February 2011 Archives

I was just over Snoqualmie Pass last week coming back from the Yellowstone trip -- it was colder than normal and very snowy. Today, they had to close it due to a large avalanche. From the Seattle Times:
Avalanche closes westbound Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass
Heavy snowfall, high winds, poor visibility and spun-out vehicles continue to block westbound Snoqualmie Pass from Ellensburg to North Bend. But eastbound lanes reopened after avalanche control work was completed.

About noon, an avalanche about 10 feet deep covered all three westbound lanes of Interstate 90, just west of the summit (milepost 51). The high risk of avalanche danger, in addition to the spun-out vehicles and the heavy snowfall, caused the Department of Transportation to close the pass in both directions.

�Our avalanche team is assessing the risk for more avalanches to occur and it is likely that they will need to do avalanche control work in several locations before we can open the highway,� said Todd Trepanier, DOT South Central Region Maintenance Engineer.

He said snow is falling 2 to 3 inches per hour, with a forecast calling for continued heavy snowfall for the next 36 hours.
Expecting to see the local dairy putting Al Gore's face on the milk cartons. And it's not just here, it's all over...
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Low-flow toilets cause a stink in SF
San Francisco's big push for low-flow toilets has turned into a multimillion-dollar plumbing stink.

Skimping on toilet water has resulted in more sludge backing up inside the sewer pipes, said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the city Public Utilities Commission. That has created a rotten-egg stench near AT&T Park and elsewhere, especially during the dry summer months.

The city has already spent $100 million over the past five years to upgrade its sewer system and sewage plants, in part to combat the odor problem.

Now officials are stocking up on a $14 million, three-year supply of highly concentrated sodium hypochlorite - better known as bleach - to act as an odor eater and to disinfect the city's treated water before it's dumped into the bay. It will also be used to sanitize drinking water.

That translates into 8.5 million pounds of bleach either being poured down city drains or into the drinking water supply every year.
Don't these people hire engineers before promoting some feel-good "environmental" cause -- it's for the Planet as though Earth really notices all that we do. The Earth is a vast place, bigger than most people are capable of imagining. I have traveled a lot and only seen a small fraction of a percent...

People unclear on the concept

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From the Vermont Burlington Free Press:
Police: Passengers smoked pot during DUI traffic stop
Two drunk passengers in a car stopped by police were caught smoking pot � less than 20 ft. from Vermont State Troopers � while waiting for a sober driver to pick them up, Vermont State Police said.

One of those passengers, Kris Richards, 30, of St. Albans, told Troopers that it was probably a "dumb idea" to be smoking marijuana while at a DUI traffic stop, according to police.

Troopers stopped the car, driven erratically by Scott Patterson, 30, of Highgate, at 12:27 a.m. Sunday on Berkshire Center Road in Berkshire, police said. Police arrested Patterson on suspicion of driving drunk, saying his blood alcohol content was 0.187 percent.

Troopers said they placed Patterson in their cruiser, returned to Patterson�s car and discovered two of his three passengers, Richards and Jason Beyor, 31, of St. Albans, smoking pot. Police identified the third passenger as Sabrina Stewart, 28, of St. Albans.

Police cited Beyor to appear March 28 in Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans on suspicion of possessing marijuana. Police cited Patterson to appear March 14 in Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans on suspicion of driving under the influence � his alleged second offense.
Yikes -- what's next? A try at the Darwin Awards?
Anthony Watts blog Watts Up With That was just awarded Best Science Weblog by the Eleventh Annual Bloggies -- an international, peer voted competition.
Something like this really demonstrates how the general public is aware of the cracks in the facade of Anthropogenic Global Warming. Political hacks like Al Gore can bloviate all they want to about CO2 but the facts are out there and Earth's climate is variable far beyond the influence of man (and CO2 is key component of Photosynthesis whereby we get our plants and oceanic critters (plankton, etc...)

Good news on the domestic energy front

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From the Plains Daily/Associated Press:
ND pumps record 113M barrels of oil in 2010
State Industrial Commission records show North Dakota pumped a record 113 million barrels of oil in 2010, smashing the previous high set a year earlier by 33 million barrels.

The state set production records almost monthly in 2010, jumping from an average of 236,200 barrels daily in January to nearly 343,900 in December.

State documents show a record 356,505 barrels was pumped daily in November, with nearly 10.7 million barrels produced for the month.

One year ago, North Dakota had an average daily drill rig count of 94. The state Industrial Commission says 169 rigs were drilling Monday.
More faster please!

Whole lot of shaking going on - Arkansas

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Nothing super major but there have been a cluster of Mag 4 quakes in Arkansas over the last few days. From the Texarcana Gazette:
More earthquakes vibrate Arkansas
An earthquake powerful enough to be felt 200 miles away struck Greenbrier about 2 a.m. Friday, when most residents were asleep. Many probably never woke up.

Greenbrier Fire Chief Jim Sutterfield said he was one of those who slept through it. The earthquake didn�t damage any buildings or cause any injuries, and Sutterfield said earthquakes have become so common in the area that residents are used to them.

�My wife said it shook our windows in the house,� Sutterfield said. �We�ve had about 18 to 20 earthquakes nearly every day this week.�

The 4.3 magnitude quake that struck early Friday is the largest one so far in what seismologists are calling the Guy-Greenbrier swarm�a slew of small earthquakes occurring in the state�s north-central region. It is also the third-largest earthquake since a similar grouping of tremors in the 1980s called the Enola swarm.
Hope that this has nothing to do with the New Madrid. That one is overdue...

Gas prices these days

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They are not what they seem. An excellent observation from The Czar of Muscovy at The Ancient & Noble Order of the Gormogons. It defies excerption and is not long so I am swiping the entire thing:
Quantitative Dis-Easing
The Czar walked into the second floor men�s room at the Castle this morning and found �Puter sitting on the cold tile floor, in his underwear, staring at the floor drain while clutching a roll of Brawny paper towels in one hand, and a mostly empty brown jug of spiced rum and home-made Dr. Pepper in the other. For those of you who know �Puter, this is known as �Waiting for the big one.� Anyhow, the Czar asked �What vexes thee?�

�Did you see the price of gas in California, which you will no doubt write about complete with a photograph conveniently in the right corner? �Puter is forced to conclude you were right about quantitative easing.�

Yep. Which you can read about here, as well as here, over here, and even over here.

Gas prices are shooting up. And you were warned about this, too: back in late 2010, before any of the explosive, violent protests in the Mideast occured.

How on earth did the industry know that riots in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya would drive prices up? Well, they didn�t know anything of the sort. What they knew, and what was largely denied by our government, was that quantitative easing would kick in sometime in 2011, and last until at least 2012. Anyone with any sense about money should have known this would occur, on schedule, to the amount it has.

All the turmoil in Northern Africa does not really affect our gas prices, because the United States buys no oil from Tunisia or Egypt or Libya. The price of gas has been going up because the boneheads in our government decided to print up billions of dollars in extra currency and dump it into circulation. The theory sounds like something from an Our Gang save-Mickey�s-farm plot: if we print up a ton of money and throw it...somewhere...Americans will suddenly have a lot more money, which they will start spending on things like vacations and dining in restaurants, and this will kick the economy in high gear and companies will start hiring again, and then we will never worry about that money ever again.

Of course, in real life, this is like trying to fix a leak in a boat by drilling a bigger hole in the hull to drain the water.

Indeed the execution was classic Obama: they put the money into the federal bond market, which encouraged bond holders to cash in and convert money to stocks. This flared up the Dow Jones Industrial Average (which is an inexperienced way to measure the real economy) in late 2010 and everyone in the White House declared the recession was over. Then, unemployment remained high because the spike in stock prices was caused only by an influx of cash, not real capital. No one started hiring. So things stayed a little bleak.

Our president, predictably, undid his own strategy by telling Americans to skip vacations and going out for dinner. The increase in spending failed to occur, meaning that the value of the dollar dropped. See, the President�s economics eggheads skipped the class day to attend a pro-union folk song rally, missing the part where the professor explained how inflation weakens the dollar. If you increase the amount of dollars without increasing the value of products and services, prices go up to compensate.

This is easy to understand if, unlike them, you have a clue how investing works. If the value of a company is worth $45 million, and they have a million shares of stock for sale, the share price is $45 a share. Simple, right? If the price of the share goes up to meet demand, the value of the company goes up; if people start selling shares, the price goes down�the value of the company starts going down.

Likewise, if the price of the stock is $45 a share, and the company suddenly announces they are selling an additional 100,000 shares of stock, what happens? The value of the stock drops, because $45,000,000 divided by 1,100,000 shares of stock equals $40.91. You just lost almost four bucks per share. This is what inflation does to the dollar.

By flooding the bond market with billions of extra dollars, the value of the dollar drops. This is inflation, even if you call it �quantitative easing.�

It takes a few months for the ripple effect to occur. And since this started a few months ago, economists who did their homework began warning that we would see an increase in prices right...about...now. And because the stock market got the extra cash first, the first things that start getting hit with inflation will be your futures markets: oil and food, most notably.

Why your gasoline prices are going up.You can guess where you are seeing the prices surge fastest.

Here is why this drags the entire economy, and why whatever little bit of good the Obama administration sought to claim out of quantitative easing will now go up in smoke: as the price of gas increases, the cost to ship products has just gone up. Why?

Whether you ship good by plane, rail, ship, or truck, these guys need fuel�not green jobs�to power the equipment. Oil prices go up, so fuel prices go up. Fuel prices go up, and the cost to ship this stuff goes up. As a result, those costs are not magically absorbed by rich, corporate fatcat bankers: they are passed right onto you in the form of higher prices.

Some products can withstand this better: we can delay some shipments or reroute stock supplies accordingly for a while. But not with perishable food items: this drives up food prices even higher, faster.

And when companies cannot afford to ship products, they ramp down production. This means people get laid off. Unemployment increases. Some folks simply quit: many truck drivers are independent contractors, and are responsible to buy their own gasoline. This cost is factored into their contract costs: if they have to pay for higher gas prices, they encounter one of two situations: they have a fixed price, and so have to eat the cost out of their profit, or else they have to raise their price per mile, which makes them less competitive against shipping companies. As a result, many drivers simply quit the job and look for work elsewhere. Because they quit, this usually fails to show up on employment statistics.

Let us review: the Fed elects to go for quantitative easing. This increases inflation, prices, and unemployment. Done.

The President, of course, is focusing like a laser on the economy. So that should fix everything.
Case in point -- for the store and the bakery, we order cases of tomatoes. They used to be around $22. Now with the freeze in Mexico and the spike in fuel costs, they are now close to $60. Customers at the bakery get a much thinner slice of 'mater on their sandwich and customers at the store are now paying twice our "old" price.

Schadenfreude - Prius numbers

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From Gas 2.0:
Porsche Panamera Emits Less CO2 Per Horsepower Than the Prius
When you�re on top, people will always try to take you down. Since the Prius is one of the most fuel efficient cars in the world, it makes for some interesting comparisons, like the Porsche Panamera S Hybrid emitting less CO2-per-horsepower than the Prius.

Horsepower-per-liter is often a measure of a vehicles performance efficiency. Many automakers clamor to make the magic 100 horsepower-per-liter. The Porsche Panamera S Hybrid, with its 333 horsepower supercharged 3.0 liter engine combined with the 47 horsepower electric motor actually makes a very impressive 125 horsepower per liter. And it still manages to get around 34.5 mpg. Can�t complain about that.

In terms of actual emissions, the Panamera puts out 159 grams of CO2 per kilometer whereas the Prius puts out about 89 grams of CO2 per kilometer. For comparision, the Chevy Volt puts out around 130 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Meanwhile, a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorana 415 grams per kilometer from its 6.0 liter V12 engine. Getting a better picture? So the Prius is without a doubt the cleaner car.

Members the the Autocar Forum, however, are measuring the performance of its Panamera Hybrid on another scale; grams of CO2-per-horsepower. It is an interesting measure of performance and green cred, and if you do the math (380 hp/159 g/CO2) the Panamera makes 2.4 horsepower per gram of CO2 per kilometer. The Prius�s 1.8 liter 98 horsepower engine coupled with its 36 horsepower electric motor makes for a total of 134 horsepower, or 1.5 horsepower per gram of CO2. Interesting.

It�s a neat way to poke at the Prius and in fairness, it is a sign of the efficiency of the engine if you can make more horsepower with fewer emissions. Then again, CO2 is just one measure of engine emissions, and I doubt anybody is going to trade in their Prius for a Panamera Hybrid after reading this. But as a different measure of engine efficiency, I thought this was neat. I always liked comparing horsepower numbers of muscle cars, so why not horsepower per CO2?
An interesting and perfectly valid metric. Cool!
At the Wall Street Journal:
Oh, To Be a Teacher in Wisconsin
The showdown in Wisconsin over fringe benefits for public employees boils down to one number: 74.2. That's how many cents the public pays Milwaukee public-school teachers and other employees for retirement and health benefits for every dollar they receive in salary. The corresponding rate for employees of private firms is 24.3 cents.

Gov. Scott Walker's proposal would bring public-employee benefits closer in line with those of workers in the private sector. And to prevent benefits from reaching sky-high levels in the future, he wants to restrict collective-bargaining rights.

The average Milwaukee public-school teacher salary is $56,500, but with benefits the total package is $100,005, according to the manager of financial planning for Milwaukee public schools. When I showed these figures to a friend, she asked me a simple question: "How can fringe benefits be nearly as much as salary?" The answers can be found by unpacking the numbers in the district's budget for this fiscal year:
  • Social Security and Medicare. The employer cost is 7.65% of wages, the same as in the private sector.
  • State Pension. Teachers belong to the Wisconsin state pension plan. That plan requires a 6.8% employer contribution and 6.2% from the employee. However, according to the collective-bargaining agreement in place since 1996, the district pays the employees' share as well, for a total of 13%.
  • Teachers' Supplemental Pension. In addition to the state pension, Milwaukee public-school teachers receive an additional pension under a 1982 collective-bargaining agreement. The district contributes an additional 4.2% of teacher salaries to cover this second pension. Teachers contribute nothing.
  • Classified Pension. Most other school employees belong to the city's pension system instead of the state plan. The city plan is less expensive but here, too, according to the collective-bargaining agreement, the district pays the employees' 5.5% share.
Overall, for teachers and other employees, the district's contributions for pensions and Social Security total 22.6 cents for each dollar of salary. The corresponding figure for private industry is 13.4 cents. The divergence is greater yet for health insurance.
The Unions are crying that Governor Walker is trying to kill them off. He is not, all he is asking is that the Public-sector Employees pay their fair share of their own expenses for benefits. The 700+ comments are interesting to read -- they cover the full gamut...

A fun day at the library

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Today was the ribbon cutting and dedication of our new library. The towns in this area are not incorporated so it was impossible to vote for a tax levy to raise money so a non-profit group was founded and donations came in from local people, businesses and other non-profits. The land was purchased, ground was broken eleven months ago and the building was certified for public occupancy last week. An amazing speed considering that all of the construction was through volunteer labor. The event was well attended -- the second 'Interior' shot was taken two hours before we started. There were good 150-200 people there and it was snowing and raining pretty heavily.
Cutting the ribbon

Interior view

Photo wall - construction photos

Two of the builders

The first book read

Head of WA State library system,
Whatcom County Executive and
head of Whatcom County library system.

Our Librarian
A fun afternoon and good to meet up with a lot of friends...
A very good call -- from Breitbart/Associated Press:
Bush nixes Denver visit, citing invite to Assange
George W. Bush said Friday he will not visit Denver this weekend as planned because WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was invited to attend one of the same events as the former president.

Bush planned to be at a Young Presidents' Organization "Global Leadership Summit" Saturday but backed out when he learned Assange was invited, Bush spokesman David Sherzer said.

It was unlikely that Assange would have attended in person. The Denver Post reported he appeared at the conference Friday by video link.

Assange has been in Britain fighting extradition to Sweden in a sex crimes inquiry, and his lawyers have raised fears that he could be arrested by U.S. authorities investigating whether Assange and WikiLeaks illegally distributed secret government documents.

WikiLeaks has released tens of thousands of U.S. military documents on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and on U.S. diplomatic efforts worldwide, deeply angering U.S. officials.

Sherzer said Bush doesn't want to be part of a forum that invited someone who has "willfully and repeatedly done great harm to the interests of the United States."
Didn't agree with everything he did but I would like to sit down and have a beer with him. Seems like someone who knows what is happening...

Light posting today - busy

The local library was operating out of the town hall and basically had to set up and tear down a lot of the shelving every day it was open. They did some amazing fundraising and were able to build a new building three miles away. That new library has its grand opening today -- I am doing the PA system for the event so have to gather the equipment and get it set up a couple hours in advance. It is snowing heavilly so loading the truck and driving there should be "interesting" -- and oh yes, I have a bakery to run too... Posting will be light today if at all.

Bill Whittle's new project

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Very cool -- check out Declaration Entertainment
Ten bucks/month -- looks really interesting...

A big waste of money

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From the London Daily Mail:
Foiled by the winter: The �25,000 eco-classroom that can't be used because solar panels don't provide enough heat
Eco-campaigners who built a classroom powered by the sun believed they were paving the way for the future.

Instead they have been taught a valuable lesson - there is not enough sun in North London to sufficiently heat their building.

The much feted zero-carbon Living Ark classroom was opened three months ago to great fanfare.

It boasts laudable green credentials and is made from sustainable wood, sheep�s wool and soil.

The roof is made of mud and grass and it has its own �rain pod� and solar panels.

But there is snag - its solar panels only provide enough energy to power a few lightbulbs.

As a result the classroom is bitterly cold and uninhabitable for lessons.

Parents have branded it �useless�, an �expensive piece of wood� and a �great idea for the Caribbean�.

The Living Ark was built at Muswell Hill Primary School, North London, at the cost of �25,000.

Local councillors, at Labour run Haringey council, who were behind the initiative, opened it with great fanfare in December as a beacon of their climate change policy.

But today a local parent at the 419-pupil school said teachers weren't allowing pupils into the classroom because it was too cold.

�What is the point of a classroom that can�t be used when it�s a bit cold outside? My kids have been told it�s too cold for them to use as nobody can figure out how to heat it,� said the parent, who did not want to be named.

�This is just an expensive piece of hollowed out wood and no use to anyone. We are living in Britain, not the Caribbean.�

The �waste� of money comes as councils across the country are facing a severe shortage of school places.

By 2018 they will need to find an additional 500,000 primary places due to a population surge.
Didn't they have an engineer look at the plans before committing to so much money? The home page for the Muswell school is here, the Living Ark has it's own page here (with nary a hint of its temperature 'issues') and another post on the epic pile of FAIL is at Questions and Observations:
The mantra amongst the warmist community is that if we don�t curb our carbon emissions drastically, the planet will warm severely and wreak all sorts of havoc. While the actual science doesn�t support that notion, the levers of power around the world are encouraged to heed the warmists� warnings by curbing freedom and subsidizing things like the �green economy.� The London suburb community known as Muswell Hill took some initiative in that regard and built The Living Ark.

The coldest winter I ever saw...

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...was the summer I spent in San Francisco. --attributed to Mark Twain From Anthony Watts:
New record low temperatures in San Francisco Bay area
Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather writes:
Based on hourly weather observations a number of minimum temperature records were either set or tied in the Bay Area this morning.

City          Min Temp         Min    Year
San Rafael      28              32 in 1996
Napa            27              30 in 1945
San Francisco   37              37 in 1962
SF Arpt         36              36 in 1971
Oakland         35              38 in 1987
Oakland Arpt    32              34 in 1962
San Jose        33              33 in 1897

These are unofficial values and some sites could be a degree or so lower when the official minima are collected later today.
I wonder if Al (sea-level) Gore is staying at his new oceanfront condo in S.F.

How about those jobs 'saved or created'

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From CNS News:
CBO: Jobs Created and Saved By Stimulus Cost At Minimum An Average of $228,055 Each
The jobs created and saved by the economic stimulus law that President Barack Obama signed on Feb. 17, 2009 cost at a minimum an average of $228,055 each, according to data released yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

In a report released Wednesday��Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output from October Through December 2010��the CBO said it now estimates the stimulus law cost a total of $821 billion, up from CBO�s original estimate that the stimulus would cost $787 billion.
I bet that if they cut taxes to small businesses by $787 Billion, we would have a lot more than the 1.3 to 3.5 million people employed that is claimed by supporters of this fool policy...


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ASM826 writing at Random Acts of Patriotism noticed some similarities:


Read his site for more. Two quotes:
The war made possible for us the solution of a whole series of problems that could never have been solved in normal times. --Josef Goebbels

You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before. --Rahm Emmanuel

Peak Shmeak -- oil in abundance

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A two-fer. First, there was a report from a Saudi official that the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia have been greatly overstated and that there is precious little oil left there. Bullshit. From the New York Times:
Drilling for an Oil Crisis
As WikiLeaks�s trove of diplomatic dispatches continues to trickle out, one recent release has caused quite a stir: a cable from an American diplomat who said he was told by a Saudi oil executive that both official estimates of Saudi oil reserves and their ability to meet global demand in the long run have been vastly exaggerated. In turn, many proponents of �peak oil� theory, the idea that the global rate of oil production has entered a terminal decline, have insisted that the cable confirms their view on resource scarcity.

Actually, it does nothing of the sort. The Saudi executive, Sadad al-Husseini, a former head of exploration for the Saudi oil monopoly Aramco, has been making such claims for years. Finding them repeated in a confidential cable is news only to those unfamiliar with the field.

More important, his claims don�t stand up to scrutiny. For one thing, according to the cable, Dr. Husseini said that estimates of Saudi �reserves� were exaggerated by some 300 billion barrels. But this is impossible, as the Saudi government�s estimate of proven reserves is actually less than that amount � roughly 267 billion barrels.

More likely, Dr. Husseini was referring to claims by some Saudi oil executives that, over the long term, they expect to find 900 billion barrels in the ground, and that 51 percent of it will be recoverable. So the dispute has nothing to do with current reserves, but with projections that are speculative by definition. Aramco�s numbers may be an educated guess, but experts in the field know they are just a guess.

And, in fact, they are hardly an unreasonable estimate. While peak-oil advocates have in the past ridiculed optimistic industry expectations, the evidence continues to confound them. Over recent decades, the consensus estimates of the amount of recoverable oil on the planet have roughly doubled. And recovery rates � the percentage of those reserves that we are technologically able to collect � have grown from 10 percent a century ago, to 25 percent a half-century ago, to an estimated 35 percent now. In some areas, like the North Sea, the figure is above 60 percent.

There are several other reasons to remain calm about Saudi reserves. Officials there have discovered approximately 70 major oil fields that they have left untapped over concerns that increased Saudi production would cause global oil prices to collapse.
Remember that Chicken Little was dead wrong. Second -- we don't even need to touch ANWR -- a few offshore platforms and our oil production would rise to become the eighth largest in the world. From CNS News:
New Study Shows That Offshore Drilling Could Make Alaska the Eighth Largest Oil Producer in the World � Ahead of Libya and Nigeria
A new study says drilling on Alaska�s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) could make Alaska the eighth largest oil resource province in the world -- ahead of Nigeria, Libya, Russia and Norway.

The report -- by the consulting firm Northern Economics and the University of Alaska-Anchorage�s Institute of Social and Economic Research -- says that developing Alaska�s OCS could produce almost 10 billion barrels of oil and 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, create around 55,000 new jobs and produce $145 billion in new payroll nationally, generating a total of $193 billion in government revenue through the year 2057.

A senior policy advisor with the American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for hundreds of U.S. oil and gas producers, said in a statement about the study that offshore drilling for oil and natural gas can help with the country�s energy and economic needs.

�America will need all forms of energy to get our economy back on track, and that includes oil � we can either produce it here and create more American jobs or import it and create jobs elsewhere,� Richard Ranger said. �The administration and Congress need to adopt an �all of the above� energy approach that leverages our offshore resources in Alaska to create an energy plan for America that boosts, rather than inhibits, our economy.�

About 77 percent of world oil reserves are owned or controlled by national governments and the U.S. currently imports over 60 percent of its crude oil, according to API. The Northern Economics-University of Alaska study estimates that Arctic offshore development could cut U.S. imports by about 9 percent over 35 years.
With crude over $100/barrel and $5 gasoline on the horizon, we need to get moving. Green energy is a trivial feel-good sideline and it never has been and it will never be a legitimate contendor...
In this case, it is public sector Unions and Communists. Solidarity indeed... From The Daily Caller:
Communists, socialists rallying support behind Madison protests
Communist and socialist groups � including the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party, the Communist Party USA, Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and the Democratic Socialists of America � are voicing their support for the public-sector unions protesting Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker�s plans to curtail their collective bargaining abilities.

The communist and socialist groups have parroted many of the union talking points being used by the unions on their websites and in their publications, such as those accusing the governor of trying to break their unions. They have also compared Walker to former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.

�Egypt, whose revolution has been a constant source of inspiration here, reflected in signs and chants � and Walker�s new nickname, Gov. Mubarak,� an article reads from the International Socialist Organization�s webzine.

The webzine also describes the unions� protest of Walker�s plans to force a vote on curtailing public-sector unions as �class war in Wisconsin� and as an affront to �the standard of living of working people.�

The formerly Soviet-backed Communist Party USA (CPUSA) echoed similar talking points.

�Using the deficit as a scare tactic, the right-wing corporate Republicans are on a fast track to defeat every initiative of the Obama administration, to destroy unions and public services at the federal, state and municipal level, and at the same time protect tax breaks for the richest few,� Joelle Fishman, chair of the CPUSA�s Political Action Commission, wrote in an article posted on her party�s website.
Seriously, if I were a Union official at this time, I would be distancing myself from these morons as fast as my backpedaling feet could take me. The public-sector Unions (the ones that take our tax dollars through the public-sector employees) are in the minority and they are being further marginalized with stories of lavish spending for officers and jack-squat for their constituents (except for unsustainable pay and benefits). They need to be a little more circumspect if they don't want to implode in the next few years...

Heh - subverting the dominant paradigm

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Frustrated over the high tax on tobacco? Grow your own. From the New York Times:
Now in Brooklyn, Homegrown Tobacco: Local, Rebellious and Tax Free
The cigarettes Audrey Silk used to smoke � Parliament Lights � are made at a factory in Richmond, Va. The cigarettes she smokes these days are made and grown in Brooklyn, at her house.

Ms. Silk�s backyard is home to raspberry and rose bushes, geraniums, impatiens and 100 tobacco plants in gardening buckets near her wooden deck. Inside her house, around the corner from Flatbush Avenue, in Marine Park, she has to be careful stepping into her basement � one wrong move could ruin her cigarettes. Dozens of tobacco leaves hang there, drying on wires she has strung across the room, where they turn a crisp light brown as they age above a stack of her old Springsteen records.

She talks about cartons and packs in relation to crops and seeds. Planted in 2009, her first crop� 25 plants of Golden Seal Special Burley tobacco � produced nine cartons of cigarettes. Ms. Silk would have spent more than $1,000 had she bought nine cartons in parts of New York City. Instead, she spent $240, mostly for the trays, the buckets and plant food.

But for Ms. Silk, 46, a retired police officer and the founder of New York City Clash (Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment), a smokers� rights group, it is not just about the money. It is about the message. In the state with the highest cigarette taxes in the country, in a city that has become one of the hardest places in America to find a place to smoke, Ms. Silk has gone off the grid, growing, processing and smoking her own tax-free cigarettes from packets of seeds she buys online for about $2. She expects to produce a total of 45 cartons after planting two crops � the first in the summer of 2009, the second last summer � and estimates that she will have saved more than $5,000.

�It�ll make the antismokers apoplectic,� said Ms. Silk. �They�re using the power of taxation to coerce behavior. That�s not what taxation is supposed to be for.�
Tobacco seeds can be purchased here: Seedman Might be fun to plant a crop this year for trade - certainly cheap enough...

A sideline on Pigford

Shows just how deep the corruption is buried - from Lee Stranahan at Breitbart's Big Government:
Pigford Files: What Is the John Boyd Institute?
In testimony before a congressional committee in 2008, John Boyd introduced himself and said �I am Dr. John Boyd. I am President and founder of the National Black Farmers Association, which has more than 94,000 members in 46 states.�
In addition to my strong back in agriculture, I also founded the John Boyd Agricultural and Technology Institute to help educate farmers of all educational levels in order to fight illiteracy. To teach familiarity with and use of the internet, and much more. The program has assisted several thousand farmers and has been expanded to Denmark Technical College.
Boyd�s National Black Farmers Association website has a page about the John Boyd Agricultural and Technology Institute as well � complete with a photo showing a road sign.
In a �10 Questions� article in 2009, John Boyd began one of his answers by prefacing, �Being a visiting professor and forming the John Boyd Agriculture and Technology Institute�.

As I was driving through Virginia yesterday, I decided to take a drive by the Boyd Institute and hoped to walk the hallowed halls that have taught thousands of farmers. Boyd has talked about the Boyd Institute so much that I was keen to visit this august institute.

But there�s no there there. Literally.

I went to the campus of St. Paul�s College, a small Christian college in southern Virginia. There�s no Boyd Institute. The security guard I spoke with had never heard of it but suggested I talk to someone in the administration building. I found a woman who knew about it � she told me that Boyd had never taught classes there and that the �Institute� was an office that Boyd kept for a few years that he would sometimes use to make phone calls. She said she�d never seen thousands of farmers training there. Or any.

But what about the expanded John Boyd Institute program at Denmark Technical College in South Carolina that Boyd told congress about in 2008? I phoned Denmark Tech and was told to visit Boyd�s website. I asked if there was a John Boyd Institute on campus and was told that they just referred people to the website. I was told Boyd had never taught classes there.

I have no reason to believe that St. Paul�s or Denmark aren�t solid, small schools that do a good job for their students and I don�t want the pretend John Boyd Institutes at those schools to cast any aspersions on them. Why did these two colleges �host� the John Boyd Institute? There seems to be a link � a man named John Waddell.

Waddell was the president of St. Paul�s in 2001, when Boyd claims to have founded the Institute there. Waddell was president of Denmark at the time Boyd claimed to Congress that he had just expanded there. And although I currently have no clear link to Boyd related to the following charges, John Waddell was fired from his position at Denmark after an audit revealed irregularities, including�
�a student recruitment program unlawfully paid for with about $52,000 in federal funds; financial aid given to ineligible students who did not have high school diplomas or GEDs; about $31,000 in fees incurred due to late filing of payroll taxes; and lack of compliance with state codes in the hiring of an Atlanta accounting firm.
I have calls out to both Mr. Boyd and Mr. Waddell for comment about their relationship and for clarification about the real facts about the John Boyd Institute.
And the mainstream media? ... ... ... crickets Remember, this is several Billion dollars of our tax money being wasted when the Census bureau shows only 33,000 black farmers while there were over 94,000 applicants for Pigford retributions.

Made in China

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Wonderful -- from ABC News:
At Smithsonian, Americana 'Made in China'
Tens of millions flock to the Smithsonian museums in Washington each year to see Americana -- everything from Abraham Lincoln's top hat to Archie Bunker's chair.

But one thing you'll have a hard time finding is something American in the gift shop.

Take the miniature sculptures of presidents sold at the National Museum of American History, located right on the Mall in the nation's capital.

From the busts of George Washington to Barack Obama, they were made in China.
And it gets worse:
But it's not just the Smithsonian. Walk around the capital city's monuments � the great symbols of America � in search of products made in the USA and you might be surprised what you find.

The Lincoln Memorial gift shop sells magnets of the Washington Monument � made in China. A bell � made in China. A toothpick holder � made in China. Plates designed in the US � but made in China. And yes, a Barack Obama coffee mug � made in China.

The Jefferson Memorial gift shop sells actual replicas of the memorial � made in China. Even American flag pins � you guessed it - made in China.

You might spend $400 on souvenirs all over town and not buy a single product made in the USA, not even a keychain of the Supreme Court gavel.
Has our manufacturing base fallen so far? Don't people realize that when you close a plant, it becomes prohibitively expensive to start it back up again? This doesn't speak well for this nation...

Harry Reid speaks

and people chuckle. From Politico:

Harry Reid's prostitution lecture bombs
The most powerful man in the United States Senate, addressing the legislature of his home state at a time of fiscal chaos and potential government shutdown, had something he wanted to talk about Tuesday: hookers.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's impassioned lecture landed in Carson City with a thud.

"The time has come for us to outlaw prostitution," Reid said in his biennial address to the Nevada legislature and an audience that included a legal brothel owner, legal prostitutes and the legal industry's state lobbyist.

Reid paused at that point, one of the few times he did so in a half-hour speech he otherwise seemed to rush through. No one applauded.

The whorehouse owner in attendance, Dennis Hof of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, told reporters on the scene: "Harry Reid will have to pry the cathouse keys from my cold, dead hands."

A bit more:

"I think everybody is just kind of laughing up their sleeve about it," said Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, a Republican from rural Eureka. "I can promise you there's not any kind of a movement to bring a bill forward."

State Sen. Sheila Leslie, a Reno Democrat, said she didn't see prostitution coming on the legislature's radar: "We are consumed by the the budget and its implications for our state," she said.

Legislators of both parties generally see legal prostitution in Nevada, the only state that permits it, as a settled issue of local control by the rural counties where it is allowed. Many voiced surprise that Reid brought it up.

Goicoechea, a rancher, joked: "You know, they say sheepherding is the second-oldest profession. Is he going to try to do away with us too?"

And the numbers?

Storey County Commissioner Bum Hess said taxes paid by the county's two brothels account for about $1 million of the county's roughly $12 million budget, including licenses, room taxes and property taxes. He believes legal prostitution is safer than illegal prostitution and regulating it reduces crime.

"I wouldn't want my niece or daughter or aunt doing it, but we choose to regulate and control it," he said.

Nevadans are ruing the day he got re-elected last November. Six years is a long time...

How about those teachers unions

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Check out this report from the New York Daily News:
UFT spends millions on dinners, parties, parking, coffee as thousands of teachers face layoffs
As nearly 5,000 city teachers face the ax, their union shells out millions of dollars on feasting, boozing and partying, the Daily News has learned.

Free-spending United Federation of Teachers brass last year spent nearly $1.4 million for the UFT's 50th anniversary gala at the Hilton - complete with a movie, a book and a paperweight.

Records show they:
  • Ponied up $514,000 to 16 separate caterers.
  • Dropped $278,417 on the annual Teachers Union Day ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria.
  • Bought $6,100 in gift baskets from a lower East Side candy store - and plowed $179,000 into training retreats at a Connecticut resort boasting golf, scuba diving and aqua aerobics.
In one amazing feat of spending, they shelled out $114,870 for annual "coffee supplies" at their five offices across the city - paying the Coffee Distributing Corp. on Long Island $324,000 over three years, records show.

And while most New Yorkers spend hours trying to find a parking space, the UFT rents 25 slots in Brooklyn's Renaissance Plaza Garage for members at an average annual cost of $75,000 over three years.

"I'm not going to apologize for spending money to service our members," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
If this was a private corporation, that would be wildly excessive but not damning. What makes this so egregious is that the money comes from us the taxpayers. The teachers are paid directly from our tax dollars and the teachers then turn around and have the union dues deducted automatically from their paychecks. This is our own money in play here. The good news is that stories like this are finally being reported...

No place like home

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Back finally. Snoqualmie Pass was a bear but there was a convergence zone on I-5 between Marysville and Mt. Vernon that was a lot worse. Cars off the road kinda worse. The truck drilled through the bad weather with nary a hitch -- again, very happy with the Ford F-350 -- love it! I took a couple hundred photos at Yellowstone and will be posting them over the next couple of days. Here is one:
Some friendly locals checking out the truck...

On the road again

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Leaving Spokane in an hour to head West over the I-90 passes. Weather looks 'interesting' The new truck (a 2008 Ford F350) has already proven itself to handle fantastic in the snow so I will just be taking it slow and spending up to ten hours on what would normally be a four hour trip...

Allen West

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Just wow... He gets it.

The news in Montana

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I love this -- from The Missoulian, Friday, 02/18/2011:
Montana bill would 'embrace' global warming
A Montana legislator is proposing the state embrace global warming as good for the economy.

Republican Rep. Joe Read of Ronan aims to pass a law that says global warming is a natural occurrence that "is beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana."

Reaction by scientists and environmentalists to House Bill 549 has been harsh. University of Montana climate change professor Steve Running calls it an indefensible attempt to repeal the laws of physics.

The bill was to be heard in the House Natural Resources Committee Friday.

Another climate change bill by Read was also being heard Friday. House Bill 550 would claim the state has authority over the EPA when it comes to regulating greenhouse gases.
I love the quote: "University of Montana climate change professor Steve Running calls it an indefensible attempt to repeal the laws of physics" Hey, if the guy is a climate change professor, he has a bias. He needs to read more of the current literature. I love it -- state's rights. CO2 is plant food after all and more people die from cold than from heat. Representative Read's other bill is 550 -- from today's The Missoulian:
Montana House votes to outlaw federal greenhouse gas rules
The Montana House wants to take control of greenhouse gas regulation from the federal government and curtail state mercury emission rules.

Republicans running the House backed a plan Tuesday forbidding federal greenhouse gas regulations from being enacted in Montana, even though critics argue the Legislature is overstepping its bounds and ignoring science.

Rep. Joe Read's House Bill 550 was endorsed on a 67-33 vote.

A day earlier, the Ronan Republican failed in separate attempt to get a floor vote on his proposal stating that global warming is a beneficial natural occurrence.

Spokane, WA

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On the way home -- the pass on I-90 is closed tonight so we are holing up in Spokane for the night. Had a wonderful dinner at the Davenport Hotel. Opened in 1914 it was closed in 1987 and sat idle until 2000. The place looks gorgeous. The food was really good and prices were quite reasonable. Yesterday, in Butte, the motel had some menus for two nearby steak houses and those prices were a third higher and the one place we checked out didn't look good at all (steak houses do not need an ancillary casino). Butte was a bummer as the mining museum was closed for the season but we had a lot of fun driving around the old town. Looking forward to getting back home tomorrow late afternoon. The weather is really sloppy so I will be taking my time driving back...

Back to internet-land

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Back in Butte -- Yellowstone in winter was drop-dead gorgeous. I want to come back here next year for an extended time (and some x-country gear). The class was great fun -- the teacher was Yellowstone's head historian and his knowledge is deep and broad. The course material was covered but there were fun diversions all over the map. A brief surfing of the news shows the world falling apart -- Libya in particular. I love that the two air force pilots flew to Malta after being ordered to bomb the protesters. I have been completely out of touch for the last four days and it is sickening how fast things can fall apart. Acapulco was shot up and a big quake in New Zealand. More in a bit -- had dinner and sitting down to read the internet.

Reminds me of a few clients at the Bakery

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From Not Always Right:
Fanny Whack
(A customer walks in. His clothes a bit mismatched and he�s wearing a fanny pack. The eyes are bloodshot and he�s sporting a huge smile on his face. I�m relatively new at this point.)

Me: �Hi sir, welcome to [deli], how can I help you today?�

Customer: �Um, yeah can I get some monkey brains?�

(He�s completely serious if a little under the influence, so I go with it.)

Me: �Sorry sir, we�re fresh out today, truck comes tomorrow.�

Customer: �Dang, how about some mermaid?�

Me: �Mermaid isn�t in season yet sir, but our tuna is pretty good.�

Customer: �Bummer. Well how about your brownies, they got pot in them, right?�

Me: �No sir, we switched bakeries just last week.�

(After ordering about half of our menu and asking if everything that had a green dot next to it [indicating something organic] had pot in it, he pays and eventually leaves. I�m left in tears as I�m laughing so hard. When my manager asks me what�s going on, I explain what happened.)

Manager: �D***! I missed Fanny Pack Guy?!�

Batten down the hatches - solar flare

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This will probably not be as big as the Carrington Event but... From Breitbart/AFP:
Huge solar flare jams radio, satellite signals: NASA
A powerful solar eruption that triggered a huge geomagnetic storm has disturbed radio communications and could disrupt electrical power grids, radio and satellite communication in the next days, NASA said.

A strong wave of charged plasma particles emanating from the Jupiter-sized sun spot, the most powerful seen in four years, has already disrupted radio communication in southern China.

The Class X flash -- the largest such category -- erupted at 0156 GMT Tuesday, according to the US space agency.

"X-class flares are the most powerful of all solar events that can trigger radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms," disturbing telecommunications and electric grids, NASA said Wednesday.
If the sky is clear, there is a good chance of low latitude aurora. I'll be sticking my head out the window tonight...

Cody Wyoming

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Spent last night in Butte, Montana after leaving at 6:00AM that morning. Long haul... Had a nice breakfast and then headed East to Cody. The Buffalo Bill museum is incredible. This is a major collection of Indian artifacts and their other collections of paintings and firearms are also world class. I really like the works of Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran and there were lots of originals to look at. The firearms exhibit had over 3,000 rifles, pistols, military guns, novelty guns (including one that looked like an ornament on a belt buckle but could be detached and fire seven .22 cal rounds). All of the major manufacturers were well represented. They also had a complete gun manufacturing setup on display -- all older machines from the 1910's through 1930's but still fascinating. We are spending a few hours there tomorrow and then heading back to I-90, due West to Livingston and south to Gardiner, Montana for the class. Completely out of cell phone range -- I do not know what carriers are operating out here but it sure is not Nextel (which is the only carrier out where we live). Checked in to the hotel, heading out to a good steakhouse for dinner in a few hours so a bit of surfing until then...

Last post for a few days

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Packing up and set the alarm for 4:30AM -- meeting up with two of the people at 6:00AM at a nearby town and then heading South on I-5 to Bellevue to pick up the fourth accomplice. East on I-90 -- come to ground somewhere east of Butte. Thursday on to Cody Wyoming for the Buffalo Bill museum. Spend the day and night there and drive to Gardiner, MT Friday afternoon. The first session of the class is at 7PM so the timing should be fine. Class ends on Sunday so we spend the next five or six days mooching our way back west and generally getting into trouble...

Bakery blogging

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Ran payroll for the bakery -- heading over to do the store in a few minutes. Got a lot on my list to do today as we leave at 6AM tomorrow morning. Heading down to Bellevue to pick up one of the people and then I-90 to Butte Montana. Looking forward to the trip. The class is this one: History of the Military and Fort Yellowstone We are also riding a snow-cat in to see Old Faithful. Should be a fun ten days...

Pigford suit

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I had written yesterday about how a central figure in the Pigford scandal filed a lawsuit against Andrew Breitbart. Turns out it was none other than Shirley Sherrod. From her hometown newspaper, the Albany, NY Herald:
Sherrod mum on suit against Breitbart (UPDATED with details, quotes)
Shirley Sherrod, ousted from her position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture after an internet video produced by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart surfaced, has filed suit in District of Columbia Superior Court alleging defamation, false light and infliction of emotional distress.

Breitbart confirmed that his company, breitbart.com, LLC, had been served with a copy of the suit over the weekend. In addition to Breitbart, producer Larry O�Conner and an unknown �John Doe� are also named in the suit.

Sherrod resigned as Georgia�s Director of Rural Development after the video clip appeared last July. The edited clip showed a speech she gave at an NAACP function where Sherrod spoke of not offering her full help and support to a white farmer, Roger Spooner, in 1986.

The full unedited video, however, showed Sherrod talking about assisting Spooner and moving beyond race in her life and professional responsibilities.

The suit alleges that �Mrs. Sherrod was forced to resign her job after Defendants ignited a media firestorm by publishing false and defamatory statements that Mrs. Sherrod �discriminates� against people due to their race in performing her official duties.
And she was promptly re-hired when the full tape was made public. A bit more: Andrew's comments and some background on Sherrod:
� �I find it extremely telling that this lawsuit was brought almost seven months after the alleged incidents that caused a national media frenzy occurred.� Breitbart said. �It is no coincidence that this lawsuit was filed one day after I held a press conference revealing audio proof of orchestrated and systemic Pigford fraud. I can promise you this: neither I, nor my journalistic websites, will or can be silenced by the institutional Left, which is obviously funding this lawsuit. I welcome the judicial discovery process, including finding out which groups are doing so.�

Pigford is the $1.5 billion settlement agreed to by the USDA and was intended to assure restitution to black farmers who were victims of racial discrimination. Sherrod and her husband, Charles, were the largest single recipients of Pigford money, each receiving $150,000 for pain and suffering and $13 million paid to defunct collective farm New Communities of Southwest Georgia in 2009.�
Considering that there are about 94,000 Pigford claimants and only about 18,000 actual black owned farms in the USA at that time; something is rotten...

Minimal posting tonight

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Been saying that a lot but I have been busy getting the bakery stocked for my ten days on the road. Looking forward to the trip -- traveling with a couple of great people exploring an incredible part of this nation and learning a lot of the history. Leave Wednesday at 6:00AM. That part sucks.

James Clapper - not quite rite

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James Clapper is Obama's National Intelligence Director and he has missed the boat on a couple of key issues. From Chip Bok:
National Intelligence Director, James Clapper, is at it again. Yesterday, when Egyptian President Mubarak decided to stay, before he decided leave, Clapper described the Muslim Brotherhood as a non-violent secular outfit. The administration issued a correction. When last seen, Clapper was being briefed by Diane Sawyer about a major terrorist arrest in London. Don�t ask him if the Pope�s Catholic.
From David Yeagley:
Barry the Betrayer: Iran v. Egypt v. America
Obviously, there is a major difference between Iran and Egypt, but, when the young people of Iran crowded the streets demanding freedom in 2009, Barry �Obama� Soetoro was mum. When the Egyptians came out en mass, Barry told the Egyptian government leaders to step down. Mubarek must go, but, nobody better mess with Ahmadinejad.

Back in June of 2009, when I protested with Iranians here in Oklahoma City, against the Islamic oppression and election fraud in Tehran, when we shouted �Down with religion, Up with democracy!� on the capitol streets in OKC, I remember an Iranian woman said to me, �You know, I�m really sorry I voted for Obama. Bush would have helped!�

One thing the world knows now: Obama will not help. Obama will do nothing. Hope and change are not connected with him. Iranian youth learned their lesson. He�s not for them.

Barry �Obama� Soetoro is a complete fraud, a most vomitous concentration of self-interest and racist hatred against all things white. There is nothing more to him that that. His skin is simply used by the oedipal white liberal globalists. To achieve goal of the overthrough of America, Barry enthusiastically invites the world�s animosity toward America, particularly white America�white Christian America. He must make America be dragged through the streets of world opinion, like the bodies of U.S. marines were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu and Fallujah. This is Barry �Obama� Soetoro.

It is already known that George Soros is puppeteering Barry boy. They have just created a �private investment company� called Siraj Fund Management Company, for developing the so-called �Palestine� entity in the land of Israel. But some believe Soros is playing Barry boy in the Egyptian affair as well.
A bit more:
Barry loves the Muslim Brotherhood. His boy James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence (what�s that?) announced to the world that the Muslim Brotherhood, despite its own published purposes, is secular and not particularly extreme. Barry calls for its inclusion and influence in whatever new government evolves in Egypt.
Lastly, go to Google, type in clapper un and see what pops up:
Brings to mind the old English proverb:
A man is known by the company he keeps

Bookkeeping blogging

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Getting the bakery's books in order so surfing the web and listening to CPAC speeches. I like doing the day-to-day stuff but sitting down and reconciling a couple hundred transactions is not my cuppa tea...

Herman Cain's speech at CPAC

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Another wonderful candidate in a couple years. Solid history of business success.

William Tell lives!

There was a big debate in Switzerland about gun control. Every male must serve in the Swiss Army at age 18 and he usually takes his rifle home with him after he completes his tour of service and is required by law to keep it functional. Most households are armed -- and these are the big scary black 'assault rifles'.

From FOX News:

Given the choice, Swiss vote to keep their guns
Neutral Switzerland is among the best-armed nations in the world, with more guns per capita than almost any other country except the United States, Finland and Yemen.

At least 2.3 million weapons lie stashed in basements, cupboards and lofts in this country of less than 8 million people, according to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey.

On Sunday, Swiss voters made sure it stays that way, rejecting a proposal to tighten the peaceful Alpine nation's relaxed firearms laws.

The decision was hailed as a victory by gun enthusiasts, sports shooters and supporters of Switzerland's citizen soldier tradition.

"This is an important sign of confidence in our soldiers," said Pius Segmueller, a lawmaker with the Christian People's Party and former commander of the Vatican's Swiss Guard.

A bit more:

Doctors, churches and women's groups tried and failed Sunday to require military-issued firearms to be locked in secure army depots. They also wanted the Swiss government to establish a national gun registry and ban the sale of fully automatic weapons and pump-action rifles, arguing this would help cut incidents of domestic violence and Switzerland's high rate of firearms suicides.

Idiots who do not read the facts.

From the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2000 (Wikipedia entry for Gun Violence (Note: this is intentional homicide data only, not suicide)

Switzerland Firearm homicide rate per 100,000 pop.:0.56
Non-firearm homicide rate per 100,000 pop.: 0.96
Overall homicide rate per 100,000 pop.: 1.52

United States Firearm homicide rate per 100,000 pop.: 2.97
Non-firearm homicide rate per 100,000 pop.: 4.58
Overall homicide rate per 100,000 pop.: 8.55

As for firearm suicide rates, I apologize for the crappy image but it best highlights the disparity between the USA and Switzerland. This is from the CDC and is homicide and suicide rates for people 15 to 26 years of age.


Switzerland is not as peaceful as -- say -- Kuwait but it is about three times better than the USA.

Robert Anson Heinlein said it best:

An armed society is a polite society.

Alan West Keynote Speech at CPAC

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Alan's speech starts at 8:30 into the video - scroll ahead. I could see him as President in a few years.
From The Market Ticker:
Interesting Qui Tam Suit - A Model?
This one got under my radar but it certainly appears interesting.....

The short form is that there is a currently-active Qui Tam (false claims) lawsuit in Nevada that makes the following assertion:
Each of the defendants who was the transferor to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made, caused to be made or used a false statement in Declaration of Value Forms related to the transfer of property to Fannie Mae by way of Trustee's Deed upon Sale, Corporation Grant Deed or other Deed to avoid payment of transfer taxes in each instance, and Fannie Mae used those false records and/or statements to conceal and/or avoid its obligations to payor transmit money owed to the State for payment of taxes upon the conveyance or transfer of title to real estate in the State by intentionally misrepresenting to the State that defendant Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac was a government agency exempt from conveyance or transfer taxes.
Oh oh.

This has an interesting twist to it. As Zerohedge pointed out, there is a "blow your own brains out" problem no matter which way the case goes.

If the plaintiffs lose, that is, it is found that the corporations were government instrumentalities, then their S-1 originally and their quarterly reports and other statements forward from there were all falsely-filed, asserting that Fannie and Freddie are in fact corporations. In this case the US Treasury is likely on the hook for the loss in shareholder value and will almost-certainly get instantly sued, and further, so will the principals involved in the deception. While the US Government may avoid liability under sovereign immunity, the individual actors are potentially exposed on a personal level due to the fact that they violated that which is clearly set forth in the Congressional Record with regard to the disgorgement of Fannie from Federal Control and the creation of Freddie as a private, for-profit corporation. That is, the qualified personal immunity of a government actor only extends as far as their statutorily-provided mandate and duties. Step beyond that boundary and you can be held personally responsible.

If the plaintiffs win, then there's another problem - every state that has a similar Qui Tam statute is likely to see a copycat filing and the amount of money involved here is enormous, as the majority of mortgages sold and transferred during these years were in fact through Fannie and Freddie. We're talking about, collectively, hundreds of billions of dollars in actual damages.

Incidentally, the Congressional Record strongly supports that Fannie and Freddie are not government instrumentalities and thus are not immune from these taxes and transfer fees, and thus this lawsuit appears to have merit. Of course the current situation is different, since now Fannie and Freddie are in conservatorship, but it is the liability for former transfers before that occurred that leads to the instant claims.

The original lawsuit makes interesting reading....
Looks like I'm going to be eating a lot of popcorn these days what with Pigford, the Middle East and now this lawsuit. A lot of people are hurting in Nevada with property values down so far.

Well it worked for Egypt

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From the UK Telegraph:
Algeria shuts down internet and Facebook as protest mounts
Plastic bullets and tear gas were used to try and disperse large crowds in major cities and towns, with 30,000 riot police taking to the streets in Algiers alone.

There were also reports of journalists being targeted by state-sponsored thugs to stop reports of the disturbances being broadcast to the outside world.

But it was the government attack on the internet which was of particular significance to those calling for an end to President Abdelaziz Boutifleka's repressive regime.

Protesters mobilising through the internet were largely credited with bringing about revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.
The internet is sort of an inverse Pandora's Box and once opened, all of the Hope flies out. Yes, there is a little box of hate but the hope overwhelms it.

Oh this will be fun - Pigford

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I have posted about the Pigford scandal before. Andrew Breitbart has been instrumental in bringing this to public light and he released a bombshell of audio recordings this weekend at the CPAC convention. From Publius at Big Government:
Breitbart.com LLC announced today that its Chairman and CEO Andrew Breitbart and the head of Breitbart.tv, Larry O�Connor, have been sued in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia by a central figure in the Pigford �back-door� reparations case. The Pigford case involves over $2.5 billion in US taxpayer money and constitutes one of the biggest cases of corruption and politically-motivated fraud in the history of the United States. Mr. Breitbart and Breitbart.tv have been investigating and reporting on the Pigford case since late summer 2010.

Andrew Breitbart said, in response to being sued, �I find it extremely telling that this lawsuit was brought almost seven months after the alleged incidents that caused a national media frenzy occurred. It is no coincidence that this lawsuit was filed one day after I held a press conference revealing audio proof of orchestrated and systemic Pigford fraud. I can promise you this: neither I, nor my journalistic websites, will or can be silenced by the institutional Left, which is obviously funding this lawsuit. I welcome the judicial discovery process, including finding out which groups are doing so.�

On Thursday, February 10, 2011, at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., Mr. Breitbart held a national press conference at which he, Huffington Post blogger Lee Stranahan, and black farmer Eddie Slaughter presented compelling evidence for, and Representatives Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Steve King (R-IA) specifically called for, Congressional investigation into the Pigford case.

At the press conference, Mr. Breitbart revealed two hours of audio of Thomas Burrell, the head of the Black Farmers & Agriculturalist Association, Inc., teaching non-farmers in the South how to commit fraud in the Pigford �back-door� reparations case. This audio conclusively demonstrates how people have conspired to grow the class of Pigford claimants to 94,000, when in fact, there were only about 18,000 black farmers in the entire country during the relevant time period, and when there were never anticipated to be more than a few thousand potential claimants among those 18,000. The numbers just do not and cannot add up.

�I am determined to obtain justice for the truly and legitimately discriminated against American black farmers, who have heretofore been denied justice by the USDA and the Pigford case,� Andrew Breitbart said. �Nothing will deter my efforts to makes them whole. I will simultaneously continue to fight relentlessly against the efforts of those who would use these working American farmers to defraud the American taxpayer to the tune of billions of dollars. This new lawsuit will not stop the American public from finding out what is really going on, who is directly culpable, and the critical role of the Pigford claimant in all off this.�

The lawsuit served today does not name as co-Defendants President Barack Obama, the USDA and USDA head Tom Vilsack, even though it is they who fired the Pigford claimant, and who, according to the Pigford claimant herself, denied her due process.

Mr. Breitbart categorically rejects the transparent effort to chill his constitutionally protected free speech and, to reiterate, looks forward to exercising his full and broad discovery rights.

Mr. Breitbart is absolutely confident of being fully vindicated.
Get a bowl of popcorn and watch the show -- discovery works both ways and will be brutal to those involved in this scam. Odd that they went for the Superior Court -- I would have thought that they would have chosen a smaller court. Overstepping themselves a bit...

California - prophet on the burning shore

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Excellent essay from Victor Davis Hanson:
Jerry Brown, a Modern Sisyphus
California�s new governor, Jerry Brown, must rapidly close a $25 billion budgetary shortfall. Right now it seems almost a hopeless task, since the state�s disastrous budget is merely a symptom, not the cause, of California�s much larger problems.

Take unemployment. It currently runs at 12.6 percent in California, the second-highest in the nation. Take livability. A recent Forbes magazine survey listing the 20 most miserable cities in the nation ranked four California municipalities in the top five.

Take education. California public schools test near rock bottom in national math and science scores. Take the business climate. A recent survey conducted among CEOs ranked California dead last for jobs and business growth.

Take taxes. California has the highest gasoline tax in the nation, and its combined sales-tax and local and state income-tax rates are among the nation�s steepest. California incarcerates the highest number of prisoners in the nation. It costs nearly $50,000 per year to house each one, near the highest per capita cost in the country.

I could go on, but you get the picture: The newly inaugurated Brown has problems well beyond a massive budget shortfall.

Perhaps the state�s problems are not of its own making but arise from a deficit of natural riches? Hardly. California has the most fertile soil and the climate most conducive to farming in the country. Tourists flock to see the beauty of Yosemite, Death Valley, and a 1,000-mile coastline. San Diego and San Francisco Bay are among the most naturally endowed harbors in the world. The state is rich in gas, oil, minerals, and timber. It has the largest population in the nation at 37 million residents.
A litany of problems to solve. I would not want to be in Jerry Brown's shoes right now...

Just wow - New York state taxes

From Paul L. Caron at the TaxProf. Blog:

Court: NY Can Tax All Income of Owner of NY Vacation Home Used 17 Days/Year
Wall Street Journal, Out-of-State Owners Could Face Tax Bill:
Connecticut and New Jersey residents with a Hamptons summer cottage or a Manhattan pied-a-terre are about to get a nasty surprise: New York state wants more taxes from them.

A New York court ruled last month that all income earned by a New Canaan, Conn., couple is subject to New York state taxes because they own a summer home on Long Island they used only a few times a year. They have been hit with an additional tax bill of $1.06 million. [In re Barker, No. 822324 (NY Tax App. Jan. 13, 2011).] ....

For years, New York law stated that residents of another state who spend more than 183 days a year in New York have to pay taxes on any income they make in this state. But they generally haven't had to pay New York taxes on income they make outside of the state or on their spouses' income if they work elsewhere.

Under the recent ruling, this might change for many out-of-state residents who own vacation homes or apartments here. In effect, it reinterprets what counts as a permanent residence.

In defining a "permanent place of abode," New York tax code specifically excludes "a mere camp or cottage, which is suitable and used only for vacations." New York tax experts say the new ruling is the first they recall that counts summer homes as permanent residences. ....

[The judge] ruled that the couple's Long Island vacation home qualifies under the law as a permanent abode because it was suitable for living year-round�whether or not the couple actually stayed in the home wasn't relevant. Under the ruling, if an owner doesn't spend a single a day in a home it could still count toward a permanent residence.

The Napeague, Long Island, house was purchased by John and Laura Barker for $260,000 in 1997, according to court documents. From 2002 to 2004, the period that was assessed for back taxes, the Barkers said they spent only [17] days a year at the home, usually during the summer.

I bet the real estate people are happy...

Cause and effect - offshore oil

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Obama suspends off-shore oil drilling. What happens? From the Houston Chronicle:
Hercules Offshore buying Seahawk Drilling's assets
Seahawk Drilling, which previously has said it suffered financially from the oil-spill-related slowdown in Gulf of Mexico activity, is selling almost all of its assets to Hercules Offshore in a cash-and-stock deal worth $105 million, the two Houston companies said Friday.

As part of the deal, Seahawk will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and seek expedited court approval. Hercules said it will acquire 20 jack-up rigs and related assets.

"The transaction with Hercules creates a company with a larger, more diverse fleet, broader customer relationships and greater operational flexibility," Seahawk CEO Randy Stilley said in a statement. "In addition to increased economies of scale, combining the fleets will provide for substantial cost savings through the elimination of overhead and duplicative public company expenses."

Seahawk, in a statement, said the company's revenues had been affected adversely "by the dramatic slowdown in the issuing of shallow-water drilling permits in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico following the Macondo well blowout."
Once an industry like this is gone, it is cost prohibitive to try to resurrect it. Obama has no clue as to the damage that his policies are doing to this nation.

Oh Crap - food costs

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From The Packer:
Mexico freeze threatens vegetable crops
Freezing temperatures across a wide swath of Mexico the night of Feb. 3-4 could have a huge effect on supplies of tomatoes, peppers and other winter vegetables.

The freeze reached fields as far south as southern Sinaloa. Crops in the border state of Sonora could be devastated.

�The last time there was a freeze of this severity was 1957,� said Jerry Wagner, director of sales and marketing for Nogales, Ariz.-based Farmer�s Best. �It�s still too early to tell, but there�s a lot of damage.�

All of the growing regions Farmer�s Best ships from suffered freezing temperatures, Wagner said. The company�s full line of vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash, was likely affected.

One industry veteran told Jesse Driskill, operations manager of the Nogales office of Meyer LLC, that Mexico had not had a freeze like this in 60 years.

What made this one even worse, Driskill said, is that forecasts were 5 to 10 degrees higher than what temperatures wound up being. Many growers took precautions, he said, but they did not harvest early because they did not expect it to get so cold.

As a result, the damage in some areas will likely be nothing short of devastating, Driskill said.

�We�re pretty sure that everything in Sonora is frozen and gone,� he said.

Squash and melons are two of the commodities that will be most affected by the Sonora freeze, Driskill said. Tomatoes and peppers won�t ship from the region until March or April.
Florida was also hit pretty hard in December and January so its bad everywhere. Food wholesaler Sysco sent out this announcement to their accounts (PDF)

A look at history

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One of the things that really demonstrates to me that Anthropogenic Global Warming is junk science is the way its proponents cherry-pick their data and ignore the historical record. From the Wall Street Journal:
The Weather Isn't Getting Weirder
Last week a severe storm froze Dallas under a sheet of ice, just in time to disrupt the plans of the tens of thousands of (American) football fans descending on the city for the Super Bowl. On the other side of the globe, Cyclone Yasi slammed northeastern Australia, destroying homes and crops and displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

Some climate alarmists would have us believe that these storms are yet another baleful consequence of man-made CO2 emissions. In addition to the latest weather events, they also point to recent cyclones in Burma, last winter's fatal chills in Nepal and Bangladesh, December's blizzards in Britain, and every other drought, typhoon and unseasonable heat wave around the world.

But is it true? To answer that question, you need to understand whether recent weather trends are extreme by historical standards. The Twentieth Century Reanalysis Project is the latest attempt to find out, using super-computers to generate a dataset of global atmospheric circulation from 1871 to the present.

As it happens, the project's initial findings, published last month, show no evidence of an intensifying weather trend. "In the climate models, the extremes get more extreme as we move into a doubled CO2 world in 100 years," atmospheric scientist Gilbert Compo, one of the researchers on the project, tells me from his office at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "So we were surprised that none of the three major indices of climate variability that we used show a trend of increased circulation going back to 1871."

In other words, researchers have yet to find evidence of more-extreme weather patterns over the period, contrary to what the models predict. "There's no data-driven answer yet to the question of how human activity has affected extreme weather," adds Roger Pielke Jr., another University of Colorado climate researcher.
But looking at the historical record would be... Inconvenient... Here is the home page for the 20th Century Reanalysis Project

Free flight

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A new ski jump in Norway, opened this week. From Neatorama:
Vikersundbakken � the world�s highest ski jump � opened this past week in Norway. Its staggering 440-foot height allowed champion jumper Johan Remen Evensen to set a new world record by jumping 797 feet. The above video shows that jump. You can watch more videos about Vikersundbakken and the sport of ski jumping at the link.

Food service - allergies

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One reason I wish people in food service could carry baseball bats and use them liberally on some customers. From Not Always Right:
More Truffle Than It�s Worth
Customer: �I�ll take the southwestern burger, but absolutely no mushrooms. I�m allergic to mushrooms.�

(I go back to the kitchen to let the cook know of the allergy. This means they have to clean every cooking utensil and grill that may have touched a mushroom. After stopping service for ten minutes to clean, the cook lets me know of some complications.)

Me: �Ma�am, we�ve removed all allergens from the cooking area but the cook has let me know that the bun for your burger is toasted on the same toaster as the mushroom focaccia and can�t be cleaned. We can grill it on the grill for you instead?�

Customer: �That�s fine. No mushrooms. I�m allergic.�

(I return to the kitchen, and the cook is meticulously going through our ingredients to make sure no other issues arise. He finds another.)

Me: �Ma�am, sorry to bother you again. But the salsa on your burger doesn�t list all of the ingredients so better safe than sorry; we didn�t put the salsa on the burger.�

Customer: �Why not? I want the salsa!�

Me: �But it probably has chopped mushrooms.�

Customer: �I don�t care. I�m not really allergic. I just really don�t like them.�

(The cook nearly killed me when I went back to tell him.)
What harm is there in fifteen minutes with a baseball bat in the backstock room. It's very theraputic...

Now this could be good

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Part one (of four) opens April 15th Film website is here: Atlas Shrugged

Awwww... Baby Ocelot in Seattle

Cute lil' guy -- born about a month ago. From Seattle station KOMO:
Rare ocelot born at Woodland Park Zoo
A rare ocelot was born Jan. 15 at the Woodland Park Zoo.

The kitten and its mother are away from public view while they are monitored by a web cam.

�We are minimizing physical contact to avoid any disturbance to the new family and to allow natural bonding,� Woodland Park Zoo Curator Mark Myers said in a press release. �Bella�s an experienced mother and she�s providing excellent round-the-clock and protective maternal care. The kitten is nursing regularly and has a healthy, round belly.�

The ocelot kitten should be available for public viewing in April.
Cuteness overload...
Just wonderful -- from Bloomberg:
GM, Chrysler Salaried Workers' Bonuses Said to Reach as Much as 50% of Pay
General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, which each received government-funded bailouts, may award some managers bonuses of as much as 50 percent of their salary, said four people familiar with the plans.

GM plans to pay bonuses to most managers equal to 15 percent to 20 percent of their annual salary and as high as 50 percent to less than 1 percent of its 26,000 U.S. salaried employees, said one of the people, who asked not to be named revealing internal plans. Bonuses for Chrysler�s 10,755 salaried workers will average about $10,000, with a small group getting as much as half of their salary, one of the people said.
No word about the GM Bondholders who were screwed out of their money when GM went bankrupt -- that debt was conveniently shed all the while our tax dollars were being used to prop up the company.

Well crap

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With all the local excitement about the Legendary Banked Slalom, I thought today would be busy. Instead, it has been a very mediocre day -- all too quiet. Hoping for a slammin' Saturday and Sunday -- got payroll coming up on the 15th...

VJ Day, Honolulu Hawaii, August 14, 1945

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Wonderful footage:

VJ Day, Honolulu Hawaii, August 14, 1945 from Richard Sullivan on Vimeo.

65 Years Ago my Dad shot this film along Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki capturing spontaneous celebrations that broke out upon first hearing news of the Japanese surrender. Kodachrome 16mm film: God Bless Kodachrome, right? I was able to find an outfit (mymovietransfer.com) to do a much superior scan of this footage to what I had previously posted, so I re-did this film and replaced the older version There are more still images from this amazing day, in color, at discoveringhawaii.com

The Loyal Order of Camels

I had mentioned that I am traveling to Yellowstone National Park next Wednesday with three other guys for an historical class taught at the Yellowstone Institute.

We met for lunch today and then drove over to the Camel Club to go over the itinerary and schedule.

Founded in 1929, (Prohibition ran from 1920 to 1933) this place was a speakeasy in a very prim and proper town near the Canadian border.

I am sworn to secrecy on the location. Here are a few photos:










Looks like a fun club to belong to -- quite a bit of history in the place.

Now this would be a fun race

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From ABC News:
Should Trump Run? The Donald Wades Deeper Into 2012 Presidential Fray At CPAC
How serious is millionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump about running for president in 2012?

Serious enough to score a last-minute speaking slot on the first day of one of the largest gatherings of political conservatives in the country. Trump will address the Conservative Political Action Conference at 3:00 p.m. Tuesday.

He has been floating the possibility of entering the presidential race for several months and his surprise speech at CPAC has heightened the speculation.

Trump, the host of the popular television show, �The Apprentice,� told CNN�s Piers Morgan Wednesday night that he is �seriously thinking� about running.

�I hate what's happened to this country,� he said. �We're a laughingstock throughout the world.� Trump said he would decide by June whether to jump into the race.
I'll say this, he is whip smart and would get this nations financial house in order.
Sounds like he would be a great person to have a beer with. From The Hill:
General gives stinging rebuke to contractors
The top brass at the Pentagon is signaling in no uncertain terms that the defense industry needs to clean up its act and accept that the government can no longer throw away money on ill-conceived military projects.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz on Wednesday had some tough talk for defense contractors, saying firms must stop �blowing smoke� and over-promising about what they can deliver.

�Don�t blow smoke up my ass� about what a military platform can do and when it will be ready, Schwartz told a tense and silent ballroom filled with defense industry executives. �There�s no time for it. There�s no patience for it. OK?�
I love it! We need a lot more people like him in Washington.

Now THAT will leave a mark

For all Obama has been trying to meddle in the affairs of Egypt, Mubarak had this to say this afternoon -- from The PJ Tattler:
Mubarak in translation
Here�s the full text of Mubarak�s speech.

There�s a lot in there about �dialogue,� or some Egyptian term that�s translated as dialogue. He already sounds like a democrat, doesn�t he?

And this part seems to be a slap in the face of President Obama:
And I tell you here, as a head of state, I do not find any embarrassment at all in listening to the youth of my country, and to satisfying their demands. But the embarrassment would only lie in the fact � and I would never permit � is that I would listen to any sort of intervention that would come from outside, from the outside world, whatever the source is, whatever the intention behind them are.
Obama is being played like a cheap violin. I am amazed that our own Intelligence gathering network didn't pick up on this months ago.

Busy day today and an early bedtime

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The largest event out here for the year happens over this next weekend. This is the 26th annual Legendary Banked Slalom and for those three days, our little part of the woods will be inundated -- hopefully with hungry people who want to buy some groceries and some tasty baked goods. One of our chefs will be racing so we will be cheering her on! For the weekend, I will be offering Hawai'ian style Plate Lunches with your choice of Teri Chicken with oven caramelized pineapple or our own pulled pork -- 15 pound shoulders cooked for eight hours with our own BBQ sauce. I just made a couple pounds of Lomi Lomi Salmon -- the tomatoes are a bit pasty but finding good 'maters this place at this time is not in the cards... Like I said, busy day. I'll surf for a bit; there are some interesting things happening on this planet but planning an early bedtime.

Yikes - not what I expected

From FOX News:
Egypt's Mubarak Passes Authority to Vice President but Will Remain in Office Until September Elections
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Thursday he has passed authority to Vice President Omar Suleiman, but will not step down before September elections.

The move, announced in a nationally-televised address, means he will retain his title of president and ensures the regime will continue to control the reform process.

Immediately after the president's speech, Suleiman addressed the nation and urged protesters to return to their homes.

"To the youth of Egypt, and the heroes of Egypt, go back to your home and your works, the nation needs you so that we can build and develop and innovate," said Suleiman.
Omar Suleiman has a bit of a past - from Wikipedia:
From 1993 until his appointment as Vice President, General Suleiman was Minister without Portfolio and Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate (EGID), the national intelligence agency. Prior to heading the intelligence service, Suleiman was a military and military intelligence officer.
I am feeling very nervous about Israel now...

Cool new technology

From FOX News:
New Drilling Method Opens Vast U.S. Oil Fields
A new drilling technique is opening up vast fields of previously out-of-reach oil in the western United States, helping reverse a two-decade decline in domestic production of crude.

Companies are investing billions of dollars to get at oil deposits scattered across North Dakota, Colorado, Texas and California. By 2015, oil executives and analysts say, the new fields could yield as much as 2 million barrels of oil a day -- more than the entire Gulf of Mexico produces now.

This new drilling is expected to raise U.S. production by at least 20 percent over the next five years. And within 10 years, it could help reduce oil imports by more than half, advancing a goal that has long eluded policymakers.
Of course, they have to get permits to drill and we all know how that goes...

Interesting times - Egypt

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From Breitbart/Associated Press:
Military says Mubarak will meet protesters demands
President Hosni Mubarak will meet the demands of protesters, military and ruling party officials said Thursday in the strongest indication yet that Egypt's longtime president may be about to give up power and that the armed forces were seizing control.

Gen. Hassan al-Roueini, military commander for the Cairo area, told thousands of protesters in central Tahrir Square, "All your demands will be met today." Some in the crowd held up their hands in V-for-victory signs, shouting "Allahu akbar," or "God is great," a victory cry used by secular and religious people alike.

The military's supreme council was meeting Thursday, without the commander in chief Mubarak, and announced on state TV its "support of the legitimate demands of the people." A spokesman read a statement that the council was in permanent session "to explore "what measures and arrangements could be made to safeguard the nation, its achievements and the ambitions of its great people."

The statement was labelled "communique number 1," a phrasing that suggests a military coup.

Footage on state TV showed Defense Minster Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi chairing the meeting of two dozen top stern-faced army officers, seated around a table. At Tantawi's right was military chief of staff Gen. Sami Anan. Not present was Mubarak, the commander in chief and a former air force chief, or his vice president, Omar Suleiman, a former army general and intelligence chief named to his post after the protests erupted Jan. 25.
Sounds like good news so far. The Muslim Brotherhood was jockying for power and for them to get in would be disasterous for the whole area -- they are scum. The military has been friendly with the USA and they (and the police) have been very respectful of the protestors. The whole protest was originally about high prices and government corruption -- if these are addressed promptly, Egypt will flourish.

Quote of the Day

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The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true deserts. He ascribes all his failure to get on in the world, all of his congenital incapacity and damfoolishness, to the machinations of werewolves assembled in Wall Street, or some other such den of infamy.
--H. L. Mencken 1936
True in 1936, true now...

That's it for the night

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Working on some stuff in the DaveCave(tm) so heading out there. Been addicted recently to Kozy Shack Honey and Lemon tapioca pudding. Damn that is good stuff...

Holy Crap - UniMog

I love UniMogs and would have one if I had a practical application and a spare $10K lying around.

Ran into this site yesterday -- talk about taking something to a higher level: MaxiMog


That is one serious vehicle. Be prepared to spend 30 minutes or more at the site.

Bill Whittle nails it

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Ten minutes of pure truth about NASA, big government and the private space programs:
Wonderful stuff! Be sure to visit Bill's new website.

Budget cuts start somewhere

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From FOX News:
House Urged to Cut Back After Bottled-Water Tab Nears $1 Million
If the Potomac River, which supplies water to the nation's capital, had run dry, Congress might be able to explain itself. But it hasn't.

And that has left one group calling out the U.S. House for spending $860,000 last year on bottled water -- money it says could have gone toward installing fountains of perfectly potable water.

A report from the nonprofit Corporate Accountability International found that between April 2009 and March 2010, House lawmakers spent an average of $2,000 per member on bottled water.
At $1.50 per bottle, that is four each and every day. A bit much. Check out the backstory:
About 70 percent of the water-bottle cost on the Hill went toward Nestle water products, mostly Deer Park.

In advance of the report, Nestle sent a letter Monday to congressional lawmakers urging them not to cut out bottled water, arguing that doing so will not improve water conservation or fund public water infrastructure.
Boo... Hoo...

Now this should be fun - Pigford

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I had written about the massive Pigford scandal taking place under noses. here, here, here, here and here It's time to sit back and munch on some popcorn - from Andrew Breitbart:
CPAC Release of Explosive Pigford Undercover Audio Evidence
How easy is it to file a false claim in the Pigford settlement?

Have people been signing up for Pigford under the belief that it�s reparations for slavery?

Was the settlement intended to help black farmers hijacked to benefit people who had never farmed?

There has been conjecture and circumstantial evidence about these controversial questions surrounding the Pigford �Black Farmers� settlement for years but a complicit mainstream media�s lack of serious investigation has meant there has been little �hard evidence� to prove or disprove these allegations.

Until now.

On Thursday, February 10th, at CPAC, I will release to the press, bloggers and citizen journalists two hours of complete, unedited audio of a behind-closed-doors meeting directly related to the Pigford case that show direct evidence of fraud and abuse in the settlement. This audio will be released with a set of notes making it easier to navigate and find specific sections and statements.

The material will be simultaneously released online and in a press conference at CPAC. The live event will also feature filmmaker and journalist Lee Stranahan, Niger Inis from CORE, farmer Eddie Slaughter, and talk show host David Webb.

This material I�m releasing does much more than implicate one person. It shows beyond any reasonable doubt that that the Pigford settlement is fundamentally flawed and needs immediate investigation and ultimately, to be shut down. The end of the Pigford settlement is the only hope that real farmers have to get justice and to stop the abuses of the USDA.
From one of the links to my posts:
Senator Barack Obama introduced S.1989, a resolution demanding the �Pigford� consent decree be overturned and the case reopened to allow more black farmers to apply. Considering that Obama�s state of Illinois only had 171 black farmers at the time of his filing, Obama�s championing of �Pigford� would appear to be a little curious. But the curiosity lessens when one realizes that at that moment he filed this resolution, Obama was trailing Hillary Clinton in the polls as both vied for the Democratic nomination for President. At that time in late 2007, the polls showed that more than half of the black voters favored Hillary Clinton over Obama. But then Obama introduced S.1989.
Chicago politics...

California dreaming...

California decides to upgrade their court computer system. Rather than look for a commercial-off-the-shelf solution (C.O.T.S. technology -- always the best way to go), they decide to roll their own. From the Los Angeles Times:

Audit finds officials botched upgrade of court computers
California court administrators failed to properly plan for and realistically budget a massive computer modernization project that has fallen years behind schedule and on which the cost could balloon from the original estimate of $260 million to $1.9 billion, state auditors said Tuesday.

As a result, State Auditor Elaine Howle recommended that the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) delay moving forward with installing the system until an independent reevaluation is conducted of potential problems with the California Court Case Management System.

The office "has not analyzed whether the project would be a cost-beneficial solution to the superior courts' technology needs and it is unclear on what information the AOC made critical decisions during the project's planning and development," Howle wrote to Gov. Jerry Brown in suggesting the delay in deploying the system at three court systems.

Envisioned as a way to modernize and tie together computer systems operated in the state's 58 counties, the new system has been in trouble from the beginning, and some presiding judges have called on the administrative office and the Judicial Council of California to rethink the project.

This comment was left which sums by feelings up perfectly:

The federal court system has an online system known as PACER. From PACER I can access every case filed in any federal court in the nation and have access to any document filed for a price of 8 cents a page. And when its a lengthy document, they don't charge for every page.

This has been in place since 2005. It couldn't take much to convert the program to handle all the federal courts to handle just the courts of the State of California. PACER is a wonderful tool. We even now have the ability to file all our documents electronically.

This is really needed in the state system. If they screwed this up so bad that it is no longer affordable, that is really sad. PACER is up and running and converting to a state system should have been easy. It is just the hardware issues that have to be addressed. Since most of the court systems in all the counties are online already this must have been done the most expensive way possible.

Once again, thanks to those in government who can't seem to figure out that we the people deserve better.

PACER simply rocks -- check it out for yourself: PACER The idea that California was unable to leverage the use of this platform to their own advantage speaks volumes about the entrenched bureaucratic mindset...

One step closer to Skynet

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From Northrop Grumman:
The X-47B is a tailless, strike fighter-sized unmanned system currently under development by Northrop Grumman as part of the U.S. Navy�s Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. Under a contract awarded in 2007, the company has designed, developed and is currently producing two X-47B aircraft. In the 2013 timeframe, these aircraft will be used to demonstrate the first carrier-based launches and recoveries by an autonomous, low-observable relevant unmanned aircraft. The UCAS-D program will also be used to mature relevant carrier landing and integration technologies, and to demonstrate autonomous aerial refueling by the X-47B aircraft.

Foundation for the Future:
UCAS-D is designed to help the U.S. Navy explore the future of unmanned carrier aviation. A successful UCAS-D flight test program, including a series of successful carrier-based launches and recoveries, will help set the stage for the development of a more permanent, carrier-based fleet of unmanned aircraft.
The implementation of Skynet just got moved up a few weeks.

A perfect storm - on Saturn

Quite the electrical storm going these days - from Space Weather:

STORM ON SATURN: A vast thunderstorm that erupted on Saturn during the closing weeks of 2010 is still going strong. "It looks like a comet plowing through Saturn's northern hemisphere," reports amateur astronomer Christopher Go. He took these pictures on Feb. 5th using an 11-inch Celestron telescope in Cebu City, the Philippines:


"The storm is very bright," says Go. "I spent a few minutes observing it visually (through the eyepiece) and it is very prominent."

Researchers call the storm the "northern electrostatic disturbance" because (1) it is in Saturn's northern hemisphere and (2) it is strongly charged with lightning. Receivers onboard NASA's Cassini spacecraft are picking up radio crackles each time a bolt discharges--much like the static you hear on a car radio when driving through an electrical storm on Earth.

More at NASA's Cassini page:

Lightning Mixes a Dark and Stormy Brew at Saturn
The story of lightning in Saturn's atmosphere has been building slowly. It first showed up years ago as electrostatic discharges lasting fractions of a second, heard as static and interference in the natural radio signals emitted by Saturn. The visible flash of lightning was harder to capture. Recently, Cassini scientists were excited to obtain long-sought photographic evidence of lightning in the atmosphere. Now, accumulating visible-light and infrared observations are providing fresh evidence that the dark clouds associated with Saturn's thunderstorms contain dark substances such as soot and other carbon products that are forged when lightning strikes methane.

The same process as has been theorized for the start of life on this planet. This thing is huge, Earth is 7,926 miles in diameter. Saturn is the second largest planet in the Solar System and is 74,898 miles in diameter (Jupiter nudges Saturn out of first place at 88,846 miles).

The next 40 years

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Swiped from Mostly Cajun
From James Pethokoukis writing at Reuters:
Just how badly broken is the U.S. economy?
This bit on the January jobs report from Bankofamericamerrilllynch worries me:
In the Household Survey, the unemployment rate plunged 0.4ppt for the second month in a row bringing it to 9.0% � the lowest since April 2009. The unemployment rate has not dropped this far, this fast since the 1950s. So, we question whether this decline will be sustained. The household measure of employment rose just 117,000 while the labor force participation rate dropped 0.1 ppt to a fresh cycle low of 64.2%. Never before has such a sharp decline in the unemployment rate been predicated on an ongoing drop in the labor force. The participation rate has crumbled 1.5ppts since the recovery began.

This labor force detachment tell us two things that should give even the most bullish of market participants room for pause: (1) structural unemployment is rising and (2) the potential rate of growth in the U.S. is slowing. Perhaps this is one reason why the Treasury market is selling off sharply in the aftermath of today�s report. More structural unemployment and weak potential growth imply less slack in the economy and raise an inflation risk.
And this chart from ITG Investment Research does not make me feel any better:

A tip 'o the hat to Maggie's Farm

An asshat twofer

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First, M. Moore and now the Philadelphia abortion doctor - from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
How many severed baby spines does it take to pay for a $984,000 shore house?

How many severed infant feet is a boat worth?

And what part of Kermit Gosnell's clinic paid to keep his mistress, 41 years younger, on the payroll?

As investigators and civil attorneys build their case against Gosnell, charged last month with killing seven babies and a woman at his hellish West Philly clinic, a larger question looms:

What did he do with the money?

According to the grand jury's report, it's estimated that Gosnell, 69, made almost $1.8 million each year in abortions alone - and most of it was cash from desperate, poor women.

That figure does not account for any of the money he took in from allegedly selling illegal prescriptions to drug addicts in his community, including his notable distinction of being one of the top three prescribers of OxyContin in Pennsylvania, something federal authorities continue to investigate.

But when brought before a judge Friday to explain why he and his wife, Pearl, had not hired attorneys, Gosnell claimed to be broke.

The judge didn't buy it and refused to appoint public defenders for the couple. They have until Wednesday to hire a lawyer.

Just where all the blood and drug money went is still unknown, according to Sol Weiss, senior partner at Anapol Schwartz, the firm representing the family of Karnamaya Mongar, the patient whom Gosnell is accused of murdering.

"You just don't do the things he did unless you're motivated totally by greed," Weiss said. "We're doing our own investigation into the money, but we don't have any answers right now. I don't think anybody does."

Joanne Pescatore and Christine Wechsler, the assistant district attorneys prosecuting the case, agreed.

"The money's unaccounted for," Pescatore said. "The only thing we know about is the money taken out of the house."

When investigators searched Gosnell's massive, three-story brick home at 32nd Street and Mantua Avenue, they discovered $240,000 in cash and a gun in a filing cabinet in his 12-year-old daughter's bedroom, according to the grand jury report.

A bayside house and more
Aside from hiding their profits in their little girl's closet, Gosnell and his wife also invested in real estate. Together, they own as many as 17 properties, according to published reports; prosecutors said they know of at least seven. That includes at least five in Philadelphia and a house with two decks and a boat dock in Brigantine.

Last week, a boat sat covered in front of the shore house, which is near a golf course and just minutes from Atlantic City. At the rear of the house, a wall of windows provides a stunning view overlooking Somers Bay.

According to the Atlantic County Board of Taxation, the Gosnells bought the shore house in 1992 for $275,000. It was assessed last year at $984,000.

Gosnell's assets stand in stark contrast to the bargain-basement conditions at his West Philadelphia clinic, where blood caked the floor, fetuses filled the freezers and rusted, infected equipment spread venereal diseases, according to the grand jury's report.

The doctor spent little of his money on the clinic, and hired unqualified staffers so that he could pay them meager wages, often in cash, grand jurors said. He also "insisted" on reusing plastic instruments that were supposed to be used only once, the grand jury said.

He didn't even spend money on robes for his patients, who instead were covered with bloodstained blankets, the report said.

"The only thing Gosnell seemed to care about was the cash he raked in from his illegal operations," grand jurors wrote. "Because the real business of the 'Women's Medical Society' was not health; it was profit."
I hope this guy spends at least twenty years doing hard time and dies sick and penniless. To do this to a viable infant is heinous, to manipulate his patients this way reserves him a special place in hell. Words fail...

Michael Moore in the news

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From Deadline Hollywood:
"He Redefines The Term Greedy" - Yes Or No? Michael Moore Sues Weinstein Brothers For More Money From 9/11 Movie When He Already Pocketed $19.8 Million
At least multi-millionaire Michael Moore didn't have the chutzpah to sue Harvey and Bob Weinstein in a New York City court. Because there's no way a jury in the center that suffered through the attack on the World Trade Center would give Moore a penny. Today, Moore filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and even fraud arising out of his audit of his controversy documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. Moore is seeking at least $2.7 million in what he claims are unpaid profits. But I've learned that the Weinsteins have already paid Moore $19.8 million for his backend profit participation in the movie. Further, the lawsuit blindsided the Weinsteins who for the past six months offered to go to mediation on what their reps are calling a "standard accounting dispute" -- but Moore kept rejecting that out of hand. And, as recently as last week, the Weinsteins were discussing with Moore doing another movie together because insiders tell me that Moore next wants to direct a fictional feature film. (Of course, some partisan circles found Fahrenheit 9/11 to be fictional and others saw it as courageous Now the Weinstein will have their Hollywood pitbull litigator Bert Fields defend them against Moore. "He made $19.8 million in backend profit on a 9/11 movie. And now he wants to beat up the Weinsteins for another couple of million dollars," an insider complains to me tonight. "He redefines the term greedy for someone in this business who claims to be a Mr. Poverty indie documentary filmmaker."
Hey Mikey -- that funny fish-like thing under your feet is a shark. You are jumping it... A bit more:
The issue is not even whether Moore is entitled to the moolah. Or even whether the Weinsteins cheated him using so-called �Hollywood accounting tricks� and �financial deception�. Rather, it's a matter of appearances. Insiders tell me that Moore has pocketed almost $48 million from his recent movies with the Weinsteins and Overture, including his 2009 Capitalism: A Love Story centering on the financial crisis and the economic stimulus package while indicting the current U.S. economic order and capitalism in general. Yet here is the same filmmaker who 21 years ago cultivated an image as a Man Of The People with Roger & Me and keeps it going -- but is now in court demanding still more riches from his 2004 Fahrenheit 9/11 movie which made $222.4 million in box office. This is why so much of America hates Hollywood and what they view as its hypocrisy. For instance, I haven't heard word one that Moore intends to give any millions he might pocket from his lawsuit to the 9/11 victims or clean-up crews.
Disgusting hypocrite -- a capitalist indeed...

Minimal posting tonday

Long day in town getting ready for the upcoming trip -- want to get the bakery fully stocked. Got some other stuff to do tonight in the DaveCave(tm) so posting will be a bit on the thin side...

Hell yeah! - Aaron Lewis

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Aaron Lewis - talks the talk but walks the walk. Here and here

The Religion of Peace

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From the London Daily Mail:
One-legged Afghan Red Cross worker set to be hanged after converting to Christianity
An Afghan physiotherapist will be executed within three days for converting to Christianity.

Said Musa, 45, has been held for eight months in a Kabul prison were he claims he has been tortured and sexually abused by inmates and guards.

Mr Musa, who lost his left leg in a landmine explosion in the 1990s, has worked for the Red Cross for 15 years and helps to treat fellow amputees.

He was arrested in May last year as he attempted to seek asylum at the German embassy following a crackdown on Christians within Afghanistan.

He claims he was visited by a judge who told him he would be hanged within days unless he converted back to Islam.

But he remains defiant and said he would be willing to die for his faith.

He told the Sunday Times: 'My body is theirs to do what they want with.

'Only God can decide if my spirit goes to hell.'

Defence lawyers have refused to represent him, while others have dropped the case after receiving death threats.

Mr Musa was arrested after a TV station showed western men baptising Afghans during secret ceremonies.
I do not know what branch of Christianity Mr. Musa was baptized but if he was brought under the wing of the old-school Episcopalians, we would be looking at an immediate Canonization followed by Sainthood at the earliest possible moment. Behavior such as this should not happen to a dog let alone a human being. As for: "Defence lawyers have refused to represent him, while others have dropped the case after receiving death threats" Fscking cowards. There is a special place in Hell for you. If more people stood their ground against these stupid trash, they would not feel so bold about asserting their moronic inbred belief system. And I offer my sincere apologies to the other wonderful non-islamist morons and inbred people out there -- my God bless you all...

UP 5647 east.
Uploaded by BNSFrailfan. - Explore exotic destinations and travel videos.
15 second advertisement up front - sorry From Atomic Insights Blog:
Visual Scale - One to Two Days Worth of Fuel for a Single Large Coal Plant
This might get a little boring. Think about how the people who live next to the tracks feel as they see fuel trains like this pass by with depressing regularity. There are 127 cars full of coal, each carrying approximately 100 tons of coal. That train is thus carrying 12,700 tons of coal. That is enough to fuel a 1000 MWe coal plant for a little bit more than one day.

In contrast, a large nuclear plant requires about three truckloads of fuel every 18-24 months. Which do you think has less of an impact on the environment? Which delivery system allows more resources to be directed towards more productive activities?

A great demonstration of Nuclear Power

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70,000 horsepower, 25,000 ton ship, 16 knots through thick pack ice. Two reactors, each reactor large enough to power a medium size city (26 megawatts, 52MW total. Peak load in 2009 for Seattle was 1,859 MW -- page three of this report) The fuel consumption? One pound of Uranium per day. Sure beats the 700+ barrels of oil that would be the equivalent. Hat tip to Atomic Insights Blog for the link.

Close to the brink

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Brisbane's flooding came very close to being a lot worse -- from the Melbourne Herald Sun:
A few more inches and heaven help Brisbane


Here�s how close to utter disaster Brisbane came during last month�s floods. This is the Wivenhoe dam, built to save the city from flooding, at the moment its operators were desperately trying to lower the levels before it overtopped and parts of the dam gave way.

Reader Bruce explains:
Not many people have seen this picture yet. This is Wivenhoe Dam at its peak, i.e. at 191+% capacity.

Note that the main 5 floodgates are fully open. Note also the spray / white water just visible above the trees beyond the right hand end of the dam wall. This is from the spillway which is cut into the base rock and is out of sight to the right (west) of the wall you can see.

Brisbane dodged a very big wet bullet in those 24 hours, no thanks to Anna Blight and her minions in Queensland water.
This is why those floodgates were turned on full:
These calculations, yet to be tested by SEQWater, show that the urgent release from the dam of huge volumes at unprecedented rates of flow of up to 7500 cubic metres per second, when the operators were gravely concerned late on January 11 that the dam�s rising levels could trigger a collapse of the system, produced most of the flood in the Brisbane River....

Wivenhoe Dam engineering officer Graham Keegan�s ... 20-odd emails - from January 5 until the crisis at the dam had passed late the following week - become urgent in tone early on Tuesday, January 11, with notification that �we are entering conditions where dam safety overrides other concerns - although minimisation of urban flooding remains very important�.

A few hours later at 9.50am he reported �the flood situation has moved into a critical phase�.

Communications with the FOC were difficult, river levels were rising rapidly, and the dam�s flood storage capacity was diminishing.

By that evening, Keegan ...warned that the dam was expected to reach �a maximum level of 75.5m provided no further significant rainfall occurs�.

�This is 0.1m below the trigger level for (an uncontrolled discharge) - this is the major focus of the current release strategy,� Keegan said....

A collapse of Wivenhoe, which would occur from over-topping because of the inflow from the catchment exceeding outflow from the dam�s gates, would be catastrophic. An engineering paper by the dam�s operators a decade ago found that �the population at risk within a distance that would result in less than three hours� warnings of a dam failure is between 57,000 and 244,000, depending on the time of day and nature of the breach�.

Since a safety upgrade a few years ago, keeping water below three collapsible engineered levee banks, known as �fuse plugs�, is the key to maintaining control of the dam. Should the levels rise to 75.7m and trigger a fuse plug, a very large release occurs to ease pressure, but the outpouring is not controlled by any gate - only by the speed at which the levee or bank is eroded by the water.
The link above: the operators were gravely concerned late on January 11 that the dam�s rising levels could trigger a collapse of the system goes to a damning article at The Australian:
The great avoidable flood: an inquiry's challenge
At 12.26pm on Wednesday, January 5, those in the loop for receiving advice on the operations at Wivenhoe Dam received a timely alert.

It was headed "Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) Severe Weather Warning - Dam Flood Operations". Its author, Wivenhoe Dam engineering officer Graham Keegan, wanted to ensure that those authorised to receive his emails understood that significant rainfall of 100mm to 200mm "may occur during the next few days".

Relaying information from his colleagues at the dam's Flood Operations Centre (FOC), he added: "Somerset and Wivenhoe Dams are still above (full supply level) and rising slowly due to continuing base-flows from their catchments. As the catchments are still wet it is likely that we will be releasing floodwaters in the near future if BOM's forecasts are accurate. Please be prepared. We will keep you up to date with our plans as this event develops."
It will be interesting to see if the people responsible for the waffling will be sacked. A tragic story...

Luddites on parade

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A bunch of idiots wrote to Obama -- from the Washington Examiner:
Big Green groups tell Obama to tell Canada to Drop Dead
A coalition of 89 Big Green environmental groups is urging President Obama to reject Canada's efforts to secure U.S. approval for construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would bring millions of barrels of oil extracted from Canadian shale formations.

In their letter, the anti-oil groups based their case on these arguments:
"When filled to capacity, Keystone XL would import up to 900,000 barrels per day of the world�s dirtiest form of oil and open a new economic drain to send more of our money to Canada.

"The pipeline would drive further destruction of Canada�s boreal forest, bring the threat of dangerous oil spills through America�s heartland, exacerbate air quality problems in communities surrounding the refineries that the pipeline would service, and significantly increase the carbon intensity of U.S. transportation fuel, which would undercut the emissions reductions achieved by increasing U.S. automobile efficiency.

"Keystone XL would transport some of the most corrosive and acidic oil in the world through sensitive lands and aquifers that provide drinking water and a way of life for millions.

"Already, TransCanada is using eminent domain against farmers and landowners who do not want a dangerous pipeline on their own properties. It�s time to stop giving a free pass to oil companies to increase profits at the expense of Americans.

"TransCanada�s own analysis even says the �strategy [with Keystone XL] would be intended to raise the price� of Canadian oil, especially in the Midwest, to increase oil company profits. America does not need this dangerous and expensive pipeline."
You can read the full letter here on Politico. It's release was timed to coincide with Canadian Prime Minister Stephan Harper's meeting Friday with President Obama. The issue of the pipeline approvals was expected to be a major topic of discussion at that gathering.
How did these morons get such a foothold in our political system? They are completely out of touch with reality...

Instapundit gets it

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Just go here and read - a short post, just a few minutes of your time. Coming home to roost. What you are feeling now is what I have been feeling for the last two years. Not that Senator McCain would have been any better but...

That's it for the evening

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Full day today and full day tomorrow and there is not much happening out there (I read the internet daily). DaveCave(tm) and bed...

Just wonderful - another Union

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From CNS News:
Feds to Let Airport Screeners Gain Union Rights
The government will grant collective bargaining rights to the nation's 40,000 airport screeners, the head of the largest federal workers union said Friday.

John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, told The Associated Press he was informed of the decision at a meeting with John Pistole, head of the Transportation Security Administration.

TSA workers have tried for nearly a decade to win the same union protections as other federal employees, but Republican opponents have balked over worries that union demands could jeopardize national security or slow response times in a crisis.
Emphasis mine -- in my world, you hold on to your job by doing your job well and keeping up with current technology and methods. You advance by becoming more valuable to your employer by making your employer more money. You don't treat job stability as a given, as an entitlement. You are signing up to deliver a specific level of work and you should be expected to perform an exceptional job. Unions had their place but no longer. They do not benefit the working man and they do not benefit their employers.


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Swiped from Denny

Crap; ho, li

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The last film of Ukrainian Television photographer Vladimir Shevchenko:
When Chernobyl exploded (after a very stupid and unnecessary 'test'), Vladimir got permission to film the site before most people realized the dangers. He died a week later. Some amazing footage -- he was on the roof and also took shots of the reactor chamber. A fascinating (and chilling) article on what happens when a government bureaucracy is in control of a nuclear power plant can be found here: Chernobyl Accident: the Principal Cause An excerpt - first, setting up the use of the word 'foreign':
There was time when a part of workers of the Ministry of Medium Machine-Building together with the nuclear power plants took up work with the Ministry of Energy. There they were received as "foreign", the nomenclature of the Ministry of Energy thought them to be "too clever" and "too independent".
And then the observation:
It was extremely prestigious at that time to work at a nuclear power plant, let alone to manage such a plant. A salary at a nuclear power plant was much higher than at a thermal or hydro-electric station. For example, an ordinary employee of a nuclear power plant had about 300 rubles, and managers - even more, according to their position. Director`s salary was, of course, the highest. It amounted to the sum astounding for that time - 1100-1200 rubles! A little less than a member of Politbureau. In today`s money this is about 12,000 grivnas! Directors of thermal or hydro electric power station couldn`t even dream about such salaries.

Material benefits - apartments, cars, furniture dachas, etc. - for workers of atomic engineering were much more ample than in any other industry. This abundance made the nomenclature flare up. To give all this away to "foreigners"? So, instead of filling the positions of rapidly erected nuclear power plants with professionally trained cadre, the Ministry of Energy began appointing "its own" people - specialists in turbines, steam, water preparation, electricity, mechanics, etc. to managerial and well paid positions in nuclear power plants.

That`s how it happened that Chernobyl nuclear power plant was the only plant where neither the director nor the chief engineer were specialists in atomic engineering. The former is said to be a good specialist in steam turbogenerators. Of interest is his characterization made by the vice chief engineer: "Director Bryukhanov... had no knowledge of reactors. For a long time he thought that reactors are simpler that turbines." This is understandable, the turbugenerators drone, high-pressure steam makes the rotors rotate at high speed, electric and magnetic fields intensively interact. Quite impressive. In a reactor there is nothing to rotate, only water murmurs, and control rods go to and fro... absolutely unimpressive.
Shows you what happens when government runs an industry. Incompetence, nepotism and failure. Russia just has been doing it longer than the USA has -- we'll get there soon enough. Thorium Fluoride reactors now please -- minimal waste issue and there is a bucketload of Thorium in the earths crust... Note: The Grivna is the Ukrainian currency and 12,000 Grivnas = $1,506 USD.

And they dare to call it Science

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This has to be one of the most craptastic "reports" I have run into in a long long time. Pure political agenda and guaranteed to be 100% science-free. It's from December 2009 but I just ran into it now. From COP15:
Acid oceans: Global warming�s �evil twin�
The findings of a major study on the health of the world�s oceans have been released to coincide with the COP15 climate conference. The report, which was compiled by The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, highlights the direct link between manmade CO2 emissions and the rising acidity levels of the world�s seas.

The study found that around a quarter of all carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels, deforestation and other human activities, has been absorbed by the oceans. Without this absorption the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would be markedly higher and the effects of global warming more severe. Although this process may have bought some time, the report states, it has not been without a cost: rising levels of marine acidity.

At current rates, the report estimates ocean acidity will increase by 150 percent by 2050, a rate of acidification 100 times greater than anything that has occurred in the last 20 million years. This will leave little chance for adaptation by marine organisms and cause the widespread dying off of the world�s corals. In addition, shelled organisms will not be able to survive the increased acidity, which will likely lead to a wide scale collapse of the marine food chain.
What a mish-mash of cherry-picked bilge. Yes, the oceans do take up about 25% of the free CO2 in the atmosphere but have any of these blithering ninnys ever stood on the deck of an oceanographic ship and taken a sample and measured the free CO2 in the seawater? I doubt it very much. Yes, CO2 is taken up by the Ocean but in its role as plant food and food for single-cell organisms (like corals). Any free CO2 (which is the only form that would cause acidification) is rapidly mopped up by the hungry algae. From WikiPedia:
Photosynthesis is a process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight.
And this little tidbit:
The rate of energy capture by photosynthesis is immense, approximately 100 terawatts, which is about six times larger than the power consumption of human civilization.
Considering that the oceans cover 70% of the earths surface, that is a lot of CO2 capture. Finally, if you know anybody who keeps a salt water tank and raises corals, they will have something like this near their tank:
This is a Calcium Reactor. It takes a mineral, bubbles CO2 through it and feeds the coral. Makes them grow really well. The coral "shell" is calcium carbonate -- note the 'carbon' -- it comes from the CO2 in the ocean water and is fixed by the coral polyp. CO2 is also used in fresh-water aquariums because, it is a plant food. Here is a screen-cap from this page (same vendor):
Gotta love that line:
Perfect for calcium reactor and Freshwater Plant CO2 injection applications
Again, the idea that increased CO2 gas in our atmosphere can cause severe acidification in the ocean is abject bullshit and science of the shoddiest order. CO2 is plant food for both terrestrial, littoral and oceanic plant and bacteria.

Fun with video

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Remember back last September when James O�Keefe and Hannah Giles filmed themselves at various ACORN offices along the East Coast posing as a pimp and prostitute and looking to get a house? Well, two other people took the same basic idea to Planned Parenthood and the results are "interesting" to say the least. From Publius writing at Breitbart's Big Government:
Three More Virginia Planned Parenthood Clinics Caught On Tape Willing to Aid and Abet Sexual Exploitation of Minors � Full Un-Edited Videos
Live Action Films has released three more videos as part of their on-going undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood. The three videos are from three different clinics in Virginia and, according to Live Action, they are unedited and complete.

In a written statement, Live Action founder Lila Rose said: Today, we are sending Attorney General Cuccinelli and Virginia law enforcement officials new, disturbing footage from three Virginia clinics. The footage explicitly shows Planned Parenthood staff willing to engage in activity that sexually exploits minors and young women. The evidence continues to mount, and shows a clear pattern where Planned Parenthood is willing aid and abet the sex-trafficking industry. These are abhorrent practices and it is time Planned Parenthood be held accountable.�
That noise you are hearing in the background is the shredding machines at P.P. branches across the US.

Long day today

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Had to run into town to take care of some banking and to do shopping for the bakery. Got all done, around 4:30 and got a call from the bakery that they just noticed a couple things that were out and that were needed for the weekend. Of course, it meant trips to both Costco and our local grocery wholesaler and of course, both places were mob scenes with everyone buying supplies for Superbowl Sunday. Just got in 30 minutes ago... Will be spending tomorrow doing some maintenance at the building the store is in and then, back to the bakery. Did another 15 pounds of pulled pork today and it is tasty!!! Having a roti chicken for dinner tonight but it will be a couple more dinners of pork. I'll be aiming to do the plate lunches next weekend -- there is a big event at the mountain that weekend so I am expecting it to be pretty busy even though the weather is crap... Expecting an early bedtime tonight -- tired.

Barry's bestest buddies

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It is no secret that Obama is in the pocket of Unions and has been cozying up to General Electric. Payday! From The Hill:
SEIU fights healthcare repeal after obtaining waivers from law
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is lobbying hard against the amendment offered by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to repeal the healthcare reform law.

SEIU has sent e-mails to Senate offices urging lawmakers to vote against the proposal to unwind President Obama�s signature domestic initiative.

�A vote in support of this amendment is a vote to raise out-of-pocket healthcare costs for working families and takes away critical consumer protections provided to Americans for the first time,� SEIU urged senators, according to a copy of the e-mail obtained by The Hill.
And what is hypocritical about this:
SEIU�s outspoken defense of the law has prompted charges of hypocrisy from Republicans, given that some of the union�s chapters have sought waivers exempting them from a key provision of the law requiring the phaseout of health plans with low caps on annual benefits.
Fine for thee but not for me. Secondly, from The Washington Examiner:
Obama issues global warming rules in January, gives GE an exemption in February
Last month, the Obama EPA began enforcing new rules regulating the greenhouse gas emissions from any new or expanded power plants.

This week, the EPA issued its first exemption, Environment & Energy News reports:
The Obama administration will spare a stalled power plant project in California from the newest federal limits on greenhouse gases and conventional air pollution, U.S. EPA says in a new court filing that marks a policy shift in the face of industry groups and Republicans accusing the agency of holding up construction of large industrial facilities.

According to a declaration by air chief Gina McCarthy, officials reviewed EPA policies and decided it was appropriate to "grandfather" projects such as the Avenal Power Center, a proposed 600-megawatt power plant in the San Joaquin Valley, so they are exempted from rules such as new air quality standards for smog-forming nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
There's something interesting about the Avenal Power Center:
The proposed Avenal Energy project will be a combined-cycle generating plant consisting of two natural gas-fired General Electric 7FA Gas Turbines with Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HRSG) and one General Electric Steam Turbine.
Maybe GE CEO Jeff Immelt's closeness to President Obama, and his broad support for Obama's agenda, had nothing to do with this exemption. But we have no way of knowing that, and given the administration's record of regularly misleading Americans regarding lobbyists, frankly, I wouldn't trust the White House if they told me there was no connection.

On the upside, at least Job Czar Immelt is creating jobs!
Rotten to the core. Our voices were heard last November, we need to speak louder in 2012...


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Regarding the Vinson decision:
Swiped from Mostly Cajun

Patton returns

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Hat tip Vanderleun

An interesting legal predicament

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From Bloomberg:
U.S. in Contempt Over Gulf Drill Ban, Judge Rules
The Obama Administration acted in contempt by continuing its deepwater-drilling moratorium after the policy was struck down, a New Orleans judge ruled.

Interior Department regulators acted with �determined disregard� by lifting and reinstituting a series of policy changes that restricted offshore drilling, following the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, U.S. District Judge, Martin Feldman of New Orleans ruled yesterday.

�Each step the government took following the court�s imposition of a preliminary injunction showcases its defiance,� Feldman said in the ruling.

�Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the re-imposition of a second blanket and substantively identical moratorium, and in light of the national importance of this case, provide this court with clear and convincing evidence of the government�s contempt,� Feldman said.

President Barack Obama�s administration first halted offshore exploration in waters deeper than 500 feet in May, after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig off the Louisiana coast led to a subsea blowout of a BP Plc well that spewed more than 4.1 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
And the longer we halt drilling, the more expensive it becomes to start up again. Especially with the Suez Canal in jeopardy, cheap local oil is a necessity and one that our government is too blind to see... Here is the website for the Offshore Marine Service Association's Drilling Moratorium factsheet.

How're those Green Jobs going?

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From Politics Daily -- eight months ago:
Obama Solyndra Solar Plant Visit Clouded By Controversy
A dark cloud has settled over the President's trip to sunny Northern California today, and it has everything to do with his photo-op to promote jobs purportedly saved and created by the Recovery act at solar panel production company Solyndra.

President Obama toured the Solyndra plant in Freemont, Calif. and gave an address before the press and state officials, including California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, outlining his vision for a thriving U.S. alternative energy sector buoyed by government funding.

"The promise of clean energy isn't just an article of faith," Obama said, "It's not just some abstract possibility for science fiction movies or a distant future or 10 years down the road or 20 years, it's happening right now. The future is here."
Sure, their financial picture was a bit rickety but they had received $535 million in stimulus funding. From Right Wing News:
California Solar Panel Plant Going �Bust� Despite $535 M Stimulus Bailout
Solyndra Solar Panel plant in Fremont, California has wasted a billion dollars, $535 million of those a direct bailout from U.S. taxpayers, and it is going �bust.�

The Solyndra Solar panel plant in Fremont, California served as the convenient �backdrop� for Barack Obama�s �green economy� speeches in California, and other campaigning Democrats.
How much of your and my money are they pissing away without anything to show for it? This is our money, not the feds...

Making inroads - Florida Governor Scott

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It was a very contentious and close election but Rick Scott won and Floridians are now liking his policies. From The Miami Herald:
Fla. voters unsure of Gov. Scott, but like his tax-cut, pension plans
Florida voters barely like Gov. Rick Scott more than they dislike him, but they strongly favor two of his budget plans: Cutting taxes and making state workers contribute to their pensions, according to a new poll.

The survey from Quinnipiac University, however, shows that voters slightly disapprove of his plan to layoff 5,500 employees, or about 5 percent of the state workforce.

Still, voters favor most of Scott�s policies, which are more popular than the governor himself.

The poll shows 28 percent view him favorably, while 24 percent viewing him unfavorably. A plurality of voters � 45 percent � say they haven�t heard enough about him.

Also, voters like Scott�s job performance more than him � 35 percent approve and 22 percent disapprove.

��Too soon to tell,� many Florida voters are saying about their new governor one month into his term,� said Quinnipiac pollster Peter A. Brown.
The effects of lower taxes kick in pretty quickly -- six months at most so Florida business owners will start to see that his ideas have merit. The lowering of taxes and fiscal conservatism needs to be done on the state level as well as the federal level.

Auction photos

Took some photos of today's auction:

The main floor of the factory

Building two - this was a very large operation.

Lots of tools for sale -- already have these so didn't bid.

Very nice CNC router with toolchanger -- too big for the shop :(

Scraps left over from routing...

Welding certification coupons - these start out as two pieces of aluminum and they are welded together and then folded in half at the weld. No cracking allowed -- it has to be a nice smooth curve.

Close-up view -- a good weld!

Quite the substantial spray booth. Something to note is that it was spotless. These people took pride in their work. I have seen other paint booths with a good half inch of overspray and drips on the walls and floor.

High-Tech boat seat. What do you sit in when you are pounding through 15 foot surf...


They had one finished boat up for bid. Went for $60K and listed for about $280K. Worth every penny!

All in all, a fun morning...

Back from the auction

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Didn't buy anything -- pure amateur hour with stuff going for higher than new prices. There was a gorgeous boat that went for $60K while its list was $280 -- great deal there but the small stuff was overpriced and since there were an easy 500 people there, bidding was chaotic. I like the smaller auctions. At the bakery now and I will be making the rub and mopping sauce for the pulled pork for tomorrow.

A quiet night

Not much to post about. Australia seems to have weathered Yasi with few if any fatalities but another cyclone is brewing in the Pacific and there is more flooding. These poor people cannot get a break this year. Say goodbye to reasonably priced sugar and bananas. Egypt is falling apart with Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood both vying for power, meanwhile the original citizens protest over the price of bread falls by the wayside... Had fun this morning -- we could not find the key for the front door at the bakery. The inside of the lock requires a key as well as the outside. People had to come in through the kitchen. I had a couple locksets that I got an an auction a couple years ago so I swapped it out. Heading out to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and then to bed.

Fun auction tomorrow

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A major Bellingham Boatbuilder -- Aluminum Chambered Boats -- shut their doors last November and tomorrow is the auction. I have been attending James G. Murphy auctions for over twenty years and really like them. The run a clean auction (no shilling) and the theater is amazing -- these people are at the height of their craft. James' grandson is working for them so this is a three-generation business. The auction catalog is here: Aluminum Chambered Boats I may pick up a grinder or maybe some welding clamps if the price is right. Going more for the theater than gear aquisition...

More spam

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Had one spam attempt that had 50 different links in the body of the comment. If one URL trips my script (which it did), the other 49 get put into the blackhole list too. Talk about not thinking too clearly. Kitchen sink approach...

That;'s it for the night

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Long day today. Interviewed and hired someone to bake. Ran payroll (we now employ 24 people between the bakery and the grocery store) and ran into town to pick up the W-2's for the bakery as well as do a bit of shopping. Getting the evening crew ready to cover the bookkeeping for me for when I am on the road trip so doing a bit of training on QuickBooks and the general paperwork flow. I use a simple "counting sheet" that I have evolved over the years and it works out well. The till always starts at $100 so you count out the change and bills into the till and then record what goes into the deposit bag. Add in checks and the credit card receipts and it should equal the NET3 total from the register tape. I like this as it presents the data that needs to be entered into QuickBooks and it also gives me a day-by-day snapshot (takes about ten minutes to fill out) of where the money is. Still kicking the vestiges of some krud so off to the DaveCave(tm) to check the email and then an early bedtime.

Kiss my Yasi

Cyclone Yasi is a strong CAT5 and has Australia firmly in its sights. It will be hitting an area where about 30% of the worlds sugar is produced so say goodbye to relatively cheap sugar and say hi to increases in baked goods and other foods. The weather station on Willis Island was torn off when the wind hit 290 km/H (180 MPH) -- true high wind speed is not known. Willis is on the Great Barrier Reef which is basically toast now. From the UK Guardian:

Australians flee as 'catastrophic' Cyclone Yasi approaches
Tens of thousands of Australians have fled their homes, as Cyclone Yasi - predicted to be the worst in Australia's history, nears the Queensland coast. Many residents have also stocked up on food and hunkered down in shelters to protect themselves from the forecast of furious winds, rains and surging seas on a scale unseen there in generations.

Cyclone Yasi was upgraded overnight to a category five storm -- the highest possible, and is due to hit near Cairns at about midnight local time.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the last cyclone of such strength to cross Queensland was in 1918 and advised residents to "just grab each other" and find safety.

"It's such a big storm it's a monster, killer storm," she said. "This impact is likely to be more life threatening than any experienced during recent generations."

She warned that the next 24 hours will see extremely dangerous conditions.

"We are facing a storm of catastrophic proportions in a highly populated area," she said. "All aspects of this cyclone are going to be terrifying and potentially very, very damaging.

"Do not bother to pack bags. Just grab each other and get to a place of safety. Remember that people are irreplaceable," she said.

Bligh added that the greatest threat to life could come from tidal surges up to seven metres above normal high tide levels. The storm is due to hit at high tide.

The bureau of meteorology said the impact of cyclone Yasi is likely to be "more life-threatening than any experienced during recent generations".

From the Wall Street Journal:

Cyclone Yasi to hit 26 sugar mills, 4 coastal terminals
The sugar industry in Australia, the world's third-largest exporter, is facing one of its biggest ever disasters in the next 24 hours as Tropical Cyclone Yasi bears down on the prime growing and milling region on the country's northeastern coast.

Yasi will add to the woes of an industry that was battered by poor weather and floods through the key harvesting and crushing period in the latter half of 2010, and it will further affect Queensland, which has only just started to recover from deadly and devastating flooding in southern and central regions over the past month.

At time of publication, Yasi was rated at the highest category-5 level, with winds exceeding 280kph. Yasi is expected to cross the coast between Cairns and Townsville in Queensland around 1300 GMT, after intensifying while travelling westward through the Coral Sea.

To get an idea of the magnitude of this beast, check out this image:


Image from news.com.au The Bannanas? From news.ninemsn.com.au:

Yasi to strip banana crops: farmer
When category four Cyclone Larry tore through their Innisfail banana farm in 2006, Dianne and Frank Sciacca lost 100 per cent of their crop.

Now, after a fight of almost five years to get Pacific Coast Eco Bananas back on track, the pair are once again facing total devastation as Cyclone Yasi looms.

"I literally can't believe it. Yesterday I was in complete denial," Mrs Sciacca said.

"I was literally shaking at different times because the shock starts to hit you."

She predicts their 120,000 banana trees, yielding their distinctive wax-tipped product, will be stripped by midnight tonight - along with every banana tree between Cairns and Ingham.

"This will devastate the whole (banana) industry. There will be nothing standing after midnight tonight - that's a given. It doesn't matter where it hits," she said.

"Any bananas standing between Cairns and Ingham will be gone because you only need 50km/h winds to knock over a banana crop, a pawpaw crop and also cane.

"What you have got to realise is the last nine months we have had constant rain.

"We have had the wettest 2010 ever and all the rooting systems on all these crops is not deep and strong ... because of the soil being wet all the time."

Well Crap...

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