December 11, 2013
Postal service in Canada
Our own Post Office is going through its share of problems but Canada is taking it to a whole new level.
From Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:
Canada Post to phase out urban home mail delivery
Canada Post is phasing out door-to-door delivery of regular mail to urban residents and increasing the cost of stamps in a major move to try to reduce significant, regular losses.
The Crown corporation announced its plans Wednesday, saying urban home delivery will be phased out over the next five years.
Starting March 31, the cost of a stamp will increase to 85 cents each if bought in a pack, up from 63 cents. Individual stamps will cost a dollar.
Now this will be an interesting story
Mandela ceremony interpreter called a 'fake'
A man who provided sign language interpretation on stage for Nelson Mandela's memorial service, attended by scores of heads of state, was a “fake,” the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa said on Tuesday.
Asked about the claim by The Associated Press, South Africa's government said it was preparing a statement.
Three sign language experts said the man was not signing in South African or American sign languages. South African sign language covers all of the country's 11 official languages, according to the federation. It wasn't immediately clear if the unidentified man was using a different method to communicate.
The unidentified man seen around the world on television next to leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama “was moving his hands around but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for,” said Bruno Druchen, the federation's national director.
Nicole Du Toit, an official sign language interpreter who also watched the broadcast, said in a telephone interview that the man on stage purporting to sign was an embarrassment.
“It was horrible, an absolute circus, really really bad,” she said. “Only he can understand those gestures.”
Friend of a friend? Wonder if we will ever get the backstory…
Health care in Oregon - a success story
From the Washington Examiner:
Oregon signs up just 44 people for Obamacare despite spending $300 million
Oregon, once touted as a model for President Obama's health care law, signed up just 44 people for insurance through November, despite spending more than $300 million on its state-based exchange.
The state’s exchange had the fewest sign-ups in the nation, according to a new report today by the Department of Health and Human Services.
WA State is doing a lot better with 17,770 people on
the dole Obamacare. This is out of a population of 6,897,000 — 0.258%
Barry at the Mandela memorial
Talk about acting dignified - from Politico:
Experts snap at memorial selfies
Nothing good can come of bringing an iPhone to a memorial service.
That’s the consensus of etiquette experts who said Wednesday that President Barack Obama’s selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial was no time for a picture-perfect moment, but differed over whether it amounted to a serious protocol violation.
Leader of the free world and all that good stuff. This memorial was about Nelson Mandela, not King Barry.
The bottom of the gene pool
Talk about feral. From The Washington Times:
Teen thugs in DC run wild — even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
Tyran McElrath was already in trouble with the law when he sneaked through a rear window of a Northwest D.C. home last year in the course of a burglary.
Inside, the 18-year-old encountered an 81-year-old woman who was legally blind. He savagely beat her and ransacked her house.
The crime is detailed in court records that also explain how officials quickly caught the youth: He was wearing a GPS tracking device assigned to him by the city’s juvenile justice agency.
Hmmmm - the stupid is strong in that one…
December 10, 2013
Flash Mob for the Christmas Season
The United States Air Force Band playing at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
Crank the volume then hit the full-screen button. 6:24 of awesome cheer…
Got up to a balmy 34°F today, the well house is nice and toasty and I get great flow and pressure.
No water at the house though… There is a layer of snow on the ground that, when it melts, is flooding the water pipe with 32° water keeping things frosty. The unmelted snow acts as insulation.
Air temp is back down to 32.2°F so I am not expecting any miracles tonight. Snow is forecast for this evening but rain and temps in the 40's for tomorrow.
Heading out to check the mail and run some errands.
Such is life in the country - but the house is warm, there is plenty of food in the pantry and I can walk out to the creek when I need water. Life is not that horrible.
From the London Daily Mail:
Oh, Bam! President's approval rating plummets to 38 per cent overall, just 34 per cent on health care and 40 per cent on Iran
Barack Obama is facing poll numbers that are now in the same territory as President George W. Bush's following Hurricane Katrina.
The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute released numbers on Tuesday showing that just 38 per cent of registered voters approve of the job Obama is doing as president, with a whopping 56 per cent saying they disapprove.
The president has lost his landslide electoral edge among young voters, too, with a negative 41–49 per cent rating among 18- to 29-year-old voters. His once formidable support among Hispanics has also evaporated: They now support him by an historically small 50–43 per cent margin.
Worse for Obama's fast-approaching legacy-building years, the public believes he is not 'honest and trustworthy,' by a 52–44 per cent score. A smaller majority, 51 per cent, said he lacks 'strong leadership qualities.'
Thats got to leave a mark…
Between a rock and a hard place
Highway 99 runs north/south along the Western end of WA State. It goes through Seattle and Bellingham and the Seattle leg is served by a small viaduct. This viaduct is not earthquake-proof and is being replaced with a new tunnel.
The drilling machine is stuck.
From Seattle station KING-5:
Drilling cranes ready to find out what's blocking Bertha
Two drilling cranes have been set up to determine what the obstruction is that has forced the giant boring machine called “Bertha” to stop in her tracks.
The cranes are set up at Old Alaska Way and Jackson Street, right above where Bertha is stopped.
Bertha, which is digging the new Highway 99 tunnel under Seattle, has been stopped since Friday, about 60-feet underground due to the unidentified obstruction.
That part of Seattle is built on landfill from the old regrade project. It could be anything…
These people are not playing Farmville
From watchdog organization Open The Books:
FARM SUBSIDIES & THE BIG DOGS 2008-2011
Quantifying Farm Subsidies into Major American Urban Areas: Washington, D.C., Chicago, IL, New York City, NY, & Wealthy Entities Across America
CITY OF CHICAGO, IL FARM SUBSIDY RECIPIENTS
We show that millions of dollars in Federal Farm Subsidies are flowing into major American urban areas- where there are no farms…
Examples from our report:
- Three Year Economic Savings Program, Inc- a charity-arm of The Nation of Islam based in Chicago, received farm subsidies at the home address of Minister Louis Farrakhan.
- New York based National Audubon Society received $960,000 - including a New York based tobacco subsidy.
- Executives at U.S. Department of Agriculture and lobbyists in Washington, D.C. the people who created and manage these transfers, participate in the subsidy largess.
- Elected U.S. Senators and Representatives received hundreds of thousands of dollars in farms subsidies.
Full report (PDF) is here: Federal Transfer Report, Farm Subsidies & The Big Dogs
I could use a nice subsidy right now and I actually farm! Where's my free stuff?
Time for a heat wave
Sitting here looking at 30.6°F and mentally willing it to get warmer.
Pipes are still frozen.
December 09, 2013
About that Global Warming - all minus 135.8 degrees Fahrenheit of it
From the Associated Press:
Cold dis-comfort: Antarctica set record of -135.8
Feeling chilly? Here's cold comfort: You could be in East Antarctica which new data says set a record for “soul-crushing” cold.
Try 135.8 degrees Fahrenheit below zero; that's 93.2 degrees below zero Celsius, which sounds only slightly toastier. Better yet, don't try it. That's so cold scientists say it hurts to breathe.
A new look at NASA satellite data revealed that Earth set a new record for coldest temperature recorded. It happened in August 2010 when it hit -135.8 degrees. Then on July 31 of this year, it came close again: -135.3 degrees.
The old record had been -128.6 degrees, which is -89.2 degrees Celsius.
Ice scientist Ted Scambos at the National Snow and Ice Data Center said the new record is “50 degrees colder than anything that has ever been seen in Alaska or Siberia or certainly North Dakota.”
Polar ice coverage is greater than in the last ten years, Antarctica is showing record cold temperatures. Where is the warming? We certainly could use some now.
I remember back during the great heat wave of July 2012 when 2,253 records for high temperatures were broken. The media were having a field-day.
What the news media did not tell you is that during the same period, 936 records for low temperature were also broken. Media? Crickets…
Our new $100 bill
Great story on the design of the new $100 - they interview some of the people in back of the technology.
A Hundred Bucks Says You Won't Read This Story
Our new hundred-dollar bill, like every other single piece of American folding money, is born in this rotary boiler. It's a perfect sphere, an angry kettle fifteen feet across, spinning high off the ground between two stained concrete towers. Most people swear out loud when they see it for the first time. A network of gears, each tooth the size of a fist, churns away in the darkness behind it. The towers and the gears allow the boiler to spin like a planet, like Saturn, rust-colored with wide rings of black grease. It is hot in its shadow, the steam coming off it like breath, and every surface within twenty yards is either dripping or damp. The boiler feels almost monstrous, a relic of a spitting industrial age, corrosive and mean, and it feels that way especially when it finally stops spinning and its oval maw clangs open, vomiting tons of boiling cotton that hits the floor with a heavy slap. There it is, the earliest, no-bullshit incarnation of cash: piles of raw cellulose cooked to its fibrous essence, as brown as it is white, and scalding. American money is born in a flame.
The boiler is housed in an ancient redbrick mill, built in 1863, tumbling toward the shore of the Housatonic River in tiny Dalton, Massachusetts. The mill is named for a local hero, Captain Byron Weston, but is owned and operated by Crane & Co., makers of fine paper. Today the company is under the stewardship of fifty-three-year-old Doug Crane, the seventh generation of his family to manage the business. (The Crane ledgers, which begin with Colonel Thomas Crane in 1770, include the sale of “13 reams of money paper” to a Boston silversmith named Paul Revere.) Winthrop Crane, Doug's great-great-grandfather, won the first contract to supply the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing with paper in 1879, when the mill was only sixteen years old. Crane paper has been the money in American pockets since.
In the beginning, Crane & Co. made paper from discarded rags collected by stooped men pushing carts. American currency is still made with rags — until the last decade or so, mostly from the trims and off-cuts of denim manufacturers, including Levi's. Paper money wore soft, like a pair of blue jeans, because it was made from blue jeans. But recently, Americans decided they liked jeans that stretched, so jeans companies began adding spandex to their fabric. Money with spandex in it wouldn't be money anymore, which means much of Crane's time is now spent on a global search for waste cotton that wasn't used to make elastic pants.
Crane also makes high-end papers for business. Their stuff is gorgeous.
A great story.
Just got home from the store buying run and working at the new business, turned on the faucet and nothing.
Checked the weather station and it got up to 29.5°F this afternoon — so close and yet so far.
I am heading into town tomorrow again but will keep an eye on the temperature. Supposed to get up to 33°F tomorrow - downright tropical - and the rest of the week is getting warmer and wetter with temps forecast for 42°F on Thursday…
December 08, 2013
Minimal posting tonight
Lulu and Curtis are spending the next couple days at their house in Bellingham until I get the water sorted out here. It is supposed to get warmer tomorrow and Tuesday so looking forward to having running water again. The well house is fine — there is a hose bib there that has nice pressure and flow. The blockage is somewhere in the pipe from the well house to the farm house. As I said, it crosses over a creek so that is the tender part of the system.
There was one winter when we went almost two weeks so it is not an impossibility, just a niggling hardship…
Working on some other stuff tonight and have an early morning tomorrow so posting will be light.
Let it snow
Counting Alaska, the USA has about a 75% snow coverage.
Swamped - gun registration
From the Everett, WA Herald:
State’s handgun database lags far behind sales
Washington residents are buying handguns faster than information on the buyers, sellers and weapons can be put into the state's firearms database used by law enforcement.
The Department of Licensing began November with a backlog of about 106,000 pistol transfers to enter into the database used by city, county and state authorities to find owners of handguns that turn up during investigations.
Last week, employees in the state agency were handling purchases made in March, punching in details on the make, model, serial number and caliber of weapons, as well as who bought them.
With existing staff unable to catch up, the department is asking the governor and lawmakers for $409,000 in next year's supplemental budget to hire several part-timers to clear away the paperwork that is piling up.
“We're required by law to keep up this database,” said agency spokeswoman Christine Anthony, noting that hard copies of each sale exist and can be searched by hand if necessary. “We see this as a public safety issue that law enforcement should be able to access this information from their vehicle.”
Couple of things:
#1) - WA State does not register long guns (rifles, shotguns, evil looking black assault weapons, machine guns, etc…) so why do they need to register pistols.
#2) - there is no requirement to register the private sale of a pistol (the evil gun show loophole).
#3) - we already have the Federal form 4473 which is filed for each gun purchase from a dealer so why bother to duplicate that effort.
#4) - $409,000 to fund several part-timers? Good lord — talk about government inefficiency and waste.
#5) - from the article: Lt. Shane Nelson of the Washington State Patrol expressed a similar view. He said the state database is “not instrumental” and others are available if needed.
Another case of unnecessary government growth and duplication of services.
Just say no…
Water in the news
Malthusians always cry about how we are running out of things. They are always being proven wrong, never seem to learn from history.
Here is a story about clean water from the London Daily Mail:
Vast freshwater reserves discovered under the ocean floor which could supply future generations
Vast freshwater reserves have been discovered under the ocean floor which scientists believe could sustain future generations.
Australian researchers claim to have found 500,000 cubic kilometres (120,000 cubic miles) of freshwater buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves off Australia, China, North America and South Africa.
The discovery comes as United Nations estimates suggest water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of the population of the world over the last century.
Lead author Vincent Post, from Flinders University, said: ‘The volume of this water resource is a hundred times greater than the amount we've extracted from the Earth's sub-surface in the past century since 1900.
These deposits were formed when the sea level was profoundly lower and were trapped by layers of silt and clay when the sea level rose. No global warming in sight…
Oil in the news - a two-fer
First - domestic oil, a reality check from David Limbaugh (Rush's smarter brother) at Newsmax:
Obama's Big Lies on Big Oil
How much truth is there in President Barack Obama's latest favorite mantra that we consume a disproportionate share of the world's oil, especially considering how little of the world's reserves we have?
Recently, Obama said: “But here's the thing about oil. We have about 2, maybe 3, percent of the world's proven oil reserves. We use 25 percent of the world's oil. So think about it. Even if we doubled the amount of oil that we produce, we'd still be short by a factor of five.”
First, let's look at the raw numbers and then examine Obama's misleading framing of the issue. This is important because he uses these statistics to justify his reckless expenditure of federal funds to pursue alternative “green” energy sources, such as the disgraceful and scandalous Solyndra project.
Obama is lying with numbers — we are very well off, up to 400+ years of known reserves.
Second, our antipodal friends — from the Adelaide Advertiser News:
$20 trillion shale oil find surrounding Coober Pedy 'can fuel Australia'
Brisbane company Linc Energy yesterday released two reports, based on drilling and seismic exploration, estimating the amount of oil in the as yet untapped Arckaringa Basin surrounding Coober Pedy ranging from 3.5 billion to 233 billion barrels of oil.
At the higher end, this would be “several times bigger than all of the oil in Australia”, Linc managing director Peter Bond said.
This has the potential to turn Australia from an oil importer to an oil exporter.
This post was from January 2013 — the current numbers tend towards the 200+ billion barrels mark - more than the Saudis.
Just say no - Ukraine
Glad to see the people standing up for themselves — they managed to get out from under the jackboot of communism but their newly elected president is returning to Russia.
From the New York Times:
Protesters in Kiev Topple Lenin Statue as Rallies Grow
In the biggest demonstration yet after weeks of growing momentum, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians filled the streets of Kiev on Sunday, tearing down and breaking up a monument to Lenin in the city center and intensifying their outcry over President Viktor F. Yanukovich’s turn away from Europe.
Carrying blue-and-yellow Ukrainian and European Union flags, the teeming crowd here filled Independence Square, which has been transformed by a vast and growing tent encampment, and where demonstrators have occupied public buildings, including City Hall.
“Resignation! Resignation!” members of the crowd chanted, reiterating their call for the ouster of Mr. Yanukovich and the government led by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. Thousands more people gathered in other cities across the country.
The giant rally reflected just how deeply roiled this nation of 46 million people has become in the weeks since Mr. Yanukovich said he would not complete political and free-trade agreements with the European Union that he had been promising to sign for more than a year.
A bit more:
Many Ukrainians view the accords with the European Union as crucial to a brighter future, with Western-style rule of law that could combat what many view as deeply entrenched public corruption and cronyism among the country’s wealthy elite. They also see the agreements as eventually offering better economic opportunities.
The accords were also viewed as a way to break free of the grip of Russia, which nearly a quarter-century after the collapse of the Soviet Union continues to exert heavy sway here, including complete control over Ukraine’s crucial supply of natural gas.
It is always about consolidating money and power — same with this administration and Obama's handlers.
It's up to 23°F now but still no Dihydrogen Monoxide at the house.
Heading out to the pump house to check the heat and will check the span over the creek.
December 07, 2013
Dang it's cold outside... UPDATE
When things get below 15°F, I keep a drizzle of water running in the kitchen sink. The well house has a heater but one section of the pipe to the house is exposed as it crosses over a creek.
I was sitting here tucking into my second glass of wine when I heard the faucet start to spit. Got it running with a lot more volume and the spitting has quieted down for now.
Just checked and the ground surface temp is down to 4°F - radiation cooling in all of its glory…
UPDATE: Air temp is 6°F and ground temp is -1°F. I had a good rate of flow going through three faucets but it just trickled to a stop in the last ten minutes. It is supposed to warm up a bit tomorrow and quite a bit on Monday. Should have running water tomorrow afternoon. Have bottled water at the house and I can shower at the store tomorrow. Life in the country…
Nuclear Power - not fun anymore
Fascinating essay by Ashutosh (Ash) Jogalekar at Nobel Week Dialogue:
The future of nuclear power: Let a thousand flowers bloom
In the summer of 1956, a handful of men gathered in a former little red schoolhouse in San Diego. These men were among the most imaginative scientists and engineers of their generation. There was their leader, Frederic de Hoffmann who had worked on the Manhattan Project and was now the president of the company General Atomics. There was Freeman Dyson, a mathematical physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton who had previously reconciled disparate theories of quantum electrodynamics – the strange theory of light and matter. And there was Edward Teller, another Manhattan Project veteran; a dark, volatile and brilliant physicist who would become so convinced of the power of nuclear weapons to save the world that he would inspire the caricature of the mad scientist in Stanley Kubrick’s classic film “Dr. Strangelove”.
Together these men and their associates worked on a single goal: the creation of a nuclear reactor that was intrinsically safe, one that would cease and desist its nuclear transformations even in the face of human folly and stupidity. The reactor would have the rather uninspired name TRIGA (Training, Research, Isotopes, General Atomics) but its legacy would be anything but uninspiring. At the heart of the reactor’s success was not a technical innovation but an open atmosphere of debate and discussion. Every day someone – mostly Teller – would come up with ten ideas, most of which sounded crazy. The others – mostly Dyson – would then patiently work through the ideas, discarding several of them, extracting the gems from the dross and giving them rigorous shape.
TRIGA benefited from a maximum of free inquiry and individual creativity and a minimum of bureaucratic interference. There was no overarching managerial body dictating the thoughts of the designers. Everyone was free to come up with any idea they thought of, and the job of the rest of the group was to either refine the idea and make it more rigorous and practical or discard it and move on to the next idea. The makers of TRIGA would have been right at home with the computer entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley a few decades later.
It took less than three years for the engineers and technicians to take the reactor from the design stage to manufacturing. The first TRIGA was inaugurated by none other than Niels Bohr in San Diego. Seventy of these safe reactors were built. They were safe and cheap enough to be operated in hospitals and universities by students and their main function was to produce isotopes for scientific and engineering experiments. They were also robust and safe enough to be proliferation resistant. As Dyson recounts in his elegant memoir “Disturbing the Universe”, the TRIGA is perhaps the only nuclear reactor that made a profit for its creator.
And here is the money shot — this quote from Dyson's book:
“The fundamental problem of the nuclear industry is not reactor safety, not waste disposal, not the dangers of nuclear proliferation, real though all these problems are. The fundamental problem of the industry is that nobody any longer has any fun building reactors….Sometime between 1960 and 1970 the fun went out of the business. The adventurers, the experimenters, the inventors, were driven out, and the accountants and managers took control. The accountants and managers decided that it was not cost effective to let bright people play with weird reactors. So the weird reactors disappeared and with them the chance of any radical improvement beyond our existing systems. We are left with a very small number of reactor types, each of them frozen into a huge bureaucratic organization, each of them in various ways technically unsatisfactory, each of them less safe than many possible alternative designs which have been discarded. Nobody builds reactors for fun anymore. The spirit of the little red schoolhouse is dead. That, in my opinion, is what went wrong with nuclear power.”
How to kill an industry — hand it over to the accountants and the middle-management fuckups.
Those in management who have arrived at their final bureaucratic post as stated in the Peter Principle:
The Peter Principle is a proposition that states that the members of an organization where promotion is based on achievement, success, and merit will eventually be promoted beyond their level of ability. The principle is commonly phrased, “Employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence.”
That's it for this year
The meeting was a good one — business took about 30 minutes to attend to. Acceptance of last years minutes, voting on five board members (reelecting the standing ones), a few presentations and bam — on to the raffle prizes and then the potluck dinner. As I expected, the food was really good — several great chefs and two restaurants brought food.
Just settling down to a glass or two of wine, surf for a bit and then to bed. It is seven degrees out and expecting to get colder. Unusual for this neck of the woods…
We are off to our annual Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting.
Lulu's third one! We have been together now for well over two years and the relationship just keeps getting better and better.
I am furnishing the PA system so have to be there all night. Lulu and Curtis will be arriving in their own vehicle and will bug out early.
These are a lot of fun and a nice get together of local business types. Buffet dinner and there are some restaurants represented so good eats.
Environmentalism as it has become
Great essay from Dr. Tim Ball over at Watts Up With That:
The Effects Of Environmentalist and Climate Alarmist Crying Wolf Begin To Appear
The cover story of the November 25, 2013 Canadian weekly magazine Macleans pictures self-appointed Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki.
The caption reads, “Environmentalism Has Failed” “David Suzuki loses faith in the cause of his lifetime.”
Suzuki doesn’t realize he‘s the cause of the failure as a major player in the group who exploited environmentalism and climate for a political agenda. Initially most listened and tried to accommodate, but gradually the lies, deceptions and propaganda were exposed. The age of eco-bullying is ending. Typically Suzuki blamed others for the damage to the environment and climate but now he blames them for not listening to him. He forgets that when you point a finger at someone three are pointing back at you.
Environmentalism was what academics call a paradigm shift, which Thomas Kuhn defines as “a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.” It was a necessary new paradigm. Everybody accepts the general notion it is foolish to soil your own nest and most were prepared to participate. Most were not sure what it entailed or how far it should go. Extremists grab all new paradigms for their agenda but then define the limits for the majority by pushing beyond the limits of the idea. Environmentalism and the subset climate are at that stage pushed there by extremists like Suzuki. Instead of admitting the science is wrong they double down and make increasingly extreme statements, just like the IPCC. It underscores the political rather than the scientific agenda. For example, Suzuki, apparently frustrated that politicians were not listening to his demands for action on climate change said they should be jailed.
Environmental groups grabbed environmentalism and quickly took the moral high ground preaching that only they cared about the Earth. Suzuki set up the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) with tax benefits that required it to be non-political, but after active involvement in an Ontario election he was forced to resign. His major theme in the election was to push the climate change and alternate energies put in place in that Province when Maurice Strong was in charge of Ontario Hydro, the state controlled energy agency. Ontario is the perfect example of how and why climate energy policies promoted by Strong as Founder of UNEP are a disaster.
Well worth reading and be sure to check out the 100+ comments as well. Reader JMac nailed it:
We need to move away from “Environmentalism”, which is driven by fanaticism and leftist politics, and move back to the concept of “Conservation”, which historically has had a broader appeal to those on the left and right because it is based in stewardship, and balance, and consideration to multiple factors including the needs and quality of life for real people.
It's not just here
The US is in the middle of a horrible cold snap. Iceland is experiencing the same.
From The Reykjavík Grapevine:
Temperatures Drop Below -30°C, Breaking Records
Some parts of Iceland have seen record-low temperatures, but that hasn't stopped tourists from enjoying themselves.
As reported, unusually low temperatures have swept across Iceland over the past two days. While temperatures in the capital got as low as -13°C, MBL reports that the Mývatn area of north Iceland hit a bone-chilling -31°C yesterday.
Meteorologist Trausti Jónsson pointed out that this is the coldest temperatures recorded in Iceland since 8 March 1998, when the mercury dropped to -34°C. In fact, yesterday's temperatures at Mývatn are the lowest recorded temperatures in Iceland for December 6 of any year.
Undaunted by these temperatures, tourists around Mývatn decided to enjoy some outdoor bathing in -31° C temperatures.
“It's fine to show up in this kind of weather. The damned wind is our enemy,” Birgir Steingrímsson, a caretaker for the baths, told reporters. “There was this crappy northwestern blowing and it was snowing ice nails yesterday, but [the cold] is actually the best weather.”
When I backpacked through Iceland, I spent a few days at Lake Mývatn. It was late August and the temps were getting colder. I spent a couple hours one day in a covered lava tube standing in wonderful hot water looking out at the field being covered with snow. Went back to my tent and spent the night with a blizzard depositing about ten inches of snow. High winds — it felt like an ice giant was slapping the walls of the tent. I was snug as a bug and nice and warm. Left a few days later — I had spent two months there and it was time to get home.
The Czar of Muscovy has an excellent analysis of contemporary labor unions and their impact on society. Minimum wage and all that…
From The Ancient & Noble Order of the Gormogons:
All About Unions and Minimum Wage
There are basically three different types of labor unions. There are trade unions, who are the oldest, consisting of your electricians, masons, plumbers, carpenters, and so on. These men and women serve a serious function, and the union provides them training in the best construction techniques, safety, project management, and a whole host of other things that make it pretty easy to tell when a building was built by union trades, and when a building was built by a bunch of twits who taught themselves how to bang nails with a hammer.
The second type of union, which we rail on all the time, is the public sector union. These are your teachers, police, fire, DMV workers, pencil pushers, and break takers who will sue the everloving spook out of you if you ask them to work to 5:01 on a weekday. They might agree to work one weekend a decade if you agree to double their pension. They are, of course, an unskilled bunch of cretins who are an instant and irreversible financial drain on any local, municipal, county, or state government they touch.
The third type, which we do not talk about too much, is the industrial union: this is a grab bag of service sector employees (janitors, farm workers, nuclear power plant workers, nurses, grocery baggers) as well as organized labor unions, which include everything from teamsters, steelworkers, drivers, postal employees, and on and on.
A bit more:
Imagine a world where a union simply says “We had our day. We did our thing. People don’t see the need for us, so we decided to close up the whole thing and go home. Enjoy the higher wages, former members: you don’t owe us any more dues.” Yeah, us neither.
So unions need to drive up membership. And what better way to do it than to convince undereducated younger fools that they deserve higher pay? You know, for just showing up.
A bit more:
The unions will tell you that your boss dreads replacing you. In fact, you can call his bluff at any time because replacing you with a robot will cost him millions of dollars he doesn’t have. Automate your job? What a farce: you know he’ll cough up the do-re-mi.
No, kids: robots are so1970s. It’s almost 2014. For $5,000, he can replace you and all your peers by hiring a coder one time to replace you with an app. Once customers realize they can order cheese and substitute onion rings for fries by tapping on a smartphone icon, you’re smoke. History. If you support a $15/hour living wage, you probably cannot do basic math—so let us help you here. $5,000 is about what you would make during summer vacation at $15 per hour. That’s not much, right? Your protest said as much. Think he’s bluffing now?
So true — these people are leveraging themselves into a world of hurt. Unions are dinosaurs. They did have their function but their time has passed.
'Puter also had this to say a few days ago:
Detroit's Pensioners Screwed Themselves (And So Are All Other Public Pensioners)
Detroit’s public sector unions are squealing like stuck Irish pigs about their pensions being treated as just another unsecured obligation of a bankrupt employer. ‘Puter wrote about bankruptcy judge Steven W. Rhodes’ decision here yesterday.
‘Puter’s written extensively on public sector pension obligations and bankruptcy law. ‘Puter’s always believed public pension benefits are properly treated as unsecured claims in bankruptcy, regardless of any contrary state law. And that’s exactly what Judge Rhodes held as a matter of law. While it’s satisfying to see his longstanding position vindicated, ‘Puter’d rather focus on the incoherence in the unions’ new claims.
Faced with the likelihood union members’ pensions will be crammed down in Detroit’s bankruptcy, unions immediately switched tactics, claiming union pensioners are blameless victims of heartless politicians. Unions are telling anyone who will listen that public workers are hardworking middle class men and women who through no fault of their own have been wrongfully stripped of their meager retirement savings.
Much more at each site. Worth reading.
Some good news regarding the banksters
I have zero problem with capitalism. Crony capitalism is a different matter and needs to be stamped out. There should be no barriers to entry for someone with a good idea and no person or corporation should be allowed a monopoly on their area of business.
Glad to see that there is one branch of this government that feels the same way.
From The Washington Post:
SIGTARP proves that some bankers aren’t too big to jail
A bank executive in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia was sentenced to 23 years in federal prison. Another from Orlando received eight years. In Stockbridge, Ga., a top bank officer is serving 12 years.
At a time when the government is being criticized for not holding senior bank executives liable for crisis-era crimes, a little-known federal agency is compiling a growing list of criminal convictions.
Since 2008, the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program has pursued criminal charges against 107 senior bank officers, most of whom have been sentenced to prison. Created to supervise the government bailout of the auto and financial industries, the agency has found dozens of cases of bank executives who misused bailout funds.
SIGTARP has a staff of 170, a budget of $41 million and an enforcement track record that rivals agencies twice its size. The agency’s work has resulted in $4.7 billion in restitution paid to the government and victims. Lawmakers are holding SIGTARP up as a model and questioning why other agencies are not producing similar results.
More at the site. Nice to know that we have some efficient and effective branches of the Government. Wish we had more of them…