October 2008 Archives

An insight into how A.I.G. collapsed

An interesting article by Adam Davidson at Reuters:

How AIG fell apart
When you hear that the collapse of AIG or Lehman Bros. or Bear Stearns might lead to a systemic collapse of the global financial system, the feared culprit is, largely, that once-obscure (OK, still obscure) instrument known as a credit default swap.

So, what is a CDS, and why is it so dangerous?

At first glance, a credit default swap seems like a perfectly sensible financial tool. It is, basically, insurance on bonds. Imagine a large bank buys some bonds issued by General Electric. The bank expects to receive a steady stream of payments from GE over the years. That's how bonds work: The issuer pays the bondholder some money every six months. But the bank figures there's a chance that GE might go bankrupt. It's a small chance, but not zero, and if it happens, the bank doesn't get any more of those payments.

The bank might decide to buy a CDS, a sort of insurance policy. If GE never goes bankrupt, the bank is out whatever premium it paid for the CDS. If GE goes bankrupt and stops paying its bondholders, the bank gets money from whoever sold the CDS.

Who sells these CDSs? Banks, hedge funds, and AIG.

It's easy to see the attraction. Historically, bond issuers almost never go bankrupt. So, many banks and hedge funds figured they could make a fortune by selling CDSs, keeping the premium, and almost never having to pay out anything.

In fact, beginning in the late '90s, CDSs became a great way to make a lot more money than was possible through traditional investment methods. Let's say you think GE is rock solid, that it will never default on a bond, since it hasn't in recent memory. You could buy a GE bond and make, say, a meager 6 percent interest. Or you could just sell GE credit default swaps. You get money from other banks, and all you have to give is the promise to pay if something bad happens. That's zero money down and a profit limited only by how many you can sell.

Over the past few years, CDSs helped transform bond trading into a highly leveraged, high-velocity business. Banks and hedge funds found that it was much easier and quicker to just buy and sell CDS contracts rather than buy and sell actual bonds. As of the end of 2007, they had grown to roughly $60 trillion in global business.

So, what went wrong? Many CDSs were sold as insurance to cover those exotic financial instruments that created and spread the subprime housing crisis, details of which are covered here 1. As those mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations became nearly worthless, suddenly that seemingly low-risk event-an actual bond default-was happening daily. The banks and hedge funds selling CDSs were no longer taking in free cash; they were having to pay out big money.

Most banks, though, were not all that bad off, because they were simultaneously on both sides of the CDS trade. Most banks and hedge funds would buy CDS protection on the one hand and then sell CDS protection to someone else at the same time. When a bond defaulted, the banks might have to pay some money out, but they'd also be getting money back in. They netted out.

Everyone, that is, except for AIG. AIG was on one side of these trades only: They sold CDS. They never bought. Once bonds started defaulting, they had to pay out and nobody was paying them. AIG seems to have thought CDS were just an extension of the insurance business. But they're not. When you insure homes or cars or lives, you can expect steady, actuarially predictable trends. If you sell enough and price things right, you know that you'll always have more premiums coming in than payments going out. That's because there is low correlation between insurance triggering events. My death doesn't, generally, hasten your death. My house burning down doesn't increase the likelihood of your house burning down.

Not so with bonds. Once some bonds start defaulting, other bonds are more likely to default. The risk increases exponentially.

Adam goes into a lot more detail on how this affected a lot of other financial institutions. I find this ridiculous that one company could place all of their eggs into this basket without realizing the implications of a collapse. And they have the temerity to send their execs off on a $400K junket at a resort and to ask for a government bailout.

RIP - Studs Terkel

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Well crap -- one of the better American voices. From CNN:
Acclaimed author Studs Terkel dies at 96
Pulitzer Prize-winning author, radio host and activist Studs Terkel died in his Chicago, Illinois, home Friday at the age of 96.

Terkel had grown frail since the publication last year of his memoir, "Touch and Go," said Gordon Mayer, vice president of the Community Media Workshop, which Terkel had supported.

"I'm still in touch, but I'm ready to go," he said last year at his last public appearance with the workshop, a nonprofit that recognizes Chicago reporters who take risks in covering the city.

"My dad led a long, full, eventful -- sometimes tempestuous -- satisfying life," his son Dan said in a statement.

"The last time I saw him, he was up, about, and mad as hell about the Cubs," workshop President Thom Clark said in the statement.

Terkel, known for his portrayal of ordinary people young and old, rich and poor, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1985 for his remembrances of World War II, "The Good War."
A great story-teller.

Weather and Baseball

From the Toronto Star:
Commissioner feeling the heat - with good reason
Al Gore is full of crap. The predictor of global-warming doom and gloom is way off base, at least in late October in frigid eastern Pennsylvania. Consider that when Major League Baseball called off its first makeup date of the suspended Game 5 early yesterday, the weather conditions were far worse than they had been Monday. Rescheduled again for tonight at 8, the forecast is also bad.

A cold rain continued all day yesterday with up to 30 centimetres of snow reported in an outlying area. The temperature at the ballpark by the scheduled game time was around 2C, with a wind chill far below zero. Add to that the muck factor. The tarpaulin that was pulled over the field after Game 5 was suspended has stayed in place and now likely covers a sea of slime.

The hottest place in Philadelphia these days is under commissioner Bud Selig's collar. Either the weathermen were totally taken by surprise Monday or the gods of baseball decided to play another cruel joke on Philly sports fans, making them wait another day � and another � to play the final 3 1/2 innings of a potential Series-clinching game against the Rays. They've waited 28 years. Hey, what's two more days?
And this little dig:
So then, what do Selig and Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama have in common? Their public images have each been damaged by contact with Weathermen.

An Obama voter

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Peggy Joseph: "It was the most memorable time of my life. It was a touching moment. Because, I, I never thought this day would ever happen. I won't have to worry about putting gas in my car, I won't have to worry about paying my mortgage, you know, if I help him, he's gonna help me."
From Chris Byrne at The Anarchangel

Great editorial cartoon

Yesterday's local newspaper (Bellingham Herald) done by Alan Peterson:

Click for full-size

So true...

What with going down to Seattle for the auction and all, I missed October 27th.

That was the day I posted this: Hello World!

Now, five years and eight thousand posts later, it is still a lot of fun!

Lost in translation - a street sign

Great story -- amazing that this would go all the way to production and erection with nobody proofreading it. From the BBC:
E-mail error ends up on road sign
When officials asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed.
Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said in Welsh:
"I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated".
So that was what went up under the English version which barred lorries from a road near a supermarket.

"When they're proofing signs, they should really use someone who speaks Welsh," said journalist Dylan Iorwerth.

What a way to go - Don Doane

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Talk about going out at the peak of your game... From Ravenna, Michigan's WZZM13.COM:
Bowler collapses and dies after rolling 300 game
Teammates in his bowling league think after rolling a perfect 300 game Don Doane's heart just gave out.

"You get nervous shooting a 300," says teammate Todd Place. "The pressure keeps building," says bowling alley owner Jim Nutt.

Minutes after achieving the life long goal of a perfect game the 62 year old bowler collapsed and died at Ravenna Bowl in Ravenna. "Don just collapsed," says alley owner Nutt. " At first we thought he just fainted." "Then when I rolled him over I realized it wasn't good," says teammate Place.

The teammates say he was giving a high-five minutes before. They tried to revive him but Doane never spoke another word. He died of what was apparently a massive heart attack "He looked fine, reached across the table and gave me a high-five and he fell over," says Place.

"I think he died by the time he hit the floor." Don Doane was a member of the "Nutt Farm" bowling team at Ravenna Bowl for 45 years. His teammates says its strange not to see him on league nights.

"It was like a book, a final chapter," says Place. "He threw his 300 game with all of his friends, gave each other high-fives and it's like the story ended. He died with a smile on his face."
A shame that he died so early but if you are going to go, what a way to do it!

Our warming climate in the news

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From Watts Up With That comes an observation about our warming cooling climate with a comment on how this is being reported in the mainstream media:
NOAA: U.S. breaks or ties 115 cold and sets 63 new snowfall records
Of course many of you that live in this weather already know this, but there is an early start to winter this year, not only in the USA, but also in London, where it snowed in October for the first time in over 70 years.

So far, no mention of this broadly distributed U.S. record event in the mainstream media. There are a few individual mentions or record lows in Florida. See this Google News search.

Here, from NOAA�s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), is a list of these new or tied records for October 29th, 2008.

I find the -25 below in Alaska interesting, since it bested the old record by 4 degrees.

Here are the 115 new or tied low temperature records:
What follows is a list of data taken from here: National Climatic Data Center This is a fun website as you can pick specific days or months and view several kinds of record data -- temperature, snowfall, precipitation, etc...

Velociman wrote a wonderful rant about the upcoming election called The Man in the Lavender Automobile and it caught the attention of two left-wing media columnists.

These two wrote about (and linked to) it. Needless to say, a horde of poo-flinging monkeys descended on the Velociworld comments section.

V-man was out of town for a few days, came back, saw the carnage and had this to say:

Light in August October
I apologize for my delay in replying to my new fans, most of whom appear to want to create an even mightier Velociman through judicious application of electroshock therapy. I'm sorry to say I was caught out of town without my laptop, whilst a myriad of Percy Grimms were banging their pots for my brains. Yea, verily, even the capitalist swine who operate the Sheraton gulag of conspicuously mediocre hospitality were averse to allowing me access to my obviously profane blog.

Now that most of you have finished flinging your pink pabulum at me, allow me to reintroduce some lucidity into your raging cacophony of whinging indignation:

Firstly, I am an insignificant blogger with a readership of approximately 20 consistent visitors. The other 90% of my hits come from Ft. Detrick, Maryland, where a phalanx of macaque monkeys pound away endlessly at keyboards, fueled by Red Bull and cocainum pellets, in a Bush cabal plot to hammer out a more fundamentalist Bible.

Secondly, anyone willing to spend a few minutes scrolling my archives will see that I not only beat the English language like a pimp on a prostie, I use hyperbole and satire to make a point, more often than not.

Thirdly, despite the fact that I am a far better writer than Wolcott or Sullivan on their very bestus of days, of which they have fewer and fewer, I don't do this for a living. I do not opine for money, but for mirth. Wolcott, who hides behind a firewall so dense I cannot fathom his email address for a remonstration, is Burr to my Hamilton. Poor Sully, lying prostrate upon the fainting sofa with smelling salts wafted under his nose, is Salieri to my Mozart.

Let us cut to the chase. Or the Ned Beatty thrill up the leg, as Sully so many of you fantasize about. I write for fun, and I like to occasionally thrust hatpins into the hemorrhoids of the humorless. One must have an avocation, after all, to be a compleat man. Am I over the top? Absolutely. Do I use race as a joke instead of a grievance now and then? Most certainly. It is in my nature to puncture the Portuguese men o' war that float upon the racial sea, ever ready to release a toxic cloud of false shame and rancor for a moment of self-congratulation.

Allow me to guide you through the maze of Velociworld: my cock isn't as gigantic as I claim (it's merely pleasingly awesome). The Senator wasn't quite the character I portray him to be. He was twice that man. That's pretty much all you need to know.

Now, let me say this about your hysterical comments, and I say this with utmost gravity:

You are a bunch of fucking retards. You've licked the windows of the special needs bus so much it has glazed your perception of reality. Do I take back anything I said about Barack Obama? Absolutely not. If anything, I misunderestimate the man. I do wish I'd found a more appropriate comparison than Pol Pot, though. Perhaps that other ridiculously glorified icon of the Left, Ernesto We're Making Omelettes Here, Pal! Guevara. Do I really believe Obama is equal to Stalin? Of course not. Obama hasn't even begun to kill. Hellfire and pass the strychnine, his body count may end up in the paltry dozens for all I know. I don't presume to read the sheep entrails around here. And I don't drink tea.

If my opinion enrages you then you need to not read my opinion. That's a very simple fix, cretins. Of course, under Obama's socialized medicine, I'll be forced to bill the fuck out of the taxpayers now, and withhold that advice from you for six months, should I be inclined to help you in the future.

Why my opinion so vexes you is worrisome. Listen, fuckfaces: 50% of America disagrees with you. Bill Ayers only had plans to exterminate 25 million in the southwest after the Revolution, and that was, in my contemplative opinion, probably a bit of a stretch. Logistics are the curse of the revolutionary, ain't they?

I didn't expect to be slammed with so much hate mail from so many unintelligible morons, swarming like fruit flies from the vulvae of les doyennes Sullicott. But so be it. It proved my point. If you poor benighted fools realized how convulsed with laughter I was as I penned that post... and the tears of merriment continue to flow unabated.

At any rate, beat your Joe Christmas pi�atas with vexation tonight, you miserable cunts. I've been away from home for a week, and Girth Vader is absolutely turgid with anticipation for a bit of slap and tickle (because whenever I remember all sex is patriarchal rape it gets me fucking hot). See you around the blog o' flatearth. I'll be wandering like Lena Grove, swollen, trying to find the fucking busybody who impregnated me with 7 pounds, 8 ounces of hope and change. Being pro-life, I won't abort it. I'll just stick its fingers in boiling water from time to time and tell it how bad its daddy is.

That rant defied excerpting so it is in its entirety.

He does not write frequently but when he does, it is awesome...

And don't forget to stop by and read The Man in the Lavender Automobile.

Heh - not seeing the complete picture

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Talk about clueless -- from Scientific American magazine:
Mysterious Stabilization of Atmospheric Methane May Buy Time in Race to Stop Global Warming
Since 1978 chemists at the University of California, Irvine, have been collecting air in 40 locations from northern Alaska to southern New Zealand. Using gas chromatography, the scientists have measured the levels of methane--CH4--in the lowest layer of our atmosphere. Although not nearly as abundant as carbon dioxide--CO2--methane remains the second most important greenhouse gas, both because each molecule of CH4 in the atmosphere traps 23 times as much heat as carbon dioxide and it helps create more ozone--yet another greenhouse gas--in the atmosphere. During the two decades of measurements, methane underwent double-digit growth as a constituent of our atmosphere, rising from 1,520 parts per billion by volume (ppbv) in 1978 to 1,767 ppbv in 1998. But the most recent measurements have revealed that methane levels are barely rising anymore--and it is unclear why.

Chemist Isobel Simpson led the research examining samples from 1998 through 2005 and found that methane levels had practically stopped rising, reaching 1,772 ppbv in 2005. During this period some years did see rises while others actually saw slight decreases, according to the paper presenting the result in the November 23 issue of Geophysical Research Letters. By also measuring levels of ethane (C2H6) and perchloroethylene, or perc, (C2Cl4) the researchers determined that these pulses in methane levels during this period could be linked to major forest fires, such as the massive burn in Indonesia from late 1997 to early 1998. "All three of these molecules are removed by the same process--reaction with hydroxyl," a radical formed from water in the atmosphere, explains Nobel Prize-winning chemist F. Sherwood Rowland, who participated in the research. "Both methane and ethane are produced in biomass burning, but perc is an industrial solvent. If biomass burning is the source, then perc [levels] should behave quite differently from the two hydrocarbons, and this is what we observed."
Which all boils down to: "we don't have a clue how the atmosphere works" The sooner the enviros wake up to that simple fact (as well as the fact that it is the sun that is the primary driver for our climate and when the sun is cooler, the earth is cooler), they can all come to our senses (or turn Malthusian again).
Just what we have to look forward to -- from Newsweek:
Worse Than SARS?
How mistakes in the treatment of TB resulted in a virulent and fatal new form of the disease.

You'd think the emergence of a fatal disease�especially one that can be spread without physical contact�would be a big story. Yet a threatening new form of tuberculosis called extremely drug-resistant TB, or XDR-TB, has garnered almost no attention. That could soon change, with a new publicity campaign in 50 cities worldwide, centered on a series of dramatic pictures by photographer James Nachtwey and an Internet campaign at xdrtb.org. As the campaign shows, TB is not just an affliction of an earlier era. It still infects millions of people, killing about 1 in 6 of them. In the 1990s, there emerged a scary new version called multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). And now there is XDR, which is even harder to treat.
And the reason for the development of this new resistant strain: (this is the transcript of an interview)
By contrast, the cure rate of normal TB is . . . ?
. . . . 95 percent. It's very curable. You use a cocktail of four drugs for two months, then two of these drugs for another four months. But in some places, doctors will use only one drug, contrary to the standard protocol. That single drug might kill 99.99 percent of TB bacilli [germs] in your body. You will feel better, because you have dramatically decreased the bacilli�but the one bacillus that survives keeps replicating, because it is not susceptible to the drug treatment. Two months later, the person starts deteriorating again, as the surviving bacillus creates a new, drug-resistant population.

So MDR and XDR are caused by poor treatment of the disease?
Also by misdiagnosis and the unwitting use of counterfeit drugs, so that patients are not treated effectively.
It's airborne and doesn't make you sick right away. The idiots who are not completing their treatment and the corrupt governments in the third-world hell-holes who aren't getting the medicines to their citizens should be shipped off to their own private island to rot in peace without passing it on to the rest of the population. The website mentioned is here: XDRTB.ORG - I am linking to the About page as the home page has an auto-start video that will clog bandwidth if you aren't prepared for it (not everybody has broadband...)
The Malthusians are at it again. Now that the sub-prime science behind Global Warming is proving to be junk and the "Environmental" movement is proving to be political and not scientific, the focus is shifting to a new topic. Hat tip to The Westerner for linking to these two articles. First, from New Scientist magazine (thankfully their Opinion page and not an actual paper):
Special report: How our economy is killing the Earth
The graphs climbing across these pages are a stark reminder of the crisis facing our planet. Consumption of resources is rising rapidly, biodiversity is plummeting and just about every measure shows humans affecting Earth on a vast scale. Most of us accept the need for a more sustainable way to live, by reducing carbon emissions, developing renewable technology and increasing energy efficiency.

But are these efforts to save the planet doomed? A growing band of experts are looking at figures like these and arguing that personal carbon virtue and collective environmentalism are futile as long as our economic system is built on the assumption of growth. The science tells us that if we are serious about saving Earth, we must reshape our economy.
The Marxists failed to destroy capitalism by claiming that we had to hamstring business growth in order to prevent Global Warming, now they are dusting off the Malthusian of the old Club of Rome books (that were royally shot out of the water as being junk) and going after the diminishing resources bunk again. And secondly, from the BBC:
Earth on course for eco 'crunch'
The planet is headed for an ecological "credit crunch", according to a report issued by conservation groups.

The document contends that our demands on natural resources overreach what the Earth can sustain by almost a third.

The Living Planet Report is the work of WWF, the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network.
In words of one syllable: bull shit This is a political ploy by these organizations to gain a foothold and to get more money and followers. These are not scientific organizations, they are political ones and their "publications" should be treated as such...

Our wonderful banks

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They made some "bad decisions", got bailed out by our Congress and now what are they doing with the bailout money? Not what was intended of them. From the New York Times:
So When Will Banks Give Loans?
�Chase recently received $25 billion in federal funding. What effect will that have on the business side and will it change our strategic lending policy?�

It was Oct. 17, just four days after JPMorgan Chase�s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, agreed to take a $25 billion capital injection courtesy of the United States government, when a JPMorgan employee asked that question. It came toward the end of an employee-only conference call that had been largely devoted to meshing certain divisions of JPMorgan with its new acquisition, Washington Mutual.

Which, of course, it also got thanks to the federal government. Christmas came early at JPMorgan Chase.

The JPMorgan executive who was moderating the employee conference call didn�t hesitate to answer a question that was pretty politically sensitive given the events of the previous few weeks.
And the answer to that question:
�Twenty-five billion dollars is obviously going to help the folks who are struggling more than Chase,� he began. �What we do think it will help us do is perhaps be a little bit more active on the acquisition side or opportunistic side for some banks who are still struggling. And I would not assume that we are done on the acquisition side just because of the Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns mergers. I think there are going to be some great opportunities for us to grow in this environment, and I think we have an opportunity to use that $25 billion in that way and obviously depending on whether recession turns into depression or what happens in the future, you know, we have that as a backstop.�

Read that answer as many times as you want � you are not going to find a single word in there about making loans to help the American economy. On the contrary: at another point in the conference call, the same executive (who I�m not naming because he didn�t know I would be listening in) explained that �loan dollars are down significantly.� He added, �We would think that loan volume will continue to go down as we continue to tighten credit to fully reflect the high cost of pricing on the loan side.� In other words JPMorgan has no intention of turning on the lending spigot.
Christ on a corn-dog. The money was intended to jump-start the economy by it's being available to people in the form of loans. It was not intended to be used to secure the positions of the individual banks and allow them to go garage saleing... It simply reinforces our decision when this whole thing started to take all of our money out of the banks we were using and put it into a local Credit Union. We had accounts at BofA and WAMU and now, most of them are closed out with the few remaining scheduled for closure next month. The tellers and clerks have been very understanding and I really like them and that branch but this kind of fiscal rot at the top must not be tollerated...

Global Warming in London

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Things are really heating up in London -- they had their first October snowstorm in over seventy years. From the UK Guardian:
London has first October snow in over 70 years
Cold snap causes flight cancellations while a motorway accident kills one driver and causes severe disruption

Parts of south-east England had more than an inch of snow last night while London experienced its first October snowfall in more than 70 years as winter conditions arrived early.

Snow settled on the ground in parts of the capital last night as temperatures dipped below zero. A Met Office spokeswoman said it was London's first October snow since 1934.

For greater south-east of England it was the first October snow since 1974. High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire had 3cm (1.2 inches). One of the coldest temperatures recorded was -4.1C in Benson, Oxfordshire.

"It is unusual to have snow this early," the Met spokeswoman said. "In October 2003 sleet and snow was recorded in Northern Ireland, Wales, south-west, north-west and north-east England and the Midlands, but it was mainly over higher ground."
We have been enjoying a wonderful extended Indian Summer here with gorgeous Fall colors and dry crisp nights. The rain has been moving in though and Winter will be starting with a vengeance soon. Cold hard and early. Good for skiing though! UPDATE: Jen reminded me that last Halloween, we had snow mixed with rain. We have been having high-pressure areas parking themselves overhead for the last month or so -- this has kept the rain away. This pattern has broken up and rain is moving in so I am expecting the "normal" winter to start up. Spring was very late this year and I am expecting more of the same for next.
Found this over at Maggie's Farm and it is well worth the read:
Cory Miller the Well-Driller's open letter to Obama

From: Cory Miller
Mr. Obama,

Given the uproar about the simple question asked you by Joe the plumber, and the persecution that has been heaped on him because he dared to question you, I find myself motivated to say a few things to you myself. While Joe aspires to start a business someday, I already have started not one, but 4 businesses. But first, let me introduce myself. You can call me �Cory the well driller�. I am a 54-year-old high school graduate. I didn�t go to college like you, I was too ready to go �conquer the world� when I finished high school. 25 years ago at age 29, I started my own water well drilling business at a time when the economy here in East Texas was in a tailspin from the crash of the early 80�s oil boom. I didn�t get any help from the government, nor did I look for any. I borrowed what I could from my sister, my uncle, and even the pawnshop and managed to scrape together a homemade drill rig and a few tools to do my first job. My businesses did not start not a result of privilege. It is the result of my personal drive, personal ambition, self-discipline, self reliance, and a determination to treat my customers fairly. From the very start my business provided one other (than myself) East Texan a full time job. I couldn�t afford a backhoe the first few years (something every well drilling business had), so I and my helper had to dig the mud pits that are necessary for each and every job with hand shovels. I had to use my 10-year-old, �-ton pickup truck for my water tank truck (normally a job for at least a 2 ton truck).
And the heart of the letter:
Now, we have been manufacturing the mud pumps for 7 years, my combined businesses employ 32 full time employees, and distribute $5,000,000.00 annually through the local economy. Now, just 4 months ago I borrowed $1,254,000.00, purchasing computer controlled machining equipment to start my 4th business, a production machine shop. The machine shop will serve the mud pump company so that we can better manufacture our pumps that are being shipped worldwide. Of course, the machine shop will also do work for outside companies as well. This has already produced 2 more full time jobs, and 2 more should develop out of it in the next few months. This should work out, but if it doesn�t it will be because you, and the other professional politicians like yourself, will have destroyed our country�s� (and the world) economy with your meddling with mortgage loan programs through your liberal manipulation and intimidation of loaning institutions to make sure that unqualified borrowers could get mortgages. You see, at the very time when I couldn�t get a business loan to get my mud pumps into production, you were working with Acorn and the Community Reinvestment Act programs to make sure that unqualified borrowers could buy homes with no down payment, and even no credit or worse yet, bad credit. Even the infamous, liberal, Ninja loans (No Income, No Job or Assets). While these unqualified borrowers were enjoying unrealistically low interest rates, I was paying 22% to 24% interest on the credit cards that I had used to provide me the funds for the mud pump business that has created jobs for more East Texans. It�s funny, because after 25 years of turning almost every dime of extra money back into my businesses to grow them, it has been only in the last two years that I have finally made enough money to be able to put a little away for retirement, and now the value of that has dropped 40% because of the policies you and your ilk have perpetrated on our country.

You see, Mr. Obama, I�m the guy you intend to raise taxes on. I�m the guy who has spent 25 years toiling and sweating, fretting and fighting, stressing and risking, to build a business and get ahead. I�m the guy who has been on the very edge of bankruptcy more than a dozen times over the last 25 years, and all the while creating more and more jobs for East Texans who didn�t want to take a risk, and wouldn�t demand from themselves what I have demanded from myself. I�m the guy you characterize as �the Americans who can afford it the most� that you believe should be taxed more to provide income redistribution �to spread the wealth� to those who have never toiled, sweated, fretted, fought, stressed, or risked anything. You want to characterize me as someone who has enjoyed a life of privilege and who needs to pay a higher percentage of my income than those who have bought into your entitlement culture. I resent you, Mr. Obama, as I resent all who want to use class warfare as a tool to advance their political career. What�s worse, each year more Americans buy into your liberal entitlement culture, and turn to the government for their hope of a better life instead of themselves. Liberals are succeeding through more than 40 years of collaborative effort between the predominant liberal media, and liberal indoctrination programs in the public school systems across our land.

What is so terribly sad about this is this. America was made great by people who embraced the one-time American culture of self-reliance, self-motivation, self-determination, self-discipline, personal betterment, and hard work, risk taking. A culture built around the concept that success was in reach on every able bodied American who would strive for it. Each year that less Americans embrace that culture, we all descend together. We descend down the socialist path that has brought country after country ultimately to bitter and unremarkable states. If you and your liberal comrades in the media and school systems would spend half as much effort cultivating a culture of can-do across America as you do cultivating your entitlement culture, we could see Americans at large embracing the conviction that they can elevate themselves through personal betterment, personal achievement, and self reliance. You see, when people embrace such ideals, they act on them. When people act on such ideals, they succeed. All of America could find herself elevating instead of deteriorating. But that would eliminate the need for liberal politicians, wouldn�t it, Mr. Obama? The country would not need you if the country was convinced that problem solving was best left with individuals instead of the government. You and all your liberal comrades have got a vested interested in creating a dependent class in our country. It is the very business of liberals to create an ever-expanding dependence on government. What�s remarkable is that you, who have never produced a job in your life, are going to tax me to take more of my money and give it to people who wouldn�t need my money if they would get off their entitlement mentality asses and apply themselves at work, demand more from themselves, and quit looking to liberal politicians to raise their station in life.
And Cory is real -- his website is here: C. Miller Drilling Co.

An interesting 3:35 at YouTube

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A film crew takes a look at the housing developments in Chicago that Senator Obama was responsible for. From Chicagoans against Obama:

Wouldn�t it be nice if NBC, CBS, or ABC went to Barack Obama�s former State Senate district just once�..just one time�it�s only about a 10 minute trip from the lovely miracle mile�.where I know Brian Williams, Katie Couric, and Charles Gibson stay�at the Ritz, Peninsula, Park Hyatt, or Four Season�quite frequently�.

It is interesting that such highly respected journalists -- who claim to care so much about minorities and the impoverished -- have never taken a visit to the Democratic nominees former state senate district�

A neighborhood infested with crime, slumlords, religious zealots, drug abuse, gang warfare, and the highest murder rate in the country�
Federal money obtained by Obama (when he was a State Senator) back in 1990's used for privately built subsidized housing. The builders are major campaign contributors. They have taken the money and not bothered to do any basic maintenance. Wonderful!


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Swiped from a few places:
Click for full-size.
An interesting report from the UK Daily Mail:
Copper door handles and taps kill 95% of superbugs in hospitals
Making door handles, taps and light switches from copper could help the country beat superbugs, scientists say.

A study found that copper fittings rapidly killed bugs on hospital wards, succeeding where other infection control measures failed.

In the trial at Selly Oak hospital, in Birmingham, copper taps, toilet seats and push plates on doors all but eliminated common bugs.

It is thought the metal 'suffocates' germs, preventing them breathing. It may also stop them from feeding and destroy their DNA.

Lab tests show that the metal kills off the deadly MRSA and C difficile superbugs.

It also kills other dangerous germs, including the flu virus and the E coli food poisoning bug.

Although the number of cases of MRSA and C difficile is falling, the two bugs still claim thousands of lives a year.

During the ten-week trial on a medical ward, a set of taps, a lavatory seat and a push plate on an entrance door were replaced with copper versions. They were swabbed twice a day for bugs and the results compared with a traditional tap, lavatory seat and push plate elsewhere in the ward.

The copper items had up to 95 per cent fewer bugs on their surface whenever they were tested, a U.S. conference on antibiotics heard yesterday.

Professor Tom Elliott, the lead researcher and a consultant microbiologist at the hospital, said: 'The findings of 90 to 95 per cent killing of those organisms, even after a busy day on a medical ward with items being touched by numerous people, is remarkable.

'I have been a consultant microbiologist for several decades. This is the first time I have seen anything like copper in terms of the effect it will have in the environment.

'It may well offer us another mechanism for trying to defeat the spread of infection.'

Researcher Professor Peter Lambert, of Aston University, Birmingham, said: 'The numbers decreased always on copper but not on the steel surfaces.'

If further hospital-based trials prove as successful, the researchers would like copper fixtures and fittings installed in hospitals around the country.
Very cool -- the steel can be copper plated and even pure copper is about as expensive as Stainless Steel so making the items from solid copper would not be cost prohibitive. It makes a lot of sense as Silver has strong anti-microbial action as well. Wonder what other metals work well -- talk about a kick-ass and simple to do experiment for some high-school science fair...

Back in town

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The auction was a blast. I wish I had another 2,000 Sq. Ft. in the DaveCave(TM) and a spare couple thousand bucks. A very nice Scanning Electron Microscope went for $650. And this puppy:
Masked ion beam nano scale lithography fabrication system w/30"x24" high vacuum chamber, 40' SS high vacuum beam drift tube, 6'x6'x6' electrostatic isolation cage, 6" diffusion pump w/cold trap, gate valve, stiff box sample holder, precision nano positioning stage, nano position controller computer & interface, magnet beam switching power supply, ion source controller, Faraday cup, air cushion mechanical isolation table, ion source & ion extractor, beam accelerator stage, beam bending/switching electromagnet, power supplies, transformer, diffusion pumps
went for $1,000 -- it was about 500K to 750K worth of components being sold for less than scrap value. I took some photos and will post them when I process them. Gotta have dinner first -- I'm hungry. A funny observation -- since this company had their own chip fab line, I was expecting a lot of bidders from other chip companies -- the equipment was a few years old but well maintained and still very usable. About fifty people showed up and they were all geeks -- I could have gone over to the MSFT campus and rounded up 50 people at random and you would not be able to tell the two groups apart. I fit right in...

Offline for a day or two

I'm heading down to this auction so I will be offline for today and Wednesday. Comments will be turned off during this time as I have been getting a lot of comment spam. Back sometime late Wednesday or mid-Thursday (depending on what I get...

Picture of the day - an Obama supporter

From Weasel Zippers comes this photograph of Charlie W. Williams:

Pic of the day: The Most Decorated Soldier of All-Time Backing Obama.....
Call me crazy, but I don't think he earned all those medals.....
Charlie W. Williams of Raeford, N.C., a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars and supporter of Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama, lines up early to get into a rally at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville on Oct. 19. "He's going to get a lot of white votes," he said of his candidate (PHOTOGRAPH BY J.M. EDDINS JR./THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

Suspicions confirmed, see below the fold for a full list of what he's wearing....

Via Rantburg....

I get real I also looked for images of Army Medals and discovered that I also needed to find some Navy Medals, too. The highest award is two awards of the Bronze Star, one with a 'V' for valor. Since it's illegal to claim a medal for valor you're not awarded, I absolutely believe that, without further evidence to the contrary. The rest are (in order viewers' left to right and descending);

Purple Heart/Army Commendation Medal
Defense Meritorious Service Medal/Army Meritorious Service Medal/Reserve Component Overseas Training/
Unknown/Army Acheivement/Good Conduct/Army of Occupation/Southwest Asia Service (Desert Storm)/Vietnam Service medal (3 stars)/National Defense
NATO Medal/Korea Service/Armed Forces Service Medal/Army Service Ribbon/Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Army Overseas Ribbon /Navy Meritorious Unit/Navy Combat Action
United Nations Service/RVN Campaign/Multinational Force and Observers/Outstanding Volunteer Medal

He has the Southwest Asia medal for Desert Storm,

the Armed Forces Service medal (which is for service after 1992).

He's also wearing a Navy Combat Action ribbon, which he only could've earned as a member of the Navy or Marines.

He also has an Overseas Service Ribbon which can only be awarded to people on active duty after 1981.

His National Defense Service Medal has an oakleaf cluster, subsequent awards of the NDSM are denoted by a bronze star device not an oakleaf.

The Obamites sure DO support their troops -- troops like Charley

A collection of photographs

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Of Financial brokers with their hands on their face. Here are four examples:




Protection against financial crisis

From the UK Sun comes this reminder of why there will always be a jolly olde England:

Ravens to stave off credit curse
Four extra ravens are being drafted into the Tower of London because of the financial crisis - to prevent a 350-year-old curse coming true. King Charles II decreed there must be at least six ravens otherwise a disaster would strike the nation and the Royal Family.

And up to now, bosses have kept just one spare bird in residence to act as a 'super sub'.

But with the UK facing credit crunch meltdown, they ruled an extra four must now be acquired.

Two six-month-old birds Gundolf and Hugine have just arrived and are about to complete their four-week quarantine period.

Another two will be delivered next week.

Raven Master Derrick Coyle, 64, said: "I believe in the curse. It was said that if the number ever fell below six, the Tower would fall and great harm would befall the nation. We certainly feel more secure now."

Gundolf with his person Derrick -- I really like ravens. Smart and loyal critters. We have a nesting pair that live near our fields and it's always a delight to see them in flight. We do not bother them and they do not bother us except for when we mow -- then they love to follow the mower looking for displaced mice and snakes.

Going Galt - it is time?

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The Insta-Wife has been conducting an informal political survey:
Ask Dr. Helen: Is It Time to Go John Galt?
As Ayn Rand foresaw, productive Americans are fed up with supporting the unproductive and may not take it anymore.

I recently wrote a post on my blog asking readers to react to the creeping socialism and expectation in our society that those who are productive must pay for the cost of our society:
Do you ever wonder after dealing with all that is going on with the economy and the upcoming election if it�s getting to be time to �go John Galt�? For those of you who have never read Ayn Rand�s Atlas Shrugged, the basic theme is that John Galt and his allies take actions that include withdrawing their talents, �stopping the motor of the world,� and leading the �strikers� (those who refuse to be exploited) against the �looters� (the exploiters, backed by the government).

Perhaps the partisan politics we are dealing with now is really just a struggle between those of us who believe in productivity, personal responsibility, and keeping government interference to a minimum, and those who believe in the socialistic policies of taking from others, using the government as a watchdog, and rewarding those who overspend, underwork, or are just plain unproductive.

Obama talks about taking from those who are productive and redistributing to those who are not � or who are not as successful. If success and productivity is to be punished, why bother? Perhaps it is time for those of us who make the money and pay the taxes to take it easy, live on less, and let the looters of the world find their own way.

My question to readers is, what are some ways to �go John Galt� (legally, of course) � that is, should productive people cut back on what they need, make less money, and take it easy so that the government is starved for funds, or is there some other way of making a statement?

The comments to the question posed ranged from �It�s not time to �go John Galt� yet� to �Cut off the money!� to everything in between.
What follows are 140 comments -- some banal, some well worth reading. This comment really hits home:
I have generally been a Bush supporter, but when the first stimulus package passed, and he went on TV encouraging people to go out and spend the stimulus checks on more Chinese rubber dog shit, he lost me. Don�t we have enough stuff? Any responsible person who received one of those checks should have saved it, invested it, or used it to pay down debt. Assume they invested it in a mutual fund; they would still have some of the money left, rather than some stupid toy (probably made in a foreign country) gathering dust in the garage. With the government saying �take this money out and blow it�, I was shocked over how far off track we have gone. Bush�s advice to the People on what to do with those checks is probably what pushed me over the edge.

This recession is exactly what we need to bring some reality back into the picture. We have raised a generation, maybe two generations, of selfish, whining crybabies � both in and out of Government � whose primary business is trying to take money from others without providing any meaningful long term service to society. They need to be brought to their knees and shown the facts of life. As everyone starts to get it, as cities and hopefully even states go bankrupt, they will be forced to re-think just what is important. When the public sector gets it, to the point that many public sector employees and retirees see their benefits dramatically cut; when it will no longer be possible for a 20-year civil servant to retire at 90% of his salary, and those that already have retired have their dole funds cut off by public sector bankruptcies, I will reach nirvana.

The sooner we reach that point, the better. When we do, I will get back in the game with gusto, knowing that for the first time in my life I am operating from a solid base.
What he said...

A bit of fun word history

Common expressions in our language -- where did they come from? Associated Content takes a look at some of them:
The History of Some of Today's Most Common Phrases
Why Do We Say It? Looking at Several Phrases in the Light of Eighteenth-Century Canting

Some of our most common phrases were once thought to be low, vulgar and base. The rise of the criminal class as a vital piece of Elizabethan society prompted, among other things, the introduction of a new language. While the words remained English, the phraseology changed, and so did the meaning. Thus, a cove became a man rather than a secluded beach, flash meant the appearance of high society or wealth (a flash cove therefore was a rich man), and so on and so forth. But as time drew on, some of the phrases lost the stigma of criminal use and were accepted into the language of everyday people.

In 1785, etymologist Francis Grose produced The Vulgar Tongue, a dictionary of slang, sea-terms, thieves� cant and other less-savory phrases. His point, in doing so, was to educate those in higher society as to what some of the phrases heard at cock-fights and bear-baiting really meant. The result, however, is a wonderful snapshot in linguistic time, a resource unequalled in its richness and history. From his work we can draw the history of some of our most common phrases today.
Being interested in metal working and blacksmithing, the entry for Dam, give a Dam and Tinker's Dam was quite interesting:
I don�t give a dam
Originally, this was simply �I don�t give a dam,� but meant much the same as today. A dam was a coin minted in India by English businessmen. Comprised primarily of tin, it was next to worthless in the English gold-standard market and was generally ranked at a rate of half a farthing, or approximately one-quarter of a cent. The coin was so worthless that it could acquired by the sack full by English tinkers, who then used the coins to rectify small errors, similar to the shim stock of today. Thus, anything for which a person would not part with a dam, or a tinker�s dam, was completely worthless. Our version probably originated as the Indian coin was phased out and the ejaculation �Damnation!� came into vogue, replacing the less formal �Damme!�
Fun stuff!
From Slate Magazine comes this wonderful 2:16 video:
C'mon, Move to Canada!
If John McCain and Sarah Palin win in November, it's likely to be more than many Democrats can stand. Slate V imagines how the Canadian government might try to capitalize on this liberal anxiety.

Awww - poor Bianca

Some good justice being done. From the New York Post:

New York's top court upheld Bianca Jagger's eviction from a rent-stabilized Manhattan apartment, concluding Thursday that foreigners on tourist visas generally can't claim New York digs as a "primary residence."

The globe-trotting human rights activist and ex-wife of Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger was evicted in December from the Upper East Side apartment she rented for 20 years. She hasn't lived in the apartment for the past few years because of a dispute over asbestos and fungus contamination that led to a lawsuit against landlord Katz Park Avenue Corp.

"There are still claims for legal fees and unpaid rent and use and occupancy," said attorney Magda Cruz, the landlord's lawyer. She said there's no way of knowing how many New York tenants on tourist visas might be affected by the ruling since tenants generally don't disclose their visa status when they rent.

Jagger's lawyer, Roger Olson, did not immediately return a call Thursday.

Jagger was renting the 18th-floor Park Avenue space for $4,614 a month when a judge imposed a fine in 2006 and ordered her to pay months of back rent, though she said the apartment was uninhabitable because of the contamination. The apartment has since been leased to another tenant.

As that dispute wore on, the landlord evicted Jagger, saying she wasn't entitled to rent control protections.

Sheesh - asbestos is only an issue if it is disturbed by construction and mold is just basic building maintenance (keep it dry) and sanitation. The idea that she was able to get a Park Avenue apartment for under $5K is amazing -- I do not live on her planet. Good that the landlord was able to get a favorable judgement...

A loose cannon on deck?

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An interesting story from CNN:
Palin's 'going rogue,' McCain aide says
With 10 days until Election Day, long-brewing tensions between GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin and key aides to Sen. John McCain have become so intense, they are spilling out in public, sources say.

Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin "going rogue."

A Palin associate, however, said the candidate is simply trying to "bust free" of what she believes was a damaging and mismanaged roll-out.

McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls -- recorded messages often used to attack a candidate's opponent -- "irritating" even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign's decision to pull out of Michigan.

A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

"She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," said this McCain adviser. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.

"Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom."
An interesting bit of reporting although CNN doesn't offer any names or links to quotes. They do reference a few instances and cite names. A bit more with some history:
Yet another senior McCain adviser lamented the public recriminations.

"This is what happens with a campaign that's behind; it brings out the worst in people, finger-pointing and scapegoating," this senior adviser said.

This adviser also decried the double standard, noting that Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, has gone off the reservation as well, most recently by telling donors at a fundraiser that America's enemies will try to "test" Obama.

Tensions like those within the McCain-Palin campaign are not unusual; vice presidential candidates also have a history of butting heads with the top of the ticket.

John Edwards and his inner circle repeatedly questioned Sen. John Kerry's strategy in 2004, and Kerry loyalists repeatedly aired in public their view that Edwards would not play the traditional attack dog role with relish because he wanted to protect his future political interests.

Even in a winning campaign like Bill Clinton's, some of Al Gore's aides in 1992 and again in 1996 questioned how Gore was being scheduled for campaign events.

Jack Kemp's aides distrusted the Bob Dole camp and vice versa, and Dan Quayle loyalists had a list of gripes remarkably similar to those now being aired by Gov. Palin's aides.
2012 will be interesting regardless of who wins. I would love to see how Fred Thompson would do as president...

Robbing a bank in style

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From The Kalispell, Montana Daily Interlake:
Texas bank robbery suspect flees in black limo
Economic times may not be that tough for a suspected bank robber in the Dallas area. Irving police said the on-the-lam suspect used a limousine as his getaway vehicle.

Police said a Comerica Bank branch was held up Friday, then the suspect jumped into the passenger side of a black limo, which sped away.

Police spokesman David Tull said the man escaped with an undisclosed amount of money.

The limo was also being sought.
Heh. I thought the idea was to be inconspicuous...

The attack on a McCain supporter

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A few days ago, Ashley Todd claimed to have been robbed of $60 at a Pittsburgh, PA ATM and then beaten and a "B" scratched onto her face with a knife when the assailant saw a McCain/Palin sticker on her car. A number of things didn't add up so I didn't make mention of it. Good call -- she is busted and has done this sort of stuff before. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
McCain volunteer admits to hoax
'B' on her cheek, black eye were likely self-inflicted

Almost from the start, Pittsburgh police were skeptical about a young woman's claim that she had been mugged and a "B" carved into her cheek by an attacker who was provoked by the sight of a John McCain bumper sticker on her car.

Yesterday, their doubts were confirmed when 20-year-old Ashley Todd, a McCain volunteer from College Station, Texas, admitted that she made the whole thing up.

There was no black man with a knife, no robbery, no physical assault.
And it seems that she has a bit of a history doing this:
In March, Ms. Todd was asked to leave a grass-roots group of Ron Paul supporters in Brazos County, Texas, group leader Dustan Costine said. He said Ms. Todd posed as a supporter of former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and called the local Republican committee seeking information about its campaign strategies.

"She would call the opposing campaign and pretend she was on their campaign to get information," Mr. Costine said last night. "We had to remove her because of the tactics she displayed. After that we had nothing to do with her."

About a month earlier, he said, Ms. Todd sent an e-mail to the Ron Paul group saying her tires were slashed and that campaign paraphernalia had been stolen from her car because she supported Mr. Paul.

"She's the type of person who wants to be recognized," Mr. Costine said.
The word Mr. Costine is searching for is "attention whore" Hat tip to Charles at LGF for the link.

Well color me surprised...

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The schmucks running Congress and the Financial system keep digging themselves into a hole. From The Associated Press comes this little bit of thigh-slapping goodness:
Uses for $700 billion bailout money ever shifting
First, the $700 billion rescue for the economy was about buying devalued mortgage-backed securities from tottering banks to unclog frozen credit markets.

Then it was about using $250 billion of it to buy stakes in banks. The idea was that banks would use the money to start making loans again.

But reports surfaced that bankers might instead use the money to buy other banks, pay dividends, give employees a raise and executives a bonus, or just sit on it. Insurance companies now want a piece; maybe automakers, too, even though Congress has approved $25 billion in low-interest loans for them.

Three weeks after becoming law, and with the first dollar of the $700 billion yet to go out, officials are just beginning to talk about helping a few strapped homeowners keep the foreclosure wolf from the door.

As the crisis worsens, the government's reaction keeps changing. Lawmakers in both parties are starting to gripe that the bailout is turning out to be far different from what the Bush administration sold to Congress.

In buying equity stakes in banks, the Treasury has "deviated significantly from its original course," says Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. "We need to examine closely the reason for this change," said Shelby, who opposed the bailout.
Looking forward to some real change in two years... And a big tip of the hat to The Westerner for the link.
From the Albany Times Union comes this story of an egregiously clueless twit -- A Mr. Donald Flynt who is the Principal at Shenendehowa High School.
School breach left personnel files exposed
A Shenendehowa student who alerted his principal that he could steal private employee information now is facing felony charges.

The 15-year-old sophomore allegedly breached the district's system while in computer simulation class and gained access to 250 names of past and present Shen transportation employees. He used his student password to view their Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers and more, Shenendehowa officials said.

Then he allegedly sent an e-mail at 1 p.m. Tuesday to High School Principal Donald Flynt, saying he had the database.

Flynt contacted police, who arrested the young man Thursday and charged him with computer trespass, unlawful possession of personal identification information and identity theft, all felonies. He will appear before Saratoga County Family Court at a later date, State Police said Friday.
He emailed Flynt -- if he was being malicious, he would not have done this. What Flynt should have done would be to have a quiet word with the student and then offer him a well-paying job working on the school computer systems. Now the guy is hostile to authority. Talk about clueless management.

An interesting day at work for a Chicago Cop

From Cowtown Cop:

The Old Man
"I213 copy call, there is an elderly male at the Carnival food store, caller states male is out in the cold and is disoriented."

It was a cold windy day and the call load had been accordingly slow. It seems like a good cold snap will almost always kill the crime rate. I headed that way confident that someone either left their grandpop outside the store while they shopped or that it would just be someone waiting on a ride.

I pulled up in front of the store and found him, an elderly gentleman dressed in threadbare thin clothing holding a plastic bag with a few belongings in them. He was standing near the front door staring vacantly out into the parking lot. I got out and walked over to him. As I walked the guy running the taco stand called me over and said that he was the one that called. He said that the elderly man got dropped off in front of the store several hours ago and has just been standing there.

A bit more:

We started the age old process of trying to communicate between two folks that have a slim grasp of the others language. I finally gathered that he was trying to get home and that he lived somewhere on College Ave. What I also discovered that he had Alzheimer's and that his family in Florida put him on a bus and sent him back here. This I gathered from some medical papers that he had with him and a bus ticket from Miami. He had a perfect recollection of his house and life on College Ave but no memory whatsoever of the last few days. I have had the painful experience of watching my own grandfather die of this disease.

We drove up and down College Ave looking for his home. He pointed out a house that he seemed to think was his but the people that lived there now had never heard of him and had lived there for around 10 years. I was rapidly loosing hope of finding a place for him to stay. I had gathered that he was in his eighties and was in no condition to face the crowd at the night shelters. The county hospital would not take him if he didn't have an emergency medical complaint.

And what made the day "interesting":

Finally to my great surprise he found an old worn passport with all his information on it. I gleefully entered his name into the computer and waited for a response. What I got back was a surprise, a murder warrant for his arrest.

There is a good bit more to the story at Cowtown Cop. A curious read...

Referring to yesterday's post about our new Constitution Free Zone Looking at something else, I used Google Maps to view our home and saw that the image being displayed was a very old one -- dating about three years ago. I took a look at a building in our town that had been expanded two years ago and the image there was pre-expansion. I went over to Terraserver and same thing was the case:

The two buildings to the left are animal and equipment barns. The building peeking out to the north of the tree is the DaveCave(TM), the long skinny line to the left is a 40' container I use for storage and the little things to the left of it are dairy tanks I will be using for the Cider making. What is missing is a 30X45 steel Quonset hut that was erected two years ago -- that would almost be as big as the DaveCave(TM) but is nowhere to be seen. I do not have earlier images stored to show but I have seen it online before. The border patrol has been fairly active in our area recently -- it is a shame to see companies like Google and Terraserver comply without letting us know that the data is old...

Guess who?

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An interesting comparison from Mark Moyar at National Review:
A newcomer to national politics, he claimed to transcend partisan labels. He moved to the center during the campaign, at a time when the Democrats held large congressional majorities. In a troubled economy, he told voters he would keep taxes down for most Americans, limit spending, and balance the budget, all while implementing ambitious social programs. He planned to cut military spending to free money for other purposes, but assured moderates and conservatives that when it came to America�s enemies, he would be tougher than the Republicans. The media, droves of moderates, and some conservatives believed him, having pegged him as a man of character.
Figured out who this is yet? Let's read a bit more:
His name was Jimmy Carter, the year was 1976, and he won. His presidency helps us predict the likely results of an Obama victory in 2008.

What did the majority of 1976 get in return for its votes? Carter�s campaign vow to avoid increasing payroll taxes went out the window: He and Congress raised Social Security taxes through the roof. They also slapped large new taxes on oil and gas. Meanwhile, Carter canceled his plan for a tax refund to Americans earning under $30,000. Casting aside more campaign pledges, Carter and Congress increased annual federal spending from $403 billion to $579 billion and grew the national debt from $709 billion to $914 billion. Tens of billions of dollars went to new jobs programs, urban aid, and mushrooming entitlements, and Carter�s promise to stop Democratic pork-barrel spending was abandoned.

Carter and the Democratic Congress generated 18 percent inflation and economic stagnation at the same time. Unemployment rose. Americans came to regret the votes they had cast � Carter�s approval rating sank to 21 percent in 1980, the lowest in the history of polling.

Carter also threw out his professed hawkishness on foreign policy. Declaring America liberated from its �inordinate fear of Communism,� he sought better relations with the Communists in the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and Vietnam. He was much less nice to America�s allies, withdrawing support from those who did not accept his self-righteous demands for human-rights reforms. Friendly regimes in Nicaragua and Iran fell to hostile tyrants.

If Obama abandons his promises the way Carter did, his presidency will be even more dangerous. Carter at least had longstanding tendencies toward fiscal restraint, and he, together with a large block of conservative Democrats in Congress, prevented the most left-wing elements of Congress from taxing and spending even more. Obama, on the other hand, has himself been part of the most left-wing element in the U.S. Senate, and conservatives do not have a significant presence on the Democratic side of the Reid-Pelosi Congress. Also, Obama has no history of breaking with his party before this year.
Well, the good news is that Carter was booted out after one term and Regan won with 91% of the Electoral vote. Hat tip to No Looking Backwards for the link.

I am Bill

Heh... Only Iowahawk:

I AM BILL. I am the everyday forgotten little guy in your neighborhood, the quiet anarcho-syndicalist family man who gets up early and punches the clock at the local state university, writing the manifestos and polemics and grant proposals that keep America humming. I'm just doing my job, and all I ask in return is a little respect. And tenure. And Chicago Citizen of the Year awards. And two graduate assistants to grade exams for Practicum in Imperialist Racist Hegemony 311, because I'm teaching two sections this semester. Also, a sabbatical to Italy next summer would be nice.

I AM BILL. I grew up in a simple little gated community just like yours, with white picket fences and where all the aux pairs and gardeners know your name. When my dad came home from a hard day's work as a CEO, he was never too tired to help me with my homework or tousle my hair for winning the Lake Forest Academy essay contest on Hegelian Dialectics. Yes, he was a simpleminded bourgeois technocrat of the capitalist war machine, but he made sure I got the tuition and tutors and sailing lessons and allowance I needed to make it on my own. I wish he was still alive so I could tell him how much I really planned to kill him last.

I AM BILL. I work with my hands, grizzled and calloused from years on a non-ergonomic keyboard. Maybe I don't know pipe wrenches, but I know pipe bombs, and I've built them right there in my communal kitchen and I've watched with pride as they've offed a couple of pigs. Sure, maybe I've made a few mistakes with wiring or detonator timing and it ends up killing a couple of comrades. But you know what? I get up, dust myself off, and get right back to the drawing board. Because when it comes to international Maoist revolution, quitters never win and winners never quit.

Lot's more to read and click on. An evil man.

Our new Constitution-Free Zone

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While on a camping trip a few weekends ago, Jen ran into a roadblock in the small town of Newhalem, WA The officers explained that it was a 'Citizenship Check' but all the while the officers were examining her drivers license and registration, a police dog was walking around her car. Since she was loaded up with camping equipment, they asked her to get out of the car, bring our dog Buster with her and the police dog went through the car itself. Buster was not happy! Well, it turns out that the 4th Amendment is null and void when you are within 100 miles of the USA border. From Slashdot:
ACLU Creates Map of US "Constitution-Free Zone"
trackpick points out a recent ACLU initiative to publicize a recent expansion of authority claimed by the Border Patrol to stop and search individuals up to 100 miles from any US border. They have created a map of what they call the US Constitution-Free Zone.
"Using data provided by the US Census Bureau, the ACLU has determined that nearly 2/3 of the entire US population (197.4 million people) live within 100 miles of the US land and coastal borders. The government is assuming extraordinary powers to stop and search individuals within this zone. This is not just about the border: This 'Constitution-Free Zone' includes most of the nation's largest metropolitan areas.'"
A nice article on this at the Washington Post:
Expanded Powers to Search Travelers at Border Detailed
The U.S. government has quietly recast policies that affect the way information is gathered from U.S. citizens and others crossing the border and what is done with it, including relaxing a two-decade-old policy that placed a high bar on federal agents copying travelers' personal material, according to newly released documents.

The policy changes, civil liberties advocates say, also raise concerns about the guidelines under which border officers may share data copied from laptop computers and cellphones with other agencies and the types of questions they are allowed to ask American citizens.
And it's not just Newhalem, from the Seattle Times:
Checkpoint sticks in Forks' craw
The old logging town of Forks is filled with independent-minded folks who "live in the middle of nowhere. And want to keep it that way," jokes the mayor.

So it didn't go over so well when the feds showed up last week and, in the name of fighting terrorism, made locals vouch for their citizenship. "It has created a lot of turmoil out here," says Nedra Reed, mayor of the town of 3,200 on the far side of the Olympic Peninsula.

Starting at 8 a.m. last Thursday, federal Border Patrol agents blocked the highway outside town. For four hours, every car, truck and bus driving south on Highway 101 was pulled off the road and all passengers questioned.

Layla Iranshad, 27, was headed to her job at Peninsula College. She says the agent asked her if she was a U.S. citizen (yes, she answered), then asked where she was born.

"I said in England. Then he asked how I got my citizenship. He also wanted to know where I lived and where I was going.

"It freaked me out. Since when in this country do we get stopped on the street and questioned about our citizenship?"

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced last week it will stop drivers at a series of random checkpoints on the Olympic Peninsula in the coming months.
You just have to love this Congress -- never met a law they didn't like or a freedom they didn't want to regulate. Looking forward to voting a few of them out in a couple years. UPDATE: And Playmobil already has the toy out for it:
I for one welcome our new plastic overlords.

Talk about a do-it-yourself project

How about taking ten years and building a fully functional Lamborghini Countach replica in your basement.

From Jalopnik:

Hand-Made Lamborghini Built In Basement Finally Sees Light Of Day
Seventeen years ago, Ken Imhoff watched Cannonball Run and became so enamored with the Lamborghini Countach in the film, he hand-built his own, in his basement. In what we imagine might be the most Jalopnik build ever undertaken, Ken designed and fabricated his own tig-welded frame, installed a thoroughly massaged 351 cubic inch V8 with a ZF-25 5-speed transmission, hand-formed the aluminum body over a meticulously measured and accurate body form, and finished it all off in a beautiful metallic gray. It took Ken 10 years to complete the project, and the results - as you can see both in the gallery and in the video below the jump - are amazing. There's only one problem, when you build a car in a basement - how do you get it out?

Ken had to hire a contractor to dig down to the basement wall, cut through it and build a ramp to pull the car out.

Amazing story and a lot of very cool photos at the Jalopnik site...

Ken's home page is here: KIEngineering


A lot of the foundation of Techno and House music comes from the Roland TR-909

Marketed as a drum machine in 1984 to 1985, it never really sold well as the drum sounds were too 'synthetic' for people's tastes. Only 10,000 were made.

Then along comes Techno and House and Acid Rock and the TR-909 became the instrument to have.

Segue to today, check out the HammerHead Rhythm Station:

HammerHead is a simple TR-909-like drum computer program aiming at the dance-scene. You can use it to create perfect Techno loops, Jungle patterns or House beats, but it's also suitable for Hip Hop, Triphop, Rap, Industrial and almost any other music you can think of.

HammerHead features six separate channels, 29 built-in drum sounds, six complete breakbeats and the possibility to import six samples of your own. You can save your patterns to completely noise-free CD-quality wave files to use them with your sampler, tracker or sequencer program.

HammerHead is not Shareware, it's Freeware! No frustrating save-disabling, no grayed-out-menu-features, no paying serious money, no annoying messages and most of all no time limit...

HammerHead is not a Bossa Nova tool. This means that you won't find any Tom-Toms, Shakers, Cowbells, Congas or Bongos in this box. What you will find is cool 909 stuff, bad overdriven bass drums, lots of snare drums, claps, and complete breakbeats to spice up the lot. Buckets-o-fun for making Jungle.

A must-check-it-out for everyone who has always wanted to make his own block-rocking beats!

Downloading it and will check it out over the next couple days.

Should be (very retro) fun!

A three-fer from Weasel Zippers

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Got these three items:
Ironic: New York Times Officially Endorses Barack Obama. Same day NY Times Stock Hits All-Time Low, Bonds Downgraded to Junk Status by S&P.....

New York Times endorses Obama for president - Reuters

Leads to this....

Times Q3 earnings slide 64 percent - Business Journal

And eventually leads to this.....

S&P slashes New York Times rating to junk - Reuters

(note: all of these stories are from today!)
Couldn't happen to a nicer Newspaper of Record.

A very cool hack

Don't know how it will work on all sorts of hardware but this looks like a fun thing to try. From The Register:
Run Mac OS X on a PC
We show you how

Special Report Want to run Mac OS X on a PC? Perhaps you don't want to pay the premium for Apple's hardware - or Apple doesn't make the kind of computer you need, such as a netbook. Because of its native roots in Motorola and PowerPC code, this has traditionally required instruction level emulation. Two things have changed. Apple based Mac OS X on NeXT code, which could run on Intel. And since 2006 Apple has been making Intel PCs. In theory, installing Mac OS X on a PC is much easier. How do you go about it?

The version of Leopard sold by Apple includes drivers for Apple provided hardware only. It also requires an Apple Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI), which replaces the traditional PC BIOS. The Kalyway DVD is a hacked version of OS X that removes the EFI requirement and includes a variety of device drivers for common PC hardware.

Should you try this? As a minimum, I'd recommend the following: You are comfortable editing BIOS settings and knowing the details of your hardware and chipsets. You're not afraid of the Unix command line (not a definite requirement, but many of the troubleshooting guides out there mention it, so you'll probably have to use it at some point). And probably the most important: You have a lot of time.
You need to obtain a hacked version of OS/X called Kalyway 10.5.2 ISO and the ability to install sucessfully severely depends on your choice of hardware but it can be done. With 'killer apps' like Final Cut Studio, Aperture and Logic Studio out there for sale for a few hundred bucks each, it makes sense to avoid the high built-in costs of buying the hardware and to run things on a cheap Intel clone.

Whoops - Iowa's environmental emissions

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This was mentioned on several sites -- from Gas 2.0:
Iowa�s Ethanol Plants Create 15 Percent of its Emissions
The Des Moines Register reported the other day that Iowa�s ethanol plants contribute 15 Percent � 7.6 million metric tons out of a total of 52 million metric tons � of greenhouse-gas emissions found in the state�s new inventory of major manufacturers, businesses and power plants.

Iowa�s Department of Natural Resources found that the largest portion of the state�s overall emissions came from fermenting grain at the plants and not from burning natural gas or coal. In addition, burning biomass such as switchgrass at various industrial plants added another 0.13 million metric tons.

The emissions generated by ethanol production are one reason why some environmentalists downplay the benefit of renewable fuels, while others insist they are far more beneficial than burning fossil fuels.
Talk about unintended consequences...


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So true:
Click for full-size Image
Swiped from Cold Fury

If the current political campaign

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were being played like a Dungeons and Dragons game. From Some Hedgehog: (caution - major drink alert)
GM: OK, the bugbear attacks you. What do you do?

OBAMA: I send one of my 672 henchmen after it.

MCCAIN: OK, seriously. Why does he have so many henchmen? I'm a level 72 ranger and he's only a level 8 paladin.

OBAMA: Well, if you'd bought the Grassroots Organizing and Oratory/Colgate Smile proficiencies you could min max it so that you...

MCCAIN: Why is he even IN this campaign? I thought this was supposed to be a high level party.

OBAMA: Well, maybe some people got tired of the grim and squinty "Matterhorn, son of Marathon" shtick you keep doing. Dude, could you be any less original?

MCCAIN: Oh my god, I did not leave my left nut in a tiger cage in the Tomb of Horrors to spend my Friday nights mopping up after the new kid.

OBAMA: "My friends, I am a totally unoriginal grizzled character class stereotype. I should lead the party because I have more testicular damage than that one."

MCCAIN: Yeah, well, you pal around with dark elves.


MCCAIN: Whatever, so's your mom.

OBAMA: So's your FACE.

MCCAIN: So's your Mom's face!

HILARY: WTF you guys. Why am I playing the cleric?

MCCAIN: Hilary, we've been over this.

HILARY: No, dude. I am so sick of being the girlfriend healer. Seriously, I can't even use a sword. Fuck this noise.


OBAMA: That's nice.


MCCAIN: Oh, Jesus. Here we go.

Heh... There's more.

Go here and read:

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The media are portraying William Ayers as someone who had a bit of a checkered past but who is now a respected educator, author and member of society. To see the content of his character, check out this post at Zombietime:
William Ayers' forgotten communist manifesto: Prairie Fire
William Ayers is a communist. But don't take my word for it. He said so himself:
Click for full-size image.

And not some nicey-nice peace-and-love kind of communist. Through his group the Weather Underground, Ayers was planning to "seize power" in a violent communist takeover of the United States:
Click for full-size image.

The quotes above were scanned directly from a now long-forgotten book entitled Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism, which was written and published in 1974 by William Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn and other members of the Weather Underground. In this slim volume, which functioned as the Weather Underground's ideological manifesto, Ayers declares himself to be a communist, and announces that his group's bombing campaign was intended to start a violent revolution to overthrow the American government.

After a long search, I was lucky enough to finally get my hands on a copy of the original edition of Prairie Fire, which is now extremely rare and hard to find. It was written in secret while Ayers and his fellow Weather Underground members were still in hiding and on the run, and still actively engaging in bombings and other violent acts.

This essay features many high-resolution scans of quotes and entire pages taken directly from Prairie Fire, which journalists, bloggers and other media members are free to copy and re-post.

If you're interested only in viewing or downloading the scans taken from Prairie Fire, scroll down this page to see a large selection of shocking quotations which you can use as you see fit. My introductory explanation below simply provides context and elucidates why the text of Prairie Fire is so significant at this very moment in history.

So far in 2008, there has been almost no mention of this manifesto and its insurrectionary goals. It seems as if the media, William Ayers, Barack Obama and his supporters don't want you to know about Prairie Fire. Which is exactly why you need to see it.

How Is This Relevant to the 2008 Presidential Campaign?
There's nothing illegal about being a communist. People in this country are free to hold whatever political beliefs they so choose. I don't know William Ayers, I've never met him (that I'm aware of), and I have nothing against him personally.

This essay only exists to correct and unequivocably debunk claims routinely made by the mainstream media over the last few weeks about William Ayers, his beliefs, and the purpose behind his bombing campaign during the 1970s.

Specifically, when questions arose during the 2008 presidential race about Barack Obama's past associations with William Ayers, many media reports and articles blandly described Ayers as a "Vietnam-era radical" and the Weather Underground as a group that set bombs "to protest against the Vietnam War." Both of these characterizations are demonstrably inaccurate.

Furthermore: Obama and his supporters at first claimed he barely knew who Ayers was, but when public awareness of the connections between Obama and Ayers became too numerous and too strong to deny, Obama's supporters have now begun resorting to a fallback position: that William Ayers wasn't such a bad guy after all, and that it is no shame to be associated with him.
A major insight into a terrible enemy of this country, someone who is gaming the system all the while seeking its perversion. In a New York Times article dated September 11, 2001 he said the following:
No Regrets for a Love Of Explosives; In a Memoir of Sorts, a War Protester Talks of Life With the Weathermen
"I don't regret setting bombs," Bill Ayers said. "I feel we didn't do enough." Mr. Ayers, who spent the 1970's as a fugitive in the Weather Underground, was sitting in the kitchen of his big turn-of-the-19th-century stone house in the Hyde Park district of Chicago. The long curly locks in his Wanted poster are shorn, though he wears earrings. He still has tattooed on his neck the rainbow-and-lightning Weathermen logo that appeared on letters taking responsibility for bombings. And he still has the ebullient, ingratiating manner, the apparently intense interest in other people, that made him a charismatic figure in the radical student movement.

Now he has written a book, "Fugitive Days" (Beacon Press, September). Mr. Ayers, who is 56, calls it a memoir, somewhat coyly perhaps, since he also says some of it is fiction. He writes that he participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, the Pentagon in 1972. But Mr. Ayers also seems to want to have it both ways, taking responsibility for daring acts in his youth, then deflecting it.
Lest we not forget, Obama and Mr. Ayers served on several boards together, Obama's political 'coming out party' was held in Ayer's living room and they shared offices together for a few years -- Ayers is not a casual acquaintance; some guy who lives in the neighborhood... Right now just about 20 pages are online but Zombietime is planning to get the entire book online both in excerpt and in high-resolution full-page scans in a few days.
Don't people remember what their elected officials say and do when the next election rolls around. Witless Witness Mr. Barney Frank -- 0:52 seconds of YouTube goodness:
Swiped from Parkway Rest Stop

Light posting tonight

Had my weekly acupuncture session and then went out for Chinese food with my Dad. Stuffed, mellow and tired -- looking for a glass or two of wine and then to bed.

Labor Unions - a good thing?

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Definitely at one time but they seem to have outlived their usefulness. Witness their effectiveness at preserving American jobs in the automotive industry.
As an illustrative aid, I put a black line at the year 2006 -- I know I keep harping on the Democratic Congress but they came into power in 2006 and in two years, they accomplished what it took six years previously -- a loss of 250,000 jobs. (Approval rating anyone?) From Coyote Blog who got the graphic from the Wall Street Journal

Rising communism in Japan

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Let's hope this is a short-lived fad. From the UK Telegraph:
Japan's young turn to Communist Party as they decide capitalism has let them down
With its gleaming designer stores, the world's second largest economy and an insatiable appetite for luxury labels, Japan has long been regarded as the land of the rising capitalist.

But a wave of discontent among its younger workers is fueling a change in the nation's political landscape: communism is suddenly back in fashion.

What many young Japanese view as an erosion of their economic security and employment rights, combined with years of political stagnation, are propelling droves of them into the arms of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), the nation's fourth largest political party.

New recruits are signing up at the rate of 1,000 a month, swelling its ranks to more than 415,000. Meanwhile a classic proletarian novel is at the top of the best-seller lists, and communist-themed "manga" comics are enjoying soaring success.

A further sign of disaffection among young Japanese - who in recent years have been more renowned for their political apathy than their revolutionary zeal - is the increasing frequency of rallies by workers on the streets of the capital.

Earlier this month, crowds of up to 5,000 young Japanese workers marched through the streets of central Tokyo to express their growing discontent with the government over working conditions.

And the job losses, financial insecurity and social dissatisfaction that are expected to go hand in hand with the current global credit crisis are expected to increase the ranks of the party further.

Spearheading the lurch to the Left are young Japanese in their twenties and thirties, who have become increasingly disillusioned with changes to employment laws which they blame for creating a climate of insecurity.

Some 44 per cent of country's workforce are part-time only, while a profusion of short-term contracts has created a generation of freelancers who are often between jobs.

Kimitoshi Morihara, deputy director of the Japanese Communist Party's international bureau, said: "Working conditions dramatically changed for younger generations in 2002 when new temporary working laws were introduced.

Today, more than one in three Japanese is in temporary work. They have almost no rights, no security and no future.
Things have changed in Japan -- twenty years ago, Grade School was a ball-buster, College was a couple years of blowing off steam and then you fought like hell to get hired by a prestigious company as a salaryman. It was a fight because there were a lot of applicants for each position but once hired, you were guaranteed work for life -- getting fired (or quitting and moving to another company) were unheard of. This was a major management issue when the Japanese started building their automobiles in the USA -- they simply could not believe that people would want to move from job to job. Now, work is temporary -- I don't know the culture there now but I am assuming it's probably a bit like Microsoft where you work as a temp for a year or two and if they like you, you get vetted and hired. It seems like the modern Japanese aren't willing to put in the effort to get appreciated and vetted. A bit more (possibly the reason):
"The political climate in Japan is changing and more young Japanese are becoming politically aware because these issues have long been ignored by other parties." The revival of hard left politics comes as Japan faces the prospect of an general election in coming months, following the parliamentary deadlock which led to last month's sudden resignation of Yasuo Fukuda, the third prime minister in less than three years.

The country's sclerotic political system has enabled the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to hold power for an almost unbroken five decades, although its powers were critically curtailed last year when the main opposition party won control of the upper legislative chamber.
That party again? "Liberal Democratic Party" Well, it seems to be breaking up -- the next few years will be interesting to say the least. To put things into a bit of perspective though, if the Communist Party of Japan has 415,000 members, the general population is 127,288,416 (July 2008 est.) so we are looking at about 0.326% -- enough for a news story but not enough to really worry...
We hear frequently about how Obama is one of the modern-day disciples of Saul Alinsky (H.R. Clinton being the other) John Perazzo has written a nice profile of Mr. Alinsky at the excellent Discover The Networks website.
Saul Alinsky
Born to Russian-Jewish parents in Chicago in 1909, Saul Alinsky was a Marxist who helped establish the dual political tactics of confrontation and infiltration that characterized the 1960s and have remained central to all subsequent revolutionary movements in the United States.

Though Alinsky is generally viewed as a member of the political left, and rightfully so, his legacy is more methodological than ideological. He identified a set of very specific rules that ordinary citizens could follow, and tactics that ordinary citizens could employ, as a means of gaining public power. His motto was, "The most effective means are whatever will achieve the desired results."
A bit more (this from an article by Ryan Lizza):
"Alinsky was deeply influenced by the great social science insight of his times, one developed by his professors at Chicago: that the pathologies of the urban poor were not hereditary but environmental. This idea, that people could change their lives by changing their surroundings, led him to take an obscure social science phrase�'the community organization'--and turn it into, in the words of Alinsky biographer Sanford Horwitt, 'something controversial, important, even romantic.' His starting point was a near-fascination with John L. Lewis, the great labor leader and founder of the CIO. What if, Alinsky wondered, the same hardheaded tactics used by unions could be applied to the relationship between citizens and public officials?"
Environment not family and hereditary -- talk about a long walk off a short pier. Could not have been more wrong. Sure, you get an immediate initial positive result but after the "bloom" wears off and people get used to the entitlement, their welfare slides down to be much worse than it was before the "environment" was changed. This was a noble idea but it is a failed theory documented time and time again... And another bit:
In the Alinsky model, "organizing" is a euphemism for "revolution" -- a wholesale revolution whose ultimate objective is the systematic acquisition of power by a purportedly oppressed segment of the population, and the radical transformation of America's social and economic structure. The goal is to foment enough public discontent, moral confusion, and outright chaos to spark the social upheaval that Marx, Engels, and Lenin predicted -- a revolution whose foot soldiers view the status quo as fatally flawed and wholly unworthy of salvation. Thus, the theory goes, the people will settle for nothing less than that status quo's complete collapse -- to be followed by the erection of an entirely new system upon its ruins. Toward that end, they will be apt to follow the lead of charismatic radical organizers who project an aura of confidence and vision, and who profess to clearly understand what types of societal "changes" are needed.

As Alinsky put it: "A reformation means that the masses of our people have reached the point of disillusionment with past ways and values. They don't know what will work but they do know that the prevailing system is self-defeating, frustrating, and hopeless. They won't act for change but won't strongly oppose those who do. The time is then ripe for revolution."
Compare and contrast the revolution of 1776 with the Communist revolution or with the French. We instituted basic personal freedoms whereas the others decided that centralized control was the way to go. These people fucked over their people (100,000,000 people dead) and idiots today still think it needs to be given another chance. Look at how the US government is handling welfare, education, economics and homeland security. And people want to expand its scope into health care? An excellent and sobering read with 88 footnotes for you to check out and read for yourself.

You would think that the 419 scams have been so publicized that nobody in their right mind would fall for one these days. Well... Meet Jalaine Noella Holtan. From the Rochester, MN. Post-Bulletin:
Rochester woman caught up in Nigerian scam
A Rochester woman, allegedly caught up in a Nigerian scam operation, now faces criminal charges for stealing from her employer to send advance payments to the scam artists in order to get a promised $10 million.

Jalaine Noella Holtan, 53, 1313 Marion Road S.E., No. 20, is charged with one count of felony theft. A summons has been issued for her to be in Olmsted District Court on Nov. 17.

Police were called July 10 by the area manager for Casey's General Store after learning from the bank that several deposit bags had not been deposited from one of the stores.

The complaint said Holtan told the manager that she had kept the cash because she owed people money. She said she took about $10,000 to $15,000.

Holtan later told police she had been investing for several years. Holtan said she got an e-mail in early July from an attorney named Morgan Smith, who said Holtan is to receive $10 million from investments she had made in diamonds and oil in Nigeria.

Diplomats from Nigeria allegedly were in Rochester in June with the money, but they needed a "certificate" to transfer the money to her. Holtan told police the diplomats needed her to front the money to them to pay for the "certificate."
I wonder if the Nigerian internet caf� gets a kickback from the patrons running these scams. We just got one at the store -- excellent if quirky English and an engaging story.

A nice rant from Orson Scott Card

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From Meridian Magazine:
Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On the Lights?
By Orson Scott Card

An open letter to the local daily paper � almost every local daily paper in America:

I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.

This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.

It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.

What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.

The goal of this rule change was to help the poor � which especially would help members of minority groups. But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay? They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house � along with their credit rating.

They end up worse off than before.

This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it. One political party, in Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules. The other party blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them.

Furthermore, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were making political contributions to the very members of Congress who were allowing them to make irresponsible loans. (Though why quasi-federal agencies were allowed to do so baffles me. It's as if the Pentagon were allowed to contribute to the political campaigns of Congressmen who support increasing their budget.)

Isn't there a story here? Doesn't journalism require that you who produce our daily paper tell the truth about who brought us to a position where the only way to keep confidence in our economy was a $700 billion bailout? Aren't you supposed to follow the money and see which politicians were benefiting personally from the deregulation of mortgage lending?

I have no doubt that if these facts had pointed to the Republican Party or to John McCain as the guilty parties, you would be treating it as a vast scandal. "Housing-gate," no doubt. Or "Fannie-gate."

Instead, it was Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, both Democrats, who denied that there were any problems, who refused Bush administration requests to set up a regulatory agency to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and who were still pushing for these agencies to go even further in promoting sub-prime mortgage loans almost up to the minute they failed.
It isn't Bush's fault, it is Congress who is to blame for the majority of these problems. What is their approval rating these days? 12% or so? I know we just voted tonight but I am really looking forward to the next election -- time to throw the bums out... Hat tip to Charles for the link. And a note from the Meridian Magazine's editor:
Editor's note: Orson Scott Card is a Democrat and a newspaper columnist, and in this opinion piece he takes on both while lamenting the current state of journalism.

A musical two-fer

I studied classical piano and organ as a kid and still love a lot of the music I learned.

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is celebrating it's 120th anniversary and they are offering ten downloads from now through November 24th, 2008. Minimal registration is required.

Here is the list and there is not a clinker in there:

Franz Schubert - Symphony no. 8 'Unfinished'
Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony no. 2
Felix Mendelssohn - Symphony no. 4 'Italian'
Cesar Franck - Symphony in D minor
Gustav Mahler - Symphony no. 1
Antonin Dvorak - Symphony no. 8
Camille Saint-Saens - Symphony no. 3 'Organ'
Jean Sibelius - Symphony no. 2
Anton Bruckner - Symphony no. 8
Johannes Brahms - Symphony no. 2

I am downloading them at the store so I don't know yet what level of encoding they are but the file sizes are huge -- 60MB to 80MB. If you haven't ever heard the Saint-Saens - Symphony no. 3, it deserves a listen for the sheer majesty of it. Gorgeous work... Secondly, check out the IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library From their website:

Welcome to the International Music Score Library Project! IMSLP attempts to create a virtual library containing all public domain musical scores, as well as scores from composers who are willing to share their music with the world without charge. You can read the full list of goals that IMSLP will try to achieve.

High resolution PDF scans of over 21,000 scores.

...was Jen and me voting. Received out ballots the other day and we filled them out. We agree on a lot of local people and issues but we are on opposite sides when it comes to the Presidential race.

Someone lacking a sense of humor in Oregon

Taffey Anderson is brain-dead. From the Seattle Post Intelligencer:
Oregon mom won't return 'Bunny Suicide' book
One way or another, a Halsey woman promises to keep a popular cartoon book out of the Central Linn High School library.

Taffey Anderson says "The Book of Bunny Suicides" is not appropriate for anyone, but especially children. She inspected the book her 13-year-old son checked out of the library, and what she saw convinced her to never return it.

The 2003 book by British author Andy Riley is a collection of cartoons showing a rabbit attempting to end his life in bizarre ways. Anderson's son told her he checked it out because his friends said it was funny.

"It is a comic book, but that's not funny. Not at all," Anderson told the Albany Democrat-Herald newspaper. "I don't care if your kid is 16, 17, 18. It's wrong."

Anderson contacted Principal Julie Knoedler, who told her about the district's book-challenge policy.

Anderson plans to fill out the forms, but she's not taking any chances. Once the review is over, regardless of the outcome, she plans to burn it.

"They're not getting this book back," she said, adding that if the library replaces it: "I'll have somebody else check it out and I'll keep that one. I'm just disgusted by the whole ordeal."
The Book of Bunny Suicides is one of the funniest cartoon book I have seen in a long time -- Jen and I own both of them (Book, Return Amazon). We also have his Great Lies to Tell Small Kids series and love it too. Ms. Anderson need to get a sense of humor - talk about control freak.
What follows is a long four-part open letter from The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley to Senator John McCain about Climate Science and Policy. Lord Monckton sheds light on the sub-prime science that passes for Anthropogenic Global Warming. From his WikiPedia entry:
Monckton is critical of the theory of anthropogenic causes for global warming and the stated scope of it, which he regards as a controversy catalyzed by "the need of the international left for a new flag to rally round" following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. He has expressed doubt about the reality of global warming in a number of newspaper articles and papers. In February 2007, he published a critique of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report on climate change. His calculations of climate sensitivity to increased atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have been published in the Quarterly Economic Bulletin.

In two Sunday Telegraph articles published in November 2006, Monckton disputed whether global warming is man-made, suggested that it is unlikely to prove catastrophic, and criticized the science presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In particular, he has criticized the IPCC's interpretation of the Medieval Warm Period, cited the "hockey stick" controversy as evidence of faulty science, argued that the science in the IPCC reports has misapplied the Stefan�Boltzmann law, and supported the solar variation theory as a possible explanation of global warming. In an apparent reference to claims made by Gavin Menzies, he further stated "There was little ice at the North Pole: a Chinese naval squadron sailed right round the Arctic in 1421 and found none."

In response to the U.K. government's Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, he has argued that the review's recommendation to invest 1% of global GDP in climate change mitigation would be ineffective, as would the introduction of carbon taxes and emissions trading as a means of curbing carbon emissions. He has proposed instead that the best solution should be to "go nuclear and reverse 20th-century deforestation."
Yesterday, the website American Thinker published this: Open letter from The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley to Senator John McCain about Climate Science and Policy. Part one, two, three and four
Dear Senator McCain, Sir,
YOU CHOSE a visit to a wind-farm in early summer 2008 to devote an entire campaign speech to the reassertion of your belief in the apocalyptic vision of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change - a lurid and fanciful account of imagined future events that was always baseless, was briefly exciting among the less thoughtful species of news commentators and politicians, but is now scientifically discredited.

With every respect, there is no rational basis for your declared intention that your great nation should inflict upon her own working people and upon the starving masses of the Third World the extravagantly-pointless, climatically-irrelevant, strategically-fatal economic wounds that the arrogant advocates of atmospheric alarmism admit they aim to achieve.

Britain and the United States, like England and Scotland on the first page of Macaulay's splendid History of England, are bound to one another by "indissoluble bonds of interest and affection". Here in this little archipelago from which your Pilgrim Fathers sailed, we have a love-love relationship with what Walt Whitman called your "athletic democracy". You came to our aid - to the aid of the world - when Britain had stood alone against the mad menace of Hitler. Your fearless forces and ours fight shoulder to shoulder today on freedom's far frontiers. The shortest but most heartfelt of our daily prayers has just three words: "God bless America!" For these reasons - of emotion as much as of economics, of affection as much as of interest - it matters to us that the United States should thrive and prosper. We cannot endure to see her fail, not only because if she fails the world fails, but also because, as the philosopher George Santayana once said of the British Empire and might well now have said of our sole superpower, "the world never had sweeter masters." If the United States, by the ignorance and carelessness of her classe politique, mesmerized by the climate bugaboo, casts away the vigorous and yet benign economic hegemony that she has exercised almost since the Founding Fathers first breathed life into her enduring Constitution, it will not be a gentle, tolerant, all-embracing, radically-democratic nation that takes up the leadership of the world.

It will be a radically-tyrannical dictatorship - perhaps the brutal gerontocracy of Communist China, or the ruthless plutocracy of supposedly ex-Communist Russia, or the crude, mediaeval theocracy of rampant Islam, or even the contemptible, fumbling, sclerotic, atheistic-humanist bureaucracy of the emerging European oligarchy that has stealthily stolen away the once-paradigmatic democracy of our Mother of Parliaments from elected hands here to unelected hands elsewhere. For government of the people, by the people and for the people is still a rarity today, and it may yet perish from the earth if America, its exemplar, destroys herself in the specious name of "Saving The Planet".
What follows is a carefully thought out dismemberment of the 'talking points' of the AGW criers and is well worth the 20 minutes it will take to read. The entire letter is also available in a single PDF file.

Found it!!!

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Knew that bugger was out there somewhere -- found it today:

The End of the Internet

Congratulations! This is the last page.

Thank you for visiting the End of the Internet. There are no more links.

You must now turn off your computer and go do something productive.

Go read a book, for pete's sake.

(hitting the browser BACK button -- need to leave a trail of breadcrumbs next time...)

Sheehan in the news again

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From the San Francisco Gate:
Sheehan seeking restraining order
Cindy Sheehan, the dogged peace activist who camped outside President George W. Bush's Texas ranch after her son was killed in Iraq, is now seeking a restraining order against one of the volunteers in her long-shot congressional campaign.

Sheehan, an independent candidate challenging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, contends erstwhile volunteer Paul Currier has been sending threatening emails to her campaign after they tried to sever ties with him.

Currier, 56, a self-described community organizer who says he eats daily at St. Anthony's free-food program yet is the only resident of the Tenderloin's Boyd Hotel with an iPhone, contends he's being targeted because he's disillusioned with Sheehan.

Currier has sent e-mails to the campaign accusing Sheehan of being a sham candidate who is raising funds -- about $500,000 so far, according to the campaign -- but not spending the money on advertising, phone banks and other steps to win votes.

"I think it's fraud, and I find it offensive. Where's all the money being spent?" said Currier, who says he's now ceased contact. "I'm not being abusive."
Is this the worst character assassination they can muster: "he eats daily at St. Anthony's free-food program yet is the only resident of the Tenderloin's Boyd Hotel with an iPhone" As for Sheehan, she is an attention whore and has been one for a long long time. Check out this post for a typical example:
Cindy Sheehan: �If I truly was a media whore��
�I�m like if I truly was a media whore do you think I would like maybe get myself fixed up a little bit before I went on?�
�Cindy Sheehan
Also here and these wonderful photos of her book signing. (Sometimes Karma is bitch)

Nice meth bust in Bellingham

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Seems that some Seattleites were trying to deal a bit of meth in our fair town. From the Bellingham Herald:
3 men arrested in Bellingham meth-trafficking bust
Northwest Regional Drug Task Force agents arrested three men from the Seattle area Friday, Oct. 17, on suspicion of bringing about $160,000 worth of methamphetamine into Bellingham.

Agents arrested Alfonso Hernandez-Ramirez, 39, Camilo Lopez-Lopez, 31, and Efren Flores, 23. Each will be charged with multiple counts of possessing and dealing methamphetamine.

Drug Task Force agents watched the men meet at a restaurant on Telegraph Road off Meridian Street at 9:30 p.m., and then leave to go to a motel.

The task force had been investigating the men for a year and believed that a drug deal was taking place, Drug Task Force Commander Rick Sucee said.
A bit more:
Sucee said the men brought several pounds of methamphetamine to Whatcom County each month.

He said he thinks the methamphetamine was manufactured in Mexico because it was high grade and in a large quantity.
Telegraph Road is so named as it follows the route of the first telegraph lines into Bellingham. I know where it is and have eaten at the two Mexican restaurants on it. To be moving that much is bad news indeed. I tend to be pretty easy going about people's drug use but Meth is nasty nasty stuff -- good to get these mokes off the street...

Obama's past - some questions

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Ten minutes of YouTube goodness:
The basic question is that if Obama is a naturally-born citizen of the USA, why has he not released his Certificate of Live Birth or any of his College records. If he is not, he is then not eligible to run for the Office of President. The lawyer who is bringing suit to produce the birth certificate is Philip J. Berg A bit tip of the hat to Theo for the link.

A curious parallel in sub-prime science

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From Global Warming Politics comes this guest essay by Professor Cliff Ollier:
Trofim Denisovich Lysenko speaking at the Kremlin in 1935
Lysenkoism And �Global Warming�
Trofim Denisovich Lysenko was an insignificant agriculturalist who thought he had a new way of developing crops that would vastly increase food production in the starving Russia of Stalin. It was called �vernalisation�, and it included treating seeds before cultivation to affect their behaviour.

Significantly, Lysenko introduced his ideas first through politics, in which he benefited from weighty support. Some argue that his precepts had a Marxist flavour, because they asserted that biology could be modified in the way that communists wanted to control people�s behaviour. The government was anxious to increase food production and to quell disturbances among the growers, while Lysenko was an adept propagandist. He became a cult leader who impressed the peasants.

Lysenko was the head of the Soviet Lenin All Union Institute of Agricultural Sciences, and he ran the nation�s research in this field. He promised to triple or to quadruple crop yields.

He demonised conventional genetics, which again suited his masters, who believed this to be the basis behind fascist eugenics.

No Opposition Tolerated
Opposition to Lysenko was not tolerated, and was labeled �bourgeois� or �fascist�. Lysenko used his position to denounce Mendelian geneticists as �fly-lovers and people haters�, which had serious consequences. From 1934 to 1940, with Stalin�s blessing, numerous geneticists were shot, and others exiled to Siberia. Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov, for example, a truly great geneticist and biogeographer, was sent to Siberia, where he died of starvation in 1943, while Lysenko, in person, took over his role as Director of the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Any survivor of the purge had to keep quiet. In 1948, genetics was officially labeled a �bourgeois pseudoscience�, and genetic research came to a halt. Krushchev also supported Lysenko, but, after his departure in 1964, the Academy of Sciences investigated the records, and a devastating critique of Lysenko was made public. The ban on genetics was finally lifted in 1965.
I love that line about: "He became a cult leader who impressed the peasants." Al Gore immediately pops into mind... One last paragraph:
Climate change, like Lysenkoism, is much easier to understand than the complexities of real science. This appeals to the public, and also to politicians and other influential people, who can talk as if they understand it. If questioned about details, they simply refer back to the IPCC reports.
A good read and an unnerving parallel. Talk about history repeating itself...

That's it for tonight

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Jen went off camping with some friends so I played hooky today doing some shooting. Nice clear weather and some gorgeous fall colors. Had dinner out and then spent a little too long a time in a local Mexican place with killer margharitas. Since the hip replacement (five weeks this coming Monday), I have been weaning myself off the Percoset and today is the second day without taking anything. Feeling tired and will be calling it an early night... Went to the Bellingham Farmer's Market and there were a lot of people hustling for Obama. I noticed this in 2004 -- in 'town' it's all Democrat signs on the lawns but when you get about five miles out, it flips to all Republican signs. It might be interesting to propose re-districting for urban v/s rural areas. The people actually producing the food, lumber, recreational opportunities often have quite a different view than those who exist to consume these resources. (ed. - hey Dave, that is the voice of three margharitas talking)

The origins of life - part two

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Very cool experiment made even cooler with some later research. From the BBC:
New spark in classic experiments
There's a new spark of life in iconic experiments first done in the 1950s, on the kind of primordial "soup" that may have predated life itself on Earth.

Ageing vials of chemicals have been discovered in a Californian lab, surviving samples from the legendary experiments performed by chemist Stanley Miller.

They hold evidence that life may have born violently, in erupting volcanoes in the midst of a thunderstorm.

Miller was just 22 years old and studying for his PhD when he carried out his original, groundbreaking experiments (under his University of Chicago mentor, Harold Urey).

He wanted to test the current ideas for the origin of life, by striking electric sparks in a mixture of gases thought to resemble the atmosphere of the young Earth.

When his analysis of the products in the experiments revealed traces of the building blocks of life, amino acids (which combine to make proteins), Stanley Miller became an instant celebrity - though the 1950s newspapers were overstating the case when they claimed he had actually recreated life in the lab.

When Stanley Miller died in May last year, his former student, Jeffrey Bada, inherited his materials; including, it turns out, several boxes containing vials of dried samples from those 1950s experiments, and the accompanying notebooks.
And the upshot:
"We started sorting through these, and lo and behold, we found a whole collection, almost a complete collection, of the extract samples from the volcanic experiments. And so we just went at it, using the state-of-the-art techniques we have today and analysed these samples.

"We found not only did these make more of certain amino acids than in the classic experiment, but they made a greater diversity of amino acids."

Miller, using the old methods, had found five amino acids; Jeffrey Bada and his teams tracked down 22. What is more, the overall chemical yields were often higher than in the first set of experiments - the mixture appeared to be more fertile.
Very cool -- using modern day chemical analysis, Bada found that Millers experiment worked even better than thought. Would have been nice if this had been done while Miller was still alive though -- a nice cap to one's career... Dr. Bada is a Professor of Marine Chemistry at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.
by Mostly Cajun who, although he sets up large commercial electrical power stations, is not a 'Licensed' Electrician. Go and read Wherein the Cajun expounds on Joe the Plumber and Life:
So the nation knows the name of �Joe the Plumber�. Libtards are aghast that a �plumber� might talk about $250,000 a year. Indeed, one fo them is quoted as saying that he didn�t have any plumbers making $250,000 in his neighborhood. The guy making this statement is an idiot.

Joe the Plumber is a lot closer to being me than any of the politicians running for national office, folks. $250,000? That�s a lot of money when you�re standing in line at Wal-Mart with your food stamps in your hand, but in small business, it isn�t much. Ask a farmer how much a new combine or tractor costs.

Back in the 1970�s when I was a drill sergeant at Fort Polk, I met the first son of a millionaire I ever met in my life. He was a draftee, and his family had a net worth of over a million dollars. Most of it was tied up in the special machines they needed to harvest lettuce in California.

A plumbing business? I don�t know about plumbing in specific, but I do know about electrical testing, and I do know that putting a technician on the road is gonna get you over $100 an hour for billable hours. I had an office with five of us. At our goal of 80% utilization, my little office pulled in roughly $800K a year. Of course you have to start jerking things out of that number like salaries, five vehicles, test equipment, the cost of an office and an office administrator with a snarky attitude, but still it�s a SMALL business.

I suspect that plumbers don�t need racks of electronic test equipment at $70K a knock and salaries might not reach the levels of prima donna test technicians, but it�s pretty easy to see $250K left over from that., making the owner an official RICH person as defined by the dimmocrat party, and therefore needing of punishment (my thought) or extra �patriotism� (Joe Biden�s thought) as he pays his �fair share� (dimmocratspeak) for �winning life�s lottery� (more dimmocratspeak).

Discount the fact that a small businessman is providing jobs for his employees.
And a bit on licensing:
Licensure is a government scam. Oh, sure, you can make a case for �weeding out the ignorant�, but the REAL reason for licensure is to restrict the playing field. I don�t have an electrician�s license or a professional engineer certification. Both are required to work in my field outside the fence of my employer. But when they want to know things they come to me. Wednesday a �real engineer� walked into my office to get my opinion on our electrical system�s capacity if we were to add another process to our plant. In two minutes I roughed out the power system. But I cannot legally go outside the fence and install a ceiling fan on my own and get paid for it. Why? Because of �licensing�.

Hell, in Louisiana you have to have a state-issued license to be a florist. You know? �Flowers and sh*t�? Of course before our legislature passed this regulation, people were dying by the droves due to corsages assembled by unregulated flower-mongers. Thank G-d for our legislature. Irrespective of whether or not one can pass whatever test goes along with licensure, there�s usually an administrative fee attached by the state for awarding you the privilege of earning income so they can tax THAT too.
Heh... I feel the same way. When I was working for MSFT, I was designing and building the infrastructure for large server test labs one of which had about 1,000 machines. Although I didn't do any of the actual wiring, I had to present the plan to the Electrical Engineers and have them do what was needed -- I learned a lot and after the first couple months (I already had a good working knowledge of low-power electrical wiring and electronics), I got what I wanted and there were no more calls back to correct one of my oversights. For the task that I was hired, I was fully qualified and within the boundaries of my work, there was no license required. Joe the Plumber wants to buy the business he works for -- the business will hold the licenses and liability insurance, it doesn't matter that he is not licensed. And Cajun is serious about the cost of the tools needed to do the daily work. Some of the most basic pieces of test equipment can cost over $500 with complex gear being upwards of $15K. And this is stuff for which there is no substitute -- when you need it, you really need it...

Heh - McCain and Obama roast each other

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Al Smith (Wikipedia) was one of the good guys in New York politics. In his honor, an annual dinner (it's a fundraiser for Catholic Charities) is held and since 1960, it has been one of the major stopping points for the Presidential Campaign. Yesterday (Thursday, October 16th) was this years event and the keynote speakers were John McCain and Barrack Obama.

If only the Campaigns themselves were executed with as much class and humor. It would make Politics much more interesting to follow... Here is the website for the Al Smith Foundation.

A big plug: Foxit Software PDF tools

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The free Adobe PDF reader is all well and good but just the reader itself is about 10MB -- the reader download is 20MB. In addition, it stays loaded even when you close out of the document you are reading. This speeds loading for future sessions but is a drain on system resources. If you want to create or edit a PDF file, you need to pony up $300+ for their software. Enter Foxit Software. Their PDF reader is free for personal use, just under 3MB download, blazingly F..A..S...T.... and fully compatible with the current PDF standards. If you want to create a PDF file, their PDF creator has a free trial and costs $35 for the full version. It installs as a printer driver so you get your document the way you want and print to a PDF file. Their flagship PDF editor is only $99 and allows you to open existing PDF files and edit them, excerpt text and drawings and consolidate several PDF documents into one file. I use these both at work and at home and love the flexibility, delightful lack of bloat and the honest price. Good stuff -- can't say anything about their tech support as I have never needed it...

Holy S@#$ - do not visit this website

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Under no circumstances should you go and visit Deutsche Optik That is all -- continue with your day and if you do not heed my advice; I did try to give you fair warning...
Swiped from Kevin who got it from here.

Best campaign photo ever

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Swiped from The Mock Dock
An interesting look at the world of 3rd-party term papers. From Drexel University's The Smart Set:
The Term Paper Artist
The lucrative industry behind higher ed's failings.

One great way to briefly turn the conversation toward myself at a party is to answer the question, "So, what do you do?" with, "I'm a writer." Not that most of the people I've met at parties have read my novels or short stories or feature articles; when they ask, "Have I seen any of your stuff?" I shrug and the conversation moves on. If I want attention for an hour or so, however, I'll tell them my horrible secret � for several years I made much of my freelance income writing term papers. I always wanted to be writer, but was told from an early age that such a dream was futile. After all, nobody ever puts a classified ad in the paper that reads �Writers Wanted.� Then, in the Village Voice, I saw just such an ad. Writers wanted, to write short pieces on business, economics, and literature. It was from a term paper mill, and they ran the ad at the beginning of each semester.

Writing model term papers is above-board and perfectly legal. Thanks to the First Amendment, it�s protected speech, right up there with neo-Nazi rallies, tobacco company press releases, and those "9/11 Was An Inside Job" bumper stickers. It's custom-made Cliff Notes. Virtually any subject, almost any length, all levels of education � indulgent parents even buy papers for children too young for credit cards of their own. You name it, I've done it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the plurality of clients was business administration majors, but both elementary education majors and would-be social workers showed up aplenty. Even the assignments for what in my college days were the obvious gut courses crossed my desk. "Race in The Matrix" was a fashionable subject.

The term paper biz is managed by brokers who take financial risks by accepting credit card payments and psychological risks by actually talking to the clients. Most of the customers just aren't very bright. One of my brokers would even mark assignments with the code words DUMB CLIENT. That meant to use simple English; nothing's worse than a client calling back to ask a broker � most of whom had no particular academic training � what certain words in the paper meant. One time a client actually asked to talk to me personally and lamented that he just didn't "know a lot about Plah-toe." Distance learning meant that he'd never heard anyone say the name.

In broad strokes, there are three types of term paper clients. DUMB CLIENTS predominate. They should not be in college. They must buy model papers simply because they do not understand what a term paper is, much less anything going on in their assignments. I don't believe that most of them even handed the papers in as their own, as it would have been obvious that they didn't write them. Frequently I was asked to underline the thesis statement because locating it otherwise would have been too difficult. But that sort of thing was just average for the bottom of the barrel student-client. To really understand how low the standards are these days, we must lift up the barrel and see what squirms beneath. One time, I got an e-mail from the broker with some last-minute instructions for a term paper � "I told her that it is up to the writer whether or not he includes this because it was sent to me at the last minute. So if you can take a look at this, that is fine, if not I understand." The last-minute addition was to produce a section called "BODY OF PAPER" (capitals sic). I was also asked to underline this section so that the client could identify it. Of course, I underlined everything but the first and last paragraphs of the three-page paper.

The second type of client is the one-timer. A chemistry major trapped in a poetry class thanks to the vagaries of schedule and distribution requirements, or worse, the poet trapped in a chemistry class. These clients were generally lost and really did simply need a decent summary of their class readings � I once boiled the 1000-page New Testament Theology by Donald Guthrie into a 30-page pr�cis over the course of a weekend for a quick $600.

Others are stuck on their personal statements for college applications, and turn to their parents, who then turn to a term paper mill. One mother unashamedly summarized her boy and his goals like so: "[My son] is a very kind hearted young man. One who will make a difference in whatever he does. Barely can go unnoticed because of his vivacious character, happiness, and joy in life. He is very much in tune with his fortune and often helps the less fortunate." The kid planned to be a pre-med major if accepted, but was applying to a competitive college as a Women's Studies major because Mother was "told the chances of him getting into [prominent college] under less desirable subjects (as opposed to Business) was better." Finally, she explained to me the family philosophy � "Since our family places great emphasis on education, [boy] fully accepts that the only guarantee for a good and stable future can be only achieved through outstanding education."

The third group is perhaps the most tragic: They are well-educated professionals who simply lack English-language skills. Often they come from the former Soviet Union, and in their home countries were engineers, medical professionals, and scientists. In the United States, they drive cabs and have to pretend to care about "Gothicism" in "A Rose For Emily" for the sake of another degree. For the most part, these clients actually send in their own papers and they get an edit from a native speaker. Sometimes they even pinch-hit for the brokers, doing papers on graduate-level physics and nursing themselves.
Interesting to know that this business has become so legitimized. The very hint of something like this would be a scandal when I was going to school.

Playing with HDR

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HDR -- High Dynamic Range You take several images exposed a stop or two apart and then use software to combine them into one image with a much broader range of tonalities. You get shadow detail as well as highlight detail. A lot of people go all dramatic with this technique:
Click for full-size Image
Chris Judge -- Through the Window at Bolsover Castle I prefer to go a bit more subtle:
Click for full-size Image
Whatcom Falls, today. Need to tweak the magenta a bit but it's getting to where I want it...

The friendly skies

Just when you thought it was safe to fly again. From the Associated Press:
Man with pipe bomb, weapons arrested at NY airport
A man trying to board a flight was arrested Thursday after a pipe bomb, knife, fireworks and suspicious electronics were found in his luggage at a Long Island airport, authorities said.

Authorities said Steven Nobles told investigators he inadvertently carried the items to the airport and had not intended to use them on the Southwest Airlines flight to Las Vegas. About 500 passengers were evacuated from the MacArthur Airport terminal for about two hours Thursday morning.

Nobles, 20, of Las Vegas, was denied bail in U.S. District Court in Central Islip after his arrest at the airport in Ronkonkoma. He appeared in court wearing a black T-shirt depicting a machine gun and green glow-in-the-dark skulls.

"His actions are bizarre. I don't feel comfortable giving him bail at this time," U.S. Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson said.
A bit more:
Authorities said in a federal complaint that Nobles was stopped during routine screening inside the airport terminal. Authorities evacuated the airport after Transportation Security Administration security officers noticed a 7-inch folding knife in Nobles' carry-on bag, followed by what appeared to be a pipe bomb.

A subsequent inspection of the man's checked luggage revealed fireworks, electrical circuit boards, a battery with electrical tape and .22-caliber rounds that are used in a nail gun to drive nails into concrete, the complaint said.
Makes you wonder what slips through these "routine screenings". TSA agents are too busy shaking down passengers for their jewelery and cameras to be attentive to their jobs...

Highway fatalities - then and now

Some interesting numbers from The London Metro (the newspaper, not the 'tube'):

More died on roads 500 years ago
You may find it hard to believe, but a higher proportion of people died in traffic accidents in medieval times as they do now.

The only difference is that 500 years ago the big killers were being hit by a horse or falling off a farm wagon.

Take poor Joan Heyward, for example. In 1651 she was walking home in Chichester when a 'light grey nag' ridden very fast by Edward Short knocked her down - 'grievously beating, bruising and wounding her head and face'.

And an unfortunate Herbert Noke was travelling on an ox cart in 1577 when the animals broke free.

'The cart, with its wheels, ran violently down the hill and fell in pieces and Noke was injured by the cart and wheels whereby he immediately died.'

The realisation that we have only been treading water in the travel safety stakes emerged after a study of coroners' records in Sussex between 1485 and 1688.

It found 30 per cent of people who died from an injury were in a travel accident. By comparison, 25 per cent of injury deaths in 2000 were from road traffic incidents, World Health Organisation figures show.

Makes a lot of sense when you think about it -- vehicle safety is a key component in today's designs, unheard of 500 years ago. That plus signage, road conditions and emergency medical response.

The election in Canada

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Conservatives won - liberals came in second with #3) Bloc Qu�b�cois, #4) New Democrats and Greens dead last at #5. 58% voter turnout so any complaints should be addressed only if you cast a ballot... From the National Post:
Conservatives win a second, stronger minority; 'Our support base is stronger,' Harper says
Stephen Harper's Conservatives returned to power with a stronger, broadly based minority, facing a weakened opposition leader and ready to pursue an agenda that is likely to be aimed first and foremost at addressing the fallout in Canada from the economic storm sweeping the globe.

The results of Tuesday's election deprived Mr. Harper of the majority he so desperately wanted when he killed his own minority government on Sept. 7 and showed Canadian voters wanted to keep the Conservatives on a leash during what the Tory leader acknowledged would be uncertain economic times ahead.

The Conservatives hope their tally and their wins in all regions of the country will give them enough power in the Commons to press ahead with their economic agenda, which, among other things, includes $50-billion in corporate tax cuts and possibly big buck solutions to easing the credit crunch. The party also promised in the campaign to enact a tougher crime package aimed at young offenders in particular.

"Tonight Canadians voted to move our country forward, and they have done so with confidence," Mr. Harper told supporters at his Calgary headquarters.
The Conservatives got 143 Seats -- they needed 155 to be considered a Majority party. There are no Majority parties in Canada at this time.

Long day today

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Feeling very nice and drowsy from my Wednesday acupuncture session, missed the Presidential Debate (catch it tomorrow on YouTube/CSPAN). Going to surf a little bit and go to sleep...
Claudia Rosett has an excellent interview of Maurice Strong in the current Wall Street Journal:
The U.N.'s Man of Mystery
Is the godfather of the Kyoto treaty a public servant or a profiteer?

"I don't trust you, and I also question your integrity." Thus did Maurice Strong offer me a seat on his living room sofa.

Often described as an "international man of mystery," Mr. Strong during his long, globe-trotting career has been one of the most influential architects of the opaque cross-border bureaucracy that is today's United Nations. He is probably best known as godfather of the U.N.'s 1997 Kyoto treaty, and as a former U.N. top adviser who in that same year received a check for almost $1 million, bankrolled by the U.N.-sanctioned regime of Saddam Hussein. (Mr. Strong told me that at the time he did not know the money came from Baghdad.)

Ismael RoldanIn his most recent stint at the U.N., from 1997-2005, Mr. Strong served as an Under-Secretary-General and special adviser to former Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He was point man on matters ranging from U.N. reform to environmentalism to North Korea. By some accounts, including his own, he has been a benevolent toiler in the multilateral trenches, a friend of Mikhail Gorbachev and Al Gore, networking to save the planet.

By other accounts, he's a self-dealing and self-declared socialist who has parlayed his talents into a push for collectivist global government. These days he is living in China, where he says his ties go back "40 years."
Curious to see what other corruption he is involved in -- Oil for Food perhaps?
Mr. Strong no longer has any official ties to the U.N., however. In 2005, at the height of the investigations into the U.N.'s corrupt Oil-for-Food relief program for Iraq, news emerged of the six-figure check from Iraq. Evidence procured by federal investigators and the U.N.-authorized inquiry of Paul Volcker showed that Mr. Strong in 1997, while working for Mr. Annan, had endorsed a check for $988,885, made out to "Mr. M. Strong," issued by a Jordanian bank. This check was hand-delivered to Mr. Strong by a South Korean businessman, Tongsun Park, who in 2006 was convicted in New York federal court of conspiring to bribe U.N. officials to rig Oil-for-Food in favor of Saddam.

Mr. Strong was never accused of any wrongdoing. Asked by investigators about the check, he initially denied he'd ever handled it.
Scume like these need to be toppled from power. What is Mr. Strong? Oh yes -- from the article: he's a self-dealing and self-declared socialist who has parlayed his talents into a push for collectivist global government. And these people want to gain power in the USA?

Cold all over - early frost in California

From the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:

Frost 'one more thing' for grape growers
A record cold snap in Mendocino County over the weekend caused little damage to wine grapes but chilled the hearts of farmers who already have suffered huge losses this year.

"It's just one more thing on top of one more thing. You kind of hold your breath," said Potter Valley wine grape grower Bill Pauli.

Temperatures dropped to 31 degrees in the Ukiah Valley on Saturday night and early Sunday morning, the coldest Oct. 12 morning since record keeping began in Ukiah in 1893, said Troy Nicolini, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Eureka. The previous record was 34 degrees in 1916.

Temperatures were milder in Sonoma County, and there were no reports of frost-related problems, county officials said.

Farmers in Redwood Valley and other cooler regions in Mendocino County reported temperatures as low as 27 degrees.

An estimated 30 percent to 50 percent of that county's wine grape crop had yet to be harvested when the frost hit, killing the tops of unprotected vines and effectively freezing the ripening process.

Most unprotected wine grape crops already had adequate sugar content, so they were unharmed, said Mendocino County Agricultural Commissioner Dave Bengston.

Farmers either sprayed water or turned on wind machines for crops that were not quite ready to harvest, said Redwood Valley farmer Peter Johnson. He said he took frost-protection measures for his cabernet and merlot grapes and expects the return of sunny weather to bump up their sugar content over the next week or two.

Mendocino County wine-grape growers were fearful because they already had lost an estimated 30 percent of their crop to frost in the early spring. The crop also was hit by an early rain that threatened to cause rot, and the region endured a wildfire-choked summer that had the potential to cause smoke damage.

Jen's Dad grows grapes in the Central Valley and has the majority of his grapes harvested -- the weather has been fine there. Mendocino is on the coast and susceptible to weather coming off the Pacific Ocean.

Anthropogenic Global Warming

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Proof again that we are all doomed unless we adopt crippling measures to our economy. From Watts Up with That and the Anchorage Daily News:
Bad weather was good for Alaska glaciers
MASS BALANCE: For decades, summer snow loss has exceeded winter snowfall.


Two hundred years of glacial shrinkage in Alaska, and then came the winter and summer of 2007-2008.

Unusually large amounts of winter snow were followed by unusually chill temperatures in June, July and August.

"In mid-June, I was surprised to see snow still at sea level in Prince William Sound," said U.S. Geological Survey glaciologist Bruce Molnia. "On the Juneau Icefield, there was still 20 feet of new snow on the surface of the Taku Glacier in late July. At Bering Glacier, a landslide I am studying, located at about 1,500 feet elevation, did not become snow free until early August.

"In general, the weather this summer was the worst I have seen in at least 20 years."

Never before in the history of a research project dating back to 1946 had the Juneau Icefield witnessed the kind of snow buildup that came this year. It was similar on a lot of other glaciers too.

"It's been a long time on most glaciers where they've actually had positive mass balance," Molnia said.

That's the way a scientist says the glaciers got thicker in the middle.
And some history and numbers:
One cool summer that leaves 20 feet of new snow still sitting atop glaciers come the start of the next winter is no big deal, Molnia said.

Ten summers like that?

Well, that might mark the start of something like the Little Ice Age.

During the Little Ice Age -- roughly the 16th century to the 19th -- Muir Glacier filled Glacier Bay and the people of Europe struggled to survive because of difficult conditions for agriculture. Some of them fled for America in the first wave of white immigration.

The Pilgrims established the Plymouth Colony in December 1620. By spring, a bitterly cold winter had played a key role in helping kill half of them. Hindered by a chilly climate, the white colonization of North America through the 1600s and 1700s was slow.

As the climate warmed from 1800 to 1900, the United States tripled in size. The windy and cold city of Chicago grew from an outpost of fewer than 4,000 in 1800 to a thriving city of more than 1.5 million at the end of that century.

The difference in temperature between the Little Ice Age and these heady days of American expansion?

About three or four degrees, Molnia said.

The difference in temperature between this summer in Anchorage -- the third coldest on record -- and the norm?

About three degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Once again, the idea that anything we do on Earth can affect the overall climate is hubris. Sure, there can be minor changes but these are swamped by the occasional volcano or a couple years of a quiet sun. Besides, the model that everybody is using (with CO2 being the primary G.G.) is Sub-Prime Science to borrow a term...

Socialized Medicine across the pond

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It seems that the people that administer England's Socialized Medicine don't bother to follow the rules. From the UK Telegraph:
NHS trust spends �12,000 treating staff privately
An NHS trust has spent more than �12,000 on private treatment for hospital staff because its own waiting times are too long.

The money was used to bring in physiotherapists to help workers recover from muscular-skeletal injuries at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

Bosses said it prevented them from leapfrogging NHS patients and enabled them to return to work more quickly.

However, the private treatment, which amounted to �12,116 for 271 appointments over the past year, was described by critics as "shocking".

Mark Wallace of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: "Their staff should have to wait like everybody else.

"Perhaps if they experienced it as their customers - that is the taxpayer - experienced it, they might be a little keener to improve their waiting times."
Indeed but isn't that the way the Socialist Elite always considers themselves. Better than those they govern. But they always know what is best for the poor unfortunates in their charge. You see the same thing here with the null-science enviros and the Global Warming shrills.

ACORN and voter registration in Indiana

Hat tip to No Looking Backwards for the link to this story at Jammie Wearing Fool. From No Looking Back:
Nope. Nothing To See Here. Move Along.
Election officials in Indiana reviewing ACORN-submitted voter registration forms stopped after determining that, of the first 2,100 forms they looked at, EVERY SINGLE ONE was fraudulent.
From Jammie Wearing Fool:
Voter Fraud You Can Believe In: Every Form Turned In By ACORN At One Location Is Bogus
These ACORN morons aren't even bright enough to come up with fake names that might pass the smell test.

So get this. They turn in 5000 new voter registration forms in Indiana, election officials start checking them and give up after the first 2100 were found to be fraudulent.

Props to CNN for actually reporting this.
The CNN report is here (5:21):
Given Obama's close connection with them, I am surprised that the media is so much in Obama's pocket. So much for truth in reporting...

Our good servants at the TSA

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Our tax dollars at work -- from Gadline (thanks to Munchkin Wrangler)
TSA agent helped himself to a $47,900 camera (and more!)
It's no secret that I'm not a fan of the TSA. While I fully understand the importance of keeping our planes and airports safe, I'm just not sure the TSA is up to the job. The agency is also plagued by bad PR, mainly because of incompetent staff members and insane decisions that impact us as travelers.

The latest in a long lineup of bad press for the agency involves TSA screener Pythias Brown. This 48 year old resident of Maplewood, NJ was supposed to keep bad stuff off the plane, but instead, he was helping himself to valuable items from the bags of people entrusting him with their belongings.

Pythias started small, stealing cameras, laptop computers, gaming consoles and eventually moved on to the good stuff including a video camera belonging to CNN, and a $47,900 camera stored inside the bag of an HBO employee.

The items were sold on Ebay, and as you can see from his feedback listing, these were not cheap items.

His greed eventually came back to haunt him, when CNN found one of their cameras listed on Ebay. With a little help from the local police department and the USPS, Brown was apprehended.

When agents entered his house, they found 66 cameras, 31 laptop computers, jewelry, lenses, GPS devices and more.

The total value of the stolen items is well over $200,000, and if you have ever lost an expensive item when flying from Newark Liberty Airport, you'll be thrilled to hear that the TSA is taking the matter "seriously". News like this just reinforces the need to keep anything of value out of your checked bags.

Of course, this also makes me wonder just how on earth a TSA agent is able to leave the sterile area of his or her local airport with a $47,900 camera hidden in their bag. We passengers get screened, so perhaps it is time to start screening TSA staff when they enter and leave the airport?
Jen had an experience with the same thing flying through the San Francisco airport, the TSA agents stole her watch as she was going through the X-Ray line. And to think that some people want more government involvement in their lives?

Skeletons in the closet

RedState has an interesting observation -- it was the National Enquirer that broke the John Edwards/Rielle Hunter scandal that has dissapered from sight? It was originally broken by the National Enquirer. RedState now links to this article at the National Enquirer:

The ENQUIRER exclusively reports a "sex pervert" was Sen. Barack Obama's longtime mentor and "father figure".The ENQUIRER exclusively reports a "sex pervert" was Sen. Barack Obama's longtime mentor and "father figure".

For seven years, the presidential candidate had a "father-son" relationship with Frank Marshall Davis, who has confessed to having sex with children, sadomasochism, bondage and practicing a wide array of deviant sexual activities.

In his 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father, Obama identifies his childhood mentor only as "Frank," but Obama insiders later confirmed he was referring to Davis, a journalist and poet who was a pal of Obama's maternal grandfather, Stanley Dunham.

Frank Marshall Davis admitted in his private papers that he had secretly authored a hard-core pornographic autobiography called Sex Rebel: Black, published in 1968. The author of the book - a copy of which was been obtained by The ENQUIRER - is listed as "Bob Greene." Davis later confessed to its authorship after a reader noticed similarities in style and phraseology between that book and Davis' poetry.

And the money quote:

The appalling catalog of admitted real-life decadence is laced with perverted sexual activity, bisexuality, rape - and the seduction of children.

"Davis' admission he wrote this disturbing book exposes Obama's mentor as living a secret double life - and as a sexual pervert," disclosed a source.

In his shocking tell-all, Davis admits to seducing a thirteen year-old girl, voyeurism, exhibitionism, bisexuality, rape and sadomasochism.

Don't know if it has any truth to it at all but that would certainly go a long way to explain why we know almost nothing about Obama's history. All of his school documents have been sealed, we cannot even see a copy of his birth cwertificate for cryin' out loud!

Hat tip to Maggie's Farm for the link.

The calm before the storm

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Hat tip to Gerard for this link. From The Doctor Is In:
Surveying the Abyss
Those who know me best have little doubt: I am irrepressibly optimistic. Not naive, mind you � at least from my perspective � but whether by personality, disposition, or faith, I am wont to believe the best about people, and circumstances, and the future. I drive my wife nuts, she being of a decidedly more pessimistic bent.

But I must confess of late to a recurring sense of foreboding, about a great many things. Now, prognosticating about the future is a fool�s game, to be sure; a review of most any futurist�s predictions invariable shows a predictive rate substantially less than could be had by tossing a coin.

But I do have eyes, and ears, and over half a century of something one less circumspect might call �wisdom� � and a sense of the spiritual sharpened mostly by ignoring its promptings, with the invariable consequences. Wisdom, as they say, is gained by experience � and experience is gained by lack of wisdom.

In a world which incessantly rips its cultural chords at rock-concert levels, it is no small feat to listen to the still, small voice � and harder yet to distinguish it from the countless seductive whispers and wishes of life long lived in self-gratification and indulgence. Yet that voice ever quiet is nevertheless persistent � and it seems to be speaking with an urgency and clarity which is hard to dispel.

We are standing, I sense, at the edge of an abyss � and the earth beneath our feet is shifting and unstable.
What follows is one of the most beautiful and scary pieces of writing I have read in a long long time. Go and read the whole thing -- it will be sticking with you for weeks to come...

Short night

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Got some bug sniffing around my body and trying to kick it -- that plus had to head into town today and dealing with a Windows XP install on a machine with a RAID disk controller and no floppy. Time to break out my hacker chops and build an ISO... And I am serious about my question to the left -- there is some soul searching that needs to be done there. There is a lot of this on both sides but from where I stand, there is a lot more of this lunacy evident on the liberal side than on the conservative. That plus when the liberal Congress was elected two years ago, things started going to hell in a hand-basket.

For the Geek in all of us

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Some of the IT staff at Columbia Internet visited CERN and had this observation. From User Friendly:
Click for full-size Image

A question for those on the left

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I am linking to this post by Michelle Malkin outlining some of the more egregious examples of "insane rage" from the left. Similar to Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) of which we have enjoyed almost eight years. I will not excerpt any of this, you can go and read if you wish. If you do, I would appreciate it if you read the entire thing. My question is: Where is this sort of activity in the right? The frothing at the mouth, the inchoate charges laid without corroborating facts, the demand for freedom to be heard but the passion for shutting down any and all opinion that they do not agree with, the proclamation that America is a wicked nation but neither the desire to change it nor the action of leaving for a better nation.
Thunder is loud, thunder is impressive but it is lightning that does the work.
-- Mark Twain

Cool technology from 24 years ago

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Back in 1984, two people involved in the Western Washington University Vehicle Research Institute. This vehicle (dubbed the Avion) drove from U.S./Mexico border to Vancouver, B.C. - averaging 103.7 miles per gallon. They are bringing it back onto the road again. From the Bellingham Herald:
Two decades later, Bellingham man puts 100 mpg car back on the road
Craig Henderson has the answer for high gas prices: a sports car that can go from Ferndale to Pike Place Market on a single gallon of diesel.

The Bellingham resident created the Avion with Bill Green in 1984. Two years later, the duo drove the car from the U.S./Mexico border to Vancouver, B.C. - averaging 103.7 miles per gallon and spending less than $15 on the diesel that fueled their drive into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Naturally, they thought someone would be interested in the prototype they built with knowledge they gleaned from studying at the Vehicle Research Institute at Western Washington University.

Not only was the Avion painted in "arrest me for speeding red," as Henderson likes to describe the color, but the lightweight car's fuel efficiency couldn't be beat.

He was wrong about the interest.

"Nobody really cared. Big deal. Fuel was cheap. There was a glut of fuel," Henderson, 51, recalled earlier this week. "Fast forward to today. Things change, don't they?"
They are going after the X Prize. Looks like they might do it -- very cool!

Misconceptions in Science

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From Bill Beaty's excellent Amateur Science website comes this ongoing list of: "Science Myths" in K-6 Textbooks and Popular culture
"Science Myths" in K-6 Textbooks and Popular culture
The complex and abstract nature of Science makes the subject difficult to understand. But complexity is not the only barrier to our understanding Science. The subject is made much more difficult by the presence of numerous misleading "Science Myths" which circulate in the popular culture, which are handed down from parents to children, and which have become so common and widespread that they appear widely in science textbooks and are taught as facts in grade school.
Here are two examples:
Sound travels better through solids? No.
Many elementary textbooks say that sound travels better through solids and liquids than through air, but they are incorrect. In fact, air, solids, and liquids are nearly transparent to sound waves. Some authors use an experiment to convince us differently: place a solid ruler so it touches both a ticking watch and your ear, and the sound becomes louder. Doesn't this prove that wood is better than air at conducting sound? Not really, because sound has an interesting property not usually mentioned in the books: waves of sound traveling inside a solid will bounce off the air outside the solid. The experiment with the ruler merely proves that a wooden rod can act as a sort of "tube," and it will guide sounds to your head which would otherwise spread in all directions in the air. A hollow pipe can also be used to guide the ticking sounds to your head, thus illustrating that air is a good conductor after all. Sound in a solid has difficulty getting past a crack in the solid, just as sound in the air has difficulty getting past a wall. Solids, liquids, and air are nearly equal as sound conductors.
And (highly excerpted as this is a complex subject and Bill takes the time to explain it very well):

Many authors bemoan the fact that Ben Franklin labeled "resinous electricity" as negative, and "vitreous electricity" as positive. By choosing the polarities this way, Franklin forces us to say that electrons carry a charge of negative electricity. Because of Franklin's decision, we must name the electric currents in metals as flows of NEGATIVE charge rather than positive charge.

Did Franklin make a mistake? Should he have defined the electron to be positive? ABSOLUTELY NOT. In fact it's a blessing, since these flows of negative charge aren't inherently confusing. Franklin's choice of polarity fortunately helps reveal the true source of confusion: common and widespread misconceptions about electrons and "electricity."
And this little list of facts:
What are the misconceptions? Here is a list:
  1. All electric currents are flows of electrons. Wrong.
  2. "Electricity" is made of electrons, not protons. Nope.
  3. Electrons are a kind of energy particle. Wrong.
  4. "Electricity" carries zero mass because electrons have little mass. No.
  5. Positive charge is really just a loss of electrons. Wrong.
  6. Positive charge cannot flow. Totally wrong.
  7. To create "static" charge, we move the electrons. Not always.
These seven statements are misconceptions. We have Ben Franklin to thank for rubbing our noses in this fact. If he'd chosen the polarities so that the electrons came out positive, we'd be much more comfortable. We might never even notice our errors.
A lot of this stuff is "common knowledge" and gets passed along. For a kid who is going to go into the liberal arts waiting tables, this isn't such a big deal but for one who will follow along into a technology career, this is laying a very bad foundation for future understanding of the way things work. Bill's website is very deep and worth exploring...
Be careful when setting the price... From Marine Buzz:
Jeanneau Sun Way 21 Yacht: Mistakenly Sold Online for $22.50
If you intend to sell anything through online auction, don�t forget to set the minimum bid price. Failing to set minimum bid price is bound to put you in great loss. Here is an example.

A German from Porz, who failed to set the minimum bid for online sale of his six metre �Jeanneau Sun Way 21� yacht in AllesAuktion.de had to finally sell his yacht for meager amount of $22.50 against his expected price of $12,000.

When the issue was taken to the court highlighting the mistake committed, the court has ruled that the German has to go through with the transaction. Further,the German�s action to withdraw the sale of the boat from website, citing �technical problems� and �errors� were rejected by the court. The court has also clarified that the standard laws of business transactions equally apply to internet auctions.

If the German fails to honour the sale, he has to pay $12,000 as damages for the failed auction.
OUCH! I love to go to auctions and occasionally, there are some incredible deals but this just hurts!

Voting for Change - back in 2006

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A timeline from Half-Baked Sourdough:
How Much �Change� Is Enough?
George Bush has been in office for 7� years. The first six the economy was fine. In spite of the mid-2000 Clinton recession, it was even resilient enough to rebound after 9/11. A little over one year ago:
1. Consumer confidence stood at a 2� year high;
2. Regular gasoline sold for $2.19 a gallon;
3. The unemployment rate was 4.5%.
4. The Dow Jones hit a record high�14,000
5. Americans were buying new cars, stoking the economy, taking cruises, vacationing overseas, living large!
But Americans wanted change! So, in 2006 they voted in a Democratic Congress and yes�we got CHANGE all right. In the past year:
1. Consumer confidence has plummeted;
2. Gasoline is now over $3.75 a gallon, and it had hit well over $4 a gallon;
3. Unemployment is up to 5.5% (a 10% increase);
4. Americans have seen their home equity drop by $12 TRILLION dollars, with prices still dropping;
5. 1% of American homes are in foreclosure.
6. As I write, the Dow is probing another low: $2.5 TRILLION dollars have evaporated from Americans� stocks, bonds and mutual funds investment portfolios.
Yes, in 2006, America voted for change � and we sure got it! Remember, the President has no control over any of these issues - only Congress. And what has Congress done in the last two years? Absolutely nothing! They certainly haven�t improved the situation. They�ve made it much worse.

Stop and think about that for a moment. Now the Democratic candidate for President claims he is going to really give us change along with a Democratic Congress!

Just how much more change do you think you can stand?
Swiped in its entirity as it is too good to excerpt.

Václav Klaus on Priorities

Hat tip to Lubo� Motl for the link to this speech from Václav Klaus:
Setting the Right Priorities Means to Forget the Global Warming
The organizers of the forum suggested naming my today�s speech �Setting the Right Priorities�. They are probably not satisfied with the way how the priorities are set now or they suppose that I am not happy with it. They are right. I am not happy and will try to explain why.

Current priorities do not fall from the sky. They reflect our way of looking at things, �die Weltanschauung�, which characterizes our era. Its formation started decades ago. I see it in the culture, philosophy and ideology of the 1960s and 1970s which in many respects opposed the traditional way of looking around and which brought to the fore � among many other things � the idea that the world is a single entity, one gigantic global system which deserves to be globally governed. This �system-engineering� viewpoint was, more or less, generally accepted. Everyone suddenly discovered interdependencies, interconnections, externalities, interdisciplinarity, general systems theory, metasciences, etc. It became politically correct, progressive, for me only progressivistic, to think in terms of global issues, global governance, and global solutions. It was � not surprisingly � also the birth of environmentalism. The man as a free and dominant individual entity disappeared. The world, the earth, and the planet replaced him as the relevant frame of reference. That led to a radical switch of priorities.

It became the excellent starting point for those who wanted to mastermind the whole world and all of us. Their approaches � based on the one hand on the misunderstanding (and misinterpretation) of interdependence and globalization and on the other on the outdated belief in government�s omnipotence �are conceptually wrong, unavoidably undemocratic and discriminatory, and � above all � condemned to fail.
And the Global Warming aspect:
The current global warming debate is not a scientific dispute inside climatology. As the famous British historian Paul Johnson put it recently, �global warming, as Marxism, is a political theory of actions demanding compliance with its rules.� We should not mix it with science. Science is O.K. We have sufficient evidence that a normal, serious, healthy and productive discourse among scientists, believers in the greenhouse hypothesis and those who disagree with it goes on and will be going on. The science is definitely not settled.

The global warming debate is about something else. It is not about temperature or CO2 levels. It is about the people, their behavior, their values, their habits, their life. It is a clash between environmentalists, non-liberal politicians, international bureaucrats, irresponsible journalists, some economists and other scientists who attempt to change us (not climate) and those who believe in freedom, markets, human ingenuity and technical progress. The free and open discussion about it must continue, because the free market for ideas is more important than any free market for material goods. Our experience from the communist era forces us to stress this point very strongly. It brings me to congratulating the organizers of this conference on giving all of us � with our differing views � the floor. It is very rare.
Excellent speech! I only excerpted a little bit -- well worth your time to read.

Our friends to the South - just say no.

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Some nice Mexican people are trashing out Forests and Parks. From Yahoo/Associated Press:
Mexican marijuana cartels sully US forests, parks
National forests and parks � long popular with Mexican marijuana-growing cartels � have become home to some of the most polluted pockets of wilderness in America because of the toxic chemicals needed to eke lucrative harvests from rocky mountainsides, federal officials said.

The grow sites have taken hold from the West Coast's Cascade Mountains, as well as on federal lands in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Seven hundred grow sites were discovered on U.S. Forest Service land in California alone in 2007 and 2008 � and authorities say the 1,800-square-mile Sequoia National Forest is the hardest hit.

Weed and bug sprays, some long banned in the U.S., have been smuggled to the marijuana farms. Plant growth hormones have been dumped into streams, and the water has then been diverted for miles in PVC pipes.

Rat poison has been sprinkled over the landscape to keep animals away from tender plants. And many sites are strewn with the carcasses of deer and bears poached by workers during the five-month growing season that is now ending.

"What's going on on public lands is a crisis at every level," said Forest Service agent Ron Pugh. "These are America's most precious resources, and they are being devastated by an unprecedented commercial enterprise conducted by armed foreign nationals. It is a huge mess."
And of course, our gubbmint is right on top of things:
Millions of dollars are spent every year to find and uproot marijuana-growing operations on state and federal lands, but federal officials say no money is budgeted to clean up the environmental mess left behind after helicopters carry off the plants.
And it's not just the plants themselves:
Agent Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Game estimated that 1.5 pounds of fertilizers and pesticides is used for every 11.5 plants.

"I've seen the pesticide residue on the plants," Foy said. "You ain't just smoking pot, bud. You're smoking some heavy-duty pesticides from Mexico."
Meanwhile, our border is a joke and people in our government are advocating "rights" for those in our country illegally. Bi-lingual education is starting to prove to be ineffective; resulting in worse performance than when English is the only language. We are staring at a problem and it is not going away...

Something missing here

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The US Post Office released a Bette Davis commemorative stamp but they left something out. From Roger Ebert's Journal:
Thank you for smoking
This stamp honoring Bette Davis was issued by the U. S. Postal Service on Sept. 18. The portrait by Michael Deas was inspired by a still photo from "All About Eve." Notice anything missing? Before you even read this far, you were thinking, Where's her cigarette? Yes reader, the cigarette in the original photo has been eliminated. We are all familiar, I am sure, with the countless children and teenagers who have been lured into the clutches of tobacco by stamp collecting, which seems so innocent, yet can have such tragic outcomes. But isn't this is carrying the anti-smoking campaign one step over the line?

Depriving Bette Davis of her cigarette reminds me of Soviet revisionism, when disgraced party officials disappeared from official photographs. Might as well strip away the toupees of Fred Astaire and Jimmy Stewart. I was first alerted to this travesty by a reader, Wendell Openshaw of San Diego, who wrote me: "Do you share my revulsion for this attempt to revise history and distort a great screen persona for political purposes? It is political correctness and revisionist history run amok. Next it will be John Wayne holding a bouquet instead of a Winchester!"
Artistic license running amok. Ebert is correct in bringing up the Soviet Revisionism -- it's happening here in politics and now on Stamps...
Thought provoking post at Eurosoc:
Plagues Of The West
The New Ice Age, AIDS, Global Warming, Mad Cow Disease, Millennium Bug, Terrorism, Bio-Terror, Avian Flu, Food Shortages, Petrol Crunch, Credit Crunch. As the news cycle has accelerated, the number of civilisation-threatening Plagues of The West have multiplied accordingly.

A few weeks ago, EURSOC ran a round-up of these crises, pondering how media speculation and government interference combined to cause regular scares. What we didn't ponder, until after a few beers last night, was why this must be.

Every new plague has brought with it more centralisation, more government interference, and now, more Europe.

Energy crisis? So we need a common European policy on fuel. Food shortages? Shows that the Common Agricultural Policy was a great idea, rather than a criminal waste of money all along. Wars in the Middle East? A common defence policy is required. Middle Easterners bringing their wars to our doorsteps? We need a common security policy AND a common immigration policy (the hundreds of thousands of security cameras in Britain are the idea of the UK government... but let's see if the Euros like what they see).

AIDS, BSE, Bird Flu? A common health policy. Flooding / Drought / Heatwave / Freezing (delete as applicable)? A common environmental policy.

And now, the Recession. Of course, to combat that, we need a common economic policy, and, if that doesn't work, or even shows signs of strain as the Eurozone currently exhibits, well then that points to the necessity of a common political policy.

It's a simple enough dialectic, varied only by how dedicatedly "European" certain nations are when the chips are down. Britain tends to obey his master's voice, France pays lips service, while Germany preaches integration while pursuing every man for himself policies like a fat man elbowing women and children out of the way in the race for the lifeboats.
Eurosoc then links to a post by Archbishop Cranmer which examines the "Credit Crunch" in the historical light of the Bird Flu scare of a few years ago and how England dealt with them both. A new blog to read!

That is it for the evening

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On top of everything else, I think I am coming down with a cold that has been going around. Have a glass of wine or two and plop down in the recliner for an early bedtime. Looking forward to moving back into the bed in the next week or so -- the muscles have healed to the point where shifting position doesn't hurt as bad as it did post-op. The recent uptick of spam seems to be quieting down -- a lot of people are coming in from overseas -- those entire netblocks are being banned. The individual zombie systems in the US are being blocked on a per-case basis and restored if I do not get anything for 90 days. These idiots are eating their own seed corn as they are advertising the addresses of zombie systems and it is trivial to block them once they land on our doorstep. And of course, this info gets passed around as well...

High speed photography - seven photographers

A collection of sample thumbnails and links to seven wonderful photographers. Here are three of them:




I consider it to be one of the luckiest things in my life to have had the good fortune to meet Dr. Herald Edgerton when I lived in Boston. He had quite the lab at MIT and enjoyed working with the New England Aquarium on some of their exhibits. I was working there at the time and we got to know each other pretty well.

A bit of serendipity in that one of his sons now lives in Seattle and gives talks on his dads work from time to time.

Fun stuff!

From the International Herald Tribune:
Iceland is all but officially bankrupt
People go bankrupt all the time. Companies do, too. But countries?

Iceland was on the verge of doing exactly that on Thursday as the government shut down the stock market and seized control of its last major independent bank. That brought trading in the country's currency to a halt, with foreign banks no longer willing to take Icelandic krona, even at fire-sale rates.

As the meltdown in the Icelandic financial system quickened, with the government seemingly powerless to do anything about it, analysts said there was probably only one realistic option left: for Iceland to be bailed out by the International Monetary Fund.

"Iceland is bankrupt," said Arsaell Valfells, a professor at the University of Iceland. "The Icelandic krona is history. The IMF has to come and rescue us."

Prime Minister Geir Haarde, who had warned this week of the threat of "national bankruptcy," said Thursday that Iceland's finance minister, Arni Mathiesen, would be in Washington this weekend for the autumn IMF/World Bank meetings. He declined to say whether Iceland was seeking a rescue package from the international lender.

"We will certainly keep this option open, but we have not yet made a decision," Haarde said Thursday at a news conference.
I had the great pleasure to visit there about 30 years ago and loved the place and her people. The nation was a bit more socialist than I liked (even then) with taxation in the 50% on up range for everyone. You got free medical and education and there was a tremendous support for the arts but still, when there is that stiff a tax, creativity is going to be stifled. The fishing industry was the primary source of income and it was a real moneymaker. I do not know what conditions are like now but the article is pretty grim:
An IMF intervention in Iceland, which would necessarily involve accepting a series of harsh measures to restore fiscal and monetary stability, would underline the extraordinary reversal in the country's fortunes after a decade-long, debt-fueled binge by the country's banks, businesses and some private citizens. The banks, while avoiding the toxic mortgage securities that have humbled Wall Street, expanded aggressively at home and abroad. When credit tightened and the krona fell this year, they were unable to finance their debts.
There is also no way to bring down inflation or interest rates, both already in double digits before the crisis intensified in recent days.
Yikes! A shame -- a wonderful nation, seat of the oldest continuously running democratic process in the world (since the 900's). Let us hope they recover and learn something about financial irresponsibility...

Early winter - snowfall in Boise

From The Idaho Statesman:
Boise gets earliest snow on record
Valley shivers as winter weather makes a premature appearance

Big snow flakes fell early Friday evening, turning Downtown Boise into a giant snow globe for people on their way home from work. The snow caught many people off guard, including this bicyclist heading down Idaho Street between 8th and 9th around 5:45 p.m. Across the Treasure Valley, tree branches heavy with wet, snow-covered leaves fell on power lines, causing scattered power outages. This is the earliest measurable snowfall in Boise since recordkeeping began in 1898, according to the National Weather Service. At 10 p.m., the Weather Service said 1.7 inches of snow had fallen. The previous earliest recorded snowfall was Oct. 12, 1969, when a little more than an inch fell. And if the snow wasn't enough, meteorologists say winds across southwestern Idaho will average 25 to 40 mph through Saturday afternoon, with gusts up to 55 mph. Sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph are expected, which can make driving difficult.
And Boise is only about 2,700 feet. An early winter all around -- time to start collecting materials for cold frames for this coming spring. Looks like another very short growing season...
Dime cheaper at Costco than at the Chevron.
Capitalism is a beautiful thing. To think that some people actually consider price controls to be a good thing... Idiots!

The price of gasoline these days

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Filled up my tank at this Chevron station yesterday:
And Whatcom county is noted for higher prices -- it's about 10 cents more expensive than Skagit to the south. Nice to see the free marketplace in operation...
Nick Gillespie at Reason.tv has the solution to the health insurance "problem":
How to Fix America's Health Insurance Crisis
reason.tv�s Nick Gillespie isn�t making a run for the White House, but he knows how to get coverage to at least half of the 45 million Americans who need it. And while Barack Obama and John McCain argue about who�s got the best health care plan, each ignores the simplest solution. Call it the Gillespie Plan: If you want health insurance, get some.
Hat tip to Carpe Diem. Mark at Carpe Diem lives in Michigan and offers these numbers:
In Michigan, you can get basic health insurance through Blue Cross starting at $47.14 per month for those 18-30 years old (about the cost of a basic cell phone plan), and starting at $138.54 per month for another plan for individuals under 65 (not too much more than a cable TV plan with premium channels, and less than two cells phones at the monthly average of $77).
From Neanderpundit:
Just a quick note for your brainpans
When I served nuclear duty as a B-Man (the NCO who had the other two numbers to launch the 440 kiloton thermonuclear missiles, *which required a CTSA security clearance), if I would have written in Williams Ayers as an acquaintance, even in passing, I would have never of been cleared, and probably been jailed.

Yet 50% of the morons in this country want to give that fucking terrorist the football.

Would somebody please tell me what�s wrong with this picture?
Makes you think a bit...

A check list from Ben Stein

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For what? How about ruining the U.S. Economy. From Yahoo/Finance:
How to Ruin the U.S. Economy
1) Have a fiscal policy that creates immense deficits in good times and bad, burdening America's posterity with staggering burdens of repaying the debt.

2) Eliminate regulation of Wall Street and/or fail to enforce the regulations that already exist, instead trusting Wall Street and other money managers and speculators to manage other people's money with few or no regulations and little oversight.

3) Have an energy policy that disallows producing our own energy and instead requires that we buy energy from abroad, thus making our oil prices highly volatile and creating large balance of payments deficits, lowering the value of the dollar and thus making the problem get progressively worse.

4) Have Congress mandate that banks and other financial entities lend money to persons they know in advance to have poor credit ratings or none at all.

5) Allow investment banks, insurers, and banks to bet their entire net worth and then some on the premise that borrowers known to be improvident will in fact repay those loans.

6) Allow the creation of large betting pools called "hedge funds" that can move markets and control the outcome of trading, thus taking a forum for savings and retirement for families and making it into a rigged casino game that exists primarily to fleece suckers like ordinary working men and women.
That was the first six out of the twelve in the list.


Manipulation and perspective

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From Coyote Blog:
Don't Panic
The best way to mobilize people is to make them panic. That is why so many institutions have incentives to may you panic over the environment, or global warming, or the threat of terrorism, or the economy. In most cases (Naomi Klein's hypothesis not-withstanding) these folks want you to get so worried you will give up something, either money or freedom or both.

Some kind of recession at this point is unavoidable, I guess. But in fact, we really haven't seen what I would call a real recession since the early 1980's. We've had a really long run, and now its time to cut back on that spending and board up the financial windows for a little while. The economy has to de-leverage itself some, and that is going to slow things down for a while. People keep talking about the Great Depression, and I don't see it. I don't even think its going to be the 1970's.
And some numbers:
In October of 1987, the stock market fell 22.6% in one day. If you date the current financial issues to about September 22, when the market closed around 11,000, then the market has fallen over these tumultuous weeks by 22.0% at last night's close -- dramatic, but still not as bad as the one day drop in '87.
Perspective is key here. Prudence too. Cash is a good thing...

Obama's ties to ACORN - then and now

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Why do I keep harping on this connection? Because it is at the heart of what Barack Obama was doing in the time between when he graduated from law school and the time he started his Illinois Senatorial career. (Graduated Harvard law 1991, directed Project Vote (ACORN front) in 1992, joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland (they specialize in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development (think sub-prime loans)) and then involved with the Woods fund and the Joyce Foundation and then the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (over $100 Million down the rathole with nothing to show for it)). There is a wonderful editorial at Investors Business Daily that explores his connection with ACORN and looks at what ACORN is doing now:
Is ACORN Stealing The Election?
A radical group Barack Obama used to work for is committing voter-registration fraud in several states, ahead of the election. What does Obama know about this scam?

It's a legitimate question to raise now that the FBI has raided the offices of the nonprofit Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now in Nevada and North Carolina, two states where Obama and John McCain are running neck-and-neck. ACORN has registered bogus voters in both states.

The group's voter-registration fraud is rampant, and authorities plan a nationwide sweep of ACORN offices to collect records.

In Nevada, state officials say the fraudulent registrations included forms for the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys football team, including quarterback Tony Romo.

"Romo is not registered to vote in the state of Nevada," Secretary of State Ross Miller said, "and anybody trying to pose as Terrell Owens won't be able to cast a ballot on Nov. 4."
And a bit more:
What does all this have to do with Obama, besides the fact that he'd be the beneficiary of most, if not all, of these new votes?

For starters, Obama paid ACORN, which has endorsed him for president, $800,000 to register new voters, payments his campaign failed to accurately report. (They were disguised in his FEC disclosure as payments to a front group called Citizen Services Inc. for "advance work.")

What's more, Obama worked as executive director of ACORN's voter-registration arm, Project Vote, in 1992. Joined by two other community organizers on Chicago's South Side, Obama conducted the voter-registration drive that helped elect Carol Moseley-Braun to the Senate that year.

The next year, 1993, Obama joined the civil-rights law firm Davis Miner Barnhill & Galland, where he sued the state of Illinois on behalf of ACORN to implement the federal "Motor Voter" law, which the GOP governor at the time refused to do. Then-Gov. Jim Edgar argued, presciently, that the Clinton law would invite voter fraud.
The Obama campaign would dearly love to sweep this under the rug but it is too big a chunk of this mans life -- 1992 through 2004 -- twelve years is a lot of time...

As a public service

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Now you can check our sooper-seekret database and see if you are a victim of identity theft. Simple type in your Credit Card Number and the Expiration date into the handy form below and check it out:
Swiped from Bits and Pieces

Some common sense from Norway

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This years award for the Nobel Peace prize was announced and it is actually someone who has been working for Peace! From AFP:
Global troubleshooter Ahtisaari wins Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, who has spent 30 years helping end conflicts in troublespots ranging from Kosovo to Namibia and Indonesia.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee hailed the 71-year-old Ahtisaari "for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts."

"These efforts have contributed to a more peaceful world and to 'fraternity between nations' in Alfred Nobel's spirit," committee head Ole Danbolt Mjoes said.

Ahtisaari, a quiet, portly man now afflicted by rheumatism, told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK that his work as the UN special envoy to Namibia had been the highlight of his career.

"Of course Namibia is the most important since it took so long," he said, adding that he was "very pleased" to win the prestigious prize.

As the UN secretary general's special envoy, Ahtisaari guided Namibia towards a peaceful independence in 1990 after more than a decade of negotiations.
Over the last couple of years, the Peace Prize had been getting more political than peace related. Nice to see it getting back to its roots...
Video from April 6th, 1998 with Andrew Cuomo (Clinton's Housing and Urban Development Secretary) Obama is there in the thick of it.
The issue was with the sub-prime NINJAS loans (No Income, No Job and No Assets) Hat tip to No Looking Back Video produced by the Naked Emperor News which is a goldmine of information.

That's it for tonight

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Had a long day. Been weaning myself off the pain meds and today, took a little bit less than optimal. Tired and sore. A quick trip to the DaveCave(tm) (and don't worry, there is an equivalent JenDen(tm) as well), and off to bed.
A friend turned me onto this place and they have a website. Looks like very high quality new-old-stock and reproductions of old-school forestry tools. Misery whips, peaveys, pickaroons, etc... Check out the Crosscut Saw Company.

A great photographic collection

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Check out the U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library From their About page:
About the USGS Photo Library
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Central Regional Library maintains a collection of over 400,000 photographs taken during geologic studies of the United States and its territories from 1868 to the present.

These images provide a visual history of the discovery, development, and sciences of the United States and its Geological Survey. Some photographs have been used in USGS publications, but most have never been published.

Currently, this website represents less than 10 percent of the Library's images with approximately 30,000 photographs on-line. Please visit the "Latest Additions" menu at the top of this page for regular updates of photographs to the website.
Some wonderful stuff -- categories are:
  • Earthquakes
  • Mines, Mills, Quarries
  • Mount St. Helens
  • National Parks
  • Photographers
  • Pioneer Photographers
  • Portrait Collection
Cool stuff!

Some real heroes

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Check out Heroes of Capitalism. The entry for October 8th: Elihu Thompson
Elihu Thompson
The inventor and businessman Elihu Thompson (1853�1937) stands as a hero of capitalism for the hundreds of inventions that make all of our lives better. Thompson's prolific career included over 690 patents�only three people claim more. Alongside Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, he stands as one of the important pioneers of electricity.

Thompson invented the electric arc welder, the 3-coil dynamo (which helped create the first electric lighting system), and the electrostatic motor. His inventions also improved the automobile muffler, the X-ray, the lightning rod, and the refracting telescope. After studying the Caisson disease that plagued workers on the Brooklyn Bridge's underwater supports, he suggested that a mixture of oxygen and helium be used to avoid the "bends" that came from rapid decompression, a "discovery" for which every scuba enthusiast can be thankful. He also was the first to suggest using lead shielding to protect people from x-ray burns.
To be added to the blogroll -- they profile some interesting well known and lesser known people.

Accuracy in the media

From the LA Times:
How did Newsweek get Sarah Palin to pose with a rifle?
How did Newsweek convince Gov. Sarah Palin to pose with a rifle for its cover?

Simple. It didn't.

Instead, it used an archive (fancy speak for old) stock photo of her taken back in June 2002 and used it for the cover without her knowledge.

However, to the magazine's credit, it did not try to hide the fact that it's a stock photo, even printing circa 2002 on the cover and again referencing the date in Jon Meacham's editor letters entitled "The Palin Problem."

So that makes it OK.

Right? Or maybe not? What do you think?

Hey, is that even the right way to hold a rifle? Can't you shoot your foot off like that?

Just wondering.

Photo: courtesy of Newsweek
And of course it is painfully obvious to anyone who knows the least bit about guns that that is not a rifle that Sarah is holding. It is an over/under breach-loading shotgun broken open at the breech which is the perfect way to carry it. You might conk someone with the barrel but it will not fire.

A few links on ACORN

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Fifty-three seconds of YouTube goodness:
From Classical Values via Maggie's Farm.

An early frost

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Woke up this morning to the first hard frost of the season. We had a light dusting a few weeks ago but this is solid and crunchy and there is a dusting of snow on our mountain at around 3,000 feet. Here are the critters outstanding in their field:
Click for full-size Image.
And here is the snow -- it will be gone in an hour or so when the sun rises but it is there...
Click for full-size Image.
And the sun?
Very quiet...
There needs to be a line drawn somewhere and soon... From the Washington Post:
AIG Gets More Government Bailout Cash
Only one day after it was revealed that AIG had sprung for a $440,000 spa vacation shortly after getting an $84 billion government-loan bailout comes this report: The government is loaning AIG another $38 billion.

AIG, the world's largest insurer, said it has already drawn down $61 billion on its $84 billion line of credit from the government. AIG's financial products division got into the mortgage-backed securities market and incurred billions in losses, sending the entire company teetering toward bankruptcy. The $84 billion loan was meant to help prop up AIG.

The New York branch of the Fed Reserve will borrow $37.8 billion in investment-grade securities from AIG in exchange for the cash.
And meanwhile, in another story at the Washington Post:
AIG Spa Trip Fuels Fury on Hill
Pressing Executives to Concede Mistakes, Lawmakers Blast Them About Bonuses

For some people at AIG, the insurance giant rescued last month with an $85 billion federal bailout, the good times keep rolling.

Joseph Cassano, the financial products manager whose complex investments led to American International Group's near collapse, is receiving $1 million a month in consulting fees.

Former chief executive Martin J. Sullivan, whose three-year tenure coincided with much of the company's ill-fated risk-taking, is receiving a $5 million performance bonus.

And just last week, about 70 of the company's top performers were rewarded with a week-long stay at the luxury St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Calif., where they ran up a tab of $440,000.
And the politicians are actively rewarding this kind of activity by bailing them out when they dig themselves into a hole? $440K works out to a couple bucks under $900/day per person. That is a lot of room service and mini-bar patronage... When I read that 59% of the American Population wants to replace Congress, my immediate thought is what the @#$% is wrong with the other 41%?
From Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple:
The Debate
We have a rat bastard commie running against a socialist. When did we become France?
Heh... (if it weren't so damn true) One of his commenters had this to offer:
Sometimes you need a Carter to get a Reagan.
Wonderful corporate blog from the Johnson & Johnson company. Check out Kilmer House From the About Kilmer House page:
About Kilmer House
Welcome to Kilmer House! Why start a blog about Company history, anyway? Well, one of the best ways to understand Johnson & Johnson is to know the Company�s history and the things that make it unique. One of those things is the fact that Johnson & Johnson is over a hundred years old. How many big companies can you think of that started in the 1800s and are still going strong today? And why Kilmer House? What does that have to do with Johnson & Johnson, anyway? (Well, I�ll tell you�) Dr. Frederick Barnett Kilmer (1851� 1934) was the Company�s first scientific director, starting in 1889. Originally a pharmacist by trade, Dr. Kilmer was not only a scientist: he was a big believer in preserving the Company�s history and having an ongoing dialogue with the community, which included surgeons, doctors, consumers, patients and pharmacists. Most of the historical artifacts you see on this site were preserved by Dr. Kilmer, who started a museum and archive of everything he could save pertaining to Johnson & Johnson while he was here. Dr. Kilmer�s ongoing dialogue with the community resulted in a collaboration with American physicians about the importance of aseptic surgery and wound care, the first First-Aid Manual, and even JOHNSON�S� Baby Powder. So in the spirit and tradition of Dr. Kilmer, this blog is an attempt to start another conversation�and share some of the Company�s history. (And yes, Kilmer House was also the name of one of the old Johnson & Johnson buildings�named after Dr. Kilmer, of course.)
Meet Mr. Lloyd Tanner of New Jersey. He has an idea for an untaped source of energy -- friction. Check out his video here: Lloyd Tanner's Friction Heater I would not want to be around when Mr. Tanner awakes to the realization that the laws of Physics are immutable and precise. Watts of power going in will always exceed the watts of power coming out, the difference being given off as waste heat. Mr. Tanner's machine would be a lot more efficient with an electric water heater element stuck into his boiler...

The New Camera (Nikon D-90)

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Was out shooting today at a local park. Here is the results from the new Nikon D-90 with an AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm ED lens:
Click for full-size Image
Meh... Until you realize that it is cropped from this full-frame image:
Click for full-size Image
Not too shabby! Going to try in a few days with a nice prime and see what I get...

Hip blogging - three weeks out

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The surgery was three weeks ago yesterday. Pain is pretty minimal now and I'm walking normally six to ten hours/day and using crutches after that. Only glitch is that about five days ago, the satellite TV system went T.U. and since the DaveCave(tm) is in a separate building and since I don't feel like walking over uneven ground (pasture land) in the dark, I have been sitting in the recliner watching TV. The guys are here from DirectTV to install a new system so I'm looking forward to watching tonights debate. It was significantly cheaper to jump ship and go from Dish Network to DirectTV than it would have been to have the same people come out an repair the Dish Network system. Plus, for the same money, we get a lot more channels!

Awwww - cuteness!

The World's Tallest Man wed a few years ago and now has his first child. From Yahoo/Reuters:
World's tallest man becomes world's tallest dad
The world's tallest man, China's Bao Xishun, became the world's tallest father this week with the birth of his first child, a boy whose initial height seems a compromise between his gigantic dad and average-sized mum.

Bao's son measured 22 inches long at birth, the senior doctor at Zunhua Hospital in Hebei province told Reuters.

Although slightly taller than average for newborn children, Bao's boy came up well short of the 29.5 inches (75 centimeters) claimed as a record birth length last year, also in China.

"Bao is quite happy. The baby is healthy and a normal size," the hospital's senior doctor Zhang told Reuters.

Bao, a 7-foot-9-inch herdsman from Inner Mongolia, last year married Xia Shujuan, a pygmy by contrast at 5-foot-6 inches.


Conservation in the Bush Administration

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Seems that despite all of the enviros crying about ANWR, Bush is actually doing some real hard conservation. From The Westerner:
Cheney touts administration record on conservation
Vice President Dick Cheney told attendees of the White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy meeting Friday the Bush Administration has been a strong partner for conservation groups and is moving to expand three successful initiatives. The Health Forest Initiative, Cheney told an audience of more than 600 at the Reno Ballroom, has helped clean up dangerous kindling and underbrush, restoring more than 26 million acres of forest land. He said there has been significant improvement for America�s wetlands and the Conservation Reserve program has enrolled more than a million acres of private grassland, helping ranchers and farmers restore that habitat. He said even as he prepares to leave office, President George W. Bush is expanding those programs. He said more incentives for landowners to join would add 7 million acres to the Conservation Reserve program over the next five years. Bush has committed the federal government to restoring another 4 million acres of wetlands in that same time period. The conference was convened by an executive order issued by Bush in 2007 to draft an action plan to guide future wildlife conservation efforts nationwide and protect �the nation�s hunting heritage.�...
The full Executive Order is here: Facilitation of Hunting Heritage and Wildlife Conservation

The Economy - a clear look

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From The Wall Street Journal comes a bit of perspective:
We're Not Headed for a Depression
No, this isn't the crisis that kills global capitalism.

In order to promote a much smoother functioning of the financial system, it is paramount to distinguish between the immediate steps needed to cope with the present crisis and the long-run reforms needed to reduce the likelihood of future crises. Let's start with the short-run fixes.

First of all, the magnitude of this financial disturbance should be placed in perspective. Although it is the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, it is a far smaller crisis, especially in terms of the effects on output and employment. The United States had about 25% unemployment during most of the decade from 1931 until 1941, and sharp falls in GDP. Other countries experienced economic difficulties of a similar magnitude. So far, American GDP has not yet fallen, and unemployment has reached only a little over 6%. Both figures are likely to get quite a bit worse, but they will nowhere approach those of the 1930s.

The Treasury's announced insurance of all money-market funds, and the full insurance of bank deposits, carry considerable moral hazard risks, but they have not aroused much controversy. The main thrust of the new banking law allows the Treasury secretary to purchase bank assets up to $700 billion in order to increase the liquidity of the banking system. These assets are of uncertain worth since there is essentially no market for many of them, and hence they have no market price. The government hopes to create this market partly through using auctions, where banks would offer their assets at particular prices, and the government would decide whether to buy them. I would have preferred starting with a smaller dollar value of purchases, and up the amount if the situation deteriorates further.

Partly because many consumers are repelled by the intention to bail out companies and their executives who made decisions that got the companies into trouble, the new law includes income and severance pay limits for executives whose firms seek government help. Even though one cannot think much of executives who led their banks into such a mess, that is a bad precedent since it involves too much micromanagement of bank operations. Moreover, such salary controls can be evaded by very generous fringe benefits.

The moral-hazard consequences for banks receiving a bailout now is worrisome since they may expect to get rescued again by the government if their future investments turn sour. Yet while I find helping these banks highly distasteful, moral-hazard concerns should be temporarily relaxed when the whole short-term credit system is close to collapse. Still, the bank bill with its huge bailout does suggest that the $29 billion bailout of the bondholders of Bear Stearns in March was a mistake. It seemed to have a moral-hazard effect by encouraging Lehman Brothers and other investment banks to delay in raising more capital because they too might have expected the government to come to their rescue if times got much worse. Although the government was apparently concerned that foreign central banks were major holders of the bonds, it was unwise to give them and other bondholders such full protection.
This was written by Gary S. Becker who won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1992 and is professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He might just know a little bit about this subject... His website is here: Gary S. Becker He shares a Blog with Richard Posner: The Becker-Posner Blog

The Economy - people not doing that well

A story that is sad on the surface but bears out a very simple fact.

From CNN:

Economy has some in despair
After several minutes talking about the U.S. economy, Shanika Ross was in tears.

This wasn't because the value of the 401k she built at a previous job has dropped -- she's only 25, and doesn't know how exactly much she's lost -- and it wasn't just because she wonders about the stability of her bank amid news of bank failures.

It was a combination of all the bad economic news -- the stock market drop, the credit market freeze, the housing crisis -- and because, she says, she's a nurse having trouble finding a nursing job, despite growths in such jobs nationwide.

The news and her situation are weighing heavily on Ross, an engaged-to-be-married mother of three who is working at a Red Lobster in Atlanta, Georgia. She said she has sold furniture, mementos and clothes to pay rent.

And one more piece of the picture:

"We're three steps away from being on the street," said Ross, her eyes welling as she watched her oldest child, a 10-year-old boy, play near a fountain Monday at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. "It doesn't matter who gets into office. We don't win."

OK -- she is trying to build her life up which is admirable but...

She is 25, has a ten year old son (and two other children) and is working for a fast-food business (the article didn't mention her position there).

If you want to escape poverty:
#1) - finish high school and place a large value on education and training
#2) - don't get married before age 20 at least and
#3) - don't have kids out of wedlock.

It is just that simple. Instead, Shanika is saying: "We don't win"

It is not and has never been a matter of "winning". The people who pick themselves up and get to work are the people who will get ahead. It is just that simple... And of course, CNN has the obligatory President Bush quote:

President Bush, speaking Monday in Cincinnati, Ohio, said, "I believe in the long run this economy is going to be just fine.

"It's a resilient economy; it's a productive economy with good workers. This is a reminder that we have been through tough times before, and we're going to come through this just fine."

I will look at some numbers in the next post...

New stock market terms

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The English language is a very fluid supple toungue and evolves to adapt to new environments and situations. A perfect example is in today's financial problems. From Bits and Pieces:
New stock market terms

CEO � Chief Embezzlement Officer
CFO � Corporate Fraud Officer
BULL MARKET � A random market movement causing an investor to mistake himself for a financial genius.
BEAR MARKET � A 6 to 18 month period when the kids get no allowance, the wife gets no jewelry, and the husband gets no sex.
VALUE INVESTING � The art of buying low and selling lower.
P/E RATIO � The percentage of investors wetting their pants as the market keeps crashing.
BROKER � What my broker has made me.
STANDARD & POOR � Your life in a nutshell.
STOCK ANALYST � Idiot who just downgraded your stock.
I resemble that remark!
Enjoying a long couple of days -- had to go into town for an 11:00AM appointment and then to run a couple errands, came back out and finished transcribing my notes for the meeting last Saturday, nuked a couple of frozen egg-rolls for dinner and then went to a business development meeting at 7:00PM. A group of local people are trying to see if there are alternatives to driving 30 miles into Bellingham for work and for shopping. Since we have a couple businesses, it behooved us to show up and participate. It is nice to see the community start to achieve critical mass for something like this -- coming together now that prices are rising and the economy is tanking...

Great news - nuclear is cool again

From Knoxville, TN station WBIR and the Associated Press:
As nuclear power returns to the energy agenda, universities scramble to train workers
Nuclear engineering programs at universities nationwide are brimming with students eager to break into what they see as a growth industry.

This rebirth of learning comes after a decades-long slump that prompted many schools to scale back nuclear engineering programs and some to close altogether. Some experts worry whether enough new workers can be trained in time to support the potential growth.

There are now 65 nuclear power plants operating in the country, most built during a flurry of construction in the 1960s and '70s. There have been no new plants built since 1996.

Jackie Young, a junior at the University of Tennessee, says professors there briefed her and other undeclared freshman about what they call a "nuclear renaissance" in the country. Young says she's counting on many career opportunities in the field.

A work force study this summer by the American Physical Society found that the number of students enrolled in undergraduate nuclear engineering degree programs in the U.S. rose to more than 1,900 in 2007 from a low of about 500 in 1999.
Hat tip Instapundit. This is incredibly good news. There have been wonderful advances in the design of reactors. Considering that it used to take 10-20 years from the initial design to coming online, a lot of the old "scary" designs were literally sketched out on cocktail napkins back in the early 1950's -- a lot of good solid engineering has happened since then. Add to that the fact that we have several hundred years of fuel in the USA and Canada (this presumes the use of breeder technologies) and that there are zero greenhouse gasses emitted, this makes it a no-brainer when it comes to our socially engineered energy 'crisis'.

Where's Waldo Sarah?

One of the supposed 'smears' against Sarah Palin was that she was directly involved in the Alaskan Independence Party -- a group advocating secession from the United States of America and thereby committing a treasonous act. People pointed to a video of her addressing the 2008 AIP convention and her reply was that although first-dude Todd was a member for a while, she pre-recorded the address and was never a participant. Well, I am sitting here eating some spaghetti and reading Washington Outsiders written by CitizenSteve from Bellingham and I see this:
Palin's Glass House
So Sarah Palin is defending her comments, implying that Barack Obama is sympathetic to terrorists. (Palin defends terrorist comment against Obama)

Well, gee golly whiz, Okay Sarah. If you want to go down the guilt by association road, then giddyup.

Let's talk about the Sarah Palin secessionist/terrorist/Iranian connection.

There were rapid, rabid denials from Bush/Cheney McCain campaign operatives when Sarah Palin was identified as a former member of the Alaska Independence Party (AIP). But as much as they'd like to cover-up the truth, the connection is there. Sarah's first-dude Todd was a register member of the Alaska Independence Party and as Governor, Sarah gave an extremely sympathetic little speech to open the AIP convention.

Salon.com has the inside scope on AIP's view of Sarah Palin:
"I've admired Sarah from the first time I met her at the 2006 (AIP) convention," which Palin also addressed, says Clark (Lynette Clark, chairwoman of the Alaskan Independence Party). "She impressed me so much. She's Alaskan to the bone; she's a damn good gal.

"As I was listening to her, I thought she sounds like what we've been saying for years. I thought to myself, 'My God, she sounds just like Joe Vogler.'"

Vogler was the craggy, fire-breathing secessionist who founded the Alaskan independence movement in the early 1970s. Among the colorful Vogler quotes now in circulation are "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions." Then there's "The fires of hell are glaciers compared to my hate for the American government." And "The problem with you John Birchers is that you are too damn liberal!"

Vogler ran unsuccessfully for governor three times between 1974 and 1986, on a platform promoting an "Independent Nation of Alaska." By the 1990s, Vogler had built party membership to about 20,000, and the party scored its first major electoral victory when former Republican Governor and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Wally Hickel joined the AIP and won the gubernatorial race.

By then, Vogler was close to achieving one of his major goals: speaking before the United Nations (despite his antipathy toward the international body) on Alaska independence. According to the AIP, Iran had offered to sponsor Vogler's appearance -- which surely would have been an unsettling moment for the United States in the U.N. assembly.
Hmmm... Only issue is that when I visit the AIP's own website, I see the following on the first page:
UPDATE September 3, 2008 Noon ADT It has been brought to our attention that there is a COUNTERFEIT SITE now up on the net. This site is a FRAUD and has infringed our copyright. We are presently seeking legal recourse.

Contrary to initial reports, Vice-President candidate Governor Sarah Palin was never a member of our party. We stand corrected. We issued a press release today. It is posted here to those members of the media who did not recieve it.

Todd Palin was registered as a member but never participated in any party activities aside from attending a convention in Wasilla at one time.

We had several hundred people attend that convention and nothing of noteworthy status took place outside of nominating the most conservative candidate up to that date to ever run for Governor of Alaska. That candidate was the sitting Lt. Governor, Jack Coghill. This man was one of the authors and signers of the Constitution of the State of Alaska.

For ALL Media contact. Please contact Lynette Clark, Alaskan Independence Party Chair
History being re-written as we speak? As Jen said, there is more than enough mud to go around...

Obama: The Chicago Way

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Two part video (18 minutes total) from YouTube tracing Obama's roots in the Chicago political machine.

Obama: The Chicago Way - Part 1

Obama: The Chicago Way - Part 2

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Taliban said to be furious over US missile strike
The Taliban are furious about the latest apparent U.S. missile strike in Pakistan, indicating a senior militant may be among two dozen people killed, officials and residents said Sunday.

The attack Friday on the North Waziristan tribal region was believed to have killed several Arab fighters but government officials have been notably quiet.

However, two Pakistani intelligence officials said insurgents were moving aggressively in the area while using harsh language against local residents, including calling them "salable commodities" - an accusation of spying.

The intelligence officials, who said their information came from informants and field agents, interpreted the Taliban's anger as a sign that a senior militant may have been among at least 24 people killed. But that has not been confirmed, said the officials, who sought anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to media.
I do believe that they started it. If they can't stand the heat, maybe they should re-think their career path. Revolutionaries seldom are successful as their ideas of what constitutes an ideal form of governance is usually brutish and corrupt. I am inclined to think that they suffer a form of mental illness. That culture is known for heavy inbreeding after all...

From the department of DUUUHHHH!!!

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From United Press International:
Oprah's mom files countersuit over bill
Oprah Winfrey's mother has filed a countersuit against a Wisconsin clothing boutique claiming if it hadn't extended her credit she wouldn't owe it $150,000.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported Winfrey's 73-year-old mother, Vernita Lee, argued in court papers that she shouldn't have to pay the bill for purchases and interest Valentina Inc., said she owed because the store allowed her an open-ended charge account even though it was aware she has trouble managing debt.

Her filing described the account as "unconscionable, and therefore, unenforceable because Valentina knowingly and unfairly took advantage of Lee's lack of knowledge, ability, and/or capacity when Valentina created the account."
Nice to see her sense of entitlement is as strong as ever. What a putz! If you have 'problems', don't apply for credit. It seems obvious to me that the store knew that she was related to Oprah and that they figured Oprah would cover the bill is mom didn't choose to... This person needs to grow a pair and get on with their life...

Beware the Fluffy Bunny Crew

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No shit -- from Arizona Central:
Suburban gang's rise unnerves authorities
The Fluffy Bunny Crew, a street gang, was formed years ago on upscale high-school campuses in the northeast Valley, a far cry from the low-income neighborhoods believed by many to spawn second- and third-generation gang members.

Members of the predominantly White gang of suburban young people first attracted police attention by mugging classmates at northeast Phoenix parties.

During the past two years, they have evolved from a party crew into a street gang known for armed robberies, drug deals and violent crime, police say.

Phoenix police say the Fluffy Bunny Crew is under investigation in a Phoenix homicide and other crimes in northeast Valley communities.

Phoenix police Lt. Larry Giebelhausen said investigators at the Desert Horizon Precinct want more parents to be aware of the gang that started as a joke before escalating into a public-safety threat.

"They're getting more and more violent," said Giebelhausen, adding that the Fluffy Bunny Crew is now a recognized Arizona street gang. "Parents need to know who their kids are hanging out with."
Classic case of scope creep and corruption of purpose. We see this all the time with organizations like ACLU, MADD, PETA, labor unions, etc... Guess it hits the smaller groups too...

A look at the bailout

Pajamas Media author Tom Blumer has an interesting take on the Bailout Bill:
Bailout Saga Proves that Elites Don�t Care What We Think
In mid-September, when it became clear to Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, and George Bush that extraordinary measures were needed to address the mess that had built up in the financial markets during the past decade or so, their first instincts should have been to say:
  • �We need to have a complete plan to deal with this.�
  • �We need to make a case to Congress and the American people that our plan will work.�
They did neither of these things; nor did they even seem to consider whether what they wanted was even constitutional.

Instead, they in essence demanded that Congress and the American people give them a blank check, saying, �Do this, or else.� Last Sunday, I called it blackmail. I stand by that.

Of course, a large plurality of Congressmen and Senators, along with a majority of the American people, were repulsed. The wonder is that everyone wasn�t.
Hat tip to Glen for the link...

A personal link to terrorism

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When going through my Mom's papers, there were a number of securities. She used the brokerage firm of Prescott, Ball & Turben for some. Here is a scrap of paper from that company:
Click to enlarge.
We are all touched by terrorism.
From Rasmussen Reports:
59% Would Vote to Replace Entire Congress
Congress was front and center in the national news last week and the American people were far from impressed. If they could vote to keep or replace the entire Congress, 59% of voters would like to throw them all out and start over again. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 17% would vote to keep the current legislators in office.

Today, just 23% have even a little confidence in the ability of Congress to deal with the nation�s economic problems and only 24% believe most Members of Congress understand legislation before they vote on it.
Color me not surprised...

Freestyle Rap

Translated into Plain English:

http://view.break.com/569516 - Watch more free videos

From Neatorama

You don't need a Weatherman

To tell which way the wind is blowing... A good review of some of Obama's 'associates' and their political histories from Doug Ross:
Dead Cops, Dead Marines... and Their Killers

These are police officers Waverly Brown and Sgt. Edward O'Grady of Nyack, New York.

They, along with Brinks drivers Peter Paige, were shot and killed by members of the Weathermen terrorist organization in 1981, leaving five children without fathers.

At least four top leaders of the Weathermen terrorist organization have signed on as members of a "grassroots effort" to support the election of Barack Obama (this photo is one of the former terror leaders -- Jeff Jones -- with the wife of New York Governor and prominent Democrat David Paterson).

Progressives for Obama signatories include Weathermen Howard Machtinger, Jeff Jones, Steve Tappis and Mark Rudd. Machtinger helped author the the mission statement of the Weathermen that called for revolutionaries within the United States to wage a 'people's war' and attack from within. The government would fall and 'world communism' eventually would be instituted.

The four, along with Bill Ayers, were among the leaders of the Weathermen terrorist group. In addition to the New York police officers killed, a 1970 pipe bomb in San Francisco set by the group killed another police officer and critically wounded another.
I find it odd that some people will grouse about if McCain is elected, Palin will be a heartbeat away from the Presidency and yet they give a free ride to Obama for having these wanton terrorists in his political past. The idea that this scum could be so closely involved in the Democratic Party gives me the willies -- there is some serious house-cleaning that needs to be done...

Simon Cowell - always classy

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Great quote from Simon Cowell regarding Politics in this country. From the Mock Dock:
As If We Needed ANOTHER Reason To Love Simon Cowell
You know what he said to a UK news outlet earlier this week when asked his opinion on the American election?

He said, �Me being British and coming over here and commenting on politics would be the craziest thing in the world. So you know what, I just sit back and enjoy it and somebody�s going to win.�

Soak it in, people. Celebrities ALWAYS want you to know what they think about politics. So let�s just enjoy this to the fullest.

Long day

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I am involved in the local Chamber of Commerce and we spent from 1:00PM to 6:00PM in an organizational meeting and from then to now having a wonderful dinner with spouses. The main course was Raclettes The wine, beer and conversation flowed freely so it is an early evening for me...
Finally reaches the attention of the Grey Lady.
Sunspots Are Fewest Since 1954, but Significance Is Unclear
The Sun has been strangely unblemished this year. On more than 200 days so far this year, no sunspots were spotted. That makes the Sun blanker this year than in any year since 1954, when it was spotless for 241 days.

The Sun goes through a regular 11-year cycle, and it is now emerging from the quietest part of the cycle, or solar minimum. But even for this phase it has been unusually quiet, with little roiling of the magnetic fields that induce sunspots.

�It�s starting with a murmur,� said David H. Hathaway, a solar physicist at NASA�s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

As of Thursday, the 276th day of the year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration�s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo., had counted 205 days without a sunspot.

In another sign of solar quiescence, scientists reported last month that the solar wind, a rush of charged particles continually spewed from the Sun at a million miles an hour, had diminished to its lowest level in 50 years.
I love the headline:

but Significance Is Unclear

DOH! The Sun provides us with the warmth we need to survive. Sunspots are a direct indicator of solar activity (and therefore output). More sunspots = hotter Earth. The Sun has been unusually quiet and the Earth's climate is showing a cooling that even the most rabid AGWers are unable to ignore.

Could not have happened to a nicer guy

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From CNN:
O.J. Simpson guilty of armed robbery, kidnapping
O.J. Simpson and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart were found guilty Friday on 12 charges, including armed robbery and kidnapping.

The case involved a Las Vegas, Nevada, hotel room confrontation over sports memorabilia. Simpson said the items had been stolen from him.

The verdicts came 13 years to the day that a Los Angeles, California, jury acquitted Simpson of two murders.

The Las Vegas jury reached its verdicts after about 13 hours of deliberations Friday.

Simpson sat quietly and showed little emotion at the defense table as he listened to the verdicts being read.
He has not been sentenced yet but:
Simpson, 61, faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison for these convictions. Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass set sentencing for December 5.

Defense attorney Yale Galanter spoke with Simpson after the verdict and told reporters the former football star was "extremely upset, extremely emotional."

Galanter said he will file a motion for a new trial and appeal the case.
So there is justice in this world after all -- SWEEET!!!
From BoingBoing author Cory Doctorow comes this link to a 3:11 minute recording of Will Rogers keynoting a Bankers Convention in 1924. It is an MP3 file so right-click, Save Target As and download and listen on your own computer. Wonderful stuff and still relavent...

The Palin/Biden debate

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Thanks to CSPAN2 and YouTube:
Hat tip to Charles at Little Green Footballs for the link.

Asleep in Seattle

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Just wonderful -- you can get a nice government subsidy for installing solar panels in Seattle. While Seattle has some of the lowest sunlight numbers in the USA. From Sound Politics:
Seattle ... A Solar America City!
KUOW reports on a government-funded non-profit which pays Seattle residents to install solar electric panels.

(Hint: Seattle has one of the lowest levels of sunshine of any major U.S. city)

The reporter spoke with Fiona Jackson, who spent $20,000 to install solar panels on her home (generating 1400 kwh of solar electricity this year). The marginal cost of electricity from Seattle City Light is $0.08/kwh, so assuming that last year had average sunshine and that the discount rate equals the electricity inflation rate, it would take Jackson about 178 years to recover her investment in solar equipment. Jackson admitted that "it wasn't a financial decison". She teaches business at Bellevue Community College, so I trust that she knows exactly how unfavorable the cost/benefit relationship really is.

Of course it's not merely a "financial decision". Those $20,000 represent consumption of environmental resources, and certainly a foregone opportunity to invest in other measures that could have much bigger environmental benefits. So it strikes me that, like many other schemes pitched by environmental fanatics, deploying solar power in Seattle is less about actually helping the environment as it is a kind of religious sacrifice ritual. I have no problem with anybody spending their own money on this sort of religious practice. But government subsidies for this? That seems to be a violation of the Establishment Clause.
Typical enviro feel-good stupidity. Do a disservice to the real environment while making your constituents 'feel good'. Don't challenge them to any critical thinking, that might hurt their poor widdle brains though...

A wonderful essay from Bill Whittle. He writes about spending several hours with someone from Europe who is waging a cultural war against the creeping tide of the unassimilated Islamist immigrants and those useful idiots who defend them. From National Review Online:

Cowboys and Secret Agents
A trans-Atlantic lesson, told through easy-to-understand stereotypes!

Last week I administered - and received - an education in international relations. I spent several hours with a pro-American European, a person fighting Islamic extremism throughout Europe and across the world. Now, for reasons that will soon be clear, that last statement is precisely true, but most of the following has been changed to protect her (her?) identity...

I can see you leaning forward already. Excellent.

Helga(?) is a tall(?), elderly(?), German(?) woman(?). And her job - which she created for herself - is to try to penetrate the carbon-fiber, titanium-reinforced shell of denial that envelopes so many of Europe's elites regarding the threat of unassimilated Islamists in every corner of the continent.

So I found myself toe-to-toe with someone on the same team, but from the opposite side of the fence, so to speak. It was weird. Helga might start in with a criticism of how stupidly the Bush administration handled the run-up to Iraq . . . oh no, here we go again . . . and follow that instantly by saying of course Saddam had WMDs! Bush should have attacked him without warning before he had time to move them to Syria!

Not what I expected. So then she'd say if Americans could just be a little more informed they could evolve past being such cowboys about such complex issues - at which point I would jump in and say, whoa, whooooaaa there little filly! You don't evolve past being a cowboy. Being a cowboy is the pinnacle of evolution. Once you're at cowboy, there's nowhere to go but down. Cowboys don't look for fights, but they don't run away from them either. They do what they have to do, when they have to do it. And they usually have to do it alone, because everyone wants Black Bart's gang out of town, but no one wants to walk down the street alongside the sheriff and get shot doing it.

Helga had ever heard anyone defend cowboydom before. I mean, she's from freaking Europe, fer chrissakes. But she liked it. And so we spent several hours over lunch, turning the clich's up to eleven in that sort of playful yet serious yet playful tone you take after four margaritas at your best friend's wedding reception.

I asked her if she'd ever fired a gun before, and she had to think for a moment. Once, she replied, at the carnival, shooting at the paper target.

Ma'am? That's a BB gun. It goes tick-tick-tick-tick. A real gun makes a sound like the earth coming apart and produces a muzzle flash the size of a large pizza. When you shoot a .45 caliber 1911-A1 hand cannon, you will know it. You will have no trouble remembering the experience whatsoever. And when I told her that what I like to shoot at most often was a life-sized paper image of Osama Bin Laden, she literally gasped in amazement. They let you do that?

Let you? They not only let you do it, they charge you for it. That's the sound of freedom, baby! BOOOOOM!!

I would have loved to have been there -- talk about a fun conversation...

WW-II submarine found - USS Grunion

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The USS Grunion was lost July 1942 -- it reported being under heavy anti-submarine activity and then nothing was heard after. From Associated Press:
Navy confirms lost WWII sub has been found
The Navy has confirmed the wreckage of a sunken vessel found last year off the Aleutians Islands is that of the USS Grunion, which disappeared during World War II.

Underwater video footage and pictures captured by an expedition hired by sons of the commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Mannert L. Abele, allowed the Navy to confirm the discovery, Rear Adm. Douglas McAneny said Thursday in a news release.

McAneny said the Navy was very grateful to the Abele family.

"We hope this announcement will help to give closure to the families of the 70 crewmen of Grunion," he said.
There are some questions regarding its sinking:
Japanese anti-submarine attack data recorded no attack in the Aleutian area at the time of the Grunion's disappearance, so the submarine's fate remained an unsolved mystery for more than 60 years, the Navy said.
More on its finding:
Abele's son's, Bruce, Brad, and John, began working on a plan to find the sub after finding information on the Internet in 2002 that helped pinpoint USS Grunion's possible location.

In August 2006, a team of side scan sonar experts hired by the brothers located a target near Kiska almost a mile below the ocean's surface. A second expedition in August 2007 using a high definition camera on a remotely operated vehicle yielded video footage and high resolution photos of the wreckage.
Cool and a nice closure. There is a lot more on the official website for the USS Grunion

The kingdom of SPAM-a-lot

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For some reason, the floodgates have opened and I am getting about 100 attempts at comment spam every 24 hours. A number of the IP addresses are from Europe, Asia, Middle East, etc and these entire IP blocks get put in the shit bucket whenever they come in. A lot of the other attempts are from zombie systems out in Comcast/RoadRunner/AOL land and there, I just ban the individual IP addresses -- these idiots are eating their own seed corn as they are just advertising the addresses of PWND systems. One of them got through last night but was flagged for moderation and never got through. The others were just blocked -- BZZZTTT NO! Fish in a barrel people, fish in a barrel...

Well snap!

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Went to watch some TV before turning in and the satellite dish is deader than a doornail. First available slot for a service call is October 17th. I suppose I can't complain that much as it has been working flawlessly for the last five years but still. Grumble...

Off-Road Driving

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Just wow -- from YouTube: 4x4 jeep sport iceland Formula Off-Road uphill Amazing driving...

Missed the debate

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DANG! I really wanted to watch this one but I had to be in town for appointments from 10:00AM though 5:30PM. Long day. From what I gather, Sarah Palin comported herself well but dodged a number of questions. Biden managed to keep his mouth reigned in. I'll see if there is anything on CSPAN or YouTube...

The bailout bill - a bit of pork

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As I had mentioned yesterday, this puppy is a creeping meatball. What once was three pages is now a 451 page PDF. To give you an idea of the crap that is being included, feast your eyes on the bottom of page 300:
Click for full size
I mean, seriously, WTF??? Hat tip to Dealbreaker for the link.

No more for tonight

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I am a Nikon camera junkie from way back. I still have my 30-year old F2SB's (two of them) as well as about 20 lenses of various types (fisheye through 500MM -- extreme macro, pan and shift, bellows, microscope attachments, motorized copy stand, etc...) When I first read the reviews of the new Nikon D-90, I started salivating. Some serious salivating. I have their D1X pro model and love it and was looking at the D2Xs at some time down the road but the $2,500 price was a bit of a sticker shock. I knew that the D-90 was scheduled to be released now (at the end of the German Photokina show) but all of the online sellers were out of stock. (Beard & Hats and Glazers). I was in Costco today picking up a prescription for my Dad and took a look at their camera display. They had D-90's for sale. SWEET! I will be spending the next week or so getting to know this puppy a lot better. So far, it feels really nice in the hand, the controls seem very intuitive and looking forward to seeing some results.
She has been a member of the House of Representatives (D-Georgia) twice and is now the Green Party's candidate for President in the upcoming election. (Wikipedia entry) She is also barking mad:
I know it is a crime but you have to give the guy some credit for ingenuity. From Seattle's KING5 courtesy of BoingBoing:
Armored truck robber uses Craigslist to make getaway
MONROE, Wash. - In a move that could be right out of a Hollywood movie, a brazen crook apparently used a Craigslist ad to hire a dozen unsuspecting decoys to help him make his getaway following a robbery outside a bank on Tuesday. He then made his escape in an inner tube on the Skykomish River.

The robbery happened about 11 a.m. on an armored truck guard at a Bank of America branch.

"He was wearing a dust mask, a particle mask. At first I thought it might be a surgical mask. I still didn't think anything was wrong, just unusual. Then I noticed he had a pump sprayer," said Mitch Ruth, who had looked out his office window and noticed the man walking into the bank.

The robber sprayed the guard with pepper spray, grabbed a bag of money the guard was carrying and ran about 100 yards to the creek that runs into the Skykomish River, shedding clothes as he ran.

But apparently, the robber had planned ahead. In case anyone was hot on his trail, he had at least a dozen unsuspecting decoys waiting nearby, which he recruited on Craigslist.

"I came across the ad that was for a prevailing wage job for $28.50 an hour," said Mike, who saw a Craigslist ad last week looking for workers for a road maintenance project in Monroe.

He said he inquired and was e-mailed back with instructions to meet near the Bank of America in Monroe at 11 a.m. Tuesday. He also was told to wear certain work clothing.

"Yellow vest, safety goggles, a respirator mask� and, if possible, a blue shirt," he said.

Mike showed up along with about a dozen other men dressed like him, but there was no contractor and no road work to be done. He thought they had been stood up until he heard about the bank robbery and the suspect who wore the same attire.

From there, the cook made his watery escape in a creek that dumps out into the Skykomish River. One witness said the robber swam away, but another said he used an inner tube to get away.
From Carpe Diem comes this little tidbit of interesting knowledge. When you are thinking about how Congress is writing the bail-out bill, realize that very few of its members have any training in economics. From Mark:
80% of Congress Has No Background in Economics
As Congress works on one of the most important pieces of economic legislation in a generation, a Washington research group has pointed out that more than 8 in 10 members of Congress don�t have a formal educational background in the business, economics, or finance fields.

The research by the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy, which aims to educate the general public about finance issues, showed that about 14% have degrees in economics-related fields and just 6.7% specifically have an economics degree. More than 30% of members have degrees in politics and government, while 18% majored in humanities.

�It�s interesting that those who are responsible for solving the biggest economic crisis in generations don�t have the educational background to know the difference between commercial paper and copy machine paper,� said James Bowers, managing director of CEEL.
Granted, Congress has to make decisions about a lot of things for which they are not expected to be expert but still, it would be good of them to call in a panel of economists for a couple hours of Q&A before setting anything down to paper. This bill is going to have a huge 'ripple' effect for years to come...

Our government at work -- the bailout bill

Talk about a creeping meatball. From Politico:
Senate bailout bill keeps growing
The Senate hopes to revive Treasury�s $700 billion financial rescue plan Wednesday night by packaging it together with more than $100 billion in popular tax breaks as well as aid to rural schools important to House Republicans.

To calm voters fearful of bank failures, the $100,000 cap on federal insurance for deposits would also be raised to $250,000�a concession backed by both parties but also aimed at community banks who can be helpful in building small town support for the larger bill.

With each permutation, the bill has steadily grown in size. Treasury�s initial plan was about three pages long. The House version, which failed, stretched to 110. The Senate substitute now runs over 450 pages. And tucked away in the tax provisions is a landmark health care provision demanding that insurance companies provide coverage for mental health treatment�such as hospitalization�on parity with physical illnesses.
And Congressional Approval Rating is now what -- 15% to 22% depending on the pollster. Wonder why...
Eight minutes of YouTube goodness -- CSPAN hearings from 2004 discussing the problems with Fannie May and Freddie Mac. The Democrats (each and every one) are all defensive and the Republicans (each and every one) are asking for more examination and oversight
Be sure to have this in mind when you cast you ballots in a few weeks...

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