December 2011 Archives

Not very verbal tonight

Had a good energy treatment and fixing some leftovers for dinner. Obama played his 90th game of golf today -- three solid months of game. Bush, on the other hand -- from this May 2008 interview by Politico (page four):
Q Mr. President, you haven't been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it really is. I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as -- to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.

Q Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life. And I was playing golf -- I think I was in central Texas -- and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it's just not worth it anymore to do.
Say what you may about GW, the difference between the two men is huge.

Silent Cal - Calvin Coolidge Inaugural Address

This is how you do it -- from Calvin Coolidge's Inaugural Address:

The collection of any taxes which are not absolutely required, which do not beyond reasonable doubt contribute to the public welfare, is only a species of legalized larceny. Under this republic the rewards of industry belong to those who earn them. The only constitutional tax is the tax which ministers to public necessity. The property of the country belongs to the people of the country. Their title is absolute. They do not support any privileged class; they do not need to maintain great military forces; they ought not to be burdened with a great array of public employees. They are not required to make any contribution to Government expenditures except that which they voluntarily assess upon themselves through the action of their own representatives.

When did we so lose our way -- read the whole thing.

Obama goes Panhandling

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This is wonderful -- from Reuters:
Obama to ask for debt limit hike: Treasury official
The White House plans to ask Congress by the end of the week for an increase in the government's debt ceiling to allow the United States to pay its bills on time, according to a senior Treasury Department official on Tuesday.

The approval is expected to go through without a challenge, given that Congress is in recess until later in January and the request is in line with an agreement to keep the U.S. government funded into 2013.

The debt is projected to fall within $100 billion of the current cap by December 30, when the United States has $82 billion in interest on its debt and payments such as Social Security coming due. President Barack Obama is expected to ask for authority to increase the borrowing limit by $1.2 trillion, part of the spending authority that was negotiated between Congress and the White House this summer.
Let the Federal Government shut down for a few months. It's not like they are doing anything useful...

Comfort and Joy

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Cheery news from the Los Angeles Times:

TSA screenings aren't just for airports anymore
Reporting from Charlotte, N.C. - Rick Vetter was rushing to board the Amtrak train in Charlotte, N.C., on a recent Sunday afternoon when a canine officer suddenly blocked the way.

Three federal air marshals in bulletproof vests and two officers trained to spot suspicious behavior watched closely as Seiko, a German shepherd, nosed Vetter's trousers for chemical traces of a bomb. Radiation detectors carried by the marshals scanned the 57-year-old lawyer for concealed nuclear materials.

When Seiko indicated a scent, his handler, Julian Swaringen, asked Vetter whether he had pets at home in Garner, N.C. Two mutts, Vetter replied. "You can go ahead," Swaringen said.

The Transportation Security Administration isn't just in airports anymore. TSA teams are increasingly conducting searches and screenings at train stations, subways, ferry terminals and other mass transit locations around the country.

"We are not the Airport Security Administration," said Ray Dineen, the air marshal in charge of the TSA office in Charlotte. "We take that transportation part seriously."

The TSA's 25 "viper" teams - for Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response - have run more than 9,300 unannounced checkpoints and other search operations in the last year. Department of Homeland Security officials have asked Congress for funding to add 12 more teams next year.

According to budget documents, the department spent $110 million in fiscal 2011 for "surface transportation security," including the TSA's viper program, and is asking for an additional $24 million next year. That compares with more than $5 billion for aviation security.

TSA officials say they have no proof that the roving viper teams have foiled any terrorist plots or thwarted any major threat to public safety. But they argue that the random nature of the searches and the presence of armed officers serve as a deterrent and bolster public confidence.

Talk about scope creep. This agency needs to have its funding cut by 70% immediately.

They have done nothing -- the very fact that we have to take our shoes off is due to Richard Reid's bombing attempt ten years ago.

If we want real security, we need to adopt the Israeli model and run a background check when the tickets are purchased and to profile at the airport.

That system works; ours doesn't.

By any other name would smell as sweet

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Two Navy ships are coming off the ways with names that are "politically correct" but not culturally correct. In fact, there is quite the outcry. From The Mellow Jihadi:
The USS John Murtha and the USS Cesar Chavez
I try to address all things Navy without stepping over that imaginary line that active-duty should not cross. This is a delicate topic, but we have two ships slated to hit the fleet with controversy over their names. CenTexTim, a Texas blogger and military vet, sent me this email:
Hey NavyOne -
I�d be interested in your thoughts regarding the recent brouhaha about the naming of Navy ships.

What initially brought this to my attention was the naming of a San Antonio-class ship after an individual (John Murtha).

I live near San Antonio, and there was a fair amount of local publicity about the USS San Antonio.

I always thought the theme of ship names was consistent within a given class, so the discrepancy caught my eye.

The Chavez thing seems to be another break with tradition. (Lewis and Clark class ships being named for explorers.)

It�s not so much the controversy about Chavez and Murtha (although I fail to see what either of them have done to deserve the honor of having an United States warship named after them) as it is the break with long-standing naval tradition.

The positives of naming the vessels after Chavez and Murtha is that both served in the military. Yet despite this fact, each has glaring downsides.
I would really like to know who -- at heart -- was responsible for these names. The Lewis and Clark class ships are named after explorers and not someone who:
Cesar Chavez recounted his time in the Navy as the worst two years of my life, which is nothing to speak of his probable Communist ties.
Lots of great choices for Hispanic names at the site. As for John-spit-Murtha -- the San Antonio ships are named after American cities and not in-duh-viduals. This has Ray Mabus' taint all over it...

To serve and to protect

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From Pro Libertate comes some bad news from Eastern Washington:
Their Right to Kill, Our Duty To Die: The Murder of Otto Zehm
Otto Zehm, a mentally handicapped, 36-year-old unemployed janitor, was beaten to death in a Spokane convenience store in March 2006.

"All I wanted was a Snickers bar," pleaded the battered and bloody man before he was gagged by his assailant.

On November 4, Karl Thompson, the man convicted of killing Zehm, was taken to jail. Several dozen members of Thompson�s gang were gathered outside the courtroom � most of them proudly wearing the colors � to �show their honor� by offering the murderer a public salute. Thompson � whose hands weren�t cuffed, in violation of long-established rules � smiled and returned the gesture. Zehm�s still-grieving mother and several other relatives stood just a few feet away.

The gang in question is the Spokane Police Department, which even now refuses to acknowledge that Thompson � who was a nominee to become Chief at the time he murdered Zehm � ever did anything wrong when he clubbed, tased, and suffocated a terrified, innocent man who did nothing to provoke the attack, and who put up no violent resistance to the assault.

Zehm had done custodial work at Fairchild Air Force Base and was well-known, and equally well-liked, by many people in his neighborhood, some of whom were aware that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was in the daily habit of visiting a convenience store called Zip Trip to purchase junk food � usually Pepsi and a candy bar.

On March 18, 2006, Zehm retrieved some money at an ATM near Zip Trip. Something in his behavior struck two girls as odd, so they called the police. Although there was no reason to believe that Zehm had committed a crime, Thompson entered the store as if he were pursuing a dangerous fugitive. Security video documents that Thompson approached Zehm from behind, while retrieving his custom-made, over-sized ironwood nightstick.

Thompson introduced himself to Zehm by shouting at him to drop the two-liter bottle of Pepsi. According to the officer, the startled and puzzled man responded by quite reasonably asking, �Why?� Thompson interpreted that Zehm�s fleeting non-compliance as an immediate and intolerable threat to officer safety. So he rushed at the terrified man and began to beat him with his nightstick � clubbing him first in the legs, then on the shoulders, neck, and head. Blows to the head are defined as lethal strikes under the Spokane PD�s use-of-force policy, justifiable only when a suspect threatens the life of a police officer or bystanders.

As the security video demonstrates, Zehm never put up a fight. He retreated from Thompson, and then made a pitiable attempt to use his bottle of soda to deflect blows aimed at his face. Thompson escalated his assault by tasering him at least three times. Thompson was eventually joined by six other other police officers. Eventually, Thompson was actually sitting on Zehm, who was face-down on the floor.
The murder happened in 2006 and this post was written a few days ago -- the post goes on to show that this was not an isolated incident for the Spokane police force -- a bit more:
Spokane�s municipal government, which paid out $2.5 million to resolve police-related lawsuits between 1996 and 2007...
Some sobering data on the mis-use of power and promoting the wrong people to active duty. These people need to be jailed or at the least, spend the rest of their lives flying a desk. Hat tip to Firehand who offers this observation:
And what kind of fucking nutcase with a badge has custom-made, over-sized ironwood nightstick?

Life in Mexico

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Joyful news - NOT! From Yahoo/Associated Press:
5 die of food poisoning at Mexican rehab center
Medical officials say five recovering drug addicts died and 35 others were sickened by soy sausage served for Christmas dinner at a rehabilitation center in western Mexico.

Authorities were investigating whether the poisoning at the center in the city of Guadalajara was accidental or intentional. Drug cartels have taken over rehabilitation centers in parts of Mexico, forcibly recruiting addicts as hit men and smugglers. The invasions have led to mass shootings at the centers that have left dozens dead.
Meanwhile, Eric Holder has been allowing these people to get several thousand guns from the USA through his Fast and Furious program.
From Paul Roderick Gregory writing at Forbes Magazine:
Sen. Harry Reid's Unicorns: Fact Checking A Whopper
Tax policy should be serious business carried out by serious politicians using real facts and figures. This is why we have the Library of Congress and the Congressional Budget Office, among other expert institutions.

How can we take Congress seriously when the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, makes patently inaccurate, outrageous and bizarre claims on an important tax-policy issue without any heads being turned? I guess this is what we have come to expect of Congress. No wonder citizens with favorable opinions of Congress are as rare as unicorns, to borrow a phrase.

Harry Reid�s statement on December 6 on his proposed 1.9 percent surtax on million-dollar incomes has kicked up some dust. Here is his statement:
�Millionaire job creators are like unicorns. They�re impossible to find, and they don�t exist� Only a tiny fraction of people making more than a million dollars, probably less than 1 percent, are small business owners. And only a tiny fraction of that tiny fraction are traditional job creators�Most of these businesses are hedge fund managers or wealthy lawyers. They don�t do much hiring and they don�t need tax breaks.�
Taking their cue, National Public Radio launched a search for one millionaire job creator. They triumphantly announced:
�NPR requested help from numerous Republican congressional offices, including House and Senate leadership. They were unable to produce a single millionaire job creator for us to interview.�
What follows is a complete pwnage of Reid and NPR done with IRS documents and Google. His source materials are compiled here.
A bit of nepotism -- from the New York Post:
Schumer bro-in-law judge nod stuns NJ
Sen. Charles Schumer�s brother-in-law was quietly nominated this month to a federal judgeship in New Jersey � a move that has some in the Garden State crying political foul, The Post has learned.

Kevin McNulty, who is married to Schumer�s sister, Fran, was named to the US District Court by the White House late on Friday, Dec. 16. According to a boilerplate quote, President Obama believes McNulty is a �distinguished individual� who �will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice.�

New Jersey�s two US senators, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, followed that up with their own news release heaping praise on the nominee.

What no one mentioned is that McNulty, 57, was the last-minute choice of Lautenberg, who had been leaning toward other candidates until surprisingly submitting McNulty�s name to the White House.

Lautenberg and his aides have given no public explanation for the decision to go with McNulty even though the latter had never been publicly touted as a contender for the job, which carries life tenure and a $174,000-a-year salary.

�No one knows why he did it,� said one person involved in the nomination process. �Everyone thinks it�s all about 2014 and Frank making sure he has Chuck in his corner.�
No mention in the article -- everybody mentioned is a member of the Democratic Party. Business as usual...

An interesting turn of events from Iran

Nothing like a little bit of saber rattling. From CNN:

Iran says it warns off foreign helicopter near naval maneuvers
Iran's Navy ordered a helicopter from an unspecified foreign country to leave to leave the area of maneuvers it is conducting in the Persian Gulf, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported Monday.

"The helicopter ignored the first two warnings but left the area after the third and severe warning," Fars quoted Rear Adm. Seyed Mahmoud Musavi, the deputy commander of operations for Iran's Navy, as saying.

The incident occurred Sunday, according to Fars.

Fars only described the helicopter as belonging to a foreign country outside the Middle East region.

The drills are the largest ever planned by Iran and are being staged in an area that stretches from the eastern part of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the the Gulf of Aden, Fars reported last week.

The maneuvers began on Saturday.

And this from Al Jazeera:

Iran begins naval drills in Strait of Hormuz
Iran's navy has started a 10-day drill in international waters near the strategic oil route that passes through the Strait of Hormuz.

The exercises, dubbed "Velayat 90", could bring Iranian ships into proximity with United States Navy vessels in the area. "Velayat" is a Persian word for "supremacy" and it is currently used as a title of deference for the Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The war games cover a 2,000km stretch of sea off the Strait of Hormuz, northern parts of the Indian Ocean and into the Gulf of Aden, near the entrance to the Red Sea, state television reported.

The drill will be Iran's latest show of strength in the face of mounting international criticism over its controversial nuclear programme, which the West fears is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Tehran denies those charges, insisting the program is for peaceful purposes only.

Adm Habibollah Sayyari, the navy chief, said Iran is holding the drill to show off its prowess and defense capabilities.

"To show off its might, the navy needs to be present in international waters. It's necessary to demonstrate the navy's defense capabilities," state TV quoted Sayyari as saying.

Sayyari said submarines, surface-to-sea missile systems, missile-launching vessels, torpedoes and drones will be employed in the maneuvers.

The Strait of Hormuz is only 34 miles wide and is the passageway for about 30% of all the worlds seaborne oil shipments. Iran borders the north side of the strait. A crucial piece of real-estate...

From MS/NBC/Reuters:
'Rising star' of Pakistani politics: Charismatic Khan wows 100,000 at rally
Professional sportsman-turned-politician Imran Khan has cemented his standing as a force in Pakistan politics, observers said Monday after his rally in Karachi brought at least 100,000 supporters onto the streets.

Khan, 59, is riding a wave of dissatisfaction with the government of President Asif Ali Zardari, who is facing challengers from the military and political opponents over his handling of the country and its troubled alliance with the United States.

In a rousing speech punctuated with patriotic musical refrains, he pledged, if elected, to curb Pakistan's endemic corruption and referred to his surging popularity as a "tsunami."

"He is riding a wave of popular politics right now," said Mutahir Ahmed, a professor of International Relations at the University of Karachi told Reuters. "There is a lot of frustration among ordinary people, as well as political workers right now, which he is cashing on."
Should be interesting -- the USA was supposed to be an ally but Pakistan is supporting terrorism, moving weapons to people and they were harboring Bin Laden. Can one man turn around that entrenched culture of corruption...

Thirty years ago today

Ronald Regan's Christmas Address from 1981 

This is in full as the comments about Poland are very much germane:

Good evening.
At Christmas time, every home takes on a special beauty, a special warmth, and that's certainly true of the White House, where so many famous Americans have spent their Christmases over the years. This fine old home, the people's house, has seen so much, been so much a part of all our lives and history. It's been humbling and inspiring for Nancy and me to be spending our first Christmas in this place.

We've lived here as your tenants for almost a year now, and what a year it's been. As a people we've been through quite a lot -- moments of joy, of tragedy, and of real achievement -- moments that I believe have brought us all closer together. G. K. Chesterton once said that the world would never starve for wonders, but only for the want of wonder.

At this special time of year, we all renew our sense of wonder in recalling the story of the first Christmas in Bethlehem, nearly 2,000 year ago.

Some celebrate Christmas as the birthday of a great and good philosopher and teacher. Others of us believe in the divinity of the child born in Bethlehem, that he was and is the promised Prince of Peace. Yes, we've questioned why he who could perform miracles chose to come among us as a helpless babe, but maybe that was his first miracle, his first great lesson that we should learn to care for one another.

Tonight, in millions of American homes, the glow of the Christmas tree is a reflection of the love Jesus taught us. Like the shepherds and wise men of that first Christmas, we Americans have always tried to follow a higher light, a star, if you will. At lonely campfire vigils along the frontier, in the darkest days of the Great Depression, through war and peace, the twin beacons of faith and freedom have brightened the American sky. At times our footsteps may have faltered, but trusting in God's help, we've never lost our way.

Just across the way from the White House stand the two great emblems of the holiday season: a Menorah, symbolizing the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, and the National Christmas Tree, a beautiful towering blue spruce from Pennsylvania. Like the National Christmas Tree, our country is a living, growing thing planted in rich American soil. Only our devoted care can bring it to full flower. So, let this holiday season be for us a time of rededication.

Even as we rejoice, however, let us remember that for some Americans, this will not be as happy a Christmas as it should be. I know a little of what they feel. I remember one Christmas Eve during the Great Depression, my father opening what he thought was a Christmas greeting. It was a notice that he no longer had a job.

Over the past year, we've begun the long, hard work of economic recovery. Our goal is an America in which every citizen who needs and wants a job can get a job. Our program for recovery has only been in place for 12 weeks now, but it is beginning to work. With your help and prayers, it will succeed. We're winning the battle against inflation, runaway government spending and taxation, and that victory will mean more economic growth, more jobs, and more opportunity for all Americans.

A few months before he took up residence in this house, one of my predecessors, John Kennedy, tried to sum up the temper of the times with a quote from an author closely tied to Christmas, Charles Dickens. We were living, he said, in the best of times and the worst of times. Well, in some ways that's even more true today. The world is full of peril, as well as promise. Too many of its people, even now, live in the shadow of want and tyranny.

As I speak to you tonight, the fate of a proud and ancient nation hangs in the balance. For a thousand years, Christmas has been celebrated in Poland, a land of deep religious faith, but this Christmas brings little joy to the courageous Polish people. They have been betrayed by their own government.

The men who rule them and their totalitarian allies fear the very freedom that the Polish people cherish. They have answered the stirrings of liberty with brute force, killings, mass arrests, and the setting up of concentration camps. Lech Walesa and other Solidarity leaders are imprisoned, their fate unknown. Factories, mines, universities, and homes have been assaulted.

The Polish Government has trampled underfoot solemn commitments to the UN Charter and the Helsinki accords. It has even broken the Gdansk agreement of August 1980, by which the Polish Government recognized the basic right of its people to form free trade unions and to strike.

The tragic events now occurring in Poland, almost 2 years to the day after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, have been precipitated by public and secret pressure from the Soviet Union. It is no coincidence that Soviet Marshal Kulikov, chief of the Warsaw Pact forces, and other senior Red Army officers were in Poland while these outrages were being initiated. And it is no coincidence that the martial law proclamations imposed in December by the Polish Government were being printed in the Soviet Union in September.

The target of this depression [repression] is the Solidarity Movement, but in attacking Solidarity its enemies attack an entire people. Ten million of Poland's 36 million citizens are members of Solidarity. Taken together with their families, they account for the overwhelming majority of the Polish nation. By persecuting Solidarity the Polish Government wages war against its own people.

I urge the Polish Government and its allies to consider the consequences of their actions. How can they possibly justify using naked force to crush a people who ask for nothing more than the right to lead their own lives in freedom and dignity? Brute force may intimidate, but it cannot form the basis of an enduring society, and the ailing Polish economy cannot be rebuilt with terror tactics.

Poland needs cooperation between its government and its people, not military oppression. If the Polish Government will honor the commitments it has made to human rights in documents like the Gdansk agreement, we in America will gladly do our share to help the shattered Polish economy, just as we helped the countries of Europe after both World Wars.

It's ironic that we offered, and Poland expressed interest in accepting, our help after World War II. The Soviet Union intervened then and refused to allow such help to Poland. But if the forces of tyranny in Poland, and those who incite them from without, do not relent, they should prepare themselves for serious consequences. Already, throughout the Free World, citizens have publicly demonstrated their support for the Polish people. Our government, and those of our allies, have expressed moral revulsion at the police state tactics of Poland's oppressors. The Church has also spoken out, in spite of threats and intimidation. But our reaction cannot stop there.

I want emphatically to state tonight that if the outrages in Poland do not cease, we cannot and will not conduct "business as usual" with the perpetrators and those who aid and abet them. Make no mistake, their crime will cost them dearly in their future dealings with America and free peoples everywhere. I do not make this statement lightly or without serious reflection.

We have been measured and deliberate in our reaction to the tragic events in Poland. We have not acted in haste, and the steps I will outline tonight and others we may take in the days ahead are firm, just, and reasonable.

In order to aid the suffering Polish people during this critical period, we will continue the shipment of food through private humanitarian channels, but only so long as we know that the Polish people themselves receive the food. The neighboring country of Austria has opened her doors to refugees from Poland. I have therefore directed that American assistance, including supplies of basic foodstuffs, be offered to aid the Austrians in providing for these refugees.

But to underscore our fundamental opposition to the repressive actions taken by the Polish Government against its own people, the administration has suspended all government-sponsored shipments of agricultural and dairy products to the Polish Government. This suspension will remain in force until absolute assurances are received that distribution of these products is monitored and guaranteed by independent agencies. We must be sure that every bit of food provided by America goes to the Polish people, not to their oppressors.

The United States is taking immediate action to suspend major elements of our economic relationships with the Polish Government. We have halted the renewal of the Export-Import Bank's line of export credit insurance to the Polish Government. We will suspend Polish civil aviation privileges in the United States. We are suspending the right of Poland's fishing fleet to operate in American waters. And we're proposing to our allies the further restriction of high technology exports to Poland.

These actions are not directed against the Polish people. They are a warning to the Government of Poland that free men cannot and will not stand idly by in the face of brutal repression. To underscore this point, I've written a letter to General Jaruzelski, head of the Polish Government. In it, I outlined the steps we're taking and warned of the serious consequences if the Polish Government continues to use violence against its populace. I've urged him to free those in arbitrary detention, to lift martial law, and to restore the internationally recognized rights of the Polish people to free speech and association.

The Soviet Union, through its threats and pressures, deserves a major share of blame for the developments in Poland. So, I have also sent a letter to President Brezhnev urging him to permit the restoration of basic human rights in Poland provided for in the Helsinki Final Act. In it, I informed him that if this repression continues, the United States will have no choice but to take further concrete political and economic measures affecting our relationship.

When 19th century Polish patriots rose against foreign oppressors, their rallying cry was, "For our freedom and yours." Well, that motto still rings true in our time. There is a spirit of solidarity abroad in the world tonight that no physical force can crush. It crosses national boundaries and enters into the hearts of men and women everywhere. In factories, farms, and schools, in cities and towns around the globe, we the people of the Free World stand as one with our Polish brothers and sisters. Their cause is ours, and our prayers and hopes go out to them this Christmas.

Yesterday, I met in this very room with Romuald Spasowski, the distinguished former Polish Ambassador who has sought asylum in our country in protest of the suppression of his native land. He told me that one of the ways the Polish people have demonstrated their solidarity in the face of martial law is by placing lighted candles in their windows to show that the light of liberty still glows in their hearts.

Ambassador Spasowski requested that on Christmas Eve a lighted candle will burn in the White House window as a small but certain beacon of our solidarity with the Polish people. I urge all of you to do the same tomorrow night, on Christmas Eve, as a personal statement of your commitment to the steps we're taking to support the brave people of Poland in their time of troubles.

Once, earlier in this century, an evil influence threatened that the lights were going out all over the world. Let the light of millions of candles in American homes give notice that the light of freedom is not going to be extinguished. We are blessed with a freedom and abundance denied to so many. Let those candles remind us that these blessings bring with them a solid obligation, an obligation to the God who guides us, an obligation to the heritage of liberty and dignity handed down to us by our forefathers and an obligation to the children of the world, whose future will be shaped by the way we live our lives today.

Christmas means so much because of one special child. But Christmas also reminds us that all children are special, that they are gifts from God, gifts beyond price that mean more than any presents money can buy. In their love and laughter, in our hopes for their future lies the true meaning of Christmas.

So, in a spirit of gratitude for what we've been able to achieve together over the past year and looking forward to all that we hope to achieve together in the years ahead, Nancy and I want to wish you all the best of holiday seasons. As Charles Dickens, whom I quoted a few moments ago, said so well in "A Christmas Carol," "God bless us, every one."

Good night.

What was happening in Poland thirty years ago is a bit like what is happening here -- a core of citizens looking to get out from under a Statist large government. We could use another Ronald Regan and we can certainly use a big heaping measure of Solidarność

Not exactly Gluttony

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but we did eat. A lot. It was good. Completely forgot to prep the shrimp cocktail. Steamed but forgot to plate the green beans and nobody went for the pie -- saving that for breakfast. The Yorkshire Pudding was a big hit. Lulu and her son are bedded down for the evening -- it's only 9:30PM but feels like close to midnight to me.

Jordan Romero - top of the world

Back on May of 2010, I posted about then 13-year old Jordan Romero's summit of Everest. The post concluded:
The only mountain he has left is the Vinson Massif in Antarctica.
From the Beeb:
US teenager Jordan Romero sets seven-peak record
Jordan Romero, 15, reached the 4,897m (16,067ft) summit of Vinson Massif in Antarctica on Saturday, the final peak in a quest he began six years ago.

His team, which includes his father and stepmother, hope to complete their descent to base camp later on Sunday.

Aged 10, Jordan climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa.

At 13, the Californian climbed the world's highest mountain, Mt Everest.

He called his mother, Leigh Ann Drake, on Saturday to confirm he had reached the top of Vinson Massif.

Jordan beat the record previously held by British climber George Atkinson, who completed the ascents at the age of 16 in May.
Jordan's website is here: Jordan Romero Nice to see some young people grabbing life by the teeth and not letting go... ever... Jordan is also doing a B.I.G. tour through the 50 states, climbing the tallest mountain in each state. I personally have done a few and did the tallest mountain in Pennsylvania in under 30 seconds. That would be 3,213' Mount Davis and is a rocky outcrop rising from a parking lot. WOOT! Other more serious climbs were Mount Kahtadin and Mount Washington. Both were fun slogs.

Christmas Evening

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The roast beast is about ready to come out of the oven, the Caesar Salad is prepped and ready. The roasted root vegetables will be done while the meat rests, run off a batch of Yorkshire Pudding, pop open a bottle or two of wine and dinner will be served. Wishing everyone out there the best Christmas and New Years evah (until next year that is).

Christmas Eve

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Settling in for the evening. We exchanged one present each before dinner. I got a very cool telescoping brass spyglass -- I am into optical stuff and photography as well as steampunk. I will be carrying this around in the truck for a long long time. Belly full with some grilled tri-tip steak, Lulu made some spanish rice and I did a salad. All of the materials for tomorrow nights feast have been gathered: Shrimp Cocktail, Caesar Salad, Roast Beef (bone in), steamed french beans, roasted root vegetables (baby potatoes, carrots and parsnips) and finishing off with Lemon Meringue Pie. Everything from scratch -- should be good...

Christmas spirit

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Sitting here wrapping presents for Lulu and her son -- they are due in two hours. Started a fire so the house will be nice and toasty when they arrive. Jen is down in California visiting with her family. Wishing everyone the blessings of this Christmas and Hanukkah season.

Back home again

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Wanted to pick up a few more Christmas presents. The big stuff was purchased online but I wanted some stocking stuffers. The mall was a zoo but I was just getting a gift card so that didn't take much human interaction. Everything else -- bookstore, gun shop, pet store, etc. was a lot less crowded. Going out for dinner and back home - my back went out Tuesday when I was doing the recycling runs. It does this once or twice/year. Much better today than it was yesterday. Take some Percoset and a glass or two of red wine when I get home and take a nice long sleep...

Into town for a day

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Heading in to Bellingham for the day -- back Friday and Lulu and her son are coming out Saturday for Christmas. Minimal posting for a day or two.

Solstice tonight

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Another year rolls around -- the days will start getting longer. The last couple of years have been quite the ride.

Passing the buck

Onto us taxpayers -- from the Los Angeles station KCAL:

Mayor Calls For Budget Cuts To Offset Millions In Occupy LA Costs
The City of Los Angeles reportedly faces millions of dollars in expenses brought about by the Occupy LA movement.

City agencies have been ordered to calculate what was spent on the Occupy LA protests.

Repairs to City Hall's lawn where the Occupy group set up camp on Oct. 1 will require an estimated $400,000. The police action to clear out the encampment on Nov. 30 cost more than $700,000.

Additional expenses are attributed to hauling away debris from the camp, and cleaning up graffiti that defaced City Hall marble walls and trees.

The Occupy movement takes in donations -- send them the bill. Why should the L.A. taxpayers be put on the hook.

Competition for the top slot

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Looks like Jimmy Carter is competing with Obama for the Worst President Ever slot. From the Washington Times:
Ex-President Carter sends condolences to Kim Jong-un
Former President Jimmy Carter has sent North Korea a message of condolence over the death of Kim Jong-il and wished "every success" to the man expected to take over as dictator, according to the communist country's state-run news agency.

A dispatch from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Mr. Carter sent the message to Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il's son and heir apparent.

"In the message Jimmy Carter extended condolences to Kim Jong Un and the Korean people over the demise of leader Kim Jong Il. He wished Kim Jong Un every success as he assumes his new responsibility of leadership, looking forward to another visit to [North Korea] in the future," the KCNA dispatch read.

When contacted by The Washington Times for comment, the Carter Center provided an email contact to a spokeswoman who is out of the office until the New Year.
What a useful idiot...

Thinning the herd

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From the New York Daily News:
Young brother eats cocaine from older sibling's butt, then dies of overdose
A case of brotherly love in South Carolina turned deadly after a young man agreed to eat cocaine hidden in his older sibling's buttocks, then died of an overdose.

Deangelo Mitchell is seen in a police car video guilting his brother into ingesting the illegal substance because, he is heard saying, "I can't get no more strikes."

The 23-year-old and his younger brother, Wayne, were pulled over by police for a busted tail light on Nov. 30 in North Charleston.

The pair was handcuffed and put into the back of a squad car, police said. The video then shows Deangelo panic over his arrest, and beg his brother to help.

"Eat that sh*t, so I can get out," he says in the video. "One of us gotta do it, you the only one that don't have any strikes... You my little brother... I'm gonna get life."

The 20-year-old eventually gives in. Deangelo can be seen removing something from his backside, then Wayne leans down and eats the drugs, police said.

"I love you, bro," Wayne says in the video after consuming the narcotic.

A short time later, he was dead. Deangelo said his brother ate about an ounce of cocaine, authorities said.
Being this stupid should be painful...

Grinch be gone

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Wonderful story out of the California central valley -- from station KMPH:
Toys for Tots Giveaway Draws Thousands in Sanger
Sanger's mayor calls it a Christmas miracle. On Friday, its Toys for Tots cupboard was nearly bare due to thieves. Less than 24 hours later the toy bins were overflowing due to a caring community.

The line for the Toys for Tots giveaway in Sanger at 10:00 Saturday morning stretched for more than a quarter mile. Mayor Joshua Mitchell feared the worst Friday. "I cannot tell you how grateful we are for the miracle we saw at 12:00 in the morning when we counted the presents and we felt we had enough," he said.

People from as far away as Modesto donated toys. Walmart also played a major role donating 300 toys plus 70 bicycles. Richard Luz is a regional manager for Walmart and lives in Sanger. "I personally went ahead and got all the bikes and got them together and worked with a team of associates to help bring them here last night until about 2:00 in the morning," he said.
Special place in hell for the mokes who stole the toys. Wonderful that the entire community came together like that. Loaves and fishes brought to life...

Cool clear water

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A 3" nipple broke at the hydrant. Replaced same and there is now water at the farm. No need for a trip to town as I had the part on hand. The title? By Bob Nolan but covered by everyone.

Pot meet kettle

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From Politico:
Hugo Chavez: Obama�s a �clown� president
Hugo Ch�vez blasted President Barack Obama as a �clown� and an �embarrassment� who has turned the United States into a �disaster� after Obama criticized Venezuela�s ties with Iran and Cuba, according to a report Tuesday.

Ch�vez�s comments came in the wake of Obama�s Monday written interview with the Caracas paper El Universal, where the U.S. president questioned Venezuela�s connections to those countries. Ch�vez hit back strongly at Obama on state TV Monday, according to The Guardian, saying the president gave the interview only to �win votes� in the 2012 election.

�Mr. Obama decided to attack us,� Ch�vez said. �Now you want to win votes by attacking Venezuela. Don�t be irresponsible. You are a clown, a clown. Leave us in peace � Go after your votes by fulfilling that which you promised your people.�

�Focus on governing your country, which you�ve turned into a disaster,� Ch�vez said, according to The Guardian.
For all of Ch�vez' Marxist beliefs and for all that he has done for his own constituents, he is calling things as they are.

Shocking - Chevy Volt

Talk about pumping our dollars down the "green" rathole -- from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy:

Chevy Volt Costing Taxpayers Up to $250K Per Vehicle
Each Chevy Volt sold thus far may have as much as $250,000 in state and federal dollars in incentives behind it -- a total of $3 billion altogether, according to an analysis by James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Hohman looked at total state and federal assistance offered for the development and production of the Chevy Volt, General Motors' plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. His analysis included 18 government deals that included loans, rebates, grants and tax credits. The amount of government assistance does not include the fact that General Motors is currently 26 percent owned by the federal government.

The Volt subsidies flow through multiple companies involved in production. The analysis includes adding up the amount of government subsidies via tax credits and direct funding for not only General Motors, but other companies supplying parts for the vehicle. For example, the Department of Energy awarded a $105.9 million grant to the GM Brownstown plant that assembles the batteries. The company was also awarded approximately $106 million for its Hamtramck assembly plant in state credits to retain jobs. The company that supplies the Volt's batteries, Compact Power, was awarded up to $100 million in refundable battery credits (combination tax breaks and cash subsidies). These are among many of the subsidies and tax credits for the vehicle.

The irony is that the electricity to charge the batteries comes mostly from coal burning power plants.

Digging to China

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Spent some quality-time with my shovel fixing the broken water line. When I hit the hydrant last night, I snapped off one of the plastic couplers. Have to run into town to get a new one. Arrrgghhhhh...

Arrrrggghhhhh - farm water

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Busy day today. Lulu and her son headed back into Bellingham for a few days to take care of some stuff. They will be back out for Christmas. As you know, I have had a few days without water at the farm -- a leaking pipe and I shut the well pump down while replacing it and the pump did not start back up again necessitating its replacement. So I am borrowing Jen's trailer for a few days to take some scrap metal to the recycler and to do a dump run. I do two runs into town today and am back at the farm around 5PM -- it is dark. I am backing the trailer down the driveway and making the dogleg into where I want to leave it for the night. I feel it hit something. I go back and forth a bit and finally get it parked. Get the flashlight and see what I hit. A water hydrant. The very one that we hooked the replacement water line to -- and there is a puddle of water welling up. Go into the house. No water. Crap. I killed the water. Shut the well pump off and I'll spend some quality time with a shovel tomorrow...

A nice place to visit but...

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Cuba is a place that I would love to visit -- I dearly love the Caribbean vibe, have spent time on other islands and the music coming out of there is awesome. Cuba represents the crown jewel of the Caribbean to me and that it has been locked in the grubby hands of Castro brothers for so long makes me wonder why the USA didn't participate in "nation building" a little closer to home. Cuba's people live in poverty so the Castro brothers and their cadre can live large. Of course they support North Korea where the 'peasants' eat grass and sometimes each other. NorK makes "let them eat cake" look downright generous. From the Bellingham Herald:
Cuba decrees 3 days of mourning for Kim Jong Il
The Cuban government has decreed three days of mourning for the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

An official statement read Monday on Cuban state television also said the Communist government had ordered Cuban flags to be flown at half staff at public buildings and military installations.

The mourning period begins Tuesday and runs through Dec. 22.

The leftist governments of Venezuela and Nicaragua have also expressed condolences for the death Saturday of the North Korean leader.
If Cuba is such a workers paradise, why to thousands of people risk their lives every year fleeing over 80 miles of open water to Florida. And to think that people in the USA consider this to be a superior form of government...

Well crap - RIP Ces�ria �vora

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An amazing singer and her music was a delight. From Wikipedia:
Ces�ria �vora (27 August 1941 � 17 December 2011) was a Cape Verdean popular singer. Nicknamed the "barefoot diva" for performing without shoes, she was one of the best-known international practitioners of morna.
Her French language official website is here: Ces�ria �vora Google translate into English is here: Ces�ria �vora Her music is out there online and well worth tracking down -- voices like hers do not come around every day. I have a bunch of her albums and will be digging them out for Lulu and her son.

Nice work if you can get it - asleep on the job

From the Seattle Times:

Untended shop leads police to 5 pounds of pot
The search of a seemingly untended business in Washougal, Clark County, on Friday turned up one sleeping employee and about 5 pounds of marijuana, police said.

Just after noon Friday, a Washougal police officer was flagged down in front of a store called Mary Jane's House of Glass - Precious Paws Dog and Cat Food.

A passer-by reported he'd spent 20 minutes yelling for a store clerk with no answer, and feared something may have happened, police said. The officer called for additional units, then entered the store to check it out.

Officers eventually found a 21-year-old lying on the floor of an office room, apparently asleep, according to police, who said another room contained a large amount of marijuana strewn about the floor, counter and open garbage bags.

After he woke up, the man was arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana.

Police later re-entered the business with a search warrant and found one space that appeared to be a "processing room" containing packaging material, a bag-sealing machine, a scale, loose marijuana and stripped marijuana stalks, according to police.

Officers removed close to 5 pounds of marijuana in all, police said. They also found smoking devices.

And yes, here is the web page for Mary Jane's House of Glass

And yes, they are a head shop with eight locations.

Nice work if you can get it

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Nancy Pelosi needs to get booted out of office. From Roll Call:
Pelosi�s Expert Was Also Business Partner
In May 2010, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi took to a podium in the Capitol to introduce a half-dozen economic experts she had convened for a meeting on how to jump-start the economy. The group had met for several hours with top Democratic leaders, and Pelosi invited them to speak publicly on their perspectives on economic growth.

What Pelosi did not mention is that one of the men in the group was her son's boss and a partner with her husband in more than a half-dozen investments, including one that generated more than $100,000 in income for the Speaker's family last year.

It was the fourth time since 2007 that Pelosi had invited San Francisco investment banker William Hambrecht to be part of an economic policy forum on the Hill and the third time she appeared at a podium with him to speak to reporters. At none of those events did the then-Speaker reveal her financial ties to Hambrecht, and House rules did not require her to do so.

At a time when the connection between a Member of Congress' personal finances and public role has been spotlighted by the proposed STOCK Act � which would prohibit lawmakers from trading on legislative knowledge � the case of Pelosi and her family's investment adviser is a reminder of how few rules exist to govern these relationships.
What part of representative does she fail to grasp...

Eric Holder - stayin' classy

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If you can't argue the point, sling mud. From The Daily Caller:
Justice Dept silent as Holder charges critics with racism
Attorney General Eric Holder accused his growing chorus of critics of racist motivations in a Sunday interview published in the New York Times. When reached by The Daily Caller Monday morning, the Department of Justice provided no evidence to support the attorney general�s claims.

Holder said some unspecified faction � what he refers to as the �more extreme segment� � is driven to criticize both him and President Barack Obama due to the color of their skin. Holder did not appear to elaborate on who he considered to make up the �more extreme segment.�
A bit more:
Holder�s accusations come as resignation calls mount from a growing list of 60 congressmen, two senators, every major Republican presidential candidate and two sitting governors, spurred on by the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious.

Additionally, seventy-five congressmen have signed onto a House resolution for a vote of �no confidence� in Holder as attorney general. Between the two lists, there are 86 total in the House who no longer trust Holder to head the Department of Justice.
If this is the best government that money can buy, we need to get our money refunded. How fscking incompetent do these morons have to be before they get fired.

Arab spring

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Fears have come realities as the new government in Egypt seems to be more interested in returning to the ninth century than joining the rest of the world. If you have seen the news, there have been some horrific photographs of women being beaten by police. Now it seems that destroying their antiquities is in vogue. From Mustafa Suleima writing for the Al Arabiya news service:
Failure to protect Egyptian historic sites could trigger foreign intervention, warn experts
The fire that broke out in a Cairo library that houses thousands of rare documents raised concerns over the government�s and the army�s ability to protect historic sites at times of upheaval and drove several experts to warn of a possible intervention by foreign entities to preserve the heritage at risk.

Legal and archeological experts described failure to contain the fire that devoured large parts of the Scientific Complex in downtown Cairo and to rescue the priceless maps, manuscripts, and books kept inside as a disaster and warned that the possibility of similar acts of sabotage would make foreign intervention very likely.

Haggag Ibrahim, deputy chairman of the Association for the Preservation of Heritage and member of the Higher Commission for Museums, labeled those involved in setting the Scientific Complex on fire �the new Tatars� who want to erase all aspects of culture in the country.

�Those are the grandchildren of the Tatars who burned the library of Baghdad when they invaded the Muslim world,� he told Al Arabiya.

According to Ibrahim, UNESCO is now capable of placing historic sites in Egypt under international protection since Egyptians proved unable to do so themselves.
One of the commentors summed it up perfectly: "And that's what you get when cousins marry."

Dropping like flies

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Three major people have passed away in the last few days. Christopher Hitchens and yesterday, V�clav Havel. Both too young. Gerard has a good comparison at Havel vs. Hitchens: Blogosphere have you no sense of decency or proportion. Czech Physicist Lubo� Motl gives his thoughts here: V�clav Havel: 1936-2011 Read this one -- a great story. Finally, North Korea gets its own chance at Hope and Change as Kim Jong Il kicks the bucket. Satan takes one of his own home... I look forward to the day when the people of North Korea can run their lives as they see fit and not be forced into providing for the welfare of a ruling elite. South Korea is our friend -- North Korea should have that option too.

Full day at the farm

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Went out for breakfast at a local restaurant and then came home and Lulu's son and I worked in the forge for six hours. He is making a kitchen knife for Lulu for Christmas and I was setting up my BAG (big-assed Grinder) I use a bench grinder for refining the shape of my knives and the unit I had just lacked the power I needed. Placed an order at Grizzly Tools for this unit: G0597 10" 1.5 HP Heavy-Duty Bench Grinder. Holy crap -- this unit took everything I could give it and it never ever faltered or slowed down. A very useful addition to my shop. We quit work around 4PM and then spent the next hour shooting. There is enough land here that I have a small range -- plinked at targets with a Ruger single-six revolver, a KelTec PMR-30 semi-automatic pistol and my Remington rifle. Everything shoots 22mag so ammunition is cheap. Fired off about 250 rounds -- a lot of fun. Have a water board meeting tonight so off to that in a few minutes.
I have not been aware of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher before but he certainly has the Right Stuff. Here are some excerpts from a speech he gave before Congress on December 8th, 2011. This is taken from Watts Up With That:
Congressman Rohrabacher�s speech on climate issues
Mr. Speaker, tonight, as a strong advocate of human progress through advancing mankind�s understanding of science and engineering, I rise to discuss a blatant abuse and misuse of science.

A few nights ago, I watched a video of President Eisenhower�s 1961 Farewell Address.

Unfortunately, his much heralded prescient warning of a military/industrial complex has obscured another warning in that farewell address that is just as significant:

Eisenhower pointed to the danger:
�of domination of the nation�s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present � and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.�
In my lifetime there�s been no greater example of this threat, which Ike warned us about, than the insidious coalition of research science and political largess, a coalition that has conducted an unrelenting crusade to convince the American People that their health and safety, and yes the very survival of our planet, is at risk due to man-made global warming. The purpose of this greatest of all propaganda campaigns is to enlist public support for, if not just acquiescence to, dramatic mandated change of our society, and to our way of life.

This campaign has such momentum and power that it is now a tangible threat to our freedom, and to our prosperity as a people. Ironically, as the crusade against Man-made Global Warming grows in power, more evidence surfaces every day that the scientific theory, on which the alarmists base their crusade, is totally bogus. The general public and decision makers for decades have been inundated with phony science, altered numbers, and outright fraud. This is the ultimate power grab in the name of saving the world. And like all fanatics, disagreement is not allowed.

Prominent scientists who have been skeptical with the claims of man-made Global Warming have themselves been cut from research grants, and obstructed when trying to publish peer reviewed dissenting opinions. How the mainstream media, or publications like the National Journal, have ignored this systematic oppression is beyond me.

If you�ve heard the words �case closed,� it doesn�t take a genius to figure out that the purpose of such a proclamation is limiting and repressing debate. Well, the case isn�t closed, so let�s start with some facts about the man-made global warming theory.
Much more at the site -- I have always been a little bit curious as why the United States doesn't have people like Daniel Hanan or Lord Monckton -- articulate defenders of science as she should be practiced. Congressman Rohrabacher proves himself to be their peer. He goes over Climategate and Climategate 2, mentions the increasing numbers of Polar Bears, the studies of solar variation and temperature (yes -- closely linked) as well as a couple of other outside editorials and papers he submits to the Congressional Record. It has been wonderful to see the wheels come off of the Anthropogenic Global Catastrophic Warming wagon over the last ten years or so. It was crappy Junk Science at the outset and it remains today nothing but Junk Science propagated by people following the Benjamins and not their ethics. Time to defund the EPA, start exploiting our 500 year reservoir of petroleum and pumping all of our money being wasted on this corrupt and false "green energy" chimera and putting it instead into technologies like LFTR and Polywell Fusors. We have the power and it is clean. Time to shake off the hippies and get down to what we do best, Science and Industry. Let us build great things and lift people out of poverty.

Fifty numbers

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A list from Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge:
50 Economic Numbers About The US That Are "Almost Too Crazy To Believe"
The Economic Collapse Blog does a terrific job of periodically putting together a compilation of the scariest data points about the US economy. Today is one such day, and the list of 50 economic numbers presented is indeed, as the author puts it, "almost too crazy to believe"... Almost. As noted: "At this time of the year, a lot of families get together, and in most homes the conversation usually gets around to politics at some point. Hopefully many of you will use the list below as a tool to help you share the reality of the U.S. economic crisis with your family and friends. If we all work together, hopefully we can get millions of people to wake up and realize that "business as usual" will result in a national economic apocalypse." Or, far more likely, 99% of the population can continue watching Dancing with the Stars, as what little wealth remains is terminally transferred to those who are paying attention right below everyone's eyes.

From the Ecopnomic Collapse Blog:
The following are 50 economic numbers from 2011 that are almost too crazy to believe....
Here are five of them in no particular order:
#2 Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be "low income" or impoverished.

#12 Back in 1969, 95 percent of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job. In July, only 81.2 percent of men in that age group had a job.

#28 The United States spends about 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States.

#41 Today, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

#50 During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.
The blog post concludes with the reason:
Of course the heart of our economic problems is the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve is a perpetual debt machine, it has almost completely destroyed the value of the U.S. dollar and it has an absolutely nightmarish track record of incompetence. If the Federal Reserve system had never been created, the U.S. economy would be in far better shape. The federal government needs to shut down the Federal Reserve and start issuing currency that is not debt-based. That would be a very significant step toward restoring prosperity to America.
Hat tip to Bulldog at Maggie's Farm for the link.

Llamas on the lloose again

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Slept in a bit and was having a nice cup of coffee with Lulu and noticed Pancho running back and forth along the fence line again. Sigh. Got a bucket full of grain and lured Lefty and Waylon through the gate yet again. Set out a couple bales of hay for them and sprinkled some alfalfa pellets on top -- see if they stick around. Calling around for bids on a fence Monday. 12 feet tall poured cement with guard towers...

Offline for a few hours

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Had a credit card expire for the hosting service and they pulled the plug. DOH! Back online. Busy day -- two of the three llamas eloped again but the third (Pancho) stayed behind the new barbed wire, the other two did not go far (they do not want to break up the herd) and it was easy to lead the other two (Lefty and Waylon) back through the gate. The guy who dug the ditch for the new water line came back and dropped off 12 cubic yards of gravel to re-do the driveway. It is about 600 feet long and had some spectacular potholes. Lulu and her son are out for a bunch of days -- he has been studying blacksmithing techniques on the web and has picked up a lot. The force is strong in that one... Finally, ran into town to drop off the dead chest freezer and a bunch of other trash to the local transfer station -- nice to get some room in the garage. Got some projects planned for that space...

Government at work - Los Angeles County

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Two chilling short videos:
L.A. Weekly article here: L.A. County's Private Property War Hat tip to Off Grid Survival for the link -- from their post:
Is living off the Grid now a crime?
Apparently living off the grid, off the land and without government assistance is now a crime that can land you in jail and cause you to lose your home.

Government officials across the country are forming so called �nuisance abatement teams� to intimidate people into giving up their land or conforming to the governments demands and hooking back into the grid. Counties across the country are actually jailing people for living the way they want to live.

I was alerted to this video by a reader and was troubled and sickened by what the poor people in the California Desert are being forced to deal with. From being threatened with jail time if they don�t hook back into the grid to being thrown in jail because the county didn�t like the look of their homes, the people in the deserts of Los Angeles County are being terrorized by their government.
Councils and planners -- these agencies need to see the light of day. We are having a minor hassle up here with traffic circles -- they are being put in with no consideration for the increase in fender-benders and lost time. I used to live in Boston back in the 1970's and they were all over the place. I was back there a few years ago for a friends memorial service and all of the circles had been removed except for the huge one (half-mile diameter) on the way to Cape Cod. As the city council members are elected, it would be interesting to see what engineering and construction firms contributed to their campaign...

For sale - three Llamas - cheap

Bugger all! I got back from the feed store with a roll of barb wire. I have someone working at the house today doing organizing and cleaning and I was helping them move some stuff around in the garage. I look out over the field and one of the llamas was on the other side of the property fence line looking back at me. Heading out to the shop for some fencing tools and string a couple sections of wire over the weak spots of the fence. Little bas*ards -- this is a joke to them...

Update on Climategate 2

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One of the key people who initially posted about the 5,000 emails leaked last month just had a visit. From the Police. With a search warrent. They took some of his computers. From his website: Tallbloke's Talkshop:
Tallbloke towers raided: many computers taken
An Englishman�s home is his castle they say. Not when six detectives from the Metropolitan Police, the Norfolk Constabulary and the Computer Crime division arrive on your doorstep with a warrant to search it though.

I waved the first three in and bid them head through to the sitting room, where there was less of an chill near the woodburner. Then they kept coming, being introduced by the lead detective from Norfolk as they trooped in. I thought I�d been chosen to host the secret policemen�s ball or something.

I managed to log out of my email on the big lappy as they sat down, to the annoyance of the Computer expert. he soon regained his composure though and asked his first question.
How many computers do you have in the house?

Oh, I�m not sure� around twenty.
I breezily replied.

Some glances were exchanged.

�So where are they� he asked.

�Most of them are up in the attic bedroom. We�re in the middle of decorating it. You�ll have to mind the wet paint��

After surveying my ancient stack of Sun Sparcstations and PII 400 pc�s, they ended up settling for two laptops and an adsl broadband router. I�m blogging this post via my mobile.

I got the feeling something was on the go last night when WordPress forwarded a notice from the U.S. Department of Justice. I�ll post it tomorrow once I get access to the net from a bigger keyboard sorted out.
More at the website. Anthony also blogged about it and the comments on both sites make for some interesting reading...

Good fences make good neighbors

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Looks like I need to spend some quality time reinforcing my property line fence. Just got a call from a neighbor that my Llamas were taking themselves for a walk in her yard again (they were just out yesterday. They used to elope every couple of months but are now doing this on a very regular basis. I'll corral them and then head over to a nearby town and buy a roll of barb wire and run a string over the tops of the fence posts. I really love the creatures but this is getting really old really fast.

The other shoe drops - China

From the UK Telegraph:

China's epic hangover begins
It is hard to obtain good data in China, but something is wrong when the country's Homelink property website can report that new home prices in Beijing fell 35pc in November from the month before. If this is remotely true, the calibrated soft-landing intended by Chinese authorities has gone badly wrong and risks spinning out of control.

The growth of the M2 money supply slumped to 12.7pc in November, the lowest in 10 years. New lending fell 5pc on a month-to-month basis. The central bank has begun to reverse its tightening policy as inflation subsides, cutting the reserve requirement for lenders for the first time since 2008 to ease liquidity strains.

The question is whether the People's Bank can do any better than the US Federal Reserve or Bank of Japan at deflating a credit bubble.

Chinese stocks are flashing warning signs. The Shanghai index has fallen 30pc since May. It is off 60pc from its peak in 2008, almost as much in real terms as Wall Street from 1929 to 1933.

"Investors are massively underestimating the risk of a hard-landing in China, and indeed other BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China)... a 'Bloody Ridiculous Investment Concept' in my view," said Albert Edwards at Societe Generale.

Time to stock up on food and ammo -- worst case scenario, you get tired of eating beans and spend a lot of time on the range...

Get out the vote

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An interesting campaign going on here -- opening up the possibilities for massive voter fraud. From Donna Brazile writing at CNN:
In U.S., right to vote still threatened
Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder delivers a major speech on voting rights at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. The location is significant: In 1965, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, a landmark piece of civil rights legislation that banned the worst forms of racial discrimination in American elections.

Over the past five decades, the VRA and other federal and state election reforms have greatly expanded access to the ballot box. As a testament to their success, the 2008 presidential electorate was the largest and most demographically diverse in the history of the United States. But the protections the VRA affords have not lost their relevance, or their indispensability. In the past year, lawmakers in 40 states have introduced legislation that would make it harder for all eligible Americans to vote -- and harder disproportionately for people of color, young Americans, and our seniors.

Some Southern states, like Florida, South Carolina, and Texas, have not only passed legislation restricting the right to vote, but also have refused to comply with their responsibilities under the VRA. The law requires certain states with histories of voting discrimination to submit any change in election law to the U.S. Department of Justice for "preclearance" before it can be implemented. Because these states for so long flaunted an obstinate refusal to allow African-Americans equal access to the voting booth, the VRA requires they demonstrate that new changes will not have a discriminatory effect.

South Carolina and Texas both passed requirements that voters present restrictive forms of government-issued photo ID at polling places, even though 25% of African-Americans and 19% of Latinos lack the necessary form of ID. After passing their laws, both of these states filed preclearance letters with DOJ, but neither could explain how the new law avoided repeating an abhorrent history of discrimination.
Two thoughts: Ninety five years prior to Lyndon Baines Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act into law, the United States Congress ratified the fifteenth amendment to the US Constitution which states:
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Johnson's VRA is completely redundant. Second -- quoting Ms. Brazile:
even though 25% of African-Americans and 19% of Latinos lack the necessary form of ID
Ms. Brazile -- could you provide a source for this statistic? When I was a teenager, I could not wait to get a drivers license. How about a birth certificate? Ever fly on an airplane? Social Security card? Costco card? Bank account? Even a utility bill mailed to your home address would serve... Being able to vote without providing a valid form of identification would open the floodgates to ballet stuffing and massive fraud. This needs to stop. If the niggers are going to vote Democrat (to paraphrase President Johnson) at least have them be honest votes. Doctor Martin Luther King was a Republican. So was Eldridge Cleaver. The Ku Klux Klan was Democrat. How times have changed...

Wonderful news

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Although we are going through a divorce, Jen and I still jointly own and manage a building with some apartments. She called me to let me know that one of our tenants just posted bail this morning. Life is fun...

Gorgeous music

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I like film music and this is one of the best -- YoYo Ma playing Ennio Morricone's Gabriel's Oboe from The Mission.
I like to play with numbers and three is my absolute favorite. Was driving the other day and mentally playing with the progression of:


where xxxx is 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... and n is 3, 2, 1, 0, 9, 8, 7... and looking at which numbers were divisible evenly by three. To start we have:

03  --  1
12  --  4
21  --  7
30  --  10
49  --  16.33333333
58  --  19.33333333
and a pattern develops -- click on the "Continue reading" link to see through to an xxxx 1249 seed number. It starts off odd but settles down into a 10 even, 10 x.333 and 10 x.666 Nothing profound, just curious...

Welfare reform

Needs to happen -- lots of people are abusing the system. A tale from Christine Rousselle at The College Conservative:

My Time at Walmart: Why We Need Serious Welfare Reform
During the 2010 and 2011 summers, I was a cashier at Wal-Mart #1788 in Scarborough, Maine. I spent hours upon hours toiling away at a register, scanning, bagging, and dealing with questionable clientele. These were all expected parts of the job, and I was okay with it. What I didn't expect to be part of my job at Wal-Mart was to witness massive amounts of welfare fraud and abuse.

I understand that sometimes, people are destitute. They need help, and they accept help from the state in order to feed their families. This is fine. It happens. I'm not against temporary aid helping those who truly need it. What I saw at Wal-Mart, however, was not temporary aid. I witnessed generations of families all relying on the state to buy food and other items. I literally witnessed small children asking their mothers if they could borrow their EBT cards. I once had a man show me his welfare card for an ID to buy alcohol. The man was from Massachusetts. Governor Michael Dukakis' signature was on his welfare card. Dukakis' last gubernatorial term ended in January of 1991. I was born in June of 1991. The man had been on welfare my entire life. That's not how welfare was intended, but sadly, it is what it has become.

Other things witnessed while working as a cashier included:
a) People ignoring me on their iPhones while the state paid for their food. (For those of you keeping score at home, an iPhone is at least $200, and requires a data package of at least $25 a month. If a person can spend $25+ a month so they can watch YouTube 24/7, I don't see why they can't spend that money on food.)

b) People using TANF (EBT Cash) money to buy such necessities such as earrings, kitkat bars, beer, WWE figurines, and, my personal favorite, a slip n' slide. TANF money does not have restrictions like food stamps on what can be bought with it.

c) Extravagant purchases made with food stamps; including, but not limited to: steaks, lobsters, and giant birthday cakes.

d) A man who ran a hotdog stand on the pier in Portland, Maine used to come through my line. He would always discuss his hotdog stand and encourage me to "come visit him for lunch some day." What would he buy? Hotdogs, buns, mustard, ketchup, etc. How would he pay for it? Food stamps. Either that man really likes hotdogs, or the state is paying for his business. Not okay.

More at the site. Welfare needs to get out of the Federal level and back to the State level where it was before L.B. Johnson started messing things up. I love his quote: "That should get the niggers voting Democrat for the next 200 years."

I drink your milkshake

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Big oil find off the British owned Falkland Islands -- from The Sun:
Falklands oil strike to infuriate Argentina
British oil explorer ROCKHOPPER yesterday scored a hat-trick of strikes off the Falkland Islands � leaving Argentina fuming.

The firm said a new well proved its Sea Lion field 80 miles off the Falklands coast is BIGGER than expected.

And two further big oil hits were made on the way down � as well as a discovery of gas.

The strikes will infuriate Argentina's Prime Minister Cristina Kirchner � who slammed Britain last year for trying to exhaust "Argentinian natural resources".
Hell -- there is probably a lot more down there; Argentina can just hire Rockhopper for herself. Estimates are at 430 million barrels -- quite the find.
From Investor's Business Daily:
Jet Fuel-Gate Is Obama's New Solyndra
SolyndraGate was no isolated case of corrupt government misspending. The U.S. Navy was just forced to buy 450,000 gallons of biofuels from an Obama-connected firm at an outrageous $16 per gallon.

The massive Obama stimulus was supposed to generate millions of jobs, but the $535 million loan guarantee it gave to solar panel maker Solyndra on the eve of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy illustrated the fundamental incompetence of Obama's neo-Keynesian economic ideology.

Now we find the Navy partnering with the Agriculture Department to purchase hundreds of thousands of gallons of alternative biofuel in place of standard JP-5 fuel for Navy aircraft � the biggest federal purchase of biofuel ever.

It's part of the White House's "we can't wait for Congress" strategy as the 2012 election year looms. But JP-5 typically costs less than $4 a gallon. If a family on a budget started filling up with $16-a-gallon gas, it might want to adopt the motto, "we can't wait to go broke."

A look at the lucky seller of this environmentalist version of the proverbial $600 Pentagon toilet seat indicates that the move is not just wasteful, but ethically suspect.

As J.E. Dyer noted over the weekend on the Hot Air Green Room, "a member of Obama's presidential transition team, T. J. Glauthier, is a 'strategic advisor' at Solazyme, the California company that is selling a portion of the biofuel to the Navy. Glauthier worked � shock, shock � on the energy-sector portion of the 2009 stimulus bill."

Solazyme had already gotten a nearly $22 million chunk of change out of the taxpayers thanks to the 2009 stimulus. We heard the ludicrous excuse last week from Obama Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, as quoted in the National Journal, that "we are doing this for one simple reason: It makes us better fighters" because "our use of fossil fuels is a very real threat to our national security and to the U.S. Navy ability to protect America and project power overseas."

What about the "very real threat" to the Navy of not having enough money for the ships, fighters and ammunition it needs to protect America? President Obama's assault on the Pentagon could scrap 60 of the Navy's ships, including two carrier groups.
We look at gutting the military but still do grandstanding idiocy like this. Just as a reminder -- the military accounts for about 20% of Federal spending and our various entitlement programs clock in at over 43%.

We have water!

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Looking forward to taking a nice hot shower tonight before bed. Well is about 90' deep -- the original owner told me 200' but that is not what I measured. 30' of water standing in the well so I have a good connection to the aquifer -- stirred things up a bit so running water until the sediment clears out. It was a lot of fun horsing the old pump up and the new one down. I don't work out at a gym -- don't need to. Civilization seriously rocks!

Llama drama

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I am out by the shop measuring out the pipe for the new well pump and taping the electrical cable to it. Almost done and I look up and see the llamas on the other side of my property line fence. A few weeks ago, I switched them from graze to hay so their bellies are full. Needless to say, the standard technique of bringing a bucket of grain to lure them home was completely ignored. Two hours later (and meeting a few of my neighbors), I managed to out-stubborn them and lure them home. Taking a breather and then back to the well. Who says the country life is boring...

Yikes - 7.1Mag quake in New Guinea

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7.1 Magnitude - from the USGS Happened last night around 10PM -- no news on the commercial media as yet. Fortunately it was deep -- 75 miles -- so the surface damage will be minimal. Earthquake Report has more info including on the site reports.

More H2O fun

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Turns out the Pitless Adapter used in the well casing is a different size from what I was planning. Another run into town - 60 miles round trip because the guy who did the plumbing decided to go cheap. Should be another couple hours and then enjoy a nice hot long shower... UPDATE: Two hours later and it turns out the downhaul pipe from the pump to the Pitless Adapter was rigid PVC. The material to use is Polyethylene. Fortunately I have not made the run to town yet -- do that tomorrow. UPDATE #2: It is now 10PM -- I went into town anyway because I have someone working at the house tomorrow redoing the gravel in the driveway. Looking forward to a nice hot shower around noon or so. My comment about the plumber going cheap is that everything in the house is incredible -- the workmanship is first rate throughout. Except for the wiring (which the original owner told me that he had a friend of his do) and the plumbing which I suspect is the same story. I spent two years gradually reworking the soft spots of the wiring and tying off the loose ends. Starting to do the same for the plumbing -- the leak that started this all was a direct connection from a galvanized pipe to a copper pipe which causes electrolysis and corrosion. The cedar shake roof was 30 years old and I had that replaced with a thick guage metal roof two summers ago. The paint on the outside is getting a bit soft so will be repainting next summer and then the house should be good for another 30 years at least.

Bye bye California

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And another one jumps the ship -- from Sacramento station CBS13:
Folsom Company Moving To Texas, Citing California Costs, Red Tape
It�s official. Folsom-based company Waste Connections is moving out of California and headed to the state of Texas.

The company, the collects solid waste, announced the move Monday morning saying it was relocating its headquarters to The Woodlands in Texas.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ronald J. Mittelstaedt told CBS13 the decision to move was based on two main factors. Although he called California home, he says the company needed to be more centrally located in the country.

�Then the other part of it was the cost of doing business in California. Highest tax rates in the nation. Until recently very expensive real estate. Tremendous regulation and really a broken legislature. Something that�s got a built-in structural deficit that�s not going to improve,� explained Mittelstaedt. �The reality is this is just a very difficult place to do business. It�s a very expensive place to do business.�
I wonder just how bad it will have to get for those morons in Sacramento to change. Small government is best for business and the happier the business economy is, the more tax revenues you collect (not to mention lower unemployment expenses).
They are rated as being more ethical than Congressmen. From Gallup:
Record 64% Rate Honesty, Ethics of Members of Congress Low
Sixty-four percent of Americans rate the honesty and ethical standards of members of Congress as "low" or "very low," tying the record "low"/"very low" rating Gallup has measured for any profession historically. Gallup has asked Americans to rate the honesty and ethics of numerous professions since 1976, including annually since 1990. Lobbyists also received a 64% low honesty and ethics rating in 2008.
47% of people think Car Salesmen rate low and Telemarketers clock in at 53% Nurses are 1%

Unions in Chicago

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Corruption? Naaaa -- no corruption here. From the Chicago Tribune:
Watchdog Update: Feds probe union pension deals
Federal authorities have begun a criminal investigation into how nearly a dozen union officials became eligible for inflated city pensions, according to subpoenas obtained by the Tribune and WGN-TV through an open-records request.

The Chicago municipal employees and laborers pension funds each received subpoenas from a federal grand jury in October seeking "records pursuant to an official criminal investigation." The request seeks documentation on 11 labor leaders who appeared in reports from a joint Tribune/WGN-TV investigation.
A bit more:
At least eight union officials named in the subpoena who either receive city pensions or are eligible for them also earned credit in union pension funds for the same period of work, despite a state law that was supposed to prevent that. The joint investigation found that some of those labor leaders were participating in up to three pension funds at the same time, accruing retirement benefits that reached as high $500,000 a year.
Nice work if you can get it...

How about those jobs - Colt Manufacturing

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From the Miami Herald:
Conn. workers worry about jobs in Colt's Fla. move
The United Auto Workers says employees of Colt Firearms in West Hartford were distressed to learn that the gun manufacturer is opening a manufacturing plant in central Florida and are worried about their jobs.

The union said in a news release Monday that it is assuring members it will do what it can to keep the company and its 500 jobs in Connecticut.

Mike Holmes, a local union official, said the UAW has a strong contract with Colt and will work to keep the company successful, profitable and remaining in Connecticut.

Colt Manufacturing Co. announced earlier this month it is bringing 63 jobs and a new regional headquarters and product manufacturing center to Kissimmee, Fla., next year.
Heh -- Connecticut is a Union state where Florida is a "right to work" state. Same deal with Boeing wanting to open that plant in South Carolina -- good that the (supposedly) independent National Labor Relations Board dropped their complaint.

Stupid is as stupid does - Iran

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From Yahoo/Reuters:
Iran army declines comment on MP's Hormuz exercise remarks
A member of the Iranian parliament's National Security Committee said on Monday that the military was set to practice its ability to close the Gulf to shipping at the narrow Strait of Hormuz, the most important oil transit channel in the world, but there was no official confirmation.

The legislator, Parviz Sarvari, told the student news agency ISNA: "Soon we will hold a military maneuver on how to close the Strait of Hormuz. If the world wants to make the region insecure, we will make the world insecure."
A bit more:
Iran's energy minister told Al Jazeera television last month that Tehran could use oil as a political tool in the event of any future conflict over its nuclear program.
And a bit more:
Iran has warned it will respond to any attack by hitting Israel and U.S. interests in the Gulf and analysts say one way to retaliate would be to close the Strait of Hormuz.
This plays right into the hands of Obama's refusal to develop our own resources. Much as I hate to say this, I see a world war looming on the horizon and our military is being gutted from the inside. China is not our friend and these children of pigs in the middle-east want nothing more than a global caliphate.

Back online

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Out of town for a few days. Spew Posting will resume tomorrow

Stunningly bad science

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There is a photo making the rounds of an adult polar bear killing and eating a juvenile. The BBC has it on their website:
Polar bear 'cannibalism' pictured
It is an image that is sure to shock many people.

An adult polar bear is seen dragging the body of a cub that it has just killed across the Arctic sea ice.

Polar bears normally hunt seals but if these are not available, the big predators will seek out other sources of food - even their own kind.

The picture was taken by environmental photojournalist Jenny Ross in Olgastretet, a stretch of water in the Svalbard archipelago.

"This type of intraspecific predation has always occurred to some extent," she told BBC News.

"However, there are increasing numbers of observations of it occurring, particularly on land where polar bears are trapped ashore, completely food-deprived for extended periods of time due to the loss of sea ice as a result of climate change."
Carnivores who maintain a 'harem' do this all the time. A new male displaces the old male and will frequently kill the off the children of the old male -- this way the new male gets to propagate his genetics (the females go into heat again). From the WikiPedia entry for Lions:
...when one or more new males oust the previous male(s) associated with a pride, the conqueror(s) often kill any existing young cubs, perhaps because females do not become fertile and receptive until their cubs mature or die...
And from the WikiPedia entry for Polar Bear:
Adult male bears occasionally kill and eat polar bear cubs, for reasons that are unclear.
The citation for this comes from this 1999 paper (PDF): Infanticide and Cannibalism of Juvenile Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) in Svalbard so the news is not even new... Like I said, stunningly bad science. The word they are looking for is "political agenda"

Got dem 'ole H2O blues

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Sheesh -- what is it with the big box stores these days. My well pump failed a few days ago and I was spending this morning getting the parts to do a complete replacement of the system. I was in town at 9AM and I figured I would hit Lowes and be back here around 10:30 and get to work. But noooooooo... Submersible pump - check Check Valve - check Heat Shrink kit for well wire - check Pressure tank - check Pump Wire - bzzzzzttt - the clerk tried to sell me solid direct burial cable when I needed immersion-proof stranded with the proper color codes. The pump's output is 1.25" NPT (a designation for pipe threading) I got a couple of adapters to go from 1.25NPT to 1.25 poly water pipe. I want to replace the entire water line so I wanted to get a 1.25" bulkhead fitting (these are called Pitless Adapters and go through the well casing below the frost-line). Lowes had 1" Pitless Adapters but not the 1.25". OK -- plan B -- I look for some 1.25NPT to 1" poly adapters. Bzzzzztttttttt... I wound up having to go to Lowes, Hardware Sales (for the 1.25" poly pipe, the proper pump wire and the 1.25 Pitless Adapter) and then to Home Depot for a 1/2" overpressure safety valve (Lowes stocked these but were out) and finally to a commercial plumbing outfit for some 1.25NPT brass nipples. It is now 2:30PM and I just got home 30 minutes ago -- sun is starting to set so I will move all this stuff out to the pump-house and start work tomorrow. I do not begrudge the box store being out of stock of a certain item -- they are in business to sell stuff. Still, it is really stupid when they stock 80% of a given 'system' but do not stock the other (and critical) 20%. The general reaction of the sales force there was: Derr... -- we have that in plastic (or worse yet galvanized -- it was the electrolytic failure of a galvanized to copper connection in the house that started this whole Odyssey). I have run into this before when running some new electrical service and needing to use weatherproof items for outside -- some things in stock, other and equally crucial things not.

BillG goes nuclear

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Very cool -- from Seattle television station KSTW-11:
Bill Gates Talking With China To Develop Nuclear Reactor
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates confirmed Wednesday he is in discussions with China to jointly develop a new and safer kind of nuclear reactor.

�The idea is to be very low cost, very safe and generate very little waste,� said the billionaire during a talk at China�s Ministry of Science and Technology.

Gates said he had largely funded a Washington state-based company, TerraPower, that is developing a Generation IV nuclear reactor that can run on depleted uranium. TerraPower says it has discussed its plans with India, Russia and other countries with nuclear energy programs.

The general manager of state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation, Sun Qin, was quoted in Chinese media last week saying Gates was working with it to research and develop a reactor.

�TerraPower is having very good discussions with CNNC and various people in the Chinese government,� said Gates, cautioning the talks were at an early stage.

Gates says perhaps as much as a billion dollars will be put into research and development over the next five years.
I wish that he was promoting LFTRs instead of Traveling Wave but a TW fits more closely with his small scale approach -- benefiting villages and small towns more than cities. LFTR is a lot larger, generates more power and needs a permanent operations crew. The TerraPower website is here.

Waking up before dawn on Saturday

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Total Lunar Eclipse -- starts 4:45AM Saturday, December 10th. NASA website here: Total Eclipse of the Moon Next one is not until 2014 so set your alarm and enjoy the show.

A mind of its own

Yikes -- talk about a misfire. From the Los Angeles CBS station:

Mythbusters Stunt Goes Awry, Sends Cannonball Rocketing Through Homes
A cast iron cannonball rocketed through two homes and landed inside a minivan Tuesday when a �Mythbusters� TV experiment went wrong.

Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage are hosts of the scientific experimentation show, which airs on The Discovery Channel. The pair was reportedly trying to figure out how fast a cannonball would travel, when it misfired and shot hundreds of feet in the air.

"This cannonball was supposed to go through several barrels of water and through a cinder block, and then ultimately into the side of the hill," said J.D. Nelson of the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.

Instead the cannonball flew over the foothills surrounding Camp Parks Military Firing Reservation, before spiraling back toward Dublin like a cruise missile.

It flew straight though the front door of a home on Cassata Place, and bounced around like a pinball, flying up to the second floor before blasting through a back bedroom wall.

The wayward cannonball then blasted across a busy road and through a second home some 50 yards away, demolishing roof tiles.

The homeowner's mother was frightened.

"It was a very loud boom; she thought a tree fell, maybe a meteor," said Ming Jiang. "It wasn't clear that it was a cannonball landing on the roof."

The out of control cannonball finally came to a stop inside Jasper Gill's minivan.

"It hit the dash, through the passenger window," said Gill, who had gotten out of the vehicle just 10 minutes before the ball struck. "I'm lucky I'm alive."

Incredibly, no one was injured in the mishap.

Holy crap. Be sure to read the 300+ comments. I hope their insurance rates don't go up too much...

Not much to write about

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The water issue I mentioned earlier was a leak in the pipe running from my well to the house. It caused a noticeable drop in water pressure and was sufficient to form a small pool in the driveway. A couple days ago, I went to Lulu's house in town (we alternate) and before leaving, I shut the pump off to let the ground dry out a bit. A couple of friends spent the morning here digging a 90 foot long trench and putting in some new pipe. I go to turn the pump on and nothing. No pump sound and no water pressure. I had just replaced the pressure switch so I figured that the motor controller was broken. I run into town to get a new controller, came back, swapped it for the old one and nothing. No pump sound and no water pressure. I am getting a weekly physical therapy session in a few hours and will head over to Lulu's after -- running hot water is a wonderful thing. I'll pick up a new pump in town and get it running tomorrow afternoon. Fun fun fun...

A bit of sabre rattling

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From Yahoo News/AFP:
China's Hu urges navy to prepare for combat
Chinese President Hu Jintao Tuesday urged the navy to prepare for military combat amid growing regional tensions over maritime disputes and a US campaign to assert itself as a Pacific power.

The navy should "accelerate its transformation and modernisation in a sturdy way, and make extended preparations for military combat in order to make greater contributions to safeguard national security," he said.

Addressing the powerful Central Military Commission, Hu said: "Our work must closely encircle the main theme of national defence and military building."
A bit more:
China claims all of the maritime area, as does Taiwan, while four Southeast Asian countries declare ownership of parts of it, with Vietnam and the Philippines accusing Chinese forces of increasing aggression there.
China has lusted after Taiwan for years -- their industrial base is excellent. When buying imported tools, I much prefer Taiwanese manufacture to Chinese -- the quality is much better and less tweaking is needed (or none) to get it running.

Like this is going to go well

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From the Christian Science Monitor:
Gov. Jerry Brown implores California voters: Please raise taxes on yourself
Facing huge deficits despite $10 billion in budget cuts last year, California needs new tax dollars in order to avoid catastrophic cuts to schools and government services for the elderly, Governor Brown said.

His plan includes a 1 percent income-tax-rate increase for individuals making more than $250,000 per year, and a 2 percent rate increase for those making more than $500,000. It would also increase the state sales tax by half a cent to 7.75 percent.

In total, at least 10 initiatives that propose tax increases are vying to qualify for the 2012 ballot in California � a sign that the state that led the national tax revolt with Proposition 13 in 1978 might now be considering at least a partial reversal of course.

With many states still focused only on cuts, such a bold statement from California could reverberate nationwide � either giving other states cover to try similar measures or showing that, even with budgets in dire straits, tax increases are a political impossibility.

�A victory for tax increases in California could encourage similar moves in other states,� says Jack Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College. �If the tax measure goes down to defeat � in a blue state running a huge deficit � the effect would be to chill such proposals in other states for many years to come.�
They simply do not get it -- all that this will do is accelerate the exodus of businesses from California to Texas. Time to bite the bullet and cut some of the entitlements.

Nice work if you can get it

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From Yahoo News:
Seattle welfare recipient lives in million-dollar home
A Seattle woman who is receiving welfare assistance from Washington state also happens to live in a waterfront house on Lake Washington worth more than a million dollars.

Federal agents raided the home this weekend but have not released the woman or her husband's name because they have not officially been charged with a crime.

However, federal documents obtained by KING 5 News show the couple currently receives more than $1,200 a month in public housing vouchers, plus state and government disability checks and food stamps. They have been receiving the benefits since 2003.

The 2,500 square-foot home, which includes gardens and a boat dock, is valued at $1.2 million. And even though the couple has been receiving the benefits for nearly 10 years, records show that they accurately listed the address of their current home when applying for the state and federal benefits.

A federal official told KING 5 that the couple likely took advantage of a loophole, which allows low-income individuals to receive financial assistance to help them pay their rent and move away from housing projects. However, the law does not require officials to verify what type of home the benefits recipient is living in.

As if the million dollar home weren't enough, the supposedly low-income couple also gave money to various charities and traveled around the world to locales in Turkey, Tel Aviv and resort towns in Mexico, according to court records.
If I were King? Very simple. They were living large on your and my tax dollars for ten years -- they have ten years to repay every last penny. There is no government money. What we are talking about is the money that you and me paid into the system through city, county, state and federal taxes -- this is our money and these mokes are spending it and laughing all the way to the bank.

The company you keep - Jon S. Corzine

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Seems that Bill Clinton was deep in the pockets of Jon S. Corzine while Corzine was looting MF Global. From Human Events:
Claim: Clinton Collected $50K Per Month From MF Global
A former MF Global employee accused former president William J. Clinton of collecting $50,000 per month through his Teneo advisory firm in the months before the brokerage careened towards its Halloween filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Teneo was hired by MF Global�s former CEO Jon S. Corzine to improve his image and to enhance his connections with Clinton�s political family, said the employee, who asked that his name be withheld because he feared retribution.

�They were supposed to be helping Corzine improve his image as a CEO�I guess you can tell how that went,� he said. Corzine resigned as CEO and chairman November 4.

Before Corzine joined MF Global in May 2010, the firm was a smart and well-run commodities broker, a culture that was turned upside-down by his leadership style, he said.

�The traders would be shaking their heads,� he said. �They would come back to their desk and say, �Well, I thought we were going to do this�but Corzine would come by and do something else all by himself,�� he said.

The Teneo contract with MF Global lasted at least five months, he said. �The board canceled it after Corzine resigned.�
Yeah - Corzine resigned as CEO and chairman November 4 and MF Global quietly filed for bankruptcy a few days earlier on October 31st. The whole political system is so corrupt that I really do not see a way to clean it out. Sad to see these craven morons stripmine this great nation for personal gain.

Back home - how dry I am

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Back home to find that the minor water issue is now a major one with frozen pipes. This has happened a few times before and although I will miss my morning hot long shower, I can survive until the weather warms up. There are two full-time creeks on the property so I have grey water for flushing toilets and got some bottled water for washing and cooking. Fun fun fun...

No posting for a few days

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Heading into town for a few days. Lulu's son is performing tonight so we will be attending that show. Back here on Tuesday to deal with an ongoing water issue. Grace (the new puppy) is doing great -- in two weeks she has put on 12 pounds. Smart as can be.

Annual General Meeting

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Our local Chamber of Commerce is having their public Annual General Meeting tonight. Grabbing an early dinner and then load the PA system into the truck and set it up. Posting will be minimal if any...

Black Friday

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Fun news -- from Atlanta station WXIA Channel 11:
Guns are a big seller on Black Friday
In addition to the sleek flat-screen televisions, smartphones, computers and cut-rate designer clothing, Black Friday's shopping legions seized on another hot item for 2011: guns.

Gun dealers flooded the FBI with background check requests for prospective buyers last Friday, smashing the single-day, all-time high by 32%, according to bureau records.

Deputy Assistant FBI Director Jerry Pender said the checks, required by federal law, surged to 129,166 during the day, far surpassing the previous high of 97,848 on Black Friday of 2008.

The actual number of firearms sold last Friday is likely higher because multiple firearms can be included in a transaction by a single buyer. And the FBI does not track actual gun sales.
Tip of the hat to Irons in the Fire for the link. Sine Jen took the shotgun when she left, I'm shopping for one to replace it -- thinking about one of these.

Llama drama

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Got a call from a neighbor this AM that my three llamas had taken themselves for a walkies. They can jump a six foot fence so the property line fence is more of an advisory than a barrier -- they do this every couple of months. The weather has been foul for the last couple of weeks and yesterday and today has been delightful so they felt like taking a perambulation. Normally, they go to one or two neighbor's yards -- this time they went long and it took an hour to find them. Had quite the procession down the county road -- me with a bucket of rolled grains, the three llamas, a big logging truck, a boarder patrol car and three neighbors in their cars. Who says country life is boring...

Our tax dollars at work - soap operas

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From The Washington Times:
Online soap opera cleans up with stimulus broadband cash
You may not have seen the show �Diary of a Single Mom� co-starring Billy Dee Williams, but your tax dollars helped pay for it.

Through the federal economic stimulus program, a company owned by actor-director Robert Townsend was paid more than $230,000 to produce and direct the Web-based show, records show. Other production costs on the show paid to different vendors total more than $700,000.

The money came through an award by the Department of Commerce to One Economy Corp. for more than $28 million last year to help boost broadband Internet service in underserved areas across the country.

One Economy is using more than $1.5 million of that money to create programming such as �Diary of a Single Mom,� which the group says will help provide an incentive for people to connect to the Internet.

But taxpayer watchdogs say the government doesn�t belong in show business.
Emphasis mine -- I am sitting here typing this via a slow 3G cell phone signal being bounced off a mountain through $600 worth of amplification and fancy antennae. The local cable company stops two miles from my house (no line of sight -- already thought about this) and the two satellite services I have tried were so heavily oversubscribed as to be next to useless. This has been done before and the money was wasted -- why do we expect it to be done right this time. Our tax dollars "at work"

From Sean Linnane -- a meditation on NASCAR:

My adopted home The Great American Southland has contributed much to the American Culture - the Blues, Barbecue, Moonshine and . . . NASCAR ! ! !

Mind you, as a transplant from the British Commonwealth, it took me a long time to understand and appreciate NASCAR for what it really is.

When I first came to the South, I simply did not understand NASCAR - it is nothing like the Grand Prix, or my favorite the Le Mans 24 Hour Road Marathon. In fact I didn't get it until fairly recently, and of all people it was a Birkenstock-wearing Earth Mother-type professor of Ancient History who explained it to me: "You think your modern professional sports franchises are something? The longest running professional sports franchise in history was Roman chariot racing. It went for over six hundred years, continuously, and it had all the same components of modern team sports. In fact it's still going on."


"You ain't never heard of NASCAR?"

Read the whole thing -- a spot on analysis of the current political vibe with a look at parallels in history. Just call me a bitter clinger...

From the Sydney, Australia Daily Telegraph:
Climate change science being stifled by NSW Labor bureaucrats
SENIOR bureaucrats in the state government's environment department have routinely stopped publishing scientific papers which challenge the federal government's claims of sea level rises threatening Australia's coastline, a former senior public servant said yesterday.

Doug Lord helped prepare six scientific papers which examined 120 years of tidal data from a gauge at Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour.

The tide data revealed sea levels were rising at a rate of about 1mm a year or less - and the rise was not accelerating but was constant.

"The tidal data we found would mean sea levels would rise by about 100mm by the end of the century," Mr Lord said yesterday.

"However the (federal) government benchmark which drives their climate change policy is that sea levels are expected to rise by 900mm by the end of the century and the rate of rise is accelerating."

Mr Lord, who has 35 years experience in coastal engineering, said senior bureaucrats within the then Department of Environment Climate Change and Water had rejected or stopped publication of five papers between late 2009 and September this year.
Goes back to my old argument -- if there was actual measurable and increasing sea-level change, we would be seeing a lot of activity in port cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Rotterdam, Dubai, Los Angeles, Le Havre, Southampton as these facilities scrambled to compensate for the rise. Too many of these "articles" are based on models and not on actual boots-on-the-ground measurement. A big tip 'o the hat to Anthony for the link

Bah Humbug - tree murder

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We are heading out to cut down a Christmas Tree -- been a few years since this house has had one and it will be a nice change. There is a U-Cut place five miles away that I used to use -- the difference between a freshly cut and store-bought tree is amazing. The tree is still very fresh in January and burns brightly when I do a bonfire. Lulu's son is performing this Saturday evening at a Christmas event so she is heading into town tomorrow and I follow on Saturday afternoon -- need to do some things in town anyway.

Occupy L.A. - the cleanup

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Those morons left behind 30 tons of rubbish -- from the Los Angeles Times:
Occupy L.A.: 30 tons of debris left behind at City Hall tent city
Sanitation officials said Wednesday that they expect to haul away 30 tons of debris from the Occupy L.A. encampment �- everything from clothing to heaps of garbage to oddball curiosities left behind by the protesters who lived at the City Hall tent city for two months.

Andrea Alarcon, president of the city Public Works board, said workers already have removed 25 tons of belongings from the City Hall park, all of it heading straight to a landfill.

Sanitation crews also have vacuumed up about 3,000 gallons of water that had washed into a catch basin in recent days and are testing it for hazardous materials, she said.
Been involved with a bunch of TEA Party events in Bellingham and nothing like this ever happened. Zero trash. Great comments -- 50% moonbat and 50% realist.

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