April 2011 Archives

The truth about taxes

From Theo -- I do not recognize the cartoonist but they are good, very very good...

A long day

Had quite the day at the conference -- lots of learning.

The bending class (he covered twisting as well) was really cool -- there are some basic blacksmithing decorative techniques and the instructor busted through that wall and brought out some very simple to fabricate but very gorgeous treatments of square and round stock. Good stuff for door handles, cabinet pulls, etc... The teacher (Ries Niemi) is a hoot -- anyone who can quote Frank Zappa, Ludvig Wittgenstein, Karl Mark and Edgard Varese in the context of ironworking has a brain on him... The Marx quote was fun in that he was using a piece of German equipment to automate the bending and twisting process (a Hebo) and the Germans are very top-down fussy about what can and cannot be done with their machinery. Ries is very much a hacker and has that Hebo doing all sorts of things that the manufacturer never thought of. The quote was: "The Worker controls the Means of Production". Heh.

Nothing too much happened in the afternoon. The Blacksmith wars wasn't as exciting as I thought it might be. I did sign up for a class in repousse but did not win the lottery for the six seats at the class. Went out to a local restaurant supply looking for some replacement spatulas and dough scrapers for the bakery. There was a crew making steel from iron ore and that was a lot of fun to watch.

Tonight was the final evening with a dinner and annual meeting and auction. I had already bought about $150 of tools so didn't bid at auction although there was some gorgeous work there. Stuffed.

Back at the motel, more stuff tomorrow and the conference closes at noon. I'll stay for a couple hours to help pack and load and then back to my bucolic little mountain village...

Cool news - Bose and MIT

I do not consider his speakers to be high fidelity in the least but his design is a clever hack (and a great marketing job) that allowed $30 of really cheap raw loudspeakers, $30 of cheap veneered wood-loaf and $30 worth of electronics to be marketed as $600 high fidelity loudspeakers.

Of course the liberals fell for it -- he is from MIT and the marketing was sexy.

They were good-looking furniture. But I digress -- this nice news from MIT news:

Amar Bose '51 makes stock donation to MIT
Dr. Amar Bose '51, Bose Corporation's Founder, has given to MIT the majority of the stock of Bose Corporation in the form of non-voting shares.

MIT will receive annual cash dividends on those shares when dividends are paid by Bose Corporation; those cash dividends will be used by MIT to sustain and advance MIT's education and research mission.
Under the terms of the gift, MIT cannot sell its Bose shares and will not participate in the management or governance of the company. Bose Corporation will remain a private and independent company, and operate as it always has, with no change in strategy or leadership. Dr. Bose will remain Bose Corporation's Chairman and Technical Director.

Dr. Bose received his bachelor's degree, master's degree and PhD from MIT, all in electrical engineering. He was asked to join the faculty in 1956, and accepted with the intention of teaching for no more than two years. He continued as a member of the MIT faculty until 2001, making important contributions to the Institute's teaching of undergraduate electrical engineering.

In 1964, Dr. Bose founded Bose Corporation. From its inception, the company has remained privately owned, with a focus on long-term research.

SET GEEK = ON Bose speakers use frequency equalization to correct for the poor frequency response of their drivers and of their enclosures. To the novice, this seems to be a win/win situation -- have a dip at 800 Hz? Boost the signal at 800 Hz to compensate... The problem is that boosting one frequency at the expense of the others introduces a phase distortion and it is the phase of the signal that determines where we place it on the sound stage. With a good set of amps and speakers, you can close your eyes and pick out the locations of the musicians. With Bose speakers, the cellist playing around the 800 Hz note will appear to float across the soundstage at random depending on the frequency of the note they are playing. Bose equipment is installed in a lot of stage theaters (never cinema). Stage presentations are generally mono and psychologically, if an actor is at stage left and is speaking, our brains will locate the amplified speech at stage left as the visual cue is stronger than the auditory one. Their smaller products (WaveRadio) have speakers so close together that you will never experience a 'sound stage' and will, instead be charmed by the rich "full" (cough-craptastic-cough) sound of the $400+ box with $20 worth of plastic, $20 worth of electronics and $10 worth (made in China these days) of drivers... Their car audio systems depend on the soundstage being drowned out by ambient road sounds -- after all, you are not going to close your eyes and visualize the Los Angeles Philharmonic while driving down I-5 at 70 mph... SET GEEK = OFF

A wonderful and generous gift though -- MIT is one of the gems in our educational system and needs to be supported.


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Had a wonderful pulled beef brisket at the Skagit Brewery washed down by two pints of their porter and one schooner of Hard Cider made by a friend of mine: Red Barn Cider. Good stuff!

Blacksmith Blogging

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Checking the web before dinner (getting a bit cool so wanted a sweater). Very full day -- the morning session was on knife-making and there was a good bit that I already knew but the heat treating session was well worth my time. There is a stage before quenching that I had heard a bit about but never really understood so didn't do it. Needless to say, that will be added to the process... The afternoon session was with a local smith and covered basic power hammer operation, jigs and techniques. Seeing as how I hauled a 2,200 power hammer back from the last years conference, this gave me a lot of ideas for its use. Tomorrow at 8:00AM, Bending. Then, Blacksmith Wars from Noon to 2:00PM and then a couple of events (there are always several things going on at once) to pick and choose from. Off to a local brewpub for some dinner and then back to the hotel room to read the internet and maybe post a bit...

Me? What am I doing?

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Oh nothing... Why?

Andrew Breitbart - just wow!

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Picked up a copy of his book "Righteous Indignation" a week ago and have been reading it in bits when i have some spare time. Read a substantial chunk at dinner tonight and just wow. In chapter six "Breakthrough" he chronicles the development of Progressivism in Europe and it's move to the USA when the USA allowed the people of the Frankfurt School to immigrate at the start of World War Two. An excellent analysis of how the ideas of a few people were accepted as the new critical thinking and how the existing academic structure bought into this bullshit chapter and verse. The USA is still suffering from this damage. Well worth the $15 or so from Costco. An excellent book and I am just a little over half-way through.

To bed for the night

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Staying at the Mt. Vernon Best Western -- closer to the fairgrounds than the place I used to stay. $20 more though and the room is quiet but not anything to write home about. Had dinner at the Outback Steakhouse and just settling into some surfing and then an early bedtime. The conference starts at 8:00AM so I'll want to be there pretty early. Lots of stuff to do and learn.

Strange times

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Very cool actually. Here is the lead paragraph from this news story:
House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly last night to strip police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees of most of their rights to bargain over health care, saying the change would save millions of dollars for financially strapped cities and towns.
What is cool is that it was published in the Boston Globe and that the vote was 111-to-42. More:
The 111-to-42 vote followed tougher measures to broadly eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees in Ohio, Wisconsin, and other states. But unlike those efforts, the push in Massachusetts was led by Democrats who have traditionally stood with labor to oppose any reduction in workers� rights.
People are starting to see that the current levels of spending are untenable. That such a heavily Democratic state as Massachusetts can see this gives me hope.

Wal-Mart is concerned

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From CNN:
Wal-Mart: Our shoppers are 'running out of money'
Wal-Mart's core shoppers are running out of money much faster than a year ago due to rising gasoline prices, and the retail giant is worried, CEO Mike Duke said Wednesday.

"We're seeing core consumers under a lot of pressure," Duke said at an event in New York. "There's no doubt that rising fuel prices are having an impact."

Wal-Mart shoppers, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck, typically shop in bulk at the beginning of the month when their paychecks come in.

Lately, they're "running out of money" at a faster clip, he said.

"Purchases are really dropping off by the end of the month even more than last year," Duke said. "This end-of-month [purchases] cycle is growing to be a concern.
Hope. Change. Kinda empty right now...
First there was the wonderful "Fear the Boom and Bust"
Now it's Round Two:
Wonderful stuff...

Small World - Jim's Winner

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I live in a small community -- love it out here. I was counting out this mornings deposit when I noticed this five dollar bill:
I distinctly remember counting this same bill a few weeks ago. There is a common thread among business owners out here that it is a pool of the same currency that just gets recirculated around and around. Here is proof...

Light posting through the weekend

Heading out to the local Blacksmith guild spring meeting tomorrow night. Some amazing craftsmen up in this corner of the woods and it will be fun to see the workshops and to take lessons. Good group of people. Heading back Sunday afternoon -- I will be bringing the laptop and will post some stuff, just not a lot. As for the Obama Certificate of Live Birth, there are even more holes showing up -- paper stock, the brand of typewriter and the justification of text. Off to the DaveCave(tm) for email. Fishing season opens up this coming Saturday so the Bakery is offering "tackle box" sandwiches -- roast beef, ham or turkey, Dave's Killer Bread, a packet of Best Foods mayonnaise and Grey Pupon Mustard, a decent dill pickle, granola bar and a couple of small candy bars for $7.00 See what happens -- it is supposed to snow tomorrow but also supposed to be relatively clear and warm for the weekend. Global Warming, go figgure...

Obama's birth certificate

After pressure, Obama finally released an image of his certificate of live birth. What is curious is that there are very visible signs of photoshopping. From The Market Ticker:

You've GOT To Be Kidding Me (Birth Certificate)
Oh do c'mon.... oh Donald, this case is not closed.

You can't possibly by serious.

This document has been altered and whoever did it wasn't even very clever in doing so.

I downloaded the PDF from the White House Web site - the "official copy" right from the "Horse's Mouth." Then I loaded it into Illustrator. Look at these images I then screen-captured - first, the ENTIRE image itself:

What follows are a couple of high-resolution images of the document showing very obvious edits. Here is a screen cap of one of them, cropped to save space:


From Market Ticker:

Here's a well-enhanced (at 1200%) version of one of the dates; you can clearly see the difference in saturation. That was cut into the original picture folks.

What is even more curious is that when you export a PDF in Illustrator, the contents of the clipboard are saved in the file as well. From Market Ticker:

By the way, they were dumb enough to leave the cuts in the clipboard too. The bottom part (certification) I can see since it's clearly overlaid on a background. But the content itself?

This document has been altered; it is not simply a photograph of the registrar's book that was dropped into a background, and it also is not simply an agglomeration of two images (the background they constructed, the "certification" and then the actual certificate.)

Now this does not prove that the alterations were actual changes in content. They might not be.

But..... what other reason is there to alter an alleged high-resolution photograph?

Got Illustrator? Don't believe me - check it yourself.

(To get the full list of things on the clipboard, load it and then select "Window->Actions->Links." There they are.)

I do not have Illustrator installed on this office machine but I do have it at home and will be playing with it tonight. If this is true, these people are beyond stupid.

Fukushima Daiichi post mortem

An excellent long article on the corporate culture that contributed to the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor. From the New York Times:

Culture of Complicity Tied to Stricken Nuclear Plant
Given the fierce insularity of Japan's nuclear industry, it was perhaps fitting that an outsider exposed the most serious safety cover-up in the history of Japanese nuclear power. It took place at Fukushima Daiichi, the plant that Japan has been struggling to get under control since last month's earthquake and tsunami.

In 2000, Kei Sugaoka, a Japanese-American nuclear inspector who had done work for General Electric at Daiichi, told Japan's main nuclear regulator about a cracked steam dryer that he believed was being concealed. If exposed, the revelations could have forced the operator, Tokyo Electric Power, to do what utilities least want to do: undertake costly repairs.

What happened next was an example, critics have since said, of the collusive ties that bind the nation's nuclear power companies, regulators and politicians.

Despite a new law shielding whistle-blowers, the regulator, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, divulged Mr. Sugaoka's identity to Tokyo Electric, effectively blackballing him from the industry. Instead of immediately deploying its own investigators to Daiichi, the agency instructed the company to inspect its own reactors. Regulators allowed the company to keep operating its reactors for the next two years even though, an investigation ultimately revealed, its executives had actually hidden other, far more serious problems, including cracks in the shrouds that cover reactor cores.

Investigators may take months or years to decide to what extent safety problems or weak regulation contributed to the disaster at Daiichi, the worst of its kind since Chernobyl. But as troubles at the plant and fears over radiation continue to rattle the nation, the Japanese are increasingly raising the possibility that a culture of complicity made the plant especially vulnerable to the natural disaster that struck the country on March 11.

Already, many Japanese and Western experts argue that inconsistent, nonexistent or unenforced regulations played a role in the accident -- especially the low seawalls that failed to protect the plant against the tsunami and the decision to place backup diesel generators that power the reactors' cooling system at ground level, which made them highly susceptible to flooding.

A 10-year extension for the oldest of Daiichi's reactors suggests that the regulatory system was allowed to remain lax by politicians, bureaucrats and industry executives single-mindedly focused on expanding nuclear power. Regulators approved the extension beyond the reactor's 40-year statutory limit just weeks before the tsunami despite warnings about its safety and subsequent admissions by Tokyo Electric, often called Tepco, that it had failed to carry out proper inspections of critical equipment.

The mild punishment meted out for past safety infractions has reinforced the belief that nuclear power's main players are more interested in protecting their interests than increasing safety. In 2002, after Tepco's cover-ups finally became public, its chairman and president resigned, only to be given advisory posts at the company. Other executives were demoted, but later took jobs at companies that do business with Tepco. Still others received tiny pay cuts for their role in the cover-up. And after a temporary shutdown and repairs at Daiichi, Tepco resumed operating the plant.

In a telephone interview from his home in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mr. Sugaoka said, "I support nuclear power, but I want to see complete transparency."

Like I said, a long article but a really good one. If transparency is allowed and if the corruption can be rooted out, this will only serve to make the nuclear industry better and safer.

Just wow!

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Avalanche Cliff Jump with Matthias Giraud
The camera is pretty amazing as well -- $300 for a bombproof underwater capable (to 180 feet) HD video camcorder. Framerates up to 60fps for slo-mo.
This spring storm season is off the charts. From the Atlanta Journal - Constitution:
Wednesday night's violent storm expected to be �off the scale'
The weather Wednesday night is expected to be horrific, frightening and dangerous as a severe storm is expected to race across the metro area at about 50 mph.

Glenn Burns, the chief meteorologist for Channel 2 Action News, said Tuesday evening the �significant tornado parameters� he�s been watching all day Tuesday are �off the scale.�

�When it�s a 1, it means tornadoes are possible. At 3, it means they are likely. Ours is 8 to 11,� Burns said. �All the parameters are there for tornadoes, damaging winds, hail, intense lightning. It very likely we will see some flooding in North Georgia.�

He said people should look for �super cell thunder storms.�

And they should be prepared.

�They need to have a place to go that every family member knows,� Burns said.
Fires in Texas, these storms and the intense flooding to the North. Not a good spring...

Will Necessarily Skyrocket

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What a moron. From Fuel Fix:
Obama repeats call to end oil industry tax breaks
President Barack Obama today implored congressional leaders to repeal a portfolio of tax deductions reserved for the oil and gas industry, as anxiety about the cost of gasoline soars along with prices at the pump.

In a letter to the top Democrats and Republicans in Congress, Obama said the �unwarranted tax breaks for the oil and gas industry� should be eliminated and replaced with investments �in clean energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.�

�There is no silver bullet to address rising gas prices in the short term,� Obama said. But he added that slashing �these wasteful subsidies� for oil and gas producers would help in the long term.
An absolute moron. There is no clean energy -- the only thing that comes close is nuclear and we are doing nothing substantial there. Those subsidies he is talking about is the depreciation on older equipment. The government is not forking over piles of cash to these companies, they are allowing them (like all other businesses), to depreciate the value of capital equipment that has a fixed useful lifespan. Total amount is about four billion. Wind? Solar? These are low-density jokes. But then, we need to cut Obama some slack -- he just found out that the inventor of the TelePrompTer passed away:
TelePrompTer inventor Hubert Schlafly dies at 91
A key member of the team that invented the TelePrompTer, which feeds scripts to actors, politicians and newsreaders, has died at the age of 91.

Hubert Schlafly Jr died last week in the US state of Connecticut after a brief illness, according the funeral home that handled the arrangements.

His funeral was held on Tuesday in town of Greenwich, where he lived.

Schlafly was working at 20th Century Fox film studios in 1950 when he developed the TelePrompTer.

He had been asked by the company to build a device that would help actors remember their lines.

Schlafly's prototype TelePrompTer, which debuted on the set of a US soap opera, was placed beside a film camera and used a motorized scroll of paper inside a suitcase to assist the show's actors.

The device was soon adopted by politicians and was used at the Republican Party's national convention by former US President Herbert Hoover in 1952. It has been employed by every US president since that time.
From the Silicon Valley Mercury News:
SETI Institute to shut down alien-seeking radio dishes
If E.T. phones Earth, he'll get a "disconnect" signal.

Lacking the money to pay its operating expenses, Mountain View's SETI Institute has pulled the plug on the renowned Allen Telescope Array, a field of radio dishes that scan the skies for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations.

In an April 22 letter to donors, SETI Institute CEO Tom Pierson said that last week the array was put into "hibernation," safe but nonfunctioning, because of inadequate government support.

The timing couldn't be worse, say SETI scientists. After millenniums of musings, this spring astronomers announced that 1,235 new possible planets had been observed by Kepler, a telescope on a space satellite. They predict that dozens of these planets will be Earth-sized -- and some will be in the "habitable zone," where the temperatures are just right for liquid water, a prerequisite of life as we know it.

"There is a huge irony," said SETI Director Jill Tarter, "that a time when we discover so many planets to look at, we don't have the operating funds to listen."

SETI senior astronomer Seth Shostak compared the project's suspension to "the Ni�a, Pinta and Santa Maria being put into dry dock. "... This is about exploration, and we want to keep the thing operational. It's no good to have it sit idle.
The government is making cuts but they are cutting the wrong things. This is a drop in the bucket with an incredible potential for knowledge. Who cut the funding?
NASA bankrolled some early projects, but in 1994, Sen. Richard Bryan of Nevada convinced Congress that it wasn't worth the cost, calling it the "Great Martian Chase" and complaining that not a single flying saucer had applied for FAA approval.
Sen. Richard Bryan of Nevada? Bryan only served two terms. Democrat. Their needed funding? $5 million for two years of operation. Considering that the government currently spend about Ten Billion each day, this is a bit over four seconds out of that single day to fund operation for two years. Hell, we have a 50 light-year sphere of radio and television radiating out from our blue marble, we can only imagine what else is out there -- some other culture's version of I Love Lucy...

25th Anniversary of Chernobyl

The Boston Globe's Big Picture section has some photos of the reactor and of neighboring Pripyat. The EnglishRussia website has some more photos including this one of the helicopter pilots who risked their lives dumping concrete and retardant on the reactor core:
There is also this entry of graffiti in Pripyat including this photo:
Chilling to know that there are eleven more reactors just like it still in operation.

An obvious Photoshop but...

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Click to embiggen...
So, let me get this straight: Pelosi bit you in the neck, and now you have to avoid direct sunlight?"
Goes a long way to explain a lot... From here

'Nuff said

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From Disrupt the Narrative:
Gas Pump Activism
Do you have to take these gas prices in silence? I don�t think so.

All you have to do is download this pdf, print out a few copies and put them, along with a roll of Scotch tape, into your car.

The next time you fill up, instead of watching in horror as the dollar amount on the pump races by as the gallons trickle into your tank, affix one of these to the pump.

Take care to not cover vital information regarding safety, etc. and don�t cover any advertising.

Then drive off with a smile on your face, knowing that when the next person drives up to the pump they�ll either agree with you and be pleased to know that they�re not alone, be better informed by your message or if it�s an Obamabot, you�ll have thrown water on their circuitry and ruined their day.
Shell Oil certainly isn't going to be drilling here anytime soon after being stiffed a couple billion.

How to fix any computer

Sheer genius from The Oatmeal

Just wonderful...

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Defund the EPA now. From FOX News:
EPA Rules Force Shell to Abandon Oil Drilling Plans
Shell Oil Company has announced it must scrap efforts to drill for oil this summer in the Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska. The decision comes following a ruling by the EPA�s Environmental Appeals Board to withhold critical air permits. The move has angered some in Congress and triggered a flurry of legislation aimed at stripping the EPA of its oil drilling oversight.

Shell has spent five years and nearly $4 billion dollars on plans to explore for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The leases alone cost $2.2 billion. Shell Vice President Pete Slaiby says obtaining similar air permits for a drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico would take about 45 days. He�s especially frustrated over the appeal board�s suggestion that the Arctic drill would somehow be hazardous for the people who live in the area. �We think the issues were really not major,� Slaiby said, �and clearly not impactful for the communities we work in.�

The closest village to where Shell proposed to drill is Kaktovik, Alaska. It is one of the most remote places in the United States. According to the latest census, the population is 245 and nearly all of the residents are Alaska natives. The village, which is 1 square mile, sits right along the shores of the Beaufort Sea, 70 miles away from the proposed off-shore drill site.

The EPA�s appeals board ruled that Shell had not taken into consideration emissions from an ice-breaking vessel when calculating overall greenhouse gas emissions from the project. Environmental groups were thrilled by the ruling.

�What the modeling showed was in communities like Kaktovik, Shell�s drilling would increase air pollution levels close to air quality standards,� said Eric Grafe, Earthjustice�s lead attorney on the case. Earthjustice was joined by Center for Biological Diversity and the Alaska Wilderness League in challenging the air permits.
Good God what is up with these morons? More:
At stake is an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil. That�s how much the U. S. Geological Survey believes is in the U.S. portion of the Arctic Ocean. For perspective, that represents two and a half times more oil than has flowed down the Trans Alaska pipeline throughout its 30-year history. That pipeline is getting dangerously low on oil. At 660,000 barrels a day, it�s carrying only one-third its capacity.
The EPA did not return repeated calls and e-mails. The Environmental Appeals Board has four members: Edward Reich, Charles Sheehan, Kathie Stein and Anna Wolgast. All are registered Democrats and Kathie Stein was an activist attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund. Members are appointed by the EPA administrator. Alaska�s Republican senator thinks it�s time to make some changes.
Over 4,300 comments and the article was posted earlier today. If they are so worried about exhaust from the icebreaker, they should lease this puppy from the Russians:
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.
You are welcome. And ignore this please.

Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful

Just wow... Meet Keiko Fukuda. She turned 98 this April.

She is the last surviving student of Judo founder Jigoro Kano and she teaches classes in the Bay Area:

While living in Boston I studied Tai Chi with a tiny older Chinese woman who could flatten me with a poke of her finger. It is definitely a strength of mind and chi rather than a muscular strength.

Just for giggles, I googled her name and she is still active teaching and her son is a martial arts movie star: Bow Sim Mark Tai Chi Arts Association

The Soviet of Massachusetts

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Went to Boston University and lived in Boston for a number of years after but I am really glad I left. The corruption was bad then (1980's) and is horrible now. From the Boston Herald:
Tough justice expected for Sal DiMasi
The third Massachusetts House speaker in a row to face criminal charges will appear in U.S. District Court tomorrow as a defendant, in what promises to be a drawn-out, complicated trial.

Jury selection is due to begin tomorrow in ex-Speaker Salvatore F. �Sal� DiMasi�s federal corruption trial � an anticipated eight-week endurance test so character-rich and convoluted it took the U.S. Attorney�s Office 67 pages to explain the plot in its brief, prompting U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf to groan last week, �I don�t think I can take two months of this.�

DiMasi�s predecessor, former House Speaker Thomas Finneran, 61, pleaded guilty in 2007 to obstruction of justice stemming from his involvement in a racially sensitive legislative redistricting plan. Finneran had taken power after Speaker Charles F. Flaherty Jr., 72, pleaded guilty in 1996 to tax evasion. Neither saw the inside of a cell.
No word as to the nature of the crime but if it takes 67 pages to explain it, it must be a doozey...
Frank J. has the following observation on why the left is so coo-coo over Trig Palin:
The Left�s Problem with Trig
It�s pretty shocking the way some of the left seem unable to separate politics from basic humanity and thus we saw the spectacle of Wonkette attacking Trig Palin, but something we also have to recognize is how much Trig scares the left.

This was something I noticed right away when Sarah Palin came on the scene. One of the few things known about her early on was that she brought a Down Syndrome child to term, and you could see the panic in the left. This wasn�t just someone whose rhetoric clashed with them on abortion; this was someone who�s action was a condemnation of the policy they support that results in 90% of children like Trig being aborted. A lie the left like to tell themselves is that all conservatives are hypocrites and would make the same craven choices in the same situation, but they couldn�t tell themselves that with Palin. That�s probably why the Trig trutherism soon appeared out of desperation.

There�s no greater refutation of abortion than an alive child, and thus Palin holding Trig and smiling is almost like a direct assault to the left. And it�s not so much that they fear other people being convinced on abortion as they fear themselves being moved. Who wants to come to terms with how horrible the policy is they�ve enthusiastically supported? That�s why they like the term �choice� instead of saying �abortion�; they never want to stare it directly in the face for fear of what they�d see. But, again, the mere existence of Trig leaves them no avenue on this. And that�s why there is so much ire directed at Trig. It�s not misdirected from Sarah Palin; it�s target is Trig because he did the greatest offense by existing.
The comments are a joy to read as well...

African Cats

We all went into town to see this today. Drop dead gorgeous. Check out African Cats (Disney) or here (IMDB entry).

They did a good job in not sugar coating everything but not reveling in gore either. A relatively kid-safe movie.

You could grab any random frame from the movie and be happy to have it hanging on your wall, the consistency and quality of the photography is incredible.

If you have any love for animals, this needs to be seen on the big-screen...

Bursting at the seams

Easter dinner with Jen's Mom and Dad.

Did a small Hempler's Ham, Colcannon (with Chard), green beans, asparagus and a salad and a slice of blueberry pie to finish. I am stuffed.

They head out tomorrow afternoon -- good to see them.

Surf the web a bit, head out to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and then an early bedtime.

The ski area's last day was today so we are entering the dead zone for the store and the bakery.

Spend the next couple months fine-tuning both operations in expectation of the Summer madness...

Cute little timewaster

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Cellular automata making music. From Earslap Click on the squares and hit play. From the site:
Otomata is a generative sequencer. It employs a cellular automaton type logic I�ve devised to produce sound events.

Each alive cell has 4 states: Up, right, down, left. at each cycle, the cells move themselves in the direction of their internal states. If any cell encounters a wall, it triggers a pitched sound whose frequency is determined by the xy position of collision, and the cell reverses its direction. If a cell encounters another cell on its way, it turns itself clockwise.

This set of rules produces chaotic results in some settings, therefore you can end up with never repeating, gradually evolving sequences. Go add some cells, change their orientation by clicking on them, and press play, experiment, have fun.

The USA versus the Chinese

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Mostly Cajun nails it:
Odd, ain�t it?
I find it funny (in a sick way) that Obama wants to talk about Red China and its success in the economic realm and how we stupid Americans would do as well as they if ONLY we�d let him and his minions have full rein of government.

Lemme tell you something. There�s a big difference. Big leaps in production here in the US are done by private industry, fighting government the WHOLE way. Wanna build a factory? Okay. Let�s see. where are you wanting to build it? Over there? Okay. here�s your environmental package. Go spend YOUR money for five or ten years to PROVE that you�re not getting ready to obliterate the last colony of silver-speckled pond shrimp on the planet. Oh, and when you�re done? You�re not done. Because you�re under the microscope of every cluster of patchouli-reeking hippies on the planet, and they�re all searching for another reason to shut you down. and you know what? If they come up with the most half-assed of reasons, we, your friendly federal government, have appointed judges who will happily put your billion-dollar project on hold while you spend some more money defending yourself against that horde of hippies and their nebulous idea that in the last twenty years somebody MIGHT have seen a red-speckled gopher tortoise.

Okay. You�ve just spent a few million and a few years and now it�s time to start building. Those wonderful plans your engineers put together? Re-do �em? Why? I�m giggling and thinking �because we say so� but I�m telling you that in the five years since your original design, we�ve changed the targets on emissions. yeah, yeah, yeah, we know� Your treatment of your water discharge is cleaner than the city supply for Washington DC. But that was then. This is now. NOW it�s going to be too hot when it hits the river. You�ll inconvenience the carp.

Okay, Now you fixed those problems? I hope you didn�t spend too much money, BECAUSE we�re THE GOVERNMENT and you pay taxes so we can stand in your way. Your safety designs are flawed? Oh, stop whining. I KNOW they were in line with regulations seven years ago. But that was then. this NOW. And WE get to say. So your three million dollar substation? Make it six. And that�s YOUR dollars. Oh, yeah, we�re still smiling. Think of how this is helping the economy. We�re rolling in YOUR money.

So here we are fifteen years from the time that your former CEO signed off on the new plant, and you are NOW producing your product. Moving target? You�re shooting at one. And when you pulled the trigger, we pulled the target. You spent two and half billion dollars now to produce tons of superxylopyrdine (I made that up. It�ll be in next week�s Name Game) and Moms For Brats, in concert with researchers who stuck their heads in one vent hood too many have decided that superxylopridine is a carcinogen, based on tests wherein feeding two pounds of superxylopyridine to a two ounce mouse invariably kills it. So we�re not telling YOU that you can�t make it, we�re just telling anybody who might buy your fine product that if they use it in anything that may come within fifty meters of a human being, then THEY are open to lawsuits.

Aren�t you glad you didn�t buy your stuff from China?

Chinese version: Huang walks into The Big Guy�s office.
H: We build superxylopyridine factory. Sell billions to Amellicans.
BG: Do it.
Huang goes up the river and picks a site. Local people, the dumb ones, protest one time. Second protest isn�t heard because it can�t get past prison walls. Chinese environmentalists protest, find new career as Second Pickaxe in a coal mine. Chinese OSHA looks around, produces a spreadsheet on pirated MS Excel showing that local population is providing new workers faster than toxic byproducts of superxylopyridine can kill them. The fact that releases of toxic waste into the river every Friday cause the catfish to get out and walk is curiously of no concern to Huang or the Big Guy.

And those reports on the toxicity of superxylopyridine? Chinese factories rename it paraxylopyridine and it goes into every baby teething ring Wal-Mart sells for the next three years.

But according to Obama, we�re supposed to be jealous of the Chinese.
And the sad part is that this is just getting worse and worse...

That is it for the night

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Nothing much happening on the intarwebs so heading out to the DaveCave(tm) to check email. Best wishes for everyone for this Easter. A time of rebirth on many levels.


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Had to work at the Bakery today - I usually do the large food buying run Friday or Saturday and we only had about ten pounds of flour in stock (we normally go through 300#/week). Spent over $600 between several vendors. The ski area's last day is tomorrow so the business will die down a lot after that but today was our second busiest day ever. Having a quiet dinner at home with Jen's Mom and Dad and then Easter dinner tomorrow. I may post a bit this evening but nothing beyond this post until then...

The Tulip Festival

Jen's Mom and Dad and we went to the Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley yesterday.

They were perfect -- I have been a few times and this was the best display ever. Even though it was a Friday afternoon, the place was packed with people. Here are two photos:



A good day was had by all...

Smooth criminal

Meet Anthony Garcia:


From the Los Angeles Times:

Gang tattoo leads to a murder conviction
The process was routine. L.A. County Sheriff's homicide investigator Kevin Lloyd was flipping through snapshots of tattooed gang members.

Then one caught his attention.

Inked on the pudgy chest of a young Pico Rivera gangster who had been picked up and released on a minor offense was the scene of a 2004 liquor store slaying that had stumped Lloyd for more than four years.

Each key detail was right there: the Christmas lights that lined the roof of the liquor store where 23-year-old John Juarez was gunned down, the direction his body fell, the bowed street lamp across the way and the street sign - all under the chilling banner of RIVERA KILLS, a reference to the gang Rivera-13.

As if to seal the deal, below the collarbone of the gang member known by the alias "Chopper" was a miniature helicopter raining down bullets on the scene.

Lloyd's discovery of the tattoo in 2008 launched a bizarre investigation that soon led to Anthony Garcia's arrest for the shooting. Then sheriff's detectives, posing as gang members, began talking to Garcia, 25, in his holding cell. They got a confession that this week led to a first-degree murder conviction in a killing investigators had once all but given up hope of solving.

For Lloyd, the image on the chest of the delicate, doe-eyed gang member brought back a rush of memories. The snapshot was taken inside the sheriff's Pico Rivera station after Garcia was arrested in a routine traffic stop and booked on suspicion of driving with a suspended license.

Before they are released, suspected gang members typically are asked to remove their shirts and have their tattoos photographed by graffiti team deputies. Taggers often mark their own bodies with the same signatures they spray on buses and storefronts - and eyewitnesses to crimes sometimes help close cases by recalling distinctive tattoos.

Homicide Lt. Dave Dolson said gang members frequently get symbolic tattoos to bolster their street cred: three dots on the hand to signify "mi vida loca" ("my crazy life"), sketches of prisons where they've done time, gang insignia prominently stenciled on their heads and torsos.

But a tattoo laying out a detailed picture of a crime scene is something far outside the norm. "I haven't seen it before, and I haven't heard of anything like it either," Dolson said.

Garcia's tattoo shows a man with the body of a peanut being hit by bullets and falling back toward the liquor store. In gang slang, the word "peanut" is used to derisively describe a rival gang member.

Lloyd had been at the scene of the Pico Rivera killing as a station sergeant. After he recognized it in the tattoo, the 30-year veteran called up the cold case file. He pored over the crime scene photographs alongside the photos of Garcia's chest. He also drove to the site of the slaying.

"I worked Pico Rivera a lot of years, so I'm pretty familiar with that area," he said. "It was incredible."

When you destroy the families and create the institutionalized 'poor', this is the result. Sure, the progressives get their Untermenschen and get a solid bloc of voters that are cheap to maintain (just a little more gubberment cheese) but the true result is the destruction of the family and the destruction of civilization.

Tip 'o the hat to Bayou Renaissance Man for the link...

No posting until late evening - if that

Jen's Mom and Dad are up here and we are spending today going to watch the tulips at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. For dinner, Jen is a vendor at the Anacortes Farmers Market and they are having their annual fundraiser tonight. Pig roast and good bluegrass music. Weather is cooperating so it should be an awesome time.

The spring weather

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From the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center:
And it has been a cold and wet spring. Jen's Mom and Dad are visiting from California and the almonds have finished blooming and the fruit has set. Maters are coming along fine. In the 70's down there. From Cliff Mass' blog:
Are Northwest Springs Getting Worse?
I have heard two questions over and over again this week:
Are springs getting worse?
Is this the worst spring on record?
Looking at the data one might argue that the answer to both of these is yes.

For me, it starts feeling spring-like when temperatures get over 55F. In the forties and lower fifties there is a chill in the air, but above 55F there is a different feel, and one doesn't need a sweater to work outdoors. Above 55F I can comfortably run in a tee shirt and shorts.

So let me propose a Spring-Fever Index that counts the numbers of days the temperature is above 55F from February 1 to April 14th. Why April 14th? Because today is April 15th! And April 15th (except this strange year) is tax day.

I think you are learning how science is done!

Now here is a plot of my spring-fever index for Seattle-Tacoma Airport from 1948 though 2011....the entire record at this site (thanks go to Neal Johnson of my department for gathering this data):
Click to embiggen...
Global warming anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

The hand that feeds you

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From Elizabeth MacDonald writing at FOX Business:
Government Cash Handouts Now Top Tax Revenues
U.S. households are now getting more in cash handouts from the government than they are paying in taxes for the first time since the Great Depression.

Households received $2.3 trillion in some kind of government support in 2010. That includes expanded unemployment benefits, as well as payments for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and stimulus spending, among other things.

But that�s more than the $2.2 trillion households paid in taxes, an amount that has slumped largely due to the recession, according to an analysis by the Fiscal Times.
And the handouts from the government have been growing. Government cash handouts account for a whopping 79% of household growth since 2007, even as household tax payments--for things like the income and payroll tax, among other taxes--have fallen by $312 billion.
Lumping things like Veterans' benefits into the entitlement programs is wrong and these numbers need to be reworked. Still, she goes on and talks about the money is now coming from DC and not from entrepreneurs -- something that should be a big wakeup call for people. We do not want to be like Greece in another ten years. She closes with this question:
So the question is: What government policies will bring the U.S. labor market back to robust health, enough to drive economic growth, consumer spending -- and higher tax revenues?

When will the U.S. government pull back from its intervention into the U.S. economy, so the economy can try to stand on its own?
And the answer? . . . . . . . . . crickets . . . . . . . . .

Another Chernobyl

I am willing to bet that this plant has been gone over with a fine-toothed comb and that the control systems have been massively upgraded and that military officers who know nothing about the operation of a reactor are not allowed to run unscheduled 'tests' but... The reactor at Chernobyl that caught fire was an RBMK-1000 design. Graphite (flammable) core with no containment vessel. It turns out that there are currently eleven RBMK-1000 reactors still operating in Russia -- Saint Petersburg (4 RBMK-1000), Smolensk (3 RBMK-1000) and Kursk (4 RBMK-1000). There is a photo tour of one of the reactors in Kursk at English Russia Here are a few photos:
Miles of dials. How can you read everything in an emergency...

Yes, the reactor core is under these plates.

Crane for loading fuel rods.

Full-body scanner.
Let's hope these operators are a lot more prudent...
From FuturePundit:
Oil Industry Macondo Response Lesson For Nukes
In response to the BP Macondo Deepwater Horizon oil well blow-out and resulting 87 days of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico 2 consortiums of oil companies and formed 2 companies to develop devices that can be brought on after a blow-out to cap a run-away well within a couple of weeks of a blow-out. 10 major oil companies (e.g. Exxon and COP) that account for 70% of the oil pumped in the Gulf put up $1 billion to fund the Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC) to create what are called capping stacks. Some of these stacks are ready for deployment.

A separate group of oil companies founded Helix Well Containment Group which has developed their own capping stacks. The first Helix design works to 5600 feet, which is deeper than the 5000 feet water depth of the Macondo well. The next Helix capping stack due this summer will be good to 10000 feet. Many of proposed new drilling sites are at 10,000 feet and deeper. MWCC is on a similar path to develop greater well capping capability.

The MWCC interim well containment system is ready for deployment with the capacity to contain up to 60,000 barrels per day of fluid in up to 8,000 feet of water. Work is also under way on the expanded system for delivery in 2012 to handle up to 100,000 barrels per day of fluid in up to 10,000 feet of water.

To my mind this aspect of the oil industry's response to this disaster (develop much better tools for handling worst case scenarios) illustrates what the nuclear power industry needs to do: develop a set of portable capabilities that can be rapidly deployed to any nuclear reactor site to rapidly recover from major systems failures. These capabilities are not a substitute for improvements that reduce the odds of such failures. But industries such as nuclear power and oil extraction should admit their best laid plans (which are often not laid out all that well in the first place) can fail and fail very badly.

I would like to see the nuclear power industry explain how they can develop a number of capabilities including:
  • Portable reactor cooling systems for cooling system failures.
  • Reactor wall patching systems for cases when a reactor breach occurs.
  • Portable shielded reactor control centers for when normal control centers become damaged or their radiation levels go too high.
Everything that went wrong at Fukushima should be dealt with by consortia of nuclear power industry companies by developing technologies that can substitute rapidly for damaged systems and do more rapid repair of reactor sites.
Makes perfect sense. One big problem (and something I am very hacked about) is that each reactor is unique to the site. There is no common standard for pipe sizes, pump locations or size. Each core has common features but their implementation is different. What makes the Navy's nuclear program so fault-free is that there are only a few basic designs in operation. You need more power? Put in a second core. If the bearing on a pump fails, start monitoring the same pumps on the other ships and if there is a weakness in design, replace all the pumps with a stronger design. It would be awesome if the nuclear industry standardized some of these things or at least have adapters available at each site.

Light posting for the next day or two

Jen's Mom and Dad are in town for a visit. I really like them so this will be a fun couple of days.
Wonderful presentation. Skewers the Malthusians quite nicely...

Good news from New Hampshire

From Reuters:

New Hampshire is first in Northeast to pass right-to-work
The New Hampshire Senate on Wednesday passed its version of a right-to-work bill by a veto-proof majority, Senate staff said, a move that would make it the first state in the Northeast to pass this type of law.

Passage would make it the 23rd state in the country with similar laws. Most right-to-work states are in the South and Western U.S.

Conservative activists say the law would make New Hampshire a magnet for businesses. Opponents say such legislation is an attack on unions and an attempt to erode worker rights.

Right to work means workers are not forced to join a union if the union has a presence at the place of work. They can opt out of union membership. Very cool -- New Hampshire has a fierce independent streak. The state motto is "Live Free or Die".

A bit of a mess in Pennsylvania

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From The Washington Post:
Drilling fluid gushes from northern Pa. natural gas well into stream, forcing evacuation
A blowout at a natural gas well in rural northern Pennsylvania spilled thousands of gallons of chemical-laced water Wednesday, contaminating a stream and leading officials to ask seven families who live nearby to evacuate as crews struggled to stop the gusher.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. lost control of the well site near Canton, in Bradford County, around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, officials said. Tainted water flowed from the site all day Wednesday, though by the mid-afternoon, workers had managed to divert the extremely salty water away from the stream.

No injuries were reported, and there was no explosion or fire.

�As a precautionary measure, seven families who live near the location have been temporarily relocated until all agencies involved are confident the situation has been contained. There have been no injuries or natural gas emissions to the atmosphere,� Chesapeake spokesman Brian Grove said in a statement.
Thousands of gallons? How many thousands -- one? two? ten? Also, it is not until the fifth paragraph that the cause was mentioned:
Chesapeake said a piece of equipment failed late Tuesday while the well was being hydraulically fractured, or fracked.
So something -- a pump, a valve or other bit of plumbing failed and several thousands of gallons of fluid leaked out. The event was not the result of the fraking process itself, it was the result of a mechanical failure of the equipment being used. Big big difference. Three days ago, I posted about a wonderfully balanced article in the New York Times that pointed out the relative safety of fracking. Just one excerpt:
As for the actual environmental questions, there are three main ones. First, fracking supposedly allows gas and dangerous chemicals to seep into the water supply. This is pretty implausible. Water tables are 1,000 feet or less from the surface; fracking usually takes place well under 7,000 feet. In Dimock, Pa., where methane appears to have leaked into the water supply, state environmental officials say that the problem was not fracking but rather sloppy gas producers who didn�t take proper care in cementing their wells.
We need the energy and extracting natural gas is a lot better for everyone concerned than coal mining. People with political agendas are using the smallest slip-ups to steamroll their views -- I have said it before and will say it again, these people are watermelon environmentalists. Green on the outside but Red on the inside. Classical Marxists who have hijacked the environmental movement from the hippies and are using it to 'bring America down to size'. They are killing industry and jobs by limiting what factories can emit.
From Roger L. Simon at PJ Tattler:
Prof. Ellen Lewin comes out� as a hater
Ellen Lewin � professor of Anthropology and Gender, Women�s & Sexuality Studies in the Department of Gender, Women�s & Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa � got her (perhaps unwitting) fifteen minutes of fame Monday by using the f-bomb to reply to an email invitation from the college Republicans, creating a scandal on the campus that made national news. Dr. Lewin, apparently, doesn�t like Republicans at the college or otherwise. Tell it like it is, Ellen, you old lefty rascal you.

And so will I, thanks to one of my favorite websites � Ratemyprofessors.com � where, alas, it appears Dr. Lewin is herself not particularly admired by her students. Here are just the evaluations from the first page: �None. Worst attitude ever.�� �She was too busy preaching her political views to teach what we paid to learn.�� �Worst ever.�� �If you taken Introduction to Women�s Studies, you�ve taken Gender, Race and Class in the U.S. It�s ridiculous that they are BOTH required.�

And my favorite: �She loves to ramble to fill up time. Talks and talks and talks just to fill the remaining part of class. Rushes through material. Has a superiority complex about her being from NY, and openly looks down on Midwesterners. Spends a disproportionate amount of time on gender studies material even when the class she�s teaching has nothing to do with it.�

Cracks you up, except� someone�s paying for this insanity. Rep. Ryan, I think we have a few more cuts for you.
What a maroon. Reading into the story a bit more, the email was not spam, it had been approved by the University. Her reaction demonstrates a willfully closed mind. Sad... Her University website is here. Not much there, not surprisingly...

Say hello to our new robot overlords

From the UK Guardian:

Skynet is about to attack. Maybe
Thursday, 21 April 2011 is the day when Skynet, villainous super-computer from the Terminator films, is due to launch its assault on mankind. Terminator director James Cameron alerted the world to the significance of the date with a tweet saying: "Instead of machines taking over, we have the very real threat of global warming."

But hold on there James, don't downplay your own prescience. We can worry about global warming and the possibility that robots are going to kill us all. An MoD report has just this week warned that we're heading for an "incremental and involuntary journey towards a Terminator-like reality." The report, the UK Approach to Unmanned Aircraft Systems, says that, given the current rate technological development, "Britain must quickly establish a policy on what will constitute 'acceptable machine behaviour'".

Now as any good science fiction fan knows, "acceptable machine behaviour" has already been established in Asimov's three rules of robotics, the first of which states unambiguously: "A robot may not injure a human being." The military has chosen to completely ignore Asimov's rules (understandably perhaps, given how useless pacifist robots would be in a war), but the Terminator films at least gives us some ideas on how to fight back when our drones go self-aware and turn against us (we're going to need a time machine and a robotic Arnold Schwarzenegger).

James needs to stick to movies and drop the global warming crap. Great storyteller and visionary though...

A nice little bit of legislation

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At the very time when voters are more politically aware than in the last 40 years, both sides need to clean up their act if they want to keep their jobs. Witness these six Minnesota Republican State Representatives -- from Take Part:
Factory Farms: What You Need to Know About Minnesota's Anti-Whistleblower Bill
If a new Minnesota bill eventually becomes law, anyone caught going undercover to document animal abuses at a factory farm could be sentenced to 5 years in jail. Here's what you need to know about the bill.

It's a Conflict of Interest
The bill was introduced by six Republicans, including Representative Rod Hamilton, the "past president of the Minnesota Pork Producers, and a current member," according to Will Potter, author of Green Is the New Red.

The remaining five Republican supporters are Dean Urdahl, Paul Anderson, Tony Cornish, Greg Davids, and Bob Dettmer.
They seriously need to clean up their act. Whistleblowing is much needed and there are Federal laws on the books that protect it. The next election cycle will be interesting for these mokes...

From Peter Foster writing in England's Financial Post:

Keynesianism's systemic failure
While the United States has been hit with a prospective debt downgrade in the wake of President Obama's defiant statism, the even more statist European Union is trying to keep the lid on the consequences of its own regulatory pretensions and its members' fiscal fecklessness.

Greece denies any need to restructure its debt, but the market doesn't believe it, and has forced its borrowing rates to junk levels. There is backroom panic over the recent Finnish election results, which saw the rise of an anti-bailout party called True Finns. Since EU bailout packages have to be approved unanimously, there is fear that True Finns may bring the game of European musical chairs to a halt, revealing a paucity of seating.

This puts the unwanted spotlight on Portugal, which needs to keep jigging through a major bond redemption in June. It is even more necessary to keep the Spanish castanets clicking because Spain is "too big to bail."

The real question about the still-mounting subprime government crisis is why anybody would have imagined that it had been solved - or even addressed - rather than exacerbated by the kind of trillion-dollar Keynesian pronouncements made at the G20 by the likes of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose successors are struggling with the disaster he left them. Indeed, it was arguably the G20 mentality, with its delusions of universal economic security, well-planned regulatory 'architecture' and panoptic 'macroprudence' that created this fiasco in the first place.

Free markets are based on risk and will always be prone to particular failure. Only government attempts to prevent or compensate for particular failure can threaten the systemic variety.

Post-crisis stimulus stimulated little but insupportable government debt - and now inflation. It was joined by a downward manipulation of interest rates that has promoted what Austrian economists called �mal-investment, plus asset inflation.

The astonishing aspect of all this - as pointed out numerous times in this space - is that spend-yourself-rich Keynesianism had already been comprehensively refuted in theory and had spectacularly failed in practice by the late 1970s.

The good news is that fettered capitalism has made the world a good deal richer since then, and thus arguably more able to withstand policy incompetence. The bad news that the tax-and-spend interventionist state has grown in parasitical lockstep, if not even faster, thus both hobbling progress and mortgaging people's future via increasingly unsustainable health and welfare commitments. Few would dare to question the validity of a welfare state; but few could deny that it consistently threatens to grow out of control.

A bit more with a great observation on the pitfall of the Euro currency:

Friedrich Hayek identified the 'fatal conceit' of believing that markets are flawed and can always be rectified and/or improved and/or fine tuned by bright people with big brains and good intentions. However, the fatal conceit is not just, or even, a cognitive error; it also inevitably features a good deal of self-interest. People come into government to do good and stay on to do well.

The EU started out as a thrust to reduce trade barriers and enable industrial rationalization across postwar state borders, thus reducing the chances of further intra-European conflict. It was also promoted as a bulwark against Soviet aggression. However, in their inevitable hunger to acquire more power, the agents of the European regulatory state sought monetary union, knowing that monetary union would require central co-ordination of economic policy if it wasn't to fall apart. However, economic policy remained in the hands of individual states, so the system is falling apart. Some governments inevitably pursued (extra) feckless policies precisely because they knew that Brussels would have to bail them out to keep its expansive dreams alive.

The comments are an interesting read between people who understand what is happening and people without a clue, repeating the 'talking points'. Yes, Clinton ran a surplus. No, it was the Republican Congress that made it so. Hat tip to Lew Rockwell.



Hat tip to Neatorama

Weird Al meets Lady Gaga

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From Al Yankovic's Blog:
The Gaga Saga
I was really hoping that this blog entry would be all about me announcing the release date of my new album.

Sadly, it�s not.

In a metaphorical nutshell, here�s what happened.

I wrote and recorded what I thought was going to be the first single off of my new album: a parody of �Born This Way� by Lady Gaga called �Perform This Way.� But after hearing it, Lady Gaga decided not to give me permission to release the song, so� it won�t be coming out commercially anytime in the near future. Sorry.

Okay, now the long version.
Quite the story and the upshot is that Gaga did not allow him to use the parody after he had written it and recorded it. So he invoked the Fair Use clause and posted it to YouTube:

The friendly Atom

Wonderful bit of Atomic history from Pruned:
Atomic Gardens
Paige Johnson works as a nanotechnology researcher at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma. When not inventing new ways to fabricate nanobatteries and other advanced materials, she moonlights as an independent scholar of garden history. She has published articles on the �outlandish� garden hydroengineering of Isaac de Caus and the technological motifs of Art Deco landscapes, among other topics. Additionally, she maintains two landscape-themed blogs, Garden History Girl and Playscapes, both of which have given us some great material to blog here in the past.

Her current landscape research is focused on the strange and fascinating story of atomic gardening, a post-war phenomenon in which plants were irradiated in the hopes of producing beneficial mutations. Considering recent nuclear events in Japan and the ever ongoing concern for food security, it's a topic that's sure to resonate.

As a cap (albeit a delayed one) to our Atomic Week earlier this month, we asked Johnson to share some of her research.
What follows is a wonderful interview about a time in history that people have forgotten. I grew up then and remember the rush to find ways to use atomic energy for peace -- there were even proposals to use nuclear bombs to dig canals (nevermind the fallout). What is fascinating is that two of the 'mutations' bred true and are in common food use today...
by a giant Rabbit:
President Jimmy Carter and the "killer rabbit"
April 20th, 1979
On a fishing trip in Plains, Georgia, President Carter had an encounter with a "swamp rabbit". This seemingly trivial event was seized upon by the press and became a sort of Rorschach test of the Carter presidency: reporters and commentators saw in this story whatever they wanted to see in Carter's administration. Jody Powell, Carter's press secretary, described the affair in his 1986 book The Other Side of the Story:
It began late one afternoon in the spring of 1979. The President was sitting with a few of us on the Truman Balcony. He had recently returned from a visit to Plains, and we were talking about homefolks and how the quail were nesting and similar matters of international import.

Suddenly, for no apparent reason -- he was drinking lemonade, as I recall -- the President volunteered the information that while fishing in a pond on his farm he had sighted a large animal swimming toward him. Upon closer inspection, the animal turned out to be a rabbit. Not one of your cutesy, Easter Bunny-type rabbits, but one of those big splay-footed things that we called swamp rabbits when I was growing up.

The animal was clearly in distress, or perhaps berserk. The President confessed to having had limited experience with enraged rabbits. He was unable to reach a definite conclusion about its state of mind. What was obvious, however, was that this large, wet animal, making strange hissing noises and gnashing its teeth, was intent upon climbing into the Presidential boat.
The President then evidently shooed the critter away from his boat with a paddle. The scene was captured on film by a White House photographer.

Secret Documents

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The Central Intelligence Agency has been declassifying and releasing a lot of its documents into the public domain. All can be found at this nicely done website: CIA Home > Library > Electronic Reading Room >:
Who We Are and What We Do
Do UFOs fascinate you? Are you a history buff who wants to learn more about the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam or the A-12 Oxcart? Have stories about spies always fascinated you? You can find information about all of these topics and more in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Electronic Reading Room.

What is the Electronic Reading Room?
The FOIA Electronic Reading Room is provided as a public service by the CIA and its Office of Information Management. Here you can view previously released documents, released through the FOIA and other disclosure statutes. If you would like to view our previously released documents and collections, visit our Frequently Requested Records, our Special Collections, and our 25 Year Program Archive. You can search all the documents by using the search bar at the top of the page, or you can browse collections of documents on historically significant topics compiled by our office. Please note that not all documents reside in collections, so you may wish to perform a search as well as browse the collection you are interested in. Because of CIA's need to comply with U.S. national security laws, some documents - or parts of documents - cannot be released to the public. Specifically, the CIA has the responsibility to protect intelligence sources and methods from disclosure.
Very cool stuff -- they did a nice job with the scanning and cleaning up of the documents.

But it's so convieeeeenient

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No. Park your car, walk inside and deal with the family left behind. From the Los Angeles Times:
Paying their respects outside funeral home
Known for her flamboyant hats and dazzling jewelry, Bernice Woods relished being in the public eye.

So when the longtime community volunteer and former Compton city councilwoman died last month, her children opted to place her open casket in the drive-thru display window of Robert L. Adams Mortuary in Compton.

"My mother was a community person," said Gregory W. Woods, 55, the youngest of the deceased woman's 10 children. "She meant so much to so many people. It is only fitting and proper that she would be viewed this way."

Adams funeral parlor, a fixture in Compton since 1974, brings to the business of death a convenience of the living: drive-thru viewing of the dead.
A bit more:
"You can come by after work, you don't need to deal with parking, you can sign the book outside and the family knows that you paid your respects," said Scott Adams. "It's a convenience thing."
And a bit more:
In the 1980s, cemetery shootouts made gang members reluctant to gather for graveside services. The drive-thru's glass partition is bulletproof, Scott Adams said, and so for a while the mortuary became a popular location for gang funerals.
Why aren't these people up in arms and rioting in the streets. The Democratic Party has made them into the underclass. The Democratic Party has made them poor and kept them down. The Democratic Party is stealing their families, tossing away their fathers. They are trading their birthright for cheap baubles -- entitlements that feed you for the day but enslave you for your life. They are getting second rate educations, second rate jobs and all for what, a guaranteed vote because when they vote another Democrat into office, that asshat will give them another slice of free gubbinment cheese. The crime, the drugs, the violence and the need for drive-through funeral parlors is just the symptom of the toxin. Remove the toxin and heal the citizen.

From Wall Street Journal:

U.S. Hurries to Sell GM Stake
The U.S. government plans to sell a significant share of its remaining stake in General Motors Co. this summer despite the disappointing performance of the auto maker's stock, people familiar with the matter said.

A sale within the next several months would almost certainly mean U.S. taxpayers will take a loss on their $50 billion rescue of the Detroit auto maker in 2009.

To break even, the U.S. Treasury would need to sell its remaining stake - about 500 million shares - at $53 apiece. GM closed off 27 cents a share at $29.97 in 4 p.m. trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange, hitting a new low since its $33-a-share November initial public offering.

Works for me. Nothing says efficiency like willfully tossing away almost 50% of your "investment". Give me more of this wonderful "government" please!!!

From The Indianapolis Star:
Lightning strike causes fire at Greenfield library
Hancock County Public Library administrators were gathering to discuss an earthquake-preparedness plan this afternoon at the Greenfield branch when a different kind of disaster struck � the building caught fire when a lightning bolt apparently struck the roof.

Firefighters were called to the library, 900 W. McKenzie Road, about noon today on reports that people were seeing and smelling smoke.

�We were having our leadership team meeting when we felt a big jolt and heard a big thud,� said Dianne Osborne, the library director. �We thought it was just thunder and lightning, but apparently lightning hit the roof over the local history room. People came to the board room door and told us they smelled smoke.�
Maybe they should just do a pandemic duck, cover and KYAG

Quite the shot

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A new Railgun being developed by General Atomics for the Navy. The gun is at zero degrees elevation, the round punches through a steel plate at 100 meters and then continues for another seven kilometers before hitting the ground.
With all that kinetic energy, you don't need explosives.

Gold breaks $1,500

From Kitco:

Comex Gold Hits Major Psychological Level of $1,500.00 an Ounce
Comex gold futures at midday Tuesday hit the major psychological level of $1,500.00 an ounce, after flirting with that key price for much of the morning. Tuesday's new all-time record high in June gold futures now stands at $1,500.50 an ounce. A weaker U.S. dollar index and firmer crude oil prices are helping to support the higher gold price Tuesday. June Comex gold last traded up $1.50 an ounce at $1,494.50. The fact that gold has now hit the much-anticipated $1,500.00 mark will now garner even more general media attention, which in turn will likely draw even more general investor demand to the precious yellow metal. With the $1,500.00 mark now being hit for gold futures, traders and investors are now eyeing the next major upside technical price objective, which is $1,600.00 an ounce.

Precious metals track not only the value of the Dollar but people's faith in the Dollar. Hello stagflation. Carter on steroids.

Cantidate of a different color

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The Czar of Muscovy voices something that has been rolling around my brainpan for the last week. From The Gormogons:
Hmm. Just Maybe.
Let us put some pieces together.

1. Donald Trump, suddenly advocating a lot of Tea Party things, jumps up in GOP polling to where he is right with Mitt Romney.

2. He then begins putting out a lot of stereotypical comments, such as the birth certificate nonsense.

3. Many conservatives point out that Trump has a strong liberal past until quite recently. And virtually no conservative past, at that.

4. Jesse Jackson, Jr., among other prominent liberals, suddenly wonder what has become of him. He was always such a good guy and donor to their causes.

5. Trump announces that if he is defeated in a primary, he will run as an independent.

6. Indepedents invariably lose the election for the party they were previously associated with.

Is there the slightest possibility that Trump has not changed, and he is a Democratic plant designed to prevent a GOP victory? As the Czar�s poor, blighted mother said this morning... �He�s got all the hubris such a candidate would need.�
Is he doing a Perot on us? Dirty tricks are nothing new to either party...

To late to apologize

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From the Patriots of the Commonwealth to King George of England but also relevant to the Citizens of the United States to their Elected Representatives in Washington:
Do your job or get the hell out of the way...

Good news, eh?

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Give a warm welcome to FOX News North. From the Blogmocracy:
And Now�Fox News North, Eh
Actually, it�s Sun News, a Conservative Canadian News Channel, which launched today, eh:
Canada�s first right-wing 24-hour television news network was launched Monday promising to shake up Canadians� views on politics and the day�s events.

But the Quebecor-owned Sun News Network assailed by critics as �Fox News North� continues to suffer from staffing slip-ups and still has not sorted out its distribution.

The specialty channel aims to �challenge the English Canadian TV news establishment,� Quebec media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau said last year when he unveiled plans for the network. �Far too many Canadians are tuning out completely or changing their dials to American all-news channels,� he said. �Quebecor sees an untapped market opportunity in English Canadian TV news.�

Sun News Network said it would provide Canadians with �hard news� during the day, and opinion and analysis in evening broadcasts, or as its slogan touts �hard news and straight talk.�
And they have a Federal election coming up in a month or so. Should be fun to see the reaction especially just to the North. Vancouver is a very liberal city in a very liberal province...

Ho Lee Crap

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This puppy is fast! I have been with WildBlue satellite for the last couple of years and although the performance is better than dial-up, it is still painfuly slow for the $90/month we pay. Performance on 3G is about equivalent to Comcast cable. I'll be running some speed tests later. Gotta take it down in a bit as the outside Yagi antenna is proped up on some chunks of firewood and I have co-ax running on the floor. Do a proper install tomorrow when it is light out...

What hath God wrought

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Seeing if this works. There has been growing reports in the community that the Verizon 3G signal has been reaching into areas that were not available before. New antennas on the tower? Stronger signal? Don't know. We have a Verizon 3G access point on a 15-day trial. The signal at the house is very marginal so I picked up an amplifier from Wilson Electronics This is the first post sent from the new system... The post title comes from here.

Unions in D.C.

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Curious story at The Washington Examiner:
Unions, losing Wal Mart fight, attack longtime D.C. grocer
While grocery shopping this weekend, I was given a leaflet form the Teamsters Union against Giant, a longtime staple in the D.C. area. The leaflet is disguised as a guide to "Money Saving Shopping Tips." If you read through it, though, it's a protest tract against the company.

The flyer asserts that Giant is failing to respect the community somehow, without giving any details. As it turns out, Giant has earned their ire by outsourcing its warehouse operation, which caused several layoffs at facilities in New Jersey. While researching the nature of the dispute, I came across this wonderful quote from a union activist:
"We fought for the consumer, who deserves to have food that comes from union workers, warehouses and distribution."
Problem is, the food tastes the same without the union. And it probably costs less, too.

Most of Giant's workers in D.C. belong to the United Food and Commercial Workers' union, which is bitterly fighting Wal Mart's entry into the D.C. market. In fighting Giant's efforts to remain competitive against non-union Wal Mart, the Teamsters have probably found a good way of cutting their union brothers' throats.
The union bosses are not fighting "The Man", they ARE The Man...

Communism fails in Cuba

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Nice article at the Miami Herald:
Cuban communists headed for oblivion
An old and disappointed Cuban communist told me, during a recent brief encounter in Madrid: �This Sixth Party Congress reminds me of the atmosphere of sadness and nostalgia one breathes in those theaters that present their last show before being demolished.�

That�s a good metaphor.

Fidel Castro�s generation is now octogenarian. It�s giving its farewell performance. Fidel, 84, had his intestines removed in 2006, and Ra�l, almost 80, will leave the stage before long. He gave himself a three-to-five-year period to transfer his authority in full and facilitate a sort of generational relay �so the heirs may continue the revolutionary task.�

What does all that mean? Nothing, except to stay in power. Although Cubans continue to repeat slogans, almost no one believes in Marxism-Leninism, while the government tries to escape from the system�s chronic failures by creating a few spaces that might allow private initiative to alleviate the disaster of collectivism. While they applaud revolutionary mottos, young people call Marx �the little old man who invented hunger.�
I love that last line: "young people call Marx �the little old man who invented hunger� Marx was the original trust-fund baby. Never had to work in the real world and his biggest theory has a gaping flaw at its very heart. Money is fungible, it can be created and destroyed. I have been to a number of the Caribbean Islands and love them all. I would love to visit Cuba in the near future -- hang out there for a month or two. The sooner that corrupt government topples, the sooner its wonderful people can regain some normalcy of life.

Yikes - the price of Corn

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From the Orangeburg, SC Times and Democrat:
U.S. corn reserves may hit 15-year low
Rising demand for corn from ethanol producers is pushing U.S. reserves to the lowest point in 15 years, a trend that could lead to higher grain and food prices this year.

The Agriculture Department has left its estimate for corn reserves unchanged from the previous month. The reserves are projected to fall to 675 million bushels in late August, when the harvest begins, or roughly 5 percent of all corn consumed in the United States. That would be the lowest surplus level since 1996.

The limited supply is chiefly because of increasing demand from ethanol makers, which rose 1 percent to 5 billion bushels. That's about 40 percent of the total crop.
Watch as food prices spike. This is hurting the poor more than it is the well-off. How many "poor" democrats will wake up and switch party allegiances. Get rid of this ethanol stupidity and get back to business...
Science and Science Fiction writer David Brin points out the obvious. From IEET - the Institute for Emerging Ethics and Technologies
Our Worst Frailty: An Electro Magnetic �Hit�
The Electric Infrastructure Security (EIS) Council agitates for better infrastructure protection against electromagnetic threats. EMPACT America is a bipartisan, non-profit NGO for citizens concerned about protecting the American people from a nuclear or natural electromagnetic pulse (EMP) catastrophe.

To be clear, we face other dangers of a chronic nature, for example the need to develop sustainable energy to escape dependence upon foreign oil-masters and to possibly save the planet. Educating a smarter generation and rescuing our decaying infrastructure also matter a great deal, over the longer time scale.

But acute-impact threats fall into another category. They are events that could possibly knock us flat in a single day, or instant. Those of us with memories of the Cold War know how it feels to be constantly aware of a Damoclean Sword, hanging overhead�

By that standard, an EMP calamity ranks higher than anything else visible on the horizon�unlike the trumped-up panic and distraction that were foisted upon us over �terrorism�. (We could have suffered a 9/11 hit every month for the last ten years and still maintained a vibrant, healthy civilization. Our parents suffered worse in WWII. It was one long scam.)

There are two possible ways that we might be hit by an EMP pulse strong enough to cripple a continent.
David cites the 1859 Carrington Event and also talks about nuclear EMPs. And we are doing what about it? I know some of the more recent transmission lines and substations are protected but there is a lot of legacy infrastructure out there that is not being addressed.

Ho Lee Crap

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This has the potential to be quite the game changer if it pans our commercially. From the University of Michigan's Michigan Today:
'We've all been taught that this doesn't happen'
A dramatic and surprising magnetic effect of light discovered by University of Michigan researchers could lead to solar power without traditional semiconductor-based solar cells.

The researchers found a way to make an "optical battery," said Stephen Rand, a professor in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Physics and Applied Physics.

In the process, they overturned a century-old tenet of physics.

"You could stare at the equations of motion all day and you will not see this possibility. We've all been taught that this doesn't happen," said Rand, an author of a paper on the work published in the Journal of Applied Physics. "It's a very odd interaction. That's why it's been overlooked for more than 100 years."

Light has electric and magnetic components. Until now, scientists thought the effects of the magnetic field were so weak that they could be ignored. Rand and his colleagues found that at the right intensity, when light is traveling through a material that does not conduct electricity, the light field can generate magnetic effects that are 100 million times stronger than previously expected. Under these circumstances, the magnetic effects develop strength equivalent to a strong electric effect.

"This could lead to a new kind of solar cell without semiconductors and without absorption to produce charge separation," Rand said. "In solar cells, the light goes into a material, gets absorbed and creates heat. Here, we expect to have a very low heat load. Instead of the light being absorbed, energy is stored in the magnetic moment. Intense magnetization can be induced by intense light and then it is ultimately capable of providing a capacitive power source."

What makes this possible is a previously undetected brand of "optical rectification," says William Fisher, a doctoral student in applied physics. In traditional optical rectification, light's electric field causes a charge separation, or a pulling apart of the positive and negative charges in a material. This sets up a voltage, similar to that in a battery. This electric effect had previously been detected only in crystalline materials that possessed a certain symmetry.

Rand and Fisher found that under the right circumstances and in other types of materials, the light's magnetic field can also create optical rectification.

"It turns out that the magnetic field starts curving the electrons into a C-shape and they move forward a little each time," Fisher said. "That C-shape of charge motion generates both an electric dipole and a magnetic dipole. If we can set up many of these in a row in a long fiber, we can make a huge voltage and by extracting that voltage, we can use it as a power source."

The light must be shone through a material that does not conduct electricity, such as glass. And it must be focused to an intensity of 10 million watts per square centimeter. Sunlight isn't this intense on its own, but new materials are being sought that would work at lower intensities, Fisher said.

"In our most recent paper, we show that incoherent light like sunlight is theoretically almost as effective in producing charge separation as laser light is," Fisher said.

This new technique could make solar power cheaper, the researchers say. They predict that with improved materials they could achieve 10 percent efficiency in converting solar power to useable energy. That's equivalent to today's commercial-grade solar cells.

"To manufacture modern solar cells, you have to do extensive semiconductor processing," Fisher said. "All we would need are lenses to focus the light and a fiber to guide it. Glass works for both. It's already made in bulk, and it doesn't require as much processing. Transparent ceramics might be even better."

In experiments this summer, the researchers will work on harnessing this power with laser light, and then with sunlight.

The paper is titled "Optically-induced charge separation and terahertz emission in unbiased dielectrics." The university is pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property.
Lots of other uses come to mind besides power generation...

Quite the little spam session

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I had to run into town to do some things and while I was away, I had forty attempts at comment spam from thirty-eight unique IP addresses. Success rate? ZILCH! I now have 38 new IP addresses in my killfile... Looooser

EPA admin in hot seat

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From Ryan Maue writing at Watts Up With That:
Face palm: EPA bureaucrat tap dances during testimony
EPA Deputy Administrator Mathy Stanislaus should be given credit for showing up Thursday to an Environment and Energy subcommittee hearing, but may not be returning any time soon. Let�s just say his performance was cringe-inducing as he spun like a top attempting to deflect the very pointed, and basic yes-or-no questions of Rep. Cory Gardner (R � Colorado). An exasperated Stanislaus even resorted to a face-palm maneuver to regain his rhetorical footing. Of course, YouTube video exists�see below.
A bit more:
At least Stanislaus showed up. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is unavailable for testimony with a fully booked schedule, including her speech Saturday night at the Socialist Youth Climate Conference in Washington D.C.
More on this conference here and here. Defund. Now. Your budget for 2012? Take your 2010 budget and multiply by 0.01 Now sit down and shut up...

Fracking idiots

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From the New York Times comes this dose of reality:
About My Support for Natural Gas
Some readers of The New York Times are unimpressed with the idea of substituting natural gas for imported oil, even though such a move would help wean the country from its dependence on OPEC. Or so it appears after I made that argument in my column on Tuesday, noting that natural gas is a fossil fuel we have in abundance and is cleaner than oil to boot.

After that column was published, I was buried under an avalanche of angry e-mails and comments, most of them complaining that I had ignored the environmental dangers of drilling for gas, particularly the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique that involves shooting water and chemicals into shale formations deep underground.
And the reality:
To begin with, fracking is hardly new. In Texas and Oklahoma, it has been used for decades, with nobody complaining much about environmental degradation. It must be a coincidence that these worries surfaced when a natural gas field called the Marcellus Shale was discovered in the Northeast, primarily under Pennsylvania and New York. Surely, East Coast residents wouldn�t object to having the country use more natural gas just because it�s going to be drilled in their own backyard instead of, say, downtown Fort Worth. Would they?

As for the actual environmental questions, there are three main ones. First, fracking supposedly allows gas and dangerous chemicals to seep into the water supply. This is pretty implausible. Water tables are 1,000 feet or less from the surface; fracking usually takes place well under 7,000 feet. In Dimock, Pa., where methane appears to have leaked into the water supply, state environmental officials say that the problem was not fracking but rather sloppy gas producers who didn�t take proper care in cementing their wells.

The second problem is the disposal of the chemical waste. In the Southwest, producers bury the waste in sealed containers deep underground. The geology of the Marcellus Shale, however, makes that much more difficult. Some of that waste is being sent to existing underground waste dumps, leading to the possibility of spills. Other waste is being buried in shallower ground, which creates a fear of contamination. Ultimately, producers in the Marcellus Shale will have to do a better job getting rid of the waste.

Finally, there is the concern raised by Robert Howarth, the Cornell scientist, who says that natural gas is dirtier than coal. His main contention is that so much methane is escaping from gas wells that it is creating an enormous footprint of greenhouse gases. His study, however, is not exactly iron-clad. Industry officials have mocked it, but even less-biased experts have poked holes in it. The Environmental Defense Fund, for instance, has estimates of methane gas emissions that are 75 percent lower than Howarth�s.
Classic watermelon environmentalism. Green on the outside, red on the inside. They want to bring down America and they are using the environment as the tool to do so.

Always classy

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Portland, Oregon; April 15th, 2011

Senator Boxer has a senior moment

From Huffington Post:

A Clear Budget Choice for America
Sen. Barbara Boxer. -- U.S. Senator from California
Our country must address four major challenges simultaneously: job creation, deficit reduction, American competitiveness and a moral obligation to ensure that the most vulnerable among us have a safety net. The plan President Obama laid out this week passes that test.

Unfortunately, the Republican 2012 budget, which passed the House today, not only fails all four tests, but rips the safety net out from underneath our seniors and working Americans, while making the middle class, the heart and soul of our country, pay the price for tax cuts for the wealthiest among us.

And the money quote:

The Democrats record on balancing the budget speaks for itself. It was the Democrats in Congress, working with President Clinton in the 1990s, who balanced the budget.

At the time, Republicans in the House and Senate opposed that plan. One Republican Senator said, "Make no mistake, these higher rates will cost jobs." Another Senator said at the time, "I really do not think it takes a rocket scientist to know this bill will cost jobs." But they were wrong -- it led to a robust economy, record-setting surpluses and 23 million new jobs.

So we know how to balance the budget, because we did it before. And we did it again, in 1998, 1999, and 2000.

Excuse me Ma'am, it was the Republican party that controlled both the House and the Senate and it is the House of Representatives that sets the budget, the Senate signs off on it and then it gets passed to the President for approval. It was the Republicans who balanced the budget back then and it is the Republicans who are trying to balance it again now. Fscking Moron...

Down the road a little bit - Greece

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The European nations tried the same form of government that we are starting on. They started about ten years earlier than we did and the rewards are just starting to show. From The Independent:
Anarchy erupts in Greece as austerity bites
As explosions boom, the town's loudspeakers blare: "Attention! Attention! We are under attack!" Air-raid sirens wail through the streets, mingling with the frantic clanging of church bells. Clouds of tear gas waft between houses as helmeted riot police move in to push back the rebels. This isn't a war zone, but a small town just outside Athens. And while its fight is about a rubbish dump, it captures Greece's angry mood over its devastated economy.

As unemployment rises and austerity bites ever harder, tempers seem to fray faster in Greece, with citizens of all stripes thumbing their noses at authority. Some refuse to pay increased highway tolls and public transport tickets. There has been a rise in politicians being heckled and even assaulted. Yesterday, in Thessalonika, scores of activists were arrested after violent clashes with police.
What a wonderful thing to look forward to...

Andrew had the honor of introducing Sarah Palin when she gave the speech I posted about earlier. He was heckled by a group of SEIU union members who had been bussed in to the event.

From Breitbart's Big Government:

Repeat to the TrumkaObama Class War Cult: Go To Hell
The contrast could not have been greater.


Last night, I was at the Jacksonville Landing, speaking at a rally held by the First Coast Tea Party that was keynoted by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The weather was gorgeous with temperatures in the mid to high 70s and the mood of the patriots gathered there matched the sunny climate. There were skits and laughter amid the speeches that dealt with the solemn issue of fiscal responsibility.

This morning, I made my way from Jacksonville to Atlanta to Memphis to Chicago and then on to the icy Wisconsin war zone. The temperature hovered around freezing as I arrived in Madison. Bitter cold rain gave way to snow but that didn't stop thousands of Wisconsinites from coming out to make a stand and hear from a number of great speakers including the woman I was privileged to introduce, Sarah Palin.

But there was another group also there to greet us; the shock troops sent by Richard Trumka and president Obama's Organizing for America. This was my second trip to Madison in the last couple of months and the defeats that the union's leadership have suffered in that time have plunged these losers into an even more animalistic state of frenzy. Still stinging from last week's election reaffirmation of Gov. Scott Walker's policy of requiring public sector unions to face some of the economic realities that the rest of us have to deal with, the counter protesters both homegrown and bussed in them were louder, ruder and more desperate than ever. Their goal is to be as intimidating as the Green Bay Packers offensive line and it's one of the only areas that they've had success.

Andrew goes on a bit and then concludes with these two paragraphs:

There may be those on the left who really want civil discourse. It's possible there are some who realize that our national debt is, in fact, out of control. There's a chance that sane debate is the actual goal of a number of self-proclaimed liberal activists.

But I didn't see any of those people in Madison on Saturday morning. I'm not going to pretend that I did. It was a mob, whipped up by the divider-in-chief and his cronies who live off of union dues and taxpayer funded handouts. And in case any of you in the back row missed it, I repeat -- go to hell.

These union people are so transparent in their actions. I hope they are aware of their collapse and enjoy every minute of cognitive dissonance. Yes, you have the White House, the Senate and the Media but your control is slipping through your hands like sand. Another two years? Another four? Then what are you going to do...

Just wow...

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Fifteen minutes of sheer awesome:
From Breitbart

Brazil v/s Argentina

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Even though Brazil is ruled by socialists, just like Argentina, I really like what Brazil has been doing. Socialism without ideology, boots on the ground practical recognition of the marketplace and not some pie-in-the-sky idea of redistribution of a fixed pool of money. Walter Russel Mead likes Brazil too and writes the following at The American Interest:
Something Real, For A Change
Most of what people write and say about international relations is sheer claptrap. That is especially true when diplomats and distinguished journalists convene. Get yourself on the international rubber chicken circuit and you will soon discover a world of pompous gasbags relentlessly pounding their audiences with barrages of platitudes. Worse, you may start flapping your lips at a conference one day and discover that while you are making noise, and everyone is nodding sagely, you aren�t saying anything at all.

There are whole bureaucracies devoted to whomping up air souffl�s: to making utterly worthless and pointless exercises in international jet setting look like serious events. Visits of heads of state are particularly fertile terrain for the political equivalent of cotton candy: brightly-dyed insignificance spun out to occupy the largest possible space with the smallest conceivable amount of real matter.

Spurious �breakthroughs,� vacuous discussions of �chemistry,� �strategic partnerships�: the Preacher said it best in Ecclesiastes. It is striving after wind and a weariness of the flesh.

But every now and then something actually happens, and even a summit meeting can register a real change in relations between countries. Something like this happened when Edward VII visited France in 1903, and it happened again during President Obama�s recent visit to Brazil. The relationship between the two countries is changing in truly momentous ways, and while the visit didn�t cause these changes (which have been gathering force for twenty years), it did help crystallize perceptions.
And the money shot:
The US withdrawal from a political role in South America created a vacuum; Brazil�s cautious steps to fill some of that vacuum have created new common interests between the two most populous democracies in the hemisphere. If the US had been plotting against Hugo Chavez, for example, Brazil would have felt obligated to show Venezuela some love (however much the Brazilians disapproved of Chavez�s economic and political program). But with the shadow of Uncle Sam in retreat, Brazil has been free to handle the Bolivarean left in its own way, and the result has been better for both Brazil and the United States than anything Washington could have done.

President Lula killed the Bolivarean revolution with kindness; he choked it with butter. Lula�s Brazil stuck up for Venezuela at international gatherings and danced with it at parties. But all the while, Lula�s Brazil was destroying the political logic of the Bolivareans by demonstrating that a pluralistic democracy integrated into the global market can do more for the poor than incompetent populist blowhards. Chavez talked; Lula delivered, giving Brazilians (and especially the poor) rising living standards while enhancing rather than reducing their civil liberties. Thanks to Lula, Chavez looks more like a survival from a bygone era than like the cutting edge of Latin America�s future.
And now we invest in Brazil with the assurances that our investments will not be nationalized as in Argentina. Lots more at the link. Hat tip to Insty


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A lot of jobs are moving from California to Texas. So many that there is a delegation from California visiting the Lone Star State to try to figure out why. From Mark Perry at Carpe Diem:
California (-1.15m jobs) Goes On a Trade Mission To Beg Texas (+165k jobs) for Its Jobs Growth Recipe


"When California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom begins meetings in Austin with Hardee�s hamburgers chief Andrew Puzder, local Chamber of Commerce Chairman Bobby Jenkins and Texas Governor Rick Perry, it�s because the most- populous state lingers in a funk, even as the U.S. pulls out of the deepest recession in half a century.

The world�s eighth-largest economy has lagged in job growth since California-based lenders such as Countrywide Financial Corp. led America into the housing bust. Unemployment in the state is 12.2 percent, more than a third higher than the national average. While signature industries such as technology, trade and tourism have rebounded, construction and government employment are weak or falling.

Newsom is one of two California Democrats in the talks starting today on how the Lone Star State created 165,000 jobs over the past three years, while California, with the country�s largest workforce, lost 1.15 million (see chart above)."
Excuse me but DUH??? Increase the hassle-factor for people trying to run a business and above a tipping point, they will either shut down the business, reduce the size of the business or move the business to a state with less hassle-factor. Haven't these idiots ever heard of the Laffer Curve:
In economics, the Laffer curve is a theoretical representation of the relationship between government revenue raised by taxation and all possible rates of taxation. It is used to illustrate the concept of taxable income elasticity (that taxable income will change in response to changes in the rate of taxation).
The best rate in the USA seems to be at around 20% to 30% taxation.

No posting tonight

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Had a Doctor's appointment in town (dermatologist - eczema is flaring up a bit) and then we went out to a local benefit for Japan. Headed off to the DaveCave(tm) for a short email session and then to bed. Tired...

Fiddling while Rome burns

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From FOX News:
Obama Disappointed With Lack of 'Cool' Phone in Oval Office
Turns out President Obama would like a phone upgrade.

The president, in an unscripted moment with donors in Chicago, was talking about the need to innovate in technology.

"The Oval Office, I always thought I was going to have really cool phones and stuff," he said during a small fundraising event at a Chicago restaurant. "I'm like, c'mon guys, I'm the president of the United States. Where's the fancy buttons and stuff and the big screen comes up? It doesn't happen."
I mean sure, technology is cool and the President has every right to channel his inner geek but still...

Can't always get what you want

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Even in liberal Detroit there is push-back against public-sector Unions. From the Detroit Free Press:
Robert Bobb plans to use new powers to modify union contracts
Robert Bobb, the emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools, put teachers on notice Thursday that he plans to use his expanded powers under a new state law to modify their contracts.

"I fully intend to use the authority that was granted," Bobb said, referring to a new law that gives emergency managers the authority to modify -- or terminate -- collective bargaining agreements. It was the first time Bobb had publicly indicated he intends to use the expanded authority.

His statement came as the district announced Thursday it is sending layoff notices to all 5,466 members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers and non-renewal notices to 248 administrators. DPS has issued massive layoff notices before, but not to every teacher.

The layoff notices are required under the contract within 60 days of the end of the school year. In recent years, the district has issued large numbers of layoff notices this time of year as it prepares to respond to shrinking enrollment.

The district said it plans to issue notices to its other bargaining units by April 30.
The guy knows what to do:
During the last contract negotiation in 2009, Bobb wanted the union to give up the seniority process so that administrators could hire or fire teachers regardless of experience. The union balked...
When they say: "regardless of experience" they really mean seniority. A fresh new hire that is popular and is a great teacher will get laid off before a 20-year veteran hack who is just keeping their seat warm. This will go a long way to improve the kids education. I also love that he is targeting the administrators too. Get some deadwood out of there...

Eat the Rich

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For all of Obama's talk about raising taxes to deal with the deficit, I am posting this again. Nine minutes that destroys the idea that higher taxes will get us out of debt.
To consider that all of this wealth is only able to sustain the government for one year really demonstrates just how big the government's addiction to spending really is.

Biting the bullet - California

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Now that is going to hurt -- from the LA Times:
California lawmakers to lose their state cars
A state panel Thursday stripped California lawmakers of one of their most valued perks -- a state-purchased car, with gas and maintenance provided at taxpayer expense.

The California Citizens Compensation Commission voted instead to give each legislator a $300 monthly transportation allowance, estimating the action will save the state more than $2.3 million over the first five years.
The state's budget shortfall is $15 Billion so this represents a 0.015334% chunk. An obvious way to look at it is if you had $100, this cut would take a penny and a half away from you.
Talk about dream team. Big fan of Alan West. From The Daily Caller:
Trump/West 2012? Allen West not closed to idea of being Donald Trump�s VP
Florida Congressman and Tea Party favorite Allen West isn�t opposed to the idea of joining possible presidential contender Donald Trump, West told The Daily Caller Thursday.

When pressed repeatedly if he would rule out the possibility of running with Trump, the Republican House freshman did not say that the idea was off the table.

�Who knows what�s going to happen,� West said when asked if he�d accept a veep invitation from Trump. �If the people think that I have an ability to continue my service of my country in a different capacity, first of all we gotta talk to God, we gotta talk to my family, we gotta talk to the constituents.�

Trump and West will speak at the same Tea Party rally in Boca Raton, Florida this Saturday.

While Trump�s early polling numbers are strong, the Apprentice television host�s rumored run against President Barack Obama has been criticized as a publicity stunt. But Trump continues to travel around the country to tell people that he is deeply considering making a run.

West was careful to say that his statements were not an endorsement of Trump, or any of the other possible contenders.

�I�m not endorsing anybody,� he said.
And after two terms, Alan would step up to the plate himself.

Finally - a ray of sanity

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Hat tip to Market Ticker for this wonderful piece of news:
H.R. 1489: To repeal certain provisions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and revive the separation between commercial banking and the securities business, in the manner provided in the Banking Act of 1933, the so-called "Glass-Steagall Act", and for other purposes.
Call your congresscritters and tell them to push for this bill. I love the short title from the bill:
This Act may be cited as the �Return to Prudent Banking Act of 2011�.
Full text here: Text of H.R. 1489
Here they are looking at the percent of people with jobs. This is skewed a bit because it looks at kids and retiries as well but still, the numbers are sobering. From USA Today:
Share of population working
The share of the population that is working fell to its lowest level last year since women started entering the workforce in large numbers three decades ago, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

Only 45.4% of Americans had jobs in 2010, the lowest rate since 1983 and down from a peak of 49.3% in 2000. Last year, just 66.8% of men had jobs, the lowest on record.

The bad economy, an aging population and a plateau in women working are contributing to changes that pose serious challenges for financing the nation's social programs.
A bit more on the trends:
"What's wrong with the economy may be speeding up trends that are already happening," says Marc Goldwein, policy director of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a non-partisan group favoring smaller deficits.

For example, job troubles appear to have slowed a trend of people working later in life, putting more pressure on Social Security, he says.

Another change: the bulk of those not working has shifted from children to adults.

In 2000, the nation had roughly the same number of children and non-working adults. Since then, the population of non-working adults has grown 27 million while the nation added just 3 million children under 18.
I love the smell of Hope and Change in the morning...
Richard Callahan has a few choice words to say:
Obamanomics sets recovery roadblocks
Again, President Barack Obama�s proposals for debt reduction evoke class warfare and promote roadblocks to economic improvement.

His tax-increase plans for the �rich,� after agreeing not to raise them just four months ago, strikes at the heart of small businesses that are primary generators of new jobs, just as the national job picture shows improvement. He fails to fully acknowledge the massive overspending at the national level and its dampening effect on the economy. He fails to provide the leadership needed to cut spending, which is a roadblock to improving the economy.

His energy policy restricts the development of oil and natural-gas reserves in the United States, preventing job creation. He subsidizes wind, solar and ethanol, none of which is adequate or economically viable in today�s market, while oil and gasoline prices soar, costing consumers and businesses millions of dollars, further hampering job creation and strangling economic growth.

His health care plan increases costs to consumers and businesses and is a major impediment to new job creation. Once McDonald�s was relieved of the Obamacare burden, it announced the hiring of 50,000 new workers. How many other companies would also increase hiring if they also were relieved of the Obamacare burden?

Obama�s over-regulation of U.S. banks has made them noncompetitive in the world market and costs jobs as international companies redirect business to foreign banks, where they can obtain a full line of services no longer available from U.S. banks.

The list goes on. Our once-vibrant economy is struggling to recover, but at every turn it is hampered by an Obama roadblock. As Obama begins his quest for a second term we must remove the above economic roadblocks and send him back to being a community activist.
What he said...

A modest proposal

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Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple has a list of ten ways to cut spending. Here are the first five:
Howza 'bout I take a crack at some spending cuts?
1. Eliminate the Department of Education. It is a money pit. Education in this country has not improved since the establishment of this cesspool. It was a sop to teachers unions by the incompetent Jimmah Carter.

2. Cut agriculture subsidies. Most of them go to agribusiness corporations and not family farms.

3. Eliminate the stupid ethanol program. Making fuel out of food is a dumb idea. It's even dumber that a gummint going bankrupt subsidizes this bullshit.

4. While we're at it, eliminate all of these stupid green programs. They're a waste of money. instead...

5. Drill baby, drill! Drill here, drill there, drill everywhere. It will provide jobs which cuts unemployment and creates more taxpayers. Tell the enviro-buttheads to fuck off! The idiots in California just passed a law that sez they have to get 1/3 of their electricity from renewable resources by 2020. Hello brownouts and rolling blackouts. These people really do believe in Poof! PFM! California continues to commit suicide right before our very eyes.
Works for me -- the other five are just as good. A reader named quiller offers this sugestion:
Thanks, Denny.

I propose thinning out the federal work force with a simple lottery. Winners get the no-bag-limit hunting permits to shoot displaced federal leeches. Put a few of them to work tossing others into the Grand Canyon, and then lay a few feet of quicklime.

They'll make terrific fertilizer.
Who? Ask any Hammond Organ player. From Wikipedia:
Donald Leslie
Donald James Leslie, (April 13, 1911, Danville, Illinois - September 2, 2004, Altadena, California) created and manufactured the Leslie speaker that refined the sound of the Hammond organ and helped popularize electronic music.

Leslie experimented with devices to, in his words, improve the sound of the Hammond organ, based on experience he gathered from other jobs, including fixing radios and one at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., during World War II.

When Leslie presented Hammond with his hand-made organ speaker, the company rejected it. Leslie then chose to manufacture his Leslie speaker on his own. It was predominately used for liturgical and gospel church organs creating a Theatre Organ Tremulant effect. It was used with the Hammond Tone Wheel Organ as well as others in the 1940s through 1950s as well as today. The final version of the Leslie speaker is the Rotosonic drum whereas a loudspeaker is physically mounted in the spinning rotor with a narrow aperture (opening) to produce a very authentic Theatre Organ tremulant sound. It was also used in psychedelic and rock music of the 1960s and 1970s. It has since made its way into many genres of music, including pop music and jazz. It wasn't until the 1980s that Hammond bought Leslie's product to include with their organs.

Leslie was inducted into the American Music Conference Hall of Fame in 2003.
A simple idea but classic and one that has endured. You can now by small electronic foot-pedals that mimic the Leslie effect so you do not have to cart around a 300 pound organ and a 200 pound loudspeaker.

Epic Fustercluck

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A local appliance store held a major sale on floor model display units last Friday. Our dishwasher is about 20 years old and not doing as good a job as it did even five years ago so I bought a nice Electrolux unit to replace it.

The installer showed up today and pronounced the valve under the sink to be bad and they could not shut the water off. They then went for the valves on the water heater and found them to be dripping a little bit. While they were shutting them off, they started leaking more. A lot in fact. -- We have hard water and the limestone had precipitated around the leak and had sealed it off. Shutting the valve broke it free to leak anew. The water heater is in a closet in the garage and I don't bother to inspect it but every year or so when I think about it.

To top it off, the installer had severed the drain line from the old dishwasher to the garbage disposal so when I went to dump a pan of water, it came out onto my feet...

Needless to say, I put a call into the emergency line of a large local plumbing contractor and hopefully, they will be able to get out here tomorrow to fix this mess...

At work I had to deal with an employee that was padding their time card to the extent of several hours/day. They tried denying it even when I told them that I had videos of them spending time on the upstairs computer with FaceBook and YouTube (keystroke logger too...)

This person is my lead baker but there are lots of hungry bakers out there who would love to pick up a couple of shifts.

On top of all of this, our new goat Jedediah is quite ill -- skin and bones and shivering. He is bedded down in our mud room with the furnace turned up a bit and we will get a vet out tomorrow.

Gas coupons

Not many people know about these but the Government prints gas coupons -- each good for one gallon and the general public can obtain them at any Bank or most retail stores. More from Dan Mitchell:
Obama Administration Printing Millions of Paper Coupons, Good for One Gallon of Gas, but Use Them Quickly
The next time you decide to go on a trip or vacation, consider getting a bunch of these Gas Coupons.

I didn�t realize it, but these coupons are good for one gallon of gas at most retailers. I have seen them around, but until recently never took advantage of them, I never realized their actual worth.

You probably have one or two just lying around somewhere, now is the time to use them before they lose their value, and it�s too late!!

These coupons can be obtained at most banks and retail stores across America.
From Paul Ryan - from Allahpundit at Hot Air:
Paul Ryan rips Obama�s speech: �Rather than building bridges, he�s poisoning wells�
Via Mediaite, three minutes of righteous rage. It�s all here: Obama�s gutless insistence on farming this issue out to commissions to spare himself the political risks of leadership; his betrayal of his sunny 2008 campaign message, swapping the post-partisan Hopenchange problem-solver crap for a double-barreled attack on the GOP; and of course, the horribly cynical electoral calculus in all this, which earns a sneering reference from Ryan to the �Campaigner-in-Chief.� It�s that last bit that bothers him the most, I think. Taking the lead on Social Security and Medicare might make him a rock star to movement conservatives, but there�s a real chance that the backlash will destroy his political career (and the GOP�s House majority). Already, at least one poll has 51 percent saying that Ryan�s 2012 budget cuts too much. He knows the danger perfectly well, in other words, but he�s stepping up because it�s that important. And meanwhile the country�s nominal leader, ostensibly heaven-sent by the Democratic gods to rescue America from its troubles per his own campaign mythology, is taking a pass. It�s a good thing Ryan hates your grandma so damned much or else he�d have to be wondering at this point why he bothered.

He told the Journal this morning that there�s precisely zero chance of a �grand bargain� on entitlements between Democrats and Republicans but a slight chance of a compromise on the narrower issue of Social Security. That�s how invested the left is in Medicare�s current structure, which is rocketing us towards fiscal catastrophe: The �third rail of American politics� is now a better candidate for a deal than Medicare is. If you�re the praying type, now�s the time.
The Japanese had initially classified the damage at the Fukushima Daiichi plant as a 4. They then raised it to a 5 when the core melted down. Now, they bypassed 6 and raised it to a 7 -- the highest on the scale. I talk to people in the Bakery who think that this is because everything has melted down and the entire nation is vomiting fourth high levels of radioactivity. I had some other thoughts and this article at Yahoo/Reuters backs me up:
Russia's nuclear chief says Japan exaggerating crisis
Japanese authorities may be exaggerating the scope of the country's nuclear disaster to reduce the liabilities of insurance companies, Russia's nuclear chief said on Wednesday.

Japanese officials on Tuesday upgraded the severity of the emergency at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant to a 7, putting it on par with the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the world's worst.

"It is hard for me to assess why the Japanese colleagues have taken this decision. I suspect, this is more of a financial issue, than a nuclear one," Sergei Kiriyenko said on the sidelines of a meeting of major developing economies in southern China.

"I guess that maybe it could be linked to the definition of force-majeure with regard to insurance. I would pay attention to that. It is a bit strange," Kiriyenko said without further elaboration.
When everything else fails, follow the money...

About those budget cuts

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The Republicans caved on shutting down the government (something that has been done seventeen times since 1976). They yammered to the world about the painful budget cuts and how they were able to get $38 Billion stricken from the 2011 budget. Well, the Congressional Budget Office has had a few days to look at the numbers and they do not pencil out. From The Washington Post:
CBO: Budget deal cuts this fiscal year�s deficit by just $353 million, not $38 billion touted
A new budget estimate released Wednesday shows that the spending bill negotiated between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner would produce less than 1 percent of the $38 billion in claimed savings by the end of this budget year.
The CBO study confirms that the measure trims $38 billion in new spending authority, but many of the cuts come in slow-spending accounts like water-and-sewer grants that don�t have an immediate deficit impact.

A separate CBO analysis provided to lawmakers but not released publicly says that $5.7 billion in savings claimed by cutting bonuses to states enrolling more children and reducing the amount of money available to subsidize health care cooperatives authorized under the new health care law won�t produce a dime of actual savings. CBO believes they are simply cuts to spending authority that is unlikely to be used anyway.

But those cuts to mandatory benefit programs, while producing no deficit savings, can be claimed under budget rules to pay for spending increases elsewhere in the legislation. All told, $17.8 million in such savings is claimed but just a tiny portion of it would actually reduce the deficit.
Excuse me -- we want a real cut in spending, we want to reel in the size of government and get it back to it's Constitutional foundation. Who are we? The people who elected you to do our bidding. With news like this, part of me wishes that Flight 93 had reached its target of the Capitol building. We need to clean out the whole nest and start over...

People unclear on the concept

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From The Weekly Standard comes this little slip of the tongue:
Nancy Pelosi: 'Elections Shouldn't Matter as Much as They Do'
Perhaps it's sour grapes, or perhaps it's a recent reawakening, but in a speech by Nancy Pelosi at Tufts University earlier this week, the former speaker of the House had some advice for her Republican colleagues in particular and some reflections on elections in general:
To my Republican friends: take back your party. So that it doesn�t matter so much who wins the election, because we have shared values about the education of our children, the growth of our economy, how we defend our country, our security and civil liberties, how we respect our seniors. Because there are so many things at risk right now -- perhaps in another question I'll go into them, if you want. But the fact is that elections shouldn't matter as much as they do...But when it comes to a place where there doesn't seem to be shared values then that can be problematic for the country, as I think you can see right now.
This seems like a bit of change for Pelosi, who in 2009 suggested that the results of a special election in the 23rd Congressional District of New York were a big win for health care
Talk about a good candidate for defenestration -- her and Harry Reid...

Well crap

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Cisco bought Flip back in 2009. Now they are closing it down. I have one of the Flip camcorders and love it. Cisco's rationale is that smartphone cameras are taking over the niche that Flip penetrated. I would much rather keep the two functions separate. If I am filming something and the camera gets damaged, I would still have the cell phone. From ZD Net:
Cisco shutters Flip business, takes consumer mulligan
Cisco on Tuesday announced that it will shutter some of its consumer businesses and realign what�s left to support its core networking infrastructure businesses.
Time to keep a weather eye out for when Cisco starts blowing out the remaining inventory -- pick up a couple backup units...

Now this is interesting

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From Australia's The Age:
China, US swap N Korea secrets
Strategic rivals China and the United States have been secretly sharing intelligence about North Korea.

Leaked records of highly sensitive US-China defence consultations reveal that despite Chinese complaints about US arms sales to Taiwan and American concerns about a growing Chinese espionage threat, the CIA, the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the US Defence Department have all held secret discussions on North Korea with Chinese military intelligence.

According to US diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks and provided exclusively to The Age, US-Chinese defence consultative talks held in Beijing in July 2009 included lengthy exchanges about North Korea between US Defence Under Secretary for Policy Michele Flournoy and top-ranking Chinese generals including People's Liberation Army Intelligence Department director Major-General Yang Hui.

In the course of the discussions, General Yang referred to the "close co-operation" between the US and China on "matters of intelligence" concerning North Korea and cited "a recent PLA Intelligence Department visit to exchange information with the CIA".
At the heart of the matter:
Mr Chun said that in the event of a North Korean collapse, China would clearly "not welcome" any US military presence north of the Korean Peninsula demilitarised zone. However, again citing his conversations with Mr Cui and Mr Liu, Mr Chun said China would be comfortable with a reunified Korea controlled by Seoul and anchored to the US in a "benign alliance" - as long as Korea was not hostile towards China.
Works for me. That is going to be one hella big case of culture--shock when the NorK government finally collapses and the citizens actually see what they were being denied.

Hell no

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From canada.com:
UN document would give 'Mother Earth' same rights as humans
Bolivia will this month table a draft United Nations treaty giving "Mother Earth" the same rights as humans � having just passed a domestic law that does the same for bugs, trees and all other natural things in the South American country.

The bid aims to have the UN recognize the Earth as a living entity that humans have sought to "dominate and exploit" � to the point that the "well-being and existence of many beings" is now threatened.

The wording may yet evolve, but the general structure is meant to mirror Bolivia's Law of the Rights of Mother Earth, which Bolivian President Evo Morales enacted in January.
A bit more:
In a 2008 pamphlet his entourage distributed at the UN as he attended a summit there, 10 "commandments" are set out as Bolivia's plan to "save the planet" � beginning with the need "to end capitalism."
Evo Morales -- isn't he the same asshat who said: I don't mind being a permanent nightmare for the United States. Do what you want in your own workers paradise but don't export your naive stupidity. Bolivia GDP per capita = $4,800 USA GDP per capita = $47,400

Yuri's Night

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Fifty years ago today, Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first person to journey into space. More here, here, here and here.

Such a deal - Moog Voyager

From an electronic music email list I subscribe to - Toronto Craigslist:
From the ad:
Moog Voyager - $1200 (Jane & Finch)
Selling my Moog Voyager. Not in the best of shape as the drummer left burning cigarette on the top and there was some damage. Internal filters are mostly burned along with 90% of the oscillators and wiring. Half the keys are not workable and it does not turn on. Do not plug in as it sparks inside and may start a fire. Inside is much more damage than outside. No longer produces sound. Some of the knobs are still somewhat salvageable, however.

Regardless a great gem for anyone who can appreciate true analogue sound. Nothing sounds like a Voyager, truly one of the strongest synths of it's time and still stands up as one of the greatest analogue synths ever made. A treat to play and sounds like nothing else.

$1,200 FIRM. Pickup only.
Can't really see which model it is but the Voyagers run from $3K to $5K. Let's hope the drummer has a day job or insurance or some such. The ad has to be a joke though...
A perfect example of where we have lost our moral compass. From My Northwest:
Seattle school renames Easter eggs 'Spring Spheres'
A sophomore at a local private high school thinks an effort to make Easter politically correct is ridiculous. Jessica, 16, told KIRO Radio's Dori Monson Show that a week before spring break, the students commit to a week-long community service project. She decided to volunteer in a third grade class at a public school, which she would like to remain nameless.

"At the end of the week I had an idea to fill little plastic eggs with treats and jelly beans and other candy, but I was kind of unsure how the teacher would feel about that," Jessica said.

She was concerned how the teacher might react to the eggs after of a meeting earlier in the week where she learned about "their abstract behavior rules."

"I went to the teacher to get her approval and she wanted to ask the administration to see if it was okay," Jessica explained. "She said that I could do it as long as I called this treat 'spring spheres.' I couldn't call them Easter eggs."

Rather than question the decision, Jessica opted to "roll with it." But the third graders had other ideas.

"When I took them out of the bag, the teacher said, 'Oh look, spring spheres' and all the kids were like 'Wow, Easter eggs.' So they knew," Jessica said.

The Seattle elementary school isn't the only government organization using spring over Easter. The city's parks department has removed Easter from all of its advertised egg hunts.
That stupid teacher should be shot for the willful damage they are doing to the children -- warping their minds.

Tell it like it is Donald

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I love this guy -- I hope he runs for President and I hope he wins. Just the kind of zero-bullshit personality that we need in Washington and the poll numbers show that I am not alone in thinking this. From CNBC:
Trump: Obama Is to Blame For High Oil Prices
Real estate developer Donald Trump blames President Obama for the rising price of oil, warning, "this country can never, ever recover" if oil prices continue to go up.

"That's really the life's blood of the country," Trump told CNBC in a phone interview on Monday. The Trump Organization chairman, who says he's considering running for president, plans to decide "before June" on the matter.
Zero bullshit and calls it like it is. Just having him as a legitimate candidate would give 80% of the current crop of Senators a case of the blue-blind paralytic willies...

Bernie talks

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From the Financial Times:
From behind bars, Madoff spins his story
We are cruising through North Carolina on a foggy morning in late March, heading up to its rural north. Our route takes us through swampland shrouded in a thick mist; spruce trees and an occasional pink dogwood line the interstate. Butner, population 6,391, is our destination.

The town is home to a vast federal prison complex that includes a hospital, a minimum security unit and two medium security facilities. Since July 14 2009, arguably the most notorious inmate at FCI Butner Medium I has been Bernard Lawrence Madoff, the disgraced New York financier who orchestrated a $65bn Ponzi scheme, among the biggest financial frauds of all time. He is prisoner 61727-054.

When the Madoff scandal broke in 2008, a Financial Times reporter learnt that two acquaintances of his were close to the Madoffs and passed along an invitation for any member of the family to speak with the paper. For more than a year, there was silence. Then, early last December, the reporter received an e-mail from Madoff himself. Following sporadic correspondence, and at very short notice, a message came from the prison: Madoff would meet with the FT.
A long and fascinating interview.

Still light posting

Working on some stuff, some employee problems to deal (lying and theft) with and the last of the bookwork for this quarter.

Watching the Iodine fly overhead

Two wonderful charts from the University of Washington:

Air Radioactivity Monitoring at UW Physics
The Japanese earthquake and tsunami caused a severe event at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant. At the University of Washington Physics Department we rapidly adapted one of our basic research labs to monitor for the arrival of trace amounts of fission products produced at Fukushima. On Friday, March 18, we detected the first trace amounts of radioactive isotopes from Fukushima in Seattle. We stress that the overall amount of the radioactivity is extremely low, at least thousands of times below EPA limits. For all of the details, see our recent article on the arXiv!

Air activity and spectral view of just the Iodine-131



The actual units are far far below what is even considered worth a raised eyebrow but it is still interesting to track the flow.

More information and data at the UW website.

Fricking laser beams

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Cool article -- from Wired:
Video: Navy Laser Sets Ship on Fire
With clouds overhead in the salty air, irritable Pacific waves swelled to up to four feet. Perfect conditions, in other words, for the Navy to fry a small boat with a laser beam � a major step toward its futuristic arsenal of ray guns.

Researchers mounted the Maritime Laser Demonstrator, a solid-state laser, aboard the USS Paul Foster, a decommissioned destroyer. Off the central California coast near San Nicholas Island on Wednesday, the laser fired a 15-kilowatt beam at an inflatable motorboat a mile away as both ships moved through the sea. As the above video shows, there was a flash on the boat�s outboard engines, igniting both of them in seconds, and leaving the ship dead in the choppy waters.

All previous tests of the laser have come on land � steady, steady land � aside from an October test of the targeting systems. But for the first time, the Office of Naval Research has proven that its laser can operate in a �no-kidding maritime environment,� says its proud director, Rear Adm. Nevin Carr.

�I spent my life at sea,� Carr says in an interview with Danger Room, �and I never thought we�d see this kind of progress this quickly, where we�re approaching a decision of when we can put laser weapons on ships.�

Fewer than three years after the Navy awarded Northrop Grumman a contract worth up to $98 million to build the Maritime Laser Demonstrator, it�s proven able to cause �catastrophic failure� on a moving target at sea the first time out, says Quentin Saulter, one of ONR�s top laser gurus.

�When we were doing the shot and the engine went, there was elation in the control room,� he says. �It�s a big step, a proof of principle for directed energy weapons.�
Had to run into town and also working on some bookwork (first quarter taxes). The owners of the Bakery are up visiting so things are a bit scattered with them hauling stuff out of storage and generally getting in the way. They seem to like what I have been doing though. Tomorrow, I fire up the smoker and do a six pound beef brisket for pastrami. I will be doing a cold smoke and then cooking the meat sous vide (fancy French for vacuum pack and water bath). It has been fun bumping the quality a bunch -- word is getting out and we have a lot of regular customers...
From Canadian journal The Walrus:
A Political Meltdown
If you�ve ever had a cardiac perfusion test to see how the blood was flowing in and around your heart or a bone scan to determine whether your cancer had metastasized, then you, like some thirty million people around the globe every year, have been the beneficiary of medical isotopes. What makes these unstable atoms so handy is that they can be injected, swallowed, or inhaled, and once inside the body they emit radiation from predetermined places. From there, their radioactivity can be used to kill off cancer cells or, far more often, to etch a detailed picture of your innards.

Canada is the world�s largest single producer of medical isotopes. In fact, they were practically invented here. Most of the world�s isotopes are made inside nuclear reactors. In Canada, they�re produced in one in particular, at the Chalk River Laboratories nuclear facility, northwest of Ottawa. And when, in November 2007, that reactor was unexpectedly shut down, large parts of the world faced their first real �isotope crisis.� Their entire supply had suddenly been cut off.

This was when isotopes punctured the national consciousness. Doctors offered daily updates like sports scores about the thousands of patients who would be forced to forgo tests and what dire consequences this might have. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission said the reactor, which is owned by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, couldn�t be turned back on until a coolant pump was installed. Then parliamentarians stuck their noses in and voted unanimously to restart the reactor without the pump, overruling the nuclear regulator.

The government carefully framed the crisis as a medical calamity brought on by an overly persnickety regulator. The reactor was restarted in mid-December, and soon the hysteria died down. On the surface, everything went back to normal. But just a few months later, AECL abandoned two new nuclear reactors that had been built exclusively to produce medical isotopes. A year after that, Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared that Canada was getting out of the isotope business altogether. �For whatever reason,� he said, �Atomic Energy was not able to make that project work.�

To many of us who�d been following the saga, that announcement felt like craziness. We were turning our backs on one of the best gigs going. Demand for isotopes is growing, and it�s a niche business: churning them out in mass volume requires a reactor. Perhaps best of all, isotopes seem distinctly Canadian � a feel-good by-product of an unpopular technology, a sort of peacekeeper of the nuclear world.

But in time, what I learned is that our isotope fiasco wasn�t really the result of an overly strict regulator or incompetent engineers. The new reactors were shuttered, and the industry was dispensed with, because it was far from being the lucrative money spinner many presumed it to be, and Harper knew the truth: that isotopes were hemorrhaging millions of dollars from the public coffers every month. It turns out that the lust to privatize federal assets some quarter century ago drove us to make a deal so bad that it put Canada�s future producing isotopes in jeopardy. A deal so bad that it made better economic sense to forfeit the whole industry than to pony up and fix it.
A long article with lots of history and back-stories. Basically an all too common tale of corporate malfeasance and government incompetence.
A sobering visualization:
From the excellent NumbersUSA

Chuck Norris move over

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Meet Doug McIlroy:
Doug McIlroy can get a 1 out of /dev/zero.
Doug McIlroy can change file permissions using a magnet and a pin.
Doug McIlroy can read data from /dev/null.
Doug McIlroy dreams in binary.
Doug McIlroy eats serial ports for breakfast.
Doug McIlroy doesn't have an Erdos number; Erdos has a McIlroy number.
Doug McIlroy prototyped /dev/random with a toothpick and 4 cans of baked beans.
Doug McIlroy doesn't make system calls. System calls call Doug McIlroy.
Doug McIlroy doesn't use malloc to allocate memory. He uses his bare hands.
Doug McIlroy doesn't debug. He stares at tty0 until it fixes the problem.
Once, Doug McIlroy got mad at his terminal and smacked the keyboard. The result is called "Unix."
Alan Turing always wanted to win a McIlroy Award, but didn't qualify. No one has.
Heh... More here

Working the system

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Perfect example of why public sector unions need to go. From the Chicago Tribune:
Special pension deal a windfall for some county officials
To thank Bill Maio for his years of public service, his former colleagues on the DuPage County Board named a street after him.

County taxpayers are paying him back in far more lucrative ways.

Capping a career in which he often called for fiscal restraint, the retired Itasca politician now gets a $100,000-a-year pension. That's for 30 years of work � only five of which were full time, the rest as a part-time board member.
Emphasis mine. People should be compensated for their work but this is egregious. A bit more:
Maio arguably got the best deal of them all.

The brash Republican � a onetime Harley-riding private investigator known for lining up votes � contributed just 11 percent of the total cost of his pension. That's the lowest contribution rate of any of the five and far lower than the typical government retiree.
Fine for me but not for thee... A Republican who called for fiscal restraint but when this opportunity shows up, he grabs it. And his part-time service on the board:
The part-time office had its perks, including health insurance. That was good for Maio, who had his own insurance agency and, at times, was a private investigator and ran security at a teen juice bar.

But serving on the board wasn't financially lucrative. By the mid-1990s, it paid about $25,000 a year, with the pension formula of any county worker: Retire at age 60 with 20 years and get 35 percent of your pay. The percentage tops out at 75 percent after 40 years.
Lots more at the site -- and we wonder why we are in such dire financial straits. The rot is at the city and county level as well as at the top...

Where is Bo these days

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It just stuck me that we haven't seen the White House Dog in about a year. From June 12, 2010:
Did they throw him under a bus too?

On the winds

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What the USA is willfully racing towards, Europe is madly backpedaling away from. From Chriss W. Street writing at Breitbart's Big Government:
Portuguese Bail-out is the Beginning of the End of Big Government
Can you hear that great sucking sound? It�s the sound of government shrinking around the world, as Portugal just joined Greece, Ireland and soon many others in acknowledging they are bankrupt and asking their European brethren for a bail-out. What is frightening to the big government advocates is this collapse was caused by a doubling of Portugal�s borrowing costs in just three weeks. The klaxon horns are going off in Europe and America; cut deficit spending or be destroyed by rising interest rates.

Over the last two decades, governments in Europe and the United States have been massively using taxpayer subsidies to sponsor favoured industries, under the smoke screen of National Industrial Policy. The theory, developed by Harvard economist and former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration, Robert Reich, stated that governments must �deliberately and strategically� speed the movement of capital and labor into �higher-valued production� or suffer social decline; with infant mortality rates rising and employment and life expectancy falling. Reich championed National Industrial Policy planners would more efficiently allocate capital and labor resources to satisfy consumer demand than large corporations who inefficiently use marketing to bend customer demand to their needs. He claimed it was the duty of government to induce through direct subsidies and worker retraining grants uncompetitive companies to scrap production and steer investment in industries of the future.

Europe adopted National Industrial Policy through the introduction of the Euro currency and banking deregulation. Southern European countries like Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain got low-interest German and French bank loans to scrap supposedly uncompetitive local manufacturing and �cushion� the transition of workers into leisure services and retirement housing development. Germany and France got elimination of competition and export growth to Southern Europe. Europeans were ecstatic for 15 years; the South had a real estate and banking boom, the North had a manufacturing and banking boom.

The U.S. adopted a National Industrial Policy during the Clinton Administration in 1999 by tying bank deregulation to a colossal expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act. The big banks got unlimited ability for multi-state banking and abolition of the 1933 Glass�Steagall Act prohibitions against banks engaging in high risk securities and derivative trading for their own accounts. Planners got huge quota requirements for loans to inter-city and rural communities. President Clinton hailed that the signing of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act �establishes the principles that, as we expand the powers of banks, we will expand the reach of the [Community Reinvestment] Act�.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke would later blame this legislation for a surge in bank mergers and an explosion of sub-prime lending. Now that real estate has crashed, Europe and America are suffering the dark side of National Industrial Policy.
How long will it take for these idiots to realize that these theories simply do not work. People need to go back to the Austrian model and dump the Keynesian model as the junk that it is.

RIP - Sidney Lumet

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New York Times has a good obituary of this incredible filmmaker:
Sidney Lumet, Director of American Film Classics, Dies at 86
Sidney Lumet, a director who preferred the streets of New York to the back lots of Hollywood and whose stories of conscience � �12 Angry Men,� �Serpico,� �Dog Day Afternoon,� �The Verdict,� �Network� � became modern American film classics, died Saturday morning at his home in Manhattan. He was 86.

His stepdaughter, Leslie Gimbel, said the cause was lymphoma.

�While the goal of all movies is to entertain,� Mr. Lumet once wrote, �the kind of film in which I believe goes one step further. It compels the spectator to examine one facet or another of his own conscience. It stimulates thought and sets the mental juices flowing.�

Social issues set his own mental juices flowing, and his best films not only probed the consequences of prejudice, corruption and betrayal, but also celebrated individual acts of courage.
He will be missed...

Nice work if you can get it

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Meet Rick Genest AKA Zombie Boy:
Zombie Boy
Rick is turning himself into a zombie. So far, more than 24 hours of tattoos � costing over �4,075 Canadian � have got him halfway there and made him a minor celebrity on the internet, where people can�t decide if he�s a body modification visionary or mentally ill sicko.
From the interview:
How about your mum?
Well, I don�t think this is what my mother had in mind for me. When I got my hands done it broke her heart. She said, �You�ve got your hands tattooed like a skeleton! You�re never going to get a decent job!�
Well, Rick is now the face of the fashion house Mugler:
More here including self-loading YouTube: Anatomy of Change Hat tip to Neatorama for the link.

Well Crap

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The Republicans blinked... From Breitbart/Associated Press:
Deal to avoid government shutdown
Perilously close to a government shutdown, congressional leaders reached agreement with the White House late Friday night on a deal to cut tens of billions of dollars in federal spending and avert the closure.

House Speaker John Boehner informed the GOP rank and file of the accord, reached in grueling negotiations over several weeks, an official said.

"We have an agreement," concurred a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Jon Summers.

Because drafting and then passing the broader legislation could take days, congressional leaders raced to approve a stopgap measure to prevent the onset of the first shutdown in 15 years, due to begin at midnight. Officials said it would keep the government in funds through the middle of next week.

Boehner told reporters just before 11 p.m. EDT that the House would continue working.

Republicans said the deal called for $39 billion in spending cuts, a measure that one official said Boehner told his rank and file marked the "largest real-dollar spending cut in American history."
The Republicans had the Democrat's nuts in a vice and they fscking blinked. Had we stood resolute, the resulting shutdown would have put lie to the Democrat's claims and publicly shown them to be the liars they are. But Noooooooooo... We caved and handed over our lunch money to the school bullies. This cowardice will be remembered nineteen months from now...
This showed up today:

I had been following this books progress for the last couple of years. When Bill Gates calls someone "the most intelligent person I know", that counts for a lot and Nathan Myhrvold is a true polymath. The option came up almost a year ago to pre-order it on Amazon for a lot less than the current list price and my response was an immediate: Hell Yeah!!! Just the first 20 minutes or so of thumbing through it show that this is going to be the new standard for a long long time. There are a lot of cookbooks that defined a particular style but this one covers the world. Very well designed (even the box it came in is wonderfully engineered) and I am looking forward to having it as a primary kitchen reference.

Quantitative Easing

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Sorry for the low resolution -- this is cropped from a much larger image. Diesel price on a major Bellingham road (where all the shopping malls and Costco are):
$4.47(9)/Gallon!�!� The price of oil is not the issue, it is our Dollar that is that much weaker against foreign currencies. Why? Because we are printing reams of them with nothing to back them up. Inflation is next...

Four pieces of paper

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An interesting Freedom of Information request. From Patrick Richardson at Pajamas Media:
Freedom of Information? Fifteen Months Waiting for Four Blank Pages
Back in December 2009, my colleague and � I flatter myself � friend Richard Pollock, PJM Washington bureau chief, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Air Force asking for some fairly routine information.

It was just after the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen. He wanted to know who was on the Air Force flights to Copenhagen � including Air Force One. And he wanted to know how much taxpayer money was spent flying these people back and forth, how much baggage, etc.

There was a bit more to it than that, of course, but it was still pretty innocuous stuff. The volume of fuel used in the flights and how much the baggage weighed, as well as who was on all the flights, is information kept by the Air Force as a matter of course. This request should have taken about 20 minutes with a file cabinet to fill. Additionally, while this information would be classified (also as a matter of course), none of it was national security information. We all know the president went to Copenhagen and came back empty-handed.

Fast forward 15 months.

Richard finally got a response � four blank pages.

Well, not completely blank. They had departure and arrival times for four airplanes, but everything else was redacted and referred to the Secret Service.

This was the culmination of 15 months of slapstick back-and-forth which would have done credit to a Buster Keaton movie.
Patrick goes on to describe his communications with the various officials and concludes with this:
At this point, I�m just as curious who was on those flights as Richard is. There�s no national security reason to prevent the release of that information. My guess? This was a nice little European vacation for friends and family members of the government officials who went, and the administration would like to avoid the embarrassment of the American public finding out we had a bunch of bureaucrats taking a multi-million dollar vacation on the taxpayer dime.

But without the names, there�s no way to know for sure.

I also know that for an administration which two years ago promised to be the most open and transparent administration in history, this is standard operating procedure. Indeed the Associated Press found the Obama administration has the worst FOIA response record of any presidency.

There�s no reason not to release the information Richard asked for unless you have something to hide, and certainly no reason to kick a routine request from a reporter all the way up to the secretary of Defense unless it�s something you really don�t want a reporter to know.
Mmmm That would be my guess too...

Tick tock tick tock

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Sitting here with a virtual bowl of popcorn waiting for the Federal Government to shut down. From FOX News:
Government Shutdown Not So Shutdowny After All
Should Congress fail to reach a budget and non-essential federal workers are forced to stay home as a much ballyhooed federal government shutdown goes into effect at midnight Saturday -- don't tell the Obama administration, which apparently sees nearly everyone as essential.

Yes, museums and national parks will shutter. Yes, about 800,000 people will be on the standby list, unable to use government-provided BlackBerries and cell phones.

But the cherry blossoms will still bloom and the annual festival in the nation's capital will go on.

And lots of places will keep the lights burning.

Aside from Congress, which has to keep operating in order to find an end to a would-be shutdown, the Defense Department said about 400,000 of 800,000 personnel will show up to work Monday in the event of a shutdown, and all uniformed military will report for duty.

About 23,000 people work in the Pentagon every day, 17,000 of whom civilians. A little over half of those civilians are expected to be exempted and show up for work.

On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned in an afternoon news conference that "intelligence would be significantly harmed" in the event of a shutdown, and "we have obligations for allies around the world and we wouldn't be able to meet those allegations in many instances."

But at the State Department -- where just Friday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "Human rights is a priority 365 days a year" -- officials announced it will keep operating through a shutdown.

The Supreme Court announced it is keeping its doors open next week though no cases are scheduled. Tourists can go through the building and justices will be able to handle emergency matters as normal. They are scheduled to meet next Friday to discuss whether to grant Virginia's expedited appeal request on the health care law as well as other issues.

The District Court in Washington, D.C., said it will remain open, running off of non-annual funding. Ironically, so did the bankruptcy court in the Southern District of New York.
This will be interesting to see if it keeps on for a few weeks. The agencies that will be hardest hit are those ones that have little or no real use. A lot of the Three--Letter--Agencies; Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Labor, Department of Education... These were started recently and have grown into mammoth bureaucracies with little or no results to show. Once people see that life goes on without these groups, maybe some effective budgeting can be done...

A little bauble - a mere bagatelle

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Holy Crap. I know that Costco sells a lot of things you don't normally think of (caskets for one) but this:
Million bucks will buy you a lot of marinated artichoke hearts...

What if...

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President Obama were CEO of a large corporation - a corporation with budget problems... From Warren Meyer at Forbes:
Why Do We Accept the Government Budget Process?
For years, I held various planning roles on the corporate staff of several Fortune 50 corporations. Part of my job was to pull our plans and budgets into a coherent whole for our CEO to discuss with the Board of Directors.

Watching the progress of the Federal budget talks in Congress and the Administration, I cannot help comparing these to similar discussions in the private world. It takes some pretty strong collective cognitive dissonance to accept budget �logic� in Washington that we would laugh at in any other venue. This week I will present a series of four vignettes, imagining Washington budget logic dropped into a corporate board room.
Warren then presents: "The �Vote Present� Plan", "The Unrealistic Plan", "The Fake Cut" and finally "Closing the Washington Monument". Pitch perfect and funny as hell if it weren't happening to us right now. These people would get their collective asses handed to them in the private sector...

Goodbye Gatorade

An interesting turn of events and yet another proof that Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

From Miami station Y100:

Study: Beer beats water for hydration
Researchers at Granada University in Spain said drinking beer after strenuous physical activity can be beneficial for the body.

The scientists said their study found beer can help dehydrated people retain liquid better than water alone, The Telegraph, a British newspaper, reported Friday.

Professor Manuel Garzon, who led the study, said the bubbles in beer can help quench thirst and the carbohydrates in the beverage can help make up for burned calories.

The study involved a group of students asked to perform strenuous activities at a temperature of about 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Half of the students were given a pint of beer after their exercise and half were given a pint of water. Garzon said the hydration affect on the beer drinkers was "slightly better" than the sober group.

Juan Antonio Corbalan, a cardiologist who has worked with Real Madrid football players and Spain's national basketball team, told The Telegraph he has long recommended beer to professional sportsmen after exhausting activities, as the drink is optimal for rehydrating the body.

Beer -- the cause of and the solution to many of life's problems...

Lula's Brazil

Here is how you lead. A wonderful long essay from Perry Anderson at the London Review of Books:

Lula's Brazil
Contrary to a well-known English dictum, stoical if self-exonerating, all political lives do not end in failure. In postwar Europe, it is enough to think of Adenauer or De Gasperi, or perhaps even more impressively, Franco. But it is true that, in democratic conditions, to be more popular at the close than at the outset of a prolonged period in office is rare. Rarer still - indeed, virtually unheard of - is for such popularity to reflect, not appeasement or moderation, but a radicalisation in government. Today, there is only one ruler in the world who can claim this achievement, the former worker who in January stepped down as president of Brazil, enjoying the approval of 80 per cent of its citizens. By any criterion, Luiz Inicio da Silva is the most successful politician of his time.

More (Cardoso was Lula's predecessor):

Under Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the public debt - nearly half of it denominated in dollars - had doubled, the current account deficit was twice the Latin American average, nominal interest rates were over 20 per cent, and the currency had lost half its value in the run-up to the election. Argentina had just declared the largest sovereign default in history, and Brazil looked - in the eyes of the financial markets - to be on the brink of the same precipice. To restore investor confidence, Lula installed an unblinkingly orthodox economic team at the Central Bank and Ministry of Finance, which hiked interest rates yet further and cut public investment, to achieve a primary fiscal surplus higher even than the figure the IMF had demanded. For citizens, prices and unemployment rose as growth fell by 50 per cent. But what was bitter medicine for militants was nectar to bond-holders: the spectre of default was banished. Growth resumed in 2004 as exports recovered.

Bitter medicine but it turned things around in a few years. More:

From the start, Lula had been committed to helping the poor. Accommodation of the rich and powerful would be necessary, but misery had to be tackled more seriously than in the past. His first attempt, a Zero Hunger scheme to assure minimum sustenance to every Brazilian, was a mismanaged fiasco. In his second year, however, consolidating various pre-existent partial schemes and expanding their coverage, he launched the programme that is now indelibly associated with him, the Bolsa Familia, a monthly cash transfer to mothers in the lowest income strata, against proof that they are sending their children to school and getting their health checked. The payments are very small - currently $12 per child, or an average $35 a month. But they are made directly by the federal government, cutting out local malversation, and now reach more than 12 million households, a quarter of the population. The effective cost of the programme is a trifle. But its political impact has been huge. This is not only because it has helped, however modestly, to reduce poverty and stimulate demand in the worst afflicted regions of the country. No less important has been the symbolic message it delivers: that the state cares for the lot of every Brazilian, no matter how wretched or downtrodden, as citizens with social rights in their country. Popular identification of Lula with this change became his most unshakeable political asset.

Yes, it's welfare but it's administered by the government, not locally and you aren't going to be able to afford a cell phone and a color TV without actually working and saving. Add to this the requirement that children go to school and that the entire family be checked for health issues fosters self-reliance and the desire for an education. Lots more at the essay -- simple plans but true leadership and his Nation and his People benefited from it. We need someone like this here...

Undeclared war in Libya, gasoline prices skyrocketing, dollar devaluing, government shuts down and what does our leader do? He goes on vacation. At least it's somewhat close to D.C. this time. From the Newport News, VA Daily Press:
UPDATE: FAA sets up no-fly zone for Obama's planned trip to Williamsburg
The leader of the free world may be coming to Williamsburg for some rest and relaxation if Congress is able to come to agreement on the budget. President Obama and the First Family are planning to visit the area this weekend in what the White House described Wednesday as a "long-planned family trip to Colonial Williamsburg."

But the trip might get grounded if a government shutdown can't be averted by Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

On Thursday morning, the Federal Aviation Administration established a no-fly zone over Williamsburg that will be in place from Friday through Monday. Jessica Wharton, spokeswoman for the Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport, said the no-fly zone will not affect the arrival and departure times at the airport for this weekend.

The announcement that Obama was coming generated excitement from Williamsburg Mayor Clyde Haulman. "I think it's terrific. Williamsburg was voted as the number one family destination," Haulman said. "The first family is coming to the first destination."

Haulman said that he didn't know where the Obamas would be staying or what was on their schedule. "I was just informed that they were coming. … I don't know where they're staying in Williamsburg," Haulman said.
Two lines jump out at me:
long-planned family trip to Colonial Williamsburg
I was just informed that they were coming
Geee -- I don't know about Mr. Haulman's case but if the President had long-standing plans to come to my little hamlet, the mayor would have known when those plans were being made. He is the city executive and would be the point man for taking care of security, finding lodging for the Prez and the entourage and for arranging dinners, etc... My bet is that Barry just wants away from the spotlight for a while and impulsively decided to go -- the long-planned is just bullshit spin.

A look at the US budget

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Michael Ramirez takes a look at the US Budget:
Click to embiggen...

The newest addition

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Meet Jedediah:
A little bit unsure about everything (he had a long trip in an open car trailer) but he seems to be a really sweet boy. In the dog run right now (40X40 chain-link enclosure) and will introduce him to the rest of the herd in a day or two. Cute lil' guy...

Light posting today

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Went to a metalworking auction and then we got another goat. Jedediah had been found on a nearby trail -- the person who found him kept him at their house for a while but a single goat is a recipe for trouble; they are very much pack critters and need companions. He knew that we had them and brought him over. I'll be sitting with a new critter this evening...
From the Washington Post:
Inflation inflicting pain, as wages fail to keep pace with price hikes
Inflation is back, with higher prices for food and fuel hammering American consumers, and this time it really hurts.

It�s not just that prices are rising � it�s that wages aren�t.

Previous bouts of inflation have usually meant a wage-price spiral, as pay and prices chase each other ever upward. But now paychecks are falling further and further behind. In the past three months, consumer prices have been rising at a 5.7 percent annual rate while average weekly wages have barely budged, increasing at an annual rate of only 1.3 percent.

And the particular prices that are rising are for products that people encounter most frequently in their daily lives and have the least flexibility to avoid. For the most part, it�s not computers and cars that are getting more expensive, it�s gasoline, which is up 19 percent in the past year, ground beef, up 10 percent, and butter, up 23 percent.

Inflation is typically the symptom of an economy overheating. Workers can�t keep up with the demand for the vast array of things they make. Abundant dollars pursue scarce goods and services, forcing prices and wages up. The solution is simple enough: Central banks, such as the Federal Reserve, increase interest rates, applying brakes to the economy.

But the current price spike is in some ways more pernicious than the last great U.S. inflation � the steep increases of the 1970s � and harder for policymakers to address. Today, raising interest rates might make a weak economy even weaker, stifling what meager growth there has been in wages. Moreover, higher interest would make the nation�s massive budget deficits even more expensive to finance, taking an additional toll on the economy.
Welcome back Carter - stagflation at its finest. The silver lining is that Regan came next. Oh, and this little note:
Few would argue that the U.S. economy, with its 8.9 percent unemployment rate, is overheating at the moment. Rather, the global economy � in particular developing nations such as China and India � is growing so rapidly that it�s straining the available supplies of all types of raw materials.
Jeeezzzz -- if you put these people to work mining/drilling/fracking/harvesting some of our huge wealth of resources, we could have a nice positive cash-flow to our Nation. Instead, we are promoting Petrobras (a company that G. Soros invested heavily in) to drill off Brazil to provide us with our oil.

Paul Ryan's plan

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This is good:
I haven't had time to look at his numbers but the overall feeling is that they are good -- really really good... We need more people like him in Washington.

Still working on stuff

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Book work and page layout for the bakery. Getting financial statements together for first quarter filings and doing a new menu layout. Fun stuff. I took a break and baked a couple lemon pound cakes this afternoon...
They are sold by these people: The Black and White Color Company
Established in 2008 the Black and White Color company was developed to test the the ability to sell colors on internet pages. The company has really taken off since then. Starting out selling the color red to Soviet union for the background of their official web sites. The big break came from selling red white and blue to all of the US government web sites. That deal put the company on the fortune 500 list.

You too can now buy colors for your web site for just pennies a pixel.

Use the menu on the left to check out the colors in stock.
If you need a special color email us using the link below.
Thank you
The Black and White Color Company
Excellent people to deal with and a good selection.

Hope in Haiti - a new President

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I know nothing of the politics in Haiti but I do know that they have an entrenched 'ruling elite' and it just got tossed out of office. From the New York Times:
Singer Elected Haiti�s President
One of Haiti�s most popular entertainers, a provocative Carnival singer previously best known for disrobing and swearing on stage, was elected president in a landslide, according to results announced Monday, placing him at the helm of a nation still struggling to recover from last year�s earthquake, a cholera epidemic and chronic poverty.

The singer, Michel Martelly, 50, known as Sweet Micky or Tet Kale (bald head), won 68 percent of the vote in a runoff election two weeks ago that he nearly did not qualify for.

He defeated Mirlande Manigat, 70, a college professor and former first lady, who won 32 percent of the vote. She had cast herself as a mother figure to soothe Haiti�s ills, in contrast to Mr. Martelly�s image as a rebellious son bent on shaking up the establishment.

When the results were announced at the election commission offices on Monday evening, firecrackers went off outside, hundreds of people ran chanting Mr. Martelly�s name through the streets and people danced in an earthquake tent camp across the street.

Election officials did not immediately disclose the election turnout.
He has his work cut out for him but as a political outsider, he may well pull it off. Haiti is dependent on foreign aid and is the poorest nation in this hemisphere. They have agriculture and industry (sugar cane refining and textiles). They could have a lot more with a stable government, decent infrastructure and better education for its people.

Banking in Japan

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An interesting article about how Japan's Banking industry is having to cope with the quake. From William Pesek writing at Bloomburg:
�Lehman Shock� Is Kid Stuff Next to Fukushima
Of all the tremors being felt in Tokyo, Masaaki Shirakawa is experiencing some of the biggest.

The Bank of Japan head is under greater pressure than any of his predecessors over the last 20 years to get radical. With Japan facing the triple whammy of an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, Shirakawa is getting shouted at from every direction to bring the BOJ back to the 1930s.

He must tread carefully. Wherever he takes monetary policy over the next 12 months, the BOJ is likely to be shackled with those decisions for the next 12 years. It�s said that central banking is about gradualism. In Japan, it�s glacialism. Even when Japan was growing in the 2000s, the furthest the BOJ got interest rates from zero was 0.5 percent. Then, back to zero.

Japan has three paths to revival. One, issue loads of debt that may prompt credit downgrades and raise taxes. Two, dump its $886 billion of U.S. debt, destabilizing the biggest economy and enraging a key ally. Three, get the BOJ to monetize public debt. Not surprisingly, lawmakers like what�s behind door No. 3.
William follows with a nice analysis of each option and a bit of the history leading up to our own recent financial melt-down and how it impacted Japan. Good reading...

Truth in packaging

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At home fixing dinner. Steamed veggies and I wanted some rice to go with it but didn't want to spend the time making it so I picked up a box of Uncle Ben's whole-grain. These days, I expect the contents to not reach the top of the box but what I found surprised me:
I would expect the contents to reach the sides of the box. For just a single serving, this is an annoyance. If I was cooking for a number of people -- a casserole or something -- this could be a showstopper as recipes go by volume and if I expected a package to have enough volume for my dish and it did not, I would need to run back to the store or change my plans. Look, everybody is in a financial crunch these days and it is just getting worse. Still, the manufacturers should be honest to their customers and not shift the disappointment from the point of sale to the kitchen. This is not how to build brand loyalty...
From Ricochet:
Paul Ryan's Budget: The Most Important Domestic Proposal of our Lifetimes
Now that Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, has presented the GOP's budget proposal for fiscal year 2012, I've been waiting for David Limbaugh to admit that the document is so splendid -- so precisely what we had all been hoping for in every regard -- that we should put right out of our minds any thoughts of muddying matters by shutting down the government. Brother David having apparently been detained, though, I thought I'd say a word.

Paul Ryan's document is historic. By cutting more than $4 trillion from the budget over the next decade, it exceeds the recommendations of the budget commission President Obama established (and then ignored). For that matter, it exceeds the fondest hopes of nearly everyone I know, including the most ardent members of the Tea Party. The budget cuts discretionary spending, as it must. But it takes on--forthrightly, unapologetically, and systematically--the major entitlement programs, especially Medicaid.

In a word, this budget represents the first concerted, credible effort to shrink the federal government since the birth of the welfare state seven decades ago. But not only that. The document--and this is a critical matter, both as to policy and to the politics of the day--doesn't merely shrink and slash. It isn't merely concerned with balancing the books. It promotes growth.

Here's the way Ryan described the budget this past weekend on Fox News Sunday:
By cutting spending, reforming entitlements and growing our economy. Look, we intend to not only cut discretionary spending and put caps on spending, you have to address the drivers of our debt. ...

Now the good thing we have going for us is we have time to fix this problem. So the kinds of reform we're going to be putting out there won't make changes to people who are already in or near retirement. If you're 55 or older, you won't see changes. You won't have to reorient your lives around these things.

But if we keep kicking the can down the road and keep making more empty promises to people, then we'll have the European kind of pain and austerity. Then you have cuts to current seniors, tax increases that slow down your economy.

By addressing the drivers of the debt now, we do it in a gradual way. ... And we are going to put out a plan that gets our debt on downward trajectory and gets us to a point of giving our next generation a debt-free nation. That in and of itself will help us grow the economy today and create jobs.
The GOP budget represents the most consequential domestic policy proposal in our lifetimes. Republicans, the Tea Party, conservatives, libertarians--we should drop all other fights. This is where to make our stand.
Have not seen it yet but what I hear about it sounds really good. Like I said at the top, this is where the masks come off and where we see who is really interested in cutting the size of the government while still providing benefit. I hope that the government does have to shut down this Friday -- those newly elected Republicans need to stand their ground. If the government has to shut down non-essential services for a week or three, the general public will begin to see just how non-essential those "services" are. Remember, a rancher will have a bull come out and "service" his cattle...

Light posting today

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Working on some other stuff plus the Bakery just bought a new smoker so some beef brisket is being brined as I type and home-made pastrami is coming in five days...
Interesting... From the Mercatus Center of George Mason University:
The real economy is emerging as the stimulus is winding down
The unemployment rate for March dropped to 8.8 percent, which we should remember is the rate that the Administration said the economy would reach if the stimulus had not been passed. It took two years to reach this rate, and as it turns out, it is on the way down, not up. It didn�t take two years for the stimulus to work � rather, the real economy is finally emerging as the stimulus is winding down.

Efforts of some lawmakers to scale back spending has likely had a positive impact. The promises to cut spending is creating more confidence in the market.
In other words -- get out of the way and let us do our jobs...
From CNN:
38 years ago he made the first cell phone call
Sunday is the anniversary of something that undoubtedly has changed your life.

Whether for good or for bad is a question only you can answer.

On this day in 1973 -- on April 3 of that year -- a man did something no one had ever done before.

You may bless him for it or curse him for it. At this juncture, it hardly matters. The impact of what he did is so enormous that judging it now is almost beside the point.

The man's name was Martin Cooper. He was 44 at the time.

He made a cell phone call.

The world's first. At least the first public one; the cell phone had been tested in the lab, but never tried in the real world.

"As I walked down the street while talking on the phone," Cooper once told an interviewer, "sophisticated New Yorkers gaped at the sight of someone actually moving around while making a phone call."

There had been car phones before -- mobile radios, really. They were powered by heavy equipment that had to be stashed in the trunk of the automobile.

But Cooper, who was the general manager of Motorola's communications systems division, had the idea that people didn't want to be tethered to a stationary telephone, even if the phone could ride along with them in their car. He thought that the phone should be so portable that it could go anywhere they went.

As he explained it in a later interview:

"People want to talk to other people -- not a house, or an office, or a car. Given a choice, people will demand the freedom to communicate wherever they are, unfettered by the infamous copper wire."
Had one of the first ones -- a vehicle mounted rig but pure cell service, not a two-way radio. Also had Motorola Brick phone. Again, another piece of technology that I gave away and wish I still had. The ergonomics of the thing were awesome. Very well designed and actually decent battery life for a three-pound telephone...

North Dakota in the news

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From Yahoo/CBS:
Why North Dakota May Be the Best State in the Country to Live In
While many states are confronting severe budget shortfalls and dragging economies, North Dakota has a different sort of problem. It's stuck deciding how best to deal with a budget surplus. Yes, a surplus. North Dakota's balance sheet is so strong it recently reduced individual income taxes and property taxes by a combined $400 million, and is debating further cuts.

That's not exactly what residents of California ($25.4 billion projected budget shortfall for the 2012 fiscal year), Texas ($13.4 billion), New Jersey ($10.5 billion), New York ($10 billion), and 42 more states with projected 2012 budget shortfalls are in line for.

I can just hear the snarky comment formulating in your head right about now -- something about North Dakota's rough winters, and comparative lack of high-brow culture or pro sports teams, no doubt. Duly noted. But if we keep the conversation to economics and fiscal policy, North Dakota has plenty to admire.
The author then follows with quite the list of advantages for North Dakota -- lowest unemployment of all 50 states, stable housing market with affordable prices and a bunch of others. 6,000+ comments and a fun mix of snark and boosterism.

Quote of the day - Firearms

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From LawDog's Brother:
Oh, and why is there a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms anyway?
That makes as much sense as having a Bureau of Coal, Petroleum and Citrus Fruit.
I have the tee-shirt that says that AT&F should be a convenience store and not a government agency...

Happy 30th - Osborne 1

Very high geekdom -- 30 years ago tomorrow (April 4th) the Osborne 1 was released.
A whopping 64 Kilobytes of RAM, two floppy disks, a 50 Character wide screen and the CP/M operating system bundled with BASIC, WordStar, dBase II and the spreadsheet SuperCalc. Sold for $1,795. Amazing actually when you consider that an Apple IIe with CP/M, two disk drives, monitor, software, etc... sold for $3,500 and was not portable. Harry McCracken has a wonderful history over at Technologizer An amazing machine and a fascinating history -- wish I had kept mine; donated a bunch of my old computer stuff to a Seattle tech recycler that also maintains a small computer museum. My primary machine was an S-100 mainframe and I had WordStar tweaked to do true proportional type. Got a surplus CompuGraphic daisy-wheel printer and made a bunch of money printing out student theses. Had a computer store on University Avenue in Seattle at the time...

Just how corrupt is this government. From the UK Guardian:

How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico's murderous drug gangs
On 10 April 2006, a DC-9 jet landed in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, on the Gulf of Mexico, as the sun was setting. Mexican soldiers, waiting to intercept it, found 128 cases packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100m. But something else - more important and far-reaching - was discovered in the paper trail behind the purchase of the plane by the Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel.

During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo.

The authorities uncovered billions of dollars in wire transfers, traveller's cheques and cash shipments through Mexican exchanges into Wachovia accounts. Wachovia was put under immediate investigation for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering programme. Of special significance was that the period concerned began in 2004, which coincided with the first escalation of violence along the US-Mexico border that ignited the current drugs war.

Criminal proceedings were brought against Wachovia, though not against any individual, but the case never came to court. In March 2010, Wachovia settled the biggest action brought under the US bank secrecy act, through the US district court in Miami. Now that the year's "deferred prosecution" has expired, the bank is in effect in the clear. It paid federal authorities $110m in forfeiture, for allowing transactions later proved to be connected to drug smuggling, and incurred a $50m fine for failing to monitor cash used to ship 22 tons of cocaine.

More shocking, and more important, the bank was sanctioned for failing to apply the proper anti-laundering strictures to the transfer of $378.4bn - a sum equivalent to one-third of Mexico's gross national product - into dollar accounts from so-called casas de cambio (CDCs) in Mexico, currency exchange houses with which the bank did business.

"Wachovia's blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations," said Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor. Yet the total fine was less than 2% of the bank's $12.3bn profit for 2009. On 24 March 2010, Wells Fargo stock traded at $30.86 - up 1% on the week of the court settlement.

That old Chicago corruption again. Marijuana and other drugs will never become legal because the banks make too much money of the cartels -- here the government could have a nice revenue stream from the tax on weed but noooo...

Pollution in California

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A chilling story about the California Air Resources Board and some scope creep and rot at the top. From Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:
Green regulation in CA: Academic fraud, retaliation, and science denial
Reason TV�s Ted Balaker offers a lengthy look into how government and academia teamed up in California to stifle scientific dissent and pass new environmental regulations on the basis of fraud. Take the time to watch it all, as there is a lot to unpack in this story, which starts off with a trucking company in Cypress, California, that may go out of business thanks to new rules from the state�s Air Resources Board (CARB). New rules on diesel emissions make Dwayne Whitney�s trucks illegal to operate without enormously expensive additions, rules CARB imposed because of a study on particulates produced by Dr. Hien Tran that linked the emissions to 2000 �premature deaths� in California each year.

However, another researcher who found no connection between diesel particulates and �premature deaths� decided to check on Tran�s credentials, and discovered that his PhD had come from a diploma mill, bought for $1000. When the researcher, UCLA�s Dr. James Enstrom, blew the whistle on Tran and insisted that CARB needed to consider his work before passing the new regulation, a curious thing happened. After 34 years on the job, UCLA fired Enstrom. Why? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that two powerful CARB commissioners, Mary Nichols and John Froines, are also UCLA professors. According to Balaker, Froines voted to give Enstrom his pink slip.

This story exposes the connection between government regulators and Academia better than any I�ve seen in a long time. The people of California should demand an accounting of the attack on academic freedom at UCLA, the use of fraudulent researchers at CARB, and the destruction of private sector business on the basis of highly selective choices in scientific research. Find out more about this story at FIRE, which is defending Enstrom.
Just wonderful... Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Ed has an update here:
Enstrom will meet with University of California chancellor Gene Block on Monday to start the appeal of his dismissal, but that may not be the last word. According to FIRE, which has come to Enstrom�s defense, twelve members of the state Assembly have warned Block that they will hold public hearings into the UC system�s handling of academic freedom if Enstrom�s termination is not rescinded.
And of course:
What about Tran and Nichols? They both still have their jobs. Tran got a 60-day suspension and a demotion, but still works as an air pollution specialist for the state despite his record of fraudulent representation. Nichols still chairs CARB. Froines, after a brief departure, returned to CARB�s scientific advisory panel to chair their toxicology committee, after voting to fire Enstrom at UCLA. The only person who lost their job from Enstrom�s whistleblowing was Enstrom himself.
That house needs some cleaning. CARB did good work back in the 1970's -- getting LA's SMOG dealt with. Now, they are just another victim of Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

Raising revenue

How about a nice new state tax? How about we move our $13 million business out of state... From the Chicago Herald-News:
Web tax prompts company to move
FatWallet.com is leaving Illinois for Wisconsin after losing business ties with major online retailers since Gov. Quinn signed of the �Amazon.com tax� earlier this month.

The web shopping business, based near Rockford, partners with online retailers like Amazon and Overstock.com, will relocate to Beloit on April 8 after at least a dozen retailers told FatWallet they would cut ties after the law forced online retailers to collect the state�s 6.25 percent sales tax in a way to preserve profits.

The company, which nets about $13 million a year, was expecting to lose $4 million in annual revenue, said Brent Shelton, FatWallet.com spokesman.

The company, which employs 54 people, will look for permanent residency in Beloit after the move. Shelton said the company did not know if it would ever return to Illinois.

�I think there is a little bitterness,� he said. �The way the taxation has gone in Illinois, they are not making it a lucrative choice.�

Before the law, Internet retailers weren�t required to charge sales tax like Target and others with a physical presence in Illinois do. The law forces those online businesses to collect through their relationship with physically based partners, like FatWallet.

Illinois became the fourth state to adopt the law. Amazon.com also cut ties to partners in Rhode Island and North Carolina after those states enacted similar legislation.
Yet another example of the Internet routing around damage. Make it hard in one state, the business will pick up and move to a state without those problems... If I was in my 20's and starting my first business, I would look at places like Texas rather than WA State.

True sustainable living

A wonderul essay by Paul Driessen over at Watts Up With That:

Better Living Through Electricity
In a scene reminiscent of Colonial Williamsburg, for 16 years Thabo Molubi and his partner had made furniture in South Africa's outback, known locally as the veld, using nothing but hand and foot power. When an electrical line finally reached the area, they installed lights, power saws and drills. Their productivity increased fourfold, and they hired local workers to make, sell and ship far more tables and chairs of much higher quality, thereby also commanding higher prices.

Living standards soared, and local families were able to buy and enjoy lights, refrigerators, televisions, computers and other technologies that Americans and Europeans often take for granted. The area was propelled into the modern era, entrepreneurial spirits were unleashed, new businesses opened, and hundreds of newly employed workers joined the global economy.

People benefited even on the very edge of the newly electrified area. Bheki Vilakazi opened a small shop where people could charge their cell phones before heading into the veld, where instant communication can mean life or death in the event of an accident, automobile breakdown or encounter with wild animals.

Thousands of other African communities want the same opportunities. But for now they must continue to live without electricity, or have it only sporadically and unpredictably a few hours each week. Over 700 million Africans - and some two billion people worldwide - still lack regular, reliable electricity and must rely on toxic wood and dung fires for most or all of their heating and cooking needs.

Mothers with babies strapped on their backs must bend over open fires, breathing poisonous fumes and being struck down by debilitating, often fatal lung diseases. Homes, schools, shops and clinics lack the most rudimentary electrical necessities. Impoverished families must live in mud-and-thatch or cinderblock houses that allow mosquitoes to fly in, feast on human blood and infect victims with malaria. And parents and children must carry and drink untreated water that swarms with bacteria and parasites which cause cholera, diarrhea and river blindness. When the sun goes down, their lives shut down.

The environmental costs are equally high. In Rwanda gorilla habitats are being turned into charcoal, to fuel cooking fires. In Zambia, entrepreneurs harvest trees by the thousands along highways, selling them to motorists heading back to their non-electrified homes in rural areas and even parts of cities. As quickly as First World charities hold plant-a-tree days, Africans cut trees for essential cooking.

If eco-activists have their way, it will be like this for decades to come.

Emphasis mine -- and the eco-activists are willfully blind to the pain and suffering their actions are causing. Read the rest of the essay -- well worth a few minutes of your time...

Earmarks?�?� What earmarks...

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From USA Today:
Half of 'earmark' spending untouched in GOP bills
House Republicans who crafted two short-term spending bills made $5.3 billion in cuts by going after some of Washington's least popular spending: those congressional pet projects known as "earmarks."

Even so, a congressional report shows they left $4.8 billion in earmarks untouched � and critics of congressional pork say they should go after it.

"Many in Congress promised taxpayers a full earmark moratorium, not a half moratorium," says Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., an earmark opponent who requested the report from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. "Protecting nearly $5 billion in earmarks from cuts sends the wrong message to taxpayers."
And these earmarks:
Among the projects in the 2010 defense bill which could continue to receive funding: $31.5 million for the C.W. Bill Young Bone Marrow Donor Recruitment and Research Program, named for the Republican congressman from Florida; $20 million for the World War II Museum in New Orleans, sponsored by Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and David Vitter, R-La.; and $18.9 million for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, sponsored by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass.
All good projects I am sure but we cannot afford them! It is plain and simple -- we do not have the money to pay for them so they need to be defunded. So sad, too bad but they should never have been funded in the first place and the people who voted them into existence need to have their collective pee-pee's whacked with a ruler...

What we did today

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Had a third work party to finish off the hoop house. Turned out really nice.
The Basil plants are hydroponic from the grocery store. Don't know if the roots will withstand the shock of switching media but we will see...

Why does this not surprise me

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From USA Today:
CEO pay soars while workers' pay stalls
CEOs didn�t have to cry poor for long.

The heads of the nation�s top companies got the biggest raises in recent memory last year after taking a hiatus during the recession.

At a time most employees can barely remember their last substantial raise, median CEO pay jumped 27% in 2010 as the executives� compensation started working its way back to prerecession levels, a USA TODAY analysis of data from GovernanceMetrics International found. Workers in private industry, meanwhile, saw their compensation grow just 2.1% in the 12 months ended December 2010, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
I would like to see a 40% cut in executive pay and raises linked to published COLA data. These are not our elite, they just think they are. Get back to work you bums...

Eat the Rich

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Bill Whittle takes Iowahawk's essay: Feed Your Family on $10 Billion a Day and turns it into this nine minute video. For all of those people who think that the financial problems of the United States could be cured by taxing the rich, this puts it into perspective. What is your plan for 2012? And do not forget that in 2012, you will be needing $11B/day and not just $10 Billion.

Nuke done right - Japan

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All of the attention is focused on Fukushima Daiichi but Japan has a lot of other nuclear plants and these are doing just fine. More than fine in fact. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Post-tsunami, some Japanese shelter in nuke plant
As a massive tsunami ravaged this Japanese fishing town, hundreds of residents fled for the safest place they knew: the local nuclear power plant.

Nearly three weeks later, 240 remain, watching TV or playing ball games with their children next to three atomic reactors. It's a startling contrast to the damaged nuclear plant 75 miles (120 kilometers) southeast, where radiation leaks have forced an evacuation of area residents and terrified the nation.

The town of Onagawa's embrace of its plant reflects the mindset in much of Japan, at least before the current crisis. Nuclear power was accepted as a trade-off: clean and reliable energy versus the tiny but real risk of catastrophe � one that now may be unfolding at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.
Within the nuclear plant, facilities are pristine, electricity flows directly from Japan's national grid, and evacuees can use its dedicated phone network to make calls.

"The general public isn't normally allowed inside, but in this case we felt it was the right thing to do," company spokesman Yoshitake Kanda said.

The plant has heavily guarded entrances and strict security checkpoints. Operator Tohoku Electric Power Co. barred reporters from the grounds. Many of the details for this article were gathered from employees and evacuees as they passed through the front gate.

After the tsunami hit, residents made their way to a company public relations center on high ground just outside the main nuclear complex. But that facility was damaged and had no water or power, so they were moved to a meeting room inside the complex � and eventually to the employee gym, where they now stay, near the reactors.
And the plant in question:
The Onagawa plant was built to withstand bigger tsunamis � 30 feet (9 meters) � than Fukushima's 18 feet (5.4 meters). It had only light damage, including a fire near a turbine and some water that splashed out of a fuel rods pool. A jump in radioactivity was attributed to leaks from Fukushima.
The differences between the two plants are telling. The Onagawa plant's first reactor came online June 1, 1984, Fukushima March 26, 1971. Only thirteen years separating the two but a world of engineering differences. Now if we would just get off our collective duffs and start building Thorium reactors, we would be all set...

His first 2012 ad

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April Fools

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Came into the bakery this morning to find the display case loaded with all sorts of Twinkies, Ding Dongs, etc...
Some people are having waay too much fun... :)

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