Starting ISIS Club
Assistant Dean for Students Freely Gives Advice on how to Obtain University Funding to Send Care Packages to ISIS and Hamas

Award-winning journalist and New York Times’ best-selling author James O’Keefe released a powerful new video today showing an Assistant Dean at Cornell University advising a Project Veritas investigative journalist on how to start and fund a pro-ISIS club on campus. Joseph Scaffido, Assistant Dean for Students at Cornell, is perplexingly sympathetic to the proposed pro-ISIS and pro-Hamas group.

In O’Keefe’s latest video, Scaffido is captured on hidden camera advising the Project Veritas journalist not only how to start the club, but how to obtain funding to send care packages to ISIS and Hamas, and astonishingly, how to bring a member of ISIS to Cornell to run a “training camp.” Indeed, Scaffido went as far as to say: “It’s just like bringing in a coach, to do a training on a sports team or something.”

When the Project Veritas journalist suggested that the club would support Hamas as well as ISIS, Scaffido stated: “the University [Cornell] is not going to look at different groups and say you are not allowed to support that group.  Because we don’t believe in them or something like that.  I think it’s just the opposite.  I think the University wants the entire community to understand what's going on in all parts of the world.”

This new Project Veritas video shockingly and frighteningly exposes that Cornell, an esteemed and storied Ivy League University, is truly detached from reality. This is particularly egregious due to the fact that Cornell has received over $300 million in federal contracts and grants since 2000 and more than $190 million from New York state taxpayers since 2012.

They think they are world-wise and egalitarian. Instead, they are small-minded bigots with a very unreal world view. And these are the people molding our young men and women. Unreal.

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