June 2011 Archives

No posting today

Working on stuff. A local restaurant that closed a few months ago re-opened under new management and it was great. Different menu with a lot of interesting stuff. She has a good crew working for her and has done a really nice job of remodeling. Tomorrow is Canada Day so expecting a busy day at the bakery.

Unintended consequences

California tries to tax a specific business -- that business stops doing business in California.
Net result, zero increase in tax revenues and 10,000+ Californians lose their income.
From American Power:

Amazon Ends Affiliate Program in California
See San Francisco Business Times, "Amazon threatens to drop California associates" (via Instapundit):
Last night, California Democrats reached an agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown on a proposed state budget that, among other things, would force online retailers like Amazon.com and Overstock.com to collect sales tax in California.

Already, Amazon has made its objections clear, threatening to drop the thousands of "Amazon Associates" in California who make money by referring web users to Amazon.com to buy goods.

Pitting the wealthiest and most populous state in the union against the premier online retailing conglomerate, this is a battle of two amazons -- Goliath vs. Goliath, if you will.

But caught in between are thousands of bloggers, marketers and publishers who make money through Amazon's affiliate program, called Amazon Associates. Basically, if a blogger links to Amazon products on a post and a reader ends up buying something through that link, then the blogger gets a percentage of the sale for making the "referral." Small retailers and marketers also use the Associates program.

All these people are at risk of being cut off from this revenue source should the California budget pass on Tuesday.
And it's a done deal.
At the Sacramento Bee, "Brown signs tax bill; Amazon tells California affiliates it will drop them":
Amazon.com today said it will sever ties with some 10,000 affiliates in California to protest the Internet sales-tax law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Wednesday.

The big online retailer has been threatening to cut those ties since February. In emails today to its California affiliates, Amazon called the bill "unconstitutional and counterproductive. " The bill is part of the budget package passed by the Legislature.

The affiliates are businesses and nonprofits that have Amazon links on their websites. When someone clicks through that link and buys something from Amazon, the affiliate gets a fee.

Under the bill, Amazon will have to collect sales tax on all sales to Californians.
Nice to see that the California legislature is as clueless as always. The natural wealth of the state has allowed those governing it to not run a tight ship and still get away with it. Their actions are hurting the businesses, forcing those that can to flee to Texas while still promising more and more to the parasite classes of in-duh-viduals and entitled businesses and unions.. Now the debit has become something that must be dealt with and what do they do? Create more idiotic job-killing taxes.
Bachmann must be getting under the liberals skin because this article at the Rolling Stone is in full-on attack-mode:
Michele Bachmann's Holy War
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and, as you consider the career and future presidential prospects of an incredible American phenomenon named Michele Bachmann, do one more thing. Don't laugh.
The author -- Matt Taibbi -- gets warmed up by paragraph three:
Bachmann is a religious zealot whose brain is a raging electrical storm of divine visions and paranoid delusions. She believes that the Chinese are plotting to replace the dollar bill, that light bulbs are killing our dogs and cats, and that God personally chose her to become both an IRS attorney who would spend years hounding taxpayers and a raging anti-tax Tea Party crusader against big government.
A bit more:
In modern American politics, being the right kind of ignorant and entertainingly crazy is like having a big right hand in boxing; you've always got a puncher's chance. And Bachmann is exactly the right kind of completely batshit crazy. Not medically crazy, not talking-to-herself-on-the-subway crazy, but grandiose crazy, late-stage Kim Jong-Il crazy � crazy in the sense that she's living completely inside her own mind, frenetically pacing the hallways of a vast sand castle she's built in there, unable to meaningfully communicate with the human beings on the other side of the moat, who are all presumed to be enemies.
Matt goes on for four spittle-soaked pages and closes with this paragraph:
It could happen. Michele Bachmann has found the flaw in the American Death Star. She is a television camera's dream, a threat to do or say something insane at any time, the ultimate reality-show protagonist. She has brilliantly piloted a media system that is incapable of averting its eyes from a story, riding that attention to an easy conquest of an overeducated cultural elite from both parties that is far too full of itself to understand the price of its contemptuous laughter. All of those people out there aren't voting for Michele Bachmann. They're voting against us. And to them, it turns out, we suck enough to make anyone a contender.
As for the last bit, a Rasmussen poll came out today with the following numbers:
Election 2012: Generic Presidential Ballot
Generic Republican Candidate 46%, Obama 42%

Tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock

From the UK Telegraph:
North Korea shuts down universities for 10 months
Pyongyang has told the North Korean people that the nation will have achieved its aim of becoming "a great, prosperous and powerful nation" in 2012, which marks the 100th anniversary of the founder of the reclusive state, Kim Il-sung.

In addition, Kim Jong-il will turn 70 in February and the "Dear Leader" hopes to be able to transfer his power and an economically stronger nation to his son and heir-apparent, Kim Jong-Un.

Reports in South Korea indicated that the government in Pyongyang on Monday ordered all universities to cancel classes until April of next year. The only exemptions are for students who will be graduating in the next few months and foreign students.
And from the between the lines department, a bit more:
Analysts in Japan claim there may be other reasons behind the decision to disperse the students across the country.

"One reason is that there is a possibility of demonstrations at university campuses," said Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo's Waseda University and author of a number of books on the North Korean leadership.

"The leadership has seen the 'Jasmine Revolution' in Africa and it is very frightened that the same thing could happen in North Korea," he said. "They fear it could start in the universities."

Professor Shigemura also said that North Korea has purchased anti-riot equipment from China in recent months, including tear gas and batons, while there has been an increased police presence at key points in Pyongyang in recent months.
Something will trigger the critical mass -- don't know what and don't know when. How the 'civilized' world can stand idle and see what is happening to these poor people and not act...
Quite the activity on Mt. Rainier -- Nisqually Glacier Hat tip to Scott Sistek who got it from the Mt. Rainier Climbing Blog

A fun bit of legalizing

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A curious story about a mistake, a lawyer fixing the mistake and the lawyers final bill (paid in full). From Dan Lewis:
Tax Refund
The minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour. It is �8.63 per hour in the United Kingdom and �8.40 per hour for some trades in Germany.

In 2004, Juergen Graefe, a German lawyer, did about an hour of work and earned a bit more than that. No, make that a lot more than �8.40 -- his fee came out to �440,234 (about $570,000 at the time).

In 2001, a German pensioner went into the tax collector's office to fill out his tax return. He put down an annual income of �11,000 -- which, it turns out, was an error. He filed a correction, restating his income to be �17,000. Unfortunately, the tax official working on his paperwork failed to enter the correction properly. Instead, the pensioner's income was listed at an absurd �1,100,017,000 -- the GDP of a tiny country.

Given those "earnings," the pensioner's tax bill came in at �287 million and change.

Clearing up the error was not hard. The pensioner's lawyer, Dr. Graefe, simply wrote a letter to the German tax authorities explaining the error. His client's tax liability was corrected and he went on with his life. Dr. Graefe, thereafter, looked to collect his fee.

In the United States, typically, the client pays the fee for services provided, and in a matter like this, the fee would (likely) be an hourly one; the American equivalent of Dr. Graefe would probably earn $100 or so. Not bad. But in Germany, the law holds that when an attorney wins such a reduction, the lawyer's fee -- paid for by the tax man -- is a percentage of said reduction. In this case, Graefe's cut should have been about �450,000, but of course, the tax department disputed this amount as excessive.

The court agreed with Graefe, who collected his world-record fee.
Nice work if you can get it... And a tip 'o the hat to Neatorama for the link.

Heh -- he was one of us

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John Lennon - stinky hippie or Regan loving Conservative? From ContactMusic:
New Documentary Unveils Political Truths About 'Republican' John Lennon
John Lennon was a closet Republican, who felt a little embarrassed by his former radicalism, at the time of his death - according to the tragic Beatles star's last personal assistant.

Fred Seaman worked alongside the music legend from 1979 to Lennon's death at the end of 1980 and he reveals the star was a Ronald Reagan fan who enjoyed arguing with left-wing radicals who reminded him of his former self.

In new documentary Beatles Stories, Seaman tells filmmaker Seth Swirsky Lennon wasn't the peace-loving militant fans thought he was while he was his assistant.

He says, "John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter.

"He'd met Reagan back, I think, in the 70s at some sporting event... Reagan was the guy who had ordered the National Guard, I believe, to go after the young (peace) demonstrators in Berkeley, so I think that John maybe forgot about that... He did express support for Reagan, which shocked me.

"I also saw John embark in some really brutal arguments with my uncle, who's an old-time communist... He enjoyed really provoking my uncle... Maybe he was being provocative... but it was pretty obvious to me he had moved away from his earlier radicalism.

"He was a very different person back in 1979 and 80 than he'd been when he wrote Imagine. By 1979 he looked back on that guy and was embarrassed by that guy's naivete."
As the veil falls from people's eyes, things become clear...

Well drat

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A couple of really interesting local auctions and they are scheduled right around the times for the surgery on my foot. Missed this one: SNOW MOUNTAIN MILL today because of the pre-op interview and these ones are scheduled right around my surgery dates: ITI INTERNET SERVICES, DINNERS READY and ESPINOZA MEXICAN RESTAURANT. Fortunately, I have these two a week later (I will be able to drive by then): COM-STEEL L.L.C. and MARINE LIQUIDATORS.

From Texas - again...

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From FOX News:
Texas Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood
The Texas Legislature approved a bill Monday that would both compel the state to push the Obama administration to convert Texas's Medicaid program into a block grant and defund abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.

The omnibus health bill also includes a number of other controversial provisions, including plans to save $400 million over the next year by increasing the use of Medicaid managed care.

The legislation now goes to the desk of Gov. Rick Perry, who has been generally supportive of both the Medicaid reforms, as well as anti-abortion language.
They seem to be doing the right things there -- economy is booming, job growth is on the rise. I would move there in a heartbeat if I wasn't so settled here.

Two minutes of your time well spent

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The guy is a clueless idiot and his friends should stage an intervention to keep him out of politics. From the New York Post:
Weiner horning in on successor race
His ego has no bounds.

In a dazzling display of arrogance, disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner is trying to insert himself back into politics -- calling power brokers and would-be candidates for his old seat, hoping they'll let him play a role in choosing his own successor, The Post has learned.

Weiner, who became a national dirty joke after he was caught sexting young women, now wants to be a kingmaker.
He has no talent and no marketable skill. His only aptitude is political and he lusts after that power. He doesn't get the idea that as an elected official, he is there to represent the needs of his constituents.

Al Gore needs to check his facts

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From Al's blog:
Ice and Snow Disappearing from Mt. Rainier
June 26, 2011 : 2:57 PM

The effects of the climate crisis are hitting closer and closer to home.

"About 14 percent of the ice and permanent snow atop Washington state's Mount Rainier melted in the past four decades, a new study suggests. Researchers arrived at that figure by comparing the estimated thickness and extent of ice seen in a 1970 aerial survey with those measured in 2007 and 2008. All but two of the 28 glaciers and snowfields on the mountain have thinned and shortened at their lower edges, and the exceptions probably thickened only because large amounts of rock fell upon the ice in recent years and insulated it from warming temperatures."
From the National Parks website:
Deep Snow Delaying Opening of Sunrise Area at Mount Rainier National Park
Too much snow will keep the Sunrise area in Mount Rainier National Park closed through the Fourth of July weekend and until at least July 8, according to park officials. Also, the White River Campground won't open until July 1.

As the accompanying photos show, there really is a lot of snow still waiting to melt away at Sunrise.
What is it Al? Which story is true? Hat tip Anthony.

Light posting today

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Hot and muggy weather -- don't feel like posting very much and working on some other stuff. Maybe a post or two later if it cools down a bit...

A curious agenda push

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From Alec Rawls writing at Watts Up With That:
Is the Corps of Engineers forcibly reverting floodplain to its natural state?
That�s the eye-popping thesis suggested by Joe Herring at American Thinker, and his prima facie evidence, while thin, is also hard to get around. The key fact is this:
On February 3, 2011, a series of e-mails from Ft. Pierre SD Director of Public Works Brad Lawrence sounded the alarm loud and clear. In correspondence to the headquarters of the American Water Works Association in Washington, D.C., Lawrence warned that �the Corps of Engineers has failed thus far to evacuate enough water from the main stem reservoirs to meet normal runoff conditions. This year�s runoff will be anything but normal.�
For the why, Herring quotes the Corps� Master Water Control Manual:
Releases at higher-than-normal rates early in the season that cannot be supported by runoff forecasting techniques is inconsistent with all System purposes other than flood control. All of the other authorized purposes depend upon the accumulation of water in the System rather than the availability of vacant storage space. [Emphasis added.]
Originally, these other purposes were water supply, river navigation and recreation, none of which are served by failing to leave enough reservoir space for normal runoff in a high runoff year. But through thirty years of environmentalist domination of the federal bureaucracy, additional purposes have gained ever higher priority. The Missouri River should be �natural�:
The Clinton administration threw its support behind the change, officially shifting the priorities of the Missouri River dam system from flood control, facilitation of commercial traffic, and recreation to habitat restoration, wetlands preservation, and culturally sensitive and sustainable biodiversity.
Herring even quotes a Corps biologist celebrating the current flood:
The former function of the river is being restored in this one-year event. In the short term, it could be detrimental, but in the long term it could be very beneficial.�
That would be quite the class-action lawsuit. It will be interesting to see when the smoking gun is leaked -- and that is when and not if. More good stuff at the website and the various links. The 50+ comments at both Watts Up With That and American Thinker are both worth a detailed read. This one caught my eye:
The libs began their masked infiltration into our government through the environmentalist movement. There handiwork is now coming to the fore and it is not pretty. Have you noticed the Libs and Obama are not that worried about Middle American natural disasters since they are of their choosing or happen to people who do not vote Democrat? (Kentucky tornadoes last spring, flooding in Midwest, Joplin tornadoes, Alabama tornadoes)
But Katrina...we can't spend enough money on that!

Who is Obama - a two-fer

First a comparison to Carter from the Washington Times:
The return of stagflation
The silver lining in the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee Meeting on Wednesday is that quantitative easing seems to be off the table for now. Once the Fed ends its $600 billion bond-buying program at the end of this month, it�s over. The Fed remains committed to maintaining low to near-zero interest rates.

Unfortunately, the good news ends there. The economy is doing far worse than expected, as Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke acknowledged. The gross-domestic-product growth rate dropped to 1.8 percent in first quarter of this year, sharply down from 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. Unemployment has been climbing steadily, reaching 9.1 percent in May, the second straight increase this year. This slowdown in growth has been accompanied by an increase in inflation. The inflation rate has been rising steadily this entire year. From a trend level of 1.6 percent in January, it jumped 2.7 percent in March and 3.6 percent in May. The increase has been largely driven by two categories that hit tight family budgets hardest: gasoline and food.

High unemployment, low growth and climbing inflation are the definition of stagflation, the scourge of the Carter years. It�s worth examining how close we are coming to reliving the bad days of the late 1970s.

External factors between then and now are similar. Gas prices are high. The �70s had supply problems from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); we have the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and a president putting every domestic source of oil off-limits for drilling. Uncertainty was the dominant theme of the Carter years. Monetary policy was highly volatile, swinging wildly between being expansionary through 1977, moderately accommodating in 1978, and becoming sharply contractionary in late 1979 through early 1980, and then again expansionary in mid-1980. Similarly, fiscal policy swung between being moderately expansionary in 1977, somewhat contractionary in early 1978, and back to expansionary in 1979.
Second, a nod to Carter but another suggestion that seems on the money. From the Washington Examiner:
Like Chauncey Gardiner, Obama is profoundly aloof
Which past leader does Barack Obama most closely resemble? His admirers, not all of them liberals, used to compare him with Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.

Well, Obama announced his candidacy in Lincoln's hometown two days before Abe's birthday, and he did expand the size and scope of government. But no one seriously compares him with Lincoln or FDR any more.

Conservative critics have taken to comparing him, as you might imagine, with Jimmy Carter. The more cruel among them, like the Weekly Standard's Jay Cost, say the comparison is not to Obama's advantage.

But there is another comparison I think more appropriate for a president who, according to one of his foreign-policy staffers, prefers to "lead from behind." The man I have in mind is Chauncey Gardiner, the character played by Peter Sellers in the 1979 movie "Being There."

As you may remember, Gardiner is a clueless gardener who is mistaken for a Washington eminence and becomes a presidential adviser. Asked if you can stimulate growth through temporary incentives, Gardiner says, "As long as the roots are not severed, all is well and all will be well in the garden." "First comes the spring and summer," he explains, "but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again." The president is awed as Gardiner sums up, "There will be growth in the spring."

Kind of reminds you of Obama's approach to the federal budget, doesn't it?

In preparing his February budget, Obama totally ignored the recommendations of his own fiscal commission headed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. Others noticed: The Senate rejected the initial budget by a vote of 97-0.

Then, speaking in April at George Washington University, Obama said he was presenting a new budget with $4 trillion in long-term spending cuts. But there were no specifics.

Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf was asked last week if the CBO had prepared estimates of this budget. "We don't estimate speeches," Elmendorf, a Democrat, explained. "We need much more specificity than was provided in that speech for us to do our analysis."

Evidently "first we have the spring and summer" was not enough.
That is so spot-on it gives me the willies. Aloof and clueless is no way to go through life...
Sometimes people just need to say NO! From the LA Times:
California's new pesticide plan sparks protest
Twenty-five environmental and pubic health groups asked Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday to abandon the state's new plan for eradicating agricultural pests and explore a less toxic approach, such as crop rotation or planting neighboring crops that deter insects.

The plan, announced this week by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, would abandon the traditional practice of assessing the environmental effects of attacking pests one by one, and instead publish a $3-million comprehensive impact report on eradicating all flies, worms, moths and other insects at once.

Such a comprehensive report would reduce oversight, according to Nan Wishner of the California Environmental Health Initiative. �This is a huge state, with many ecosystems and bio-regions, with many threatened or endangered species, and it�s impossible to assess in detail all the implications of all possible pesticides for any pest or future pest� in one report, she said.

�They�re trying to write the Encyclopedia Britannica of pest management.�

The environmental groups also criticized the state's traditional method of quarantining crops and then spraying pesticides, a method that does not look at alternatives other than pesticides to prevent invasive species. State agricultural officials have used 294 eradication programs over 30 years to combat nine pests, Wishner said. �Every year, [they are] trying to kill same bug, and it�s not working. We don�t need to poison whole fields to get rid bugs,� she said.
The 294 programs are a result of new pesticides being developed over the course of thirty years. Whereas thirty years ago, farmers would use a broad-spectrum pesticide such as DDT, now pesticides have been developed which target one particular pest and that pest only. Think of what personal computers were like thirty years ago. ALL of technology has advanced, not just our PCs. California is America's breadbasket and these idiots want to meddle. They should spray Sacremento...

Morocco gets it

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Good news out of Morocco -- from the Weekly Standard:
The King�s Speech
On July 1 Moroccans will vote on a set of constitutional changes proposed by their king, Mohammed VI. These new amendments guarantee the full equality of women and the rights of minorities, like the Berbers, whose language, Amazigh, will now be an official language alongside Arabic; they criminalize torture, establish the independence of the judiciary, and invest more executive authority in a head of government chosen from the party that wins the most seats in parliament.

The king�s speech announcing these proposed amendments didn�t win the international attention afforded the street demonstrations that brought down longstanding authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, but here�s a Muslim-majority Middle Eastern state where reform has become a reality, not a slogan. The pity is that the Obama administration seems oblivious.

The Moroccan reforms issue from negotiations and consultations that began in March, after Tunisia�s Ben Ali and Egypt�s Mubarak had already been swept away. Still, the reform process began much earlier than that, when Mohammed VI succeeded his father Hassan II on the throne in 1999. Over the last decade, opposition parties became restless and demanded the monarchy follow through on its promises. The Arab Spring filled the sails of reform. The proposed amendments, expected to pass by a large majority, will set Morocco on course for a constitutional monarchy resembling Spain�s​�​and, according to some analysts, will actually cede more power than Spain�s reformer king Juan Carlos was first willing to give up.
Morocco is a small nation but let us pray that with these baby steps, the other Muslim nations take notice.

The price of corn these days

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An excellent explanation of the corn boondoggle at The New York Times:
The Great Corn Con
Feeling the need for an example of government policy run amok? Look no further than the box of cornflakes on your kitchen shelf. In its myriad corn-related interventions, Washington has managed simultaneously to help drive up food prices and add tens of billions of dollars to the deficit, while arguably increasing energy use and harming the environment.

Even in a crowd of rising food and commodity costs, corn stands out, its price having doubled in less than a year to a record $7.87 per bushel in early June. Booming global demand has overtaken stagnant supply.

But rather than ameliorate the problem, the government has exacerbated it, reducing food supply to a hungry world. Thanks to Washington, 4 of every 10 ears of corn grown in America � the source of 40 percent of the world�s production � are shunted into ethanol, a gasoline substitute that imperceptibly nicks our energy problem. Larded onto that are $11 billion a year of government subsidies to the corn complex.

Corn is hardly some minor agricultural product for breakfast cereal. It�s America�s largest crop, dwarfing wheat and soybeans. A small portion of production goes for human consumption; about 40 percent feeds cows, pigs, turkeys and chickens. Diverting 40 percent to ethanol has disagreeable consequences for food. In just a year, the price of bacon has soared by 24 percent.
And some numbers:
To ease the pain, Congress threw in a 45-cents-a-gallon subsidy ($6 billion a year); to add another layer of protection, it imposed a tariff on imported ethanol of 54 cents a gallon. That successfully shut off cheap imports, produced more efficiently from sugar cane, principally from Brazil.

Here is perhaps the most incredible part: Because of the subsidy, ethanol became cheaper than gasoline, and so we sent 397 million gallons of ethanol overseas last year. America is simultaneously importing costly foreign oil and subsidizing the export of its equivalent.

That�s not all. Ethanol packs less punch than gasoline and uses considerable energy in its production process. All told, each gallon of gasoline that is displaced costs the Treasury $1.78 in subsidies and lost tax revenue.

Nor does ethanol live up to its environmental promises. The Congressional Budget Office found that reducing carbon dioxide emissions by using ethanol costs at least $750 per ton of carbon dioxide, wildly more than other methods. What is more, making corn ethanol consumes vast quantities of water and increases smog.

Then there�s energy efficiency. Studies reach widely varying conclusions on that issue. While some show a small saving in fossil fuels, others calculate that ethanol consumes more energy than it produces.
Pure political machination, no rational thought at all.

An oldie but goodie

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From The Onion naturally -- June 24th, 1998:
Congress Passes Americans With No Abilities Act
On Tuesday, Congress approved the Americans With No Abilities Act, sweeping new legislation that provides benefits and protection for more than 135 million talentless Americans.

The act, signed into law by President Clinton shortly after its passage, is being hailed as a major victory for the millions upon millions of U.S. citizens who lack any real skills or uses.

"Roughly 50 percent of Americans�through no fault of their own--do not possess the talent necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society," said Clinton, a longtime ANA supporter. "Their lives are futile hamster-wheel existences of unrewarding, dead-end busywork: xeroxing documents written by others, fulfilling mail-in rebates for Black & Decker toaster ovens, and processing bureaucratic forms that nobody will ever see. Sadly, for these millions of nonabled Americans, the American dream of working hard and moving up through the ranks is simply not a reality."

Under the Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million important-sounding "middle man" positions will be created in the white-collar sector for nonabled persons, providing them with an illusory sense of purpose and ability. Mandatory, non-performance-based raises and promotions will also be offered to create a sense of upward mobility for even the most unremarkable, utterly replaceable employees.

The legislation also provides corporations with incentives to hire nonabled workers, including tax breaks for those who hire one non-germane worker for every two talented hirees.

Finally, the Americans With No Abilities Act also contains tough new measures to prevent discrimination against the nonabled by banning prospective employers from asking such job-interview questions as, "What can you bring to this organization?" and "Do you have any special skills that would make you an asset to this company?"

"As a nonabled person, I frequently find myself unable to keep up with co-workers who have something going for them," said Mary Lou Gertz, who lost her position as an unessential filing clerk at a Minneapolis tile wholesaler last month because of her lack of notable skills. "This new law should really help people like me."

With the passage of the Americans With No Abilities Act, Gertz and millions of other untalented, inessential citizens can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Said Clinton: "It is our duty, both as lawmakers and as human beings, to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her lack of value to society, some sort of space to take up in this great nation."
Sign me up. I want to be a parasite on productive people...

Absolute rumor but

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It is floating around the web that Hugo Chavez, who left for Cuba to have surgery, may well be Pining for the Fjords. It will be a dirty scramble for power if this is true and my prayers go out to the poor citizens of Venezuelala in their workers paradise...

The Strategic Oil Reserve

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From FOX News comes this dose of reality from Wyoming Senator John Barrasso who serves as a member of both the Energy and Environment Committees:
Obama's Release of Oil Reserves Just Makes Our Energy Problems Worse, Not Better
When President Obama said that America hopes to be Brazil�s best energy customer, Americans shook their head in confusion.

Apparently, the White House didn�t understand or care about their concern.

The administration repeated the exact same mistake this week when it irresponsibly released 30 million barrels of oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

On Thursday, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu explained that this SPR release was �intended to complement the production increases recently announced by a number of major oil producing countries. � He went on to say that �the United States welcomes those commitments and encourages other countries to follow suit.�

With all due respect, when will America step up and follow suit?

Instead of needlessly tapping into our emergency oil supplies and encouraging other countries to produce more energy, this administration needs to take a hard look in the mirror.

The president has handcuffed American energy developers and made our dependence on foreign energy worse.
What he said -- truth to power...
Interesting -- from The Street:
CFTC Eyes Trades Ahead of IEA News
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is reviewing suspicious trading in oil futures that preceded Thursday's news that countries around the world were releasing stockpiles of crude oil, according to a published media report.

The report, posted on The Wall Street Journal's Web site Saturday, cited one person familiar with the CFTC's actions.

Oil prices fell in the hours before the International Energy Agency announced that 60 million barrels of crude would be released from strategic stockpiles.

This indicates that some traders could have learned of the decision ahead of time, the report said, citing the source. It could also be that someone leaked the IEA's decision. The agency must coordinate with its 28 member nations before making major decisions, meaning many people may have been privy to the information before it was announced, the report noted.
Too many people in the loop. I remember the quote from a few days ago: "80 percent of trades being conducted by companies that never take actual delivery of the physical commodity" I'm all for making money but stuff like this is bad for the overall health of the economy.

Think flying is fun?

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Love getting groped by the TSA? Now they are even more empowered -- they just unionized. From the Wall Street Journal:
TSA Airport Screeners Vote to Join Union
The American Federation of Government Employees said Thursday it has won the right to represent more than 40,000 airport-security screeners employed by the federal government, months after the Obama administration cleared the way for the workers to organize.

The screeners, who work for the Transportation Security Administration, chose the AFGE in a runoff vote against the National Treasury Employees Union by a margin of 8,903 to 8,447 votes. The vote began May 23 and ended Tuesday. In a previous vote tallied in April, neither of the two unions received the majority needed to win.
Just wonderful. And of course, the extra cost and inefficiencies are just going to add to the joy of flying...
The urban centers in liberal states are becoming hell-holes. From Chicago CBS television affiliate:
Teen Mob Hits Walgreens On The Mag Mile
The teenage robbery mobs are at it again on North Michigan Avenue.

Some 50 young people barged into a Walgreens at Michigan and Chicago on the Magnificent Mile on Tuesday afternoon. They took bottled drinks and sandwiches off the shelves, then ran off, CBS 2′s Suzanne Le Mignot reports.

A police report says authorities were able to nab three of the thieves.

Walgreens says the store is working with police, helping investigators with video from the store security camera.

The Mag Mile earlier this year was hit by similar mobs of young thieves. Attacks on commuters and bicyclists have become violent, and police have stepped up patrols.
Emphasis mine -- sounds like a lovely place to live. Visited there a few times and it could be a great city -- some wonderful museums and great architecture but it is a once-great city now that decay has set in.

Memo to self - do not fire the IT guy

From Naked Security:

Fired IT manager hacks into CEO's presentation, replaces it with porn
Imagine you're giving a presentation to the board of directors at your company. You have your PowerPoint slides all ready, you're projecting onto a 64 inch screen... what could possibly go wrong?

Well, what would you do if your carefully composed presentation was replaced on the big screen by images of a naked woman? My guess is that you wouldn't know where to put your laser pointer..

52-year-old Walter Powell used to be an IT manager at Baltimore Substance Abuse System Inc, until he was fired in 2009. Clearly someone who believed that revenge should be served red hot, Powell used his computer knowledge to hack into his former employer's systems from his home and install keylogging software to steal passwords.

On one occasion, Powell took remote control of his former CEO's PowerPoint presentation to the board of directors, and projected pornographic images on the 64 inch TV.

According to media reports, Judge M. Brooke Murdock gave Powell a two year suspended sentence, and ordered him to 100 hours of community service and three years' probation.

Sounds like they didn't have any sort of security in place there. Got what they deserved...

Odd coincidence

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From the Debka File:
Three Russian designers of Iran's nuclear plant die in plane crash
The three Russian nuclear scientists who planned, designed, built and put into operation Iran's first nuclear reactor at Bushehr this year, died Tuesday night, June 20, when a Rusaero flight from Moscow to Petrozavodsk in northwest Russia crashed.

debkafile's sources reveal that they were among the 44 passengers who were killed.

Their loss is a severe blow to Russia's atomic reactor industry as well as its nuclear program as a whole, since the three, Sergey Ryzhov, Gennady Banuyk and Nikolay Trunov, specialized in running installations in tandem and synchronizing various systems.

The Russian company OKB Gidropress, Moscow, which employed them as chief planners of nuclear plants, is proud of having sold reactors to five countries including Iran.

The authorities have ordered an investigation to find out why all three senior nuclear scientists were aboard the same airliner in violation of Russian security regulations which prohibit more than one high-ranking politician, military figure or executive of a sensitive industry taking the same flight.

The cause of the Tu-134's crash is also being probed - although it has a notoriously high accident rate and should not have been used by the three scientists. The eight passengers who survived, who are in critical condition, are to be quizzed to find out what happened aboard the plane before it crashed.
Odd coincidence that -- all three on one plane noted for being crash-prone...

Light posting next few days

Working on some stuff...

Dumb and dumber - Timothy Geithner

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A few days ago he said: Geithner: We Need �Revenue Increases;' Cutting Deficit by Spending Cuts Alone 'Irresponsible' Today, he is still blathering on. From CNS News:
Geithner: Taxes on �Small Business� Must Rise So Government Doesn�t �Shrink�
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the House Small Business Committee on Wednesday that the Obama administration believes taxes on small business must increase so the administration does not have to �shrink the overall size of government programs.�

The administration�s plan to raise the tax rate on small businesses is part of its plan to raise taxes on all Americans who make more than $250,000 per year�including businesses that file taxes the same way individuals and families do.

Unemployment numbers up

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From Yahoo/Reuters:
Jobless claims data points to weak labor market
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, suggesting little improvement in the labor market this month after employment stumbled badly in May.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits climbed 9,000 to 429,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists had expected claims to come in at 415,000.

The report was the latest in a long-running series of data to underscore the lingering weakness in the U.S. recovery and came a day after the Federal Reserve gave a gloomier assessment of the economy.

The claims report covers the survey period for the government's closely watched data on nonfarm payrolls for June, which will be released July 8. Claims increased 15,000 between the May and June survey periods, implying another soft month for jobs after a modest 54,000 gain in employment in May.
And the big fool says to push on...

A simple suggestion

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How to fix Afghanistan in one year. GhetoPuter offers this simple suggestion at The Gormogons:
Opiate of the Asses
CNN writes today about the difficulty caused by Afghanistan's reliance on opium as a cash crop.

Afghani opium production isn't a problem for the United States, it's an opportunity. Here's how.

The Taliban runs on opium profits, extorted from local farmers in a protection racket. The farmers grow poppies because they're just about the only thing the crappy soil can support that's worth a damn. Without killing them all, we are not going to stop either the farmers from growing poppies or the Taliban from extorting the farmers. Take that as a given.

We should purchase each farmer's entire output of opium poppies each year for a price double the going market rate. We should pay Xe (nee Blackwater) to provide protection for the farmers and their fields. We should take delivery of the poppies and process them into opium, morphine or whatever. What we don't need, we burn.

We pull our troops out of Afghanistan, leaving it to fend for itself. If Afghanistan can't get its crap together in ten years, it's not our problem any more. The imminent departure of American troops and money will likely have a clarifying effect far greater than another ten years of our presence.

Heck, get all libertarian, legalize government-purchased Afghani heroin in the United States and tax the snot out of it. Sell it at government run drug stores. That alone would probably pay for the Afghanistan operations, plus throw off taxes to cut into our national debt.

'Puter's half-serious proposal has several advantages. It's cheaper than military operations. It takes heroin off the market, or offers a new revenue source, depending on approach. It permits Afghan locals to live as they have for ages, growing poppies. And it bankrupts the Taliban. Oh, and we get to bring our troops home. Or move them to Pakistan, where the real problem resides.

It makes so much sense, it will never happen.
I cannot see anything wrong with this plan...
6.7 Mag is a big quake -- not a 9.0 but not pocket change. Happened about three hours ago. No word on Tsunami warnings...

We are in a hole

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So what does Geithner propose? Dig faster. From CNS News:
Geithner: We Need �Revenue Increases;' Cutting Deficit by Spending Cuts Alone 'Irresponsible'
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Tuesday that a deal to raise the legal debt limit, which he expects to be completed in the next few weeks, will be only a short-term �down payment� on solving the nation�s debt problem, and that it would be "irresponsible" to reduce the massive federal deficit anticipated over the next ten years with spending cuts alone.

What is needed, he said, is a longer-term deal on a �balanced framework� that includes �revenue increases through tax reform.� Geithner said negotiations with Congress over such a longer-term plan could be completed within the �next few months.�

In the vernacular, when the government changes the tax laws to extract more tax revenue from citizens it is called a tax increase.
We have seen already what that can do and where it leads us:
And it's not like little Timmy doesn't have any tax issues of his own. Without sin and casting stones comes to mind...
Especially if they are profitable. From Watts Up With That:
NASA�s Hansen asked to account for outside activities
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Contacts: Christopher Horner, chris.horner@atinstitute.org
Paul Chesser, paul.chesser@atinstitute.org

ATI Law Center Asks Court to Force NASA to Produce Ethics-Related, Outside Employment Records of Dr. James Hansen
The American Tradition Institute�s Environmental Law Center today filed a lawsuit in federal district court in the District of Columbia to force the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to release ethics records for taxpayer-funded global warming activist Dr. James Hansen, specifically records that pertain to his outside employment, revenue generation, and advocacy activities.

ATI seeks to learn whether NASA approved Hansen�s outside employment, which public financial disclosures and other documents reveal to have brought him at least $1.2 million in the past four years. This money comes on top of and, more troubling from an ethics and legal perspective, is all �related to� and sometimes even expressly for his taxpayer-funded employment, all of which outside employment commenced when Hansen stepped up his �global warming� activism from his perch at NASA.

On January 19, ATI filed a Freedom of Information Act request (PDF) with NASA�s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which sought records detailing NASA�s and Hansen�s compliance with applicable federal ethics and financial disclosure laws and regulations and with NASA Rules of Behavior. Thus far the agency has denied ATI�s request for Hansen�s Form 17-60 �Application for permission for outside employment and other activity�, and internal discussions about same.

Arguing that release would constitute a �clearly unwarranted violation of Hansen�s privacy rights� NASA claims that ATI�s pages of explanation failed to establish that the one-page applications � if they exist, which ATI has reason to doubt � would�contribute to the public�s understanding of the activities of the Government, or how it would shed light on NASA�s performance of its statutory duties.�

This despite that whether NASA complies with ethics laws is patently of public interest, and that Hansen�s position requires him to file vastly more detailed Public Financial Disclosure filings, or Form SF 278, which are made available to the public on request. Both are for the simple reason that a senior employee�s outside revenue-generating activities are inherently in the public�s interest according to the Ethics in Government Act of 1978.

Dr. Hansen engages in high-profile public advocacy with regard to global warming and energy policy, directly trading on his platform as a NASA astronomer to gain interest and attention. This outside employment and other activities relating to his work have included consulting, highly compensated speeches, six-figure �prizes�, a commercial book, advising Al Gore on his movie �An Inconvenient Truth� and, lately, advising litigants on suing states and the federal government.
Lots more at the site. Basically, the guy is working on the government teat and his salary is coming from us taxpayers. All of the research he does, the data and conclusions are public domain. He is supposed to report any and all outside income and in some cases, this income needs to either be refused or turned over to his paymasters.

A great way to start the day

This story came in over the transom -- from The Daily Beast:

Ethanol Subsidies: Congress Sacrifices a Sacred Cow
Ethanol subsidies have been a sacred cow in American politics since the late 1980s, and their demise came Friday not with a whimper but with a bang. By a vote of 73 to 27, the Senate declared an end to what Republican Senator John McCain called the "corporate welfare" that had gone on for far too long, and that had become enshrined in presidential politics as a ticket of admission to the Iowa caucuses. Now the legislation moves to the House, where deficit-conscious Tea Party conservatives could provide a similar winning margin.

Members of both parties called the vote the end of an era, crediting the courage of a single senator, Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn, with setting the stage and making possible a victory that many believed would never occur. In the context of the overall budget, the dollars saved are relatively small - about $6 billion a year - but the symbolism is huge for breaking the stalemate over the budget deficit that is currently paralyzing Congress and threatening the U.S. credit standing.

Ethanol - a corn-based fuel blended with gasoline - has long been championed by powerful Midwestern lawmakers, who routinely got a 45-cent per gallon tax credit renewed each year to the joy of corn farmers whose product is used to make ethanol and the blenders who mix it. They also managed for years to keep a tariff on imports of ethanol, giving the U.S. industry a distinct advantage.

But the legislation approved Friday, originally proposed by Coburn but this version sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) eliminates both the subsidy and the tariff.

I hope this will put an end to the mandatory 10% Ethanol in our gasoline. Plays hell on small engines.

Fixing Michigan schools

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A great letter to the Governor from Nathan Bootz, Superintendent of Ithaca Public Schools:
Dear Governor Snyder,
In these tough economic times, schools are hurting. And yes, everyone in Michigan is hurting right now financially, but why aren�t we protecting schools? Schools are the one place on Earth that people look to to �fix� what is wrong with society by educating our youth and preparing them to take on the issues that society has created.

One solution I believe we must do is take a look at our corrections system in Michigan. We rank nationally at the top in the number of people we incarcerate. We also spend the most money per prisoner annually than any other state in the union. Now, I like to be at the top of lists, but this is one ranking that I don�t believe Michigan wants to be on top of.

Consider the life of a Michigan prisoner. They get three square meals a day. Access to free health care. Internet. Cable television. Access to a library. A weight room. Computer lab. They can earn a degree. A roof over their heads. Clothing. Everything we just listed we DO NOT provide to our school children.

This is why I�m proposing to make my school a prison. The State of Michigan spends annually somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 per prisoner, yet we are struggling to provide schools with $7,000 per student. I guess we need to treat our students like they are prisoners, with equal funding. Please give my students three meals a day. Please give my children access to free health care. Please provide my school district Internet access and computers. Please put books in my library. Please give my students a weight room so we can be big and strong. We provide all of these things to prisoners because they have constitutional rights. What about the rights of youth, our future?!

Please provide for my students in my school district the same way we provide for a prisoner. It�s the least we can do to prepare our students for the future...by giving our schools the resources necessary to keep our students OUT of prison.

Respectfully submitted,

Nathan Bootz
Ithaca Public Schools
Well said...

Fiat Lux

I'm liking Rick Perry more and more -- he would make a great president. From PhysOrg:

Texas light bulb bill would skirt federal plan
State lawmakers have passed a bill that allows Texans to skirt federal efforts to promote more efficient light bulbs, which ultimately pushes the swirled, compact fluorescent bulbs over the 100-watt incandescent bulbs many grew up with.

The measure, sent to Gov. Rick Perry for consideration, lets any incandescent light bulb manufactured in Texas - and sold in that state - avoid the authority of the federal government or the repeal of the 2007 energy independence act that starts phasing out some incandescent light bulbs next year.

"Let there be light," state Rep. George Lavender, R-Texarkana, wrote on Facebook after the bill passed. "It will allow the continued manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs in Texas, even after the federal ban goes into effect. ... It's a good day for Texas."

A bit more:

"Telling Texans what types of light bulbs they can manufacture, sell, purchase and use is not the proper role of the federal government," said Janise Cookston, a spokeswoman for the Wharton-based nonprofit group "We Texans," which works to protect "private property, personal and economic liberty" as well as constitutional government.

"This bill sends the message to Washington that Texas will no longer sit idly by and take unconstitutional intrusion into our lives."

I love it -- betting that there will be a major online retail business for bulbs with: "Made in Texas" printed on them.

My main gripe with the CFLs is that they do not last worth anything if they are put in a situation where they are turned on and off and on and off several times/day. We use them at the store where the ceiling lights are turned on at 7:00AM and off at 10:00PM but we use incandescents in the closets, bathrooms, etc.

The EPA needs to have its funding cut by 90%. They occasionally do good things but they have fallen victim to Pournelle's Iron Law.

A tip 'o the hat to Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler

The internet land grab

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Now you can register xyzzy.whatever if you want to. From the Bellingham Herald:
Coming soon to the Internet: The .whatever address
A quarter-century after the creation of ".com," the agency that assigns Internet addresses is loosening its rules and allowing suffixes named after brands, hobbies, political causes and just about anything else.

Under guidelines approved Monday, Apple could register addresses ending in ".ipad," Citi and Chase could share ".bank" and environmental groups could go after ".eco." Japan could have ".com" in Japanese.

It's the biggest change to the system of Internet addresses since it was created in 1984.

More than 300 suffixes are available today, but only a handful, such as the familiar ".net" and ".com," are open for general use worldwide. Hundreds of new suffixes could be established by late next year, thousands in years to come.

"This is the start of a whole new phase for the Internet," said Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the California nonprofit organization in charge of Internet addresses.

The novelty addresses will be costly - $185,000 to apply and $25,000 a year to maintain one. A personal address with a common suffix such as ".com" usually costs less than $10 a year.

ICANN says it costs tens of millions of dollars to write the guidelines for suffixes, review applications and resolve any disputes. Even with the hefty fees, the organization says it plans only to break even. It's also setting aside up to $2 million to subsidize applications from developing countries.
A bit more:
Smaller companies stand to benefit, too. A florist called Apple can't use "Apple.com" because the computer company has it. Previously, the shop might have registered a longer, clunky address. Now it can just be "Apple.flowers."

Of course, a small florist might not be able to afford an expensive suffix. But an entrepreneur or a trade group might, and it could sell individual addresses ending in ".flowers" for $10 or $100 a pop. A successful suffix owner could make millions, much more than what it pays in application and annual fees.
Just what we need -- massive dilution of the name space. "Oh. Was that xyzzy.com or xyzzy.net" just became "Oh. Was that xyzzy.fubar or xyzzy.potato" And they move on to the next potential vendor...

Speaking truth to power - the EPA

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Ohio Congressman Bob Gibbs preaches to this choir. From Junk Science:
Ohio Congressman: EPA Administrator Jackson is the Biggest Stumbling Block to American Job Creation
Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) released the following statement regarding EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson�s comments yesterday about the Environmental Protection Agency�s (EPA) Clean Air Transport Rule (CATR) and Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) proposals:
�Yesterday, EPA Administrator Jackson accused Michael G. Morris, chairman and chief executive officer of one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, of using scare tactics and misleading the public. She has once again managed to ignore the reality of the havoc her agency has managed to wreak on our economy.

�Administrator Jackson is the biggest stumbling block to American job creation. At a time when families are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table, the EPA wants to take away their paychecks and shut off their lights. Congress didn�t give EPA the authority to pursue an agenda that hurts the very people it�s supposedly trying to protect.

�Even with these facts staring her in the face, Jackson has tried to vilify an organization that puts paychecks in over 18,000 Americans in eleven states. She refuses to believe that they know what they are talking about when they say they will be forced to lay-off nearly 600 power plant workers, totaling nearly $40 million in annual wages. Furthermore, according to a recent study by the non-partisan National Economic Research Associates Inc. (NERA), the new regulations are expected to cost 53,500 Ohio jobs and 1.44 MILLION American jobs by 2020.

�Of course, the effects to the communities will be far greater than these direct job losses alone, as electricity prices increase and nearby businesses suffer in the wake of plant closures. Not to mention that reduced energy capacity will increase the occurrence of rolling blackouts and electrical shortages throughout the country.

�In Ohio we mine coal and burn coal, and have thousands of jobs because of coal. We are proud of our coal heritage. The EPA has waged war on fossil fuels and I hope that my colleagues in Congress will join me in putting a stop to it.�
That is going to leave a mark but I am betting that Jackson is so delusional that this simply will not register.
The greenies have long used our legal system to stymie things they do not like. There is no body of law to protect "nature" but if they can find a specific critter (Spotted Owl, Delta Smelt, etc...) endemic to their area of interest, they can use the legal system to "protect" that species and therefore prohibit the use of that habitat. The same thing is true of the whole Anthropogenic Global Warming stupidity and the efforts to seriously curtail the emission of a crucial plant food on the misunderstanding that CO2 causes global warming and that we need to clamp our civilization to pre-industrial levels in order to survive. Fortunately, the Supreme Court had a thing or two to say about this process. From the Huffington Post:
Supreme Court Blocks Climate Change Lawsuit Filed By States
The Supreme Court blocked a federal lawsuit Monday by states and conservation groups trying to force cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

The court said that the authority to seek reductions in emissions rests with the Environmental Protection Agency, not the courts. The ruling was 8-0.
Now if someone would bring suit for an endangered species (Delta Smelt say...) and get the rest of this tawdry business settled. 8-0 with Justice Sotomayor recusing herself is a pretty strong statement.

You are what you eat

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This actually sounds really tasty -- from the San Diego, CA Union Tribune:
Fried Kool-Aid a hit at fair, Chicken Charlie says
The deep-fried Kool-Aid is selling like deep-fried hot cakes, according to their famed creator, "Chicken" Charlie Boghosian.

Chicken Charlie's is a staple of fried rations at fairs across the country. It sold 400 to 600 orders of deep-fried Kool-Aid per day the first weekend of the San Diego County Fair. That's about double the rate of previous debut items, Boghosian said.

"That's because it tastes so darn good," Boghosian said of the Kool-Aid.

The deep-fried novelty takes the shape of a doughnut-hole. There are five per order. That breaks down to as much as 9,000 balls of deep-fried Kool-Aid eaten over opening weekend.

Boghosian said Chicken Charlie's has already gone through 150 pounds of Kool-Aid powder and 1,500 pounds of flour. Chicken Charlie's debuted deep-fried Klondike Bars and Pop Tarts in past years.
So a one to ten ratio of kool-aid powder to flour for the batter. One of my cooks at the bakery is from Alabama and makes deep-fried pickles from time to time -- those are delicious. We will have to try this sometime this summer...

Words of wisdom

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From Yahoo/Associated Press:
Obama: My family would be fine with just 1 term
President Barack Obama says his wife and daughters aren't "invested" in him being president and would have been fine had he decided against running for re-election. But he says they believe in what he's doing for the country.

Asked about his family's reaction to his wanting another term, Obama said: "Michelle and the kids are wonderful in that if I said, `You know, guys, I want to do something different,' They'd be fine. They're not invested in daddy being president or my husband being president."

He says first lady Michelle Obama would be the first one to encourage him to do something "a little less stressful" if she no longer thought that what they were doing was worthwhile for the country. Obama's interview aired Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show.
I do not think this will be a matter of choice for him. Gallup is a fairly liberal polling agency and they are reporting that the majority (44%/39%) of citizens would prefer any Republican candidate over Obama.

Wanna see gas prices really skyrocket?

From Fuel Fix:

Big Bank meets Big Oil: Goldman's coming to Houston
Goldman Sachs will open an energy sales and trading desk in Houston this year, putting nearly a dozen people to work trading physical products such as oil.

The Houston office will be headed by Trey Griggs, a managing director in U.S. energy sales in New York, who will relocate to Houston, according to persons familiar with the plans.

Ben Freeman, a vice president in crude oil trading in London, will also move to Houston as head of trading.

The new office will cover sales and trading of crude oil, refined oil products, natural gas liquids and coal, according to the source. The traders will be in Goldman Sachs' existing Houston offices at 1000 Louisiana Ave. downtown.

Say hello to rampant speculation:

Most of Goldman's New York traders deal in financial transactions that don't include the physical delivery of commodities.


Earlier this month, Commodity Futures Trading Commission head Gary Gensler said speculators are a huge part of the market, with some 80 percent of trades being conducted by companies that never take actual delivery of the physical commodity.

Emphasis mine. 80%. Wow. One more:

Goldman's move comes as the CFTC draws closer to finalizing rules related to the Dodd-Frank Act, which is expected to limit the size of commodity futures contracts that companies can hold at any given time. The rules are aimed at preventing companies that don't physically use oil, natural gas or other commodities from being able to influence prices.

Dodd and Frank are the last two people who I want determining how a bank or an investment institution should operate. We had a perfectly good regulation in the Glass--Steagall Act which was put into place after the Great Depression to prevent recurrences. Needless to say, it was 'repealed' under the Clinton administration by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Six or seven years for these financial leviathans to run up in size and then four years for them to start crashing the economy. We do not need Dodd-Frank -- this is a band-aid on a mortal wound. We need some serious teeth or we are in for a world of financial hurt...

The plot thickens

Being in the public eye has its downsides as well. Anthony Wiener's wife may have an interesting personal life and association with Hillary Clinton but Huma Abedin also has an interesting mother and some other relatives. From Walid Shoebat and Ben Barrack at Pajamas Media:
Revealed: Weiner�s In-Laws� Secret Muslim Brotherhood Connections
Was Huma Abedin � wife of Anthony Weiner and deputy chief of staff to Hillary Clinton � unaware that her mother was reported as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood? Did Western media miss what has been revealed in several Arab newspapers and left secret in American government circles?

Al-Liwa Al-Arabi (translated here) claims to have leaked an extensive list, partially published by Al-Jazeera and several other major Arab newspapers, that includes Huma�s mother, Saleha Abedin, in the Brotherhood�s secret women�s division � known as the Muslim Sisterhood or International Women�s Organization (IWO).

Information about the IWO can readily be found at the Muslim Brotherhood�s official website. An excerpt from its goal, translated from the Arabic, states:
The Women Organization�s goal, in accordance with the Muslim Brotherhood rules, is to gain and acquire a unified global perception in every nation in the world regarding the position of women, and the necessity of advocacy work at all levels in accordance with the message of the Brotherhood, as written in Women in Muslim Society, and the rearing of women throughout the different stages of life [emphasis added].
The Egyptian paper Al-Dostor revealed that the Sisterhood includes 63 international members across 16 different countries � a claim confirmed by the Arab Center for Studies, headed by researcher Abdul Rahim Ali.

Neither Huma nor any major Western media outlets even mention this bit of common knowledge in the Arab world.

But there is more. Also confirmed by Arab sources is that Huma Abedin has a brother who works at Oxford University named Hassan Abedin. Oxford, which has long been infiltrated by Islamists who founded the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS), has Huma�s brother listed as a fellow and partner with a number of Muslim Brotherhood members on the Board � including al-Qaeda associate Omar Naseef and the notorious Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi. Both have been listed as OCIS trustees. Naseef continues to serve as Board chairman.
Talk about rats in the grain. I do not see Weiner as being complicit in this, he is just frat-boy stupid. Tip 'o the hat to Firehand at Irons in the Fire.

Rick Perry - spot on

Liking the guy more and more -- from Real Clear Politics:
Perry: Left "Never Going To Like Us, So Let's Stop Trying To Curry Favor With Them"
"It saddens me when sometimes my fellow Republicans duck and cover in the face of pressure from the left. Our party cannot be all things to all people," Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) said at a Republican party event in Louisiana today.

"Our opponents on the left are never going to like us, so let's quit trying to curry favor with them!"
What he said...

A good time last night

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About 20 people showed up -- not bad at all considering the rain that afternoon. I put up a 10*20 tent near the bonfire so that appeased the weather gods and the evening was dry -- these bonfires are scheduled so for the last month or so I have been saving odd bits of wood. Nice and big and lasted for about five hours. The tri-tips came out nice and tender -- I cooked them Sous-Vide for about six hours and then finished them off on the grill. The taste was a little bland but they were only marinated overnight. When I do the Pastrami for the bakery, I brine it under spices for five days and it takes on a fantastic flavor. Next year... At the bakery now to cover the shift change and will head home in an hour or two -- blogging will resume later today.

Minimal posting today and tomorrow

Sill processing the friends death. We also have a bunch of people coming over to the house for an annual campout, bonfire and party. There is an online forum for local hiking and backpacking and we have been hosting these get-togethers for a couple of years, should be a nice break. Got a couple of tri-tips marinating and will be cooking them Sous-Vide and finishing on the grill.

Well crap

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A dear friend was killed today in a fluke accident. From the Bellingham Herald:
Woman killed in Maple Falls steam roller accident
A woman was killed when the steam roller she had been operating rolled over her Friday afternoon, June 17, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office.

The incident happened just after 1 p.m. on private property on Black Mountain Road, off Silver Lake Road.

It's unknown how the woman was run over, and Sheriff's deputies were on scene investigating the incident Friday afternoon, Sheriff Bill Elfo said. The woman's name has not yet been released.
She was a driving force for good in the community, active in many events. A genuinely good person.

Happy 100th Birthday - IBM

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A big tip of the hat to Bayou Renaissance Man"
Happy 100th birthday to IBM
On June 16th, 1911, three smaller companies merged to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company. In 1924 the C-R-T Co. would change its name to International Business Machines. Its initials, IBM, would go on to become synonymous with the computer industry.

IBM has given us the bar code, the magnetic strip on credit, debit and ATM cards, the high-speed transaction processing system that made ATM's possible, the floppy disk (remember those?), and countless other innovations. Its punch-card technology helped count the US population in the decennial Census. Its computer systems and software helped land astronauts on the Moon. Its mainframe computers and database technology continue to serve large businesses almost everywhere you can think of.

IBM also gave us the industry-standard PC architecture, back in 1981.

If you're reading this on a computer screen, the odds are about 17 to 1 that you're doing so on a personal computer whose architecture still follows what was introduced as the IBM PC.
Was running CP/M for about five years working on dBase and Small C development for clients. My big machine was a Cromemco S-100 system with two 8" double sided double density floppy disks each good for a whopping 1.2MB storage. I later (for about $1,200) added a five MB hard drive. Finally succumbed to the dark side and purchased an IBM XT with an expansion box and an after-market Seagate 20MB hard drive. That was about $6K in 1985 real dollars (not today's dollarettes). Switched languages over to Borland's Turbo Pascal and never really picked up C again. Moved more into Hardware. I regret selling the Cromemco system -- still have some S-100 boards and would love to find an old IMSAI machine to play with. I remember getting a US Robotics 9,600 modem and being impressed that the text files were coming in faster than I could read them. It is a long and a fun ride with zero signs of slowing down...

Good news for adrenaline junkies

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For only $175 CDN, you can suit up and walk along a thin ledge at 1,168 feet off the ground. The new Canadian National tower Edgewalk is opening this summer.
Going up on a ladder gives me the willies (although I love hot air ballooning and helicopter rides -- go figure) so I think I will pass on this one. Interesting to see if they can monitor stuff being tossed over the ledge and people wanting to jump... I love this entry on the about page:
Tickets are $175 and include keepsake video, photos, certificate of achievement and re-entry to CN Tower.
Emphasis mine: "re-entry to CN Tower" How thoughtful of them...

Just wow - Japan three months later

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The Boston Globe's Big Picture feature looks at Japan as it recovers from the horrific earthquake and tsunami from three months ago. Some amazing and heart-wrenching photography.
"Adolf" Christie indeed... One of the comments was spot on:
The only people we see organizing, yelling in unison, marching in lock step, carrying identical signs with identical logos and messages, and wnating something for not much input (hard work or sharing) are the union people, pal. Did you order the folks the brown shirts yet?

Sittin' on a gold mine

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Took a bunch of steel scrap into the recyclers and came out with $86 Considering how much is left at the farm (I cherry picked a couple of easy pieces), there is an easy one-two thousand $$$ on the hoof out there. Back at the bakery to close out the day and then home.

Another busy day today

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Cut 24 paychecks for the two businesses and then heading home to gather up some scrap metal and take it into the recyclers. Some posting this evening but probably not much...

Stanley Cup - final game

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Watched it tonight while having dinner. Boston won and it seems that our friends to the north are a little peeved. From British Columboa station CTV:
Raging Canucks fans start riot downtown
Unhappy Vancouver Canucks fans are taking out their anger downtown at losing the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins in Game 7, and there are unconfirmed reports rioters have flipped a police car.

Eyewitnesses told CTV News that an angry mob had flipped over a police car near the intersection of Nelson and Granville streets, and that rioters were smashing windows at a pizza place nearby.

Rioters also smashed windows at the Bank of Montreal branch at the intersection of Georgia and Homer streets.

Fans flipped a car out front of the post office on Georgia Street and turned over another truck nearby after the Canucks were trounced 4-0 in the final game. Another car was set on fire.

As soon as the final whistle blew in the game, young men in the Georgia Street fan zone began shouting "F*** Boston" and setting Bruins gear on fire.

Other angry fans held signs reading "Riot 2011" and burned homemade Stanley Cups as the pandemonium spread through the downtown core. Some rioters flipped portable toilets, and there were early reports of head injuries as fist fights broke out throughout the downtown area.
I would not be happy with 4-0 either but this is a bit extreme...

Not much posting tonight

Did a dump run into town -- stuff piles up and since we are having a bunch of people over Saturday, I'm spending a few days hauling it in to the dump. Metal scrap tomorrow and build a bonfire. Surf for a bit and post anything I might find and then to the DaveCave(tm) and then to bed -- early day tomorrow as I will be running payroll for both stores.

Stifling dissent

From Olympia, WA's The Olympian:

Vandals target Olympian building, staffer
The Olympian's building on Bethel Street and an Olympian photographer's Tumwater home were targeted by vandals overnight Wednesday - with anarchist graffiti spray-painted on a door, a corrosive substance thrown on windows and three tires of the photographer's pickup slashed.

Photographer Tony Overman was singled out by the graffiti left on an exterior wall at The Olympian - where the words "Overman snitch" were written in dark paint.

Overman said he was editing video in his living room after 1 a.m. Thursday when he looked out a window and noticed his pickup was parked at a crooked angle.

He said he found the tires of his truck slashed, an anarchist symbol spray-painted on his garage door and the word "snitch" spray-painted on his pickup. A gooey substance had been left on all the truck's windows.

Olympian facilities and maintenance manager Darrell McDevitt said he arrived at work about 5:45 a.m. Thursday to find that an acidic or corrosive paint-like substance had been splashed over about 13 windows at the front of the building. The words "Overman snitch" also were spray-painted on an Olympian delivery truck and on the front wall of the building.

McDevitt said it is too early to say how much it will cost to fix the damage, but he estimated it could be about $12,000. Olympian Publisher George LeMasurier said, "As a newspaper, we believe strongly in the right of free speech and the right of people to assemble peaceably, but there is no right to destroy property. It's troubling that some people in our community resort to violence and anonymous attacks in the dead of night to express their opinion."

The vandalism is the latest in a string of such incidents at various locations in Olympia. In early May, someone left anarchist graffiti in a rest room at the new City Hall and attempted to pour cement into the toilets. In April, vandals shattered every window at South Sound Bank on Harrison Avenue and left anarchist graffiti, according to Olympia police. In March, anarchists were suspected when unknown people tried to set fire to a back door of the Olympia Police Department's Harrison Avenue substation.

Overman, 48, a two-time regional photographer of the year for the National Press Photographers Association said he is disturbed that someone would go to the trouble to find out where he lives and vandalize his property.

"These are the anarchists, and they are targeting me to try and scare me," he said.

He said he thinks a group of self-described anarchists wants to intimidate him so they can prevent him from taking their photos during their participation in public marches. He said that in the past, published photos he has taken of anarchists committing crimes, such as throwing rocks during marches and spray-painting property, have been used by police to try to identify the anarchists.

Overman emphasized that only his photos published in The Olympian and on its website have ever been made available to police. He said that over the past several years, The Olympian had refused requests from law enforcement agencies for unpublished photos.

Overman was assaulted in April 2010 when a woman, clad in black and her face covered by a bandanna, spray-painted his face and camera lens as he attempted to take a photo of a professed anarchist at an "anti-police brutality" march in downtown Olympia.

Overman said being targeted at his home is even more traumatizing than his experience working as a photojournalist in war zones in Iraq.

"The reason why it's so disturbing to me is that you'd think that in a free country, the people who use the First Amendment to express their right to free speech would also respect the First Amendment right of the free press," he said.

Olympia Police Detective Rich Allen, who has been assigned to investigate the vandalism at The Olympian, said he will coordinate with Tumwater detectives investigating the vandalism at Overman's home.

Allen said Overman's history as an assault victim, combined with being targeted for crimes at his home, is "over the line" from what police normally deal with in vandalism cases.

FSCKing self centered onanists. But some good news - The Olympian again:

Rally for Olympian photographer draws about 40
About 40 people gathered Saturday afternoon on the front steps of The Olympian to show support for Tony Overman, a photographer for the newspaper whose home and truck were damaged last week by vandals who spray-painted an anarchist symbol at his home. The vandals also spray-painted "Overman Snitch" on The Olympian's building, damaged building windows and tagged an Olympian vehicle with spray paint.

Pity that the rally was not publicized -- I am on two local photo email lists and there wasn't a peep on either one about the vandalism or the rally.

Preaching to the choir

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Representative Paul Ryan testifies -- from FOX News:
Obama's Economic Experiment Has Failed -- Time to Get Back to What Works
A flurry of recent economic news � especially the May jobs report � confirms what many have feared for some time: This president�s leadership deficit has caused a disastrous jobs deficit, and where he has led, his policies have made things worse.

The president clearly inherited a difficult fiscal and economic situation when he took office. But his response to the crisis has been woefully inadequate. The president and his party�s leaders have made it their mission to test the hypothesis that more government spending and greater government control over the economy can jump-start a recovery better than the private sector can.

That experiment has failed. The stimulus spending spree failed to create jobs. Massive overhauls of the financial sector and health-care sector are fueling uncertainty and hindering our recovery.

House Republicans are charting a new course with a better plan � starting with a budget that frees the private sector from regulatory uncertainty, punishing tax increases, and the crushing burden of debt that is weighing on this recovery. But making progress on this plan will require leaders in Washington to relinquish the idea that government knows best, and many just don�t seem ready to face that reality.

The May jobs report was yet another reminder that the government-knows-best crowd got it wrong. When he came into office, the president�s economic team predicted that a stimulus bill of unprecedented size and scope would hold unemployment below 8 percent and steadily lower it to 7 percent by the first quarter of this fiscal year.

These estimates weren�t just off by a little bit � they completely missed the mark. The jobless rate went all the way up to 10.1 percent, never fell below 8.8 percent, and has now ticked back up to 9.1 percent. Private-sector hiring continues to stagnate. The cost of gas and groceries continues to rise. And the national debt continues to climb, casting a long shadow over economic activity and job creation.

This recovery pales in comparison to past, private-sector-led recoveries. Unemployment today has fallen by just 1 percentage point from its recessionary peak. By contrast, unemployment at the same point in the past ten recoveries dropped by an average of 5 percentage points in past recoveries. The dismal jobs record underscores the fact that the Great Recession is far from over for millions of American families.

There are three main reasons why the president�s policies have made this recovery weaker than usual:
Visit the site to read the rest -- spot on.

Ethanol subsidies

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Looks like the lobbyists for Archer Daniels Midland pumped enough money into Capital Hill. From Politico:
Senate keeps ethanol subsidies
The Senate on Tuesday rejected, 40-59, a symbolic attempt to strike ethanol tax subsidies as Democrats are working on a deal to hold at least one vote on ethanol next week.

The amendment from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) fell well short of the necessary 60 votes to invoke cloture and limit debate. Five Democrats supported the amendment and 12 Republican ethanol backers, largely from the Midwest, opposed it.

Coburn�s amendment would have repealed a 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit to blend ethanol in gasoline that is set to expire at the end of the year. It is estimated that the tax credit would be worth upwards of $6 billion if it continues the whole year. The amendment also would have repealed a 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on ethanol imports.
The tarriff is weird because Brazil is supposed to be our BFF for fuel -- we are subsidizing their oil development but we levy a tarrif against their sugar cane ethanol which is cheaper than our own corn ethanol. The tax credit goes to the fuel companies and not the farmers. Perfect example of what is going wrong here, the poor get free gubbinment cheese, the big corporations get sweetheart deals and everyone in the middle gets the shaft...

Unions in the news

Another loss due to a Union -- from Crain's Chicago Business:

McCormick Place loses Car Care show to Las Vegas
The Car Care World Expo has decided against holding its 2013 trade show at McCormick Place due to higher labor costs and instead will go to Las Vegas.

Eric Wulf, chief executive officer of the Chicago-based International Carwash Assn., said that the uncertainty surrounding wide-sweeping reforms enacted last year by state legislators and currently being challenged by several unions forced the organization to withdraw its letter of intent to hold a future show in its hometown.

"Chicago simply is not a possibility given its work rules," Mr. Wulf said.

That's five thousand attendees who needed to eat at restaurants, stay in hotels, engage in tourism, shopping, etc... Way to go Unions! Crain's did some investigating:

Contractors, trade associations squeeze convention exhibitors at McCormick Place
Denise Canavan surveys what was left of her exhibit booth on the vast show floor of the McCormick Place West Building. "You see this carpeting?" she says. "I only had it vacuumed once during the show, because it cost me $600."

Ms. Canavan, an exhibit manager at Chelmsford, Mass.-based Zoll Medical Corp., makers of defibrillators and other cardiac devices, was packing up after three days at the National Teaching Institute and Critical-Care Exposition in early May. Don't get her started on the cost of being an exhibitor. While she's had her issues with McCormick Place unions, the hefty fees charged by Freeman, the show's general contractor, and the trade association itself are what pushed her bill past $160,000.

After all, she jokes, the worker who spent 30 minutes vacuuming her 40-by-50-foot booth probably didn't earn $1,200 an hour (more like $15).

"Do I get frustrated? Yes," she sighs. "Everyone has a right to make a buck. All I want is fairness."

A three-month Crain's investigation finds questions of profit and fairness clouding the future of McCormick Place, the linchpin of a Chicago convention industry that generates $8 billion in annual spending and supports 66,000 jobs.

In 2009, when some big trade shows left or threatened to leave Chicago over price-gouging and labor practices at McCormick Place, lawmakers rushed through legislation imposing wage cuts and work-rule changes on unions at the convention center.

But labor represents a relatively small share of exhibitors' costs at McCormick Place. The reforms required no meaningful concessions from trade associations or a pair of show contractors that continue to squeeze exhibitors, who already bear most of the costs of conventions.

The sweeper is a perfect example. The unions are all about protecting themselves and they care little for their rank and file.

It is all about consolidation of power at the top -- the appearance of careful management is in reality, a careful management of appearances...

Climate Change in the news

From Foreign Policy:

Paradise Lost
Mongolia Cold
In Mongolia's Arkhangai province, the Tsamba family lives on the edge, struggling through harsh winters alongside their herd of sheep. Severe winter conditions, known as dzud, have been responsible for the deaths of half the family's once 2,000-strong herd over the past three winters. Recently, in search of warmer pastures, the Tsambas moved from Bulgan province in the north to this region near a central Mongolian village called Ulziit.

In the photo above, 29-year-old Erdene Tuya hauls a sheep lost to the dzud to a small burial ground close to their yurt (gher) in March.

Emphasis mine. 1998 was the warmest year in the last hundred years -- temps held steady for a few years and now, they have been declining.

Now things are starting to get spooky -- the sun's output is at an historical low period (Maunder minimum being the last time this happened) and there is a distinct possibility that it will continue for a while. From Anthony Watts:

BREAKING - major AAS solar announcement: Sun's Fading Spots Signal Big Drop in Solar Activity
The American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin has just made a major announcement on the state of the sun. Sunspots may be on the way out and an extended solar minimum may be on the horizon.

From Space.comreporting from the conference:
Some unusual solar readings, including fading sunspots and weakening magnetic activity near the poles, could be indications that our sun is preparing to be less active in the coming years.

The results of three separate studies seem to show that even as the current sunspot cycle swells toward the solar maximum, the sun could be heading into a more-dormant period, with activity during the next 11-year sunspot cycle greatly reduced or even eliminated.

The results of the new studies were announced today (June 14) at the annual meeting of the solar physics division of the American Astronomical Society, which is being held this week at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

Currently, the sun is in the midst of the period designated as Cycle 24 and is ramping up toward the cycle�s period of maximum activity. However, the recent findings indicate that the activity in the next 11-year solar cycle, Cycle 25, could be greatly reduced. In fact, some scientists are questioning whether this drop in activity could lead to a second Maunder Minimum, which was a 70-year period from 1645 to 1715 when the sun showed virtually no sunspots.

Lots more at Anthony's website.

This could be a gamechanger re: food, heating, etc... We have just under five cords of wood stockpiled and I am thinking about getting another couple just to have for the next few years.

Instant Karma - all 34.5 kV of it

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Today's tweaker trying to steal copper comes to you from the Evansville, Ill Courier Press:
Suspected Southern Illinois copper thief hospitalized
Authorities in southwestern Illinois say a suspected copper thief was severely burned when he allegedly cut into a power line at a utility substation.

Investigators identified the suspect only as a 30-year-old Alton man. Madison County authorities believe he was trying to steal copper from the Ameren substation Sunday in Alton when he tapped into a 30,000-volt power line.

People who heard his yells for help found him naked and screaming in pain. His clothes either burned off or were blown away.

Ameren says the incident reflects the dangers of copper theft around such electrical equipment. The utility notes the property was fenced and gated.
Heh -- sucks to be stupid. No amount of morphine can dull the pain he is feeling and it was all for a couple bucks...
Into the ground... A local restaurant chain looks at the numbers and decides to declare bankruptcy and close its stores. Last Sunday. While customers were still eating. From Seattle station KOMO:
Customers kicked out as Marie Callender's shuts down
The restaurant best known for serving warm pies to loyal customers has stunned some with a move they see as flat-out cold.

Three Marie Callender's restaurants across Washington shut down abruptly this weekend, leaving more than 100 people without jobs. Witnesses say some customers were in the middle of meals on Sunday afternoon when they were told to get up and leave the restaurant.

"I thought it was a big joke, because I was like, 'I still have people in the restaurant,' and they were like, 'they need to leave,'" said Mapp Chhim, who up until Sunday served as a manager at the Northgate Marie Callender's location.

"There was a party of 25 in the back room. It was somebody's birthday party, and I feel so bad that we like ruined the celebration."

Chhim said about 50 people worked at the Northgate location, in addition to about 50 employees in Federal Way and several dozen more in Spokane. Together, the restaurant's closing leaves more than 100 people without a job in Washington state.

"Some of them have two kids and somehow they have to find alternative income to keep living. It's a big shock," he added. "I love working here. I love the people I work with."

Reached Sunday evening, corporate spokeswoman Vivian Brooks confirmed the restaurants' closings but wouldn't say why the decision was made so abruptly.
With upper management that tone deaf and clueless, it is no wonder that the place went belly up. This business has been around for seventy years. Current ownership is by Perkins & Marie Callender's Inc. formed through a merger back in 2006. It only took them five years to gut the brand and shut it down. Talk about a classic CDSM

Right foot forward

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Here is that x-ray of my right foot:
Right Foot
Surgery on July 8th -- I am stoked!

Nothing tonight

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Went into town today to meet with a foot surgeon and then met Jen for dinner and a movie. Saw the new Pirates of the Caribbean and it was a hoot. The set directors had a lot of fun with the ships and they got them right (proper look to the sails and pennants under various wind conditions, etc...) Have a couple of bone spurs on the first joint of my right big toe. The x-ray looks pretty spectacular (the Doctor's words) -- I'll post it tomorrow when I get a chance to crop and adjust it. It has gotten to the point to where I cannot wear the steel-toe shoes when metalworking. When it interferes with my hobby, it's time to get it fixed...

A matter of perspective

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From The Washington Times:
Dead bodies demand organic food moratorium
Right now, someone nearby is buying organic bean sprouts. It may be the last thing he ever does. Last week�s E. coli outbreak in Germany - potentially traced to an organic farm - was more deadly than the largest nuclear disaster of the last quarter-century.

Indeed, in the past two years, two public safety stories have dominated global news headlines - an explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and a nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan. Yet in the recent German organic-food-disease outbreak, nearly twice as many people already have died as in the two other industrial disasters combined.

In response to the oil spill, countries all over the world have stopped or curtailed deep-water oil drilling as new safety and environmental regulations are designed and implemented. And ground hasn�t been broken on any new nuclear power plant in Europe or the United States since news of the Japanese meltdown broke. Germany is developing plans to mothball its whole nuclear industry.

Yet, 23 deaths and more than 1,000 hospitalizations caused by an industrial accident at an organic farm in northern Germany have caused no such newfound caution toward the expansion of that industry. It is easy to understand why. Organic farming has a reputation for being the domain of small-scale family businesses focused on caring for the Earth more than profits. Every organic-produce customer I interviewed at three supermarkets since the German outbreak began have cited better health as a key reason for buying organic food.

That�s exactly what the organic industry wants them to think.
They forgot to add the number of people killed by Three Mile Island to that disaster roster. Still, fewer than were killed by the sprouts...

Not cool at all

From San Diego, CA television station KGTV:

Terrorist Group Setting Up Operations Near Border
A terrorist organization whose home base is in the Middle East has established another home base across the border in Mexico.

"They are recognized by many experts as the 'A' team of Muslim terrorist organizations," a former U.S. intelligence agent told 10News.

The former agent, referring to Shi'a Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah, added, "They certainly have had successes in big-ticket bombings."

A bit more:

"We are looking at 15 or 20 years that Hezbollah has been setting up shop in Mexico," the agent told 10News.


Hezbolah has operated in South America for decades and then Central America, along with their sometime rival, sometime ally Hamas.

Now, the group is blending into Shi'a Muslim communities in Mexico, including Tijuana. Other pockets along the U.S.-Mexico border region remain largely unidentified as U.S. intelligence agencies are focused on the drug trade.

On our doorstep and our government still refuses to do anything.

The EPA is doing such a great job, let's give them whever funding they ask for. From the Chicago Business Tribune:
Consumers' electric bills likely to spike as coal plants close
Consumers could see their electricity bills jump an estimated 40 to 60 percent in the next few years.

The reason: Pending environmental regulations will make coal-fired generating plants, which produce about half the nation's electricity, more expensive to operate. Many are expected to be shuttered.

The increases are expected to begin to appear in 2014, and policymakers already are scrambling to find cheap and reliable alternative power sources. If they are unsuccessful, consumers can expect further increases as more expensive forms of generation take on a greater share of the electricity load.

"Each generator will have to decide for itself whether the investment required to meet environmental requirements can be justified based on its projection of market prices and the cost of its capital. In any case, those costs will be passed through to consumers," said Mark Pruitt, director of the Illinois Power Agency, which procures electricity for Illinois.

American Electric Power, one of the country's largest coal-burning electricity generators, said Thursday it will retire nearly a quarter of its coal-fueled generating capacity and that it will spend up to $8 billion to retrofit remaining units to meet regulations that start taking effect in 2014. Those moves will have an impact.
Emphasis mine: cheap and reliable alternative power sources Unicorn farts? Nope Solar? Nope Wind? Nope Nuclear - specifically Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor? Finally. More. Faster. Now.
From the London Daily Mail:
Nearly 200 patients left to die as the Government's �22million cancer fund goes unspent
Nearly 200 dying patients were turned down by the Government�s Cancer Drugs Fund - even though nearly half of the money was left in the pot.

In some parts of the country a quarter of sufferers applying for life-extending treatments were rejected, a major report has found.

It warns that the much-heralded fund meant to provide better drugs for the terminally ill is simply another postcode lottery, with patients� chances of getting money dependent on where they live.
Is there anyone out there that thinks the government is efficient at running organizations like this? Department of Motor Vehicles? Amtrak?

Some 'interesting' people in the news

Back in October of 2009, I wrote about a dispute from an interesting local character

On May 27th, the customers of a local tavern got to sit out on the patio and watch the Drug Task Force raid this same person's Cabin and RV Park taking out a large number of marijuana plants.

That story finally made the newspaper today -- from the Bellingham Herald:

Marijuana plants, equipment seized from Glacier cabin
A call to the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force tipline resulted in the arrest May 27 of a husband and wife suspected of growing marijuana in a cabin, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office.

Steve and Starlare Hovander were arrested on investigation of felony charges of manufacturing and cultivating marijuana in their cabin in the 10400 block of Mount Baker Highway.

Deputies seized 241 plants and growing equipment from the cabin. The Hovanders said the marijuana was lawfully prescribed for medical use, but the number of plants far exceeded the number allowed under state law, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Officers described conditions in the cabin as hazardous; outlets in the cabin had burned and extension cords had melted near their connections.

Wiser family members sold the family homestead to the county and it is now a gorgeous 350 acre park but it is strange to think that little Steve grew up here: Hovander Homestead Park.

George Orwell interview:
Caveat: filmed in 2003 with an actor but these are Orwell's words
From a few months shy of four years ago: A great disturbance in the Force:
A great disturbance in the Force
There has been a nattering around the edges of the 'Blog-o-sphere' about a Sexual Scandal involving a Presidential Candidate. Several people at MSM are saying that something is up but they are being told to sit on it and not publish it.

Pajamas Media author Ron Rosenbaum writes:
Shocking Inside DC Scandal Rumor: A Media Ethics Dilemma
So I was down in DC this past weekend and happened to run into a well-connected media person, who told me flatly, unequivocally that �everyone knows� The LA Times was sitting on a story, all wrapped up and ready to go about what is a potentially devastating sexual scandal involving a leading Presidential candidate. �Everyone knows� meaning everyone in the DC mainstream media political reporting world. �Sitting on it� because the paper couldn�t decide the complex ethics of whether and when to run it. The way I heard it they�d had it for a while but don�t know what to do. The person who told me )not an LAT person) knows I write and didn�t say �don�t write about this�.

If it�s true, I don�t envy the LAT. I respect their hesitation, their dilemma, deciding to run or not to run it raises a lot of difficult journalism ethics questions and they�re likely to be attacked, when it comes out�the story or their suppression of the story�whatever they do.

I�ve been sensing hints that something�s going on, something�s going unspoken in certain insider coverage of the campaign (and by the way this rumor the LA Times is supposedly sitting on is one I never heard in this specific form before. By the way, t�s not the Edwards rumor, it�s something else.

And when my source said �everyone in Washington�, knows about it he means everyone in the elite Mainstream media, not just the LA Times, but everyone regularly writing about the Presidential campaign knows about it and doesn�t know what to do with it. And I must admit it really is was juicy if true. But I don�t know if it�s true and I can�t decide if I think it�s relevant. But the fact that �everyone� in the elite media knew about it and was keeping silent about it, is, itself, news. But you can�t report the �news� without reporting the thing itself. Troubling!

It raises all sorts of ethical questions. What about private sexual behavior is relevant? What about a marriage belongs in the coverage of a presidential campaign? Does it go to the judgment of the candidate in question? Didn�t we all have a national nervous breakdown over these questions nearly a decade ago?

Now, as I say it�s a rumor; I haven�t seen the supporting evidence. But the person who told me said it offhandedly as if everyone in his world knew about it. And if you look close enough you can find hints of something impending, something potentially derailing to this candidate in the reporting of the campaign. Which could mean that something unspoken, unwritten about is influencing what is written, what we read.

Charles at LGF is linking to two other sources. One � Patterico writing at Hot Air says that his source inside the LA Times says that they have not heard of anything.

Charles's other link is to Luke Ford who has this to say:

A Dark Unseen Scandal Star?
Mickey Kaus writes:
Do you sense there is some large mass of dark matter, an unseen Scandal Star, the gravitational pull of which is warping the coverage of what seems, on the surface, a pretty dull presidential race? I do. So does Ron Rosenbaum. I thought the Dark Star was the Edwards affair allegation. But Rosenbaum says �everyone in the elite Mainstream media� knows about another juicy scandal that the LAT is supposedly sitting on. I guess this is proof that I�m not in the elite, because I don�t know what he�s talking about. � My vestigial Limbaugh gland tells me it must involve a Democrat, or else the Times would have found a reason to print it. � P.S.: If it�s just Richardson, that will be very disappointing.
I�m placing my money on the lesbian-Hillary angle (I was the first to assert this publicly, Tues. 8 pm PST, with connection to the Ron Rosenbaum report).

Here�s a picture of Huma Abedin. Huma Abedin. Huma Abedin.

BigHeadDC posts a picture of �Abedin trailing Clinton and gay talk show host Ellen DeGeneres during a recent �girl�s only� trip to NYC.�

This may all just blow over and be forgotten and definitely the 24 hour rule needs to be invoked but the possibilities are there, other references to a lesbian Hillary have been out there over the years and power is a very stimulating aphrodisiac. One person commented at Charles's site that if this story is true, Hillary is getting better looking women than Bill.

That person needs to come here and clean off my monitor�
Ms. Abedin is, of course, the recent bride of Anthony Weiner and is still Ms. Clinton's close personal aide. People with their kink on sometimes enter into relationships with like minded people to present a wholesome image to the masses while each pursues their own special fetish. There is nothing wrong with having a 'beard' but to do so when engaged in public service leaves one open to blackmail and is, in my book, extremely unethical. A person in this situation should recuse themselves immediately.

Long day

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Worked at the bakery and then went into town for the Harbor Freight Parking Lot Sale. Picked up some nice punches, spray guns, dollys and some wenches wrenches. Drove around heading back and went to a couple of yard sales -- nothing of interest. We went out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant and back home. Surf for a bit and then off to the DaveCave(tm)

Dealing with clients

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From the wonderful Clients from Hell:
During production of a film we were doing, over the phone with the client, we were discussing a scene where the actors begin fighting each other with lightsabers. We explained how we�d create the effects, work it out in post-production. Then the client speaks up and says, �Why don�t we just use real lightsabers?� �And it took us 30 minutes to explain to her why we couldn�t.

God has a sense of humor

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The entire nation of Saudi Arabia has a total of 260 Billion barrels. They just found a field in Israel with as much as 250 Billion and there may well be more -- a lot more... From the Financial Post:
Lawrence Solomon: Israel�s new energy
In the first 25 years after Israel�s founding in 1948, it was repeatedly attacked by the large armies of its Arab neighbours. Each time, Israel prevailed on the battlefield, only to have its victories rolled back by Western powers who feared losing access to Arab oilfields.

The fear was and is legitimate � Arab nations have often threatened to use their �oil weapon� against countries that support Israel and twice made good their threat through crippling OPEC oil embargoes.

But that fear, which shackles Israel to this day, may soon end. The old energy order in the Middle East is crumbling with Iran and Syria having left the Western fold and others, including Saudi Arabia, the largest of them all, in danger of doing so. Simultaneously, a new energy order is emerging to give the West some spine. In this new order, Israel is a major player.

The new energy order is founded on rock � the shale that traps vast stores of energy in deposits around the world. One of the largest deposits � 250 billion barrels of oil in Israel�s Shfela basin, comparable to Saudi Arabia�s entire reserves of 260 billion barrels of oil � has until now been unexploited, partly because the technology required has been expensive, mostly because the multinational oil companies that have the technology fear offending Muslims. �None of the major oil companies are willing to do business in Israel because they don�t want to be cut off from the Mideast supply of oil,� explains Howard Jonas, CEO of IDT, the U.S. company that owns the Shfela concession through its subsidiary, Israel Energy Initiatives. Jonas, an ardent Zionist, considers the Shfela deposit merely a beginning: �We believe that under Israel is more oil than under Saudi Arabia. There may be as much as half a trillion barrels.�
As for: "the multinational oil companies that have the technology fear offending Muslims" You snooze, you lose. Your pandering offends me -- where is the outrage because I am offended... This is very cool.
It was the Enquirer that first broke the Edwards/Hunter story back in 2009. Now this:
In a devastating act of ultimate revenge, a dying Elizabeth Ed�wards recorded a bombshell secret videotape for prosecutors � nailing her cheating husband John as he will stand trial on charges that could land him behind bars for 30 years.

That�s the stunning secret behind the federal indictment brought against the disgraced former presidential candi�date on June 3 � following a two-year grand jury investigation into whether he illegally used campaign funds to cover up his affair with his then-pregnant mistress Rielle Hunter.

�Elizabeth wanted to exact revenge against John for destroy�ing their 33-year marriage and family by cheating with Rielle,� source close to the scandal told ENQUIRER.

�It was Elizabeth�s idea to secret�ly record a video and tell what she knew of the affair and John�s horrific betrayal.�
I do not know if the tape would be admissible but still... The Breck Girl will find Karma to be a bitch.

Lamont, Washington

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Was turned on to The World of Lamont, Washington Red wine really hurts when it comes up through your nose. Just sayin...

Turned the big six-oh today

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My truck -- what did you think I meant?

King Coal gets deposed

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The EPA really needs to have its funding cut by 90%. It started out doing good work but it is now just a political tool. From US News & World Report:
Coal Regs Would Kill Jobs, Boost Energy Bills
Two new EPA pollution regulations will slam the coal industry so hard that hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost, and electric rates will skyrocket 11 percent to over 23 percent, according to a new study based on government data.

Overall, the rules aimed at making the air cleaner could cost the coal-fired power plant industry $180 billion, warns a trade group.

�Many of these severe impacts would hit families living in states already facing serious economic challenges,� said Steve Miller, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. �Because of these impacts, EPA should make major changes to the proposed regulations before they are finalized,� he said.
And the reaction -- from The Hill:
AEP says it will close five coal plants to comply with EPA regs
Utility giant American Electric Power said Thursday that it will shut down five coal-fired power plants and spend billions of dollars to comply with a series of pending Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

The company�s dramatic plan to comply with the regulations could give Republicans and moderate Democrats ammunition in their ongoing fight against EPA's efforts to impose new regulations aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants including mercury and arsenic.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) immediately pounced on AEP's announcement.

�This is a perfect example of the EPA implementing rules and regulations without considering the devastating impact they may have on local economies and jobs,� Capito said.
It is no longer about the environment, it is about the consolidation of power and the creation of a dependent under-class of people -- a permanent voting bloc. Welcome to the new world order...
Alabama -- from Yahoo/Associated Press:
Alabama passes tough illegal-immigration law
Alabama vaulted past Arizona on Thursday with what is being called the most restrictive law in the nation against illegal immigration, requiring schools to find out if students are in the country lawfully and making it a crime to knowingly give an illegal immigrant a ride.

Advocacy groups promised to challenge the sweeping measure, which like Arizona's law also allows police to arrest anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant if the person is stopped for some other reason. In addition, it requires all businesses to check the legal status of workers using a federal system called E-Verify.
And right on cue:
"It is clearly unconstitutional. It's mean-spirited, racist, and we think a court will enjoin it," said Mary Bauer, legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Unnhhh -- if Ms. Bauer could cite where in the United States Constitution this is enumerated, I would greatly appreciate it. The topic is a bit of a hot button as evidenced by the 5,848 Comments including this one from Adam:
I was a legal immigrant - got my permanent residency legally. I DO NOT think this policy is racist - it does not matter if you are white, blue, red, black, green or any color - if you are pulled over, you NEED to reveal your identity. This should be the in all states.

A new (to me) website

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A bit of heavy weather

A climate twofer.

First, the Boston Globe:

Thousands lose power after thunderstorms roll by
Powerful thunderstorms rolled across Massachusetts Thursday, leaving thousands without power and bringing hail and wind damage, including to areas devastated by several tornadoes last week, officials said.

Hail that was 1.5 inches in diameter was reported by Montague and Shutesbury residents in Franklin County and .88-inch-diameter hail was seen by a weather spotter in Westfield, where large branches were down, according to preliminary local storm reports on the National Weather Service's website.

Wind gusts reached 70 miles per hour and knocked down trees in many towns including Longmeadow, West Springfield, and Wayland, according to the weather service in Taunton.

Shortly before 6 p.m., more than 38,000 people had lost power, including 21,530 National Grid customers, 17,202 with Western Massachusetts Electric Co. , and 9,000 NStar users.

And points South from NBC Connecticut:

Storms Leave Thousands in the Dark
A line of severe storms moved through Connecticut Thursday afternoon, knocking out power to tens of thousands.

At the height of the storm, more than 130,000 Connecticut Light & Power customers were without power. Another 12,000 United Illuminating customers were in the dark.

The areas hardest hit were Bristol, Vernon, Middletown, Suffield, Enfield and Shelton.

The storms dropped golf-ball-sized hail in Norfolk, and hail was also reported in Colebrook and Winsted. In addition to hail, those in the path of the storms should expect heavy rain, high winds and vivid lightning.

I love all the morons who are blaming all this weather on Global Warming. What is triggering these storms as well as what triggered the midwest's tornados was colder than normal weather. You get a hot layer near the ground and a higher cold layer and you will get intense storms of one kind or another. Joe Bastardi brings home the bacon:

From Donna's blog: No Frakking Consensus:

David Suzuki is a Drama Queen
When David Suzuki, Canada's most prominent environmental activist, looks out on the world he sees nothing but crises. We have a name for people who regard everything as a crisis - we call them drama queens.

While the rest of us approach challenges with determination, optimism, and faith in ourselves as problem solvers, drama queens see only worst-case scenarios. They exaggerate. They emotionalize.

If Suzuki had restricted himself to teaching kids about nature that would be one thing. But instead he has spent decades peddling political opinions about how society should be structured. He has advanced philosophical opinions about how everyone should live.

Year after year, in book after book and newspaper column after column, Suzuki has repeated the same message: Either we follow his personal road map to salvation or all will be lost.

Back in 1990 - 21 years ago - Suzuki's It's a Matter of Survival appeared on bookstore shelves. In dramatic fashion it declared:
More than any other time in history, the 1990s will be a turning point for human civilization. (p. 1)
That's quite a statement. I mean, the turning-point-for-human-civilization competition includes events such as the Fall of the Roman Empire and the Magna Carta. It's likely that some of Suzuki's readers were veterans of World War II. Did he really mean to imply to those people that the sacrifices their generation made to save the world from Hitler didn't measure up to the really critical stuff he was certain was about to transpire during the 1990s?

Two days ago a column by Suzuki was published by a Canadian news service (backup link here). It begins:
Humanity is facing a challenge unlike any we've ever had to confront. We are in an unprecedented period of change.
Been there, heard that before.

Heh -- she nails it. The only people who listen to Suzuki are those that already "believe" and just want reinforcement of their stupidity. People with the scientific boots on the ground justifiably laugh him off as a crank.

Suzuki is a public entertainer whose shtick is cultural Marxism dressed up in a pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo. A hack.

Willard stumbles

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From the Wall Street Journal:
Romney to Skip Key Poll in Iowa
Mitt Romney will skip a key early test for Republican presidential candidates by forgoing the Iowa straw poll in mid-August, a decision that could recast the contest in the nation's first presidential nominating state.

The Iowa straw poll, held in Ames, is one of the landmark events of the nominating contest. Mr. Romney's decision sends the clearest signal yet that he doesn't want to wade deeply into the social issues that carry particular weight with Iowa Republicans and instead intends to present himself to voters nationally as a successful businessman who can improve the economy.
Wonder why he is skipping this Poll? Global Warmist, Romneycare (a failure) and Ethanol subsidies. Three strikes -- y'r out! And yes, his real name is Willard.
From South Florida's radio station WIOD:
ExxonMobil Reports Huge Oil Discovery In Gulf
ExxonMobil is touting a new oil discovery in the Gulf, 250 miles southwest of New Orleans, as "one of the largest...in the Gulf of Mexico in the last decade."

The company announced two major oil discoveries and a natural gas discovery in deep water after drilling its first post-moratorium deepwater exploration well. The oil giant says a new well in 7,000 feet of water reportedly has the potential to deliver more than 700 million barrels of oil.

Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph termed the report, "probably the best news our local local oil and gas industries have received since the moratorium was lifted."

Drilling at the site has been serviced out of Port Fourchon as ExxonMobil uses several Louisiana companies including Edison Chouest to support the exploration activity.

The secretary of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Scott Angelle called it "a great day for the Gulf of Mexico offshore energy industry and a great day for America."

The discoveries were made in the Keathley Canyon blocks where a number of wells are located.
As the cries of Peak Oil fade off into the distance...
From Yahoo/Associated Press:
Gingrich campaign in tatters as top aides resign
The entire top echelon of Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign resigned on Thursday, a stunning mass exodus that left his bid for the Republican nomination in tatters. But the former House speaker vowed defiantly to remain a candidate.

"I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring," the Gingrich said in a posting to his Facebook page. "The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles."

Rick Tyler, Gingrich's spokesman, said that he, campaign manager Rob Johnson and senior strategists had all quit, along with aides in the early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Other officials said Gingrich was informed that his entire high command was quitting in a meeting at his headquarters in Washington. They cited differences over the direction of the campaign.

"We had a different vision for victory," Tyler told The Associated Press. "And since we couldn't resolve that difference, I didn't feel I could be useful in serving him."
And the other shoe can be found over at The National Review Online:
GOP Consultants Expecting Newt�s Guys to Jump to Perry
Just checked in with three GOP consultants, all of whom have been in the campaign business a while and none of whom are yet affiliated with a 2012 presidential campaign, about today�s mass exodus of staffers from Team Newt.

GOP Consultant One: �Knew this was coming� I bet Perry is in this thing sooner rather than later � these guys aren�t jumping off without somewhere else to land.�

GOP Consultant Two: �Knowing all those guys, they are neither impetuous not impulsive. I also have never seen a two week vacation two weeks after entering [the race]; I took that as portentous.�

GOP Consultant Three: �Gingrich was clearly melting down, and Perry is clearly gearing up, so it was time for the switcheroo.�
Going to be an interesting campaign. I would really like Perry in the White House -- he has done really well with Texas. Get Palin or West as VP and you have quite the dream ticket.

Traveling to freedom

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Fascinating story - makes leaving Cuba sound like a stroll through the park. From GlobalPost:
North Korea defectors take to the "Underground Railroad"
In the beginning, they arrived in ones and twos across the Mekong River. They were dirty, skeleton-thin and scared to death.

Sugint Dechkul, a small-town lawyer in Thailand�s far-northern Chiang Rai province, had no idea what to make of them. They�d wander up the riverside country road near his home, sometimes begging for food or shelter in an alien tongue.

�We�d ask, �Where are you from?� They couldn�t answer,� Sugint said.

Finally, through painstaking pantomime, one of the stragglers conveyed his origins. North Korea. Nearly 3,000 miles away.

That was nine years ago. Today, the so-called �underground railroad� traveled by North Korean defectors increasingly terminates in Thailand.

In recent years, North Korean defectors� network has discovered Thailand is the gateway to their dreams: resettlement in Seoul, South Korean citizenship and thousands in cash to start life a new life. Though this tropical nation is distant from the often chilly Korean peninsula, it is the nearest reachable ally of South Korea, which maintains a policy of financially aiding and patriating its divided kin.
Quite the story -- there is a lot more at the link. Why the Ill family is still in power beggars the imagination. Workers paradise my @#$%...
From Real Clear Politics:
Napolitano: No "Logic" In Profiling Muslim Men Under The Age Of 35
"You're not using good logic there. You've got to use actual intelligence that you received. And, so, you might -- all you've given me is a kind of status. You have not given me a technique for tactic or behavior. Something that would suggest somebody is not Muslim, but Islamic, that has actually moved into the category of violent extremists," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said at a forum on U.S. security and preventing terrorist attacks.

"We have ways to make some of those cuts. And they involve the intel that comes in, the analysis that goes on. For example, we often times, for travelers entering the United States, we won't not do what is called a secondary inspection just because they are a 35-year- old male who appears to be Muslim, whatever that means. But we know from intelligence that if they have a certain travel pattern over a certain period of time, that should cause us to ask some more significant questions than if we don't."
Lots of words but not one coherent clear thought in the lot...

Cool technology

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Transcribing from the 1890's to today. Player pianos will always be with us -- the mechanical novelty is great enough that people will keep them in operating condition. The rolls are a different story. Meet Warren Trachtman who maintains an archive of almost 7,000 piano rolls optically scanned and converted to MIDI files. An amazing collection...

Caveat Emptor Dooooods!!!

Back from the auction and it was really interesting.

The auction started at 10AM and the preview started at 8AM.

Considering that I was planing to drop upwards of a couple thousand on a large piece of machinery, boy howdy was I there at 8.00AM My registration number for the auction was 1101 -- first person there to register. I asked if it was alright to turn the machines on (and turn on the air compressor -- needed) and was told to go ahead.

These sales are as-is/where-is so the more educated the buyer is, the happier the experience is for everyone. Around 8:30, a couple other people came in -- there were about five of us that were interested in the three CNC mills up for auction. We started talking and we agreed that one person was interested in the small Haas mill (they had a few of them in their shop already); two people were interested in the large Fadal and myself and another person were interested in the small Fadal.

Until I started running it through it's paces. Fire up the spindle. Fine. 7,500 RPM max, perfect for ferrous metals but not for aluminum. The bigger Fadal had a 10K spindle so the other person interested in my machine drifted over to the larger 10K Fadal.

I started to jog the various axes. Z-Axis -- fine. Smooth as a baby's bottom. Up and down she goes... Y-Axis -- fine. Smooth as a baby's bottom. Front and back she goes... X-Axis -- Seriously WTF. It sounds like someone dumped a box of pea gravel into the bearings.

The X-Axis will require a ball-screw rebuild and we are looking at about $3K for that. Machines like this, from a reputable dealer, completely rebuilt with a warranty cost about $15K. An as-is/where-is machine generally goes for about $3K to $6K. Considering that I knew that I was looking at a couple $K rebuild, I pulled out of the bidding at $1.5K. The reason for the: Caveat Emptor Dooooods!!!  title is that the auction started at 10:00AM so, for noise reasons, the air compressor and the machines were shut off.

Just before 10:00AM, a couple of dudes walked in, looked around (it took about 45 minutes to get to the mills as they were lot #50 and up) and proceeded to bid up to a final price of $4.7K for my mill (the bastards!). It will be bitter knowledge for them to realize that there was a profound and specific reason that most of the bidders were dropping out at the $1K - $2K level (a few more people came in after 8:30) Oh well, other auctions, other mills... Here are a few photos:

A good omen???
The machines in question


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An amazing eye for color and composition, a Russian steel mill (Magnitogorsk), time lapse photography with a Nikon DSLR, music by Klaus Schulze. What isn't good -- from Sasha Aleksandrov:

Magnitka ver. 4.01 - operator reel from Sasha Aleksandrov on Vimeo.

Most of it was shot at one frame per second and is viewed at 25 fps. For a 6:07 film, you are looking at a bit more than 9,000 images to color correct and assemble. An amazing piece of work for one person...

Gone to ground for the evening

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Kirkland Comfort Inn -- again the MSFT Alumni card came through with a $30 discount off initial price. Thanks Bill! Drove to where the auction is scheduled -- was a perturbed as there is always some kind of sign announcing the upcoming auction but it was not there. Peered in through the window and saw the familiar tags they use so I knew I was in the right place. For as ritzy a place as Kirkland, there are a lot of vacant storefronts. Mostly these are in the older developments so I am assuming that a number of these are from successful businesses moving up into newer and spiffier digs but there is a palpable run-down feeling to much of the area.

Why I voted Democrat

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A wonderful list from the Illinois Review:
Why You Should Vote Democrat
By Ghost of John Brown
Can't take credit - a buddy sent me this.

1. I voted Democrat because I believe oil companies profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene, but the government taxing the same gallon of gas at 15% isn't.

2. I voted Democrat because I believe the government will do a better job of spending the money I earn than I would.

3. I voted Democrat because Freedom of Speech is fine as long as nobody is offended by it.

4. I voted Democrat because I'm way too irresponsible to own a gun, and I know that my local police are all I need to protect me from murderers and thieves.

5. I voted Democrat because I believe that people who can't tell us if it will rain on Friday can tell us that the polar ice caps will melt away in ten years if I don't start driving a Prius.

6. I voted Democrat because I'm not concerned about millions of babies being aborted so long as we keep all death row inmates alive.
Twelve items in the list so visit the site for six more excellent reasons to vote (early and often) Democrat.

Singing in the rain

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We got a new sign for the store and today was the scheduled day to erect it. Three gorgeous days of clear sunny skys with temps in the 70's and I wake up this morning to rain showers and temps in the 50's. It looks awesome but I am going to wait for a clear day before taking a photo of it... Doing a bit at the bakery, going to shoot some photos of Jen's soap for a market application (she was invited to participate in an interesting event) and then heading down to Kirkland for this auction tomorrow.
Do not text while watching a movie. From the Alamo Blog:
She texted. We kicked her out.
As many of you know, I really can't abide people who talk during a movie. A couple of years ago I was accosted in the Village parking lot by a patron who was warned for talking in a movie. I've nearly come to blows more than a few times over the years with rude customers over the same issue. When we adopted our strict no talking policy back in 1997 we knew we were going to alienate some of our patrons. That was the plan. If you can't change your behavior and be quiet (or unilluminated) during a movie, then we don't want you at our venue. Follow our rules, or get the hell out and don't come back until you can.

Recently, we had a situation where a customer persisted in texting in the theater despite two warnings to stop. Our policy at that point is to eject the customer without a refund, which is exactly what went down that night. Luckily, this former patron was so incensed at being kicked out, she quickly called the office and left us the raw ingredients for our latest "Don't Talk or Text" PSA. You can check it out below, or come to the Alamo this weekend where the video will be playing before all of our R-rated movies.

Aww crap - RIP Leon Botha

Died of old age at 26. DJ for South African band Die Antwoord. From the South African Mail & Guardian:

Die Antwoord collaborator Leon Botha dies, age 26
South African artist and DJ Leon Botha died on June 5 2011, a day after his 26th birthday.

Botha was born with progeria, a rare degenerative genetic disorder that accelerates the aging process.

He was the oldest documented person living with the disease, which usually has a life expectancy in the teens.

Botha was thrown into the spotlight as the DJ who opened for Die Antwoord during their concerts, going on to feature in one of the music videos that shot them to international stardom, Enter the Ninja.

Tributes poured in for Botha on his Facebook page, hailing his optimism and describing him as an "inspiration, with a zest for life".

In 2009, Botha collaborated with Gordon Clark on a photo series called Who Am I? Transgression, depicting him in theatrical projections of how society might see him.

Who Am I? Transgressions is an embedded slide show at the newspaper so I cannot embed it here -- well worth visiting. Amazing photographs and some images remind me of medieval paintings -- Bruegel and Bosch.

Fun with Alkali Metals and H2O

Well drat -- one of my heavy-science go-to places has Cesium but it's about $150 for one gram. Nobody has Francium and to read the linked WikiPedia article, it is no wonder... Quite the story! Hat tip to Bayou Renaissance Man for the link.


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Heading down tomorrow evening to another auction -- this time it's a CNC shop. Got my eye on two pieces and see what tooling and parts are available. The mill is circa 1993 so is a prime candidate for upgrading to MACH3 and Gecko Drives.

A few minutes of quiet

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Today is the 67th Aniversary of D-Day -- Operation Overlord

Sarah Palin - a bit of a history lesson

From the Boston Herald:

Experts back Sarah Palin's historical account
Sarah Palin yesterday insisted her claim at the Old North Church last week that Paul Revere "warned the British" during his famed 1775 ride - remarks that Democrats and the media roundly ridiculed - is actually historically accurate. And local historians are backing her up.

Palin prompted howls of partisan derision when she said on Boston's Freedom Trail that Revere "warned the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and making sure as he's riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free."

Palin insisted yesterday on Fox News Sunday she was right: "Part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there. That, hey, you're not going to succeed. You're not going to take American arms."

In fact, Revere's own account of the ride in a 1798 letter seems to back up Palin's claim. Revere describes how after his capture by British officers, he warned them "there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time for I had alarmed the Country all the way up."

Boston University history professor Brendan McConville said, "Basically when Paul Revere was stopped by the British, he did say to them, "Look, there is a mobilization going on that you'll be confronting," and the British are aware as they're marching down the countryside, they hear church bells ringing - she was right about that - and warning shots being fired. That's accurate."

The Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem is a nice poem but it is not historically correct.

Palin 1
Liberals 0

I. am. in. Love.

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Website here: Ann Barnhardt Youtube channel here: Ann Barnhardt
Oh yes, and 2,500 marijuana plants. A Russian news report with English subtitles:
Parent story (from August 19th, 2010) at the Toronto Star:
�Bit of an odd situation,� police find bears guarding pot crop
Marijuana growers in the B.C. Interior are using a new kind of bear trap, but its not bears they�re trapping.

Police uncovered two separate outdoor marijuana crops of about 2,300 plants near Christina Lake, just a few kilometres from the Canada-U.S. border.

When officers arrived in the area two weeks ago, they found 13 black bears wandering around the crops and then discovered the bears had been fed dog food.

Backing away from the abyss - Portugal

Europe is backing away while we rush headlong. From the Beeb:

Portugal election: Socialists admit defeat
Portugal's governing Socialist Party has admitted defeat in the general election.

Socialist leader Jose Socrates said he accepted responsibility for the defeat and resigned as head of his party.

The victorious centre-right Social Democrats (PSD) led by Pedro Passos Coelho are expected to form a majority with the conservative CDS.

The new government must implement a demanding austerity programme as a condition for an EU bail-out.

A bit more:

Before the vote, Mr Socrates accused the Social Democrats of pursuing a "radical right-wing agenda" and criticised Mr Passos Coelho for lacking experience in government.

The new government will have to enact urgent and far-reaching social and fiscal reforms, including more austerity measures, to restore national fiscal health and encourage growth.

The terms of the bail-out call for tax increases, a freeze on state pensions and salaries, and cuts in unemployment benefits.

"The road with this package is long and filled with reforms which may be politically difficult to pass," Diego Iscaro, an economist at IHS Global Insight, told Reuters news agency.

Drastically lowering taxes to stimulate business growth seems to escape them but they will learn -- they are taking the baby steps now while the USA is still plunging headlong into more and more debt.

First burger of the season

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Thawed out a package of frozen grass-fed cow from our freezer (we buy a quarter at a time) and made a couple nice thick burgers. Grilled them up with some sweet videlia onions. Meat bliss...

For thee, not for me.

From the London Daily Mail:

'Saint Bono' the anti-poverty campaigner facing huge Glastonbury protest -- for avoiding tax
He is the rock legend dubbed 'Saint Bono' for his long-running campaign against global poverty.

But when Bono's band U2 perform at Glastonbury later this month, protesters are planning to accuse them of avoiding taxes which could have helped exactly the sort of people the singer cares about so dearly.

Members of activist group Art Uncut will hoist a massive inflatable sign with the message 'Bono Pay Up' spelt out in lights during the Irish band's headline performance.

They will also parade bundles of oversized fake cash in front of the singer.

The protest has been provoked by U2's decision to move their multi-million-pound music and publishing business away from Ireland � thus allegedly avoiding taxes on record sales.

Kind of fun now that the shoe is on the other foot. Bono can get all kinds of righteous when he is raising 'awareness' for the poor people in the world but where does he live and does he fly coach to the U2 gigs?

We have a comment. Back in March of last year, I had posted about the total and abject failure of Spain's large 'investment' in Green Technologies and Green Jobs, the upshot being that for every �green job� that is created another 2.2 jobs are LOST in the real economy. Also, from a purely environmental standpoint, some of the proposals for energy capture are ludicrous. The idea behind anthropological global warming is that these nebulous 'greenhouse gasses' will trap solar radiation and cause the atmosphere to warm up. What is a solar panel if not a giant solar trap that keeps the sunlight bound to the earth and doesn't let it re-radiate back into space. The more efficient the panel, the more that the atmosphere is warmed. Same thing with the solar-to-steam mirror arrays. Anyway, this little snowflake invited me to link to their website. Didn't even bother to read my fscking post. Looking at their website, I see three articles posted in May of this year, one from April 2010 and one each from November and December of 2009. I am in awe of their web-fu. Such cutting edge cluelessness.

Stopping 975,000 pounds

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Pretty amazing test.
You can see the brakes glowing after the test -- 1400�C

You are what you eat

From the London Daily Mail:

What would Michelle say? President Obama wolfs down TWO chili dogs and fries... the day after his wife unveils new dietary guide
When his wife unveiled the USDA's new nutritional plate yesterday, there definitely wasn't a space for chili dogs.

But that didn't stop Barack Obama wolfing down two in Toledo today - with fries and an extra bowl of chili on the side.

The president happily munched on the unhealthy meal before he visited the city's Chrysler factory, and even teased one of his hosts for ordering ketchup, a faux-pas in his home town of Chicago.
Chili Dog

Om nom nom... Talk about projecting an image.


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When you graduate from Law School and pass the Bar Exam, you then need to apply for a license to practice law. Even if you give up your practice, maintaining the license is a simple matter of a fee and some administrative paperwork. Here is the Lawyer Search website for the Illinois Attorney Registration Commission. Plugging in "Obama" as last name gives this result:
Obama License
Odd that he and Michelle have not maintained their licenses...

And another one bites the dust

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An interesting conjecture -- from USA Today:
Will U.S.-revived Chrysler's headquarters move to Italy?
Now that Fiat is buying out the U.S. stake in Chrysler Group -- giving it a 52% majority -- and is moving to merge the companies, it raises a question: Where will the combined company call home?

It's a tricky political and symbolic question. Chrysler was saved from the abyss by the U.S. in 2009. Fiat's deal this week to buy the government's remaining 6% stake for $500 million still will leave a final bailout cost to taxpayers of almost $1.5 billion. They may not be pleased to see it moved offshore.
No shit SHerlock... More:
But Chrysler now will be owned by Fiat -- Italy's largest employer and a source of national pride -- which has its historic home in Turin). Chrysler's current headquarters is it's glossy campus in Auburn Hills, Mich., built in the 1990s.
But when will the decision be made -- after the 2012 election no doubt -- see which way the wind is blowing. Will we have payed over $1.5 Billion to save Italian jobs?

About that housing market surprise

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From The Independent (again, a news source from England, not a news source from the USA):
US house price fall 'beats Great Depression slide'
The ailing US housing market passed a grim milestone in the first quarter of this year, posting a further deterioration that means the fall in house prices is now greater than that suffered during the Great Depression.

The brief recovery in prices in 2009, spurred by government aid to first-time buyers, has now been entirely snuffed out, and the average American home now costs 33 per cent less than it did at the peak of the housing bubble in 2007. The peak-to-trough fall in house prices in the 1930s Depression was 31 per cent � and prices took 19 years to recover after that downturn.
And of course, the current administration is saying that this is a big surprise. From Lew Rockwell:
Austrian Thymologists Who Predicted the Housing Bubble
I think it is very important that we keep track of, and thank, the Austrians who predicted the housing bubble. Let this signal contribution of the praxeological school never fall down that proverbial memory hole. Why do I say this? For one thing, to give credit where credit is due. All too often, mainstream economists take credit for all and sundry; it is time, it is long past time, that some credit be publicly accorded to Austrian economics and its practitioners, and predicting the housing bubble will do quite well as one small part of these accomplishments. For another, I focus on these predictions in order to promote this school of economics, the last best hope for humanity. Were the school of thought of Menger, B�hm-Bawerk, Mises and Rothbard more widely known, and public policy more heavily based upon it, we would not be suffering from the economic quandary that now envelopes us. Previously, I blogged on this subject, mentioning that I was trying to put together a list of citations of Austrians who had predicted the housing bubble. I offered there the beginnings of this list, and asked people to help me make it more complete. I now thank the following scholars for helping me add to this bibliography: Rick Burner, Matt Dioguardi, Mike Finger, Kevinz Kevz, Julio Linares, Mickey Propadovich, John Spiers, Scott Sutton, Scott Weisman. As you will see below from the TBA�s, this bibliography is not yet in its final stage. So, gentle reader, please correct any of my remaining errors of omission or commission. I am determined to put together as complete and accurate a bibliography of this signal contribution of Austrian economics as possible.
What follows is a list of over seventy articles, most with links to the original sources and dating back as early as 2000 with most in the 2002 to 2005 publishing range. Thymology - the anthropological study of human action in time, present and past. What makes Keynesianism so attractive to the power hungry? I guess the answer is that the free-for-all of the Austrian method gives them the willies -- they cannot control it and, for a liberal, it is all about control -- not listening to your constituents, controlling them.

That is it for the night

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Got lots of sun, had a wonderful time, went out for Thai food, came back and did the daily books for the bakery and now I am ready to crash. Heading out to the DaveCave(tm) for a bit and then sleep off this sunshine... Good to finally get some decent weather. Seattle meteorologist Cliff Mass presents some numbers and yes, we are cooling. A lot.
Out of the Refrigerator into the Frying Pan!
You are about to experience a magical transition, from cold and damp to extraordinary warmth and sun. It will seem perfect. It will be perfect.

Well folks, you knew this spring has been bad, but the new numbers for the average March through May temperatures at Sea-Tac are in, and by any reasonable measure (average temperature, average maximum), this has been the coldest March through May at Sea-Tac since dependable records are available (1956).

Lets begin by viewing the 5 coldest springs ( average daily temperature for March-May) in the last 55 years from 1957 through 2011 at SeaTac:
1) 2011 47.6
2) 1975 47.8
3) 2002 47.9
4) 1964 48.0
5) 1962 48.0
We win. (some of you might count this as a loss!)
A bit more:
There was a warming trend into the late 1990s and the last decade has been relatively cool.
Global average for 1998 was the highest in recent history. It held constant for a few years and has been in steady decline ever since. Sunspot activity for the last six months is about the same as during the Maunder Minimum. A cheery note to leave you with but...

Long day today

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Spending an hour or two at the bakery and then off to town for the Bellingham Scottish Highland Games. Been going on for over fifty years -- one of the major events happening in this neck of the woods. It's really nice out today so I'm wearing one of my UtiliKilts and a nice Hawaiian shirt from my collection.


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I have been reading an otherwise excellent book but the author uses the word "decimate" incorrectly.

I see the same use in a number of other instances and it bugs me. From WikiPedia:

Decimation (Roman army)
Decimation (Latin: decimatio; decem = "ten") was a form of military discipline used by officers in the Roman Army to punish mutinous or cowardly soldiers. The word decimation is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth."

A unit selected for punishment by decimation was divided into groups of ten; each group drew lots (Sortition), and the soldier on whom the lot fell was executed by his nine comrades, often by stoning or clubbing.[citation needed] The remaining soldiers were given rations of barley instead of wheat and forced to sleep outside the Roman encampment.

Because the punishment fell by lot, all soldiers in the group were eligible for execution, regardless of the individual degree of fault, or rank and distinction.

So if X is decimated, 90% of X will remain while 10% of X will be destroyed. Call me a grammar grouch but...

Job market - 9.1 unemployment

A tip 'o the hat to the Obama presidency. He has managed to gut this nation in just two years. From The Weekly Standard (A UK publication -- how is it that stuff like this only shows up on FOX or UK news outlets?):
Half of Last Month's New Jobs Came from a Single Employer � McDonald's
According to the unemployment data released this morning, the economy added only 54,000 jobs, pushing the unemployment rate up to 9.1 percent. However, this report from MarketWatch suggests data is much worse than that:
McDonald�s ran a big hiring day on April 19 � after the Labor Department�s April survey for the payrolls report was conducted � in which 62,000 jobs were added. That�s not a net number, of course, and seasonal adjustment will reduce the Hamburglar impact on payrolls. (In simpler terms � restaurants always staff up for the summer; the Labor Department makes allowance for this effect.) Morgan Stanley estimates McDonald�s hiring will boost the overall number by 25,000 to 30,000. The Labor Department won�t detail an exact McDonald�s figure � they won�t identify any company they survey � but there will be data in the report to give a rough estimate.
If Morgan Stanley is correct, about half of last month's job growth came from the venerable fast-food chain. That is hardly the sign of a healthy economy.

Not good - China dumps US T Bills

From CNS News:
China Has Divested 97 Percent of Its Holdings in U.S. Treasury Bills
China has dropped 97 percent of its holdings in U.S. Treasury bills, decreasing its ownership of the short-term U.S. government securities from a peak of $210.4 billion in May 2009 to $5.69 billion in March 2011, the most recent month reported by the U.S. Treasury.

Treasury bills are securities that mature in one year or less that are sold by the U.S. Treasury Department to fund the nation�s debt.

Mainland Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury bills are reported in column 9 of the Treasury report linked here.

Until October, the Chinese were generally making up for their decreasing holdings in Treasury bills by increasing their holdings of longer-term U.S. Treasury securities. Thus, until October, China�s overall holdings of U.S. debt continued to increase.

Since October, however, China has also started to divest from longer-term U.S. Treasury securities. Thus, as reported by the Treasury Department, China�s ownership of the U.S. national debt has decreased in each of the last five months on record, including November, December, January, February and March.
Jeeez... If we can't get the Chinese to take our junk, who will bail us out. And they just keep spending more and more and more.

More on Focardi and Rossi

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Not getting much traction in the US media but here are two items from the Swedish Ny Teknik (New Technology) First: Patent granted for the energy catalyzer
The Italian Patent Office, Ufficio Italiano Brevetti e Marchi, granted a patent for the energy catalyzer on April 6, 2011, valid until April 9, 2028.

The inventor is Andrea Rossi, while his wife Maddalena Pascucci is the patent owner.

The final content of the patent is public but not directly available online (details on how to order the content can be found here).

According to Rossi ten of the original 15 claims remain (see below).

It is not clear if the patent means that the secret details of the energy catalyzer can be revealed.

�Now I have to think and, based on the effective patent protection, we can decide what to disclose,� Andrea Rossi said.
And second: And here are 36+3 more questions � with Rossi's answers
Mats Johnson: When and how will the workings of the machine be made public for scientific examination?
Rossi: We will deliver our 1 MW plant within October. It will be paid from the Customer if guarantees will have been respected. Besides, we will continue the test of the modules with the University of Bologna, as a R&D. But at this point the examination will be made by the Customers.

Carl-Axel: Can you run a demonstration at KTH?
Rossi: We are thinking about this.

G�ran Ericsson: Would you agree to subject your reactor to truly independent scrutiny, for example presenting a sealed unit (to protect your invention on the inside) with open water and hydrogen input/output connections to an team of physicists and engineers to freely measure all relevant physical parameters over a long period of time?
Rossi: We are doing this already with the University of Bologna
30 more questions and answers at the site. Rossi is playing very close to his vest. He is letting people examine the reactors and the demonstrations are simple and show no 'hidden' energy sources. The only 'hidden' element is the preparation of the nickel element and it took some time to find as this q/a shows:
Karl-Henrik Malmqvist: When Edison invented the commercial light bulb he tested over 6000 vegetable growths for the most suitable filament material. How many mixtures/versions of the catalytical materials have you tested until the present one?
Rossi: Tens of thousands of combinations.
The one megawatt plant is due to go online this October in Athens, Greece. Things should get interesting from there...

That's it for the evening

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Probably have a couple hundred emails waiting for me in the DaveCave(tm). Fire up the string trimmer and go to work. Raining tonight (again) but tomorrow and the weekend are actually supposed to be pretty nice...

Fossil Fuels

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Great article by Michael Lind at Salon:
Everything you've heard about fossil fuels may be wrong
Are we living at the beginning of the Age of Fossil Fuels, not its final decades? The very thought goes against everything that politicians and the educated public have been taught to believe in the past generation. According to the conventional wisdom, the U.S. and other industrial nations must undertake a rapid and expensive transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy for three reasons: The imminent depletion of fossil fuels, national security and the danger of global warming.

What if the conventional wisdom about the energy future of America and the world has been completely wrong?

As everyone who follows news about energy knows by now, in the last decade the technique of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," long used in the oil industry, has evolved to permit energy companies to access reserves of previously-unrecoverable �shale gas� or unconventional natural gas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, these advances mean there is at least six times as much recoverable natural gas today as there was a decade ago.

Natural gas, which emits less carbon dioxide than coal, can be used in both electricity generation and as a fuel for automobiles.

The implications for energy security are startling. Natural gas may be only the beginning. Fracking also permits the extraction of previously-unrecoverable �tight oil,� thereby postponing the day when the world runs out of petroleum. There is enough coal to produce energy for centuries. And governments, universities and corporations in the U.S., Canada, Japan and other countries are studying ways to obtain energy from gas hydrates, which mix methane with ice in high-density formations under the seafloor. The potential energy in gas hydrates may equal that of all other fossils, including other forms of natural gas, combined.

If gas hydrates as well as shale gas, tight oil, oil sands and other unconventional sources can be tapped at reasonable cost, then the global energy picture looks radically different than it did only a few years ago. Suddenly it appears that there may be enough accessible hydrocarbons to power industrial civilization for centuries, if not millennia, to come.
An excellent article and he is very much preaching to the choir here. Considering that we are finding oil reserves at deeper and deeper places, there is a good argument that oil can be produced naturally in the deep mantle of the earth and that a lot of the fields that were 'played out' (Kern Valley in Bakersfield) are now back in production. My fave is nuclear but natural gas would be a perfect replacement for gasoline. Although I would still keep funding these people: EMC2 Fusion Development Corporation and work along the lines of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions is progressing with some very interesting results: Focardi and Rossi LENR (Cold Fusion) Demo today.

Heh... Florida in the news

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Talk about an excellent law -- from the Miami Herald:
Fla. Gov. Scott signs welfare drug testing bill
People applying for welfare benefits must pay for drug testing under a bill Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Tuesday.

If they pass, they'll be reimbursed for the cost of the test. If they don't, they won't receive temporary government assistance. Scott signed the bill in Panama City along with another measure that bans the designer drug MDPV, which is sold as bath salts.

The drug testing bill was a priority for Scott and an issue he campaigned on.

"While there are certainly legitimate needs for public assistance, it is unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction," Scott said in a press release issued after the signing. "This new law will encourage personal accountability and will help to prevent the misuse of tax dollars."
I love that the addict has to pay the cost of the test if they test positive. Brilliant little fillip. And of course, right on schedule:
The law is expected to be quickly challenged. The Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union issued a release criticizing it and noting that a previous attempt to test welfare recipients for drugs in Michigan was ruled unconstitutional.
Well that may work in Michigan but that is why states rights is such a wonderful thing. Don't like the law, move.

Escherichia coli in the news

and it is not good news. From Yahoo/Associated Press:

Outbreak in Europe blamed on 'super-toxic' strain
Scientists on Thursday blamed Europe's worst recorded food-poisoning outbreak on a "super-toxic" strain of E. coli bacteria that may be brand new.

But while suspicion has fallen on raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce as the source of the germ, researchers have been unable to pinpoint the food responsible for the frightening illness, which has killed at least 18 people, sickened more than 1,600 and spread to least 10 European countries.

An alarmingly large number of victims - about 500 - have developed kidney complications that can be deadly.

Chinese and German scientists analyzed the DNA of the E. coli bacteria and determined that the outbreak was caused by "an entirely new, super-toxic" strain that contains several antibiotic-resistant genes, according to a statement from the Shenzhen, China-based laboratory BGI. It said the strain appeared to be a combination of two types of E. coli.

"This is a unique strain that has never been isolated from patients before," Hilde Kruse, a food safety expert at the World Health Organization, told The Associated Press. The new strain has "various characteristics that make it more virulent and toxin-producing" than the many E. coli strains people naturally carry in their intestines.

However, Dr. Robert Tauxe, a foodborne-disease expert at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, questioned whether the strain is truly new, saying it had previously caused a single case in Korea in the 1990s. He said genetic fingerprints may vary from specimen to specimen, but that is not necessarily enough to constitute a new strain.

"Though it appears to have been around awhile, it hasn't called attention to itself as a major public health problem before," Tauxe said.

The Korean connection makes me raise an eyebrow -- it is well known that North Korea supplies the arms to various islamic terrorist organizations. They (among others) have also been printing "super notes" -- counterfeit $100 bills that fool most everyone. What if this was some of their handywork. A singularly nasty genie to be letting out of the bottle...

Back home again

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The Sign company was a bust -- the one item I really wanted (a small CNC metal engraver) was pulled before the auction and the large CNC router went for more than they cost new. Piffle... At the bakery dealing with two days of books and then home.

In Seattle for the night

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Spent about $100 today -- got a nice lab hot-plate/stirrer and another vibratory stirrer. These will be handy for yeast culturing for homebrew. Some of the bidding was insane -- a nice lab balance went for $750 when an equivalent unit sells brand new for $700 with warranty and current calibration. There was a Mass Spectrometer that had a known problem with the onboard computer that would have cost $3K for the spare parts and it went for $3K -- brand new, this would cost $30K so that was a good deal but the sale was strictly as-is/where-is and with the bad board, you would not be able to test the unit for operation. And yeah, there were no disks for the required software. Still, owning a Mass Spectrometer would be a cool toy to have but... The only other item I seriously bid on was a vacuum deposition unit -- had one of these when I was living in Boston and it was a lot of fun. The unit went for $450 which was above my range -- $200 and it would be in the back of my truck now. Drove to where tomorrows auction is -- an area south of Seattle called Georgetown. It was always a kind of funky/industrial area and I liked it a lot but there was a real crime problem. The places has cleaned up nice in the last ten years -- looks like it would be a fun place to hang out with caf�s and bars and all sorts of artsy stores. There is also the wonderful Museum of Communications but it is only open Tuesdays... Heading out to walk around University Village and get a bite to eat for dinner. Early day today and tomorrow.

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