January 2011 Archives

Back on the 18th of this month (January), this is what was happening out in the mid-pacific ocean:
It started to move two days ago and is now on track for Australia's Northeast (the area already hit with the flooding). From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Cyclone Yasi may hit Cairns: forecasters
Severe tropical cyclone Yasi is on track for a direct hit on Cairns, forecasters say.

But with the cyclone not expected to make landfall until about 1am (AEST) on Thursday, that could still change.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Ann Farrell said the latest modelling showed a direct hit on Cairns was one of the more likely scenarios.

The latest tracking map, issued at 2pm (AEST), marks out the range of possible landfall sites, from as far north as Cooktown to as far south as Townsville.

It features a central track which Ms Farrell said was "one of the more likely tracks" - a line taking Yasi directly into Cairns.
Current sat image:
It is not that these are unexpected events, they seem to manage one every five years or so but still, to have the flooding and then this is a bit much... Sunspot levels are still very very low -- below what was average during the Maunder Minimum (the little ice age). Science is settled? Not so fast...
From Xavier Antin comes this story of printing a book with four different printers. The Magenta is laid down by a Stencil Duplicator from 1880. Cyan, a Spirit Duplicator from 1923 (I still fondly remember that wonderful smell of a fresh print). Black - Laser Printer from 1969. Yellow - InkJet printer from 1976. The printing chain:
A sample page:
Not the tightest registration but pretty damn cool!

Some beautiful language

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A Florida Judge declared that Obamacare was unconstitutional and that, even though the US Government will probably appeal this decision, the US Government has an injunction to stop any action toward implementing Obamacare until it is ruled on by the Supreme Court. This will really test the honesty of this current administration. The language is beautiful -- Judge Vinson could be a novelist or poet. On the Commerce Clause -- page 42:
It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting --- as was done in the Act --- that compelling the actual transaction is itself �commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce� [see Act � 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted.
From the summary - page 73:
In the final analysis, this Act has been analogized to a finely crafted watch, and that seems to fit. It has approximately 450 separate pieces, but one essential piece (the individual mandate) is defective and must be removed. It cannot function as originally designed. There are simply too many moving parts in the Act and too many provisions dependent (directly and indirectly) on the individual mandate and other health insurance provisions --- which, as noted, were the chief engines that drove the entire legislative effort --- for me to try and dissect out the proper from the improper, and the able-to-stand-alone from the unable-to-stand-alone. Such a quasi-legislative undertaking would be particularly inappropriate in light of the fact that any statute that might conceivably be left over after this analysis is complete would plainly not serve Congress� main purpose and primary objective in passing the Act. The statute is, after all, called �The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,� not �The Abstinence Education and Bone Marrow Density Testing Act.� The Act, like a defectively designed watch, needs to be redesigned and reconstructed by the watchmaker. If Congress intends to implement health care reform --- and there would appear to be widespread agreement across the political spectrum that reform is needed --- it should do a comprehensive examination of the Act and make a legislative determination as to which of its hundreds of provisions and sections will work as intended without the individual mandate, and which will not. It is Congress that should consider and decide these quintessentially legislative questions, and not the courts. In sum, notwithstanding the fact that many of the provisions in the Act can stand independently without the individual mandate (as a technical and practical matter), it is reasonably �evident,� as I have discussed above, that the individual mandate was an essential and indispensable part of the health reform efforts, and that Congress did not believe other parts of the Act could (or it would want them to) survive independently. I must conclude that the individual mandate and the remaining provisions are all inextricably bound together in purpose and must stand or fall as a single unit. The individual mandate cannot be severed. This conclusion is reached with full appreciation for the �normal rule� that reviewing courts should ordinarily refrain from invalidating more than the unconstitutional part of a statute, but non-severability is required based on the unique facts of this case and the particular aspects of the Act. This is not a situation that is likely to be repeated.
I am not a lawyer (nor do I play one on TV) but this is beautiful and clear writing. Judge Vinson eviscerates Obamacare, beats it to the ground and steals its lunch money...
There's a reason you separate the military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state; the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.
--Admiral William Adama
Hat tip to The Gormogons
When a farmer wants to have their soil analyzed, they sample a few feet deep to avoid skewing the results with the grasses on the surface. Here is what the WA State Department of Ecology is saying. From local station KGMI:
State Rep. Vincent Buys proposes bill to define a "well"
State Representative Vincent Buys of Lynden has introduced legislation that would clarify the definition of a �well� on Washington farmland.

Buys says he introduced the measure after Whatcom County farmers complained.

�We had some farmers taking some people from the Department of Ecology out on a farm and they were doing some soil sampling, and the Department of Ecology mentioned, �well, this qualifies under a well regulation,�� said Buys.

He says the proposed legislation would give the state a more clear definition of what is and isn�t a �well.�

�So this just clarifies that language and says soil samples, which usually are about 2 to 3 feet deep, those do not qualify and then therefore they don�t need the permitting process of your typical household well,� he said.

House Bill 1467 is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources in Olympia.
Christ on a corn dog -- talk about an overreach of power... Representative Buys has an R by his name and was endorsed by the Whatcom County TEA Party. Seems to be listening to and doing good work for his constituents.

Well Crap - RIP Milton Babbitt

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Composer Milton Babbitt is now decomposing. From the New York Times:
Milton Babbitt, a Composer Who Gloried in Complexity, Dies at 94
Milton Babbitt, an influential composer, theorist and teacher who wrote music that was intensely rational and for many listeners impenetrably abstruse, died on Saturday. He was 94 and lived in Princeton, N.J.

Paul Lansky, a composer who studied with Mr. Babbitt and was a colleague at Princeton University, where Mr. Babbitt remained an emeritus professor of composition, said that Mr. Babbitt died at a hospital in Princeton.

Mr. Babbitt, who had a lively sense of humor despite the reputation for severity that his music fostered, sometimes referred to himself as a maximalist to stress the musical and philosophical distance between his style and the simpler, more direct style of younger contemporaries like Philip Glass, Steve Reich and other Minimalist composers. It was an apt description.

Although he dabbled early in his career with theater music, his Composition for Orchestra (1940) ushered in a structurally complex, profoundly organized style that was rooted in Arnold Schoenberg�s serial method.

But Mr. Babbitt expanded on Mr. Schoenberg�s approach. In Mr. Schoenberg�s system, a composer begins by arranging the 12 notes of the Western scale in a particular order called a tone row, or series, on which the work is based. Mr. Babbitt was the first to use this serial ordering not only with pitches but also with dynamics, timbre, duration, registration and other elements. His methods became the basis of the �total serialism� championed in the 1950s by Pierre Boulez, Luigi Nono and other European composers.

Mr. Babbitt began exploring this path in Three Compositions for Piano (1947) and Composition for Four Instruments (1948), and adhered to it through his entire career. He composed prolifically for chamber ensembles and instrumental soloists and created a substantial and varied catalog of vocal works. He also composed a compact but vital group of orchestral pieces and an enduring series of works for synthesizer, often in combination with voices or acoustic instruments.
Minor nit: "Although he dabbled early in his career with theater music" -- he loved show tunes and would be giving a class and just start playing some song from a popular Broadway show. One of his students was Stephen Sondheim... He was also fortunate to have access to the worlds first dedicated fully programmable audio music synthesizer, the RCA Mark II (the Mark I was just a test bed for circuit design and not a usable instrument). Babbitt's Occasional Variations on the RCA Mark II Sound Synthesizer:
A titan in the world of experimental music -- he will be missed...

Thorium reactors are coming soon

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Unfortunately, to China and not to the USA. From Energy from Thorium (MSR = Molten Salt Reactor):
China Initiates Thorium MSR Project
The People�s Republic of China has initiated a research and development project in thorium molten-salt reactor technology, it was announced in the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) annual conference on Tuesday, January 25. An article in the Wenhui News followed on Wednesday (Google English translation). Chinese researchers also announced this development on the Energy from Thorium Discussion Forum.

Led by Dr. Jiang Mianheng, a graduate of Drexel University in electrical engineering, the thorium MSR efforts aims not only to develop the technology but to secure intellectual property rights to its implementation.
A bit more:
A Chinese delegation led by Dr. Jiang traveled to Oak Ridge National Lab last fall to learn more about MSR technology and told lab leadership of their plans to develop a thorium-fueled MSR.

The Chinese also recognize that a thorium-fueled MSR is best run with uranium-233 fuel, which inevitably contains impurities (uranium-232 and its decay products) that preclude its use in nuclear weapons. Operating an MSR on the �pure� fuel cycle of thorium and uranium-233 means that a breakeven conversion ratio can be achieved, and after being started on uranium-233, only thorium is required for indefinite operation and power generation.
Thorium is a lot better than Uranium for generating electricity. The reactors are operated at near atmospheric pressure so the design is simple, the reactors are able to burn 90% of the fuel and the 10% waste has a half-life of a few hundred years and not the thousands of Uranium. There is a lot more Thorium in the earth's crust than Uranium so there is sufficient accessible fuel for thousands of years of full-time operation.

Neighborhoods coming together

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Some cool news from Egypt -- from CNN
Egyptian neighbors creating local militias
Until recently, Seif Awad worked a day job as an account manager for Cisco.

But since Saturday he has begun volunteering at nights, protecting his neighborhood with a volunteer defense squad of young male neighbors armed with makeshift weapons. Last night he armed himself with a big stick. On Sunday, Awad bought gasoline canisters and started making Molotov cocktails.

"If anyone comes on the street we're going to throw those at them," Awad said. "And I have a friend here who has a gun."

Shortly before he spoke on the phone Sunday night with CNN, Awad says he and his comrades scared off a group of men who tried to scale the walls of his upscale gated residential neighborhood.

"They were trying to jump the walls and we ran at them," Awad recounted. "And when they saw us they fell back."

Real estate broker Karim Amer armed himself with a kitchen knife Saturday night and joined his own hastily formed neighborhood militia.

On Sunday night, Amer said he and his comrades barricaded side roads, set up checkpoints on main roads and searched passing cars.

"People are much more organized today," Amer said. "We've got people with whistles now. Different neighborhood corners have agreed to different whistles to signal for help."

On Saturday night, Amer said his group of volunteers captured two men whom he claims were trying to break into a store.

"When they saw floods of people coming from every area they felt trapped and surrendered and we tied them down," Amer said. "Then we got the military and they came and escorted them away."
Very cool -- these aren't thugs, these are just men and women who want peace in their neighborhoods. Nice that the military is working with them so well.


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like an Egyptian
Click to embiggen...
Swiped from the ever charming Miss Cellania

Bakery blogging

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Record day today -- couple hundred more in sales than the previous high record. Gorgeous weather which helped a lot. Woo Hooo!!! The BBQ pulled pork was a huge success - I was expecting to get a couple days of sales out of a 15 pound shoulder but we sold out in a day and a half. I was thinking of having it be a special on the weekends but my kitchen lead mentioned to me that it would be something to draw people in on the weekdays (very slow) if we had it as a regular menu item. We are also kicking around the idea of doing a plate lunch special. We have a rice cooker and everything else can be made in advance. Rotate the entr�e between Kalua Pork, Teri Beef, Chicken Katsu or Teri. Do either mac salad, lomi lomi smoked salmon, fried rice or fried saimin noodles for a side. Broke da mouth. Getting hungry just thinking about it...


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Came in over the transom -- no known source:
About as tone-perfect as it can be said. God bless these people.

Power Grab - union style

From CNN:

TSA shuts door on private airport screening program
A program that allows airports to replace government screeners with private screeners is being brought to a standstill, just a month after the Transportation Security Administration said it was "neutral" on the program.

TSA chief John Pistole said Friday he has decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports, saying he does not see any advantage to it.

Though little known, the Screening Partnership Program allowed airports to replace government screeners with private contractors who wear TSA-like uniforms, meet TSA standards and work under TSA oversight. Among the airports that have "opted out" of government screening are San Francisco and Kansas City.

The push to "opt out" gained attention in December amid the fury over the TSA's enhanced pat downs, which some travelers called intrusive.

Rep. John Mica, a Republican from Florida, wrote a letter encouraging airports to privatize their airport screeners, saying they would be more responsive to the public.

Sounds like a cool idea -- lessen the government overhead a bit and send some business to local security contractors. The bid cycle should reduce the cost to the taxpayer quite a bit as well. But nooooooooo...

"It's unimaginable that TSA would suspend the most successfully performing passenger screening program we've had over the last decade," Mica said Friday night. "The agency should concentrate on cutting some of the more than 3,700 administrative personnel in Washington who concocted this decision, and reduce the army of TSA employees that has ballooned to more than 62,000."

"Nearly every positive security innovation since the beginning of TSA has come from the contractor screening program," Mica said.

A union for Transportation Security Administration employees said it supported the decision to halt the program.

"The nation is secure in the sense that the safety of our skies will not be left in the hands of the lowest-bidder contractor, as it was before 9/11," said John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees. "We applaud Administrator Pistole for recognizing the value in a cohesive federalized screening system and work force."

"We applaud Administrator Pistole for recognizing the value in a cohesive federalized screening system and work force"
What kind of kickback did Pistole get for kow-towing to this union boss. The home page for the AFGE is here, the TSA offshoot is here. The curious thing is that they did not exist before 2002:


I am assuming that there is some kind of retirement pension plan -- how fully is it funded? 100%? 80%? 60%? Who picks up the slack when it runs out of money?

We the Taxpayers? Anyone? Beuller?

The UnionWatch website shows over $5M spent in lobbying through 2005. Doesn't that seem like a lot to you? 2002? That was just after 9/11/2001. Department of Homeland Security was being formed, it implemented TSA and a bunch of other branches. There has got to be a good book in there somewhere. A bit of investigative reporting...

Gulping down gallons of Kool-Aid

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From haunting the library:
Reuters: Republican Party �Actively Caused Climate Collapse�
Reuters News Agency is carrying an extraordinary article claiming that the Republican Party �actively caused climate collapse� and that it is �in the pay of the fossil energy industry�.

The highly unusual story is ostensibly on the subject of the tax that the Australian government plans to levy to cover the costs of the floods in Queensland, but soon veers off into what can most charitably be described as a rambling diatribe on global warming and how the Republicans caused it.
The post then goes on to quote from the Reuters article. It is so poorly written and error filled as to almost be hallucinogenic. A bit more:
The by-line notes that the piece was provided by the �Matter Network�. The Matter Network Inc.�s �About� page boasts that it has �recently [been] selected as a leading content provider to Reuters� Green Business News Service�.
The post then reveals the members of the board of Matter Network:
R. James Woolsey: Partner, Vantage Point Venture Partners, former Director, Central Intelligence Agency
Suzanne Woolsey: Chairman, Rocky Mountain Institute, Former COO, National Academy of Science
Reese Schonfeld: Co-Founder and former President, CNN
J. Scott Briggs: Former President, ZIff-Davis Publishing
Barry Briggs: Former President, C/Net Media
Mike Edelhart: Serial Internet Media Entrepreneur, former CEO Zineo, Executive VP, Ziff Davis Publishing
Quite the A-list of people. This is not a Science or Green group; it is a group that is pushing a very toxic political agenda.

Here is how you do it - 2005 edition

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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice addressing the American University in Cairo in June 2005:
From her opening comments:
The day is coming when the promise of a fully free and democratic world, once thought impossible, will also seem inevitable. The people of Egypt should be at the forefront of this great journey, just as you have led this region through the great journeys of the past.
From the transcript:
There are those who say that democracy is being imposed. In fact, the opposite is true: Democracy is never imposed. It is tyranny that must be imposed.

People choose democracy freely. And successful reform is always homegrown.

Just look around the world today.

For the first time in history, more people are citizens of democracies than of any other form of government.

This is the result of choice, not of coercion.

There are those who say that democracy leads to chaos, or conflict, or terror.

In fact, the opposite is true: Freedom and democracy are the only ideas powerful enough to overcome hatred, and division, and violence.
That is how you do it -- not covertly trying to prop up a 30-year dictatorship. The people are speaking and all it takes is for you to listen. But given the general aura of tone-deafness in D.C., I am not holding my breath...
Take 200 paper airplanes up to the edge of space and launch them:
More here: Project Space Planes

About that 10% in Egypt

Follow the connections -- from Breitbart's Big Government:
Did Muslim Brotherhood Learn �Day of Rage� Egypt Protest Tactics From Obama Allies Bill Ayers and Code Pink?
One year ago, Big Government reported the anti-American global left, led by Code Pink, traveled to Egypt to undermine the blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza.

President Barack Obama funder and Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans, accompanied by Obama�s Hyde Park friends and neighbors � the former Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn � organized an inside-outside game of political theater to bring pressure on the Mubarak regime to allow the aid for Hamas to be delivered though Egyptian checkpoints.

On one hand, Evans and Code Pink lobbied Mubarak�s wife for assistance, as well as the U.S. embassy in Cairo. On the other hand, the group led hundreds of Western leftists in challenging the Egyptian government with boisterous street protests.

Code Pink was not shy about its support for Hamas. The group bragged that Hamas terrorists guaranteed their safety in Gaza.

At the same time, Code Pink had also allied itself with the Muslim Brotherhood. Code Pink took out banner ads on the Muslim Brotherhood�s official English language Web site asking jihadis to �join us in cleansing our country� of so-called war criminals which included former President George W. Bush and wife Laura.

The Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Egypt and is widely considered to be the father of the modern Islamic terrorist movement.

It is telling that the protests Friday in Egypt were dubbed by the Muslim Brotherhood, a �day of rage.�
The Brotherhood said its members will demonstrate �with all the national Egyptian forces, the Egyptian people, so that this coming Friday [today] will be the general day of rage for the Egyptian nation.�
�Days of Rage� is what the Weathermen called their violent, riotous protests in Chicago in 1969.

The question is begged: What have Obama�s allies Ayers, Dohrn and Code Pink taught the Muslim Brotherhood and other anti-Mubarak organizations in Egypt about using protests, riots and the modern social media to coordinate their actions to undermine the Mubarak regime?

Being that they have common enemies�the United States, Israel, and governments allied with them�it is understandable that they would be allies. It must give them encouragement that President Obama has yet to disavow Jodie Evans and Code Pink, but instead continues to do business with them as Evans and Code Pink act as conduits between terrorists and Obama.
Like I said, follow the connections. Talk about useful idiots with emphasis on the idiot...

Good news from Egypt - museum is safe

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From the Christian Science Monitor:
Egyptian army storms museum to protect from looters
The Egyptian army secured Cairo's famed antiquities museum early Saturday, protecting thousands of priceless artifacts, including the gold mask of King Tutankhamun, from looters.

The greatest threat to the Egyptian Museum, which draws millions of tourists a year, first appeared to come from the fire engulfing the ruling party headquarters next door on Friday night, set ablaze by anti-government protesters.

Then dozens of would-be thieves started entering the grounds surrounding the museum, climbing over the metal fence or jumping inside from trees lining the sidewalk outside.

One man pleaded with people outside the museum's gates on Tahrir Square not to loot the building, shouting at the crowd: "We are not like Baghdad." After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, thieves carted off thousands of artifacts from the National Museum in Baghdad � only a fraction of which have been recovered.

Suddenly other young men � some armed with truncheons taken from the police � formed a human chain outside the main entrance in an attempt to protect the collection inside.

"I'm standing here to defend and to protect our national treasure," said one of the men, Farid Saad, a 40-year-old engineer.

Another man, 26-year-old Ahmed Ibrahim, said it was important to guard the museum because it "has 5,000 years of our history. If they steal it, we'll never find it again."

Finally, four armored vehicles took up posts outside the massive coral-colored building in downtown Cairo. Soldiers surrounded the building and moved inside to protect mummies, monumental stone statues, ornate royal jewelry and other pharaonic artifacts.

The soldiers appeared to have rounded up all the would-be looters who made it onto the museum grounds and had lined them up in a row. As the soldiers corralled one man toward the line, crowds outside the fence shouted, "Thief, thief!" A couple the troops then hit the man with the butts of their rifles and sat him down with the others apparently caught inside.
I love that the citizens reacted to block looters until the police showed up. This is not a monolithic mob here, this is 90% citizens wanting a better life and 10% assorted militant islamofascists and other assholes trying to grab power.

Losing a little weight

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Fate of the Kilo Weighs Heavily on the Minds of Metrologists
In a vault beneath a 17th-century pavilion on the outskirts of Paris sits a platinum cylinder known as Le Grand K. Since 1889 it has been the international prototype for the kilogram, the standard against which all other kilos are measured.

But over the years, scientists have noticed a problem: Le Grand K has been losing weight. Weigh-ins at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures show that the bar has shed approximately 50 micrograms - roughly equal to a grain of sand.

The problem has vexed scientists who monitor the kilo the way tabloids track the waistlines of Valerie Bertinelli and Kirstie Alley. The stakes, however, are weightier.

"It's a scandal that we've got this kilogram hanging around changing its mass and therefore changing the mass of everything else in the universe!" Bill Phillips, a Nobel Prize winning physicist, exclaimed at a scientific summit in London this week. No one knows for sure what went wrong with Le Grand K, but some theorize it lost weight from being cleaned.

Dr. Phillips and other mandarins of metrology were gathered at Britain's Royal Society to debate an urgent question in the science of measurement - how to re-define the basic unit of mass, as well as other measurements such as the second, ampere, kelvin and mole.

Curious - the science of metrology is a fascinating one. I started learning electronics when I was a child (Dad taught me to solder when I was six) and back then, measuring a voltage to two or three decimal places required some fairly sophisticated lab equipment. Now, I have a hand-held multimeter that is good for five and it cost me under $300. All of the other meaurements have advanced just as rapidly.

Heh - talk about a fortuitous spam

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When someone is groomed to be a suicide bomber, the actual detonation of the explosives is done by a third-party observer. Their method of choice is to use a cheap cell phone and wire the detonation circuitry into the ringer. Feed the bomber a bunch of hashish (the word assassin gets its roots from the word hashish) and start them walking toward the nearest crowd of people. A quick text message and blammo. Sometimes things do not always work out as planned - from Wired:
Would-Be Suicide Bomber Killed by Unexpected SMS From Mobile Carrier
An unexpected and unwanted text message from a wireless company prematurely exploded a would-be suicide bomber�s vest bomb in Russia New Year�s Eve, inadvertently thwarting a planned attack on revelers in Moscow, according to The Daily Telegraph.

The would-be suicide bomber was planning to detonate a suicide belt bomb near Red Square, a plan that was foiled when her wireless carrier sent her an SMS while she was still at a safe house, setting off the bomb and killing her. The message reportedly wished her a Happy New Years, according to the report, which sourced the info from security forces in Russia. Cell phones are often used as makeshift detonators by terrorist and insurgent groups.

If true, the SMS might be the only time that a wireless carrier�s SMS message has ever been useful.
Plus, now the Russians are picking the 'safe house' apart bit by bit looking for other evidence. Job related accidents usually suck but this one is perfect...

An interesting idea - privatize Medicare

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From Breitbart/Associated Press:
House GOP considers privatizing Medicare
House Republicans are debating whether to relaunch their quest to privatize Medicare, months after they hammered Democrats for cutting the program.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is testing support for his idea to replace Medicare with a fixed payment to buy a private medical plan from a menu of coverage options.

Party leaders will determine if the so-called voucher plan will be part of the budget Republicans put forward in the spring.
Makes a lot of sense to me. Sure, people will gripe about big business but public corporations -- by default -- must be open about their financial dealings and it is easy to see that the "huge profits" are maybe a few percent. Let's not stop here -- compare the efficiencies and cost of FedEx and UPS with the US Parcel Post. They should sell off Amtrak. Washington state opened up licensing for vehicles, boats and hunting and fishing permits and dealing with one of the independent agencies is a breeze compared with dealing with the state office; for the same product and within a dollar or two of the same price. The fixes are simple and easy but nobody in Washington wants to give up their sugar teat...

Bakery blogging redux

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OMFG -- it came out so well... Just finished a bowl of it and the combination of the vinegar baste and the hot BBQ sauce was perfect. The cole slaw still needs work -- followed an internet recipe and it was too sweet and too sloppy. Added some horseradish to kick it up a bit. I am thinking of doing this each week. Because I left it overnight in the oven, it got a bit overdone so Tuesday, I'll do the dry rub and let it sit overnight dry in the fridge and Wednesday, I'll have the bakers start it at 10AM when they are done with the oven. That way I can use a lot less baste but check it every hour or so and manually baste on a regular basis and also, I can shred the meat when it is fresh out of the oven. This one's a keeper...

Bakery blogging

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The pork shoulder was a bit overcooked. Next time, I'll cook it during the day so I can monitor conditions. Still very very tasty!

Genius photoshop

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I don't know who did this but it is pure genius and an excellent job of photoshop. Take this classic painting:
Mash it up with this Internet Meme:
and this is the result:
If the artist is looking for a job, this is one hell of a business card. I'd hire them in a heartbeat...

The Business of Climate Change

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No wonder some entrenched scientists and bureaucrats are drinking so much of the climate change Kool-Ade. There is some serious money to be made with this scam. From the Science and Public Policy Institute comes this post:
Until a few days ago I knew that the US government spent an excessive amount of taxpayer money on climate change research. It was just a general notion; I had read occasional articles showing the funding of certain agencies like NASA but I didn't know many specifics. Then on New Years Day, I wrote a very quick article where I randomly picked a document from a Google search showing funding for climate change. The numbers astonished me. I decided to take a closer look.
Here is the full report (PDF): How Can Climate Scientists Spend So Much Money? The upshot is that for 2011, between seven Government agencies, there is budgeted a bit more than $2.4 Billion Dollars specifically targeted to Climate Change research. In the case of NOAA, this is a 17% increase from 2010. NASA is up 26.8% over 2010. The all-time hog at the trough is the US Department of Agriculture with a 42% increase from 2010 for studying climate change and a 41% increase for developing renewable energy (paging Archer Daniels Midland, ADM to the white courtesy phone).

25 Years ago today

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I was sitting at my desk at my first computer store when I heard the news. Not a good day. I miss Reagan -- not a TelePrompTer in sight...
From haunting the library:
UN Sec. Gen. � Capitalism is �Environmental Suicide� Says �We Need a Revolution�
UN Secretary General, Ban-Ki Moon has launched an astonishing attack on the current economic system of Western-style capitalsim, saying that it was dangerous and outdated in the light of global warming, and calling for a new economic paradigm.

Recent reports have noted that Ban-Ki Moon has said he will take a hands-off approach to global warming, and many have interpreted this to mean that he will leave it to the scientists and national Governments to decide.

But his latest comments, reported in The Guardian, make it clear that instead Ban-Ki Moon is switching from a narrow focus on global warming to a much wider spectrum attack on the current Western style of capitalism generally, on the grounds that it is not environmentally sustainable. The Guardian reports:
The world�s current economic model is an environmental �global suicide pact� that will result in disaster if it isn�t reformed, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, warned today.

Ban said that political and business leaders need to embrace economic innovation in order to save the planet.

�We need a revolution,� he told a panel at the World Economic Forum inDavos, Switzerland, on how best to make the global economy sustainable. �Climate change is also showing us that the old model is more than obsolete.�
The United States contributes $598M to the UN annually - this is 22% of the UN's entire funding. Saudi Arabia contributes 0.713%. What is it again that we are getting for our money?

Well Dang - Mike Pence is out of the running

From Reuters:
Mike Pence decides against Republican 2012 race
Conservative U.S. Representative Mike Pence on Thursday ruled out a 2012 run for the Republican presidential nomination but left the door open for a campaign to become Indiana's governor.

The Indianapolis Star said on its website that Pence, 51, made his announcement in a letter being sent to supporters.

"In the choice between seeking national office and serving Indiana in some capacity, we choose Indiana," Pence and wife Karen said in the letter. "We will not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012."
He would have been a strong candidate -- maybe four years as Governor and then a run in 2016.

Just wonderful

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From New Zealand station TV3:
Egypt internet down, counterterror unit up
Internet service in Egypt has been disrupted and the government has deployed an elite special operations force in Cairo today, hours before an anticipated new wave of anti-government protests.

The developments are a sign that President Hosni Mubarak's regime is toughening its crackdown following the biggest protests in years against his nearly 30-year rule.

The counter-terror force, rarely seen on the streets, have taken up positions in strategic locations, including central Tahrir Square, site of the biggest demonstrations this week.

Facebook and Twitter have helped drive this week's protests. But by Thursday evening, those sites were disrupted, along with cell phone text messaging and BlackBerry Messenger services. Then the internet went down.

Earlier, the grass-roots movement got a double boost - the return of Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and the backing of the biggest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

After midnight, security forces arrested at least three leaders of the Brotherhood and two former Members of Parliament, according to the group's lawyer, Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud, and spokesman, Walid Shalaby. They said security forces had also taken a large number of Brotherhood members in a sweep in Cairo and elsewhere.

The real test for the protest movement will be whether Egypt's fragmented opposition can come together, with Friday's rallies expected to be some of the biggest so far.

Social networking sites were abuzz that the gatherings called after Friday prayers could attract huge numbers of protesters demanding the ouster of Mubarak. Millions gather at mosques across the city on Fridays, giving organisers a vast pool of people to tap into.

The 82-year-old Mubarak has not been seen in public or heard from since the protests began Tuesday with tens of thousands marching in Cairo and a string of other cities. While he may still have a chance to ride out this latest challenge, his choices are limited, and all are likely to lead to a loosening of his grip on power.
In 2010, the US gave Egypt $1.3B in military aid and $250M in economic aid. Why? They are not a developing nation. Why do they get this kind of money from us and what do they give us in return?

Sitting here reading porn

The 2011 Grizzly Tools catalog showed up today.

Their cheap Chinese stuff is the same grade that you find anywhere -- Harbor Freight, etc...

Their Taiwanese and Indian stuff is made in ISO9000 facilities and is an amazing quality for the price. Nice to have both options available.

They also purchased the rights to Machine maker South Bend and are now offering replacement parts for the older South Bend lathes, mills, etc... as well as new machines built to the same level of precision.

Photo Retouching

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Fun story from Not Always Right:
The Magic (Re)Touch
(I used to work as a digital retoucher in a traditional photo store, before Photoshop became known outside of the graphics industry.)

Customer: �I see you restore old pictures. I have this one of my great-grandmother and -grandfather, but it�s very faded and damaged.�

Me: �Sure. I would be glad to fix that up for you. May I see it?�

(The customer hands over grainy black & white photo of a fair-looking couple. Both are wearing rather jaunty headgear.)

Me: �No problem. I can have this done for you in a few hours. The price will be $XX.XX. Or $XX.XX, if you�d like any alterations.�

Customer: �Well, it would be terrific if you could remove my great-grandpa�s hat. Can you do that?�

Me: �I would be glad to. It will take a little longer, but you should be very pleased. Would you mind telling me which side he parted his hair on?�

Customer: �Oh, I don�t know. You�ll see when you take off the hat.�
From Dean Nelson and Richard Alleyne writing at The UK Telegraph:
Himalayan glaciers not melting because of climate change, report finds
Researchers have discovered that contrary to popular belief half of the ice flows in the Karakoram range of the mountains are actually growing rather than shrinking.

The discovery adds a new twist to the row over whether global warming is causing the world's highest mountain range to lose its ice cover.

It further challenges claims made in a 2007 report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the glaciers would be gone by 2035.
And the science behind the story:
Dr Bodo Bookhagen, Dirk Scherler and Manfred Strecker studied 286 glaciers between the Hindu Kush on the Afghan-Pakistan border to Bhutan, taking in six areas.

Their report, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, found the key factor affecting their advance or retreat is the amount of debris � rocks and mud � strewn on their surface, not the general nature of climate change.

Glaciers surrounded by high mountains and covered with more than two centimetres of debris are protected from melting.

Debris-covered glaciers are common in the rugged central Himalaya, but they are almost absent in subdued landscapes on the Tibetan Plateau, where retreat rates are higher.

In contrast, more than 50 per cent of observed glaciers in the Karakoram region in the northwestern Himalaya are advancing or stable.

"Our study shows that there is no uniform response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change and highlights the importance of debris cover for understanding glacier retreat, an effect that has so far been neglected in predictions of future water availability or global sea level," the authors concluded.

Dr Bookhagen said their report had shown "there is no stereotypical Himalayan glacier" in contrast to the UN's climate change report which, he said, "lumps all Himalayan glaciers together."
How much money has been wasted on this fraud and why are some idiots still buying into it... Climate = Variable End of story... Hat tip to Anthony for the link

Bakery Blogging

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Got about ten pounds of pork shoulder sitting in the fridge under a spicy dry rub. Tonight, just before I leave, I'll turn the convection oven down to 240F and let it slow-cook until the bakers come in tomorrow morning. Had the kitchen crew do some buns and I'll do some coleslaw tomorrow morning. Memphis style -- Mmmmmm...
From FOX News:
Illinois High Court: Emanuel Can Run for Chicago Mayor
Illinois' highest court put Rahm Emanuel back in the race for Chicago mayor Thursday, three days after a lower court threw the former White House chief of staff off the ballot because he had not lived in the city for a full year.

The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Emanuel's favor, saying an appeals court decision that said the candidate needed to be physically present in Chicago was "without any foundation in Illinois law."

"As I said from the beginning, I think the voters deserve the right to make the choice of who should be mayor," Emanuel said shortly after getting word of the high court's action. "I'm not quite sure emotionally where I'm at.
I think one of the more interesting outcomes of the Obama presidency is discovering just how corrupt and dirty Illinois politics is -- Chicago especially. From Obama's dirty tricks with Ryan to get him into the Senate through the election to this.

A trip down memory lane

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Back in 1978, these were the employees of Microsoft:
Where are they now? Business Insider has the answers:
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? What Happened To The People In Microsoft's Iconic 1978 Company Photo
It's one of the most iconic photos in American business.

A ragtag group of bearded weirdos assembled for a family portrait in Albuquerque.

Usually, there's a question above the photo: "Would you have invested?"

It's a trick question. You're supposed to answer no � because well, look at those people � but then you learn it's a company portrait of Microsoft from 1978.

It was taken just before the then startup left Albuquerque for Seattle. (Microsoft couldn't find anyone willing to move to New Mexico.)

Early employee Bob Greenberg, pictured in the middle, won the free portrait after calling in a radio show and guessing the name of an assassinated president. The gang reluctantly gathered together in some of their finest attire, and American business legend was made.

We all know what happened with the two guys in the bottom left and bottom right corners -- Bill Gates, and Paul Allen. But what about the rest? We saw the question pop up on Hacker News recently, and decided to find out.
An interesting mix of stories...

Jen's family - Grandpa Hank

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He tells stories about his time in the SEALs. Here is a wonderful post on that (with photos) Check out Hank Weldon�s WWII Navy UDT crew helped pave the way for the SEAL teams An excerpt:
Weldon was one of nearly 40 sailors selected to take part in the U.S. Navy�s Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT), which were formed in 1943 under the direction of Rear Admiral Richard K. Turner, and eventually came to be recognized as the beginning of the SEAL teams.

Weldon, who will turn 88 in May, recalls that he didn�t exactly know what he was getting into at the time.

�I was one of a hundred and eighty recruits, and after we had graduated, there was an Army Master Sergeant and General [William Joseph �Wild Bill�] Donovan came through looking for swimmers,� he says. �Well, I had been a lifeguard at a country club back home in Tulsa, and when they said it�s for a swim team, I had to go and open my mouth.�

General Donovan was the head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during WWII, the forerunner of today�s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The team Donovan was putting together was to train for reconnaissance, underwater demolition, infiltrating and exfiltrating by sea and intelligence gathering.

�They had us doing things like diving down ten feet and bringing a manhole cover back up, just to show what we could do in the water,� Weldon says. �After I graduated, they picked out four of us and told us, �Here�s your orders, get your rig and get moving.�� The unit did a bit of traveling before settling in to its new home, and Weldon says that they were still in the dark about what, exactly, they were training for.

�At first we trained with an Army Ranger battalion at Camp Pendleton,� he says. �Then we trained with the OSS at a yacht club in San Clemente, then we went back down the coast to Pendleton. Nobody knew what we were doing.�

The training intensified when the unit went to Catalina Island, and Weldon remembers stealth being of the utmost importance �We got a rubber raft with a car battery and a motor with a small propeller to haul our demolition equipment,� he says. �When we got to White�s Cove [on Catalina Island], we trained with the OSS. There were about thirty or forty of us, in big part there were ex-lifeguards and guys from the Coast Guard. For practice, they gave us a bunch of dummy TNT at high tide, dropped us off about a half-mile offshore and told us to plant it all along the coast while our COs [commanding officers] kept watch. One of the COs said he thought he saw something, but they didn�t see us. When daylight came, the tide went out and all you could see was the dummy TNT all along the shore.�
An amazing life. I am proud to know him.

Sir Spamalot

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Usually get a couple spam attempts/day but woke up this morning to over twenty with ten more coming in throughout the day. All of them failures. They all had a couple of matching patterns too so they are coming from the same botnet. All these people are doing is feeding new 'broken' IP addresses into the blackhole list. Shooting fish in a barrel -- these monors are so lame...

That is it for the night

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There is some kind of crud floating around and I think I may have caught it. Body ache, headache (and I get headaches maybe four or five of these/year at most) and a general feeling of crappiness. Off to the DaveCave(tm) and then an early bedtime...

The State of the Union

A lot of the pundits are yammering about it. I am waiting until I read the transcript (and Paul Ryan's rebuttal) before posting.

Shades of the Bellesiles affair

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From The Washington Post:
Archives: historian tampered with Lincoln pardon
The National Archives says a longtime Abraham Lincoln researcher has been caught telling a big lie about Honest Abe.

The Archives said Monday that historian Thomas P. Lowry, 78, of Woodbridge, has acknowledged that he used a fountain pen with special ink to change the date on a presidential pardon issued by Lincoln to a military deserter, making it appear that Lowry had uncovered a document of historical significance.

Specifically, Lowry changed the date of the pardon from April 14, 1864 to April 14, 1865. The Archive said the change made it look as if Lowry had discovered a document that was perhaps Lincoln's final official act before he was assassinated that evening at Ford's Theatre.

Lowry's purported discovery was hailed by historians when he came forward in 1998. At the time, a Civil War expert with the Archives said Lowry had made "a unique and substantial contribution to Lincoln research and to the study of the Civil War."

The National Archives gave the document prominent display, putting it on tour along with other important Lincoln documents.

But for several years, archivist Thomas Plante had been troubled by the document. The '5' appeared to be darker than the rest of the document and was perhaps covering another number. Plante then checked the document against an authoritative collection of Lincoln's writings, which showed the pardon of a Union Army deserter named Patrick Murphy had occurred in 1864. At that point, Plante took his concerns to the Archives' Office of Inspector General, where an investigator shared Plante's suspicions.

The Archives said it then contacted Lowry to try and determine what happened.
Now, nothing that Lowry has done can be trusted. And the Bellesiles in the post title, this moke has quite the past.

That's it for today

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Long day with lots of stuff to do. Early evening, DaveCave(tm) and then to bed.

Justice will prevail

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I would love to be a fly on the wall for this one. From Chicago station WBBM:
BREAKING: Court Tosses Emanuel Off Ballot
The Illinois Appellate Court has tossed mayoral frontrunner Rahm Emanuel off the ballot, reversing the decision of a lower court.

The Appellate Court reached a 2-1 decision to remove Emanuel.

Appellate judges Thomas Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall ruled against Emanuel. Justice Bertina Lampkin voted in favor of keeping President Obama�s former chief of staff on the Feb. 22 ballot.

�It�s a surprise,� said Kevin Forde, the attorney who argued on Emanuel�s behalf.

Emanuel�s attorneys are expected to use Lampkin�s dissenting opinion to appeal the case to the Illinois Supreme Court.

In today�s ruling, Hoffman wrote: �We � order that the candidate�s name be excluded (or if, necessary, be removed) from the ballot from Chicago�s Feb. 22, 2011.�

Opponents have been trying to get Emanuel removed on the grounds that he did not reside in Chicago for a year before the upcoming February election. He moved to Washington, D.C., two years ago to work for President Barack Obama.
I wonder if the Illinois Supreme Court has the stones to stand up for the law. He certainly did not live full-time in Chicago for the previous year. He even rented out his house which says that he wasn't flying back and forth.

Some interesting news

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From LENR.org/news:
Focardi and Rossi press conference
January 2011
On January 14, 2011, Sergio Focardi and Andrea Rossi held a press conference at the University of Bologna. They demonstrated a 10 kilowatt nickel-light water cold fusion reactor. See Rossi's web site:


Focari and Piantelli have published many papers claiming excess heat from nickel. Here is an example from 1998. No attempts to replicate this by other groups have been reported, although Mills and others have claimed excess heat from nickel using somewhat different methods. Rossi received a patent.

We have complied a Brief Technical Description of the Experiment from various sources, including photographs of the equipment, and we have uploaded a short interview with Prof. Levi who conducted the experiment, and a list of recommendations for further tests by Prof. Nagel.

Here is a report on the test by Levi and Bianchini that was published on January 24, 2011
An input of 1,000 Watts of electrical power tapering off to 400 Watts. After 30 minutes, an output of dry steam representing an energy of 12K Watts. I am not jumping on the bandwagon here but if this pans out, things will get real interesting real fast. The two investigators are keeping the design close to their vest for very good reason. I would give these people a lot more creedence than the mokes at Steorn.

The Religion of Peace again

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Crap -- from FOX News:
Explosion Kills at Least 35, Injures 46 at Moscow's Busiest Airport
An explosion ripped through the international arrivals hall at Moscow's busiest airport on Monday, killing at least 35 people and wounding about 46, an airport spokesman said.

Russian news agencies reported the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber and that the device was packed with shrapnel.

"From the preliminary information we have it was a terror attack," President Dmitry Medvedev told officials.

Amateur video posted on YouTube showed the terminal engulfed by smoke, with a pile of bodies in one section and other bodies scattered around the floor. Luggage lay strewn across the ground and there were several small fires. A dazed man in a suit pushed a baggage cart through the carnage.

Medvedev said the explosion demonstrated that security regulations had been breached and ordered Moscow police to beef up security at Moscow's two other commercial airports and other key transport facilities, including the subway system, the target of past terror attacks.
My prayers go out to those poor people and their families. The only heartening thing is that the Russians recognize this for what it is and justice will be terrible and swift. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will not label this as a man-caused disaster and Attorney General Eric Holder will not attempt to try these foreigners in a civil court system.

Cool day to be from Pittsburgh, PA

Not a big sports fan -- I'd rather be out hiking than sitting somewhere watching a commercial athletic event but, having been born in Pittsburgh, Go Steelers! To quote Sally Jenkins at The Washington Post:
All of a sudden, there wasn't much to say. The Pittsburgh Steelers had shut up the New York Jets abruptly and completely. They beat the smack out of them by halftime, and then smothered them, choked them off, and practically did everything but stuff rags down their throats.
Heh. 24-19 is not too shabby...
I am doing a roadtrip to Yellowstone in a few weeks. Looks like things are heating up there -- from National Geographic:
Yellowstone Has Bulged as Magma Pocket Swells
Yellowstone National Park's supervolcano just took a deep "breath," causing miles of ground to rise dramatically, scientists report.

The simmering volcano has produced major eruptions�each a thousand times more powerful than Mount St. Helens's 1980 eruption�three times in the past 2.1 million years. Yellowstone's caldera, which covers a 25- by 37-mile swath of Wyoming, is an ancient crater formed after the last big blast, some 640,000 years ago.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Servant or snoop in the parking garage?
Anyone who has ever tramped through a dim, Escher-esque parking garage in search of a "lost" automobile might welcome an abracadabra technology that could help locate it.

But what if that magic involved an array of 24/7 surveillance cameras and was also available to police and auto repossessers? What if it could be tapped by jilted lovers, or that angry guy you accidentally cut off in traffic? Would the convenience be worth the loss of privacy?

Those are some of the questions civil libertarians and others are asking as technology capable of spying on motorists and pedestrians is converted to widespread commercial use.

Santa Monica Place recently unveiled the nation's first camera-based "Find Your Car" system. Shoppers who have lost track of their vehicle amid a maze of concrete ramps and angled stripes can simply punch their license plate number into a kiosk touch screen, which then displays a photo of the car and its location.
Potential for abuse...

RIP - Jack LaLanne

From FOX News:
Fitness Guru Jack LaLanne Dies at 96
Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru who inspired television viewers to trim down and pump iron for decades before exercise became a national obsession, died Sunday. He was 96.

LaLanne died of respiratory failure due to pneumonia Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay on California's central coast, his longtime agent Rick Hersh said.

Lalanne ate healthy and exercised every day of his life up until the end, Hersh said.

"I have not only lost my husband and a great American icon, but the best friend and most loving partner anyone could ever hope for," Elaine LaLanne, Lalanne's wife of 51 years and a frequent partner in his television appearances, said in a written statement.
96 is not a bad run all things considered...

Is Gmail trying to tell me something?

I created a Gmail account for a local group. I got an email back from Google letting me know of the sucessful account creation. Gmail flagged it as spam:


Stupid in the Northwest

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From Seattle station KIRO:
Burn Victims In Bellevue Car Fire Were Filling Gas While Driving
A fire that engulfed a van in Bellevue on Wednesday was caused by the passengers filling up the van with gas while it was being driving, Bellevue police investigators said.

The fire burned three people in the van and sent them to Harborview.

Investigators said they spoke to the female victim, who was able to explain the events leading up to the explosion.

The woman said she and her two friends had bought gas at a Factoria gas station, but were having trouble keeping the van running. She said they didn't have a gas can, so they filled an open bucket with two gallons of gas and put it in the van.

The engine cowling -- a piece of metal that covered the engine and which was located between the two front seats of the van -- had been removed, the woman said. The passengers used a water bottle to transfer gas from the bucket directly into the carburetor in order to keep the engine running.

The van was filled with gas fumes as the three drove east on Kamber Road, the woman said. The van stalled just before 145 Place Southeast and as the driver tried to restart the van, it exploded.

The van became fully engulfed in flames and started rolling backward, investigators said.

Witnesses said the woman jumped out of the back of the van and fell to the ground, on fire, and that the van rolled over her leg.

Investigators said the two men jumped out of the van and ran toward the gas station.

All three people were on fire and "desperately trying to put it out," investigators said.

One man made it to the gas station and tried to douse himself with water.

The three people were taken to Harborview Medical Center, where they remained on Thursday. Their names have not been released, but investigators said they were Bellevue residents.
Paging Dr. Darwin; Dr. Darwin to the white courtesy phone please...

Two European scandals

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Two interesting stories from Europe. From Christopher Booker writing at the UK Telegraph:
The costs of the EU's Galileo satellite system are still skyrocketing
Last week brought further embarrassments to the two biggest and most megalomaniac projects the EU has ever undertaken. One was the suspension of its vast carbon trading scheme, the chief component of its drive to fight global warming, after it was discovered that internet hackers had stolen carbon emission permits worth �35 million. The second was the suspension of a top German businessman after it was revealed, by WikiLeaks, that he had told US diplomats the real, and carefully hidden, purpose of the Galileo space project.

Criminal gangs have for some time been targeting the EU�s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which forces electricity firms and other large concerns to pay �80 billion a year for the right to continue emitting CO2. In 2009, Europol uncovered a massive VAT racket involving carbon permits which had robbed EU taxpayers of five billion euros in real money, one of the biggest frauds in history. In 2010 it exposed the theft of another half a billion euros in Italy alone, with police investigations still continuing in nine other countries, involving raids on hundreds of offices all over Europe.
The Carbon Trading is interesting and I love that the theft is against something so idiotic (CO2 = Plant Food!) What is really troubling is the Galileo Satellite:
The offence of Mr Berry Smutny, the now-suspended CEO of a German firm which has a �500 million contract to build 14 satellites for the Galileo global positioning system, was that in 2009, according to Wikileaks, he told senior Americans at a private dinner party that it was a �stupid idea�, intended only to serve French interests at the expense of EU taxpayers. This was only a hint � and even this was enough to get him suspended � that the real purpose of Galileo, the EU�s rival to the American GPS system, is quite different from what the world has been told.

The cover story for Galileo, from the time of its launch in 2000, was that it was a civil project, largely to be paid for by private investors, who could then charge its users. GPS, on the other hand, is funded by US taxpayers as an openly military project, which is why its spin-off uses, such as to the owners of sat-navs, are free. It was hoped that Galileo could be paid for through a satellite-based road-charging scheme across the EU. But in 2007, after it became clear that this was not viable, the private partners pulled out, landing the entire, ever-rising bill on EU taxpayers.

The real story of Galileo, however � as a French defence minister admitted in 2004, and as I have been reporting here for years � is that it has always been pushed by France as a military system which in time of war could operate independently of the US system. It is seen as the key to France selling billions of pounds worth of satellite-guided missiles, above all to China, which in 2003 bought a 20 per cent share in Galileo.

But as the costs of Galileo that are publicly admitted continue to hurtle skywards � they rose by another �1.7 billion only last Tuesday � it is astonishing how Britain�s politicians remain oblivious to its purpose. The late Gwyneth Dunwoody spoke out, when she called Galileo �not one pig flying in orbit [but] a herd of pigs with gold trotters, platinum tails and diamond eyes�. Yet she did so only as chairman of the Commons transport committee, seemingly unaware that Galileo was not simply a transport issue, as the European Commission pretends, but should more properly have been considered by the defence committee.
So the entire EU taxpayers are on the hook for well over 1.7 Billion UKP that only serve to benefit the French defense industry. I love the quote:
a herd of pigs with gold trotters, platinum tails and diamond eyes

A Rift in the Rift

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Curious geological happenings in Africa. From Der Spiegel:
Violent Seismic Activity Tearing Africa in Two
Cynthia Ebinger, a geologist from the University of Rochester in New York, could hardly believe what the caller from the deserts of Ethiopia was saying. It was an employee at a mineralogy company -- and he reported that the famous Erta Ale volcano in northeastern Ethiopia was erupting. Ebinger, who has studied the volcano for years, was taken aback. The volcano's crater had always been filled with a bubbling soup of silver-black lava, but it had been decades since its last eruption.

The call came last November. And Ebinger immediately flew to Ethiopia with some fellow researchers. "The volcano was bubbling over; flaming-red lava was shooting up into the sky," Ebinger told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

The earth is in upheaval in northeastern Africa, and the region is changing quickly. The desert floor is quaking and splitting open, volcanoes are boiling over, and seawaters are encroaching upon the land. Africa, researchers are certain, is splitting apart at a rate rarely seen in geology.

The first fracture appeared millions of years ago, resulting in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The second fracture, stretching south from Ethiopia to Mozambique, is known as the Great Rift Valley, and it is lined with several volcanoes. Millions of years from now, it too will be filled with seawater.
But not this part of the continent:
But in the Danakil Depression, in the northern part of the valley, the ocean could arrive much sooner. There, low, 25 meter (82 foot) hills are the only thing holding back the waters of the Red Sea. The land behind them has already dropped dozens of meters from previous levels and white salt deposits on the desert floor testify to past encroachments of the sea. But lava soon choked off its access.

For now, no one can really say when the sea will finally flood the desert. But when it does, it could go quickly. "The hills could sink in a matter of days," Tim Wright, a fellow at the University of Leeds' School of Earth and Environment, said at a recent conference hosted by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco.

In the last five years, the geologic transformation of northeastern Africa has "accelerated dramatically," says Wright. Indeed, the process is going much faster than many had anticipated. In recent years, geologists had measured just a few millimeters of movement each year. "But now the earth is opening up by the meter," says Loraine Field, a scholar at the University of Bristol who also attended the conference.
There is a photo gallery with the article -- here are three:


The Red Sea is on the other side of the hills in the distance of the first photo. The valley floor is below sea level.

A China three-fer

From the Wall Street Journal:
China Bank Moves to Buy U.S. Branches
China's biggest bank signed an agreement that would make it the first Beijing-controlled financial institution to acquire retail bank branches in the U.S., though regulators could still block the deal.

Under the deal, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., by some measures the world's largest bank, agreed to acquire a majority stake in Bank of East Asia Ltd.'s U.S. subsidiary. ICBC will pay $140 million for an 80% stake. Bank of East Asia, which is a publicly traded company based in Hong Kong, has a total of 13 branches in New York and California. ICBC and Bank of East Asia have talked to U.S. regulators about the deal, these people said.

The move represents what could be the start of big expansions by Chinese financial institutions in the U.S.
Second, from the UK Guardian:
Chinese stealth fighter jet may use US technology
A Chinese stealth fighter jet that could pose a significant threat to American air superiority may borrow from US technology, it has been claimed.

Balkan military officials and other experts said China may have gleaned knowledge from a US F-117 Nighthawk that was shot down over Serbia in 1999.

"At the time, our intelligence reports told of Chinese agents crisscrossing the region where the F-117 disintegrated, buying up parts of the plane from local farmers," said Admiral Davor Domazet-Loso, Croatia's military chief of staff during the Kosovo war. "We believe the Chinese used those materials to gain an insight into secret stealth technologies ... and to reverse-engineer them."
Twelve year old technology but still... And finally, from The Epoch Times
Chinese Pianist Plays Propaganda Tune at White House
Lang Lang the pianist says he chose it. Chairman Hu Jintao recognized it as soon as he heard it. Patriotic Chinese Internet users were delighted as soon as they saw the videos online. Early morning TV viewers in China knew it would be played an hour or two beforehand. At the White House State dinner on Jan. 19, about six minutes into his set, Lang Lang began tapping out a famous anti-American propaganda melody from the Korean War: the theme song to the movie �Battle on Shangganling Mountain.�

The film depicts a group of �People�s Volunteer Army� soldiers who are first hemmed in at Shanganling (or Triangle Hill) and then, when reinforcements arrive, take up their rifles and counterattack the U.S. military �jackals.�

The movie and the tune are widely known among Chinese, and the song has been a leading piece of anti-American propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for decades. CCP propaganda has always referred to the Korean War as the �movement to resist America and help [North] Korea.� The message of the propaganda is that the United States is an enemy�in fighting in the Korean War the United States� real goal was said to be to invade and conquer China. The victory at Triangle Hill was promoted as a victory over imperialists.

The song Lang Lang played describes how beautiful China is and then near the end has this verse, �When friends are here, there is fine wine /But if the jackal comes /What greets it is the hunting rifle.� The �jackal� in the song is the United States.
Just wonderful. We are yielding the world stage to a communist government...

Good Lord... First it's General Electric whose president is now sitting on the Jobs Council

Now Michelle is teaming up with Wal-Mart for a new Five Year Plan:

Wal-Mart Shifts Strategy to Promote Healthy Foods
Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, will announce a five-year plan on Thursday to make thousands of its packaged foods lower in unhealthy salts, fats and sugars, and to drop prices on fruits and vegetables.
The initiative came out of discussions the company has been having with Michelle Obama, the first lady, who will attend the announcement in Washington and has made healthy eating and reducing childhood obesity the centerpiece of her agenda. Aides say it is the first time Mrs. Obama has thrown her support behind the work of a single company.

From Garden Serf (hat tip for the link):

Five Year Plans - God Help Us
When I read Wal-Mart and Michelle Obama had announced a "Five Year Plan" together when it came to providing food in America, I immediately recalled the numerous Five Year Plans of the Soviet Union. (Aides say it is the first time Mrs. Obama has thrown her support behind the work of a single company .Some say the company has almost as much power as federal regulators to shape the marketplace.) It seemed fitting that this announcement came from America's biggest big box mega-mart which is itself eerily reminiscent of the the USSR State Store. The one store that sells everything when it came to common consumer goods was something planned for by Lenin in his writings.

Here are some pictures from the 'old' USSR after many Five Year Plans had been successfully accomplished (as per official State statistics):


We saw a taste of this with Jimmy Carter's gas lines - state regulated commerce. Our leaders are failing their history lessons...

That's it for the evening

Had dinner, was sitting talking with some friends and noticed a couple State Patrol cars heading East up the highway. The only thing up there is the ski area and the town of Glacier which is where the Skate Park fundraiser was being held. Although I appreciate the work they do, they have been really aggressive of late in policing Glacier. Last new years, a party spilled out onto the street and someone with a boombox was tased twice. People get pulled over for a burned out lightbulb, etc... Since I had already had a few beers, I figured it was better to just head home. Tired so DaveCave(tm) and an early bedtime.
Check out the Journal of Universal Rejection:
About the Journal
The founding principle of the Journal of Universal Rejection (JofUR) is rejection. Universal rejection. That is to say, all submissions, regardless of quality, will be rejected. Despite that apparent drawback, here are a number of reasons you may choose to submit to the JofUR:
  • You can send your manuscript here without suffering waves of anxiety regarding the eventual fate of your submission. You know with 100% certainty that it will not be accepted for publication.
  • There are no page-fees.
  • You may claim to have submitted to the most prestigious journal (judged by acceptance rate).
  • The JofUR is one-of-a-kind. Merely submitting work to it may be considered a badge of honor.
  • You retain complete rights to your work, and are free to resubmit to other journals even before our review process is complete.
  • Decisions are often (though not always) rendered within hours of submission.

Instructions for Authors
The JofUR solicits any and all types of manuscript: poetry, prose, visual art, and research articles. You name it, we take it, and reject it. Your manuscript may be formatted however you wish. Frankly, we don't care.

After submitting your work, the decision process varies. Often the Editor-in-Chief will reject your work out-of-hand, without even reading it! However, he might read it. Probably he'll skim. At other times your manuscript may be sent to anonymous referees. Unless they are the Editor-in-Chief's wife or graduate school buddies, it is unlikely that the referees will even understand what is going on. Rejection will follow as swiftly as a bird dropping from a great height after being struck by a stone. At other times, rejection may languish like your email buried in the Editor-in-Chief's inbox. But it will come, swift or slow, as surely as death. Rejection.

Submissions should be emailed to the Editor-in-Chief. Small files only, please. Why not just send the first couple pages if it is long?

Long day today

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Very busy at the bakery -- we have broken past records with today's sales. Last night, our Espresso machine started leaking but there is a very good local technician and he was able to come out and get it up and running again. Ran into town as this place: Harbor Freight was having its Grand Opening today. Picked up a couple bales of hay for our critters and then back to the bakery. Dinner across the street and then there is a benefit for a local skate park so I'll show up there for 30 minutes or so...
I had written last month about how natural beach erosion was being "battled" and that the cause was Global Warming. Today's story comes from Dubai and it is a combination of shoddy engineering, bad financials and putting the blame on Climate Change. From the UK Telegraph:
The World is sinking: Dubai islands 'falling into the sea'
But the World, the ambitiously-constructed archipelago of islands shaped like the countries of the globe, is sinking back into the sea, according to evidence cited before a property tribunal.

The islands were intended to be developed with tailor-made hotel complexes and luxury villas, and sold to millionaires. They are off the coast of Dubai and accessible by yacht or motor boat.

Now their sands are eroding and the navigational channels between them are silting up, the British lawyer for a company bringing a case against the state-run developer, Nakheel, has told judges.

"The islands are gradually falling back into the sea," Richard Wilmot-Smith QC, for Penguin Marine, said. The evidence showed "erosion and deterioration of The World islands", he added.

With all but one of the islands still uninhabited � Greenland � and that one a showpiece owned by the ruler of Dubai, most of the development plans have been brought to a crashing halt by the financial crisis.
Dubai is trying to position itself as the new Switzerland and not doing that well...

About those birds

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Remember the big bird die-offs in several states last month? From the Christian Science Monitor:
Bye Bye Blackbird: USDA acknowledges a hand in one mass bird death
It's not the "aflockalyptic" fallout from a secret US weapon lab as some have theorized. But the government acknowledged Thursday that it had a hand in one of a string of mysterious mass bird deaths that have spooked residents in Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, South Dakota, and Kentucky in the last month.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) took responsibility for hundreds of dead starlings that were found on the ground and frozen in trees in a Yankton, S.D., park on Monday.

The USDA's Wildlife Services Program, which contracts with farmers for bird control, said it used an avicide poison called DRC-1339 to cull a roost of 5,000 birds that were defecating on a farmer's cattle feed across the state line in Nebraska. But officials said the agency had nothing to do with large and dense recent bird kills in Arkansas and Louisiana.
And then the story starts to get strange:
Nevertheless, the USDA's role in the South Dakota bird deaths puts a focus on a little-known government bird-control program that began in the 1960s under the name of Bye Bye Blackbird, which eventually became part of the USDA and was housed in the late '60s at a NASA facility. In 2009, USDA agents euthanized more than 4 million red-winged blackbirds, starlings, cowbirds, and grackles, primarily using pesticides that the government says are not harmful to pets or humans.
So we have this program at the USDA that has been lurching along under the wire since the 1960's. They own up to one bird kill but deny any of the others. Don't they have any grasp of population dynamics? If you remove a species from a niche, the niche will refill faster than before the removal as you have more food and less competition. A few generations and you are right back to where you started. Basic biology... If they are concerned with the hordes of birds eating the 200 pounds/year of cattle feed (as mentioned in the article), they should just keep some hawks around. Cool birds and they will keep the rodent population down too.

Here's how you do it - cutting spending

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The Republican Study Committee released their proposal to cut $2.5 Trillion from Federal Spending over the next ten years. A two-page summary of their ideas can be found in this PDF file and the 78-page bill text is in this PDF file (what, no pork laden 2,000 page bill? I am liking this Congress!) An overview:
Spending Reduction Act of 2011
The Spending Reduction Act of 2011 reduces federal spending by $2.5 trillion over ten years. The bill will specifically hold FY 2011 non-security discretionary spending to FY 08 levels, hold non-defense discretionary spending to FY 06 levels thereafter for the rest of the ten-year budget window (the same level as in effect during the last year of GOP control of the Congress), and include more than 100 other program eliminations or savings proposals, consisting of proposals from the RSC Sunset Caucus, YouCut, or past RSC budgets.
Some highlights:
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting Subsidy. $445 million annual savings.
  • Save America�s Treasures Program. $25 million annual savings.
  • International Fund for Ireland. $17 million annual savings.
  • Legal Services Corporation. $420 million annual savings.
  • National Endowment for the Arts. $167.5 million annual savings.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities. $167.5 million annual savings.
  • Hope VI Program. $250 million annual savings.
  • Amtrak Subsidies. $1.565 billion annual savings.
  • Eliminate duplicative education programs. H.R. 2274 (in last Congress), authored by Rep. McKeon, eliminates 68 at a savings of $1.3 billion annually.
  • U.S. Trade Development Agency. $55 million annual savings.
  • Woodrow Wilson Center Subsidy. $20 million annual savings.
  • Cut in half funding for congressional printing and binding. $47 million annual savings.
  • John C. Stennis Center Subsidy. $430,000 annual savings.
These are just the first thirteen of a hundred items to be cut. A lot of favorite oxen to be gored but it will never be easy and really needs to be done sooner than later. Kudos to them for putting this on the table and getting the ball rolling. If I were King, the Environmental Protection Agency would be the first entity to get the axe -- entirely shut it down. It has entirely overstepped its bounds and in the last two years has had a budget increase of over 150%.

Silly season starting early this time

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From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Newt Gingrich tells Georgia Republicans he�ll be a candidate in �12
In the last 24 hours, former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich has touched base with several prominent Republicans in his former home state, telling them that he intends to make a run for president in 2012 using Georgia as his base � and that he already has his eye on office space in Buckhead for a campaign headquarters.

Gingrich met on Thursday with Nathan Deal, whom Gingrich endorsed during a critical phase of last year�s Republican primary for governor.

House Speaker David Ralston introduced Gingrich Thursday night at a downtown Atlanta affair hosted by the Paulding County Chamber of Commerce.

The visits and conversations � some face-to-face, others on the phone � appear to be an attempt by Gingrich to revive his old campaign network and lock down as much support as possible in a state won by Republican Mike Huckabee in the 2008 presidential primary.
A couple other names come to mind first but Gingrich would not be a bad president. He was effective during his time as speaker.

Road Trip

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Heading out to Yellowstone National Park in a few weeks for a road trip. Three local guys and I are driving out to take a history class of the Yellowstone area. The reason for the trip is that part of the course materials are the daily diary entries of one guy's Grandfather. He donated the diaries to the institute. Heading out early February 16th and arriving back sometime in the following week. Photos will be taken...

Patrick Moore

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Patrick Moore was a co-founder of Greenpeace and has a few words on sustainability and global warming: Great stuff -- his book can be found here: Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist Thanks to The Daily Bayonet for the link.

A question of birth

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I do not buy into the whole conspiracy over the location of Obama's birth but it makes me wonder why the certificate just isn't scanned into a PDF and posted on the web somewhere. From the London Daily Mail:
Hawaii governor claims record of Obama's birth 'exists in archives' but can't produce the vital document
Pressure was mounting on Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie today amid increasing confusion over whether President Obama was born there.

Abercrombie said on Tuesday that an investigation had unearthed papers proving Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961.

He told Honolulu's Star-Advertiser: 'It actually exists in the archives, written down,' he said.

But it became apparent that what had been discovered was an unspecified listing or notation of Obama's birth that someone had made in the state archives and not a birth certificate.

And in the same interview Abercrombie suggested that a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate for Barack Obama may not exist within the vital records maintained by the Hawaii Department of Health.

He said efforts were still being made to track down definitive vital records that would prove Obama was born in Hawaii.

Abercrombie was asked: 'You stirred up quite a controversy with your comments regarding birthers and your plan to release more information regarding President Barack Obama's birth certificate. How is that coming?'
Who doesn't have a birth certificate? Also, why are his college transcripts sealed -- if we elect someone we need to know who they are, warts and all.
Click to embiggen…
From this post.


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Gotta love that place -- from the San Francisco Chronicle:
UC regents hand out raises after word of cuts
Finances are so dire at the University of California that it might have to turn away qualified students, but UC has still found a way to reward hundreds of employees with more than $4 million in incentive pay and raises.

At the regents meeting Thursday in San Diego, UC officials reported giving rewards of $150 to $41,205 to nearly 1,500 UCSF employees who met performance targets, raising the pay of some campus executives to above market rate, and providing 10 percent raises of about $20,000 a year to three executives at their Oakland headquarters.

The executives, who have various financial responsibilities for the UC system, will earn between $216,370 and $247,500 in base pay.
From the New York Times:
Bonus Payments to City Retirees Are Drawing Ire
As San Francisco struggles under ballooning pension and health care costs, the city�s retirees will receive unexpected cost-of-living bonuses totaling $170 million. The city�s anticipated budget deficit for the coming year is $360 million.

A political battle has raged over the city�s growing retirement obligations. In November, Proposition B, which would have required city workers to contribute more toward their pensions and benefits, was soundly defeated. The measure�s opponents � every major elected official and energetic public-employee unions � said fears about the pension fund were overblown.

Meanwhile, the fund�s fundamentals deteriorated as it gradually accounted for its huge losses in the stock market crash. It took in $414 million in contributions in 2010 but paid out $819 million.

On Jan. 4, an actuarial firm reported that the $13.1 billion San Francisco Employees� Retirement System now had an unfunded liability of $1.6 billion � triple its shortfall a year earlier. Gary A. Amelio, the system�s chief since January 2010, did not respond to questions.
Fine for thee but not for me... From CNBC:
California Declares Fiscal Emergency
Jerry Brown, California�s governor, declared a state of fiscal emergency on Thursday for the government of the most populous US state to press lawmakers to tackle its $25.4 billion budget gap.
The good solution from the New York Times:
A Path Is Sought for States to Escape Their Debt Burdens
Policy makers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers.

Unlike cities, the states are barred from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court. Any effort to change that status would have to clear high constitutional hurdles because the states are considered sovereign.

But proponents say some states are so burdened that the only feasible way out may be bankruptcy, giving Illinois, for example, the opportunity to do what General Motors did with the federal government�s aid.

Beyond their short-term budget gaps, some states have deep structural problems, like insolvent pension funds, that are diverting money from essential public services like education and health care. Some members of Congress fear that it is just a matter of time before a state seeks a bailout, say bankruptcy lawyers who have been consulted by Congressional aides.

Bankruptcy could permit a state to alter its contractual promises to retirees, which are often protected by state constitutions, and it could provide an alternative to a no-strings bailout. Along with retirees, however, investors in a state�s bonds could suffer, possibly ending up at the back of the line as unsecured creditors.
A painful solution to be sure but the only one that gets the states out from underneath their over-extended obligations. Unions may have had their day but they are now unneeded and they are certainly not serving their constituants...

A geography lesson

From Not Always Right:
Bridging The Gulf Of Stupidity
Golf Shop | Ft. Wayne, IN, USA
Me: �Hello, thank you for calling [golf store]. How may I help you?�

Caller: �Could you tell me the difference between American golf and Mexican golf?�

Me: �Mexican golf? I�m pretty sure golf is played the same around the world.�

Caller: �Well, I�ve heard them mention the �Golf of Mexico� a few times on TV so I was wondering if it was any different.�

Light posting tonight

A dear friend had their 60th birthday party tonight at a local restaurant with about 100 people showing up. Merriment was had in abundance. Heading out to the DaveCave(tm) after a little surfing. Any typpoes are the fault of the spall chucker...

Two faces

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Got to love the two expressions in this photo swiped from the Drudge Report:
Hu's looking downright Machiavellian while Barry is rockin' a great "deer in the headlights" expression. It's the eyes for each of them...

Cool news from Washington DC

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From FOX News:
House Republicans Overturn 'ObamaCare' in Symbolic Move
The newly muscular House Republicans voted Wednesday to overturn President Obama's health care overhaul -- a move that is largely symbolic because the Democratic-controlled Senate is poised to ignore it while Obama is certain to veto it should it somehow pass through Congress.

The House passed the bill 245-189 with three Democrats -- Reps. Mike Ross, Dan Boren and Mike McIntyre --joining the Republican effort.

Even though Democrats are certain to block the bill in the Senate, Republicans are determined to chisel away at the law through attempts to deny funding for parts of the legislation as they go into effect in the coming years.

"The Congress can do better in terms of replacing Obamacare with common-sense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance and expand access for more Americans," House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday.
Even if it does get vetoed, it is the House that controls the budget so defunding can be implemented...

A wager

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From National Review:
Bastardi�s Wager
Joe Bastardi�s great love is atmospheric science. He says he�s been fascinated by it �since I was a baby. My dad�s a meteorologist, his great-grandfather was the town weatherman in Sicily, and my son wants to be a meteorologist.�

And he�s disturbed by how the science, which he values for its own sake, has been infected with politics. According to Bastardi, the intelligentsia see new weather developments as an �incessant stream of confirmations� of global warming: �I just took out the New York Times from ten years ago, saying the reason it�s not snowing is global warming. Now you�ve got guys in the Times saying the reason it�s snowing is global warming.�

But unlike most climate skeptics, Bastardi is in a position to change the conversation. He�s a meteorologist and forecaster with AccuWeather, and he proposes a wager of sorts. �The scientific approach is you see the other argument, you put forward predictions about where things are going to go, and you test them,� he says. �That is what I have done. I have said the earth will cool .1 to .2 Celsius in the next ten years, according to objective satellite data.� Bastardi�s challenge to his critics � who are legion � is to make their own predictions. And then wait. Climate science, he adds, �is just a big weather forecast.�
Heh... The article then goes on to cite six specific reasons why Bastardi thinks that the AGWers are overstating their case. Some compelling facts. The article ends with this quote:
�Let me tell you something. If I�m right, we�re going to need all the energy we can get. It�s a lot harder to heat a house than cool it, a lot easier to take clothes off than to put them on. So when it cools, we�ll need a lot more energy.�
On a side note, NASA's forecast for solar activity for Cycle 24 keeps being revised smaller and smaller and smaller with each passing month. From Watts Up With That:
NASA Sun Spot Number predictions revised again

The solar cycle 24 predicted sunspot maximum has been reduced again � predicted peak down to 59 Max. (1/3/11) http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/predict.shtml

This will be at the level of the Maunder Minimum of 1675 -1715.

Previous NASA predictions below:
■ 2010 October: Predicted peak 60-70
■ 2009 May 29: predicted peak: 80-90 range
■ 2009 Jan 5: predicted peak: 100-110 range
■ 2008 Mar 28: predicted peak: 130-140 range
Maunder Minimum? Here
The Maunder Minimum coincided with the middle - and coldest part - of the Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America were subjected to bitterly cold winters. Whether there is a causal connection between low sunspot activity and cold winters has not been proven; however, lower earth temperatures have been observed during low sunspot activity. The winter of 1708-09 was extremely cold.


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The anti-spam script has been working really well these days -- added a few things that just drop most of it over the horizon. Sometimes, the really clueless ones are almost fun -- like this one from an hour ago:
Love the lower-case i and that it is not on topic. At times like this I almost wonder what it is like to be 28, living in an apartment in your Mom's basement, weighing 280 pounds, smelling like Cheetos and wearing a stained Boba Fett tee-shirt delivering Pizza for a living. And then, I go on and do stuff like manage a bakery, own a small grocery store, blacksmithing and blade making, electronic music, cooking, photography and taking care of a small herd of sheep, goats and llamas. Hell... I am having the time of my life and some poor schlub out there is trying to make money with spam. Do Something With Yourself -- it's the only You you will ever get...

Wanna buy a bakery

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I was in town dealing with the bank kerfuffle and got a call telling me that the septic system was backing up. Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed...

The joys of running a business

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Got a call this morning from one of my employees saying that they were at the bank and their paycheck would not clear. Back when the business was run by the owners, this was a regular phenomenon and there was always a race to be the first to the bank while there was still money in the account. Needless to say, the employee was a bit peeved. I talked with the bank officer and it turns out that my spiffy brand new checks from Quickbooks had the wrong account number. DOH!!! It is a small Credit Union with incredible service so they are taking care of processing these checks for me while I wait for Quickbooks to re-print the order.
From The Hill:
Cheney: Obama has learned that Bush policies were right
President Obama has �learned from experience� that some of the Bush administration�s decisions on terrorism issues were necessary, according to former Vice President Dick Cheney.

In his first interview since undergoing major heart surgery last July, Cheney said he thinks Obama has been forced to rethink some of his national security positions now that he sits in the Oval Office.

"I think he's learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate. So I think he's learned from experience. And part of that experience was the Democrats having a terrible showing last election."
This should be fun to watch -- what with all the "Teabaggers caused the Arizona Shooting" that went on last week, this will really get the loonies braying. Two years later and it is still all Bush's fault...
Fun time ahead and of course, the people who negotiated these have moved on... From the Financial Times:
States warned of $2,500bn pensions shortfall
US public pensions face a shortfall of $2,500bn that will force state and local governments to sell assets and make deep cuts to services, according to the former chairman of New Jersey�s pension fund.

The severe US economic recession has cast a spotlight on years of fiscal mismanagement, including chronic underfunding of retirement promises.
And this just in:
Pension liabilities are not included in state and local government debt figures.
Smoke and mirrors -- makes me wonder how many more of these little accounting scams there are. Margaret Thatcher's comment rings loud and true here:
The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."

Cool news if they actually go through with it

From Breitbart's Big Government:

Fed Embraces Supply Side Economics, Dumps Jerry Brown
Ten years from now university economists will analyze Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's recent presentation to the U.S. Senate Budget Committee as the successful turning point in American economic policy from a focus on demand side consumption spending to supply side production investment.

As Bernanke clearly stated:
"We need to think about making investments for the future as opposed to simply spending our seed corn on current needs. So thinking about government programs, we should ask the question, will this provide benefits in the future."

"On the tax side, I don't think it's really very controversial among economists that rising rates, combined with a multiplication of exemptions, deductions, credits and so on, leads to a tax code which is very complex and can distort economic decisions."
For the last decade our nation's economy grew at an above average rate of 3.8% rate, tax revenue grew at the average rate of 2.5%; but government spending exploded at 13.7% growth rate. Fed Chairman Bernanke's new found appreciation for getting government out of the way of the private sector only comes after America's government debt burden has reached a Greek like 127% of our economy. With gold soaring, unemployment at record highs and serious efforts underway to eliminate the dollar as the world's reserve currency; the US is clearly in trouble. To put the debt in personal terms, the US government debt burden equals $103,692.20 for every working American.

And it is not like this hasn't happened before:

Bernanke knows the last time America stood on the precipice of collapse was in 1979, when President Carter gave his famous "Malaise Speech". The speech asked the American people to accept the "New Normal" that Japan would become the dominant world power and Americans would rely on government spending to cushion their diminished expectations. Carter was actively trying to distort the economy to pay for his government cushion attempting to raise the top income tax rates to 90% and the inheritance tax to 77%. His policies resulted in the Federal deficit soaring, price of gold doubling, unemployment rising to post-depression highs of over 10% and international calls to end the US dollar's dominance.

Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker finally refused to print more money to support Carter's deficit and the spending game ended. The next year Ronald Reagan swept into office on the supply side economic platform of cutting taxes and limiting the intrusion of government into the private sector. President Reagan reminded Americans: "Facts are stubborn things". Reagan emphasized: "Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." He understood: "Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States."

University professors screamed that President Reagan's policies would destroy the country. But over the next twenty years his common sense supply side policies slowed the growth of the national debt, the price of gold collapsed, unemployment fell steadily from 10.8% to 4.6%, the Japanese economy wilted and the US dollar was again dominant.

Bernanke's comments appear to be having a positive economic effect as university professors like Paul Krugman are again screaming supply side economics will destroy the nation. Perhaps we should remember the wisdom of my favorite university professor who had a real working knowledge of economics, Dr. Ray Stanz of the Ghostbusters (Dan Akroyd's character):
"Personally, I liked working for the university! They gave us money and facilities. We didn't have to produce anything. You've never been out of college. You don't know what it's like out there! I've worked in the private sector -- they expect results!"

And the mention of Jerry Brown:

The Chairman's rejection of bailouts nullified the intensive lobbying efforts by California and other state and local municipalities for a Federal debt guarantee. Having run-up over $3.5 trillion of municipal bond and pension obligation debts in the last decade, state and local governments are now facing widespread defaults. Newly inaugurated California Governor Jerry Brown, who many blame for passing legislation 30 years ago that permitted the Golden State to become the perennial poster child of deficit spending, just announced a six month moratorium on all state borrowing.

Good -- time to get some adults in charge and clean up the mess the children have left behind...

Light posting today

The new sign for the bakery just arrived today so I spent the morning assembling it and sorting through two cartons of letters...
Crappy lighting in this photo (it is raining and I didn't want to expose the camera too much) but it is very visible from the highway
Riffing on Dylan a bit...
Here is the bakery -- used to be a house and there is still a bedroom upstairs but I use it as an office. First floor is kitchen and dining area.
Shoddy writing in the Los Angeles Times:
In Ventura, a retreat in the face of a rising sea
At Surfers Point in Ventura, California is beginning its retreat from the ocean.

Construction crews are removing a crumbling bike path, ripping out a 120-space parking lot and laying down sand and cobblestones. By pushing the asphalt 65 feet inland, the project is expected to give the wave-ravaged point 50 more years of life.

The effort by the city of Ventura is the most vivid example to date of what may lie ahead in California as coastal communities come to grips with rising sea levels and worsening coastal erosion. As the coastline creeps inland, scouring sand from beaches or eating away at coastal bluffs, landowners will increasingly be forced to decide whether to spend vast sums of money fortifying the shore or give up and step back.
So the place is "wave-ravaged" but the erosion is caused by rising sea levels? More:
In California, the sea is projected to rise as much as 55 inches by the end of the century and gobble up 41 square miles of coastal land, according to a 2009 state-commissioned report by the Pacific Institute.
Abject Bullshit. The Pacific Institute is a partisan organization with an agenda a mile wide. They are not science based, they are political. They fit right into that Sustainable bubble I posted about earlier. More:
Sea levels have risen about 8 inches in the last century and are expected to swell at an increasing rate as climate change warms the ocean, experts say.
From a decent article at Wikipedia:
Values for predicted sea level rise over the course of this century typically range from 90 to 880 mm, with a central value of 480 mm. Models of glacier mass balance (the difference between melting and accumulation of snow and ice on a glacier) give a theoretical maximum value for sea level rise in the current century of 2 metres (and a "more plausible" one of 0.8 metres), based on limitations on how quickly glaciers can melt.
8 inches = 203.2 millimeters and that is over the course of this century. To put things into perspective -- please remember that we are coming out of an ice age:
Note that the Y Axis is in Meters so we have seen a rise of close to 50 feet and also note that the slope of the curve has a seven thousand year history of slowly tapering off. Also note that the curve is the average of data collected from eight locations around this planet. No localized effects here... What they are dealing with is coastline erosion, nothing more and nothing less. Global Warming ain't in it. I grew up in Pennsylvania and my Mom's family came from Erie. There is a peninsula there that is in constant motion to the east. The lighthouse has been moved several times in my life. The roads are just a temporary strip of cheap asphalt. It happens. Deal with it and do not try to incorporate your silly agenda into something that is just another force of nature. Nature will always win. This moronic hand-wringing masquerading as Science really degrades the discussion...

Now this would be interesting

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From Townhall:
John Bolton 2012?
�Who was our last moustached president?� I ask John Bolton as we chat in his American Enterprise Institute office in downtown Washington, DC. �Taft,� he responds without hesitation, �And the last candidate was [Thomas] Dewey�not a comparison I�m excited about.� With a twinkle in his eye, he deadpans, �I think the American people would say it�s a complete non-issue.� The former US Ambassador to the United Nations may be willing to joke about his trademark facial hair, but as the 2012 election cycle looms, he sounds like a man who is seriously evaluating his own presidential aspirations.

Up to this point, Bolton has merely piqued the chattering class� interest by refusing to foreclose the possibility of a presidential bid in a recent Daily Caller profile piece, and again during a Fox Business Network interview. Citing his chief priority of ensuring Republican gains in the 2010 midterm election, Bolton still won�t say if he�s planning to toss his hat into the ring, but now at least allows that he is �thinking about it very seriously��a fairly significant rhetorical step toward to taking the plunge. It isn�t a new consideration either, he says. �I�ve been thinking about this really since it became clear early in the Obama administration that [the president�s] national security policy would be as bad as we feared it would be.�

Although Bolton denies he�s doing any heavy groundwork to set up a 2012 campaign, he�s not sitting still either. �What I am doing is talking to people who are experts on presidential campaigns because I�ve never run for elective office before,� he explains, before parenthetically pointing out that he is familiar with campaign finance law by dint of his work on the landmark 1976 Supreme Court case Buckley v. Valeo. I ask if he�s planning any trips to Iowa in the relatively near future, a question that he adroitly sidesteps with a chuckle and a change of subject.

If anyone doubts Bolton�s ability to withstand the rigors of a presidential bid, they ought to look no further than his grueling daily regimen. The 61-year-old Yale graduate wakes up every morning at 4 to read newspapers from across the globe, write, and prepare for media appearances and speeches. By the time most Americans slog into work, Bolton has already been absorbing information and generating content for five hours. As someone who requires very little sleep to function at a high level, Bolton finds the very early morning to be an especially productive period in his day because �the phone doesn�t ring at that time.� According to colleagues, Bolton also possesses a near-photographic memory, a quality he denies. �I wouldn�t go that far,� he says, chalking up his ability to retain enormous amounts of information to his training as a litigator.
This is someone I could get behind. Besides, I would love to hear the soft popping of hippies heads exploding if he actually got the nomination...

A bubble

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A look at one bubble from TVHE: I think I�ve found a bubble
There is a lot of talk about bubbles, and how we need to do something to prevent them. I find this difficult, as even if we could observe bubbles we also really need to justify why we should lean against them � as long as the cost falls on those getting themselves involved in the bubble I�m not sure what the issue is.

However, if we are going to do things I think I�ve identified a pretty obvious bubble:

Click to embiggen...

The use of the word �sustainable�. Hat tip to Haunting the Library

Hey Simon Jenkins

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F@ck you and the horse you rode in on. Excerpted from the UK Guardian:
. . .put down to such impediments as the US constitution, the silent majority, sheer bigness and freedom of speech. . .

. . .Today's culprit is freedom of speech,. . .
Statist a@@hole...

Time to batten down the hatches

From the UK Telegraph:
Unilever chief warns over global crisis in food output
In a speech on Tuesday, Paul Polman, the chief executive of Unilever, will say that market distortions created by European Union subsidies work against the needs of the developing world.

He will also demand fewer subsidies for harmful first-generation bio-fuels and say that climate change must be tackled by companies changing to sustainable models of agriculture.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph Mr Polman said that short-term speculators were also driving up prices. "One of the main things in food inflation is that it has attracted speculators for short-term profit at the expense of people living a dignified life," Mr Polman said. "It is difficult to understand if you want to work for the long-term interests of society." He revealed he had spoken to the European Commission's commissioner for internal markets, Michel Barnier, about the issue. Mr Polman says speculators should be forced to disclose their positions.
From Breitbart/AFP:
Oil price over $100 'not unrealistic': Iran
Oil prices crossing the 100 dollars a barrel mark is possible but would not merit an emergency meeting of OPEC, Iran's Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi who currently heads the cartel said on Sunday.

"The price of 100 dollars is not unrealistic in this situation," Mirkazemi told reporters.

"Even if the oil price crosses 100 dollars a barrel there is no need for an emergency OPEC meeting. Some OPEC members believe there is no need for an emergency meeting even if oil reaches 110 or 120 dollars a barrel."
When the dollar is worth less, the numbers needed to purchase a commodity increase... Finally - from the Wall Street Journal:
Hu Highlights Need for U.S.-China Cooperation, Questions Dollar
Chinese President Hu Jintao emphasized the need for cooperation with the U.S. in areas from new energy to space ahead of his visit to Washington this week, but he called the present U.S. dollar-dominated currency system a "product of the past" and highlighted moves to turn the yuan into a global currency.
When the dollar is no longer the world's reserve currency, things will get really interesting really fast.

Unintended Consequences

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From Haunting the Library - swiped in full as it defies excerpting:
Environmentalist Starts Israel�s Worst Ever Fire: Greenpeace Blames Global Warming.
The worst fire in Israel�s history has been the cause of some embarrassment to Greenpeace and other global warming activists when some uncomfortable facts emerged recently.

Late last year Israel�s worst ever forest fire was blazing out of control, destroying homes and releasing untold quantities of Co2 into the atmosphere. Over 5,000 hectares of forest were utterly destroyed, and experts say it will be half a century before the forest gets back to anything like its former state.

Greenpeace lost no time, of course, in pointing the finger squarely at global warming, and issued a press release, demanding Israel abandon construction of a new coal power station, and calling for all comrades to join the �international struggle
�:Greenpeace wishes to emphasize that this fire is a direct expression of the effects of climate change and global warming which threaten us all. Climate change is already here and it is taking a heavy human toll!

Israel must take this warning sign seriously and take immediate measures in order to eradicate the effects of climate change. Israel must cancel its plans to construct another coal plant, reduce use of fossil fuels, and realize that we are dealing with an international struggle.

Green Prophet. Greenpeace Responds to Israel Carmel Fire.
It�s what known as the sign of the burning bush � Greenpeace style.

However, it didn�t have much to say following an investigation by Israel�s fire service which discovered that the fire was started by a global warming activist at a Rainbow Camp. As the Jerusalem Post reported:
The cause of this particular fire was, sadly enough, the good intentions of a participant in the Rainbow Festival that was being held at the site. For ecological reasons, she burned toilet paper she had used so as not to leave it in nature, and in normal circumstances, that would have been the thing to do. However, due to the strong winds and the unseasonable hot air, the dry grasses caught on fire immediately, and the fire spread in four different directions simultaneously.

Jerusalem Post.
Greenpeace have yet to retract their statement blaming the fire on global warming.
This would be funny if it were not for more than 40 fatalities and the thousands of acres of burned nature preserve. They kinda have their hearts in the right places but they are braying ninnies when it comes to the reality of the situation. It's OK to get emo about things but that should never ever be confused for science. Burning tp when a splash of urine and a small trench and it will decompose naturally in a month or two at that temperature...

3D Video without special glasses

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Pervasive personal media

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Twenty years ago, the government would have been able to get away with crap like this. Now? Not so much... The Memorial service in Tuscon was more in the tone of a political rally rather than a solemn service. When Obama spoke, there was thunderous applause. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said:
I will say that I read the speech several times and thought that there wouldn�t be a lot of applause if any. I think many of us thought that.
Fortunatly, someone in the audience had a camera:
Hat tip to Ed Driscoll for the link.

Blew right past that landmark

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Back on November 2nd, 2009, I had my 10,000'th post Was looking at the dashboard and saw that I had blown past post 12,000 by a good margin:
Fun stuff...

Energy Subsidies

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A close look at some numbers. Excerpted from a longer (and well worth reading) essay from Christopher C. Horner at Breitbart's Big Government:
And while a better world would be free of distortions, in the world we live in, there is only one applicable comparison. So naturally the only, and once again disingenuous, talking point the anti-energy Left has has things backward. It is this: How much does the taxpayer subsidize wind, solar, oil, coal, gas and nuclear per unit of energy produced?

This one�s gonna hurt, comrade.

According to the Energy Information Administration, before the past two years� �renewables� binge, including $90 billion in stimulus pork:
�For subsidies related to electricity production, EIA data shows that solar energy was subsidized at $24.34 per megawatt hour and wind at $23.37 per megawatt hour for electricity generated in 2007. By contrast, coal received 44 cents, natural gas and petroleum received 25 cents, hydroelectric power 67 cents, and nuclear power $1.59 per megawatt.� (h/t Institute for Energy Research)
So we are giving these huge subsidies (read: Our Tax Dollars) for energy sources that are unable to contribute more than a few percent of our energy needs.

Welcome back Carter

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Looks like stagflation is back with a vengeance - it's the 1970's all over again... From Business Insider:
The Worst Combo: Consumer Spending Is Mediocre, Gas Prices Rising, And Retailers Have No Pricing Power
Retail sales came in weaker than expected this morning, largely driven by disappointing sales of general merchandise in the month of December.

The really bad news may be that, when combined with the CPI data, things are starting to look a little stagflationary. CPI came in hot, rising to its highest level since 2009. But retail sales are clearly slowing down. Consumers may be starting to feel the inflation, particularly in the sharp increase in energy costs, with gasoline prices up 8.5% month-over-month, 13.8% year-over-year.

That's going to hit consumer spending, and it's evidenced in the December retail sales data. For the department store sector overall, sales fell by 1.9% from November to December, a worry for big names like Sears, Macy's, and J.C. Penney.
The sad thing is that we do not have to be going down this path. We can be prosperous -- it's in our cultural DNA

Timing is everything

I may think the policies in WA are downright stupid and at cross-purposes with what is good for America but the people implementing them are not stupid at all. Unfortunately... From Investors Business Daily:
The Major Political Implications Of QE2
As the media look for signs the economy is heating up � and whether a recovery will be in place when President Obama runs for re-election � it's a good time to consider the likely effects of the latest initiative from the Federal Reserve, called quantitative easing (QE2), on top of the administration's other economic policies. It's not a pretty picture.

The Fed initiative involves the central bank's buying $600 billion in government bonds from the Treasury over eight months starting in November 2010.

The intent is to avoid deflation and create just 2% inflation as measured by the consumer price index (CPI).

Chairman Ben Bernanke has promised that if inflation shows signs of exceeding 2%, the Fed will take countervailing action. The personal consumption expenditure index of inflation is now below 1% and could be 0% within a year, according to Marc Sumerlin, former deputy director of the National Economic Council under President George W. Bush.
There is an analysis of what Quantitative Easing is and some numbers:
On the Dec. 5 broadcast of "60 Minutes," Bernanke claimed there has been no increase in currency, the basic component of the money supply.

An examination of the Fed's data, however, shows the annualized rate of increase for the three months ended in October 2010 was a substantial 9.5%.

Later, four-month data that include a projection for November show an annualized rate of 9.6%.

These data indicate the currency component of the money supply is increasing at an increasing rate.
And a bit of history and a bit of sobering forecasting:
In his 1991 book, "Monetary Mischief," Friedman concludes from his lifelong study of monetary policy that there is a pattern in the lags.

Six to nine months after an injection to the money supply, there is a short-term increase in economic activity. After 24 months, inflation appears and is persistent until money growth is slowed, another recession occurs, and 24 months pass before the inflation is abated.

If these lags are superimposed on the nation's political calendar, there is a disturbing conclusion.

A short-term increase in economic activity will occur before the 2012 presidential election, and a virulent inflation will occur after the votes are in.
Not good -- let's hope that more people are watching this and coming to the same conclusions...

Paddling through McDonalds

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Downright surreal:
Brisbane, Australia Hat tip to Neatorama for the link
Well we can scratch the next couple weeks of skiing. A blast of warm air will be raising the snow levels to 9,000 feet this evening with no relief in the week ahead. Warm rain... National Weather Service: Watches, Warnings & Advisories

Light posting tonight

Had a long day in town running errands, stopped in for a visit to BelleWood Acres to see if they had any apples or cider left. Had a nice long visit with John who owns it with his wife. He showed me some of the projects he is working on -- he has an engineers mind and is always building something or automating some task. Just finished processing the daily counting sheet for the bakery. Get a bite to eat and work on some stuff in the DaveCave(tm). Staff meeting tomorrow so need to be up reasonably early.

A wonderful few days to ski

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This winter has been a big bust. A couple of great skiing days but mostly either no snow or too much rain. This weekend speaks for itself:
Today...Windy. Rain in the morning...then showers in the afternoon. snow level 5000 feet. Snow accumulation up to 8 inches. Afternoon pass temperatures near 40. West wind in the passes 15 to 25 mph. gusts up to 40 mph this morning. West winds on exposed ridges above 4000 feet 35 to 45 mph with gusts to 75 mph.

Tonight...Showers. Snow level 5000 feet. Snow accumulation up to 5 inches. West wind in the passes 5 to 10 mph.

Saturday...Rain and snow. Snow level 4500 feet. Snow accumulation up to 3 inches. Afternoon pass temperatures near 40. West wind in the passes up to 10 mph.

Saturday Night...Snow and rain. Precipitation may be heavy at times. Snow level 6000 feet. East wind in the passes 10 mph or less.

Sunday...Rain and snow...changing to showers. Snow level 7000 feet. afternoon pass temperatures in the upper 30s. East wind in the passes 5 to 15 mph becoming west near 15 mph in the afternoon.

Sunday Night...Rain and snow. Snow level 5000 feet.
Mt. Baker is running in full-bore optimistic:
Pan Dome will be closed today and please note that there is currently no cell phone service available at the ski area today. It's a day to test your Gore Tex! We will be in operation out of the White Salmon Base Area today from 9:00 - 3:30.

Forecasts are calling for this warm front and precip to be a bit persistent today but then it looks like we will get lucky, as a break for Saturday is expected.

Be sure to check the snow report throughout the morning for any operation change updates.
Day to test your Gore Tex indeed...

Crap - it isn't just Australia

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From Yahoo News/Reuters:
Brazil flood death toll rises to 443, more feared
Rescue workers dug desperately for survivors on Thursday and struggled to reach areas cut off by floods and landslides that have killed at least 443 people in one of Brazil's deadliest natural disasters in decades.

Torrents of mud and water set off by heavy rains left a trail of destruction through the mountainous Serrana region near the city of Rio de Janeiro, toppling houses, buckling roads and burying entire families as they slept.

"It's like an earthquake struck some areas," said Jorge Mario, the mayor of Teresopolis, where 185 people were killed and scores more were feared dead.
It will be interesting to research the historical records. Australia had the same flooding disaster about 30 years ago. What was it like then in Brazil...

An observation

Swiped from Sean Linnane:



This year, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union address occur on the same day.


It's an ironic juxtaposition of events; one event involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of limited intelligence for prognostication . . .

. . . while the other involves . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . a groundhog ! ! !

Obamacare in Bellingham

From local radio station KGMI:
Local life insurance company lays off 80 employees
Bellingham-based Sterling Life Insurance has laid off 80 people at its local office.

The Bellingham Herald reports the layoffs are due to an anticipated reduction in Medicare Advantage Enrollment - a product offered by the company.

Sterling employees about 500 workers here in Bellingham.
In good news - from Wichita station KFDI:
Kansas AG Schmidt asks to join health care reform challenge
Kansas has formally asked to join a multi-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of last year's federal health care reform law.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt this morning sent a letter to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi requesting Kansas be allowed to join the suit. The request was one of the first official acts of Schmidt, who was sworn in as Attorney General Monday. He said then he expected Kansas to join the suit this week.

Joining the challenge of federal health care reform was one of Schmidt's main campaign issues. He unseated Democratic incumbent Attorney General Steve six, who did not seek to join the lawsuit, arguing that doing so would waste taxpayer money.

�This lawsuit is about standing up for the rule of law and protecting the liberties guaranteed by our Constitution,� Schmidt said in a written statement this morning. �Our federal government is designed to be a government of limited, enumerated powers, and we do not believe it has the power to order citizens into commerce so it can then regulate their conduct under authority of the Commerce Clause. Whatever the merits or demerits of health care reform, the ends cannot justify an unconstitutional means.�

Schmidt's letter to Bondi requests that Florida file a motion in U.S. District Court in Pensacola, Fla., to allow Kansas to join the 20 other states that brought the lawsuit. A news release from Schmidt's office said Ohio, Wisconsin and Wyoming are also requesting to join the Florida lawsuit. Also plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the National Federation of Independent businesses and two individuals.

If Kansas and the other states are allowed to join the Florida lawsuit, the number of states challenging the constitutionality of health care reform will grow to 26. Twenty-four states are part of the Florida suit. Virginia and Oklahoma have filed separate action.

Calling the federal health care law an unprecedented power grab, Schmidt said he expects the states' challenge of the health care law to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Enumerated Powers of the Federal Government and all that good stuff... NOTE: I was running spellcheck and it wanted to replace "Obamacare" with "Obscure" IE Spell rocks bigtime.

A pittance of grace

The freaks at Westboro Baptist Church decided that they would rather not be dragged through the streets of Tuscon and strung up on the nearest light pole. They are still planning to picket funerals, just not the nine-year-old's. From the Deseret News:
Church agrees to not protest slain child's funeral
A controversial Kansas church has decided not protest at the funeral of a 9-year-old girl killed in Saturday's shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz.

Shirley Phelps-Roper of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., says church members will skip Thursday's funeral of Christina Taylor Green.

Phelps-Roper was interviewed Tuesday by a station in Toronto, Canada, and is scheduled to be on a morning talk show Saturday. She says Westboro Baptist Church decided not to picket in exchange for the airtime.

Phelps-Roper says the group will picket the funeral Friday for U.S. District Judge John Roll and at the intersection where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others were shot.

The Arizona Legislature unanimously passed a measure Tuesday banning protests at or near funeral sites.
So they are gaining some time on a talk radio show in exchange for not picketing the child's funeral. I will look forward to hearing the audio as I bet they are just as moronic in speech as they are in action. These people are going to have the surprise of their 'life' when they pass over and wake up in hell...

The new sport at Mt. Baker

A lot of people are getting into Nordic Snowboarding:

Next wave?

The joys of a government run system

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One more on the Australian tragedy -- from the Sydney Morning Herald:
Message to those in danger received six hours late
Tens of thousands of Queenslanders enduring Monday's flash flooding received the government's emergency warning messages hours after their area had been submerged under a deluge of brown, rushing water.

The messages, part of the National Emergency Warning System (NEWS), were sent after 8pm, six hours after Toowoomba took between 100 and 150 millimetres of rain in 30 minutes.

That might have been because the technology used by the Bureau of Meteorology cannot properly advise towns of impending flash flooding, the chairman of the UN Commission for Agricultural Meteorology, Richard Stone, said. New technology could better predict flash floods and he urged the government to buy it because local weather "is only going to get more extreme".
Emphasis mine: is only going to get more extreme... So, Stone buys into the Global Warming shite instead of looking back 37 years to when the same weather patterns were causing the same flooding and loss of life. Someone needs to find a new career, preferrably repeating the mantra: "would you like fries with that" so as not to endanger anyone else's life with his personal stupidity and political agenda. Moron...

More on Australia - videos and links

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Reading more about the flooding disaster in Australia. In the last post, there was a link to Andrew Bolt's collum at the Melbourne Herald Sun:
Toowoomba drowns

Andrew has five updates with links to stats and an interview with journalist Jim Ball.
That flooding in Australia that killed 30 people with another 90 people missing? There was the same level of flooding and loss of life in 1974. The dangers were known and a series of dams and levees had been planned to prevent this. Environment Minister Peter Garrett blocked the dam on the grounds that it would endanger a few fish. From James Delinpole:
Queensland floods: but at least the 'endangered' Mary River cod is safe, eh?
This is a guest post from one of our regular commenters, Memory Vault. He�s understandably upset about the Australian floods, which may have claimed more than 70 lives. But what really upsets him is that this disaster could have been prevented. He blames green campaigners so wedded to their ideology they never stop to consider the human consequences. It is to them his bitter letter is addressed.

Andrew Bolt has similarly harsh words for Australia�s eco nuts. Were it not for the actions of Environment Minister Peter Garrett, for example, the Queensland town of Gympie would not now be underwater. Unfortunately, Garrett took it upon himself to block the proposed dam that would have prevented it.
Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett on Wednesday said he made the interim decision to reject the controversial $1.8 billion plan to dam the Mary River because evidence showed it could kill off endangered species. He made the interim decision to reject the controversial $1.8 billion plan to dam the Mary River because evidence showed it could kill off endangered species.

�The project would have serious and irreversible effects on national listed species such as the Australian lungfish, the Mary River turtle and the Mary River cod � both of those endangered.
Here is Memory Vault�s post. It is addressed to the climate trolls who haunt this blog, forever assuring us with their characteristic shrill certainty, that the �science� is now settled and that we sceptics are greedy, selfish fools.

I am sitting here in my home in South East Queensland, watching the news come in about the flooding everywhere. Entire suburbs around Brisbane and several smaller towns are either isolated by flood-waters or have been evacuated. Highways are cut everywhere.

People have been dying. So far about 20 people have died in the past week � nine just this morning when a deluge went through the Lockyer Valley. Most of them children. Another 70 are missing. One could put it all down to �just� weather.

Except EXACTLY the same floods occurred in EXACTLY the same places back in 1974, with much the same tragic loss of life and destruction of property.

Back then we weren�t nearly as clever and learned as you think yourselves to be today. Back then we had this silly notion that climate was cyclical, and if we didn�t prepare for it, we would have a repeat of the same tragedies to deal with in �about thirty years�. That was the thinking of the scientists back then � that climate went in roughly thirty year cycles.

Flood mitigation programs were planned. A series of levee banks and diversionary dams would be built. Brisbane and SE QLD would NEVER suffer such devastation again. After all, we had thirty years to plan and build and improve.

And that�s what we did � or at least started. Wivenhoe Dam got built as the first step, but by the time it was finished clever people like you lot who �knew� that such things were never going to happen again had taken over. CO2 AGW madness had already taken hold.

Instead we had �post modern� minds like Tim Flannery �advising� the government that because of Anthropogenic Global Warming, SE QLD would be perpetually in drought from then on. �Forget dams and flood mitigation programs�, intoned the wise Dr Tim � �build desalination plants instead�.

So that�s what our government did. And that is why thirty five years later, we are once again suffering exactly the SAME tragic loss of life and destruction of property, pretty-much exactly where, and when, and how, those stupid scientists who foolishly believed climate was cyclical had predicted.

Meanwhile our billion dollar desalination plant is quietly being mothballed, and emergency crews are frantically trying to work out how they might be able to save nineteen thousand homes from destruction in the next couple of days, as the Lockyer deluge hits Brisbane. Wise Dr Tim Flannery has been made �Australian of the Year� for his contributions.

I google on the internet for climate extremes and climate-related disasters in the 1972 � 1979 period � the period of the last transition in the natural weather cycle, and I find that it wasn�t a good period in many places around the world. Record and near record high � and low temperatures, record and near-record precipitation, and so on. Floods and droughts pretty-much mimicking what is happening now, and in pretty-much the same places.

I also noted that the indicators of the �silly� theory of the cyclical nature , ocean and atmospheric, are pretty much exactly as they are now.

I have to admit it could all get a bit depressing. But then I remember that the world is in the capable hands of much cleverer people than those silly scientists back in the Seventies who believed climate was cyclical. Now the decisions are being made by clever people like Dr Tim Flannery

� and you.

That is when I weep for my fellow Man.
It has been a number of months since I have attended an auction. Now, there are four of them in the span of a few weeks. First up is this one: AMF Metals in Seattle on January 26th. I will probably not attend as there are few things that I am interested in with the exception of the Beverly Shear and I already have a Harbor Freight knock-off that works great for light-duty work (a new B3 is about $700 and worth every penny if you are cutting out complex pieces of sheet metal). Next up is this one: Weldco Beales Manufacturing on February 1st in Tacoma, WA. I may hit this one as they have three Acorn Tables (click the link for a photo of someone else's table) and I do need to get one. No photo though so no word as to condition and I have seen some really rough ones. Next up is a Bellingham classic: Aluminum Chambered Boats in Bellingham on February 3rd. I will be attending this one just for the social aspect -- not expecting to buy anything. ACB was in business for 13 years selling boats to the military and police departments as well as personal sales. An excellent product and at their height they employed over 100 people. When they shut down last November, they only had 35 employees although there are a lot of suppliers and other vendors that will be impacted. Here is the November Bellingham Herald article on their announcement to close. Finally, we have this one: Ideality on February 10th in Stanwood, WA This is a big CNC machine shop and there are a couple of pieces that I will be bidding on if the price is right. The key is to get the exact make and model number and then research the item online. Check ebay auctions, check online forums for reliability issues. That kind of thing... Should be a fun two months. Auctions are pure theater -- when there are two people bidding on an item and the price gets towards serious money ($5K and up), the dialog between the auctioneer and the bidders can be amazingly intense. Fun stuff...

More more white stuff

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Ready to leave the house -- still coming down as snow but it is melting on the tree branches and dripping off so the air temp is probably about 34 or so. Going to be a fun commute -- good thing it's less than two miles...

More white stuff

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Woke up to a couple inches of new snow on the ground. Supposed to turn to rain today. The avalanche warnings are high so the ski area is temporarily closed. See how things turn around for the weekend... And from Anthony:
UPDATED: Nearly 71% of the USA is covered in snow
Data from the National Weather Service National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center in Minnesota show that nearly 70 71% of the USA has snow cover.
Blame the TEA Party for this. And Bush. And Palin -- all their fault...


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1/11/11 at 11:11 local time and why isn't posting on 1/14/2012 at 03:57 just as significant? It is all just numbers -- what we read into them is a product of what lives in our little mammalian skulls...
Sucks to be you Doctor Roger Nicosia -- from Florida's TC Palm:
Martin County doctor sues website, four people claiming defamation in blog entries over 2009 boating accident.
Two years after Robert Murphy lost his legs while diving offshore, the Martin County emergency room physician operating the boat that caused the tragic accident took legal steps to protect his reputation.

Monday, he sued four people and a website with claims of libel, slander and emotional distress.

In a four-count lawsuit, Roger Nicosia sued Charlotte County resident Lisa Rollins � a friend with Murphy who witnessed the Jan. 9, 2009 accident � along with Duval County resident Christopher Bartlett, John Etzler of Seminole County, Philip A. Grogan of Palm Beach County and Spearboard.com, a Website Grogan operates through Enterprise Publications.

Nicosia's complaint seeks in excess of $15,000 in damages, and a permanent injunction to stop the defendants from defaming him on the Internet and from posting blog entries that are "false, defamatory and misleading."

Shortly after Murphy lost his legs, a groundswell of the popular diver's supporters turned to the Internet and blogs to rail against Nicosia and criticized his alleged behavior that day.

"As a result of the accident," the lawsuit stated, "defendants began a full-blown pursuit to destroy the reputation, livelihood and good name of Nicosia, both personally and as a physician through written and spoken means."

Messages left for Rollins were not returned Monday, and attempts to reach the other defendants were unsuccessful.

During a criminal trial in August, a judge found Nicosia guilty of violating navigational rules, a second-degree misdemeanor. He was sentenced to six months of probation, and ordered to pay a $250 fine and $900 for the cost of prosecution. Records show he's appealing his conviction and a court order to pay $15,000 in restitution.

Nicosia's attorney, Robert J. Elder III of Stuart, on Monday said despite evidence presented at trial, his client has been "attacked relentlessly by Mr. Murphy's supporters" online and across the Internet.

"Their behavior is so egregious and it's so malicious that it was imperative that we do something to prevent further damage to Dr. Nicosia," Elder said. "What they've done is attempt to incite a modern-day Internet lynching with the blogging and the Spearboard.com and the online petition."

Nicosia, too, claimed Rollins and Bartlett filed a petition "riddled with false and defamatory comments" with the Florida Department of Health in seeking to revoke his medical license.

"Obviously he has sustained damages," Elder said of Nicosia, "both physical and financially, as well as mentally from this onslaught of behavior."
What an arrogant little putz. He causes an accident that causes someone to loose their legs, is able to weasel out with only a second-degree misdemeanor and he expects that his actions will not turn around and bite him on his ass. Is he that narcissistic? Dr. Nicosia, you physically changed someone's life that day and had you immediately stopped and rendered aid as is your professional career (an emergency room physician after all), people would have been pissed but you would have walked clear -- it was an accident. To get off so easy and then to turn around and sue those who are keeping the memory of your actions in the public eye is beneath contempt. Quite the thread going on over at Spearboard.com

Voting with your feet

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It seems that the state of Michigan is no longer the #1 for people bailing. From Michigan Live:
First time since 2005: Michigan no longer ranks No. 1 in people moving out of state
For the first time in five years, Michigan statistically isn't the top state for people to leave anymore.

That's according to a report from the Mackinac Center, a free market think tank in Midland, citing the annual United Van Lines ranking of state outbound migration.

This year's not-really-an-honor goes to the Garden State: New Jersey. The state claimed the top spot with a ranking of 62.5 percent of moves heading out of the state. Michigan took the No. 2 spot at 62 percent.

United, a national moving company, has tracked migration patterns annually on a state-by-state basis since 1977, according to RISMedia, a Real Estate information website. This year's study is based on more than 146,000 interstate household moves handled by United among the 48 contiguous states and Washington D.C.
From the United Van Lines website -- the most popular states are not what I would have expected:
In 2010, the District of Columbia (64.3%) was once again the top destination in the United States for the third consecutive year. North Carolina (57.8%) was the only other mid-Atlantic state to experience high-inbound traffic, rising from No. 10 on the list in 2009 to No. 3 in 2010.

In the South, South Carolina (56%) appeared on the high-inbound list for the first time since 2008.

In the Western, region, only two states, down from six in 2009, captured high-inbound rankings. Oregon (59.5%) once again came in second and celebrated its 23rd year of high-inbound migration. Idaho (57.6%) appeared on the high-inbound list for the second consecutive year.
Some interesting numbers...

Is there anything that a good bolt of lightning can't do? From NASA:

NASA's Fermi Catches Thunderstorms Hurling Antimatter into Space
Scientists using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected beams of antimatter produced above thunderstorms on Earth, a phenomenon never seen before.

Scientists think the antimatter particles were formed in a terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF), a brief burst produced inside thunderstorms and shown to be associated with lightning. It is estimated that about 500 TGFs occur daily worldwide, but most go undetected.

"These signals are the first direct evidence that thunderstorms make antimatter particle beams," said Michael Briggs, a member of Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) team at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). He presented the findings Monday, during a news briefing at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle.
NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has detected beams of antimatter launched by thunderstorms. Acting like enormous particle accelerators, the storms can emit gamma-ray flashes, called TGFs, and high-energy electrons and positrons. Scientists now think that most TGFs produce particle beams and antimatter. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

More faster please...

Doomed I tell you

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Was in town today doing some banking and playing with a new camera. Noticed that the new Harbor Freight was open for business. Only spent $80 there -- already set up pretty well in the tool and gadget department. Got a digital kitchen scale for the bakery, a trailer alignment tool (two balls on wands with a magnet on the other end) and a set of decent looking jumper cables. I'll be posting some stuff from the camera on YouTube when I get it uploaded tomorrow or Thursday.
Classic case of projection -- someone has a trait they consider to be bad and they want to ignore it, they project it onto other people. Bush Derangement Syndrome is a classic case of this -- even two years after his presidency, we are still having people blame him for everything. Back in 2005, I posted about how Nevada Senator Harry Reid was with Bush when the Patriot Act was signed into power in 2001. A few days after the original post, I had one commenter saying:
You are clearly retarded.
Now an hour ago (over five years later) I get this one:
It was never needed, you idiot.
Classic ad-hominem, no facts, no data to refute my argument. Just a handful of poo on the computer screen. If this is the class (and yes, I mean CLASS) of dialogue than we get from the progressives and liberals, then how can we expect them to be effective when running the government. Considering the polls for Obama and for the 111th Congress, they are not. The thing that gets me is that when you call them on this, they just screech louder and fling another handful of poo...

The Arizona shooting

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Been thinking about that a lot recently what with everybody trying to spin this tragedy to fit their own political agenda -- left, progressive and also right and conservative. All guilty. Was reading Neanderpundit and Og voiced the thoughts in my mind:
A retraction
Yesterday I counseled hatred for Jared Lee Loughner, and I have to retract that- I dislike and don�t do hatred. At least, I work very hard to try to avoid it.

See, if I had a houseful of cats, or a barnload of chickens, and there was a coyote and a fox, I�d shoot them both in a new york minute. But I wouldn�t hate them- in fact, I love dogs, and would be sad to have to destroy them- but the good of my chickens comes before the predator.

I�m not going to counsel hatred; instead, I�d like for this guy to be taken down like a mad dog, like a predator in a target rich environment. To hate someone- anyone, I think- is wrong. Better to dispassionately eliminate the threat from our society and thus be shut of the whole menace.
Just put the moke down. The Chinese have the right idea...
From a very gloomy Mark Felsenthal writing at Reuters:
Economists foretell of U.S. decline, China's ascension
To hear a number of prominent economists tell it, it doesn't look good for the U.S. economy, not this year, not in 10 years.

Leading thinkers in the dismal science speaking at an annual convention offered varying visions of U.S. economic decline, in the short, medium and long term. This year, the recovery may bog down as government stimulus measures dry up.

In the long run, the United States must face up to inevitably being overtaken by China as the world's largest economy. And it may have missed a chance to rein in its largest financial institutions, many of whom remain too big to fail and are getting bigger.

On the one hand, Harvard's Martin Feldstein said he believes the outlook for U.S. economic growth in 2011 is less sanguine than many believe.

First, the boost to growth from government spending will be drying up this year, he said. Renewal of expiring tax cuts is no more than a decision not to raise taxes, and the impact of one-year payroll tax cut is likely modest, he said.

"There's really not much help coming from fiscal policy in the year ahead," he said. Woes from the dire situations of state and local governments may actually be a drag on growth, he said.
If this is representative of what the morons running this country are thinking, they need to be replaced. This hand-wringing anguish about how taxes aren't high enough and how the reduced government spending represents a drag on the economy is all that one needs to hear to identify these people as socialists who loathe the freedoms of the United States of America and want everyone to be sucking at the big government teat. What is odd is that other countries that started down this path earlier are now rearing back from the abyss and embracing smaller government and promotion of small businesses via lower taxes. We need to get some Austrian perspective in our economic theories...
Larry Elder has a fun column in last Friday's Investors Business Daily:
'Saved Or Created' And Other Whoppers
The biggest political "lie" of 2010? The winner is: the Republican assertion that ObamaCare is a "government takeover of health care."

A website called PolitiFact based this on the votes of 4,000 of its readers. ABC's "Nightline" featured PolitiFact's editor, and "Nightline" reporter Jake Tapper heartily agreed that this was the "biggest lie of the year." Tapper, normally pretty sane, concluded the piece by saying, "Way to deceive the public!"

Under ObamaCare, the federal government mandates that every man, woman and child purchase health insurance or face a tax; that insurers carry those with pre-existing illnesses and not drop anyone; that insurers allow "children" up to age 26 to remain on their parents' policy; that employers provide health insurance to employees or pay a tax; and that the states add 30 million previously uninsured to the Medicaid program irrespective of their ability to pay for it.

This is a "government takeover." And it is a lie to characterize it as a "lie." Calling an opinion, and a perfectly reasonable one at that, a "lie" stretches the definition into something unrecognizable.

OK, we're game. Here, in no particular order, are the top 10 political lies of 2010.
1. Ninety-five percent of "working families" received a tax cut.
No. The bill gave tax cuts to those who pay taxes � and gave money, "tax credits," to those who pay little or nothing in taxes. We used to call this welfare.

2. The GM bailout "worked."
Did it? Tell that to GM's bondholders. CNBC's Larry Kudlow wrote: "The GM bondholders own $27 billion and they're getting 10% of the common stock in an expected exchange. And the UAW owns $10 billion of the bonds and they're getting 40% of the stock."

What would have happened had the government stepped aside and let the private sector take over � a natural and necessary consequence of running a business into the ground? What about "moral hazard" � shielding a company from the effect of its poor decisions � which, in turn, encourages negligence and sloth on the part of other companies deemed "too big to fail"?
Eight more good ones at the site. Well worth reading...

More light posting

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Working on some stuff in the DaveCave(tm)

Minimal posting tonight

Long day and working on some stuff in the DaveCave(tm)

More white stuff

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Got a couple inches of snow last night and a big event is lined up potentially for mid-week. From AccuWeather:
Significant Snow Event Possible for Seattle, Portland
Substantial snow will return to the Northwest during the middle of next week, threatening to bury not only the mountains and interior, but also the typically rainy cities of Seattle and Portland.

The potential exists for Seattle and Portland to receive significantly more snow next week than each city averages during an entire winter.

Portland typically only records around 4 inches of snow a winter. That number is around seven for Seattle.

The significant snow event will likely unfold Wednesday into Thursday as a moisture-laden Pacific storm slams into the Northwest.

Pacific storms usually are rainmakers for Seattle and Portland since mild air gets funneled overhead. That will not be the case next week as the storm will encounter stubborn arctic air.
All depends on how north or south the storm hits. It would be nice for the ski area to get a couple feet and for the temps to stay below freezing...
Let's not solve the problem, let's just kick it down the road for eight years. From FOX News:
Pension Borrowing a Step Closer to Reality
After several false starts, the Illinois Senate could take action this week on a $4 billion bonding plan to shore up the state�s ailing pension system.

How much bipartisan support it will receive is still up in the air.

�We owe this money to the pension fund. What we�re saying instead is we should put the money in the pension fund and owe the money instead to someone who would issue the bonds,� Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said.

The Senate Executive Committee approved the proposal along political party lines, and it now moves to the Senate for approval from the whole chamber.

Bonds would be repaid over an eight year period. Not making this year�s payment would eventually cost the state $25 billion, according to Cullerton.

The state started a plan in 1995 to have its pensions system 90 percent funded by 2045, but underfunded pension payments and payment holidays have only exacerbated the situation.

Currently, the pension system is short $90 billion, making it the worst underfunded public pension system in the country.

Since Senate Bill 3515 passed out of the Illinois House of Representatives this spring, there have been several occasions, most recently in November, where the Senate was suppose to take up the plan, but failed to do so.
I am surprised that there are still adults living there. The state is run by three-year olds. Gimme mine now!

Sick of politics

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There has been a shooting in Arizona. From FOX News:
Rep. Giffords in Intensive Care After Being Shot in the Head at Public Event
Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is in an intensive care unit following surgery for a gunshot wound in the head at close range, the University of Arizona Medical Center announced Saturday afternoon.

Dr. Peter Rhee, a surgeon and chief of the trauma, critical care and emergency surgery, said he is "very optimistic" about the congresswoman's recovery.

However, Federal District Judge John M. Roll was shot and killed during the town-hall style event outside a Safeway grocery store in Tucson.

At least 19 people were shot at Giffords' "Congress on Your Corner" event, including three members of the Democratic congresswoman's staff in Arizona. Five have died, including one of Giffords' aides and a 9-year-old girl. Several others are in critical condition at the university hospital.
The shooter was a nutcase named Jared Lee Loughner. What is sickening to me beyond this tragedy is the way the left are spinning this as being the fault of the conservatives and the TEA party. Paul Krugman is especially egregious in this:
Assassination Attempt In Arizona
A Democratic Congresswoman has been shot in the head; another dozen were also shot.

We don�t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was. She�s been the target of violence before. And for those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target, the answer is that she�s a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist. (Her father says that �the whole Tea Party� was her enemy.) And yes, she was on Sarah Palin�s infamous �crosshairs� list.

Just yesterday, Ezra Klein remarked that opposition to health reform was getting scary. Actually, it�s been scary for quite a while, in a way that already reminded many of us of the climate that preceded the Oklahoma City bombing.

You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we�re going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it�s long past time for the GOP�s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.
Hey Paul -- time to do a little research for once. Here is a screencap of the moke's Youtube page (since deleted):
Bad grammar aside, look at his list of favorite books - Communist Manifesto? Mein Kampf? What member of the TEA party would consider these to be favorite books? Books that are important to read and study? YES only to know the enemy. Favorite? No. Ed Driscol summed it up best when he said:
It�s kind of disgusting when you hear someone is shot and the first thing you do is try to figure out how to fit the terrible news to your political worldview. Blame the gunman.
Indeed. My prayers are out to all and I sincerely hope that the gunman spends a very long time in prison contemplating his actions. From the looks of his Youtube and Facebook pages, he was not expecting to live past today. UPDATE: more at Doug Ross (screencaps of his Youtube videos), Michelle Malkin (screencap of some now-redacted DailyKos asshattery) and Hot Air (more Youtube lunacy) Hillbuzz gets downright spooky with Daily Kos screencaps from two days ago:
IS DAILY KOS INVOLVED IN ARIZONA MURDERS? �My CongressWOMAN voted against Nancy Pelosi! And is now DEAD to me!� � eerie Daily Kos hit piece on Gabrielle Giffords just two days before assassination attempt; repeated use of word �dead� in relation to Giffords just 48 hours before she and a dozen others were fired upon. UPDATE: Daily Kos scrubs �dead to me� thread but screengrabs document everything; UPDATE: school classmates and former friends describe shooter Jared Lee Loughner as committed Leftist

Fun night

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Went out to Chair 9 for dinner and heard these people: Andy Koch & The Badd Dog Blues Society More here Fat James was sitting in on guitar -- he is incredible. DaveCave(tm) and then an early bedtime. Working with the morning crew at the bakery so have to get up early... Blech... Not a morning person...

If only

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Swiped from Denny

From the Chicago Tribune:

Web businesses say they'll flee Illinois if sales tax is OK'd
Some Illinois-based Web businesses were furious Thursday at a legislative plan that would require online retailers, such as Amazon.com and Overstock.com, to collect a 6.25 percent state tax if they have commissioned affiliates in the state.

That puts at risk huge revenue streams for such Illinois-based Web sites as FatWallet.com, CouponCabin.com and BradsDeals.com, which receive much of their commissions from sending customers to major online retailers. Their commissions are at risk because large retailers have shown in the past that they will sever business relationships with affiliates like those to avoid collecting state sales tax, called a use tax in Illinois, on products they sell.

The bill, passed Thursday afternoon, needs approval from Gov. Pat Quinn.

"I feel like I've been completely flipped the bird," said Tim Storm, chief executive of FatWallet, based in Rockton, near Rockford. "Essentially, 30 to 40 percent of our revenue gets shut off instantaneously."

FatWallet officials were busy Thursday scouting ways to leave Illinois, Storm said.

"The reality is that as a business owner with 52 employees, we're not going to just get shut down because of a law Illinois passes. Our customers don't care whether we're in the state of Illinois," he said.

Brad Wilson, founder of BradsDeals, in Chicago, said about half his revenue would be in jeopardy, along with 20 jobs at his company.

"We don't have much choice. If this is going to stick, we literally can't physically be in Illinois," Wilson said. "My wife is from Cleveland and would be thrilled if we moved back there. That's the kind of thing that's going through my head."

Though consumers are technically supposed to pay sales tax on Internet purchases via their state income tax forms, few do. That amounts to a built-in discount for consumers and a competitive advantage for online retailers who sell to them.

Currently, only online retailers that have a physical location in Illinois - a retail store, headquarters or warehouse, for example - have to collect state tax at checkout. The new law, which would take effect July 1, would define online retailers as having a physical location in Illinois if they have affiliates in the state.

Hey Governor -- if you want to make Illinois a small-business friendly state why don't you start cutting taxes to them and cut the State budget. It is not rocket science...

That pesky Bush guy

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From FOX News:
Pelosi: Democrats Lost House Because of ... Bush!
"We still would have lost the election because we had 9.5% unemployment. Let's take it where that came from. The policies of George W. Bush and the Republican support for his initiatives, tax cuts are for the wealth, recklessness by some," Minority Leader Pelosi told CNN.
Comments like this build a good foundation for a dementia diagnosis...

That's it for the evening.

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Long day today and longer day tomorrow. DaveCave(tm) and then bed. But I will leave you with this -- Ted Nugent schooling Roseanne Barr:
From the Jawa Report
From The Hill:
Dem campaign chief: Goal is to make Pelosi House Speaker again
House Democrats' goal is to make Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) the Speaker of the House again, their campaign chairman said Wednesday evening.

Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), set his goal as nothing short of winning back control of the House in the 2012 elections.

"We're all trying to win it back," Israel said on MSNBC when asked if it was Democrats' goal of winning back enough seats to make Pelosi, the former Speaker and new minority leader, the next Speaker.

Democrats lost 63 seats in the 2010 congressional elections, which delivered to Republicans control of the House. Democrats would need to win 25 seats now held by Republicans to flip control of the House back in their favor.
What part of 36% approval rating did these tone deaf idiots fail to grasp. They are not representing their constituents. The constituents woke up to this fact and voted the bums out of office. Pelosi even had 19 of her BFFs vote for Rep. John A. Boehner as speaker of the house a few days ago.

Nancy's bar tab

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From CNS News:
Final Tab for Pelosi�s Speakership: $5.34 Trillion in New Debt�Or $3.66 Billion Per Day
In the 1,461 days that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) served as speaker of the House, the national debt increased by a total of $5.343 trillion ($5,343,452,800,321.37) or $3.66 billion per day ($3.657,394,113.84), according to official debt numbers published by the U.S. Treasury.

Pelosi was the 52nd speaker of the House. During her tenure, she amassed more debt than the first 49 speakers combined.

The total national debt did not climb above $5.343 trillion (the amount amassed during Pelosi�s four years as speaker) until Feb. 26, 1997, when Rep. Newt Gingrich (R.-Ga.) was serving as the nation�s 50th House speaker.

When Pelosi was sworn in on Jan. 4, 2007, the national debt stood at $8,670,596,242,973.04. At the close of business on Jan. 4, 2011, her last full day in the speakership, it stood at 14,014,049,043,294.41--an increase of $5,343,452,800,321.37.
Both parties are doing it and we need to put a stop to it. We cannot continue to borrow from tomorrow for pork today. It simply does not pencil out. I am hacked off at what Chavez is doing for the citizens of Venezuela and our own politicians are doing the same kind of crap.

Very cool news

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From Ahram Online:
Egypt Muslims to act as "human shields" at Coptic Christmas Eve mass
�Although 2011 started tragically, I feel it will be a year of eagerly anticipated change, where Egyptians will stand against sectarianism and unite as one,� Father Rafaeil Sarwat of the Mar-Mina church told Ahram Online. The Coptic priest was commenting on the now widespread call by Muslim intellectuals and activists upon Egyptian Muslims at large to flock to Coptic churches across the country to attend Coptic Christmas Eve mass, to show solidarity with the nation's Coptic minority, but also to serve as "human shields" against possible attacks by Islamist militants.

Mohamed Abdel Moniem El-Sawy, founder of El-Sawy Culture Wheel was among the promiment Muslim cultural figures who first floated the bold initiative.

�This is it. It is time to change and unite,� asserted journalist Ekram Youssef, another notable sponsor of the intiative, in a telephone interview with Ahram Online. She added that although it is the government�s responsibility to act and find solutions to bring an end to such violations, "it is time for Egyptian citizens to act to revive the true meaning of national unity."
Very very cool -- the original Christianity and Islam pre-date 570 AD by quite a few years. Mo may be a 'prophet' but both core religions are intellectually deeper than he espoused -- he dumbed down Islam for the rabble. Nice to see the 'old ones' telling the upstarts to STFU and to stop playing dirty.

Cold weather

Not just Europe and us. From Accuweather:
Cold Temperatures Overnight In India Kill Five People
Low overnight temperatures in Uttar Pradesh, India, killed five people, raising the number of dead to 41.

Nearly one-fifth of the 180 million people in Uttar Pradesh are homeless. It is one of India's poorest states, according to Fox News.

Despite the efforts of New Delhi officials to convince homeless people to stay in city-run shelters, at least 10 people died of exposure over the past two weeks.

New Delhi had two days of lower-than-normal temperatures. "Tuesday, the low temperature was 39 F and Wednesday's low was 40 F," said AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Frank Strait. "There were winds of 5 to 10 mph."

The average January temperature in New Delhi is 58 F.
From Springfield, MA station WGGB:
Freezing weather leads to south China evacuations
Freezing temperatures have forced the evacuation of nearly 60,000 people from their homes and caused more than $200 million in economic losses in southern China, the government said Wednesday.

Ice and sleet have collapsed the roofs of more than 1,200 homes and forced the evacuation of 58,000 people across the southern regions of Jiangxi, Hunan, Chongqing, Sichuan and Guizhou, the Ministry of Civil Affairs reported.

Freezing weather has also damaged nearly 300,000 acres of crops, including cabbage and rice, and caused about $203.8 million in economic losses across southern China, the ministry said.

In Guizhou province, 22,800 people were forced to evacuate from their homes Tuesday and drivers had to abandon thousands of cars after ice-covered roads were closed, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

"People, especially those living in the mountains and the elderly, are being evacuated from their homes," said a Guizhou Meteorological Bureau official, surnamed Zhao. "Roads and homes with poor infrastructure are being impacted by the icy conditions."
What is interesting is that these are not northern provinces, they are in the South. Here is a map of the Chinese Provinces and you can see that Jiangxi, Hunan, Chongqing, Sichuan and Guizhou are just a few hundred miles north of Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar which are very tropical.

Mule for sale

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A bit of country humor:
A man who moved out from the city is plowing his field and gets his tractor stuck in the wet ground.

A farmer driving by stops his truck and walks to the fence to call over the city feller. "You need a mule to plow such wet ground," he says.

"Where can I buy one?" he is asked.

"Well, I just happened to have one for 100 dollars," the farmer says.

"I'll take him," says the other man as he counts out the money.

"I can't bring him over today. I don't work on Sunday. Tomorrow OK?"


The next day the truck pulls up and the old farmer gets out. He says, "Sorry, bad news. I went out after breakfast and the mule was dead."

The city feller says just give me my money back then.

"Can't, spent it already!"

"Well... unload the mule then."

"What ya gonna do with him?"

"Raffle him off!"

"Naw, ya cant raffle off a dead mule!"

"Just watch me us! City fellers know a few tricks."

One month goes by and the city feller and farmer run into each other at the barber shop.

"What did ya do with that dead mule?"

"Raffled him off, sold 100 tickets at two dollars each and made 198 dollars profit."

"Didn't anyone complain?"

"Just one guy so I gave him his two dollars back!"
Swiped from Miss Cellania Reminds me of our new neighbors -- I think they are Amish. They have a couple dead horses up on blocks in the front yard...

Cool end to the story

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The homeless guy with the great radio voice? From the New York Post:
Homeless man with 'golden radio voice' gets his chance
The homeless man with the "golden radio voice" wanted a second chance -- and did he ever get it.

As soon as Ted Williams, a panhandler who became an online hit after video of him begging on an Ohio roadside was posted to the Internet, appeared on a local radio show this morning the offers began pouring in -- including a dream job with the Cleveland Cavaliers and a free house.

"The Cleveland Cavaliers just offered me a full-time job and a house! A house! A house!," repeated a stunned Williams, 53, on local radio station WNCI.

A caller to the show who said she represented the Cavs offered Williams, who shot to stardom after local newspaper the Columbus Dispatch on Monday posted video of his perfectly-pitched panhandling, a full-time job doing voiceover work for the team and parent company and a free home in Cleveland.

The Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, native trained to be a radio announcer before drugs and alcohol ruined his chances at a career, and he was reduced to begging on the side of a road in Columbus, Ohio, before the newspaper found him.

Local police would refer to Williams as "Radio man," when chasing him from his usual begging spots, Williams said.

"I've been out there about a year; I just didn't know anything like this would ever happen," an overwhelmed Williams said earlier in the show. "There's so many words. I've already been characterized to [Scottish singing sensation] Susan Boyle ... I'm just so happy."
His comments:
"Just to get back to some normalcy and responsibility -- If I can a job, whether it's a twenty-five or even $18,000, I'd be happy," he said. "At least I know God has me where he wants me."
God bless this man -- he has hit bottom and is on his way to recovery.

Vaccines and Autism

It has long been known that the proposed link between childhood vaccines and autism was at best, bad science. Doctor Andrew Wakefield first proposed this in an article in Lancet. Lancet retracted the paper last February and in May of this year, Dr. Wakefield's medical license was yanked. CNN has a nice write up and includes information from a new paper:
Retracted autism study an 'elaborate fraud,' British journal finds
A now-retracted British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines was an "elaborate fraud" that has done long-lasting damage to public health, a leading medical publication reported Wednesday.

An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study's author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study -- and that there was "no doubt" Wakefield was responsible.

"It's one thing to have a bad study, a study full of error, and for the authors then to admit that they made errors," Fiona Godlee, BMJ's editor-in-chief, told CNN. "But in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data."

Britain stripped Wakefield of his medical license in May 2010. Efforts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday.

"Meanwhile, the damage to public health continues, fueled by unbalanced media reporting and an ineffective response from government, researchers, journals and the medical profession," BMJ states.
A bit more about the good Doctor:
Wakefield has been unable to reproduce his results in the face of criticism, and other researchers have been unable to match them. Most of his co-authors withdrew their names from the study in 2004 after learning he had had been paid by a law firm that intended to sue vaccine manufacturers -- a serious conflict of interest he failed to disclose. After years on controversy, the Lancet, the prestigious journal that originally published the research, retracted Wakefield's paper last February.
he had had been paid by a law firm that intended to sue vaccine manufacturers -- there is a special level of hell for people like that...

For all you Hoplophiles out there

Looks like it might be a fun series on Discovery:
"If you can dream it, we can build it" is the motto at Red Jacket, the nation's most unique weapons business. Owner Will Hayden and his eclectic crew of Baton Rouge, Louisiana gunsmiths and historians rise to the challenge daily on Discovery Channel's world premiere series SONS OF GUNS, creating one-of-a-kind custom weapons. The show fires off on Wednesdays at 9PM ET/PT, starting January 26.

As a straight shooter and an avid historian, Will is a trusted expert to handle the requests of Red Jacket's major clients - law enforcement, military and collectors. From guns to knives to swords to cannons, Will sells, trades, buys, builds and customizes them all. While weapons manufacturers are making attachable silencers for AK-47's, Will takes it a step further -- creating internal silencers that help police departments be even more stealth in threatening situations. If someone needs to restore a WWII flamethrower to make it operational, Will can do that too. And when the sheriff's department needs to turn two guns - a shotgun and a rifle - into one, they call Will.

SONS OF GUNS centers on Will's Red Jacket shop, located in the heart of the Louisiana bayou. When Will isn't rebuilding a "bring-back" rifle from the Vietnam War or using his wealth of weapon history knowledge to determine if a pistol found in the attic is an antique or not, he can be found in his shop with his daughter Stephanie and the rest of his team, swapping gossip with his customers. Whether it's having a lunch break shooting contest, going on a nighttime bayou bow fishing trip or field testing a fully automatic M2 .50 caliber machine gun, viewers will catch the Red Jacket team always finding time to have some fun on SONS OF GUNS.
Setting my DVR to catch this. Hoplophile?

Voting 'present'

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What a way to go -- from The Washington Times:
Boehner elected speaker of the House; Pelosi's support divided
Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio was elected speaker of the House Wednesday in a vote that saw a significant portion of the Democratic caucus vote for someone other than outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Mr. Boehner received 241 votes, all Republicans, to capture the gavel and become third in the line of presidential succession, following only the vice president.

Mrs. Pelosi, meanwhile, received 173 votes, but watched as 19 Democrats from her caucus either opted for another candidate or merely voted "present."

It was the most defections from a party caucus's candidate in at least the last two decades, and underscored the simmering tensions among House Democrats who suffered staggering losses in last year's midterm elections.
Nice to see that 19 Democrats realize that this shift in the wind is more than just a errant zephyr.

Yikes - bird deaths

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Now this is bizarre. First in Arkansas (New York Times):
For Arkansas Blackbirds, the New Year Never Came
Times Square had the ball drop, and Brasstown, N.C., had its descending possum. But no place had a New Year�s Eve as unusual, or freakishly disturbing, as Beebe, Ark.

Around 11 that night, thousands of red-winged blackbirds began falling out of the sky over this small city about 35 miles northeast of Little Rock. They landed on roofs, roads, front lawns and backyards, turning the ground nearly black and terrifying anyone who happened to be outside.
And then (London Daily Mail):
Mystery of 100,000 dead fish which washed up on Arkansas river bank
Over 100,000 fish have been found washed up on the river banks on a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River, near Ozark.

Officials are investigating the eerie happening but experts believe that disease is most likely to be the cause.

The drum fish were discovered by a tug boat operator on Thursday - a day before thousands of blackbirds fell from the sky only 125 miles away, in Little Rock.
And then (CBS News):
Louisiana Latest Place to Rain Dead Birds
State biologists are trying to determine what killed an estimated 500 birds that littered a quarter-mile stretch of highway in Pointe Coupee Parish.

The birds included red-winged blackbirds and starlings.

The birds were found Monday along Louisiana Highway 1, about 300 miles south of Beebe, Ark., where more than 3,000 blackbirds fell from the sky three days earlier. Authorities say examinations showed those birds suffered internal injuries that formed deadly blood clots.
And now (MS/NBC):
The plot thickens? Dead birds found in Sweden
It isn't easy being a bird.

First, New Year's Eve fireworks were blamed in central Arkansas for making thousands of blackbirds confused, crashing into homes, cars and each other. Then 300 miles to the south in Louisiana, power lines likely killed about 450 birds, littering a highway near Baton Rouge.

It's almost certainly a coincidence the events happened within days of each other, Louisiana's state wildlife veterinarian Jim LaCour said Tuesday. "I haven't found anything to link the two at this point."

To add to the mystery, 50-100 jackdaws, a bird species in the crow family, fell dead in central Sweden late Tuesday night, English-language Swedish news website The Local reported Wednesday.
I know that this is probably coincidence and that the cause will be discovered soon but still -- odd...

Heh - it just gets better

A few hours ago I wrote about the Detroit Public Schools and their pork Stimulus grant to spend $49 Million dollars of our tax dollars on a bunch of laptops for their lil' snowflakes. Thanks to reader Amazed, I learn this -- from the Detroit Free Press:
DPS says teacher tried to pawn school laptop
Detroit Public Schools officials say they have suspended a Durfee Elementary School teacher who allegedly tried to pawn her district-owned laptop computer at one of the biggest, most popular pawnshops in Detroit.

The DPS Office of the Inspector General investigation said Karen Drysdale-Oriucci, a DPS teacher since 1994, went to American Jewelry and Loan on Greenfield Road on Wednesday to pawn the netbook computer she received from the district on Dec. 17.

Store staff refused to pay the teacher for the netbook �- which is engraved with the DPS �I�m In� logo on its cover -� instead confiscating it and contacting DPS officials.

Drysdale-Oriucci was suspended Thursday with pay, pending a disciplinary hearing.

DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb commended the owners of American Jewelry and Loan for refusing the sale and reporting the teacher to authorities.
I think the word "Moron" is entirely appropriate here. And these are the kinds of people responsible for guaranteeing that our children are able to function in an adult world? What kind of congenital idiots would allow these people in such a position of power. A Teachers Union maybe? Fscking morons all of them... And of course, this represents a target rich environment to some people:
Great voice and a face made for radio. Sad story but he has been clean for two years and I hope that someone gives him a chance.

BOHICA - Northeast weather

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BOHIC -- a nice Caribbean sounding acronym but it stands for Bend Over, Here It Comes Again... From Accuweather:
Winter Returns to Great Lakes, Northeast after Brief Thaw
Winter will re-establish itself across the Great Lakes and Northeast in the form of snow, gusty winds and frigid temperatures after a brief thaw over the last week.

Less than a week after up to 30 inches of snow buried portions of New York and New Jersey, the snowcover has nearly disappeared thanks to multiple days of temperatures in the 40s and 50s. New York City had a snow cover of 20 inches on Dec. 27, and as of the end of the day Monday, less than 6 inches remained.
Got some moisture and warm air moving in here -- an Avalanche warning but the ski area should pick up a bunch of new powder in time for the weekend.

Our tax dollars at work

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From the Detroit Free Press:
Detroit Public Schools: 40,000 kids to get laptops from stimulus funds
Detroit Public Schools will spend $49 million in federal money to push technology in the district, including distributing 40,000 new laptop computers to students in grades 6-12 for use in class, as well as more than 5,000 new desktop computers.

Each DPS teacher also will get a laptop.

The computers are being funded by stimulus money under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Details are to be announced this morning by DPS emergency financial manager Robert Bobb.

The district already has started distributing the computers and expects to deliver them all by the end of this school year, said Kisha Verdusco, a DPS spokeswoman.

The massive technology infusion totals 50,000 pieces of equipment -- including 4,300 printer/scanners and more than 500 HP desktop computers for the 138 early childhood classrooms in the district.
This is something that is within the charter of the State of Michigan. It is not within the charter of the Federal Government. And, just out of curiosity, 50,000 pieces of equipment divided into $49,000,000 equals $980 per unit. A good laptop is about $600. A good printer is less than $300, this seems a little high priced to me. Wonder who the sourcing vendor is and what their relationship is with the school district...

That's it for the night

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Off to the DaveCave(tm) - long day tomorrow so an early bed is needed.

Dealing with clients

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I love the website Clients from Hell Here is one wonderful interaction:
Client: �I�m afraid I can�t afford the monthly figure at the moment.�
Me: �Oh no - that�s hourly.�
Client: �I could get a stripper for that!�
Me: �If she�s as good with Photoshop as I am, then she is the better deal.�
Been there, done that, got the tee shirt...

The Jungle Twins

Wonderful story from Michael Yon. He normally covers military actions but he was in Thailand and heard a story about twin baby elephants born in a remote village and went and found them.

Start here: The Jungle Twins

In October 2010, a rare set of elephant twins was born in Thailand, leading to vibrant media interest. The birth was a happy surprise partly because it had been the second set of twins born in Thailand in 2010. Many Thais consider this auspicious, and two sets of twins in one year was very welcome news in the Kingdom. Stranger still, the first set born this year were reportedly the first male twins in world history. I cannot verify these claims. In any case, I set off into the jungle to find the second twins -- both are girls -- and their mother.

Thailand and surrounding countries such as Burma, Laos and Cambodia have been traditional elephant country. Neighboring Laos is still called "The Land of a Million Elephants," though that the number is far fewer today. Some years ago I was in an upstairs museum in Venice, Italy examining very old maps of Asia, and the area that today is known as Laos was marked by drawings of elephants. In Thailand, elephant symbols, sculptures, paintings and t-Shirts are prevalent. There is even "Chang Beer," or elephant beer sold in Thailand. When Thai children see a baby elephant they can be heard saying, "Luk chang, luk chang!" (Baby elephant, baby elephant!)

A long story but well worth the read, not only for severe critter cuteness but the social interest of the hill tribes-people -- a fascinating profile. Here is one of the babies gnawing on Michael's guide:


What if Erin Brockovich was wrong

First was the news that Hinkley, CA did not have an abnormal cancer rate. Now this article in the London Daily Mail:

She was the single mother who claimed her town was poisoned by its water supply... but was Erin Brockovich wrong?
The Stars and Stripes is being flown upside down outside Bobby Morris's ramshackle bungalow deep in the Californian wilderness. Could there be a more chilling sight gently blowing in the breeze than an 'inverted' flag - a universally recognised symbol of distress and danger?

'This community is blighted,' declared Mr Morris, 52, a volunteer firefighter and mechanic. The community is Hinkley (population: less than 2,000), an isolated speck on the map, somewhere off the beaten track between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Everyone you speak to here, it seems, has been struck down with an illness or disease or knows someone who had a miscarriage, strange rash, stroke or cancer; especially cancer.

A bit more:

Today, however, more than a decade on from one of the most celebrated David and Goliath legal battles of recent times, a less flattering assessment is emerging.

Fresh scientific evidence has come to light that casts doubt on Brockovich's claims that PG&E was responsible for the continuing legacy of ill-health in Hinkley.

That evidence is contained in a new survey by the California Cancer Registry and its key, controversial finding that the number of people diagnosed with cancer in the Hinkley area between 1996 and 2008 was not only not excessive, but was lower than would normally be expected for a town of its size - 196 cancer cases over the 12-year period of the study, when the statistical expectation for the region was 224.

This raises a haunting question: Could Erin Brockovich have been wrong all along? The stylish, Chanel-wearing Brockovich of today, who lives in a mansion near Malibu and runs her own environmental consultancy, is unrecognisable from the Erin of old.

Back then, her job title with a provincial law firm in California's San Fernando Valley was legal researcher, little more than the office dogsbody. Legend has it that Brockovich - now 50, with three grown-up children - stumbled on Hinkley's guilty secret (her words) while rummaging through long-forgotten files.

Pretty damning... Michael Fumento has a good backgrounder.

Music Software

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Music Software publisher Brambos has released some of it's earlier products for free. Some nice sequencers and beat machines...

Now Russia is doing it

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First England has vowed to slash the size of its government. Now Russia is doing the same thing - from RIA Novosti:
Medvedev signs decree to cut number of federal officials
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed on Monday a decree reducing the number of federal officials by 20% until 2013, the Kremlin press service said.

According to the decree, the number of federal officials is to be reduced by 5% in 2011 and 2012 and then by 10% in 2013.

The number of federal officials in Russia almost doubled in the past five years from around 600,000 in 2005 to over 1.1 million in 2010.

The decree follows the instruction made by Medvedev in June. The measure could save up to 40 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) out of the Russian federal budget.
Do the plutocrats in Washington notice this? Do they care? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

Just wow!

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I thought yesterday was pretty good as we had the highest volume of sales at the Bakery yet. Today blew yesterday out of the water by over $70. Our poor pastry case looked like it had been hit with a plague of locusts -- there was nothing there except for a few lonely butter cookies and a slice or two of quiche. Did over $170 in just coffee sales alone -- usually this is in the $80 range. Still need to work on food costs a bit -- right now we are averaging about 50% and this needs to be around 30% but everything else is going great.

Just because I could

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Out in the DaveCave(tm) finishing off the email backlog and noticed the date and time. Happy 11:11:11 on 1/1/11

Overstepping one's reach

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Janet Napolitano is seriously overstepping her reach with this one. Talk about naked power grab. From FOX News:
Napolitano Visit Aimed at Beefing Up Afghan Border Security, Customs
During an unannounced New Year's Eve visit to Afghanistan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano traveled to the country's mountainous border region near Pakistan to see first-hand her department's efforts in the war effort there.

"Seeing is worth a thousand words," Napolitano said after the tour, to which Fox News was granted exclusive access. "This all involves safety and security in this part of the world. And that is something that has direct connection as well to the United States."

She described her department's role in war-torn Afghanistan as a "complement" to the military operations there.
Excuse me but is Afghanistan our homeland? Didn't think so. So why is the Secretary of Homeland Security visiting there if not to extend the reach and power of her little chunk of government cheese.


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Our wonderful Senator from Washington State is clueless. Here is just the latest example from the Tacoma News Tribune:
Family of fallen soldier warmed by letters, stung by politicians
The parents of a Yelm soldier killed in Afghanistan earlier this month have received cards from friends and strangers expressing condolences, and they�re grateful for the support.

�As a father of someone killed, it is overwhelming,� said Lt. Col. Patrick Collins (Ret.). His son, Sgt. Sean Collins, was buried Wednesday at the Tahoma National Cemetery.

Among that outpouring of empathy, two politicians inadvertently stung the family.

One slight came in a letter of condolences the family received from the office of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

At first, the Collins family appreciated that Cantwell had taken the time to send a letter acknowledging their son�s sacrifice.

But the letter misidentified the slain soldier in its last paragraph, which reads:
�Again, please accept my warmest condolences. May your memories of Bryn and the knowledge that he made a positive impact on the lives of so many serve as a source of comfort to you during this time of sorrow.�
The letter was dated Dec. 20 and delivered to Sean Collins� mother, Linda Collins of Yelm. The error conveyed to the family that Cantwell had sent a form letter.

�They couldn�t even proofread it,� she said. �I�m sure if her son had died, she would�ve at least wanted his name spelled correctly.�
Christ on a corn-dog. If I was the State Senator, I would have someone one staff whose job was to proofread stuff like this. The other slight?
The other slight came when Patrick Collins called the White House and asked to have President Obama call his ex-wife, Linda, to talk about their son.

He was told that Obama did not regularly make phone calls to the families of fallen soldiers.

Later, Patrick Collins read a story about Obama�s phone call to Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie. Obama reportedly praised Lurie for giving quarterback Michael Vick a second chance to play football after serving time in prison for running a dog fighting ring.

�That burns,� Patrick Collins said Thursday.

�Any soldier that gets killed in action, you�d think the president would be calling someone in the family. There�s no politics in it. His predecessor did it,� Collins said.
Bush contacted these families without public recognition or fanfare, just a heartfelt communication between the families of the fallen and the leader that sent them off to war. It takes so little time and means so very much to the families. Guess Obama is too busy cozying up to sports figures and hanging out in Hawai'i -- I thought that Camp David was the Presidential retreat. At least Bush had all the security and communications installed at Crawford so he could work there and host visiting dignitaries.

Mmmmm Soup

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Made two gallons of chicken noodle soup yesterday and today and it is really good (having some for dinner right now).

Took three Costco rotisserie chickens and boiled them in some water for a couple hours yesterday. Tossed in a couple onions quartered with skin on, a small handful of whole black peppercorns and a dozen bay leaves into the mix. Strained everything out into some containers and put them in the fridge overnight. This morning, all the fat and yuk had congealed on the surface so I removed that, chopped up some onions, carrots and celery and mixed in the chicken meat. Boiled for 30 minutes and then put in four pounds of Costco egg noodles -- really thick and boiled for another 15 minutes.

People out in front were asking what we were making as the scent of chicken was pervading the air. Smelled really good. This will last us maybe three or four days as we sell a lot of soup. We also have a Thai curried carrot vegan soup as well as the end of a chicken tortilla and black bean soup. I'll be doing another batch of the navy bean and ham for mid-week.

Also up this week is starting the takeout dinners. The bakers are done by 10AM or so and there is this big convection oven sitting there -- we keep it running to warm sandwiches and to bake our cheesy bread buns as well as roasting veggies for our wraps.

I'll be doing pot pies, meatloaf, lentil loaf, lasagna, etc... freeze them and then offer them for sale. The customer takes them home, puts them in a toaster oven for 30 minutes and there is a home-cooked meal.

Food prices and global warming

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Looks like food is going to be more expensive this year. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Florida agriculture loses $273M in December freeze
December's wave of unusually cold weather has destroyed much of Florida's green beans and sweet corn, which means shoppers will pay more at the grocery store and see more imports on the shelves.

Florida is the nation's largest producer of green beans and sweet corn � the kind of corn we eat, not the kind we put in our gas tanks.

According to the Florida Department of Agriculture, the state lost $273 million from the December freezes alone � including nearly 9,000 acres of crops. The statistics are compiled only through Dec. 20, which means they don't even account for the problems caused by this week's cold.
Not just beans and corn -- oranges, pickling cukes, lettuces, bell peppers. Going to be an expensive spring for food...

News from Brazil

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They have a new President. I really liked the old one as although he had labor and socialist roots, he embraced capitalism and helped build Brazil up to where it is today. From FOX News:
Rousseff Sworn in as Brazil's New President
Dilma Rousseff was sworn in as Brazil's first female president Saturday, capping a rapid political trajectory for the career technocrat and former Marxist rebel who was imprisoned and tortured during the nation's long military dictatorship.

Rousseff, 63, takes the helm of Latin America's largest nation, which has risen both financially and politically on the world stage under outgoing leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

"I am going to consolidate the transformative work done by President Lula," Rousseff said during a 40-minute inaugural address. "He changed the way the government is run, and led the people to trust in themselves."

Silva leaves office as the nation's most popular president with an approval rating that hit 87 percent in his last week in office. Rousseff was his hand-chosen successor -- and served as his chief of staff, helping shape his policies.

Brazil has made significant progress since Silva was elected. His social programs and wealth redistribution helped pull 20 million people out of poverty. On the brink of a sovereign default in 2002, it now lends money to the International Monetary Fund. Unemployment is at a record low, its currency has more than doubled against the dollar and the nation will host the 2016 Olympics.

While proud of those gains, Rousseff said now was no time for her nation to relax.

"There is still poverty shaming our country," she said. "I will not rest while there are Brazilians without food on their table, homeless in the streets, and poor children abandoned to their luck."

Rousseff referenced those of her generation who fought and died at the hands of Brazil's 1964-85 military dictatorship. Rousseff was part of an armed rebel group for three years before being arrested and imprisoned in early 1970. She spent three years in jail, during which time she was brutally tortured.

"That at-times tough path made me value and love life much more," Rousseff said during her speech, choking back tears. "It gave me, more than anything else, courage to confront even bigger challenges. It is with this courage that I'm going to govern Brazil."

Rousseff, wearing a white skirt and matching jacket, took the oath of office alongside Vice President Michel Temer in the national Congress. A heavy rain swept over Brazil's capital, Brasilia, as Rousseff arrived at the Congress in a 1953 Rolls Royce, her hand waving out the window to the thousands of cheering onlookers. Her security detail comprised six young women, clad in black and running alongside the car through the downpour.

Rousseff takes on the formidable task of maintaining Brazil's momentum.

In the eight years under Silva, Brazil sharply cut poverty while its economy boomed, and it has increased its political clout on the global stage. Brazil will host the 2014 World Cup and is expected to be the world's fifth-largest economy by the time the 2016 Olympics come to the nation.
This will be interesting to watch. I love that she arrived in a 1953 Rolls -- classy. Obama would have the latest and greatest. Silva's approval rating is nothing to be ashamed of -- 87% is not too shabby compared to our own President at 25% approval. Considering that she spent a lot of time working with Silva, she should continue on the path has has set and the citizens of Brazil will be that much better off for it. Unlike Venezuela. I cannot think of a more day/night example...

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