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November 2010 Archives
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Bipartisan group of senators calls for ethanol subsidies to expireVery cool. Let everybody's voice be heard and let them know that we are watching them and listening to them. They are our elected representatives and if they fail to represent us, they will be replaced...
In a clear sign of momentum against ethanol subsidies, a bipartisan group of more than a dozen senators has signed onto a letter urging Senate leaders to let the subsidies expire during this Congress, a move that could put many officials in a tricky political spot and could even have ramifications for the 2012 presidential race.
The letter, which I obtained from a source, was authored by senators Dianne Feinstein and Jon Kyl, and includes a number of Democrats and Republicans, including John McCain, Susan Collins, Richard Burr, and Mike Enzi. This is key, because the question of whether the subsidies should expire is emerging as a key test -- just like earmarks -- of whether Republicans are serious about reining in spending and the deficit.
While this issue could divide Dems along regional lines, it's more directly revelant to the GOP. With leading GOP senators now coming out for letting the subsidies expire, this could up the pressure on Republican senators who backed the subsidies in the past, such as Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch, putting them on the wrong side of what may emerge as a key litmus test for the Tea Party and potentially dividing the GOP caucus.
Steven Rattner Dishes on the Chevrolet VoltYes I know that manufacturing costs will come down once the car is in production but still, that is a hell of a number to deal with. Not the way I would run a company...
Steven L. Rattner, as President Obama�s former auto bailout chief, worked with General Motors as it struggled to find its footing amid a bankruptcy reorganization in 2008. During that time, the company was also developing the Chevrolet Volt, an innovative plug-in hybrid car that is going on sale soon.
In his new book, �Overhaul,� Mr. Rattner, who faces legal troubles unrelated to his work on the auto task force, writes that the Volt, which is priced at $41,000, is costing around $40,000 apiece to build. �At least in the early years, each Volt would cost around $40,000 to manufacture (development costs not included),� he writes.
In an interview a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Rattner said he had learned of the Volt�s costs in the course of due diligence during the G.M. bankruptcy process. �I don�t know the precise number,� he said. G.M. was nonetheless �right to do it,� he added, even in the absence of profit, because the program helped quiet critics �who�ve said for many years that the company was behind the curve.�
The payouts keep happening. The latest is the Pigford II payout to Black farmers. Zombie has a good pr�cis:
Pigford v. Glickman: 86,000 claims from 39,697 total farmers?
If there are only 39,697 African-American farmers grand total in the entire country, then how can over 86,000 of them claim discrimination at the hands of the USDA? Where did the other 46,303 come from?
Now, if you're confused over what the heck I'm even talking about, let's go back to the beginning of the story:
Pigford v. Glickman
In 1997, 400 African-American farmers sued the United States Department of Agriculture, alleging that they had been unfairly denied USDA loans due to racial discrimination during the period 1983 to 1997. The farmers won the case, known as Pigford v. Glickman, and in 1999 the government agreed to pay $50,000 each to any farmer who had been wrongly denied an agricultural loan. By then it had grown into a class action case, and any black farmer who had filed a complaint between 1983 and 1997 would be given at least $50,000 -- not limited to the original 400 plaintiffs. It was estimated at that time that there might be as many as 2,000 beneficiaries granted $50,000 each.
According to the summary of the case linked above:Then on February 23 of this year, the USDA finally consented to pay $1.25 billion to those farmers whose claims had earlier been denied:Originally, claimants were to have filed within 180 days of the consent decree. Late claims were accepted for an additional year afterwards, if they could show extraordinary circumstances that prevented them from filing on time.
Far beyond the anticipated 2,000 affected farmers, 22,505 'Track A' applications were heard and decided upon, of which 13,348 (59%) were approved. US$995 million had been disbursed or credited to the 'Track A' applicants as of January 2009, including US$760 million disbursed as US$50,000 cash awards. Beyond those applications that were heard and decided upon, about 70,000 petitions were filed late and were not allowed to proceed. Some have argued that the notice program was defective, and others blamed the farmers' attorneys for the inadequate notice and overall mismanagement of the settlement agreement. A provision in the 2008 farm bill essentially allowed a re-hearing in civil court for any claimant whose claim had been denied without a decision that had been based on its merits.Seventy-thousand+ applicants in addition to the 16,000 already compensated now means that over 86,000 people are slated to be paid.In the 1999 case Pigford v. Glickman, the USDA agreed to pay 16,000 black farmers $1 billion after a judge held the federal government responsible for the decline in black farmers. Critics argued that more than 70,000 farmers were shut out of the lawsuit. In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley got a law passed to reopen the case, and the settlement talks moved forward.
The $1.25 billion settlement, announced Thursday, comes on top of the money paid out a decade ago. The new agreement would provide cash payments and debt relief to farmers who applied too late to participate in the earlier settlement, The Washington Post reported. Authorities say they are not certain how many farmers might apply this time, but analysts say the number could be higher than 70,000.
Lots more at the site including this little gem:
"A farm collective founded by Shirley Sherrod and her husband that was forced out of business by the discriminatory practices received a $13 million settlement as part of Pigford last year, just before she was hired by the USDA."
Shirley you may remember is the woman who was canned and later rehired when an excerpt of a speech she gave seems to be very racist. It seems that race baiting is not anything new to her. Back to the story. OK -- so you have a perfect example of corruption and "gaming" the system. 86K people applying to redress grievances handed down to black farmers when there are only a bit fewer than 40K black farmers. This is actually fairly old news -- it dates from mid summer of this year. What caught my eye was this post from Publius over at Breitbart's Big Government:
Pigford II Settlement Partially Funded by Cuts to Child Nutrition Programs
Congress is rushing through its lame duck session to finally appropriate funds to pay out claims from the Pigford II settlement. The settlement is meant to clear up claims from black farmers who claim discrimination from USDA and also missed out on the first settlement.
The legislation sets aside $1.5 billion to pay these claims. The legislation also makes cuts in other federal programs to "pay for" the new spending. Among the cuts are $500 million for nutrition programs for women, infants and children.
From the Senate language:Well.Subtitle E-Rescission of Funds From WIC Program
SEC. 841. RESCISSION OF FUNDS FROM WIC PROGRAM.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, of the amounts made available in appropriations Acts to provide grants to States under the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children established by section 17 of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1786), $562,000,000 is rescinded.
The left likes to couch everything they do as for "the children" and the disadvantaged. Okay, so, why cut funds from child nutrition to pay a second round of claims for a lawsuit surrounded by allegations of fraud?
It is simple, really. The left is really about pay-offs to interest groups. If a child nutrition program loses funds, well, that's the price to pay to move money around to a more favored group.
Unemployment out in our part of the county is high -- guessing in the 15% range easily. Most people have to work several jobs just to get by and our store does a lot of WIC sales. People are counting on this program for their nutrition. To take this away from the people who truly need it and hand it to a bunch of scammers is reprehensible to say the least. These "black farmers" are doing more to foster racism than anyone else -- the content of their characters is foul and it stinks badly...
Union Drops Health Coverage for Workers� ChildrenHow about a nice round of: "I told you so" Even more sweet that it is a branch of SEIU
One of the largest union-administered health-insurance funds in New York is dropping coverage for the children of more than 30,000 low-wage home attendants, union officials said. The union blamed financial problems it said were caused by the state�s health department and new national health-insurance requirements.
The fund is administered by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. Union officials said the state compelled the fund to start buying coverage from a third party, which increased premiums by 60%. State health officials denied forcing the union fund to make the switch, saying the fund had been struggling financially even before the switch to third-party coverage.
The fund informed its members late last month that their dependents will no longer be covered as of Jan. 1, 2011. Currently about 6,000 children are covered by the benefit fund, some until age 23.
Wikileaks cables reveal China 'ready to abandon North Korea'Mr. Shit meet Mr. Fan. Time to make a bowl of popcorn and watch things unfold...
China has signalled its readiness to accept Korean reunification and is privately distancing itself from the North Korean regime, according to leaked US embassy cables that reveal senior Beijing figures regard their official ally as a "spoiled child".
News of the Chinese shift comes at a crucial juncture after the North's artillery bombardment of a South Korean island last week that killed four people and led both sides to threaten war. China has refused to condemn the North Korean action. But today Beijing appeared to bow to US pressure to help bring about a diplomatic solution, calling for "emergency consultations" and inviting a senior North Korean official to Beijing.
Nuclear scientist killed in Tehran was Iran's top Stuxnet expertOopsie...
Prof. Majid Shahriari, who died when his car was attacked in North Tehran Monday, Nov. 29, headed the team Iran established for combating the Stuxnet virus rampaging through its nuclear and military networks. His wife was injured. The scientist's death deals a major blow to Iran's herculean efforts to purge its nuclear and military control systems of the destructive worm since it went on the offensive six months ago. Only this month, Stuxnet shut down nuclear enrichment at Natanz for six days from Nov. 16-22 and curtailed an important air defense exercise.
Prof. Shahriari was the Iranian nuclear program's top expert on computer codes and cyber war. Another Iranian nuclear scientist, Prof. Feredoun Abbassi-Davani, and his wife survived a second coordinated attack with serious injuries. He is Dean of Students, a key political post at the university.
StuxnetMuch more of the story at Neanderpundit. My experience was with one system that controlled the HVAC systems for a particularly sensitive room and it would fail at the drop of a hat. Nothing malicious was being done, the software would just crash at least once/month and this was a room with a lot of dedicated servers and ancillary electronics. Thirty minutes after the cooling failed, the temperature was over 80 degrees. A few hours and it was over one hundred and systems were dying. The kicker is that this was in a large building and the HVAC was monitored 24/7 -- the fscking software would not flag an alert, it would just quietly die and not let anyone know about it. Fine during the day as people would notice that it was getting a bit stuffy but not so good at night when I would come in the next morning to find $10K or so of repairs (hard drives and power supplies mostly) waiting for me as well as having to re-schedule the software runs. After a couple months of this, I installed a bunch of temperature sensors tied to a monitor that would email the HVAC people as well as my cell phone whenever it got above 70 degrees. I was there for two more years and still had problems. There were some software and system updates that mitigated a lot of the issues but the initial system was never ever ready for prime-time.
Frank James links to a Hot Air piece about Stuxnet.
I have had a certain amount of personal, firsthand experience with Siemens controls, and I can tell you with some level of confidence, that the sooner Siemens and it�s subsidiaries and everyone who works there are parked, safely rotting away in the 8th circle of hell (they can occupy most of the malebolge) the better this planet is going to be.
With zero exception, every piece of equipment I have ever worked on, serviced, or installed has been a cluster of biblical proportions. All around the world, Siemens has used criminal methods to buy increasing market share and edge out competition. The product is unreliable and second rate, but they have a lock on a couple of key pieces of manufacturing technology that others cannot legally emulate; not that the legality would stop them, should the shoe been on the other foot.
Leslie William Nielsen, OC (February 11, 1926 � November 28, 2010) was a Canadian-American actor and comedian. Nielsen appeared in over 100 films and 1,500 television programs over the span of his career, portraying over 220 characters.A full life and an easy passing. Cannot ask for more. Eight minutes of highlights from his later comedy work:
Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, Nielsen enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and worked as disc jockey before receiving a scholarship to Neighborhood Playhouse. Beginning with a television role in 1948, he quickly expanded to over 50 television appearances two years later. Nielsen appeared in his first films in 1956 and began collecting roles in dramas, westerns, and romance films. Nielsen's lead roles in the science fiction film Forbidden Planet and disaster film The Poseidon Adventure garnered him positive reviews as a serious actor.
Although his acting career crossed a variety of genres in both television and films, Nielsen's deadpan delivery as a doctor in 1980's Airplane! marked a turning point in his career, one that would make him, in the words of film critic Roger Ebert, "the Olivier of spoofs." Nielsen enjoyed further success with The Naked Gun and its sequels, based on a brief television series he starred in. His portrayal of serious characters seemingly oblivious to (and complicit in) their absurd surroundings gave him a reputation as a comedian.
In the last decades of his career, Nielsen appeared in multiple spoof and parody films, many of which met negative critical reviews but performed well in box office and home media releases. Nielsen was recognized with a variety of awards throughout his career and was inducted into both the Canada and Hollywood Walk of Fame. He married four times and had two daughters from his second marriage. On November 28, 2010, Nielsen died in his sleep of complications from pneumonia.
A 'very rare and exciting event' covers the UK in global warmingMore at the site. Even if the climate "scientists" got things right fifty percent of the time, I would give them some pittance of probability but they have been dead wrong more often than not...
A global warming prediction from Climategate central, the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia:That prediction was made ten years ago, in 2000.According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, within a few years winter snowfall will become �a very rare and exciting event�.
�Children just aren�t going to know what snow is,� he said.
Unfortunately for Dr. Viner and the motley CRU, the Internet never forgets and as the UK enters its third straight year of deep cold and early snow with its earliest snowfall in 17 years, the alarmist doom-saying nonsense is exposed for all to see.
Busy day. Jen is off for a long week in Mexico so the peace and quiet will be a delight.
Ran into town to get some outdoor lighting -- after dark, the building is almost invisible from the highway so a bunch of floodlights are in order.
Working with one of the employees to create a Harvest Moon signature hot chocolate. The rounds of testing will be greuling...
Intelligence Doesn�t Grow On TreesCustomer is always right but do not forget that we remember the stories. The names may be changed but the actions (in a small town) are generally identifiable...
Christmas Tree Lot | Maryland, USA
(A couple is price shopping for their tree.)
Customer: �How do you figure out the price of the tree?�
Me: �We count the needles and divide by a thousand.�
Customer: �Well that makes sense.�
Me: �Yeah, it takes a really long time to do each morning.�
Customer: �You�re BSing me, aren�t you?�
Me: �Yes sir, I am.�
John Kerry: Deck my hallsA bit more:
Battle-weary Bay State Democrats are getting squeezed by U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry this Christmas, as the nation�s richest senator puts the arm on cash-strapped party donors to fill his campaign war chest � even though he�s not up for re-election for another four years.
�I think people feel very tapped-out,� said Phil Johnston, former Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman, who is helping to organize Kerry�s Dec. 13 gala. Johnston, who said he is seeing steady ticket sales, still expects a full house.
�It�s a measure of John Kerry�s strength among Democrats that this event should be hugely successful,� he said.
His extravaganza at the Boston Symphony � where tickets range from $75 to $4,800 � could be a tough sell as the party�s rank-and-file struggles through another Christmas in a tough economy.And:
Kerry put up $85,000 in campaign cash to rent the 2,000-seat Boston Symphony, where Boston Pops maestro Keith Lockhart, singer James Taylor and actor-director Ben Affleck are expected to appear.And someone who gets it:
Boston University political professor Thomas Whalen said the extravagant blowout � meant to celebrate Kerry�s 25 years in the Senate and 45 years of public service � could be a turnoff to struggling Bay Staters.The article mentioned that Kerry was worth $239 Million (all Heinz money). This is the same moke who bought a yacht for seven million and skipped out on paying the taxes on it. Ketchup boy is also frustrated that his constituents just do not understand the reality of things.
�The symbolism really works against him, which is typical of Kerry,� Whalen said. �It doesn�t exactly portray him as a man of the people. He could inadvertently tick off a lot of supporters given that a lot of people are going through a tough time.�
The Czar was alarmed this morning when he had great difficulty walking downstairs to breakfast at his dacha in Muscovy. Was something broken? A neurological problem? He mentioned in passing to the Царица with some hesitation, because she tends to get upset over these things.
Good thing we did mention it. �Silly,� she said. �The reason you�re having difficulty walking is right there. Did you even look?� Sheepishly, we glanced down to discover that the Czar had, sometime during the night apparently, rammed his entire foot and lower leg down Harry Reid�s mouth.
That explains the colorful dream we had, too.
Lasting change will come when we start massive drilling of oil from our own resources, then send the meanest son of a gun ambassador to the Saudi Royal Family and tell them they will be held Capitally responsible for each and every future attack, and they'd better recall everybody now. Then sit back and watch the exodus.What he said... John Bolton or Victor Davis Hanson come to mind. Bolton to nail them to the floor where they stand and Hanson to overwhelm them with logic, history and facts.
What a putz -- meet Mohamed Osman Mohamud:
From the New York Times:
Somali-Born Teenager Held in Oregon Bomb Sting
Federal agents in a sting operation arrested a Somali-born teenager just as he tried blowing up a van he believed was loaded with explosives at a crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, authorities said.
The bomb was an elaborate fake supplied by the agents and the public was never in danger, authorities said.
Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested at 5:40 p.m. Friday just after he dialed a cell phone that he thought would set off the blast but instead brought federal agents and police swooping down on him.
Yelling "Allahu Akbar!" � Arabic for "God is great!" � Mohamud tried to kick agents and police after he was taken into custody, according to prosecutors.
"The threat was very real," said Arthur Balizan, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon. "Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale,"
A law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press on Saturday that federal agents began investigating the suspect after receiving a tip from someone who was concerned about the teenager.
The FBI affidavit that outlined the investigation alleges that Mohamud planned the attack for months, at one point mailing bomb components to FBI operatives, whom he believed were assembling the device.
According to the official, Mohamud hatched the plan on his own and without any instruction from a foreign terrorist organization, and he planned the details, including where to park the van for the maximum number of casualties.
A bit more:
Friday, an agent and Mohamud drove to downtown Portland in a white van that carried six 55-gallon drums with detonation cords and plastic caps, but all of them were inert, the complaint states.
So this was no small attempt. The good news is that the people who try this kind of crap are generally morons. The bad news is that we are letting them into our country with little or no screening and we are doing nothing to counteract the wahabbist propaganda; treating each case as a separate incident. Our problems will not stop until we stand up and recognize what we are dealing with...
What a delightful idea. I can imagine the panic in Sacremento...Any law that lets states be bailed out should require them to renounce their state status and revert to being territories, to be reorganised by the federal government as new states. That has the advantage of getting rid of the old, dysfunctional, state government, removing the state and its inhabitants from national influence until they�ve had a chance to learn some wisdom, and being enough of a penalty to make bailouts unattractive to other states.
GM's union recovering after stock sale
General Motors Co.'s recent stock offering was staged to start paying back the government for its $50 billion bailout, but one group made out much better than the taxpayers or other investors: the company's union.
Thanks to a generous share of GM stock obtained in the company's 2009 bankruptcy settlement, the United Auto Workers is well on its way to recouping the billions of dollars GM owed it - putting it far ahead of taxpayers who have recouped only about 30 percent of their investment and further still ahead of investors in the old GM who have received nothing.
The boon for the union fits the pattern established when the White House pushed GM into bankruptcy and steered it through the courts in a way that consistently put the interests of the union ahead of many suppliers, dealers and investors - stakeholders that ordinarily would have fared as well or better under the bankruptcy laws.
"Priority one was serving the interests of the UAW" when the White House's auto task force engineered the bankruptcy, said Glenn Reynolds, an analyst at CreditSights. The stock offering served to show once again how the White House has handsomely rewarded its political allies, he said.
A bit more:
Perhaps the biggest losers are the investors in the old GM. None of the bankrupt company's previous stockholders got any money, while the claims of thousands of investors who purchased the company's bonds are still being kicked around in a Manhattan bankruptcy court.
"It gives outraged flashbacks to the old GM bondholders," who remain mired in the bankruptcy proceedings and are unlikely to recover more than 30 percent of their investments, Mr. Reynolds said.
And one last bit:
UAW President Bob King celebrated the success of the stock offering last week. "We know that for the long-term viability and success of our membership, General Motors has to be successful," he said.
He hinted that the union in the next round of collective bargaining that begins next summer may seek to recoup still more of the concessions it made in bankruptcy, given GM's growing profitability.
Good God. The union 'negotiates' wages and benefits up to an unsustainable level, ratchets down during bankruptcy (instead of being ousted entirely) and then announce that they would ratchet it up again in the next round of 'negotiations'. Talk about being useless...
The Tea Party Movement Gains Traction in the U.K.Very cool - Small Government works for everyone. One of the wonderful things about our country is that the states have so much power. Each state is a laboratory and if an idea works, other states can copy it. Take Texas with tort reform and the ability to shop for insurance -- its health care costs are the lowest in the nation. Take California with an over-reaching government. Business are fleeing and the state is close to being bankrupt. Having Governor Moonbeam in office will tip it over the edge.
The Tea Party movement's recent electoral gains have gotten international attention, including in the mother country whose taxes inspired the first Tea Party -- the United Kingdom.
A new rebellion against big government and high taxes is resonating in Ye Olde England.
"Ideas around limited government, absolutely, there's lots of people in Britain who share those as well." says Matthew Sinclair of the Taxpayers' Alliance. The group -- formed in 2004, naturally calling for lower taxes -- is one of the largest in Britain with a Tea Party slant. It boasts some 60,000 supporters.
The group organized workshops this past fall with FreedomWorks and other American Tea Party support groups. "We're always trying to learn how to campaign better. We're always trying to learn if there are policy initiatives in the states which have succeeded," Sinclair explains.
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4TH AMENDMENT UNDERCLOTHESShirts are $45 each but metalic ink is expensive. Just for reference:
Now there's a way to protest those intrusive TSA X-ray scanners without saying a word.
4th Amendment Metallic ink-printed undershirts and underwear.
Assert your rights without saying a word.
Fifty four words and clear as a bell. You will not do this.The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
From her Facebook page:
A Thanksgiving Message to All 57 States
My fellow Americans in all 57 states, the time has changed for come. With our country founded more than 20 centuries ago, we have much to celebrate - from the FBI's 100 days to the reforms that bring greater inefficiencies to our health care system. We know that countries like Europe are willing to stand with us in our fight to halt the rise of privacy, and Israel is a strong friend of Israel's. And let's face it, everybody knows that it makes no sense that you send a kid to the emergency room for a treatable illness like asthma and they end up taking up a hospital bed. It costs, when, if you, they just gave, you gave them treatment early, and they got some treatment, and ah, a breathalyzer, or an inhalator. I mean, not a breathalyzer, ah, I don't know what the term is in Austrian for that."
Of course, the paragraph above is based on a series of misstatements and verbal gaffes made by Barack Obama (I didn't have enough time to do one for Joe Biden). YouTube links are provided just in case you doubt the accuracy of these all too human slips-of-the-tongue. If you can't remember hearing about them, that's because for the most part the media didn't consider them newsworthy. I have no complaint about that. Everybody makes the occasional verbal gaffe - even news anchors.
Obviously, I would have been even more impressed if the media showed some consistency on this issue. Unfortunately, it seems they couldn't resist the temptation to turn a simple one word slip-of-the-tongue of mine into a major political headline. The one word slip occurred yesterday during one of my seven back-to-back interviews wherein I was privileged to speak to the American public about the important, world-changing issues before us.
If the media had bothered to actually listen to all of my remarks on Glenn Beck's radio show, they would have noticed that I refer to South Korea as our ally throughout, that I corrected myself seconds after my slip-of-the-tongue, and that I made it abundantly clear that pressure should be put on China to restrict energy exports to the North Korean regime. The media could even have done due diligence and checked my previous statements on the subject, which have always been consistent, and in fact even ahead of the curve. But why let the facts get in the way of a good story? (And for that matter, why not just make up stories out of thin air - like the totally false hard news story which has run for three days now reporting that I lobbied the producers of "Dancing with the Stars" to cast a former Senate candidate on their show. That lie is further clear proof that the media completely makes things up without doing even rudimentary fact-checking.)
"Hope springs eternal" as the poet says. Let's hope that perhaps, just maybe, they might get it right next time. When we the people are effective in holding America's free press accountable for responsible and truthful reporting, then we shall all have even more to be thankful for!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
-- Sarah Palin
Heh. That is going to leave a mark...
Great article at the New York Times about the last blacksmith on Blacksmith Street in Hanoi:
A Lone Blacksmith, Where Hammers Rang
He is the last blacksmith on Blacksmith Street, dark with soot, his arms dappled with burns, sweating and hammering at his little roadside forge as a new world courses past him.
The son and grandson of blacksmiths, Nguyen Phuong Hung grew up when the street still rang with the sounds of the smithies, producing farm equipment, horseshoes and hand tools, before modern commerce and industrial production made them obsolete.
"I still remember, when it was raining lightly, the streets were empty and that was all you could hear was the sounds of the hammers", said Mr. Hung, 49. "It created a special atmosphere for blacksmiths. Every shop had a fire going. All you could hear was the hammers."
That seems a very long time ago in this city rushing ahead into the future, buzzing with motorcycles and business. The sound of Mr. Hung's hammer and anvil are a small echo of a less hurried past.
The other smithies nearby have been replaced by clothing shops, a cosmetics boutique, a bank, welding shops and two showrooms selling jade carvings.
The men who worked there left for lighter, better-paying work, and because the word was out that no modern woman would marry a blacksmith, Mr. Hung said. There may be other blacksmiths working in Vietnam, he said, but not here in the capital.
"Now it's only me," he said, forging heavy iron goods like crowbars, hammer heads, files and drill bits. "I'm proud to be the last one. I'm unique, like if I speak an African language. Just a few people know it and you are special."
He has not passed on the family trade to his son, who is in college and who in any case does not have what Mr. Hung calls the sensitive hands of a blacksmith. His daughter is in college too, and cannot even recognize a forge and bellows.
"Once I am gone the street will have no meaning anymore," he said. "Blacksmith Street will be only a name."
Odd that the people of Hanoi have not picked up on artisanal iron. There is some gorgeous work being done all over the world.
UK WEATHER: NINE PENSIONERS DIE FROM THE COLD IN UK EVERY HOURAhhhh, the manifest joys of socialism -- all of the money is spent on the government and there is a pittance remaining for the citizens. Petroleum is bad so we need to tax it. Heating oil subsidies? No. Subsidies for any kind of alt.energy? How much do you want and with zero accountability to see that costs are accurately reported.
The number of deaths linked to the cold between December and March reached 25,400 in England and Wales, with another 2,760 in Scotland.
The figures are equivalent to nine deaths every hour.
The total gave Britain the highest winter death rate in northern Europe, worse than much colder countries such as Finland and Sweden.
There are fears the death toll could increase this year following energy price rises which may frighten elderly people into not turning on their heating.
Michelle Mitchell, of Age UK, said: �It�s unacceptable that tens of thousands more older people die in this country every winter from the effects of the cold weather. The fact that the UK has one of the highest winter mortality rates in Europe makes it clear this is very much a home-grown problem.
�Behind these statistics lie deep-seated social issues, such as one in three over-60s living in houses which fail the �decent home� standard.�
China's Guizhou proposes $11.3 Bln coal-to-oil plantThe article doesn't say what the technology is but converting coal to high-grade gasoline has been available since the 1920's More: Fischer�Tropsch process
Southwestern China's Guizhou province has proposed a 5 million tonnes-per-year coal-to-oil project after China's home-grown indirect coal liquefication technology was endorsed by the National Energy Administration.
Officials with the administration agreed to include the project in China's energy development plan for the five years ending 2015, the Guizhou Development and Reform Commission said in a report on its website.
The domestic indirect coal-to-oil technology, hatched by the Institute of Coal Chemistry under Chinese Academy of Sciences, has been applied in three pilot projects and one of them, a 160,000 tonnes-per-year plant Yitai in Inner Mongolia, passed NEA's examination in July, the report said.
The 75 billion yuan project proposed by Guizhou will adopt the technology.
State-owned Shenhua Group Corp, China's largest coal miner and parent of China Shenhua Energy Co Ltd , has started trial operation of a 1.08 million tpy coal-to-oil plant which is based on a direct coal-to-liquids technology.
Shenhua's proposed joint venture with South Africa's Sasol in Ningxia region, which would adopt the latter's indirect coal-to-liquids technology, has yet to be approved by Chinese government.
Peak energy? What peak energy?There are over 1,070 comments so James definitely struck a nerve. Spot on...
One of the other lies told by Watermelons � when they�re not bleating about the fast-fading �crisis� of �Man-Made Global Warming� � is that the earth is fast running out of scarce resources. �Even if AGW isn�t quite as true as we pretended it was a few years ago, that�s still no excuse for not taking radical action to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,� they claim.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation (Happy anniversary, GWPF!) has collated several pieces which offer a helpful counter to this hackneyed, and too often unquestioned, eco-fascist narrative.
Here�s the New York Times: (And would Pravda lie to you about a story so very much counter to its preferred ecotard narrative?)Here�s CBS on the vast reserves of natural gas now being extracted from shale:Just as it seemed that the world was running on fumes, giant oil fields were discovered off the coasts of Brazil and Africa, and Canadian oil sands projects expanded so fast, they now provide North America with more oil than Saudi Arabia. In addition, the United States has increased domestic oil production for the first time in a generation.
Meanwhile, another wave of natural gas drilling has taken off in shale rock fields across the United States, and more shale gas drilling is just beginning in Europe and Asia. Add to that an increase in liquefied natural gas export terminals around the world that connected gas, which once had to be flared off, to the world market, and gas prices have plummeted.
Energy experts now predict decades of residential and commercial power at reasonable prices. Simply put, the world of energy has once again been turned upside down.Does any of this sound to you like evidence that the world is facing the kind of energy crisis which can only be solved by concerted government intervention?�In the last few years, we�ve discovered the equivalent of two Saudi Arabias of oil in the form of natural gas in the United States. Not one, but two,� Aubrey McClendon, the CEO of Chesapeake Energy, told �60 Minutes� correspondent Lesley Stahl.
�Wait, we have twice as much natural gas in this country, is that what you�re saying, than they have oil in Saudi Arabia?� Stahl asked. �I�m trying to very clearly say exactly that,� he replied.
Me neither. One of my many beefs with the green movement is its wilful economic illiteracy. I say �wilful� because I can see no other explanation � except, possibly, arrant stupidity � for the way it so determinedly avoids all the lessons of history which show how infinitely adaptable man is and always has been in the face of �scarce resources.�
Man did not stop building wooden ships because of a shortage of trees. He stopped because he had developed the technology to build ships made of steel instead.
A Warning About Climate Change From a Departing RepublicanEmphases mine. "dwindling number of House Republicans" -- yes, these are known as RINOs: Republicans In Name Only. Good riddance. As for economic opportunities -- Spain poured a lot of money down the green energy rat-hole and the end result is that for every "green job" created, another 2.2 conventional jobs will be lost. <--This link goes to a very complete 53 page report (PDF) with all the source materials. Some chilling reading when you remember that the USA is heading down the same rat-hole with little or no reading of history...
An outgoing Republican congressman used a House science and environment subcommittee hearing this week as an opportunity to chide his party for its growing skepticism about the threat of global warming and to warn of missed economic opportunities in clean energy development if climate change is ignored.
Bob Inglis of South Carolina lost in a primary to a Tea Party-backed opponent after serving six terms in the House. He was one of a dwindling number of House Republicans who have publicly called for action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, although he did not vote in favor of the Democrats� 2009 cap-and-trade bill.
Great cartoon -- click to embiggen:
Swiped from the awesome Miss Cellania
I spent about fifteen years in my yoot studying keyboard and my favorite composer was Johann Sebastian Bach.
When I was in my teens, I wanted to build pipe organs and actually built one in the basement of my house using scavenged parts from churches that were converting over to "modern" electronic organs.
James Kibbie is one of the better Bach specialists out there and he has recorded all of his 270 organ works. Thanks to generous help from a Foundation and from Kibbie's University of Michigan (he teaches there), all these works are available for free download as 256kbps AAC files.
An amazing trove of music... Still, the klavier concertos are my favorite, especially 1056.
A HEATBALL EMERGENCYEURO regulation 244/09 mandates that it is forbidden to offer for sale traditional incandescent light bulbs sixty watts or greater. Compact Fluorescent bulbs must be used. Hat tip to Lubo� Motl at The Reference Frame for the link.
The local Government in Cologne declared on the 17th of November.
Customs held back 40.000 so called heatballs from China at Cologne-Bonn Airport. Strictly speaking customs discontinued the 'license for free trade', that is the technical term according to the EURO regulation. It means that the merchandise is held back until the matter is clarified . It needs to be clarified whether the heatballs fall under the ban of the EURO regulation 244/09.
It is well known certain light bulbs must not be marketed in the EURO. The goods could be such merchandise. Depending on the result of the clarification it will be decided what will happen to the shipment. The technical inspection will be done by the designated body as described in the regulation for energy driven products, ordered by the local Government. The named body is the association of German Electrical Engineers (VDE). Afterwards an additional juridical assessment will be done by the local Government. (The local government has public authority to survey the market)
The question of what happens to the merchandise therefore cannot finally be answered by the local Government.
What Al Gore's ethanol admission really tells usFscking hypocrite. And people still vote for the moron.
Al Gore, the man who for decades has proudly bragged of saving ethanol as a renewable fuel for the future has finally admitted he was wrong:That�s a plain admission that political considerations, not a will to �save the planet�, drove Gore to support a disastrous and costly corn ethanol problem. Remember that Al Gore saved corn ethanol with a tie-breaker vote in the US Senate in 1994, even though he knew it was worse for the environment than regular gas. He owns this in a way that no-one else does, and now he has admitted what motivated his vote.�It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol,� Reuters quoted Gore saying of the U.S. policy that is about to come up for congressional review. �First-generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.
"One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president"
Al has admitted that politics drove his support for corn ethanol, so what can we suppose motivates him to push the global warming hoax today? Is it power, publicity, politics, or profit? One thing we can be sure about, Gore�s personal carbon footprint proves that whatever motivates him, it�s not concern for the planet.
Does Bulgaria scare the hell out of you?People who would smuggle this kind of crap will find themselves in a very interesting circle of hell when they kick the bucket on this level. You know that your actions will only have terrible consequences.
The National Nuclear Security Administration today announced that the agency had commissioned some mobile radiation-detection equipment that will be deployed "throughout" Bulgaria to prevent the smuggling of nuclear materials. The project was carried out with the cooperation of Bulgaria's Ministry of Interior.
In a statement, NNSA deputy administrator Anne Harrington said, "Working with our partners in Bulgaria and around the world to deploy fixed and mobile radiation detection equipment is critical to our shared effort to prevent nuclear terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. By locking down nuclear materials and preventing terrorists or would-be proliferators from smuggling them across international borders, we are working to implement President Obama's unprecedented nuclear security agenda while promoting peace and security around the world."
Yale to return Peruvian artifactsThey could have just returned the artifacts. The fact that they are working with (ie: funding and organizing) the University of Cusco to establish the Museum is beyond the call of duty. Very nice... Bingham did a lot of the seminal work on the Incas and the fact that he took these artifacts meant that they have been preserved for future generations of Peruvian citizens to enjoy as their heritage. Had they been left in situ, they could have been stolen by artifact 'collectors' or just weathered away to nothing or, worse, used as building rubble for the walls of a house. The Science of Archeology is a very new one and Hiram Bingham was one of its founders.
Yale and Peru are formalizing an agreement to return Inca artifacts found by Hiram Bingham III 1898 to Peru, according to a statement released Sunday night by the Yale Office of Public Affairs and Communications.
The relics will all ultimately be returned to Peru, University President Richard Levin said in a Saturday interview. They will be returned over the next two years, with those most suitable for museum display being returned in time for the centenary of Bingham's scientific discovery of Machu Picchu in July 2011, the statement said.
The artifacts will be housed at the University of Cusco, where research will continue on the collection, the statement said. Once an agreement with the University of Cusco is finalized, the statement said, Yale will work jointly with the University of Cusco to establish a museum and research center for the artifacts.
"This collaboration will ensure that Yale's values in conserving the collection, studying the material and disseminating new knowledge will be extended in a new phase, and in a spirit of friendship with the people of Cusco and the nation of Peru," the statement said.
Freeze Coming to California Orange GrovesFrom P Gosselin's No Tricks Zone:
The stormy, snowy weather pattern underway in the West will culminate with a mid- to late-week freeze over California's San Joaquin Valley, home to many orange groves.
Temperatures over the lower part of the valley, where most of the groves are located, will dip into the middle 20s at the core of the cold air.
The cold will challenge record low temperatures in the region which are generally in the upper 20s to near 30 degrees. Lows this time of the year tend to average near 40 degrees.
Extreme Cold To Grip Europe. Forecast -38�C in Switzerland�Will Be Even Colder Later�Pattern Not Seen in 70 Years.Got about five cords of wood laid in last summer so we should be set -- it only gets really brutal for a month or two; then just cold, dreary and wet.
Computers have been forecasting a wicked cold winter for Europe this year. Looks like it�s shaping up to be just that.
Later this week a blast of Arctic air is set to sweep across northern and central Europe, as a huge high pressure zone off in the Atlantic combined with low pressure system Gundula to east over the Baltic pump frigid air over the continent.
One meteorologist says such a weather pattern was last seen 70 years ago.
Calif: No common cause for birth defects near dumpHmmm... Diesel trucks - nope. High-tension powerlines - abject bullshit and bad science -- the cancers were caused by the herbicides sprayed under the towers. Pesticides and Fertilizers - nope -- too many other ag workers use these and have minimal problems. Contaminated ground water - BINGO! Source? I'll let you be the judge of that. It is funny how a state so over it's head with environmental regulation will sweep something like this under the rug if a big business wants to expand its operations. Isn't that a little bit hypocritical?
California health officials said Monday they found no common cause for birth defects plaguing infants in an impoverished San Joaquin Valley farm town where residents are battling plans to expand the state's largest hazardous-waste landfill.
While officials said the recent rate of birth defects in Kettleman City was higher than what would be expected, the state investigation found no common factor to explain nearly a dozen cases of children born with cleft palates and other birth abnormalities.
"We wish there was an explanation for what caused the birth defects experienced by the children we studied," said Mark Horton, California Department of Public Health Director. "Our investigation finds that no common health or environmental factor links the cases."
Officials reviewed the cases of 11 children born with major birth defects since March 2007, as well as air, soil and water in the community and at the nearby Chemical Waste Management Inc. landfill.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the department and the California Environmental Protection Agency to investigate in February. The draft report was released Monday and is open to public comment.
The landfill is near the community of 1,500 people along Interstate 5, the main artery linking Northern and Southern California.
Every day, thousands of diesel trucks pass by Kettleman City on the highway. In addition, the town is bisected by high-tension power lines, and many residents work in nearby fields sprayed with pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
It is November and this is the season for high winds and seriously cold weather. Temps are in the teens and the wind is gusting to 50mph. A great recipe for power outages and blocked roads as the trees are a lot more brittle with the freezing.
I was in Costco and because my truck is so long, I park in a remote place on the property. The main lot was OK but out in the boonies, it was a sheet of ice. Shopping carts were sailing past.
Tomorrow should be interesting -- the owners of the Bakery are coming up for a visit. The wife is hearing things from friends and family members (I have her Mom and Sister baking for us) and is feeling jealous and saying that she is coming up to "straighten things out" Excuse me? We all signed a Management Agreement that dictates that I have the sole authority over day to day operation of the store and it is my decision as to who gets hired and fired, not hers, not her husbands.
Looking up the term Drama Queen will yield a photo of this person so tomorrow should be interesting to say the least. I observed a lot of this crap from the sidelines but will have to deal with it head-on tomorrow. What this person doesn't know is that I am a full-blood Scorpio. It takes a lot to get me angry but when I do, I can be laser-like in my focus. I have no qualms about destroying someones sense of well-being if that is called for. Pity the fool...
U.S. in Vast Insider Trading ProbeAnd of course:
Federal authorities, capping a three-year investigation, are preparing insider-trading charges that could ensnare consultants, investment bankers, hedge-fund and mutual-fund traders, and analysts across the nation, according to people familiar with the matter.
The criminal and civil probes, which authorities say could eclipse the impact on the financial industry of any previous such investigation, are examining whether multiple insider-trading rings reaped illegal profits totaling tens of millions of dollars, the people say. Some charges could be brought before year-end, they say.
In another aspect of the probes, prosecutors and regulators are examining whether Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bankers leaked information about transactions, including health-care mergers, in ways that benefited certain investors, the people say. Goldman declined to comment.250+ comments...
Culver OKs state pay raisesA bit more:
Gov. Chet Culver's administration agreed Friday to offer pay increases for state employees that will cost taxpayers more than $200 million, despite Republican requests that the decisions be delayed until Terry Branstad becomes governor in January.
A Branstad spokesman called the deal "reckless," and House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen said it would likely lead to layoffs.
But Culver defended the decision, noting that most state employees took at least five unpaid days in the past year along with suspension of employer deferred compensation contributions.
Union members will formally meet to accept or reject the state's offer later this month, but Danny Homan, president of Council 61 for AFSCME, said: "In my mind, this is done."And it's not just AFSCME:
The wage hike plan would give members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, better known as AFSCME, two raises in each of the next two fiscal years.
Negotiations with the state's two other unions - the State Police Officers Council, and the Iowa United Professionals and United Electrical Workers, Science United and Professional Services Unit - are continuing.And the website didn't report it but Gov. Chet Culver places a 'D' by his name. If it was a Republican to do this, the censure in the media would be nationwide...
Security and Terrorism Expert Bruce Schneier: TSA Scans "Won't Catch Anybody"The top level management of the TSA is populated with morons. They have no grasp of what they need to be looking for and their "ideas" are based on the previous attacks. Richard Reid tried to detonate his shoes back in 2001 and if I book a flight tomorrow, I will still have to take my shoes off for inspection. The nutless wonder Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab burned his manhood off trying to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 back in 2009 and I bet we will be having our genital areas searched in one way or another for the next ten years. Given fifteen minutes, I can come up with ten solid ways to sneak an explosive package on board an airline flight. Was talking to some people Friday night about this. There is real security and there is this charade that passes for security -- yet another well run government operation. We are heading down to Jen's family in California for Christmas. We are driving. Given the cost of lodging in San Francisco, the rental car, the airline flight, it makes sense to spend the two days each way driving the Ford Truck..
Since 9/11, cryptology expert and security consultant Bruce Schneier has been one of the most pointed critics of the government's anti-terrorism security programs. In his 2003 book "Beyond Fear," he coined the phrase "security theater" to refer to measures which are undertaken not because they will be effective at thwarting attacks, but because the agencies carrying them out need to appear to be doing something useful. We spoke to Schneier about the recent controversy involving the Transport Security Agency's use of invasive scanners and full-body pat-downs.
Q -- What is really being seen by these machines?
A -- Bruce Schneier: In theory, it sees stuff that isn't part of the body. So if you've got a stapler in your pocket, it will show up. The thought is that it will see stuff that a metal detector won't detect, like a ceramic knife. But this doesn't seem to be borne out by reality.
Q -- The machines have shown up in the wake of the so-called underwear bomber, who tried to blow up a plane with chemicals stored in his briefs. Would this technology have stopped him?
A -- The guys who make the machines have said, "We wouldn't have caught that."
Q -- So what kind of attack will this prevent, that otherwise might be successful?
A -- There are two kinds of hijackers. There's the lone nutcase, like someone who will bring a gun onto a plane because, dammit, they're going to take the whole plane down with them. Any pre-9-11 airport security would catch a person like that.
The second kind is the well-planned, well-financed Al Qaeda-like plot. And nothing can be done to stop someone like that.
Bernanke Takes Aim at China"keeping their currencies artificially weak" -- gimme a break. What the hell is Quantitative Easing if not introducing a measured amount of inflation into the economy, thereby weakening the Dollar. This causes a short-term reduction in national debt and gets the interest rate up a little bit but it plays hell on international trade in both directions. The ultimate result is increased pain for the consumer... OK for us to do but nobody else should try this.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke fired back amid criticism at home and abroad of the Fed's easy-money policies, arguing that China and others are causing global problems by preventing their currencies from strengthening as their economies boom.
By keeping their currencies artificially weak, Mr. Bernanke argued in Frankfurt Friday, China and other emerging markets are allowing their economies to overheat, preventing trade imbalances from adjusting and worsening what he called a "two-speed" global recovery.
Their "strategy of currency undervaluation" is preventing more "balanced and sustainable" global growth, he warns, echoing a view expressed by Obama Administration officials.
A Vegan No MoreOne person who comes into the bakery ordered and was served an item that the counter person thought was vegan but was actually contained a substantial quantity of egg. This person wolfed down the item and said that he felt really really good and that we were making some awesome vegan food. The standing comment in the kitchen is that someone needs to tie xxx down and feed them some bacon.
When the doctor first told me that I had numerous vitamin and mineral deficiencies, that I was almost anemic, and my B12 was so low she wanted to give me an injection immediately, I refused to believe her. I actually asked her to show me the blood test results because I thought there had to be some sort of mistake. But there was no mistake, it was right there in black and white; deficiencies and abnormalities across the board.
The results explained perfectly why I had been feeling weak and exhausted for more than 6 months. Whereas I had previously lived for working out and even an hour on the elliptical wasn�t enough for me, lately doing more than 20 minutes at a leisurely pace caused me to yearn to spend the rest of the day in bed recuperating. When I could I slept till noon, I felt lightheaded when I stood up, I couldn�t remember simple words or the names of my friends, and I was freezing cold even in the midst of a sweltering Saudi summer. Of the myriad symptoms I�ve listed here and the ones I will not be describing publicly, the absolute worst of all was my depression. This awful, lifelong foe I�ve been battling on and off was sneaking back into my life, painting the edges of my world a sickening black and stealing the joy that I had fought so desperately to regain.
The doctor, who was kind and very understanding, was surprisingly knowledgeable about vegan diets and had a career long specialization in nutrition. After ruling out any other possible medical condition, she patiently spoke over my tears and my hitching sobs and explained that yes, humans are healthiest when eating a large amount of varied plant foods, but that we would be wrong to ignore the small amounts of animal products that many of us so essentially need. �Most human bodies run optimally on the occasional animal product. Eggs and bits of meat every so often are small but very important parts of a healthy diet.� she said, a look of sorrow on her face. She could see how hard this was for me.
Caution: Mandarin at WorkOnly issue I can see would be with uncombined binary and trinary explosives. Add a gaseous mass-spec and a few ounces of plastique and none would be the wiser. Pour encourager les autres and all that...
We received this email in regards to airport screening:The Mandarin rushed to his lab shortly after reading this...stand by.Here's a solution to all of the controversy over the full-body scanners now being introduced at major airports.
What is needed is a reinforced booth that you can step into that will not X-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device that you may have on you. It would be a win-win for everyone - there would be none of this crap about racial profiling and this method would eliminate a long and expensive trial. Justice would be quick and swift. Case closed! This is so simple that it's brilliant.
I can see it now: you're in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion. Shortly thereafter an announcement comes over the PA system, "Attention standby passengers, we now have a seat available on flight number..."
Alta McClellan, Hardware Sales Owner Has DiedHardware Sales website is here. This place is awesome. When I first moved to the area about six years ago, I went in there and spent several hours wandering through the aisles. If they do not have it, you do not need it. Here is their 'about' page. Quite the story.
While some things will likely never change at Bellingham�s Hardware Sales, others can�t last forever.
The co-founder and matriarch of the James Street store has died.
Alta McClellan passed away yesterday morning at the age of 94.
Alta and her husband Max purchased what later became Hardware Sales in 1962.
Doug Close, a longtime employee says Alta was first at the store and one of the last to go home, six days a week. She was even known to go into work on Sundays, the only day Hardware Sales was closed to buisiness.
Her son, daughter, and grandson continue to run the family business.
In 2007, Alta was named Professional Woman of the Year.
A year earlier, former Bellingham Mayor Mark Asmundson proclaimed Alta's 90th birthday, "Alta McClellan Day".
Some Average Investors May Be Shut Out of GM's IPOSecond, from Manufacturing.net:
Just two years after a taxpayer bailout salvaged General Motors, some of the nation's largest retail brokerage firms are apparently being shut out of what is poised to be a lucrative investment opportunity as the auto company goes public.
Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and E*Trade are not accepting client orders for GM shares at the moment because they do not expect to receive stock allocations when the company goes public next week, according to investors and brokerage-firm employees.
Other big retail brokerages, such as Morgan Stanley, are expected to get shares, however, as are big institutional investors and hedge funds.
"TD Ameritrade will not be participating in the GM IPO offering, as we have been informed that we will not receive an allocation of shares," said a company spokeswoman in an e-mailed statement. "We have several relationships with various underwriting firms for various products, and in this case the underwriting firm is not allocating shares for this offering."
Schwab has taken a similar position, according to a source there and an investor who sought GM shares. And with just a few days before GM shares are expected to price on the evening of Nov. 17, a notice posted on E*Trade's investor web site states that there are no "current offerings" of IPOs available to customers at this time.
The lack of available shares is a disappointment to some potential retail investors, who are frustrated that, after federal TARP funds helped a struggling GM in the depths of the financial recession, they may not be able to participate in what is expected to be a good money-making opportunity.
"I really like the GM IPO, I think it's going to do well," says Anand Marphatia, a 51-year old father of two who in Houston who lost his job in the recession and now invests using a Schwab account. He says his requests to Schwab for GM shares have been rebuffed: "I'd like to get in, and I can't."
China To Take Part In GM IPOSo not only is China holding large amounts of our national debt, they are now purchasing significant parts of our industries. This is not a good thing...
Among the banks helping General Motors with its initial public stock offering next week are two identified by initials only: ICBC and CICC.
Americans uncomfortable with U.S. government ownership of General Motors may want to hear more: One of those banks is the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, one of China's four big central government banks. The other, China International Capital Corp., is a joint venture run primarily by Central Huijin Investment Ltd., an arm of the state, and Morgan Stanley.
This is the first time Chinese government banks have participated in a major U.S.-issued IPO, according to IPO tracking firm Dealogic. The banks are listed as co-managers in the offering, meaning they will sell a portion of the new shares.
ARGH. Just went back to check on synthetic production. Apparently - I have no memory of this at all - we're not doing observed rain days! It's all synthetic from 1990 onwards. So I'm going to need conditionals in the update program to handle that. And separate gridding before 1989. And what TF happens to station counts?Jeff Id was one of the people who broke the story and he posted a nice long anniversary retrospective at the Air Vent:
OH FUCK THIS. It's Sunday evening, I've worked all weekend, and just when I thought it was done I'm hitting yet another problem that's based on the hopeless state of our databases. There is no uniform data integrity, it's just a catalogue of issues that continues to grow as they're found.
Climategate, a year of comedy.Much more and lots of links at the site...
It has been almost a year now since the UEA emails known as climategate were revealed. What has followed has been a year of hilarity as one scandal after another followed. Just think about how funny it was when Pachuri (head of the IPCC) published his sex book, Mann publishing one self exonerating editorial after another all to try and prevent Cuccinelli from getting the other 12,000 emails publicly released. Just how did the IPCC accidentally transpose the time when the Himalayan glaciers would vanish from 2350 to 2035 and fail to change it when notified (don�t worry the glaciers will be there in 2350 and in 2035 becaus these guys don�t really know). �Scientific�Applause for Chavez�s hitleresque anti-capitalist rant in Copenhagen! hahaha. I�ve been laughing almost daily as these guys trip over themselves trying to make the case for global CO2 governance. The politicians are starting to realize that the whole topic is poison for their careers and if nothing else, climategate has had the fortunate effect of at least slowing the implementation of stupidity.
Green energy which costs you more to �create� jobs. How insane a world, and how funny when the politicians realize they can�t push that lie on the public. Nobody in America believes that anymore, well at least not as many.
Climategate taught different people different lessons though. Instead of journals opening up and allowing the reasonable moderate AGW science to be published, they tightened their unofficial policies forcing the non-anointed to go through endless reviews before rejection. Countless hours are spent by those who would publish moderate work in the face of extremist AGW claims. But it is funny!! Apparently climate science believes humans can control not only the planetary temperature but the laws of physics as well! A year of laughter is what it was, ships that pump moisture into the air to make clouds and �cool the planet�, the US military asked about what effort�s they are making to insure that the WAR is emitting less CO2. I even recently had a conversation with a scientist about the CO2 emission of photovoltaic cells!!!
While I am pleased with the Air Vent�s role in expanding climate discussion beyond the sheltered walls of government and university hallways, we need to remember that some individual/s took a great risk to release those emails. They get the credit for an event which changed the political future of the world but it is a lonely credit as nobody can know who they are. The lesser role of climate blogs was to provide both the indirect impetus for action and a necessary outlet for the emails to be presented to the public in raw form and then put into context. I hope those involved in the actual release are wise enough to continue not discussing their own roles in the release as I�m sure plenty of people are still hunting them down, waiting for a clue to surface. After a year, the discussion as to what the emails meant continues, so much so that even the word climategate has become widely known.
The paper trail was damningIt will be interesting to see if he gets expelled. There certainly is enough justification.
Rep. Charles Rangel's ethics case is filled with suggestions of "pay to play," with the Harlem Democrat personally hitting up corporate execs for big contributions for a self-named CCNY center -- even as their firms lobbied him on tax and trade law, internal company documents show.
The honchos themselves weren't always sure whether to favor a powerful ally with a donation or to steer clear of gifts that might not smell right, according to records obtained by the House ethics committee.
The extensive paper trail reveals the extraordinary intertwining of Rangel's search for private funds for his center and legislative matters -- one of the misconduct charges on which he was found guilty yesterday.
In one of the most striking examples, New York Life lobbyist George Nichols wrote another company exec:Another internal e-mail from the company gives a list of issues that Sternberg raised in a meeting with Rangel in March 2007."Thanks for discussing the Rangel Center with Sy [Sternberg, the company CEO]. I think we should do something for Rangel for reasons stated by [company exec] Sheila [Davidson]. Additionally, Rangel has been a friend of the company for 25+ years and yes we have contributed to his political causes. But, we also have benefited from his position, policy decisions and legislation."
Mr. Soros even went so far as to say that at times China wields more power than the U.S. because of the political gridlock in Washington. �Today China has not only a more vigorous economy, but actually a better functioning government than the United States,� he said, a hard statement for him to make because he spent much of his life donating to anti-communist groups in Eastern Europe.Mr. Soros is confusing totalitarianism with efficiency. He is an idiot savant -- very clever with money but an idiot when it comes to social interactions.
Low-tax states will gain seats, high-tax states will lose themThis is not rocket science -- people that can afford to move will when given an economic incentive. This can be seen in the relative prices to rent a 10' U-Haul truck:
Migration from high-tax states to states with lower taxes and less government spending will dramatically alter the composition of future Congresses, according to a study by Americans for Tax Reform.
Eight states are projected to gain at least one congressional seat under reapportionment following the 2010 Census: Texas (four seats), Florida (two seats), Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington (one seat each). Their average top state personal income tax rate: 2.8 percent.
By contrast, New York and Ohio are likely to lose two seats each, while Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania will be down one apiece. The average top state personal income tax rate in these loser states: 6.05 percent.
Make sure to swallow and set your drink down before clicking on this link and reading the entire story. Just an excerpt:
My father's only love is the piano. My mother once complained that he spent more time at the piano than with her, and she was going to leave him if he didn't get off that infernal thing and watch Lucy with her on the tee-vee. Without a word, he went into the bedroom, packed her bags, left them in the hallway and went back to practicing. She never complained about it again.
By day he sold pianos at the French Market in Kansas City, at least, he made a valiant effort. By night he played in mob-owned strip clubs. His desire to be Sarah Vaughan's accompanist was never realized -- his brush with fleeting fame at that time was posing in a photograph with Lawrence Welk.
He wasn't a very good salesman. He'd start his spiel by offering the customer advice, then select a piano that would go with the rest of their furniture. At the point he had to close the deal, he would demonstrate the piano's virtues, and forgetting the customer, he would begin to play. And play. The customer, realizing he would never be able to play that well, left. But there were occasions when he made the sale. And that was usually to a church.
Dad played the organ in our church. He was the only member who could. Our church was a small, nondenominational collective of anal, henpecked men whose wives were gossiping scolds. Our family was their main source of nourishment.
The problem the church busybodies had with my father was how he played the organ.
Musically, he was a black man in a church full of tone deaf Klansmen. His playing was a thing of exquisite blasphemy. He cast aside the Methodist three-chord blandishments and restraints and pumped in chords and forbidden rhythms from the Devil's own Fake Book, inspiring lustful arousal -- augmented minors, dominant sevenths and tenths vamped with a downbeat and walking bass lines. He made the Wurlitzer wail and moan with orgasmic pleasure.
Alas, in our church, there was no amen choir for such playing. There was no choir at all. Just congregational singing at its worst. I spent my time in those moments by making up new words for whatever hymn we were singing.
And then he sold a baby grand to a Pentecostal church.
The preacher, an organist himself, invited us to visit his church. My father, wary of all things Roman Catholic or Charismatic, would have declined, but for the money. Come Sunday, the six of us showed up, dressed in our faded, Goodwill best.
From the ever wonderful Miss Cellania (swiped in its entirety):
A Bad Day at Work
Rob is a commercial saturation diver for Global Divers in Louisiana. He performs underwater repairs on offshore drilling rigs. Below is an E-mail he sent to his sister. She then sent it to a radio station in Ft.Wayne, Indiana, who was sponsoring a worst job experience contest. She won first prize.So, next time you're having a bad day at work, think about how much worse it would be if you had a jellyfish shoved up your butt.Hi Sue, Just another note from your bottom-dwelling brother. Last week I had a bad day at the office. I know you've been feeling down lately at work, so I thought I would share my dilemma with you to make you realize it's not so bad after all. Before I can tell you what happened to me, I first must bore you with a few technicalities of my job. As you know, my office lies at the bottom of the sea I wear a suit to the office. It's a wetsuit. This time of year the water is quite cool...
So what we do to keep warm is this: We have a diesel powered industrial 'water heater'; this $20,000 piece of equipment sucks water out of the sea. It heats it to a delightful temperature. It then pumps it down to the diver through a hose, which is taped to the air hose. Now this sounds like a darn good plan, and I've used it several times with no complaints.
What I do, when I get to the bottom and start working, is take the hose and stuff it down the back of my wetsuit. This floods my whole suit with warm water. It's like working in a Jacuzzi. Everything was going well until all of a sudden, my ass started to itch. So, of course, I scratched it. This only made things worse.
Within a few seconds my ass started to burn. I pulled the hose out from my back, but the damage was done. In agony I realized what had happened. The machine had sucked up a jellyfish and pumped it into my suit.
Now, since I don't have any hair on my back, the jellyfish couldn't stick to it. However, the crack of my ass was not as fortunate.
When I scratched what I thought was an itch, I was actually grinding the jellyfish into the crack of my ass. I informed the dive supervisor of my dilemma over the communicator. His instructions were unclear due to the fact that he, along with five other divers, were all laughing hysterically.
Needless to say I aborted the dive. I was instructed to make three agonizing in-water decompression stops totaling thirty-five minutes before I could reach the surface to begin my chamber dry decompression. When I arrived at the surface, I was wearing nothing but my brass helmet. As I climbed out of the water, the medic, with tears of laughter running down his face, handed me a tube of cream and told me to rub it on my ass as soon as I got in the chamber.
The cream put the fire out, but I couldn't poop for two days because my ass was swollen shut.
Now repeat to yourself, "I love my job, I love my job, I love my job."
I can soooo identify with this -- back in the late 1970's I was at Boston University for Marine Biology and Physical Oceanography and spent a lot of time SCUBA diving. Saturation diving is a whole other animal where you saturate your body with nitrogen gas and you cannot rise to the surface without taking the time for the gas to evolve back out. Otherwise, bubbles will form in your tissue and you will get "The Bends". To have something like this happen and realize that you are thirty or more minutes away from relief would not put me in my happy places to say the least...
Greek deficit much bigger than estimateEntitlement programs destroy the desire to work. They guarantee that the "beneficiary" will sit back, stay out of trouble and vote for the next clueless ninny who promises more government cheese. Sure, they complain about being kept down by "the man" but they are too dim to realize that the current administration is "the man" and that most of the rich people are the ones who are hiring. A friend of the bakery dishwasher it looking to pick up some shifts at the bakery. We are emailing back and forth and he is #1) - working for minimum wage and #2) - working just enough hours/week such that the business owner is not liable for unemployment insurance if the guy is laid off. The business owner is in his 60's and was very much the counter-culture radical back in the 1960's -- peace love and flower power and all that. Now, he is just as greedy as those people he excoriates.
Greece's goal of reducing its gargantuan debt received a fresh blow today when the EU statistics agency announced that the country's 2009 budget deficit was much worse than first thought.
Six months after Athens received �110bn (�93bn) in emergency loans from EU nations and the International Monetary Fund to prop up its near-bankrupt economy, Eurostat revealed that Greece's budget deficit reached 15.4% of GDP last year, substantially higher than its previous estimate of 13.6%.
In April, Eurostat had estimated the debt-to-GDP ratio would reach 115.1%. The revised data meant that Greece's debt ratio has eclipsed those of every other EU state, officials said. By the end of 2009, its debt is projected to account for 126.8% of GDP.
Greece's poor bookkeeping was blamed for the budget black holes.
Why Isn�t Mexico Rich?Some good insights in the 70+ comments
That�s the question asked by U.C.-San Diego economist Gordon H. Hanson in a new working paper (abstract here; PDF here). From the abstract:And, in case you were wondering, here�s an important footnote:Over the last three decades, Mexico has aggressively reformed its economy, opening to foreign trade and investment, achieving fiscal discipline, and privatizing state-owned enterprises. Despite these efforts, the country�s economic growth has been lackluster, trailing that of many other developing nations. In this paper, I review arguments for why Mexico hasn�t sustained higher rates of economic growth. The most prominent suggest that some combination of poorly functioning credit markets, distortions in the supply of non-traded inputs, and perverse incentives for informality creates a drag on productivity growth. These are factors internal to Mexico. One possible external factor is that the country has the bad luck of exporting goods that China sells, rather than goods that China buys. I assess evidence from recent literature on these arguments and suggest directions for future research.The growth of the drug trade may distort GDP figures for Mexico. It is likely that value added in cultivating and exporting marijuana and opium, manufacturing and exporting methamphetamine, and distributing cocaine from South America to the United States is not fully represented in the country�s national income accounts.
Rangel walks out of ethics hearingEmphasis mine -- if it walks like a duck... And what legal team would want to be defending someone so patently corrupt. He was certainly at the trough when Fannie and Freddie were playing out. He should man up and pay the piper.
Embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-New York, walked out of his House ethics subcommittee hearing Monday morning, complaining that he has not had sufficient time to hire a new legal team to respond to corruption allegations.
The subcommittee members continued meeting behind closed doors.
"Fifty years of public service is on the line. And I truly believe that I am not being treated fairly," he declared. "I deserve a lawyer."
Rangel told the subcommittee he has already spent $2 million defending himself from the charges, and had been advised the hearing -- similar to a trial -- could cost him another $1 million.
Rangel: 'I am not going away'
Rangel: 'Not asking for leniency' He complained that he was not being given enough time to raise funds to hire new lawyers because the committee was rushing to complete its work before the conclusion of the current lame duck Congress.
Rangel's original defense team left him in September.
Westboro protesters face jeers and slashed tiresWe do have Freedom of Speech but the activities of Fred Phelps and his merry band of morons goes beyond the limits of social etiquette. Nice to see them getting some pushback... A tip of the hat to Hot Air Pundit for the link.
Members of a Kansas church that protests at military funerals may have found themselves in the wrong town Saturday.
Shortly after finishing their protest at the funeral of Army Sgt. Jason James McCluskey of McAlester, a half-dozen protesters from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., headed to their minivan, only to discover that its front and rear passenger-side tires had been slashed.
To make matters worse, as their minivan slowly hobbled away on two flat tires, with a McAlester police car following behind, the protesters were unable to find anyone in town who would repair their vehicle, according to police.
The minivan finally pulled over several blocks away in a shopping center parking lot, where AAA was called. A flatbed service truck arrived and loaded up the minivan. Assistant Police Chief Darrell Miller said the minivan was taken to Walmart for repairs.
Even before the protesters discovered their damaged tires, they faced off with a massive crowd of jeering and taunting counterprotesters at Third Street and Washington Avenue, two blocks from the First Baptist Church, where the soldier's funeral was held.
Miller estimated that crowd to number nearly 1,000 people, and they not only drowned out the Westboro protesters with jeers, but with raucous chants of "USA, USA."
A few motorcyclists interspersed among the crowd also revved up their engines to muffle the protests.
More than two dozen law-enforcement officers - state troopers, sheriff's deputies and city police - formed a security cordon around the Westboro protesters.
"We're here to protect everyone," Miller said.
Westboro members picket military funerals across the country, spreading their message that "God hates America" because it tolerates homosexuality.
Researcher: Fish numbers triple after oil spill fishing closuresA bit more:
Scientists are starting to believe the most powerful environmental effect stemming from the BP oil spill may have nothing to do with the millions of gallons of petroleum loosed in the Gulf of Mexico.
Instead, ongoing research suggests the federal closure of the richest portion of the Gulf to all fishing through the spring and summer months resulted in dramatic increases in the abundance of numerous marine creatures, from shrimp to sharks.
Scientists said the forced closure illustrates the profound influence fishing pressure has on the marine world, though a federal fisheries regulator said many other factors might be at play.
In the end, a group of Gulf Coast researchers believe the positive impact of the fishing closure will likely make it difficult to detect the full suite of negative effects caused by the oil.
Valentine�s research, which consists of trawl surveys in Mobile Bay, Mississippi Sound and around the barrier islands shows a roughly threefold increase in what the nets captured after the spill compared to before, in terms of both the weight of the catch and the number of animals caught. Valentine said it was possible seasonal factors played a role in the changes in the data, though he believed the lack of fishing was the key.Oh but Noooooessssss -- it is all yummy Malthusian gloom and doom. Idiots. The Earth is so very much bigger than we are and to think that we can significantly alter its course is an exercise in Hubris.
�There has been an awful lot of debate about longlining, gill netting, commercial fishing, recreational fishing, about how the ocean has been restructured by man,� Valentine said. �This was the first time we�ve ever seen such a large scale cessation of fishing.�
He said that the fishing closure appears to have demonstrated for the first time �how resilient the ocean really is if widespread management measures are applied.�
The �Indian Superbug�: Worse Than We KnewA bit more:
Just about a month ago, the disease-geek world was riveted by news of the �Indian superbug�: common bacteria carrying a newly recognized gene that confers profound multi-drug resistance, and that was linked to travel between Europe and South Asia, especially for medical tourism.
The gene, which directs production of an enzyme called NDM-1 for short, was briefly Bug of the Week, the spur for alarmist headlines in every Internet echo chamber and the target of denunciations by Indian politicians, who vilified the discovery as a Western �pharma conspiracy� spurred by envy of lucrative medical tourism.
And then, just as quickly as it popped into public consciousness, NDM-1 slid back under the news-radar horizon.
This new resistance factor has been found so far in the United States, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, France, Germany, Oman, Kenya, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan. Most of the isolates, the bacterial samples in which it has been identified, are susceptible to only one or two remaining antibiotics. One was susceptible to none.Makes me wonder how far along Dr. Kary Mullis' Altermune project is these days. That would be a shoe-in for a second Nobel for Mullis if it works...
�These resistant bugs,� Dr. Patrice Nordmann, a professor of clinical microbiology at the South-Paris Medical School, said in a briefing here, �have already spread all over the world.�
Rough road ahead for Obama, unions as compromises loomReminds me of Simon Cameron's wonderful aphorism:
President Obama and labor unions are entering a new and difficult stretch in their relationship as the White House looks to find common ground with Republicans on issues like trade and the deficit.
Unions praised Obama this week for insisting that talks continue on a free trade agreement with South Korea after negotiators failed to win concessions from that country on automobiles.
But union sources say that praise is tentative, given that the talks are continuing and Obama has made it clear he wants to present a deal to Congress.
Labor is decidedly more concerned about how Obama will proceed with the recommendations from his debt commission. The two chairmen of that body this week proposed sweeping reforms, including changes to Social Security that would lower benefits. Unions blasted the recommendations as an assault on workers.
An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.The Unions thought they had assured an ascent to power and now they are finding that their "made man" is a clueless ninny with no comprehension of what he is doing. A wonderful moment of Schadenfreude...
YouCut: Changing the culture in WashingtonAn interesting premise and they claim a nice track record. I will be bookmarking this page for my own interests...
YouCut � a first-of-its-kind project - is designed to defeat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress. It allows you to vote, both online and on your cell phone, on spending cuts that you want to see the House enact. Each week, we will take the winning item and offer it to the full House for an up-or-down vote, so that you can see where your representative stands on your priorities. Vote on this page today for your priorities and together we can begin to change Washington's culture of spending into a culture of savings.
My New Favorite Christie LineHere is the video courtesy of the Washington Examiner:
�Let me help you pack.� That�s what Gov. Chris Christie told one of the state�s top administrators when that administrator commented publicly that he could leave New Jersey and go to another state if his $242,000 total compensation were to be capped under the governor�s proposed rule.Watch video of the governor here.Earlier in the day Christie discussed the Parsippany Board and Seitz at a town hall meeting in Toms River. �Let me tell you about the new poster boy for all that�s wrong with the public school system that is being dictated by greed,� the governor told the audience. �This contract is the definition of greed and arrogance. I�m going to be speaking out loudly and clearly every day I can about Lee Seitz. If Lee Seitz wants to try to put his greed and his arrogance ahead of the taxpayers of New Jersey, you elected me to stand up to people like Lee Seitz and others across the state and I will.�
The day before the meeting Seitz is quoted in the Daily Record as saying, �Because of the proposed salary caps, I have to look at my future and the financial welfare of my family. I certainly would have options if I didn�t feel the compensation in this district, or New Jersey, is appropriate.�
The governor reacted to Seitz�s veiled threats to leave New Jersey and go to a nearby state where there is no state salary. �I will say in response to Mr. Seitz, �Let me help you pack.� We have real problems in our state that we have to fix and we don�t have the time, nor the money, nor the patience any longer for people who put themselves before our citizens,� Christie railed.
TVA could take lead for 'mini nuke' plantsVery nice -- modular construction means cheaper to build. The 125 megawatt capacity is about the same as your average coal plant so these would be perfect replacements. They are loaded at the factory and the spent fuel stays inside through the 60-year life cycle. Still uses the Uranium cycle instead of Thorium but we can't have everything...
The Tennessee Valley Authority is first in line to test a new type of modular nuclear plant that designers boast will be smaller, cheaper and safer than existing reactors.
TVA officials said Wednesday they have taken the first step toward gaining regulatory approval to build up to six new mini-nuclear reactors on the site of the abandoned Clinch River Breeder Reactor in Oak Ridge. In a four-page letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, TVA Vice President Jack Bailey said the federal utility "is evaluating the feasibility" of erecting two of the new Babcock & Wilcox-designed "mPower reactors" by 2020.
Each of the new reactors would produce 125 megawatts of electricity -- about 10 percent as much as conventional reactors at TVA's other plants -- and could be built in controlled factory conditions to cut production costs and ensure construction quality.
"The mPower design makes substantial use of modular construction technology which enables major portions of the plant to be fabricated in controlled manufacturing environments and shipped to the site via rail and trucks," Bailey said.
If approved by the TVA board and regulators, TVA would be the first utility to build the new reactor design.
Middle class children suffering ricketsVitamin D is one of the most overlooked nutrients around. I personally take 8,000 Units of it each day and feel a lot better for it.
Middle class children in the south of England are suffering from the '17th century disease' rickets as parents cover them in sunscreen and limit time outside in the sunshine, a leading doctor has warned.
The disease, caused by low levels of vitamin D generated in the body from sunshine and certain foods, had died out around 80 years ago but is now coming back.
Cases of rickets in children have occurred in northern England and Scotland where there are fewer months of the year with sufficient sunshine to obtain enough vitamin D but now doctors are seeing it on the South coast as well.
It is thought extensive use of sunscreen, children playing more time on computer games and TV rather than playing outside and a poor diet are to blame.
Pelosi: �We Didn�t Lose Because of Me�Emphasis mine - that really shows how clueless she is: "Any party that cannot turn (9.5% unemployment) into political gains should hang up the gloves" If you have 9.5% unemployment, you need to turn that into real jobs, not political gains...
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has the �overwhelming support� of fellow Democrats in her bid to become minority leader in the next Congress, and says she�s not to blame for the Democrats� mid-term debacle.
�We didn�t lose the election because of me,� Ms. Pelosi told National Public Radio in an interview that aired Friday morning. �Our members do not accept that.�
Instead, the California Democrat attributes the loss of at least 60 seats to high unemployment and �$100 million of outside, unidentified funding.�
�Any party that cannot turn (9.5% unemployment) into political gains should hang up the gloves,� she said.
Just interviewed the new afternoon person. She works for us at the store so it was a short interview.
Heading over to the store to use the laser printer to do the keycaps for the new cash register -- programming a bunch of departments so I can track what sells and what doesn't. In WA State, if you sell a pastry to go, there is no sales tax. If you sell it with a utensil or even a napkin, it is considered to be sold for consumption on premises and it is eligible for a sales tax.
I want to meet the morons who thought that one up...
Long day -- just got home from having dinner out.
Was at the bakery at 7AM this morning to do the Farmer's Friday which didn't sell at all. Considering that this is a very small kitchen and doing orders of pancakes, bacon and eggs ties up everything for ten minutes, I think I may revisit this menu item. I only had one order -- that turned out to be Jen and I overcooked her eggs and undercooked her pancakes. Crap.
Then about 30 minutes later, I remembered my weekly pot of clam chowder (New England this time) and found that the pot had burnt enough that the taste was bad. Crap.
The night before, I was counting out the till and it was $50 short. The bank was $120 short. I was hacked and wrote a strongly worded memo. My morning cashier had taken a 'draw' out of the bank and wrote it on her time card but didn't leave a note in the bank. (The till is stocked with $100 at the beginning of each shift -- the bank has $300 of various change. Need a roll of quarters? Take a tenner from the till, put it in the bank. Take the $10 roll of quarters from the bank and put it in the till. This is not rocket science.) Sill missing about $60. Crap.
Then our coffee lady came out to deliver my order. (We have gone through over 15 pounds of espresso beans in less than two weeks!) Two of the bags I ordered were regular caffinated coffee and I meant to order decaf. Crap.
Run into town to get some stuff, before I go I ask the day cook if he needs anything. Get the list and go to the grocery wholesaler in town. I am done with them and leaving Costco when I get a call from him with more stuff to get from the wholesaler. Crap.
The last 24 hours have been a fustercluck so I am heading out to check email and then off to bed. Breakfast tomorrow will be oatmeal with all the fixin's -- a lot harder to screw up...
Our National Public Radio makes a big statement by saying that it derives only a few percent of its operating revenue through Federal contributions.
Why then does it squeal like a stuck pig at the thought of this very minor revenue stream being taken away.
From The Hill:
NPR says it's 'imperative' that its federal funding not be cut
NPR said it's "imperative" that it receives federal funding in light of a recommended cuts by the leaders of President Obama's fiscal commission.
"Federal funding has been a central component of public radio stations� ability to serve audiences across the country," NPR said in a statement. "It�s imperative for funding to continue to ensure that this essential tool of democracy survives and thrives well into the future."
The co-chairmen of Obama's fiscal commission, Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson, proposed eliminating funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, among other ideas, in their report on how to bring down the long-term debt in the U.S. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting assists NPR and PBS stations in their operations.
So which is it -- lots of funding (mostly hidden) or minimal funding...
Swiped from the ever wonderful Miss Cellania:
You see all four out here on a regular basis.
Bad news Democrats _ 2012 could be worse than 2010Something about We The People comes to mind. The redistricting process is a biggie too. For a perfect example of Gerrymandering, here is a picture of Pennsylvania district 12 -- John Murtha's old seat:
Last week's election was bad for Democrats. The next one could be worse. Senate Democrats running in 2012 will be trying to hold their jobs in states where Republicans just scored major congressional and gubernatorial victories - Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Virginia.
The Democrats' problems don't end with senators.
President Barack Obama carried those states in 2008, and he will need most of them to win re-election in two years. But this time they all will have Republican governors. These GOP governors can try to inhibit the president's policies and campaign operations. They also can help steer next year's once-a-decade House redistricting process in the GOP's favor.
It will be interesting to see the results of the elections once everything is counted. It is a bit disappointing to see a Democrat get John Murtha's old seat especially as the polls had Republican Tim Burns ahead by a few points. Considering how heavily gerrymandered District 12 is, it is no wonder.Two can play at that game...
I mean really � this follows no geographical or geological path. It is an artificial construct designed to include as many liberal democrats and poor people as possible. Attila the Hun could win there if he promised pork for all.
More federal workers' pay tops $150,000And people wonder why there has been such a backlash to excessive government spending and growth. Be sure to check out some of the 870+ comments as well...
The number of federal workers earning $150,000 or more a year has soared tenfold in the past five years and doubled since President Obama took office, a USA TODAY analysis finds.
The fast-growing pay of federal employees has captured the attention of fiscally conservative Republicans who won control of the U.S. House of Representatives in last week's elections. Already, some lawmakers are planning to use the lame-duck session that starts Monday to challenge the president's plan to give a 1.4% across-the-board pay raise to 2.1 million federal workers.
Time to Tackle Right to WorkEmphasis mine -- the rank and file are seeing that the entrenched union management are not acting in their own interests. No small telltale that the big union states are the rust belts. It costs businesses a lot to move their heavy manufacturing operations but the cost of labor and materials (union produced) were high enough to make that a necessity. The next ten years will be interesting...
The 2010 landslide means that Republicans in the House can stop any new legislative initiatives by the Democrats and that Senate Republicans, if united, can stop almost anything Democrats want to do in that body as well. House Republicans can also send to the Senate bills that will put political pressure on Obama and Senate Democrats, like a complete extension of the Bush tax cuts. But at the federal level, Republicans cannot actually do anything without Democrats caving in.
The situation is very different at the state level. Republicans now control both houses of the state legislature and the governorship in a number of states. Republicans now have complete control of state government in twenty states compared to a paltry seven states before the midterm election. Crucially, Republicans now control all state government in five industrial rust belt states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. This control will allow Republicans to draw congressional districts and also, just as importantly, state legislative districts -- a real political blow to Democrats.
Unlike the federal government, a party that actually controls the state legislature and governorship can enact laws -- the filibuster is an odd creature almost unique to the United States Senate. There are many things Republicans in control of state governments should do: limit spending, cut tax rates, reduce regulation. But there is one reform that stout-hearted Republicans running those five rust belt states should definitely do: pass right to work laws. The Taft-Hartley Act allows each state the option of enacting right to work laws, which allow workers to not join a labor union as a condition of employment. Twenty-two states have adopted right to work laws, and these states closely resemble the twenty-two states that Obama lost in 2008. Although the leftist establishment media gets a disproportionate amount of attention from conservatives, along with risible "civil rights" leaders and surreally silly academicians, the real political muscle of the Left comes from organized labor -- meaning the bosses who run with those vast empires called "labor unions" and who use the forced dues from members to engage in constant war against conservatives.
Almost one in five members of organized labor lives in the five rust belt states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Labor unions poured an enormous amount of money into the 2010 midterm elections, focusing almost exclusively on defeating Republicans. A poll conducted by Frank Luntz shows that individual union members overwhelmingly disapproved of this spending, and this same poll showed a strong unhappiness with current labor leadership. Enacting right to work laws in those five rust belt states would immediately deal a body blow to organized labor in America, reducing its power to influence elections in America dramatically. Republicans would be fools not to aggressively push this agenda against union bosses who are inextricably bound up with the corrupt leadership of the Left.
Obama�s NLRB Appointee Says Unions Need to be Voted in QuickerMore at the website -- this is more about accumulation of power than it is anything beneficial to the working stiff. The unions do nothing of benefit -- even the high wages and outrageous benefit packages come with a high administrative cost and they cause the cost of the products to go up so the overall economy is harmed. The benefits are many times underfunded so as the workforce ages, the businesses and public municipalities are strapped for the cash needed to pay them.
Now that the election is over and we�ve seen in stark light the rebuke that Obama has received, many are wondering if he�ll moderate his far left agenda. But a few movements in the Labor Dept. will disabuse anyone of the notion that Obama intends to drop his left-wing agenda.
Leave it to an Obama appointee to the National Labor Rights Board (NLRB) to want to push votes to install unions in the workplace on an accelerated schedule. I guess all the payoffs and special favors that Obama and his cohorts have given to labor unions in these two of the longest years any president ever had have not been enough.
On Oct. 21, NLRB Member Mark Gaston Pearce said that the time period between filing and the holding of elections for new union representation in a company should be �as brief as possible.�
Of course, this shortened election period is nothing but a sop to Big Labor and intended to hurt businesses that might try to put up a fight against the encroachment of unions.
Calif borrows $40M a day to pay unemploymentChrist on a Corn Dog... I am having to deal with a microcosm of this at the bakery. Sure, you come in and bring the infrastructure up to speed and have some cash to guarantee payroll for a couple of months --but-- you also start cutting costs and fine-tuning the system to get things profitable. You institute financial checks and balances so you can see if someone is dipping into the till. You institute inventory control so you can see if there is excessive wastage or theft. You train train and then cross-train so the staff is a team and people can fill in when someone is down. My dishwasher is being trained by my lead cook to take over on his days off. That is how you run a business -- you don't just go running to daddy when you run out of your own money; you learn how to earn it and how to budget and save it.
With one in every eight workers unemployed and empty state coffers, California is borrowing billions of dollars from the federal government to pay unemployment insurance.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the state owes $8.6 billion already, and will have to come up with a $362-million payment to Washington by the end of next September.
The continued borrowing means federal unemployment insurance taxes are going to increase, upping the annual payroll costs $21 a year per worker.
Swiped from Gerard:
On the phone today a friend informs me that Macy's is having a sale.
"Macy's? Macy's always has a sale! Things are priced at "full price" there for about two hours and then the dive down to break even begins."
"Ah, but this was a special sale. A sale for gifts."
"Gifts? What about gifts? Who you getting gifts for?"
"Everybody. Don't you know that gifting time has begun?"
"Begun? When? I just noticed that daylight savings time has begun. Don't we get to enjoy the savings before the givings?"
"Not any more."
"God! It NEVER stops!
"Last week, save the effing Republic!
"This week save an hour of daylight!
"In a couple of weeks cook everyone a gigantic meal!
"Then go out and blow about a grand on gifts and get back $200 in gifts! Plus a lot of torn paper with pictures of dwarfs, horned beasts, and an old bearded man hitting on a hash pipe!"
"So, what do you want?"
"What I want is to cut straight to January 1, 2011 so I can get the hangover done with. God! It NEVER stops!"
So damned true...
�Net Neutrality Protectors� Swept Away by Midterm WaveIronic that something that would limit free speech has a stake driven through it's little coal-black heart by the new wave of conservatism...
Ninety-five Democratic Congressional hopefuls signed last week a pledge to support the Federal Communications Commissions proposed Net neutrality rules. On Tuesday, all ninety-five �net neutrality protectors� lost to their Republican opponents.
PARADOXICAL THOUGHT FOR THE DAYTrue...
Fathom the odd hypocrisy that Obama wants every citizen to prove they are insured, but people don't have to prove they are citizens.
-- Ben Stein
John Kerry�s bucks stop where?Taxes? Those are for the little people. The wealthy capitalists -- they are hogging all the money and we need to spread it around a little bit. Fscking morons...
It�s been more than three months since we first told you about Capt. John Kerry�s high-seas tax dodge on his new $7 million yacht, Isabel, and the town of Nantucket still doesn�t have a check from the senior senator!
You may recall that Kerry lowered the flag and surrendered in July, agreeing to pony up more than $400,000 to cover state taxes on the toney tub. Mr. Teresa Heinz broke out the checkbook four days after the Track set off a furious tempest with our report that he had purchased the 76-foot floating palace and ported her in Rhode Island, thus depriving the commonwealth of its pound of flesh.
A spokesman for the state Department of Revenue confirmed that �a sales tax return was filed� by Kerry last summer to cover state taxes that would have been owed, had he kept the Isabel in his home state�s waters. But according to the Nantucket tax collector, he never paid any excise taxes to the town on the Isabel.
The Man Who Saved the WhalesA wonderful observation re the Statists and Capitalism.
In the last half of the 19th century, whales were facing extinction. They were hunted in large part because their oil was the best, most affordable illuminant available to growing western nations. One man more than any other headed off their extinction, a man whose picture should be in on the wall of every Greenpeace office: John D. Rockefeller, founder of the Standard Oil Company.
It is an understatement to say that the entrepreneurs of the 19th century like Rockefeller have a bad reputation. As a group, they are called �robber barons,� a term that implies their wealth came purely from theft rather than from any value creation. While it is said that �history is written by the victors�, I would observe that despite the fact that socialism and communism have been given a pretty good drubbing over the last 30 years, these statists still seem to be writing history. How else to explain the fact that men who made fortunes through free, voluntary exchange of products can be called �robber barons,� while politicians who expropriate billions by government force from the most productive in society are called �progressive.�
While capitalists of the 19th century sometimes played by rules very different from ours today, in most cases these were the rules of the day and most of what they did was entirely legal. Also, to be sure, there were a number of men who were fat ticks on society, making money through fraud and manipulation rather than real wealth creation (Daniel Drew comes to mind). However, most of the great industrialists of the 19th century made money by providing customers with a better, cheaper product.
After electoral drubbing, Democrats must now deal with ethics trialsTip of the iceberg...
Fresh from a stinging midterm election defeat, House Democrats must quickly face another embarrassing spectacle: public trials for two of their most prominent members.
Reps. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), two senior House veterans, have opted to fight the separate ethics charges in public ethics trials set to take place later this month and extend into the first week of December.
From the National Review:
Washington Disconnect: SUV Sales Well Over 50 Percent of Market
As if to put a punctuation mark on how out-of-touch Washington is with the electorate, October vehicle sales released today reveal that SUV sales have now almost fully rebounded from their pre-recession numbers and now make up 53 percent of the market, with cars at just 47 percent. The numbers have flipped since last October as the economy recovers and customers return to bigger, more fuel-thirsty vehicles.
The figures came in the same month that the Obama administration ordered the EPA to study raising average mpg mandates to an absurd 62 mpg by 2025 (why not 100 mpg? Do I hear 150?) on top of an already fanciful 35 mpg figure by 2015. Currently, only cars like the tiny Smart two-seater make 35 mpg while the market trend is away from compacts.
To justify their mpg mandates, Washington Democrats claim that Americans are warming to hybrids. But October sales contradict these claims, as hybrid sales continued their drop to just 2.6 percent of the market - down from 2.9 percent last year (and 3.1 for 2009 as a whole)
Heh - talk about inconvenient truths. Speaking personally, my daily driver is a Ford (gotta love that the company didn't need a government bailout and is now quite profitable) F-350 full cab longbed four wheel drive diesel. I love it.
Gasoline is a tool -- you use it to do work. Sure, it would be nice if the truck got 50 MPG instead of 22 but I can afford to fill the tank and it hauls whatever I need without a peep of complaint.
Consumer reports did a writeup on the smart cars about a year ago. They are surprisingly safe in a collision but apparently you feel every grain of sand on the road surface and they are very loud. An uncomfortable ride. Give me a couple hundred horses of diesel, 4X4 and a cushy interior any day...
You know who was a big loser in this election? George Soros.For all of his billions, he preserved a Democratic majority in the Senate but failed to keep the House of Representatives (this is where the Federal budget starts). He kept a few dinosaurs (Reid and Pelosi) in power but Pelosi is back to Representative and not Speaker and Reid will be facing some interesting post-election inquiries. If I was Soros, I would ask for my money back. The people working for him are at best, about 20% effective.
While Democrats went out of their way to portray the Koch brothers as evil billionaires puppeteering this election, I�d venture they feel pretty good about the outcome. However, after last night I�d venture that that George Soros is one unhappy Hungarian.
Where the Kochs stood accused of funding some well-known grassroots political groups, Soros has been heavily invested in some pretty shady attempts at electioneering for Democrats. And fortunately, these efforts aren�t going very well.
The first notable thing is Soros� funding of the Secretary of State Project � which is basically an attempt to elect Secretaries of State around the country willing to impose Democratic-friendly election laws in an attempt to tilt the playing field in their favor on election day.
Well, yesterday Republicans won 17 of 26 races for Secretary of State taking six of those offices (Arkansas, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Iowa and Kansas) from Democrats. Republicans now control 25 offices to Democrats 22.
And then there was Soros� backing of a measure in California to put control of redistricting back in the hands of the state legislature, a move that would obviously benefit Democrats. It failed, while another measure to give California�s Citizens Redistricting Commission increased authority over redrawing congressional districts succeeded.
Boehner vows to repeal Obama healthcare reformsI like this guy -- might make a good President.
Representative John Boehner, expected to be named the next speaker of the House of Representatives, vowed on Wednesday to repeal health care reforms pushed into law by the Obama administration.
"I believe that the healthcare bill that was enacted by the current Congress will kill jobs in America, ruin the best healthcare system in the world, and bankrupt our country," Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told a news conference. "That means we have to do everything we can to try to repeal this bill and replace it with common sense reforms to bring down the cost of health care.
Dow Climbs to Highest Since Lehman, 30-Year Bond Slides on FedYeah, a mixed message to be sure. The economy is still in the crapper but people with money to move are encouraged and are starting to do business again. I know with the store we have been going Galt -- paying a good wage to our employees and providing cheap food to the community but not making a taxable 'profit' at this time. I will be doing the same thing with the Bakery once I get it running smoothly. The lame-duck session will be a grind but January is not that far away and 2012 is over the horizon -- America can hold on until then. I know I keep harping on it but the idea that social woes stem from the poor distribution of a fixed quantity of capital is big steaming balloon full of jenkem. Capital is fungible -- it can be created (the Harry Potter books) and it can be destroyed (Zimbabwe, etc...)
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed to a two-year high while Treasury 30-year bonds slid and the dollar fell as the Federal Reserve planned to expand asset purchases by an additional $600 billion to shore up the economy.
The Dow rose 26.41 points, or 0.2 percent, to 11,215.13 at 4 p.m. in New York, the highest since the week Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy in September 2008. The Standard & Poor�s 500 Index gained 0.4 percent to a six-month high of 1,197.96. The 30-year Treasury yield surged 0.12 percentage point, the most in two months, to 4.05 percent. The Dollar Index, which tracks trading versus six major peers, lost 0.5 percent. Oil reached a six-month high of $84.69 a barrel.
Take Your Olive Branch and Shove It, DemocratsWell said -- they have been deaf to the voice of the people. This is their wake-up call.
On the eve of a historic midterm election upheaval, President Barack Obama tried to walk back his gratuitous slap at Americans who oppose his radical progressive agenda. �I probably should have used the word �opponents� instead of �enemies� to describe political adversaries,� Obama admitted Monday. �Probably�?
Here is an ironclad certainty: It�s too little too late for the antagonist-in-chief to paper over two years of relentless Democratic incivility and hate toward his domestic �enemies.� Voters have spoken: They�ve had enough. Enough of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner�s rhetorical abuse. Enough of his feints at bipartisanship. Whatever the final tally, this week�s turnover in Congress is a GOP mandate for legislative pugilism, not peace. Voters have had enough of big government meddlers �getting things done.� They are sending fresh blood to the nation�s Capitol to get things undone.
Just two short years ago, Obama campaigned as the transcendent unifier. �Young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled, Americans have sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of red states and blue states,� he proclaimed. �We have been and always will be the United States of America.�
It�s been an Us vs. Them freefall ever since.
ACORN�s Troubled Past Leads to Stunning Election Day AnnouncementOf course, ACORN is just another head of the Hydra -- when one is cut off, another grows to replace it. The 200+ comments are almost uniformly like this one:
On this election night, there is a stunning turn from ACORN.
It has filed for bankruptcy.
In an announcement on its website, Bertha Lewis, the CEO of the troubled activist group, says that ACORN has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the reason stemming from the legal troubles surrounding numerous voter registration investigations across the country. The scandals led Congress to vote to cut off federal funding, and the group also lost some government support.
"The ongoing political onslaught caused irreparable harm," wrote Lewis, who blames "a right-wing media blitz." She says "allegations and reports will continue to try to undermine all that ACORN has done, "but says that "ACORN will live on in the hearts of the people it served, and as those of us who fight for justice know, �THE PEOPLE UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED'."
In the last three years, dozens of ACORN workers were accused of, and numerous pleaded guilty to, voter fraud related charges. The investigations began in 2007, when King County prosecutors charged 7 ACORN workers with felony counts for allegedly submitting 1,800 phony voter registration forms. One ACORN worker admitted to prosecutors that it was "hard work making up all those cards," and another would sit at home filling out the bogus forms, while smoking marijuana.
The most recent case came on October 15th, when a former ACORN worker in Milwaukee pleaded guilty to voter fraud related charges of submitting multiple voter registration applications. The felony charges could bring up to 3 and � years in prison when the defendant, 27 year old Kevin Clancy, is sentenced the week after next.
Do we really care? No. It's one less corrupt, George Soros created, and backed agitator group. Love those "Community Organizers", thanks Barrack for the good times.
Proposition 19, also known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, is a California ballot proposition which will be on the November 2, 2010 California statewide ballot. It legalizes various marijuana-related activities, allows local governments to regulate these activities, permits local governments to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorizes various criminal and civil penalties. In March 2010, it qualified to be on the November statewide ballot. It requires a simple majority in order to pass, and would take effect the day after the election. Yes on 19 is the official advocacy group for the initiative, and No On Proposition 19 is the official opposition group.There are a whole bunch of growers in Mendocino County who do not want this to pass as it will destroy their way of life. A wonderful article at Washington Monthly:
The Closing of the Marijuana FrontierA wonderfully told story and sad news if this passes.
When my wife and I bought a house last year in the little town of Ukiah, California, the first person to offer us advice about growing marijuana was our realtor. The house was a stolid 1909 prairie box that had been partitioned into four units, with a front porch, dark green trim, and a couple of fruit trees in the yard. It was charming, but we probably would have settled for a yurt. What mattered most to us was having a foothold in Mendocino County, a place we had long ago decided was the most beautiful in America.
Our realtor, however, drew our attention to the house�s electrical meters. There were four in total, one for each unit. If we ever wanted to grow a few indoor pot gardens, he said, we had an ideal setup. I laughed and thanked him for the tip.
Then the advice kept coming. A neighbor offered to help me get started with a few plants whenever I was ready. The owner of a local hydroponics supply store shook my hand and encouraged me to stop by his warehouse. �We�ll set you up,� he said. Ukiah, I realized, was weirder than I thought.
I�d always known that pot was a huge part of the county�s livelihood, accounting for two-thirds of the local economy, by some estimates. But in eight years of visiting the place with my wife�including one gloriously unsuccessful four-month experiment in backcountry living�I�d never so much as set eyes on a seven-fingered leaf. Then, last year, I began exploring the region�s cannabis economy in earnest, setting out for dirt roads in the hills and basements in Ukiah, occasionally wearing a blindfold.
Gradually a new picture of Mendocino County began to emerge. Neighborhoods in town were dotted with light-flooded outbuildings packed with plants, quietly paying the mortgages of those who tended them. And the county�s amber and green hills were full of homesteaders who for decades had been leading the kind of existence we�d once failed at�men and women who�d come for the land but managed to stay because of marijuana. Many had built their own off-grid homes and outfitted them with elaborate solar arrays, potbellied stoves, and well-tended gardens. In an age of homemade baby food, fire-escape agriculture, and home-brew chic, they�d achieved an almost mythical ideal: economic independence derived from a small piece of earth.
The rub, of course, was that these paragons of yeoman virtue were often antisocial, paranoid wrecks. Marijuana�s high price under prohibition made it possible to earn a decent living from a small patch, but someone was always losing a crop, fleeing into the woods, or going to jail. �It�s like the sharks come in and just eat a few people,� one grower told me. Mendocino County, in short, is as tortured by prohibition as it is dependent on it. But what agonizes the county even more these days is the thought that it could all be coming to an end.
On November 2, Californians go to the polls to vote on whether to start treating cannabis as just another adult recreational drug. The Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010�also known as Proposition 19�would legalize the possession and cultivation of pot in small amounts for adults, while handing the authority to regulate commercial marijuana production and distribution down to counties and cities. Polls as of this writing show that the measure might well pass. If it does, the Rand Corporation predicts that the price of marijuana will fall by as much as 80 percent. But even if the referendum doesn�t pass, a new initiative will almost certainly reach the ballot in 2012, and growers, dispensary owners, and pro-pot local governments will continue to test the boundaries of the state�s fourteen-year-old medical marijuana law. Whatever happens on November 2, the edifice of prohibition is crumbling in California, and one of the largest informal economies in America is inexorably emerging into the mainstream.