July 2011 Archives

An anthem for the next generation

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Some serious WTF in Portland, OR

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From Portland station KATU:
Reservoir to be drained after man urinates in it
After a man urinated in a Mount Tabor reservoir early Wednesday morning that supplies city drinking water, the city took it offline and said it�ll cost about $35,000 to drain, clean and refill it.

The Portland Water Bureau said it has taken the reservoir offline.

The incident was caught on grainy surveillance video. But it shows five people and a dog at Reservoir No. 1 after park hours. After unknown objects were tossed in the reservoir, a man walks up and urinates right into the drinking water.

It will cost more than $7,500 to empty the reservoir, and that drinking water would have sold for more than $28,000. Now, it�s money down the drain.

�It�s 8 million gallons and there are people who will say it�s an overreaction,� said David Shaff, administrator for the Portland Water Bureau. �I don�t think so. I think just dealing with the �yuck factor,� I can imagine how many people would be saying �I made orange juice with that water this morning. That�s not what I want to hear.��

Shaff said they do find other things in reservoirs but don�t dump the water.

�If I shut down the reservoir every time a tennis ball, a dead duck or a dead squirrel or a Frisbee was in the reservoir, I�d shut them down almost daily,� he said.

But he said urine is different and he�d rather be cautious.
Like hell urine is different. Barring a bladder or kidney infection it is almost always sterile. A dead duck or squirrel is a lot more dangerous let alone all the bird poop. Figure one pint diluted with eight million gallons is 0.0000015624 percent -- this is in the realm of a homeopathic dilution (ie -- nothing left).

Some interesting developments

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Been following the Debt Limit "crisis" the last couple of days. Senator Harry Reid has been shooting down the Representatives plans left and right. Senator Mitch McConnell did not think that this benefited anyone so... From Richard Pollock at PJ Tattler:
Senator McConnell: The Shrewd Adult in the Room
At first glance Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appears to be an unassuming, bland, and soft spoken southern good old boy. McConnell is a dream stereotype for Lorne Michaels at Saturday Night Live. You can imagine SNL depicting McConnell as the poster child for any thick headed, slow talking southern conservative. Admittedly the Kentucky senator is a slow and can look a bit goofy.

But don�t be fooled. Mitch McConnell is one of the shrewdest political tacticians in the United States Senate. And he is exactly where the wants to be. After outmaneuvering Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) last night by calling for a cloture vote in which Reid lost, today he pivoted to announce that he had secretly opened up direct talks with President Obama, leaving Reid out in the cold. Earlier today he announced that he is �very close� to a deal with President Obama.
Heh - deftly euchred out of the picture. More from William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection::
The end of Harry Reid as we know it
We don�t know all the details of the negotiations between Mitch McConnell and the White House which apparently are closing in on an agreement, but one thing is clear, Harry Reid has become a sideshow.

The master of the Senate was left to denouncing Mitch McConnell as, basically, a liar for saying an agreement was close and there had been progress, only hours later to announce that a vote on Reid�s futile bill would be postponed for 12 hours at the request of the White House. Reid was left looking like the only guy in the room who didn�t know.

McConnell went around Reid, as had John Boehner, and there was nothing Reid could do about it.

Whatever else these negotiations yield, the end of Harry Reid as we know it is one positive outcome.
Good riddance -- the guy simply is not that bright but he has been good for Nevada Unions and Pork so they keep reelecting him.

Well dang

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Had a wonderful day today -- went out to the Whatcom County Old Settlers Association Annual Picnic but in the intervening couple of years when I didn't attend, they took the blacksmithing stuff away -- no forge, no smiths... Had fun anyway -- there were a lot of food vendors so stuffed myself with roasted corn and strawberry shortcake. There was quite the car show across the street so I wandered around there for an hour or so. I love the work that people do in the restoration but I could never afford the time or money to do one myself. Some of the cars were for sale and prices were in the $15K to $25K and worth every penny. Spending tomorrow working in the shop -- I did love running the bakery but the extra time is very sweet...

Where good ideas come from

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Nice visualization from Steven Johnson:
Will have to see if the library has the book -- looks good.

Light posting today and tomorrow

Ran into town to get the stuff for wiring the shop -- whole project should only cost about $800 what with all the stuff I have gotten at the various auctions I have attended.

So far, the only stuff I had to buy are the meter base, the panel, the wire to run from the transformer to the meter and some various odd kibbles and bits. Have all the conduit, junction boxes, outlets, etc. already...

Going to grab a bite in town tonight -- turned into a gorgeous day and don't feel like cooking.

Spending tomorrow at the Whatcom County Old Settlers Association Annual Picnic. Haven't been for a few years. There is quite a nice blacksmith setup at the site and looking forward to seeing some friends and meeting some new smiths. Getting to know the other smiths in this area -- some fun people...

We have a comment

Yesterday, I posted this: GE moves key business group to China Which opened with this comment:
General Electric � the company that pays no corporate income tax and whose CEO is bestest buddies with Obama...
Dick commented:
GE paid huge quarterly taxes and minimal year-end taxes last year. Don't repeat wrong stuff!
I did some digging -- from the New York Times, March 14, 2011:
G.E.�s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether
General Electric, the nation�s largest corporation, had a very good year in 2010.

The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States.

Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

That may be hard to fathom for the millions of American business owners and households now preparing their own returns, but low taxes are nothing new for G.E. The company has been cutting the percentage of its American profits paid to the Internal Revenue Service for years, resulting in a far lower rate than at most multinational companies.

Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. G.E.�s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world�s best tax law firm. Indeed, the company�s slogan �Imagination at Work� fits this department well. The team includes former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress.
One such example (there are lots in the longish article):
The shelters are so crucial to G.E.�s bottom line that when Congress threatened to let the most lucrative one expire in 2008, the company came out in full force. G.E. officials worked with dozens of financial companies to send letters to Congress and hired a bevy of outside lobbyists.

The head of its tax team, Mr. Samuels, met with Representative Charles B. Rangel, then chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which would decide the fate of the tax break. As he sat with the committee�s staff members outside Mr. Rangel�s office, Mr. Samuels dropped to his knee and pretended to beg for the provision to be extended � a flourish made in jest, he said through a spokeswoman.

That day, Mr. Rangel reversed his opposition to the tax break, according to other Democrats on the committee.

The following month, Mr. Rangel and Mr. Immelt stood together at St. Nicholas Park in Harlem as G.E. announced that its foundation had awarded $30 million to New York City schools, including $11 million to benefit various schools in Mr. Rangel�s district. Joel I. Klein, then the schools chancellor, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who presided, said it was the largest gift ever to the city�s schools.

G.E. officials say the donation was granted solely on the merit of the project. �The foundation goes to great lengths to ensure grant decisions are not influenced by company government relations or lobbying priorities,� Ms. Eisele said.
From ABC News - April 13, 2011:
The Associated Press Reports GE Tax Refund Hoax Spun by US Uncut, The Yes Men
Did General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt tell President Obama this morning that GE would be returning its entire 2010 tax refund, worth $3.2 billion, to the U.S. Treasury on April 18 -- Tax Day -- as The Associated Press reported?

Some Americans would welcome the news. Too bad it never happened.

Actually, the story originated from a press release sent out this morning by a group called US Uncut, supported by the Yes Men, a group well-known for its pranks on the rich and powerful.

The Associated Press took the bait, pushing it out to its thousands of clients before issuing a retraction.
More on US Uncut and GE here And finally, there is this story from CNN/Money - April 16, 2011:
GE: 7,000 tax returns, $0 U.S. tax bill
General Electric filed more than 7,000 income tax returns in hundreds of global jurisdictions last year, but when push came to shove, the company owed the U.S. government a whopping bill of $0.

How'd it pull off that trick? By losing lots of money.

GE had plenty of earnings last year -- just not in the United States. For tax purposes, the company's U.S. operations lost $408 million, while its international businesses netted a $10.8 billion profit.

That left GE with no U.S. profit left for Uncle Sam to tax. Corporations typically face a 35% federal income tax on their earnings. Thanks to its deductions and adjustments, GE reported an actual U.S. federal income tax rate of negative 10.5%. It got to add a "tax benefit" of $1.1 billion back into its reported earnings.
The upshot is that I see a lot of wheeling and dealing, I see no end of year tax and I see no quarterly tax being paid. Dick, if you have anything that contradicts this, please feel free to post it as a comment and I'll put it on the front page for people to see but for now, I stand by my statements.

Being tolerant

From Stormbringer comes this excellent meditation on tolerance:

I am truly perplexed that so many of my friends are against another mosque being built in Sydney.

I think it should be the goal of every Australian to be tolerant.

Thus the Mosque should be allowed, in an effort to promote tolerance.

That is why I also propose that two nightclubs be opened next door to the mosque, thereby promoting tolerance from within the mosque.

One of the clubs could be a gay bar; "The Turban Cowboy," and for the rest of us a nude bar called "You Mecca Me Hot."

Next door should be a butcher shop that specializes in pork, and adjacent to that an open-pit barbeque pork restaurant, called "Iraq o' Ribs."

Across the street there could be a lingerie store called "Victoria Keeps Nothing Secret" with sexy mannequins in the window modeling the goods.

Next door to the lingerie shop there would be room for an adult sex toy shop, "Koranal Knowledge," its name in flashing neon lights, and on the other side a liquor store called "Morehammered."

All of this would encourage the Muslims to demonstrate the tolerance they demand of us, so the mosque problem would be solved.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander -- something to think about...

GE moves key business group to China

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General Electric -- the company that pays no corporate income tax and whose CEO is bestest buddies with Obama -- is moving it's Medical Imaging division over to China. From Bloomberg News:
GE Moves 115-Year-Old X-Ray Unit�s Base to China to Tap Growth
General Electric Co. (GE)�s health-care unit, the world�s biggest maker of medical-imaging machines, is moving the headquarters of its 115-year-old X-ray business to Beijing to tap growth in China.

�A handful� of top managers will move to the Chinese capital and there won�t be any job cuts, Anne LeGrand, vice president and general manager of X-ray for GE Healthcare, said in an interview. The headquarters will move from Waukesha, Wisconsin, amid a broader parent-company plan to invest about $2 billion across China, including opening six �customer innovation� and development centers.
Sure -- there is the option for greater sales in China but they are not just opening a factory over there, they are moving the headquarters of that entire division there. Not headquartered in the USA? Don't pay corporate taxes to the USA. They will be liable for Chinese taxes but I am betting that the ink is already very dry on a sweetheart deal. Call me a cynic but...

Fun and games in Washington

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Seems that Boehner postponed the vote mere minutes before the roll call was scheduled to begin. More as it happens -- meanwhile, Senator Reid (from the Daily Caller):
Reid spokesman: �Boehner�s bill dies tonight�
House Republicans are just wasting their time debating Speaker John Boehner�s debt reduction bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today.

�Boehner�s bill dies tonight,� Reid communications director Adam Jentleson wrote on Twitter. �Forever.�
Meanwhile, back on the ranch -- from Rasmussen Reports:
Right Direction or Wrong Track
Just 17% of Likely U.S. Voters now say the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey taken the week ending Sunday, July 24. That finding is the lowest measured since January 11, 2009.

From August 2007 to early January 2009, confidence in the nation�s current course ranged from a low of 10% to a high of 24%. When President Obama assumed office, optimism rose to 27% and climbed to the low to mid 30s until May 2009. That figure has steadily declined since.

Seventy-five percent (75%) of voters say the country is heading down the wrong track, the highest finding since early January 2009. Since that time, voter pessimism had ranged from 57% to 72%.

Most Republicans (91%) and voters not affiliated with either political party (77%) believe the country is heading down the wrong track. Even a strong majority (58%) of Democrats now say the country is heading in the wrong direction.
If this wasn't being all done with our money, it would be fun to kick back, make a bowl of popcorn and watch the show. The problem here is that these fools are playing these games with our money and they are not satisfied with the size of their sandbox -- they want to take more of our money to make it bigger.

Those polar bears

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Not so endangered after all -- from Yahoo/Associated Press:
APNewsBreak: Arctic scientist under investigation
A federal wildlife biologist whose observation in 2004 of presumably drowned polar bears in the Arctic helped to galvanize the global warming movement has been placed on administrative leave and is being investigated for scientific misconduct, possibly over the veracity of that article.

Charles Monnett, an Anchorage-based scientist with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, or BOEMRE, was told July 18 that he was being put on leave, pending results of an investigation into "integrity issues." But he has not yet been informed by the inspector general's office of specific charges or questions related to the scientific integrity of his work, said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
The heart of the matter:
Documents provided by Ruch's group indicate questioning by investigators has centered on observations that Monnett and fellow researcher Jeffrey Gleason made in 2004, while conducting an aerial survey of bowhead whales, of four dead polar bears floating in the water after a storm. They detailed their observations in an article published two years later in the journal Polar Biology; presentations also were given at scientific gatherings.

In the peer-reviewed article, the researchers said they were reporting, to the best of their knowledge, the first observations of polar bears floating dead offshore and presumed drowned while apparently swimming long distances in open water. Polar bears are considered strong swimmers, they wrote, but long-distance swims may exact a greater metabolic toll than standing or walking on ice in better weather.

They said their observations suggested the bears drowned in rough seas and high winds and "suggest that drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open water periods continues."

The article and presentations drew national attention and helped make the polar bear something of a poster child for the global warming movement. Al Gore's mention of the polar bear in his documentary on climate change, "An Inconvenient Truth," came up during investigators' questioning of Gleason in January.

In May 2008, the U.S. classified the polar bear as a threatened species, the first with its survival at risk due to global warming.
So of course, the threatened species label will be rescinded and stories like this one will have their outcomes reversed? crickets

Keeping things in perspective

From Lab Rat at Atomic Nerds:

Business And Beer As Usual
Not much of note going on here. It's obnoxiously hot, like it is nearly everywhere in the US right now except the Pacific northwest. Things to do, people to see, news to not blog about because it's just not really worth it. Politicians more concerned with own skins than future of country! Junkie who wrote a hit song about refusing to get help dies! Republican field of contenders hopeless disaster except for those with no hope! President gives speeches with no concrete ideas and a lot of scolding of opposite party and American people in general! Water to remain wet until further notice, stay tuned!

On the bright side, we got our first real harvest of hop cones- six ounces worth - off the most vigorous of the native hop vines. One other is just beginning to cone, another is aburst with flowers that will become cones. Initial smell-and-taste shows good alpha acids and bright flavors. We are thinking once the harvest is fully in of applying them to a pilsner or American-style pale ale.

Whatever other stupidity is going on, there will be beer.

I like their priorities...

The shooting in Norway

From The Blogmocracy citing an article at the New York Times:

NYT: Arming police officers will only lead to an escalation of violence.
There is so much unreported irony in this story that I simply had to rise up out of my sloth and have a go at it.

The NYFT today released this story about the Unsettling Wariness of Norway, Where Police are rarely armed.
OSLO - When a man dressed in a police uniform began slaughtering young people at a Norwegian summer camp last week, one of the first to be killed was a real police officer named Trond Berntsen, who for years had worked in security at the camp. Whether Officer Berntsen tried to stop the gunman is still being debated. But facing a man carrying multiple guns and ample ammunition, there was little he could do. Like most other police officers here, he had no weapon.
Think about that. Police officers, sworn to protect citizens (just a guess, but there�s probably a law that prohibits swearing) against criminals are unarmed. WHISKEY-TANGO-FOOKBAR?!?!?! Who the hell thought that up? Well, the answer is here:
"I would prefer to live in a society where police normally work unarmed," said Johannes Knutsson, a professor of police research at the Norwegian Police University College. "It is a very forceful and symbolic sign to the citizens that this is a peaceful society."
Ya got that right. It is also a very forceful and symbolic sign to splodydopes and common street thugs that you're an easy and inviting target.And last. The dumbest comment of the whole piece.
Some "experts" worry that arming police officers all the time will only lead to an escalation of violence as criminals arm themselves in response.
I kid you not, that is really what the NYFT twerp has written. Who are those "experts" and where are their adult supervisors?

More irony. The NYFT releases this eyerolling tripe on the very day that ATF officials are trying to 'splain themselves before Congress as to the particulars of Operation Gunrunner. For those of you just joining us, that would be the DOJ prank of allowing thousands of guns from legitimate American gun dealers to fall into the hands of Mexican drug thug terrorists in order to prove up the idea that we need more gun laws to protect us from American citizens arming themselves to protect their lives and property against criminals.


These idiots are so wrapped up in themselves that they fail to realize that there are three basic kinds of people out there.

  • Sheep
  • Sheepdogs and
  • Wolves.


Sweet story - stupid criminal

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From Oregon station KVAL:
Stolen tools: Construction worker gets revenge � and justice
A burglary victim got his revenge by turning to the Craigslist website. And when he saw his stolen items up for sale, he took matters into his own hands.

The burglary victim, Ilya � who doesn't want his last name used � says he works hard at his construction job. So when someone took off with $3,000 worth of tools and other items, he got mad ... and wanted to get even.

"We lost a whole day of work because of that," Ilya says.

He says he and his family work hard trying to live the American dream, after coming here from Russia. When burglars took off with his nail guns, saws and drills, he was outraged.

Along with filing a police report, the family did its own police work � and found what they believed were the stolen goods on Craigslist.

"My mom, when I came home, was on Craigslist, and she says, 'It looks like everything that is missing; it looks like it's posted up right now on Craigslist."

Playing the part of a paying customer, Ilya set up a time and place to buy the goods in the Tacoma Mall parking lot Thursday night.

When he confirmed the items were his, he told the sellers to wait while he got more cash at an ATM. Instead he went and got police officers, who returned with him to make the arrest.
Heh -- nice to see a happy ending. Being stupid should be painful.

Thinking a few moves ahead

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From Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler:
John Bolton Comes Out Supporting the Boehner Plan
No one can accuse former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton of being a squishy moderate. So his words in support of the Boehner debt plan may carry some weight.
All conservatives, especially those concerned with American national security, should support the Boehner Plan.

That plan, as Speaker Boehner himself understands, is far from perfect. But there is no reasonable prospect, given the current political balance of power in Washington, to get anything better on the debt ceiling issue. We cannot know exactly how financial markets will react to the various scenarios that might play out over the next several days, but the potential cost of finding out what the defeat of the Boehner Plan would be is not worth the risk.

If America�s prospects for economic recovery are gravely impaired, if President Obama is able to turn the inevitable turmoil to his political advantage and achieve re-election, and if we face four more years of his debilitating economic and national security policies, the safety and security of America in the world may be damaged irreparably.

In politics as in battle, conservatives should remember Carl von Clausewitz�s sage advice to be satisfied with identifying and achieving �the culminating point of victory.� That does not mean total victory, but rather the maximum that can be achieved in any particular engagement. We should not stop short, but neither should we risk what we have achieved by proceeding dangerously beyond that culminating point.

That�s pretty much where I stand at the moment. The Boehner plan isn�t ideal by a long shot, but without more power on the Hill and a different occupant in the White House it�s probably the best that�s possible. And there�s no real sign that even it is possible, with Reid working on his own plan that at this point can�t pass the House. John McCain might do well to focus his fire on Senate Democrats that might be peeled away from Reid instead of mocking the Tea Party, Sharron Angle and Christine O�Donnell.

Both the Boehner and Reid plans count �cuts� that aren�t real cuts (they�re wind-downs of the wars that may or may not happen) and neither really rights the ship. Both deal with debt amounts in the short term that amount to a few hours or days of what the nation spends � not serious structural reform. Reid�s focuses too much on DoD and not enough on entitlements, which makes it dangerous for national security as well as being inattentive to the real problem.

Given the divided government we have, righting the ship is not yet possible in my opinion. It will only be possible by first living past the current fight in a way that changes the national conversation away from tax hikes and toward spending cuts, and then winning the next big fight in 2012.
Like Bryan said, it is not a perfect deal by any means but it shifts the discussion toward the root cause and away from throwing Granny off the cliff.

Hot time in the big city

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Hot Air seems to have the lock on the comprehensive reporting for the current crisis-du-jour -- the Congressional wrangling over the debt ceiling and Obama's being so out of touch with reality. Just go and read: Hot Air If this wasn't our personal money being spent, it would be fun in a schadenfreudian kind of way but geeezzzz -- I need to place a couple more phone calls tomorrow from my cell phone (called today from the house line).

Cool clear water

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Ran a couple hundred gallons of water into the creek today from the pump house and flushed the water heater and the plumbing. Seems to have cleared up. One of my concerns was that it might be a leak in the pressure tank and the sediment was rust. Not good. Decanted off one of my samples and poured in a few ounces of distilled white vinegar -- that stirred up the sediment but it settled right out again. Not iron. My neighbor across the street has a shallow well and has not had any problems. Tomorrow I will be calling the neighbor downstream from me to see what kind of well they have and what is happening with them. Fun fun fun...

If you are not part of the solution

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You must be part of the precipitate. (rimshot) The water sample I took yesterday was clear this morning with a nice layer of muck at the bottom of the bottle. Spending the morning flushing the lines and see if that clears up. Really annoying as I have to flush the water heater tank as well as clean out all of the aerator heads on the faucets. Check with my neighbors later today...

The joys of country living

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Had a full day in town doing stuff, came home, went out for pasta at a local steak-house and then came home again. Filled up the dogs dish with fresh water and noticed that it was the color of weak tea... Ran out to the store and picked up a couple gallons of 'spring' water until I find out what the @#$ is up. The well is 220 feet deep -- most residential wells around here are at 50-60 feet but this one goes through an impermeable clay layer and taps into the Sumas aquifer. Or so I was led to believe. I'll go out to the well house tomorrow and see if there is any gross malfunction, let a couple hundred gallons of water run and see if it clears up any. I took a sample and will bring it into a local test lab tomorrow or Wednesday. I will also ask the neighbors if their well is OK. When the wells are at 50 feet, there can be some problems in the dead heat of August but this has been a very wet and long spring so there should be plenty of water. One of the things I love about living out here is that you are directly responsible for stuff like this. You are not insulated from the elements -- want heat? Split and stack the firewood. Want water? Be ready to maintain a well and pressure tank. There is no way that I would ever be off-grid -- sweet sweet electrical energy flows through my veins and powers the work that I do. Still, I like to look at other ways to reduce my footprint and I think that I do a credible and realistic job.

Border's Closing - two stories

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First, a tale from six years ago -- from The Adaptive Curmudgeon's Blog:
Adapt Or Die
Once upon a time I was searching for a particular book. There was a huge imposing bookstore near my house. Rather than muck around on the Internet I�d buy from actual human beings in the real world. Mostly I wanted Instant gratification!

They had coffee, lattes, CDs, maps, gifts, magazines, chocolate, and DVDs, but not the title I wanted. I asked the reference person to look it up. Nope, definitely not in the store.

�Fine, I�ll I�ll order it� I said, reaching for my wallet.
�It�ll be two weeks.� She replied.
Sheesh. So much for instant gratification! �OK fine. Just ship it to my house and I�ll pay now.�
�We can�t ship it to your house. You�ll have to come to the store to pick it up.�
�Well there�s another way. You could order it from our on-line store, then it�ll come to your house.�
�Great! Do it!�
�I can�t. All I can do is �in-store� orders. You�ve got to do it yourself.�
�You want me to put my wallet back in my pocket and go home?�
�You�re serious?�
�You�re doomed.�
�Why? What�s wrong with our on-line store?�
�You�re telling a customer to put his wallet away and then go home to place an order from the host of every on-line store in creation? You�ve heard of Amazon.com haven�t you?�
�Well our on-line store is good too.�
�Yeah but nobody ever got rich telling customers to put away their wallets and go home.�
�I don�t make the policies.�
�Certainly. Well have a nice day.� I stuffed my wallet in my pocket and went home.
That night I placed the order with Amazon. The book was in my hand a few days later.

After that I stopped going to the bookstore in question. It had become a coffee shop with books for scenery.

Why am I mentioning this? Because their demise was already a done deal and I could tell with one single book order. The attitude and business model was a losing proposition. That encounter was about six years ago. Maybe the company could have been saved but I doubt it. At any rate it�s over now.
Second from bestselling author Larry Correia (Monster Hunter International, Monster Hunter Vendetta, The Grimnoir Chronicles: Hard Magic (May 2011), Monster Hunter Alpha (August 2011), Dead Six (with Mike Kupari, October 2011), and The Grimnoir Chronicles: Dark Ocean (November 2011)):
On Border�s closing
Since, as a writer, I�ve been to a LOT of bookstores, people have been asking me my opinion on Border�s closing. I�ve mentioned my feelings about Borders a few times on this blog, so this shouldn�t come as a surprise.

My opinion is Borders did it to themselves.

All of the business editorials I�ve seen are making it out that they were killed by the eBook revolution. Maybe that was a big loss on one revenue stream, but having visited fifty+ Borders over the last couple of years, and having been a businessman/salesman/entrepreneur myself, I can say they were sucking wind in their regular stores too.

Let me give you a few examples. When I do a book signing at Barnes & Noble (the other big box book store), their managers are universally helpful, the staff is normally very knowledgeable. I�ve never had an event at a B&N where they forgot to get books. I�ve never had an event at a B&N where they didn�t seem glad to have me and my fans there. Event at Borders? I�d have a fifty-fifty chance of having management give a damn. Maybe fifty-fifty on the employees, who were usually just listlessly serving time. And only Borders (and one particular Indy store that shall remain nameless) have actually scheduled me to have a book signing, and then forgotten to order any extra books. This has happened to me twice at two separate Borders.

When I go on book tour, I will map out the route, and map out every single book store within a city. Between scheduled events I will travel from store to store, so that I can sign my books that are in stock (signed copies sell better) but mostly in order to meet the staff. I�ve found that if I have fans on staff at a bookstore, I will literally sell ten times as many copies at that store compared to one down the street where nobody knows me.

My reception at Borders usually ranged between negative to blah� It got to the point that if I had to choose between stopping at an Indy, a B&N, or a Borders, I would hit the Indy first, then the B&N, then the other B&N, then every other B&N within 20 miles, and then maybe the Borders� Unless I was hungry, tired, bored, or maybe just wanted to go back to the hotel in case there was something more important to do, like watch reruns of Walker Texas Ranger.

Here is how a drive by would go at an average B&N the week one of my books comes out. Introduce myself to the person at the service counter. Usually they�d grab a manager. Then I�d sign the 5-12 copies of my books that they have. I�d usually end up having a conversation. About half the time, one or more of the staff members would purchase one of my books. (normally I would try to find out who their biggest contemporary fantasy fan was, or just cheat and find out who their Jim Butcher fan was). If I already had fans on staff, I�d make sure they got an MHI patch.

Here is how the average Border�s drive by on release week would go. Stand forever at the customer service counter� Get one employee who goes, er, huh? You want to what? You write books? Oh� Okay� Whatever. Then I would go and sign my 0-2 copies. (right next to the forty thousand copies of various True Blood tie-ins) Nobody would care. Then I would ask myself why I bothered stopping at Borders and drive to the next B&N.
Much more at Larry's site and some great observations in the 60+ comments. Running a business takes diligence but it is not rocket science. Keeping clean and up-to-date books is the first crucial hurdle. Maintaining a "corporate culture" that is cool for your employees and for your customers is the second. With these two, you are 80% of the way to running a successful business. Border's didn't do the second and they were in denial for the first. Watch the numbers and keep everyone happy. A good mantra...

Auction oddity

For some reason, the older 'workgroup' laser printers are selling for pennies these days.

An online auction has three of the HP 8150 DN Network ready laser printers for sale; opening bid $50 and nobody has bid -- auction has been up for one week and is over in one hour.

The "DN" specification means that it has the optional Duplexing module and the Network interface installed. Duplexing is fancy printer talk for printing on both sides of the page with no operator intervention needed. These puppies sold for $3K to $5K just a few years ago -- they are fast, absolutely bomb proof, can print up to 11X17 pages, gorgeous image quality (black and white only through...) and your page costs are less than a penny for operation.

Compare this to your desktop inkjet printer which has its place but... they are s....l......o.........w............... compared to the laser, limited to 8.5X14 page size and cost per sheet is about 5¢ on up depending on coverage. If I didn't already own four of these beauties, I would snap up these three and give them a good home. Fifty @#$% bucks for an incredible printer...

Lazy Sunday

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Went into my little hamlet for some espresso and checked in at the Grocery store and then came back out to the farm and spend a delightful day pottering about. I am shifting the music stuff around (been doing this for the last six months) and found the perfect shelving for the keyboards at the Costco Business center while driving up from Saturday's swap meet. They are the metro wire shelves but five feet long and two feet deep -- much bigger than what you normally find. Perfect fit and with them being on heavy-duty casters, I can wheel them out from the wall whenever I want to fiddle with the wiring. Looks a lot better and should streamline the workflow a bit. Also got a couple coats of paint on the boards I am going to use to mount the new 200 Amp service panel for the shop. The building is a pole building with uprights spaced every ten feet and sheet metal siding. Going to bring the new service through the sheet metal so need a pair of stringers to go between the uprights to hold the new panel. Painted a sheet of plywood for mounting the panel on -- more than what the code requires but I like to keep my wiring neat and above code requirements. Probably grab a burger at a local restaurant and head back to do some more work on the music stuff in the DaveCave(tm) The foot is still pretty raw and swollen but it is a lot stronger and I spent all day working on it and there is no discomfort -- a state quite different from before the surgery...

A list with 27 items

From Adaptive Curmudgeon:

Things You Need To Know Before You Buy The Farm
There's no obvious word for what I do. I have a homestead and aim for self reliance, but I still have a day job. Is that "homesteading"? Who knows? Homesteading is a spectrum between Grizzly Adams and the banker's deluded trophy wife who hires illegal aliens to plant tomatoes for her. I haven't gone as self-reliant as I'd like but that's probably good. It keeps me from going too Mosquito Coast and/or starving in a mud hut.

Another thing to know; it's a bigger challenge than you think. Too many lessons are learned the hard way, most of what you read is bullshit, and half of what you actually know won't apply to your situation.

I probably don't know what I'm doing but I do know plenty of stuff that's wrong. I'm always happy to help folks avoid obvious pitfalls (many of which I've experienced first hand). So I've written an unordered and incomplete list of things you need to know if you'd like to homestead.
1.You have much less money than you think.
2.Don't quit your day job. See #1.
3.Baby skunks are the sweetest cutest little fluffballs you've ever seen. Shoot them; in the head.
4.Every redneck with a spare acre of overgrazed farmland will put a cow on it. If you automatically buy a cow, you may be a redneck. If you ponder the best use of your pasture you may be on the path to homesteading. If you buy a llama you're doomed.
5.If deer eat your garden; eat the deer. Humanity evolved to be a bad ass. Rise to the occasion.
6.Hippies, God bless them, become a lot more realistic after raccoons kill their chickens and the pipes freeze.
7.Squirrels, birds, snakes, and other woodland creatures enjoy ruining your plans. It is your job to demonstrate your superior position on the evolutionary ladder. After a while they'll learn that you're not nature's bitch and back off. Unless you are; in which case they'll take over your house and party like the Green Bay Packers on acid.
8.Get this month's copy of Mother Earth News. Then burn it.
9. Jackie Clay is smarter than you.
10.Tools, chainsaws, buckets, mauls -- you need a whole lotta' shit to reduce materialism. Go figure.

That is the first ten -- 17 more at the site...

Please take the time to remember that for each Amy or Townes or Janis; there are thousands of other people who die just as early and just as horribly -- we do not hear about them because they were never "famous". From the NY Times:
Breakout Album Became Winehouse�s Only Song
She was just getting started. Amy Winehouse, dead at 27, was only two albums into a career, and a life, that would be derailed by alcohol, drugs and bad choices.

Ms. Winehouse had not released an album in five years; her masterpiece, �Back to Black,� arrived in Britain in 2006 and in the United States in 2007. Its insolent, savvy but sadly prophetic single �Rehab� won Grammy Awards as Record of the Year and Song of the Year and the Ivor Novello Award in Britain, and it might not even be the album�s best song. Under better circumstances, �Back to Black� would have been a foundation for a long and maturing catalog. Now, it remains as a warning that Ms. Winehouse could not bring herself to heed. �I tread a troubled track,� she sang in the album�s title song. �My odds are stacked.�

The police in London have said that they are investigating the circumstances of Ms. Winehouse�s death, but that �at this early stage it is being treated as unexplained.�
Sweet dreams and peace at last.

Back home again

Had a wonderful day at the Blacksmith Swap Meet. I knew that the host was 'into' knifemaking but I didn't realize that he was an ABS Master Smith and that his work was so gorgeous. He teaches so I think I am going to be spending a few weekends in Seattle this fall. He did a few demos during the swap-meet and I learned a lot -- like his teaching style. Picked up a forge blower with bad bearings -- the unit was built back when stuff like this was meant to be repaired by the operator so it will be a simple matter to disassemble it, press out the old bearings, get some new ones from Applied (and there is a branch in town) and be up and running. I have a sweet old 1/4 horse motor from the 1950's that I have been saving for a project like this. Also picked up some laser-cut 1075 knife blade blanks, three gorgeous and indulgent small blocks of burl and spalted wood for knife handles (when I get good enough to need them, they will be there waiting patiently). The 100 pounds of Hematite ore is fun -- two 50 pound bags and the bags are about the same size as a five pound bag of sugar. Tiny for all of its mass. I will be moving these over to 5-gallon white food-service pails in a few days so it doesn't rust and will take a photo of it with me playing with a magnet.

Crap -- terrorism in Norway

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More than 80 people dead in a bomb and shooting at a summer camp. From Associated Press:
Norway horror: 80 die in camp shooting, 7 in blast
A Norwegian who dressed as a police officer to gun down summer campers killed at least 80 people at an island retreat, horrified police said early Saturday. It took investigators several hours to begin to realize the full scope of Friday's massacre, which followed an explosion in nearby Oslo that killed seven and that police say was set off by the same suspect.

The mass shootings are among the worst in history. With the blast outside the prime minister's office, they formed the deadliest day of terror in Western Europe since the 2004 Madrid train bombings killed 191.

Police initially said about 10 were killed at the forested camp on the island of Utoya, but some survivors said they thought the toll was much higher. Police director Oystein Maeland told reporters early Saturday they had discovered many more victims.

"It's taken time to search the area. What we know now is that we can say that there are at least 80 killed at Utoya," Maeland said. "It goes without saying that this gives dimensions to this incident that are exceptional."
Nothing confirmed but it seems that it could have been a Norwegian national. Special circle of hell, etc...

Thank you John Boehner

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For not blinking and caving into what must be incredible pressure. From Breitbart/Associated Press:
Boehner withdraws from debt talks with Obama
President Barack Obama said Friday night that House Speaker John Boehner was "walking away" from negotiations to raise the nation's debt ceiling and avert financial catastrophe. Still, Obama said he was expecting congressional leaders from both parties at the White House Saturday morning.

In a dramatic appearance in the White House briefing room Obama said it was up to congressional leaders to explain to him how they intend to avoid the default that is threatened after Aug. 2.

"I expect them to have an answer in terms of how they intend to get this thing done in the course of the next week. The American people expect action," Obama said.

Boehner, in a letter circulated to the House Republican rank and file, said he had withdrawn from the talks with Obama because "in the end, we couldn't connect.He said he would turn instead to negotiations with leaders of the Senate, which is controlled by majority Democrats.

The disconnect in the talks with the White House, Boehner said, was "not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country.
And of course, Obama's first reaction was to grab a couple TelePrompTers and get in front of the cameras. Boehner's reaction was this letter:
Dear Colleague,

Our economy is not creating enough jobs, and the policies coming out of Washington are a big reason why. Because of Washington, we have a tax code that is stifling job creation. Because of Washington, we have a debt crisis that is sowing uncertainty and sapping the confidence of small businesses. Because of Washington, our children are financing a government spending binge that is jeopardizing their future.

Since the moment I became Speaker, I�ve urged President Obama to lock arms with me and seize this moment to do something significant to address these challenges. I�ve urged him to partner with congressional Republicans to do something dramatic to change the fiscal trajectory of our country. . .something that will boost confidence in our economy, renew a measure of faith in our institutions of government, and help small businesses get back to creating jobs.

The House this week passed such a plan. . .the Cut, Cap & Balance Act, which passed the House with bipartisan support.

Along with Majority Leader Cantor, I have also engaged the president in a dialogue in recent days. The purpose of this dialogue was to see if we could identify a path forward that would implement the principles of Cut, Cap, & Balance in a manner that could secure bipartisan support and be signed into law.

During these discussions -- as in my earlier discussions -- it became evident that the White House is simply not serious about ending the spending binge that is destroying jobs and endangering our children's future.

A deal was never reached, and was never really close.

In the end, we couldn�t connect. Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country.

The president is emphatic that taxes have to be raised. As a former small businessman, I know tax increases destroy jobs.

The president is adamant that we cannot make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs. As the father of two daughters, I know these programs won�t be there for their generation unless significant action is taken now.

For these reasons, I have decided to end discussions with the White House and begin conversations with the leaders of the Senate in an effort to find a path forward.

The Democratic leaders of the House and Senate have not been participants in the conversations I and Leader Cantor have had with the White House; nor have the Republican leaders of the Senate. But I believe there is a shared commitment on both sides of the aisle to producing legislation that will serve the best interests of our country in the days ahead -- legislation that reflects the will of the American people, consistent with the principles of the Cut, Cap, & Balance Act that passed the House with bipartisan support this week.

I wanted to alert you to these developments as soon as possible. Further information will be coming as soon as it is available. It is an honor to serve with you. Together, we will do everything in our power to end the spending binge in Washington and help our economy get back to creating jobs.


John Boehner
Ball in Obama's court. The next two weeks will be interesting. We have raised the debt ceiling before, the US Government has shut down before. Who will blink.

Heavy Metal

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Picked up 100 pounds of Hematite ore -- about 12�/pound with sales tax so not too shabby. I am guessing that I should be able to extract at the minimum about 20 pounds of high-grade tamahagane. The ore is about 60% Iron and other trace minerals and is about 1% to 1.5% carbon. My only other expenses will be firebrick (already have) some stainless steel tube for the Tuyere (already have) some refactory cement (already have) and about $50 of lump charcoal (do not have -- local restaurant supply store) First project is getting the 200 Amp service out to the shop though, need to be able to run the power hammer first. Spending the night at a local Silver Cloud motel near my old stomping grounds -- want to get there early for the swap meet. The building that the swap-meet host is in is a lot of fun -- old Seattle industrial structure with overhead bridge cranes and a nice industrial vibe to it -- they share the space with some other similar businesses -- looks like a really fun place to work.

Heading south for two days

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Driving down to Seattle for today and tomorrow. Today is to pick up some hematite ore to try making my own knife-making steel through the Japanese process and also to hit up the Seattle City Light salvage yard for anything interesting. Tomorrow is this annual swap-meet -- should be fun! Back sometime Saturday afternoon.

Good news from Congress

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From PhysOrg:
US panel votes to bar climate funding
A panel of the US Congress on Thursday moved to bar foreign assistance related to climate change, defying President Barack Obama's calls to contribute as part of an international accord.

On a party line vote, the Republican-led House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to ban funding in next year's budget for Obama's initiative to support poor nations in adapting to climate change or pursuing clean energy.

But the measure's future is uncertain as other committees also have jurisdiction over climate funding including in the Senate, where Obama's Democratic Party is in control.

Representative Connie Mack, a Republican from Florida, said he proposed the funding cut as "we have to prioritize US tax dollars." Jean Schmidt, a Republican from Ohio, questioned if human activity was causing climate change.
And of course:
Democrats attacked the move. Representative Howard Berman, the top Democrat on the committee, said it would cut off funding for vulnerable populations that are already feeling the effects of climate change.

Gerry Connolly, a Democrat from Virginia, likened the Republican effort to the 1925 Scopes monkey trial in which a Tennessee teacher was taken to court for teaching evolution.
We are how many trillions of Dollars down the rat hole and these fools keep spending our money on stupid crap like this. The Scopes monkey trial was about science confronting superstition. This is the same but I don't think that Mr. Connolly understands that his side is the side of superstition and the preponderance of evidence against Anthropogenic Global Warming is firmly in the Science camp. The Democrats are demagoguing that any budget cuts will throw grandma under the bus and stop Uncle Willie's Social Security check when this is just a big lie worthy of Joseph Goebbels:
�If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.�
Tip 'o the hat to Anthony

Long day ahead

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Heading down to Seattle tomorrow to pick up some hematite ore and check the Seattle City Light salvage yard for anything interesting. Saturday is the annual blacksmith swap meet -- my forge is pretty well set up but looking for high-carbon steel, a couple specific tools and just hanging out and getting to know the smiths from the Pacific Northwest. Was in town for the final Doctor's appointment on my foot -- clean bill of health. He took out a couple of sutures, checked the range of motion and pronounced me cured. The foot is still swollen and raw but another month should see a world of difference -- one of these things that I should have done years ago but always put it off...

Time to drain the swamp.

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One of my few physical dead-tree print subscriptions is to a wonderful Agricultural weekly for California, Oregon and Washington called the Capital Press. The July 15th issue has this curious front-page (albeit below the fold) story:
Polar bear listing OK despite 'inconclusive' data
The California Cattlemen's Association has lost a legal challenge against the inclusion of polar bears on the federal list of threatened and endangered species.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ruled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was justified in listing the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The agency listed the species in 2008 after concluding that its sea ice habitat is melting due to climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

The California Cattlemen's Association and the state of Alaska filed legal complaints against the agency, arguing the listing decision wasn't supported by solid evidence.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan has sided with the federal government, finding that its findings were not irrational.

"It is well settled in the D.C. Circuit that FWS is entitled -- and, indeed, required -- to rely on the best available science, even if that science is uncertain or even 'quite inconclusive,'" according to the ruling.
This attempt at branding political agenda as 'Science' has been quite inconclusive for a long long time. Justice Sullivan is no slouch at all but he is a lawyer and not a scientist -- he needs to get some better advisers. And yes, the Polar Bears are doing just fine -- the decline was due to hunting and now that this is greatly limited, the populations are rebounding. And that iconic photo of the bear on the ice floe? The real story can be found here and here (be sure to follow the links embedded in these two posts -- the backstory shows you how our media works).
From a speech by Mark Mix at Hillsdale College:
The Right to Work: A Fundamental Freedom
Boeing is a great American company. Recently it has built a second production line�its other is in Washington State�in South Carolina for its 787 Dreamliner airplane, creating 1,000 jobs there so far. Who knows what factors led to its decision to do this? As with all such business decisions, there were many. But the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)�a five-member agency created in 1935 by the Wagner Act (about which I will speak momentarily)�has taken exception to this decision, ultimately based on the fact that South Carolina is a right-to-work state. That is, South Carolina, like 21 other states today, protects a worker�s right not only to join a union, but also to make the choice not to join or financially support a union. Washington State does not. The general counsel of the NLRB, on behalf of the International Association of Machinists union, has issued a complaint against Boeing, which, if successful, would require it to move its South Carolina operation back to Washington State. This would represent an unprecedented act of intervention by the federal government that appears, on its face, un-American. But it is an act long in the making, and boils down to a fundamental misunderstanding of freedom.
Mark gives some fascinating history of the labor movement in the United States and then drops this little bombshell of a statistic:
Under a decades-old political compromise, federal labor policies promoting compulsory unionism persist side by side with the ability of states to curb such compulsion with right-to-work laws. So far, as I said, 22 states have done so. And when we compare and contrast the economic performance in these 22 states against the others, we find interesting things. For example, from 1999 to 2009 (the last such year for which data are available), the aggregate real all-industry GDP of the 22 right-to-work states grew by 24.2 percent, nearly 40 percent more than the gain registered by the other 28 states as a group.

Even more dramatic is the contrast if we look at personal income growth. From 2000 to 2010, real personal incomes grew by an average of 24.3 percent in the 22 right-to-work states, more than double the rate for the other 28 as a group. But the strongest indicator is the migration of young adults. In 2009, there were 20 percent more 25- to 34-year-olds in right-to-work states than in 1999. In the compulsory union states, the increase was only 3.3 percent�barely one-sixth as much.
Emphases mine -- holy crap those are some significant numbers. And people still persist in thinking that the unions are there to benefit the working man? They are only there to consolidate their own power. A perfect example of Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy:
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people":
First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.
It is bad enough that the unions are failing to keep the workers safe -- just look at the Deepwater Horizon blowout -- the rig was known to be dangerous, 11 people died. Did the union shut it down until conditions improved? How about the Massey Energy mine explosion in West Virginia. The mine was known to be dangerous, 29 people died. Did the union shut it down until conditions improved? How about the Tesoro Refinery explosion and fire here in Washington state. The refinery was known to be dangerous, 5 people died. Did the union shut it down until conditions improved? And these three examples are just from 2010 -- the list goes on and on and on. And there are people that still think that unions are a good thing? They had their day but that day is over.
From Google/Associated Press:
'Cut cap and balance' debt measure passes House
The House has passed legislation conditioning a $2.4 trillion increase in the nation's borrowing cap on a tea party-backed plan to require immediate spending cuts and a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.

The 234-190 vote sends the "cut, cap and balance" plan to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it has virtually no chance of passing.

With the House tally cast, attention is returning to efforts in the Senate to provide President Barack Obama authority to impose an increase in the debt limit without approval by Congress and on a new Senate "Gang of Six" proposal to cut the deficit by almost $4 trillion over the coming decade.
This bill actually has some teeth in it as opposed to the Gang of Six plan which just kicks the can down the road a few administrations. Getting a balanced budget amendment would be a milestone to getting this nation back on course and getting the economy revving again. Going to spend some time tomorrow to see how our (WA State) Democrat House members voted and make a few phone calls...

Where is my Earth Shattering Ka-Boom?

An excellent observation from The Czar of Muscovy writing at The Gormogons:

Things That Don't Go Boom
This list barely scratches the surface:
    • The Internet
    • Spread spectrum wireless communications
    • Digital photography
    • GPS
    • Forward-looking infrared
    • Zodiac boats
    • Night-vision cameras
    • Telemedicine
    • Velcro
    • RADAR
    • Heads-up displays
    • Data encryption
    • Nuclear reactors
    • SONAR
    • Flat panel displays
    • Robotic prosthetics
        • Indeed, this list is so incomplete that the Czar asks you do not even bother to submit more. The common thread here?
    All of this
          was military technology that has crept, shifted, or jumped into common civilian use.
          military technology. Think of how many millions of ordinary lives around the world have been changed for the better because of these things. And how trivial some of them have become: one of the major uses of SONAR today are handheld fishfinders mounted on bass boats. Kids' shoes are almost solely Velcro, developed by the USAF for NASA. Fire and rescue personnel depend heavily on FLIR. You are reading this thanks to DARPA.
          This is all stuff that was once incredibly secret, but our military deemed it so essential to improving the lives of Americans that it was given back to us, sold in thousands of commercial products.
          Now, here comes the tricky part: name another military that has given so much back to the people it protects. Yes, indeed, the Romans did a lot (train gauges, driving on the right, road construction), as did the British (Silly Putty, gyroscopics, sherry), but the sheer list of American constributions just since World War II is truly astonishing. No doubt you have already thought up a couple not listed here. You may even have used some in the last 24 hours, because so much of it is out there.
          Our military does a lot for us: it defends our borders, eliminates threats we don't even think about, assures our freedom, and
          trouble long before it starts. And, pretty often, it says "Hey, you wanna see something
          cool?" And then, just like that, it
          us something neat to play with.
        So go ahead. Name another military that comes close.

    Swiped in full. What he said...

    Not so l33t after all

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    From FOX News:
    More Than a Dozen Suspected 'Anonymous' Hackers Arrested in Nationwide Sweep
    More than a dozen suspected members of "Anonymous" were arrested this morning in states including Florida, New Jersey and California, in what appears to be a nationwide takedown of the notorious hacking group, FoxNews.com has exclusively learned.

    The arrests are part of an ongoing investigation into Anonymous, which has claimed responsibility for numerous cyberattacks against a variety of websites including Visa and Mastercard.

    Some of the arrests were out of the San Francisco field office, sources said, activity that followed searches earlier in the day in the New York area at residences believed to be associated with members of the hacking collective, FoxNews.com has learned.

    �I can confirm that we�re conducting law enforcement actions relating to a criminal investigation,� said Alicia Sensibaugh, a spokeswoman for FBI�s San Francisco office, out of which sources said multiple search warrants were executed Tuesday morning.
    Heh -- went down at 6:00AM PDT this morning with arrests in Long Island and Brooklyn, NY as well as the Florida, New Jersey and California mentioned in the news article. You can run but you cannot hide...

    Fun times in the neighborhood


    It has been an interesting couple of months.

    The tagline of this blog used to be "Occasional notes from a happily married Mt. Baker Geek and Cider Maker..."

    It has been revised to "Occasional notes from a Mt. Baker Geek..."

    Jen filed for separation today. We had been seeing a councilor but in the last couple of years we have drifted apart and it was her decision to separate. Still plan to do the hard cider but that is realistically pushed back a couple of years.

    To add a little fun to things, one week ago today I received a call from the father of the guy who opened the bakery that I was managing. The father physically owns the property, the son and his wife were just running the business. He told me that the son was coming into town to change the locks and that I had to vacate the business by Friday at close of business day. This is totally out of the blue and he didn't have the common @#$% grace to allow me to give my employees two weeks notice. Ran the final payroll this morning and will spend the next couple of days closing out the books and doing 3rd quarter taxes.

    There is a tentative interest in the property and business. I don't know if they want to keep it as a bakery or turn it into more of a restaurant but if this is the case, the father just shot himself in the foot big-time.

    In our county, if someone was to buy the bakery when I was running it, they would be grandfathered in on all the health permits and building codes -- even if they closed for a month to renovate, they would still be exempt. Now that the business is closed, anyone coming in to re-open it as a food business will have to upgrade from 2007 code compliance to 2011 code compliance. Septic, range hoods, fire alarm, wiring; I do not know what would be required (better things to do with my time) but it's gonna be expensive...

    Anyway, that is why I have been so quiet in cyberspace -- actually enjoying the peace and quiet at home and planning to devote more time to the blacksmithing. I was planning on shutting the bakery down in November anyway so this just moves the timetable up a bit.

    Nice service

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    The memorial service for my friend was today and was really nice. About 50 people showed up -- people from the Chamber and the local community (which is how I knew Linda) as well as people she worked with prior to her moving here. Her passing was one month ago today -- it still seems surreal that she is gone. Dealing with some other stuff so another few days of light posting. Latter part of the week will be this auction (maybe) and this swap-meet (definitely) and then things should be back to whatever passes for normalcy around here. When I am in Seattle for the swap-meet, I will be picking up a couple hundred pounds of Hematite ore to try making my own steel. The method was perfected in Japan and is known there as Tamahagane (tama = jewel / hagane = steel). A number of folks are bringing the 72 hour Japanese process into the 21st Century and doing it in five hours and getting incredible results. About 1% to 1.5% carbon -- perfect for an edge. I am not planning to do the Japanese knifes or swords, more into culinary knives and personal fixed blades but I have seen the results of this process (as well as witnessing the process two times (and a third this August)) and the results are drop-dead gorgeous.

    Just wonderful

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    From James Pethokoukis writing at Reuters:
    Panic at the White House? Gloomy Goldman Sachs sees high unemployment, possible recession
    Last night in a new report, Democrat-friendly Goldman Sachs dropped an economic bomb on President Obama�s chances for reelection (bold is mine):
    Following another week of weak economic data, we have cut our estimates for real GDP growth in the second and third quarter of 2011 to 1.5% and 2.5%, respectively, from 2% and 3.25%. Our forecasts for Q4 and 2012 are under review, but even excluding any further changes we now expect the unemployment rate to come down only modestly to 8�% at the end of 2012.

    The main reason for the downgrade is that the high-frequency information on overall economic activity has continued to fall substantially short of our expectations. � Some of this weakness is undoubtedly related to the disruptions to the supply chain�specifically in the auto sector�following the East Japan earthquake. By our estimates, this disruption has subtracted around � percentage point from second-quarter GDP growth. We expect this hit to reverse fully in the next couple of months, and this could add � point to third-quarter GDP growth. Moreover, some of the hit from higher energy costs is probably also temporary, as crude prices are down on net over the past three months. But the slowdown of recent months goes well beyond what can be explained with these temporary effects. � final demand growth has slowed to a pace that is typically only seen in recessions. .. Moreover, if the economy returns to recession�not our forecast, but clearly a possibility given the recent numbers
    Alarms bells must be ringing all over Obamaland today. Unemployment on Election Day about where it is right now? Sputtering � if not stalling � economic growth? To many Americans that would sound like the car is back in the ditch � if it was ever out. Maybe Goldman is wrong, but economists across Wall Street have been growing more bearish.

    And recall that back in August of 2009, the White House � after having a half year to view the economy and its $800 billion stimulus response � made an astoundingly optimistic forecast. Starting in 2011, with Obamanomics fully in gear and the recession over, growth would take off. GDP would rise 4.3 percent in 2011, followed by � 4.3 percent growth in 2012 and 2013, too! And 2014? Another year of 4.0 percent growth. Off to the races, America.
    The reason why Goldman Sachs is so big and so powerful is that they are very very good at what they do -- economic modeling and forecasting. If they say things don't look to good, I would start hording canned food and digging a bomb shelter. James also mentions something that bears repeating:
    Unemployment is at 9.2 percent (11.4 percent if the official labor force hadn�t collapsed since 2008 and 16.2 percent if you include discouraged and underemployed workers.)
    The unemployment rate is now being quoted as being 9.2%. Since Obama took office, the US has lost a large number of jobs due to businesses closing. If you took the number of people that were employed in 2008 and look at the number of people who are not working now, that unemployment number would be 11.4%. At the height of the Great Depression in 1933, unemployment was around 22%. A little bit too close for comfort...
    Some of the stuff I alluded to is coming to a head today and tomorrow as well as a memorial service for a dear friend who was tragically killed in an accident. I should be spending more time blogging next week...

    Good news and not so good news...

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    The incision is healing up great. I can get it wet now so came home and took a 20 minute hot shower. Feel like a new man. The auction was a bust -- didn't get anything as people were bidding up to new retail prices on tools that were in decent shape but used and old. I think I will pass on this one: MARINE LIQUIDATORS but this one looks interesting: GMCI. Not familiar with Mazak machines but I am sure someone on the CNC email list will have some pointers on what to look for.

    Big day today

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    Heading into Bellingham for this auction: Com-steel. They were the go-to people for prefabricated steel buildings but building has slowed enough that they are shutting down. Lots of hand tools for sheet metal so I'll see what I get. Because of the high visibility of this sale, there will probably be a lot of tourists so I will see what the prices are... Got another checkup with the foot doctor this afternoon -- see if I can (finally) go back to taking full-body showers instead of sponge baths. Woo-hoo!!!

    Just wonderful - QE3

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    Those clueless ninnies in Washington have zero idea what they are doing. From CNBC:
    Bernanke: Fed May Launch New Round of Stimulus
    Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress Wednesday that a new stimulus program is in the works that will entail additional asset purchases, the clearest indication yet that the central bank is contemplating another round of monetary easing.

    Bernanke said in prepared remarks that the economy is growing more slowly than expected, and should that continue the central bank stands at the ready with more accommodative measures.

    "Once the temporary shocks that have been holding down economic activity pass, we expect to again see the effects of policy accommodation reflected in stronger economic activity and job creation," he said.

    "However, given the range of uncertainties about the strength of the recovery and prospects for inflation over the medium term, the Federal Reserve remains prepared to respond should economic developments indicate that an adjustment in the stance of monetary policy would be appropriate."
    Growing slower than expected and they turn around and do the same stupid thing for a THIRD TIME!. John Maynard Keynes should be roasting on a special level of hell for his theories. Why people continue to follow him is beyond me as these tools simply do not work.
    Germany recently announced that it was quitting Nuclear Power. Hmmmm... Green energy? Not possible. What then. From Ryan Maue at Watts Up With That:
    Germany to shovel climate fund dollars into coal plants
    Less than a month after the failed Bonn UN climate confab, Germany has announced a most audacious energy policy: in order to shutter nuclear plants (but not completely scuttle their economy), the German government will direct climate fund cash to building coal and natural gas plants. You can�t make this stuff up.

    Germany plans to dump nuclear power by 2022 but clearly needs to meet burgeoning electricity demand especially for a still powerful manufacturing economy dependent upon exports. Solar panels at their latitude and windmills are not going to suffice, so the solution is more coal. The environmental movement must be apoplectic with so many politically correct wires crossing at once.
    Heh -- that quiet soft popping sound is hippies heads exploding...

    Skippy's List

    From here.

    Skippy's List: The 213 things Skippy is no longer allowed to do in the U.S. Army
    Explanations of these events:
    a) I did myself, and either got in trouble or commended. (I had a Major shake my hand for the piss bottle thing, for instance.)
    b) I witnessed another soldier do it. (Like the Sergeant we had, that basically went insane, and crucified some dead mice.)
    c) Was spontaneously informed I was not allowed to do. (Like start a porn studio.)
    d) Was the result of a clarification of the above. (What about especially patriotic porn?)
    e) I was just minding my own business, when something happened. (Schwarz -- what is *that*?  said the Sgt, as he pointed to the back of my car? Um... a rubber sheep? I can explain why that's there...)

    To explain how I've stayed out of jail/alive/not beaten up too badly.. I'm funny, so they let me live.

    The 213 Things.

    1. Not allowed to watch Southpark when I'm supposed to be working.
    2. My proper military title is "Specialist Schwarz" not "Princess Anastasia".
    3. Not allowed to threaten anyone with black magic.
    4. Not allowed to challenge anyone's disbelief of black magic by asking for hair.
    5. Not allowed to get silicone breast implants.
    6. Not allowed to play "Pulp Fiction" with a suction-cup dart pistol and any officer.
    7. Not allowed to add "In accordance with the prophesy" to the end of answers I give to a question an officer asks me.
    8. Not allowed to add pictures of officers I don't like to War Criminal posters.
    9. Not allowed to title any product "Get Over it".
    10. Not allowed to purchase anyone's soul on government time.

    203 more at the site. Fun stuff and gives me some ideas...

    His fault

    Great cartoon:

    His Fault

    From here.

    Project Gunrunner - now on video

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    I had posted this about Project Gunrunner last Friday (although bits and pieces have been being teased out by some gunnie bloggers over the last three months) with this: Project Gunrunner which links to the line item in the stimulus bill that allocates $10M to fund the operation. Now, thanks to Bob McCarty writing at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, we have the video from C-Span:
    Project Gunrunner Tied Directly to President Obama
    In a Dec. 3, 2009, article about the announced resignation of Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, the Wall Street Journal�s Evan Perez wrote that Ogden hasn�t been identified with any major Justice Department policy initiatives. Now that this C-SPAN video from March 24, 2009, is making the rounds anew, it appears Ogden�s name � and that of President Barack Obama � is going to be associated with one now.

    That initiative � which could go down in the annals of presidential history as �Obama�s Watergate� � goes by the name, �Operation Fast and Furious,� and it�s an offshoot of �Project Gunrunner.�

    Ogden is shown in the video that resurfaced Friday as he addresses reporters at a Department of Justice briefing.

    �The president has directed us to take action to fight these cartels,� Ogden begins, �and Attorney General Holder and I are taking several new and aggressive steps as part of the Administration�s comprehensive plan.�

    He goes on to outline that plan, using the exact words below:
    �DOJ�s Drug Enforcement Administration, which already has the largest U.S. drug enforcement presence in Mexico with 11 offices in that country, is placing 16 new DEA positions in Southwest border field operations specifically to target Mexican trafficking and associated violence.�

    �The DEA is also deploying four new mobile enforcement teams to specifically target Mexican methamphetamine trafficking, both along the border and in U.S. cities impacted by the cartels.�

    �DOJ�s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is increasing its efforts by adding 37 new employees in three new offices, using $10 million in Recovery Act funds and redeploying 100 personnel to the Southwest border in the next 45 days to fortify its Project Gunrunner which is aimed at disrupting arms trafficking between the United States and Mexico.�

    �ATF is doubling its presence in Mexico itself, from five to nine personnel working with the Mexicans, specifically to facilitate gun-tracing activity which targets the illegal weapons and their sources in the United States.�
    After watching this video, the reasons behind Ogden�s resignation after working for Attorney General Eric Holder for less than a year, appear seem clear: He wanted to reduce his chances of becoming the �fall guy� for the Obama Administration after news of this doomed-from-the-start gun-running operation became public. Nineteen months later, the �cat� that is Project Gunrunner is out of the proverbial bag.
    More at Sipsey Street Irregulars and David Codrea. Quite the Earth-shattering Ka-Boom! If the present regime was Republican, the Progressives would be spinning this as being bigger than Watergate.

    Minimal posting tonight

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    I will write about all that has happened in the last six weeks in a couple more weeks. Been a bit of a heavy time. Spending tonight offline in the DaveCave(tm) working on some other stuff. The foot is doing fantastic - swelling has gone down enough that I can almost fit it into a muck-boot. It fits but is uncomfortable -- too much pressure. This was not the case last Thursday before the operation. Woo Hoo!!!

    Busy today

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    Had some unexpected news yesterday and am busy dealing with the loose ends. Everything is good -- just unexpected... Be sure to check out Drudge report and Big Government for the latest in Obaba's demagoguery. Pathetic

    Interesting days

    Crap loves company Been going through an interesting "cluster" of events in the last two months. Hope things turn around soon. The good news is that I will have a lot more time to devote to the forge and to my own life...

    It would never pass but...

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    ...this wonderful bit of common sense from Warren Buffett:
    How to end the USA's deficit spending?
    Warren Buffett has a possible solution:
    "I could end the deficit in 5 minutes. You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of congress are ineligible for reelection."
    Now why didn't the Founding Fathers put that in the Constitution? And why hasn't someone already put it out there as a proposed Constitutional amendment?
    And a big tip 'o the Fedora to Peter at Bayou Renaissance Man

    Foot blogging

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    Had the post-op checkup today and things look great. I have quite the racing stripe (incision is almost 2" long) and there is still a good bit of swelling but no pain and the toe moves fine. Nice to be back and ambulatory -- have another checkup Thursday the 14th and I should be able to take whole-body showers after then -- basin baths still get you clean but they just don't cut it for the sensory experience... Working on some stuff in the DaveCave(tm) so blogging will be a bit thin on the ground tonight.

    A directive from the National Parks

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    From the Seattle Times:
    Goat-goring death prompts new measures at Olympic National Park
    The goat-goring death last fall of a man at Olympic National Park has prompted this warning to visitors: Don't urinate on trails.

    The warning is part of a new plan being instituted by park officials to avoid a repeat of the Oct. 16 death of Bob H. Boardman of Port Angeles in a goat attack, according to the Peninsula Daily News.

    Visitors to the park are being urged not to urinate along trails frequented by mountain goats to avoid turning trails into "long, linear salt licks" that attract goats. The plan also calls for one-week trail closures in areas where goats persistently follow people and enter campsites. In addition, there will be two-week closures in areas when mountain goats exhibit threatening postures, and if they will not leave an area without aggressive hazing, such as shouting, arm-waving and throwing rocks to keep them at a distance.

    The plan, released Thursday by the park, also urges visitors and park staff to keep at least 50 yards away from all mountain goats regardless of the animals' behavior, according to the Daily News.

    The plan includes six levels of response to goat sightings, from solely observation to lethal removal for goats that attack or corner a person.

    Boardman, 63, died after trying to shoo away a mountain goat at the top of Klahhane Ridge, about four miles north of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. A necropsy later revealed the 370-pound adult male goat was in breeding condition, or the rut, when it gored Boardman in the left thigh.
    I imagine not just the salts but also testosterone and other hormones could make the goat think that there was competition in the area. It's just a few weeks in the fall so this is something that should be monitored pretty easily. I pee off the edge of the deck and our three males don't use that as a salt lick -- they are all fixed so don't go into rut (this is a good thing).

    Bored blogging - day two

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    As I thought yesterday, today is proving to be boring... Very very boring... Cleaned out the fridge, did some laundry and dishes and just sitting here reading the entire internet. Twice! The foot is still throbbing but a lot less and the itching has started in so healing is happening. Halfway tempted to put some street clothes on in a couple hours and go out for a beer or two...

    Flip flop

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    An interesting look at what one year will bring from Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. It is a long editorial but here are the key paragraphs:
    If the Republicans' position (no tax hikes but significant spending cuts) holds, they will have avoided following Obama down the rabbit hole of class warfare and Keynesian obsession. The alternative would chase off their base and leave them with no message to attract voters fed up with the president�s mismanagement of the economy. The contrast they appear to be drawing with the president could not be more stark.

    Friday�s Rose Garden remarks by President Obama were as damning as the unemployment numbers. An eagle-eyed Capitol Hill Republican points to a telling contrast that highlights the intellectual cul-de-sac in which Obama now finds himself.

    On Friday he proclaimed: �And over the past few months, the economy has experienced some tough headwinds � from natural disasters, to spikes in gas prices, to state and local budget cuts that have cost tens of thousands of cops and firefighters and teachers their jobs.�

    In the Rose Garden last summer he proclaimed: �And that�s why today we�re trying to pass a law that will save hundreds of thousands of additional jobs in the coming year. It will help states avoid laying off police officers, firefighters, nurses and first responders. And it will save the jobs of teachers like the ones who are standing with me today.�

    In other words, Obama�s policies have flopped, and the flops now are supposed to justify more of the same.
    How's that hope and change going for 'ya buddy?
    From Yahoo/Associated Press:
    Tough line: US suspends military aid to Pakistan
    The Obama administration's decision to suspend $800 million in aid to the Pakistan's military signals a tougher U.S. line with a critical but sometimes unreliable partner in the fight against terrorism.

    President Barack Obama's chief of staff, William Daley, said in a broadcast interview Sunday that the estranged relationship between the United States and Pakistan must be made "to work over time," but until it does, "we'll hold back some of the money that the American taxpayers are committed to give" to the country's powerful military forces.
    A bit more -- Mullen is Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff:
    George Perkovich, an expert on Pakistan with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said Mullen's comments and the suspension of aid represent "the end of happy talk," where the U.S. tries to paper over differences between the two nations.
    "end of happy talk" indeed -- we knew what we were dealing with there and we never should have opened with happy talk. That culture only respects strength and for us to "paper over differences" is in their eyes weakness and appeasement. They were taking everything they could and laughing at us behind our backs. Looks like someone has finally found a pair.

    Happy 155th Birthday - Nikola Tesla

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    Probably my biggest personal hero. He invented the alternating current motor, the system we use for power generation and distribution including the 60Hz line frequency and the 120/240 volt transmission as well as the single phase and three phase systems. Europe and Asia use 50Hz only because that would free them from licensing requirements -- 50Hz is less efficient requiring bigger equipment for the equivalent power. He also invented minor things like the fluorescent light, a kind of X-Ray tube (he was experimenting with X Rays at the same time that Roentgen was), he demonstrated a working radio communications system in 1898 at Madison Square Garden. He had an electric boat that would start up, turn port and starboard, flash its lights. Marconi's three dots across the atlantic happened in 1901. The US Supreme Court made a decision in 1943, reversing Marconi's patent and restoring it to Tesla. He also invented minor stuff - the spark plug, bladeless turbines, a primitive RADAR in 1917. A list of his 300+ patents can be found here: List of Tesla patents
    From the WA State Department of Health:
    Aerial Radiological Survey for King and Pierce Counties
    Frequently Asked Questions
    A helicopter flying over some urban areas of King and Pierce counties will gather radiological readings July 11-28, 2011. The U.S. Department of Energy's Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measurement System will collect baseline levels of radioactive materials. The helicopter's equipment can detect the presence of radioactive materials that emit gamma radiation such as cesium and radioactive iodine. The baseline would be used in the event of a radiation emergency to compare radioactive contamination to the normal levels found during this study. The Washington State Department of Health Office of Radiation Protection is overseeing the project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

    The helicopter will fly a grid pattern spaced about 600 feet apart at an altitude of 300 feet, flying at 70 mph. The results will be provided to local agencies from the surveyed area by year-end. Some of the data may be withheld for national security purposes. The state Department of Health has been planning this project since 2009.
    Makes sense to me -- the major Gamma emitters (and they don't mention Neutrons and I bet they are looking for these too) are the fissile materials and their byproducts so getting a baseline on these is a good thing. Makes it easy to unobtrusively spot check a container coming into port. But I bet that seeing a helo come zooming past only to return a couple hundred feet away, lather, rinse, repeat will cause some people to reach for their AFDBs. More on AFDBs here
    About 2.5 hours ago -- more info here: Magnitude 7.0 - OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN The Japan Meteorological Agency reports no danger of tsunami.

    Bored blogging

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    Foot is healing up nicely. Took four of the feel-good pills yesterday but only one this morning. Foot is throbbing a bit but very minimal actual pain. The nerve pain is gone which is a huge relief. Very bored -- sitting at the dining room table with a laptop and my foot propped up on a chair. Been reading a few books and surfing a lot but staying immobile like this is booooring -- Sunday is going to be a trial of patience. I go to the Doc for an examination on Monday so maybe I will be able to walk around and drive after then. Going to hobble out to the DaveCave(tm) in a few minutes to see what the email faeries have brought in...

    From Crain's New York:

    Bankruptcy for NYC eatery selling $175 burgers
    The Wall Street Burger Shoppe made international headlines several years ago when it put a $175 burger on its menu. Today, the 112-seat joint in the financial district is closed, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, just three years after opening.

    Chef and owner Kevin O'Connell, who launched a number of other notable eateries, including Pop Restaurant, Pop Burger, Pizza Bar and Veranda, did not respond to a request for comment.

    His lawyer, Tanya Dwyer, said the restaurant, at 30 Wall St., was not profitable. Mr. O'Connell is the sole owner of Burger Shoppe, having bought out a business partner earlier this year. There were other partners in the restaurant as well, Ms. Dwyer added, but they were "not able to make a go of it," and pulled out of the business earlier.

    A bit more:

    The bankruptcy filing for his Burger Shoppe listed liabilities of up to $500,000 and assets of up to $50,000. The restaurant's biggest creditors appear to be its landlord and the New York state Department of Taxation and Finance.

    A business like that will have an initial spike of sales -- the novelty of the product but, even though it sounds heavenly, people are not going to line up and spend $175 every day. If they sold it for $40, they would have had a lot better sales and still made a decent profit. New York State is not the best place to run a business either with burdensome taxes and overarching business regulations. Not only the sales taxes but NY City also has its own Income tax.

    The Met Office Supercomputer

    I remembered a few things about this particular beast and did a bit of Googling: From IT Pro:

    Met Office supercomputer tops polluting list
    The Met Office's celebrated supercomputer, which has a major function of predicting climate change, has been identified as one of the worst culprits for pollution in the UK.

    The £30 million IBM machine produces 12,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year.

    The emissions have led to the Met Office's headquarters in Exeter being named among the worst public buildings for pollution in a new league table from the Department of Communities and Local Government.

    But the Met Office is less than happy with the accolade. It said in a statement: "We recognize that our DEC rating [carbon dioxide emissions] is large but it is also necessary. Our supercomputer is vital for predictions of weather and climate change."

    Some specs from ZD Net:

    Met Office buys IBM petaflop supercomputer
    The as-yet-unnamed supercomputer is being acquired from IBM in a deal worth £33m, and will be used for both standard weather forecasting and climate-change prediction.

    The supercomputer is due to come online in 2009, and will initially run at a maximum speed of 125 trillion floating point operations per second. According to IBM, this will make it the second most powerful computer in the UK, after the one run by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. By 2011, the Met Office supercomputer is expected to operate at speeds approaching one quadrillion floating point operations per second, or one petaflop.

    OK so we are looking at about $52M USD and one petaflop. Now, our US Military has built their own machine. From Defense Systems:

    PlayStations power Air Force's green supercomputer
    The Air Force has long taken an interest in using video games for simulation and modeling, but it's now using their underlying technology for supercomputing.
    The Air Force Research Laboratory's Condor Cluster project is using video game console components to make a supercomputer. Built from off-the-shelf components, the guts of the Condor Cluster consist of 1,716 Sony PlayStation 3 game consoles.

    Speaking to reporters at a DOD Live Bloggers Roundtable, Mark Barnell, director of high performance computing and the Condor Cluster project at the AFRL, the computer is designed to operate at speeds around half a petaflop, or some 500 trillion floating-point calculations per second. He added that the cluster is currently the 35th or 36th fastest computer in the world. With some tweaks, it could be bumped up to around the 20th fastest machine, he added.

    But raw speed is not one of the Condor Cluster's goals. It's a green machine, designed to demonstrate new ways to use supercomputing resources while using less energy. It is currently the greenest computer in the world, Barnell said.

    The computer is also designed to be affordable. The cluster cost $2 million to build and is much less expensive than general purpose supercomputers, whose prices begin at $50 million. (The PlayStation 3 sells for $299 on Amazon. com, so the retail cost of 1,716 of them would be $513,084.)

    So -- about one half the performance for 26 times less money and it's green to boot. And the Air Force is not the first ones to notice the possibilities. Back in March, 2007 I posted this about a group at North Carolina State University. The post referenced this article at PhysOrg:

    Engineer Creates First Academic Playstation 3 Computing Cluster
    The Sony Playstation 3, Xbox and Nintendo Wii have captivated a generation of computer gamers with bold graphics and rapid-fire animation. But these high-tech toys can do a lot more than just play games. At North Carolina State University, Dr. Frank Mueller imagined using the power of the new PS3 to create a high-powered computing environment for a fraction of the cost of the supercomputers on the market.

    Mueller, an associate professor of computer science, has built a supercomputing cluster capable of both high-performance computing and running the latest in computer gaming. His cluster of eight PS3 machines -- the first such academic cluster in the world -- packs the power of a small supercomputer, but at a total cost of about $5,000, it costs less than some desktop computers that have only a fraction of the computing power.

    "Clusters are not new to the computing world," Mueller says. "Google, the stock market, automotive design companies and scientists use clusters, but this is the first academic computing cluster built from Playstation 3s".

    A classic case of big science top down management FAIL and of nimble small working group WIN.

    Of course, that acknowledgment comes in the 28th paragraph in this 39 paragraph long article. From the Financial Times:
    So, will it rain tomorrow?
    Noon on Thursday June 9 in the Met Office operations room in Exeter. From desk to ceiling, brightly coloured computer screens show past weather and future predictions. Showers speckle a rainfall radar map of the British Isles. A temperature chart shows tongues of warm orange air sticking into a pool of cool blue over the North Atlantic.

    In the middle sits Martin Young, the chief forecaster, facing a dilemma about the weather three days ahead. He has known since the beginning of the week that an Atlantic depression was likely to reach Britain at the weekend, but now, with millions of people making plans, he must issue more specific guidance about when and where the rain is going to fall on Sunday.
    And their primary tools are large computer models running on large computers:
    The first key ingredient is the fundamental physics of the atmosphere and how it interacts with oceans and land masses to produce weather. This is encapsulated in increasingly sophisticated models, as computing power grows. The �33m Met Office supercomputer � a twinned IBM Power 6 machine installed in 2009 and about to be upgraded � can carry out trillions of calculations a second. It sits in two huge halls, shrouded by what look like plastic shower curtains. These are intended not to preserve the modesty of the energy-guzzling machine but to reduce the need to cool in the immediate vicinity.
    And short-term forecasting has gotten quite good:
    For Young�s boss, chief meteorologist Ewen �McCallum, today�s uncertainty about what will happen in three days� time illustrates the improvement in forecasting over the past generation. When he joined the Met Office 37 years ago, forecasters frequently faced similar or worse uncertainty about what would happen the next day.

    �A four-day forecast today is about as accurate as a one-day forecast was when I started,� says McCallum, in an accent as Scottish as his name. �Then, we had no operational access to weather satellites, no radar and very slow computers.�
    But long-term forecasting is a joke:
    Until March last year, the Met Office stuck its neck further out by issuing seasonal forecasts. It stopped after public ridicule following the notorious �barbecue summer� forecast for the damp summer of 2009 and the failure to predict the cold winter of 2009/10.
    And finally, we get this little gem:
    �We now believe that [the solar cycle] accounts for 50 per cent of the variability from year to year,� says Scaife. With solar physicists predicting a long-term reduction in the intensity of the solar cycle � and possibly its complete disappearance for a few decades, as happened during the so-called Maunder Minimum from 1645 to 1715 � this could be an ominous signal for icy winters ahead, despite global warming.
    And this little tid-bit to remind us why the Met Office is under scrutiny:
    However, some of the recent antagonism is linked to the Met Office�s deserved reputation as a champion of research into climate change � and its scientists� unrepentant calls for urgent action against man-made global warming.
    The sun is not going to go away and we can measure the effects over the next few years. What is rediculous is that this is only coming out now and the "increasingly sophisticated models" have no input for the variability of the sun. Hat tip to Anthony for the link.

    The DOS Man

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    Tim Paterson was working for Seattle Computer Products back in the late 1970's and in August 1980 released his QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System). Near the end of 1980, they released a new version of QDOS and Microsoft bought non-exclusive rights to distribute it. July of 1981, Microsoft bought all rights to QDOS and MS-DOS was born. Just found out that Tim has a blog -- he is not a frequent poster (seven entries in four years) but it is fascinating reading. Check out DosMan Drivel Tim's official website is Paterson Technology

    A bit of background

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    On June 29th, I posted this: Michele Bachmann gets the Sarah Palin treatment regarding a full-on batshit crazy writeup at the Rolling Stone. It seems the author -- Matt Taibbi -- is a full-blown Socialist and is in bed with the US Marxists. From Trevor Loudon:
    Matt Taibbi: Bachmann Hitpiece Author Received Socialist Award
    On June 22, Rolling Stone magazine published a widely circulated attack on the character of Republican Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, by journalist Matt Taibbi.
    Trevor quotes a bit from the article, has a bit of Matt's history and then writes:
    Less than a fortnight before his attack on Michele Bachmann, Matt Taibbi was awarded the annual Debs-Thomas-Bernstein Awards, sponsored by Boston Democratic Socialists of America.

    The ceremony took place June 11, in Jamaica Plain. The reception honored a �long-time advocate for low wage workers and community empowerment,� SEIU official Rocio Saenz, along with �a best-selling author� Matt Taibbi. Co-Chairs were Lisa Clauson, Co-Director of Community Labor United and Chuck Collins of the far left Institute for Policy Studies.
    This is not a surprise to me given the vitriol of Taibbi's story. I wonder what it is about female conservatives that reduces liberals to such bouts of poo-flinging.
    As we hurtle towards a socialist top-down nanny state (European style), we fail to notice that all of the European states are furiously backpedaling away from the edge of the abyss... From The Gormogons:
    Rhetorical Questions
    Is it not a strange irony that so many American liberals (a) want to follow Europe�s examples across the board, and (b) attempt to diminish if not redact Ronald Reagan�s responsibility for ending the Cold War peacefully?

    The irony being that statues of Ronald Reagan have been erected in England, Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic in the last few days. Seems that Europe not only believes Reagan was the guy, but are openly celebrating it.

    Do the libs never get tired of it all?
    What he said...
    From FOX:
    Michigan Resident Faces 93 Days in Jail For Vegetable Garden
    A Michigan resident is facing up to 93 days in jail for planting a vegetable garden in her front yard, MyFoxDetroit.com reports.

    Julie Bass, of Oak Park, Michigan was first given a warning followed by a ticket and now she is being charged with a misdemeanor for her simple front-yard garden.

    "I think it's sad that the City of Oak Park that's already strapped for cash is paying a lot of money to have a prosecutor bothering us," Bass told FOX 2's Alexis Wiley.

    The city is claiming that the garden violates a city code which states that front yards must consist of suitable, live plant material to which Bass responds, "We think it's suitable."

    "They say, 'Why should you grow things in the front?' Well, why shouldn't I? They're fine. They're pretty. They're well maintained," Bass told the station.

    "I could sell out and save my own self and just not have them bother me anymore, but then there's no telling what they're going to harass the next person about," continued Bass.

    A pretrial is scheduled for July 26 and a jury trial could be next.
    There's a photo at the FOX news article and it certainly looks nice -- couple of raised beds, well tended. My first thought that Oak Park is where Frank Lloyd Wright lived and worked and that the city might have been trying to maintain some architectural standards but a quick search reminded me that the Oak Park in Michigan is not the Oak Park in Illinois


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    Finally hitting the good stuff - the foot is starting to hurt a good bit as the surgical anesthesia has warn off but I simply do not give a shit... Opiates are wonderful when used properly. The Taliban are in Afghanistan for the Opium money. It beggars the mind to realize that the USA could simply buy up the Afghani harvest at a bit better than market prices and then convert the product to medicinal pain meds and just burn the rest. This would: #1) - cost substantially less than the price of maintaining all of our troops over there, #2) - kill the Taliban's power -- the Afghan indigenous peoples hate the Taliban but financially, they are the only game in town and #3) - it would kill the worlds primary source of opioid narcotics. Makes you wonder just how close the drug money is to Washington... On a side note -- the dope is greatly affecting my spelling for the worse -- six words where I usually have one or none. Thank God for ieSpell -- awesome free program for Internet Explorer. Fast too -- much faster than the checkers in any of the alt.browsers or any of the web-based blogging software.

    Medical technology

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    From Popular Science comes this amazing story:
    Using a Lab-Grown Trachea, Surgeons Conduct the World's First Synthetic Organ Transplant
    Surgeons working at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden have taken a huge step forward for regenerative medicine by successfully executing the world�s first synthetic organ transplant. The donor-less transplant saved the life of a 36-year-old cancer patient, who is doing well now after having received a new windpipe grown from his own stem cells.

    This story is about as international as it gets: The Eritrean patient, Andemariam Teklesenbet Beyene, was pursuing his doctorate in geology in Iceland when his trachea was consumed by an inoperable tumor that grew so bad that it was actually blocking his breathing. So 3-D scans of his windpipe were sent to scientists at University College London, which crafted a glass scaffold that was a perfect match for Beyene�s trachea and two main bronchi.

    The scaffold was in turn was sent to Sweden, where it was soaked in stem cells from Beyene�s own bone marrow. The stem cells took hold and within just two days had filled the scaffold, creating a new trachea that is, biologically speaking, Beyene�s own tissue. A 12-hour operation by an Italian surgeon specializing in trachea operations removed Beyene�s windpipe and all signs of the cancer and then replaced it with the new, lab-grown organ.

    That was a month ago. Today, Beyene is recovering well. Because the organ was grown from his own cells, there is no risk of his body rejecting it and no need for the harsh regimen of anti-rejection drugs that usually go hand in hand with an organ transplant. Moreover, there was no need to seek out a donor. In Beyene�s case, that was key. The tumor was increasingly blocking his breathing, and without the transplant he would have died. The clock was ticking, as it so often is in transplant situations.

    From stem cell solution to transplantable organ in two days? That�s nothing short of amazing. Moreover, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Theoretically, this kind of procedure could be used to regenerate all kinds of different organs for transplant, eliminating the need (and wait) for donor organs and reducing the complications inherent in them.
    Fascinating stuff and I wonder how long it will be before there is an open source project for this -- after all, PCR now has an open source variant and just completed a very successful round of fund-raising. Imagine what the Body Modification crowd could do with the stem-cell scaffolding technique...

    Project Gunrunner

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    Hey -- let's pressure US gun dealers in the Southwest to not check credentials on their sales. We can use this data to see how many guns turn up in Mexican cartel hands. Ask the families of Agent Brian Terry and ICE Agent Jaime Zapata how well this went. Now it seems that the funding for this project came from the Stimulus. From Allahpundit:
    Too bad to check: Project Gunrunner was funded by � the stimulus
    I really did think it was too bad to check, despite posts about it at PJM, Weasel Zippers, and Free Republic. But I checked. You�ll find complete PDF and text versions of the final stimulus bill right here. Scroll down to page 16 (of 407!) in the PDF version and behold:
    For an additional amount for "State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance", $40,000,000, for competitive grants to provide assistance and equipment to local law enforcement along the Southern border and in High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas to combat criminal narcotics activity stemming from the Southern border, of which $10,000,000 shall be transferred to "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Salaries and Expenses" for the ATF Project Gunrunner.
    And to think, you guys say the stimulus didn�t produce anything. It produced guns for Mexican drug cartels, didn�t it? Says Ben Domenech, in a stroke of perfect black humor: �Shovel ready.�
    Fortunately, the higher-ups in this mess (all the way to A.G. Eric Holder) are being questioned in a Senate oversight hearing. Heads need to roll for this stupidity. More on the Hearing and to see Holder get his ass handed to him can be found here: Holder Grilled on Project Gunrunner

    Curious maneuvering at the EPA

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    This is absurd -- a way to circumvent Congress and leverage power. From Ed Morrisey at Hot Air:
    EPA feeding the hands that bite it?
    The EPA gets sued on a regular basis by environmental groups complaining about a lack of enforcement, a process that routinely requires legal settlements and significant taxpayer expense. Investors Business Daily�s report today suggests that taxpayers may be funding more of the process than they know. Among the recipients of grants from the EPA are some of the same groups it faces in courtrooms:
    One organization involved in the suit, the Environmental Defense Fund, has a long history of taking the EPA to court. In fact, a cursory review finds almost half a dozen cases in the past 10 years.

    The odd thing is that the EPA, in turn, has handed EDF $2.76 million in grants over that same period, according to an IBD review of the agency�s grant database.

    This strange relationship goes well beyond EDF. Indeed, several environmental groups that have received millions in EPA grants regularly file suit against that same agency. A dozen green groups were responsible for more than 3,000 suits against the EPA and other government agencies over the past decade, according to a study by the Wyoming-based Budd-Falen Law Offices.
    Surprised? Probably not, and for good reason. The EPA doesn�t exactly discourage such lawsuits; in fact, the agency funded a handy guide instructing people how to go about suing them over environmental enforcement. And, as IBD notes, the group that publishes the guide has received nearly $10 million in EPA grants over the past decade.

    Here�s another unsurprising surprise: the EPA usually winds up paying the legal fees associated with these suits. The Equal Access to Justice Act created what a former Bush official calls �sweetheart suits,� a lucrative business that ends up transferring funds from the federal government to activist groups � and their lawyers. It�s a free ride for plaintiff attorneys, since the EPA doesn�t get damaged by the process. In fact, the suits generally force the EPA to do what they want to do anyway, using the courts to grant them jurisdiction and authority that Congress withholds. It�s not for nothing that the EPA funds guides on how to sue them most effectively.

    It�s a win-win for regulators. They get more power, make themselves less accountable to Congress, and fund groups they like outside of Congressional appropriations, especially now that pork-barrel spending has fallen out of favor. Trial lawyers get rich, too, a particular benefit for Democrats, who rely on that lobby for heavy political donations. The only people who lose are the taxpayers getting their pockets picked and the businesses that end up on the wrong end of the expanding regulatory state.
    How about we just take the EPAs budget, slash it by 90% and let them sort it all out. This is not about the environment, this is about consolidation of power and prestige.

    Some product reviews

    For Tuscan Whole Milk: Here is one:

    One should not be intimidated by Tuscan Whole Milk. Nor should one prejudge, despite the fact that Tuscan is non-vintage and comes in such large containers. Do not be fooled: this is not a jug milk. I always find it important to taste milk using high-quality stemware -- this is milk deserving of something better than a Flintstones plastic tumbler. One should pour just a small dollop and swirl it in the glass -- note the coating and look for clots or discoloration. And the color -- it should be opaque, and very, very white. Now, immerse your nose in the glass and take a whiff. Tuscan transports you instantly to scenic hill towns in central Italy (is that Montepulciano I detect?) --- there is the loamy clay, the green grass of summer days, the towering cypress. And those gentle hints of Italian flowers -- wild orchids, sunflowers, poppies. Then, one takes in the thick liquid and lets it roll across and under the tongue -- what is that? perhaps a hint of a nutty Edam cheese? With Tuscan, you feel the love of every dairyperson involved -- from the somewhat sad and deranged farmhand shovelling steaming cowpies to the bored union milk maiden dreaming of leaving this soul crushing life behind for a job waiting tables for obnoxious American tourists in Siena. But not too fast -- sip gently, slowly, or one is in danger of not only missing the subtleties of the milk's texture and its terroir, but -- if chilled too long -- also of giving oneself a blinding ice cream headache. Nay, savor the goodness that only dairymen and dairywomen working at the apex of their craft can deliver. Tuscan is best drunk young -- no, no, don't cellar this gem -- I guarantee you'll be sorry if you do. I recommend pairing with freshly baked macadamia nut scones. Milk Expectorator gives this one a 92.

    It helps if you are familiar with the reviewing style of Wine Spectator magazine.

    Pretentious but their reviews can make or break a wine. The rest of the reviews are funny as hell.

    Gimme a break

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    From the Knoxville, Tennessee News Sentinel:
    Knox deputies raid Bexhill subdivision poker game
    Knox County Sheriff's Office deputies raided yet another allegedly illegal gambling operation Wednesday night.

    The latest raid targeted a poker game inside a private residence in the Bexhill subdivision in West Knox County, according to a KCSO spokeswoman Ashley Haynes.

    Deputies discovered eight people around one poker table at 1304 Buxton Drive, and seized approximately $1,000 cash, Haynes said.

    No arrests were made, but all information was turned over the Knox County District Attorney General's Office for possible charges, she said.
    Hmmm... 1000 / 8 = 125 So each person had $125. That is what I call high-stakes and this needs to be stamped out. DoOn't these cops have something better to do with their time?

    Back from the dead

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    Procedure only took 40 minutes or so -- I was out by 10:30AM. Went to bed and napped for a few hours and now sitting in the kitchen, foot propped up and iced; eating a sandwich and seeing what the blog faeries have brought in to amuse me today. Not taking pain meds yet as the surgical site is still quite numb.

    Eleventh hour

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    Literally -- eleven hours (and thirty minutes) I go into the operating room to get the bone spurs taken care of. A couple of days off my feet and then I should be on the road to recovery. It's pretty bad when I cannot wear a simple shoe let alone my steel-tipped ones. Dusted off my crutches and it was fun to try to walk with them. The foot in question is my right foot and it was my left hip that was replaced almost three years ago so all of my muscle memory is walking with the left leg favored and using the right leg -- gotta remember to swap the two...

    Penultimate day

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    Getting my foot worked on tomorrow morning -- I am stoked!
    Right Foot
    Heading into town to do some last minute errands.

    Not much posting tonight

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    Working on some stuff at the house. Surgery on my foot is this Friday so prepping things for my convalescence...

    Our best friend - Great Britain

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    The current administration delivers yet another slap in the face to our staunchest ally. From Tony Katz writing at the PJ Tatler:
    Screw Reagan!
    President Barack Obama has shown, over the past 2 and a half years, an amazing amount of contempt for Great Britain. From the earliest days in the White House, Obama sent the bust of Winston Churchill packing. He traded gifts with the Royal Family, giving them ipods of all things. Then, the lack of manners and customary protocol in the quasi-groping of the Queen by the First Lady. A possible simple mistake, but a lack of protocol and respect nonetheless. Fast forward a few years, and you have the worst toast in the history of the world, again showing his lack of manners and protocol � but now showing an odd willingness not to care about such things in regard to England.

    Most recently, however, the insult to England has international implications. This weekend, as America celebrated Independence Day, a statue of President Ronald Reagan was unveiled in London. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others were on hand for the dedication. The bronze statue sits in the same park as a statue dedicated to the memory of Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was dedicated in 1989 by the Iron Lady herself, Margaret Thatcher. The Reagan statue is part of the world-wide celebrations celebrating the centennial of Reagan�s birth.

    That night, a dinner was held in honor of Reagan. It capped a day of events that celebrated the life and extraordinary achievements of the 40th President of the United States. Yet, missing from the dinner � clearly the biggest event of the day � was United States Ambassador Louis Susman. While he did host a VIP breakfast that morning, Susman was absent from the grandest event, where speeches were given and the memory of Reagan was put forth � reminding everyone of his impact, and his legacy.
    A bit more:
    From all reports, Susman was not sick, stricken with illness or involved in a really intense game of Farmville. He simply didn�t show up, as the representative of the United States, to an event honoring one of the greatest presidents in US history. Susman didn�t show up to honor the long standing relationship that the US and Great Britain have; one that solidified in World War II, and was made stronger through the Cold War and its eventual end � and end that was percipitated by the man they were there to honor! The event itself served British lamb and California chardonnay�not a coincidence, but a reminder of that relationship.

    The London Evening Standard reported this quote from the event:
    �Our ambassador should be here,� said Lynn de Rothschild, the American entrepreneur who is married to Sir Evelyn de Rothschild and was one of Hillary Clinton�s key fundraisers in 2008 as well as a supporter of several Republican presidential candidates. �This was an historic dinner to mark Reagan�s centenary and to celebrate him as the man who ended the Cold War. What could not be more important?"
    To hell with Susman, he was just a fundraiser for O and this Ambassadorship is the prize for his efforts. As Secretary of State, Hillary should have been there. As Steve said in one of the comments:
    I don�t think the British will miss Obama.
    On July 4th, 1951, William Shockley announced the creation of the first Junction Transistor. Earlier in December of 1947, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain announced their first point-contact transistor but that was an incredibly fragile device and required several pieces to be held in mechanical contact. Shockley's junction transistor was the first true solid-state device with the various components chemically assembled onto one substrate. He was a piece of work in his personal life -- the Wikipedia link at the top of this post only hints at some of the details...

    From Salt Lake City's Deseret News:

    Snowbird caps longest season with holiday skiing
    A few thousand mostly red-and-blue-clad skiers celebrated the Fourth of July on the white slopes at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort.

    "This is unbelievable," said Salt Lake City resident Melissa Witman, who wore a red, white and blue bikini top Monday on the resort's final day of the ski season. "It's summer skiing!"

    Temperatures in the 50s and 60s made swimsuits and shorts popular choices for skiers who decided to take advantage of the longest ski season in Snowbird's 39-year history.

    "It's beautiful up here on the Fourth of July," said Clayton Butler of Salt Lake City, who wore only skis, boots, a helmet and a Speedo. "It's a little chilly if you hang out up top too long. But once you start going, it warms right up."

    By being open for skiing Monday, Snowbird set a record for the number of days it was able to stay open in a single season with 202, said Emily Moench, the resort's communications manager. The previous record of 201 was sent in 2005.

    Snowbird also had a record for snowfall this season, with 783 inches � topping the previous high by nearly 100 inches, Moench said.

    It's all that plant-food we keep churning out. Has nothing to do with the abnormally low solar output...

    Stimulus numbers

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    From The Weekly Standard:
    Obama�s Economists: �Stimulus� Has Cost $278,000 per Job
    When the Obama administration releases a report on the Friday before a long weekend, it�s clearly not trying to draw attention to the report�s contents. Sure enough, the �Seventh Quarterly Report� on the economic impact of the �stimulus,� released on Friday, July 1, provides further evidence that President Obama�s economic �stimulus� did very little, if anything, to stimulate the economy, and a whole lot to stimulate the debt.

    The report was written by the White House�s Council of Economic Advisors, a group of three economists who were all handpicked by Obama, and it chronicles the alleged success of the �stimulus� in adding or saving jobs. The council reports that, using �mainstream estimates of economic multipliers for the effects of fiscal stimulus� (which it describes as a �natural way to estimate the effects of� the legislation), the �stimulus� has added or saved just under 2.4 million jobs � whether private or public � at a cost (to date) of $666 billion. That�s a cost to taxpayers of $278,000 per job.

    In other words, the government could simply have cut a $100,000 check to everyone whose employment was allegedly made possible by the �stimulus,� and taxpayers would have come out $427 billion ahead.

    Furthermore, the council reports that, as of two quarters ago, the �stimulus� had added or saved just under 2.7 million jobs � or 288,000 more than it has now. In other words, over the past six months, the economy would have added or saved more jobs without the �stimulus� than it has with it. In comparison to how things would otherwise have been, the �stimulus� has been working in reverse over the past six months, causing the economy to shed jobs.
    Emphasis mine -- and these numbers are from the President's own Council of Economic Advisors and not some 'independent' agency.
    From Portland, OR station KPTX:
    iPhone app leads to suspected car prowler's arrest
    Multnomah County Sheriff deputies arrested two men Saturday night after tracking them down using an iPhone application.

    Lt. Mary Lindstrand said the case started around 4:30 p.m. when Lilli Gordon made a quick stop at Roster Rock State Park.

    On the phone Sunday afternoon, Gordon told FOX 12 she had been babysitting her aunt's child for five days. To kill time before heading to the airport, Gordon said she, her mom and aunt all stopped at the park to take in its views.
    Deputies said while the family was away from the car, Nicholas Barnard and Lonnie Rogers broke into the vehicle and stole the valuables including the iPhone.
    Deputies were given the log-in information by Lowell Gordon and a short time later, he noticed the phone was "moving." He called deputies and they went to the phone's location near North Lombard and North Chicago in Portland. The deputy looking at the G-P-S tracking information on his mobile computer in the squad car was able to direct a third deputy to a specific spot at that intersection, Lindstrand said. The deputy at the intersection met up with three adult males who were sitting underneath a tree. The deputy speaking to the three men requested the deputy tracking the phone to "send an alert" and the stolen iPhone rang in one of the male's pocket, Lindstrand said.

    Deputies arrested Barnard and Rogers.
    Being stupid is no way to go through life...

    End of an era - Atlantis

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    Mostly Cajun eloquently expresses what has been rolling around my brainpan for the last couple of weeks:
    Another era ending
    I believe Friday is another launch of the space shuttle. This one, though, is different. Why? Because it is the LAST one. When the shuttle Atlantis returns, it will mark the first time since 1962 that America won�t have a means of putting man into space. We�ve signed off that idea, leaving it to the Russians and the Chinese.

    I watched Alan Shephard lift off in 1962, and since that date we�ve always had the next mission set on the boards: Mercury, then Gemini, then Apollo, Skylab, then the shuttle. Not any more.

    It�s as if after Columbus, Europe decided that it wasn�t worth the effort to keep sending ships across the Atlantic, and stopped.

    After all, we can spend that money MUCH better on government giveaways, right? Because everybody KNOWS that subsidizing the inner city birthrate pays off HUGE dividends in the advancement of technology and science, right? Besides, it�s not like you can commandeer a few schoolbuses and drag NASA research scientists to the polls to vote for a dimmocrat.

    If you�re going to spend tax dollars, you want a return on your investment. To the short-sighted, dimmocrat and republican alike, the �return� is re-election, and a few billion directed to �community organizations� will net a lot more votes. And that, dear readers, is how far most of what passes for �leadership� in this country can think: to the next election.

    The result may not show immediately, but there�s a quote from the Book of Proverbs that says �Where there is no vision, the people perish.�

    Our nation has lost its vision.

    I used to wonder how Spain felt when it lost its colonies in New World, or Great Britain when the empire ended. Now I�m beginning to know.
    I also watched Alan Shephard's flight - my school brought everyone into the assembly room where their big b&w television was set up. The entire room was glued to the set. Subsequent flights were also watched if they were during school hours. And now we have nothing.
    From the puppy-blender himself, Glenn Harlan Reynolds writing at the Washington Examiner:
    Sunday Reflection: Three things you can do for liberty
    Though many call it the "Fourth Of July," July 4 is properly known as Independence Day. It celebrates the independence of the United States from Great Britain -- or, more accurately, the declaration of that independence, which required considerable further effort before it was actually accomplished.

    Today, Independence Day is generally observed by shooting firecrackers, eating hotdogs and hamburgers, and drinking beer. These are all worthwhile activities -- in these Bloomberg-prudish times, they even serve to annoy the nannyists, which is always worthwhile.

    But if you're looking for ways to make Independence Day a bit more about, well, independence, then allow me to offer a few suggestions. If you like, you can put them off until July 5 so as not to interfere with the fireworks, hotdogs and beer, though if you want to email a photo of yourself eating a hotdog to Mayor Bloomberg on July 4, be my guest.

    While Independence Day is about independence from Great Britain, today it's also associated with more general notions of freedom -- individual independence, not just political independence.

    Unfortunately, America's political class doesn't want you independent. It wants you as dependent as possible. As the Rainmakers sang back in the 1980s, "They'll turn us all into beggars 'cause they're easier to please."

    So what can you do? Everybody focuses on the 2012 elections, and those are important. But why wait? Here are three things you can do now.
    What follows are three very simple actions with three very concrete results -- not if just one person acts but if several thousand people do this, these actions will get noticed.

    Gearing up for silly season

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    Business up here is dependent on the tourist dollar. We have four seasons. With this big holiday weekend (Canada Day on the 1st and our own Independence Day tomorrow) we are seeing the beginning of the busiest season of the whole year. People come up to camp, to hike, to stay in the area for a week or more and the bakery (and grocery store) offer a needed source of treats and groceries for the hungry traveler. Things will die back down for a couple of weeks and then this season starts to seriously kick in around the third week of July and it runs through September. This is when everyone up here makes their money. Life becomes a blur. When school opens up in the Fall, business drops off a lot -- we begin to see the familiar faces of those nomads who follow the skiing season, flying down to Chile during our Summer and then, Mt. Baker ski area opens up. This is our second best season -- there are a lot of people coming here but they are coming from Bellingham and points beyond and are focused on getting up to the mountain to ski. Around 1:30, they are cold, wet and bone tired and they are then focused on getting back home. Not too many are focused on getting a nice hot bowl of soup or a fresh scone. Finally, when Baker closes, we have the dead zone. The nomads move away and it's just the locals for a couple of months. This is nothing unexpected, we know this cycle and plan for it. Part of the cycle of life...
    Wonderful three-part essay at The American Interest. Mead is an excellent writer. First: The Failure of Al Gore: Part One
    The Failure of Al Gore: Part One
    It must be as perplexing to his many admirers as it is frustrating to himself that a man of Vice President Gore�s many talents, great skills and strong beliefs is one of the most consistent losers in American politics.

    �All political careers end in failure,� said Enoch Powell; Gore has not won an election on his own since his 1990 re-election to the Senate from Tennessee. His 1988 presidential bid ended well short of the nomination. Many observers felt Gore was headed for defeat in a third Senate campaign as the south continued to swing Republican; Clinton�s offer of the vice presidential slot in 1992 gave Gore the opportunity to reach a national audience as his home state cooled. On his own again in 2000, gifted by the departing Clinton with the most bubbliciously expanding economy in American history and a comfortable budget surplus, and insulated from the innuendo and scandal of the Clinton White House by his still-vibrant marriage, he found the elusive road to defeat against a flawed and inexperienced challenger. Tennessee voted for Bush; Florida or no Florida Gore would have gone to the White House if those who knew him longest and best had rallied to his support.
    A bit more:
    Gore has the Midas touch in reverse; objects of great value (Nobel prizes, Oscars) turn dull and leaden at his touch. Few celebrity cause leaders have had more or better publicity than Gore has had for his climate advocacy. Hailed by the world press, lionized by the entertainment community and the Global Assemblage of the Great and the Good as incarnated in the Nobel Peace Prize committee, he has nevertheless seen the movement he led flounder from one inglorious defeat to the next.
    But while some forms of inconsistency or even hypocrisy can be combined with public leadership, others cannot be. A television preacher can eat too many french fries, watch too much cheesy TV and neglect his kids in the quest for global fame. But he cannot indulge in drug fueled trysts with male prostitutes while preaching conservative Christian doctrine. The head of Mothers Against Drunk Driving cannot be convicted of driving while under the influence. The head of the IRS cannot be a tax cheat. The most visible leader of the world�s green movement cannot live a life of conspicuous consumption, spewing far more carbon into the atmosphere than almost all of those he castigates for their wasteful ways. Mr. Top Green can�t also be a carbon pig.
    Some excerpts from: The Failure of Al Gore: Part Deux
    The global green treaty movement to outlaw climate change is the most egregious folly to seize the world�s imagination since the Kellog-Briand Pact outlawed war in the late 1920s. The idea that the nations of the earth could agree on an enforceable treaty mandating deep cuts in their output of all greenhouse gasses is absurd. A global treaty to meet Mr. Gore�s policy goals isn�t a treaty: the changes such a treaty requires are so broad and so sweeping that a GGCT is less a treaty than a constitution for global government. Worse, it is a constitution for a global welfare state with trillions of dollars ultimately sent by the taxpayers of rich countries to governments (however feckless, inept, corrupt or tyrannical) in poor ones.
    The green movement�s core tactic is not to �hide the decline� or otherwise to cook the books of science. Its core tactic to cloak a comically absurd, impossibly complex and obviously impractical political program in the authority of science. Let anyone attack the cretinous and rickety construct of policies, trade-offs, offsets and bribes by which the greens plan to govern the world economy in the twenty first century, and they attack you as an anti-science bigot.

    To argue with these people about science is to miss the core point. Even if the science is exactly as Mr. Gore claims, his policies are still useless. His advocacy is still a distraction. The movement he heads is still a ship of fools.

    It is a waste of time to talk science with Al Gore. It is a waste of time to listen to him at all. That, apparently, is what the world at long last is beginning to understand. The policy makers and the heads of state who only two years ago were ready to follow Gore up the mountain have softly and quietly tuned him out.

    These days, he can�t even get his picture on the cover of Rolling Stone.
    Finally, a few excerpts from: The Failure of Al Gore Part Three: Singing the Climate Blues
    The Failure of Al Gore Part Three: Singing the Climate Blues
    Some readers are wondering why I am spending so much time analyzing the political problems of a former vice president. It is not out of any personal animus toward Mr. Gore. Though I�m not expecting any invitations to any of Mr. Gore�s lovely homes, the doors to the stately Mead manor in glamorous Queens are always open should the ex-Veep want to drop in for a hot cup of joe.

    My interest in the decay of the former vice president�s public position is partly because � like Jimmy Carter � he has had such an active post-Washington career. Not even Ronald Reagan won an Oscar, and Reagan (though he deserved it) never got a Nobel. Gore�s signature issue, the climate, is a major one, and Al Gore has been at the center of the most important movement of international civil society since the Nuclear Freeze movement of the 1980s.

    The serial rise and fall of these vacuous civil society movements and the peculiar grip they exercise over the minds of some otherwise intelligent people is an important subject: why do so many people who want to help solve global problems waste so much time and money and, sometimes, do so much harm? Is there some way to harness that energy and idealism to causes and strategies that might do more good? What does the repeated rise and fall of clueless but well educated and well placed enthusiasts teach us about the state of our civilization and the human condition? Are there ways we could nip these Malthusian panics and idealistic feeding frenzies in the bud? Is there some way we could teach future generations to be a little smarter about politics and power so that the 21st century, which is going to have plenty of serious problems, might spend less time chasing mares� nests?
    And this last one:
    Al Gore is steeped in the Blue Social Model that I�ve been posting about; his social imagination has been so molded by modern American progressivism and the liberalism of the late 20th century that he literally cannot conceive of solutions in any terms the conventional center-left wisdom doesn�t make room for.

    The trouble and even the tragedy of Al Gore is that he comes at the tail end of this tradition; he is a living example of what you get when a worldview outlives its time. He presses the old buttons and turns the old cranks, but the machine isn�t running any more. The priests dance around the altar, the priestess chews the sacred herbs, but the god no longer speaks. Like President Obama watching a universal healthcare program that he thought would secure his place in history turn into an electoral albatross and a policy meltdown, Al Gore thought that in the climate issue he had picked a winning horse. Judging from his Rolling Stone essay he has no idea why the climate movement failed, and no clue at all about how he could re-think the issue.

    �Climate of Denial,� Vice President Gore�s �Rolling Stone� essay is not, I am sorry to say, very useful as a guide to resuscitating the environmental movement. It is largely reduced to the classic loser sandlot complaints: the other side didn�t play fair, they had bigger kids and the refs were biased. Al Gore seems to want the climate movement to behave like the French Bourbons: to forget nothing in the way of grievances � and to learn nothing about how to do better next time.
    A set of three long essays but wonderfully written and well worth the ten minutes or so to read savor them. Mead is on the top of his game with these.
    I love the website Clients from Hell -- been there, done that and the tee-shirt is sitting upstairs on a closet shelf. This one brings back memories when I was doing desktop publishing:
    Shades of blue
    Client: I don�t like that blue, make it a bit lighter. Just a small bit!

    I send the (unchanged) file back to her.

    Client: Hmm, ok thats too light, make it a bit darker.

    I send the same file - again, unchanged.

    Client: Ok just ad a hint of brightness and we�re done!

    Again, same file, unchanged.

    Client: Perfect! Has anyone told you that you are amazing at what you do?
    Heh... I did this sort of stuff back around 1995 through 2000 -- had about $10K invested in color measurement equipment (I am mildly blue/green colorblind) and had these congenital idiots wonderful clients come in and tell me that the color didn't match the sample they brought in. They didn't know that the color of the light greatly affects their perception -- have something under fluorescent light, incandescent and natural sunlight and the perception will be of three different colors. I had a 5,600� K light box for just such 'issues'...

    Peter at Bayou Renaissance Man found some excellent examples of why a Union might not be the best way to go -- or in the best interests of the employees (and Union members):

    The financial reality of union wheeling and dealing
    Remember all the fuss about Wisconsin's attempts to rein in out-of-control public sector unions? Well, guess what's coming out in the wash?
    In the past, Kaukauna's agreement with the teachers union required the school district to purchase health insurance coverage from something called WEA Trust -- a company created by the Wisconsin teachers union. "It was in the collective bargaining agreement that we could only negotiate with them," says Arnoldussen. "Well, you know what happens when you can only negotiate with one vendor." This year, WEA Trust told Kaukauna that it would face a significant increase in premiums.

    Now, the collective bargaining agreement is gone, and the school district is free to shop around for coverage. And all of a sudden, WEA Trust has changed its position. "With these changes, the schools could go out for bids, and lo and behold, WEA Trust said, 'We can match the lowest bid,'" says Republican state Rep. Jim Steineke, who represents the area and supports the Walker changes. At least for the moment, Kaukauna is staying with WEA Trust, but saving substantial amounts of money.
    There's more at the link.

    Oh, yeah . . . as long as the union can dictate and demand a closed shop and exclusive access for their own figurehead companies, they'll screw the ratepayers and taxpayers six ways from Sunday. Take that power away from them, and suddenly it's a whole new (and much cheaper) ball game! Go read the rest of the article. That's not the only benefit coming down the pike. In all, they'll save the Kaukauna school district one and a half million bucks in the coming financial year.

    Racine County is finding similar benefits:
    Last June, the county took Racine inmates out of their jail cells and put them behind lawn movers. They were cutting the grass in areas that the county executive says were neglected, due to budget cuts. Local unions filed a grievance saying work like that should be done by union members.

    A judge agreed, but now with the new collective bargaining rules in effect, that's the kind of thing the unions can no longer negotiate. That means the county is putting the inmates back to work and adding to their to-do list.

    Racine County Executive James Ladwig said,"We're gonna have them do landscaping at county buildings, have them pick up trash on the roads. So we can use some of the county personnel to do difficult tasks, such as putting in a parking lot at the park."
    Again, more at the link. I love it! Let the inmates do the menial, unskilled labor, and use the more expensive union labor to do more difficult, more demanding work that justifies their higher salaries.

    I'm not a union-basher: I've been a member of a public sector union myself, and found it to be of great benefit and real value during a difficult time at work. However, the attitudes, selfishness and loutish behavior of the Wisconsin public sector unions appears to have been beyond the pale. Congratulations to Governor Walker and the Wisconsin legislature for sticking to their guns and ramming through this legislation. May other states follow their example!

    Unions certainly have their place and time but the majority of Unions I read or hear about these days have all the power and money concentrated at the top with little or nothing being done for the workers. The husband of a local family just applied and got a Union job -- one of the reasons was for health care. The Union is taking $1,200/month out of his paycheck for him and his wife. I do not know but I am wondering if they have to go through a single Union sanctioned insurer -- that would explain the stiff price...

    Fun and games in California

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    From FOX News:
    Official Calls For 13 Counties to Secede From California
    Is the state of California about to go "South"?

    Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone apparently thinks so, after proposing that the county lead a campaign for as many as 13 Southern California counties to secede from the state.

    Stone said in a statement late Thursday that Riverside, Imperial, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Kings, Kern, Fresno, Tulare, Inyo, Madera, Mariposa and Mono counties should form the new state of South California.
    That is a lot of prime farmland -- the source of California's wealth. Cutting out Berkeley and San Francisco (and Sacramento) would go a long way to save the state. This would not be a bad thing...

    WiFi fun and games

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    The 3G network is a lot better than the satellite ever was but getting it out to the DaveCave(tm) is a bit of a problem. Looking into WiFi range extenders -- I had a setup that worked with the dish but it doesn't work with the 3G adapter (too many IP addresses requested - the 3G adapter allows for five max). The plan is to build out a small Windows box and have it drive an access point and router. Fnu...


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    Part of Denny's post at Grouchy Old Cripple was a link to this St. Louis Italian restaurant. OMFG! That dinner menu has me salivating just reading the descriptions. This is almost Road Trip! calibre.

    A playful ghost

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    When I took over management of the bakery last November, I was told by several people that there was a ghost in the building. This particular spirit likes to play with my money. I maintain several accounts: a deposit bag, two cash register tills (morning and afternoon shift), a downstairs (front of house) bank stocked with $250 in assorted coins and bills and an upstairs (office) bank with $350. Except for the deposit bag, each of these accounts are set at a very specific and constant value and through the daily accounting, I know to the penny what should be in the deposit bag. Yesterday, I was finishing off the afternoon count. I started by counting out the downstairs and upstairs banks, counted the till back to its starting value and then processed that day's deposits from both shifts. Everything counted out just fine -- I took some money from the afternoon till to buy some coins and bills from the upstairs bank so the next afternoon shift (today) would be able to make change. Fine. Ready to head home and I count out the upstairs bank again just to make sure that the amount of coins and bills I purchased tallied out. Hmmmm... I was short $10. Counted out both banks -- to the penny and $10 short. Counted the two tills -- to the penny. Counted out the deposit bag -- to the penny. It is now a few minutes until 7:00PM, I am finished for the day and that damned ten bucks is now back again. Everything counts out to the penny. Sometimes it is over, sometimes it is under. This happens once or twice per month and with various people opening and closing so it is not just one or two employees playing with my head. I have recounted things often enough so it is not an error on my part. It is a very playful ghost...
    Walking into Mordor
    From Declaration Entertainment
    Talk about the growing leviathan. From USA Today:
    Federal workers earning double their private counterparts
    At a time when workers' pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employees' average compensation has grown to more than double what private sector workers earn, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

    Federal workers have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years in a row. The compensation gap between federal and private workers has doubled in the past decade.

    Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data are the latest available.

    The federal compensation advantage has grown from $30,415 in 2000 to $61,998 last year.

    Public employee unions say the compensation gap reflects the increasingly high level of skill and education required for most federal jobs and the government contracting out lower-paid jobs to the private sector in recent years.

    "The data are not useful for a direct public-private pay comparison," says Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.
    Fscking unions again...

    Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch

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    A US organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR just lost their IRS tax exempt status. They failed to file their Form 990 which reports financial contributions and the groups or people who made them. Something to hide guys? From USA Today:
    Muslim charity CAIR scrutinized over missing IRS filings
    The Council on American-Islamic Relations has earned a fierce reputation for defending Muslim civil rights.

    But the Washington, D.C.,-based group's work is being threatened as it faces scrutiny for failing to file tax returns.

    CAIR was among 275,000 nonprofits nationwide that the Internal Revenue Service stripped of tax-exempt status this month. None of the groups filed required tax returns, known as Form 990s, for three years, and any donations to them can be taxed, the IRS reported.

    CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said his group filed accurate, on-time returns but lost its tax-exempt status over an incorrect filing from several years ago.

    But employees couldn't produce CAIR's latest Form 990 this week, and critics suggest the charity avoided filing to hide financial dealings from the public.
    Like I said, makes you wonder what they are trying to hide. CAIR is one of the more vocal and more islamofascist groups out there -- they seek to bring Sharia law into our legal system. Nasty bunch of 7th century barbarians.

    The fix is in

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    First there was the allegation of forced rape from a hotel maid. Now Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a free man. Wonder how much that cost... From the LA Times:
    France abuzz with talk of comeback for Dominique Strauss-Kahn
    In the space of just six weeks, Dominique Strauss-Kahn has gone through several metamorphoses in the eyes of his compatriots in France.

    As head of the International Monetary Fund, he had been considered a "Washington exile" in French political circles.

    Charged with sexually assaulting a New York hotel housekeeper, he became the "Sofitel Accused" and then the "Rikers Island Prisoner."

    Today, he has been reincarnated as the "Phoenix of New York."

    Before his arrest in May, Strauss-Kahn was widely predicted by polls as able to beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's election.

    Stunned supporters of Strauss-Kahn, who had written off his political career, now are planning his comeback after news that the sexual assault case against him may be falling apart.
    From the UK Telegraph:
    Dominique Strauss-Kahn walks free after maid rape case crumbles
    Seven weeks after a haggard, rumpled and scowling shadow of Dominique Strauss-Kahn was first hauled in front of a New York judge, his old self swaggered into room 1324 at the state supreme court on Friday with a wry smile.
    A filing to the court confirmed extraordinary overnight leaks to the media, stating that the Guinean single mother had admitted to lying on her application for asylum in the US in 2004, lied about previously being raped and lied on her income tax returns.

    It was also reported that the maid was recorded speaking on the telephone about the "potential benefits" of pressing charges against Mr Strauss-Kahn with a man who was being held for possession of 400lb of marijuana, and that she had $100,000 (�62,000) of mysterious cash deposits put in her bank account.
    Like I said, I wonder how much it cost to set all of those people up to take the fall. This has a very suspicious taint to it...

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