January 2013 Archives

Keystone Cops

All to familiar story -- how a large Government Agency runs its operations. From the Milwaukee, WI Journal Sentinel:
ATF's Milwaukee sting operation marred by mistakes, failures
A store calling itself Fearless Distributing opened early last year on an out-of-the-way street in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood, offering designer clothes, athletic shoes, jewelry and drug paraphernalia.

Those working behind the counter, however, weren't interested in selling anything.

They were undercover agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives running a storefront sting aimed at busting criminal operations in the city by purchasing drugs and guns from felons.

But the effort to date has not snared any major dealers or taken down a gang. Instead, it resulted in a string of mistakes and failures, including an ATF military-style machine gun landing on the streets of Milwaukee and the agency having $35,000 in merchandise stolen from its store, a Journal Sentinel investigation has found.

When the 10-month operation was shut down after the burglary, agents and Milwaukee police officers who participated in the sting cleared out the store but left behind a sensitive document that listed names, vehicles and phone numbers of undercover agents.

And the agency remains locked in a battle with the building's owner, who says he is owed about $15,000 because of utility bills, holes in the walls, broken doors and damage from an overflowing toilet.

The sting resulted in charges being filed against about 30 people, most for low-level drug sales and gun possession counts. But agents had the wrong person in at least three cases. In one, they charged a man who was in prison - as a result of an earlier ATF case - at the time agents said he was selling drugs to them.

Other cases reveal that the agency's operation was paying such high prices that some defendants bought guns from stores such as Gander Mountain and sold them to the agents for a quick profit. The mistakes by agents are troubling and suggest a lack of planning and oversight, according to veterans of the ATF, who learned about the operation from the Journal Sentinel. The newspaper combed through police reports, court documents, social media and materials left behind by the ATF, all of which provide a rare view inside an undercover federal operation.

"I have never heard of those kinds of problems in an operation," said Michael Bouchard, who retired five years ago as assistant director for field operations for the agency. "Sure, small bits and pieces, but that many in one case? I have never heard of anything like that."
I like Mr. Bouchard's comment -- the bar to government employment has been lowered consistently over the last sixty years. This sort of behavior would never be tolerated in the business world -- the miscreants would either be fired or the business would fail.

Good news for Israel

From Associated Press:

Israel may feel need to strike Syria again
An Israeli air attack staged in Syria this week may be a sign of things to come.

Israeli military officials appear to have concluded that the risks of attacking Syria are worth taking when compared to the dangers of allowing sophisticated weapons to reach Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon.

With Syrian President Bashar Assad's grip on power weakening, Israeli officials fear he could soon lose control over his substantial arsenal of chemical and advanced weapons, which could slip into the hands of Hezbollah or other hostile groups. These concerns, combined with Hezbollah's own domestic problems, mean further military action could be likely.

Israel is not getting any support from us for the next four years -- time for her to step up to her own defense. Sad to say but true -- Iran cannot get a nuclear bomb.

Yikes! New virus

With a 12% fatality rate. From The Japan Times:

New mite-linked viral infection claimed first fatality in Japan last fall
Japan recorded its first death from a new viral infection last autumn, the health ministry said Wednesday.

The adult victim, a resident of Yamaguchi Prefecture, had no recent record of overseas travel or any apparent trace of a mite bite, even though the new viral infection, called severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome, is usually transmitted by such a bite.

The syndrome - characterized by symptoms such as nausea, depletion of blood platelets, a fall in appetite and headaches - can also be transmitted through contact with a victim�s blood and bodily fluids.

To date, there is no effective vaccine to prevent the infection, which was first reported in China around 2009. Its fatality rate is given at an estimated 12 percent in China, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said.

Genetic studies show the virus that killed the Japanese occurred in Japan and did not come from China, the ministry said.

The next "big one" is out there and it is only a matter of time before it reaches a critical mass and becomes a pandemic. Viruses are especially nasty as once the infection takes hold, there is very little that can be done medically -- just support the patient's needs. Antibiotics do not work.

Electricity in France

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How's that socialism working out for you? From the UK Guardian:
Lights out � France to force shops and offices to go dark overnight
Shops and offices throughout France will be forced to turn off their lights overnight in a bid to fight light pollution, the country's environment ministry has announced.

Under the new law, which comes into effect on 1 July, lights in shop window displays will be turned off at 1am. Interior lights in offices and other non-residential buildings will have to be switched off an hour after the last employee leaves. Local councils will be able to make exceptions for Christmas and other special occasions, and in certain tourist or cultural areas.

The move, announced on Wednesday, is expected to save 250,000 tonnes of CO2 � enough energy to power 750,000 French households for a year.

The French ecology minister, Delphine Batho, said she hoped the law would change attitudes in France and help the country become a pioneer in reducing light pollution.
And the burglary rate will do what? Go up? Thought so... Misdirecting this as being a fix for light pollution is classic misdirection. You only need to be concerned about light pollution when you are a couple hundred miles from a telescope. France worked with Canada and Hawaii to build a nice scope on Big Island. There is a large radio telescope a couple hours South of Paris but light is not a problem. The major optical telescopes in France are located near Grenoble near the Swiss border, miles from any city. This is about electrical shortages, not CO2 reduction or "light pollution"

NAMM - 30th anniversary of MIDI

Great bit of history at The Verge:

How the 808 drum machine got its cymbal, and other tales from music's geeky underbelly
This year marks the 30th anniversary of MIDI, the language that electronic instruments use to talk to one another. It's how drum machines stay in sync with arpeggiators, how a keyboard tells a synthesizer which notes to play, and how a DJ controller tells an MP3 how to behave. Making a keyboard without MIDI today would be kind of like making a car without air conditioning -- something people didn't know they needed until it existed.

Before there was MIDI, there was Don Lewis. Raised with a rich gospel tradition in Dayton, he brought his myriad musical talents to San Francisco in the '60s, where he was a staple in nightclubs. His one-man-band became known for its wild array of electronic instrumentation, which was still a novelty in those days -- a small truckload of synthesizers and early rhythm boxes accompanied Don's richly-vocoded tenor to make a sound no one had heard but everyone liked.

Don had learned the ins and outs of electronics during his time as an engineer in the Air Force and was constantly digging around in the circuitry of his machines, bringing new sonic capabilities to life with his soldering iron decades before circuit benders would popularize the concept of instrument hacking. Normally his audience was profoundly unaware of the trailblazing after-market innovations they were dancing to, but the crowd at the NAMM show in 1969 was a little different.

Don had been hired by the Hammond organ company to demo its products on the show floor. He was using an Ace Tone rhythm box (which was distributed by Hammond at the time) as his percussion section. "I had modified my Ace Tone to death, changed all the rhythms because none of them fit my style of playing. I also wired it through the expression pedal of the Hammond, so I could get [percussion] accents, which no one was doing then. After the show this man from Japan came up and the first thing out of his mouth was "that looks like my rhythm unit but it doesn't sound like my rhythm unit! How did you do that?" It was Ikutaro Kakehashi, the president of Ace Tone.
A fun story. Don's home page is here: Don Lewis Music

Doubling down on research

Shame on these people. It seems that some researchers are applying for grants to study XYZZY at several different granting agencies. From Anthony at Watts Up With That:
Duplicate science: �funding agencies may have awarded millions and possibly billions of dollars to scientists� for duplicate studies
From the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech comes this press release that makes me wonder why the University of Virginia spent close to a half million dollars trying to keep Dr. Michael Mann�s emails out of an FOIA request and lawsuit by the State attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli and the American Tradition Institute. I think with this new revelation of apparently widespread funding duplication in science, and the active reticence to produce those emails demonstrated by UVA, the justification to see those emails has now increased.
�� over the past two decades funding agencies may have awarded millions and possibly billions of dollars to scientists who submitted the same grant request multiple times � and accepted duplicate funding.�
I�m sure that if there is no issue, UVA will work quickly to put the issue at rest. It may be nothing, and there may be no duplication of any kind, but it would benefit everyone involved to put all the UVA email issues to rest. As it says in the Nature article: �There is no implication that McIntire or any of the other researchers connected to the cases in this news story committed any wrongdoing.�. However, I don�t think that �academic freedom� ensures full autonomy with grant money. Grant recipients are still beholden to the issuing agency and the taxpayer. I�m sure if nothing else, this revelation will cause some additional investigations, and if there was any grant duplication at UVA, it can likely be determined independently as the authors have demonstrated, and confirmed with grant papers and emails.
A bit more:
To estimate the extent of double-funding, Garner and his team, including programmer Lauren McIver, systematically compared 858,717 funded grant and contract summaries using text-similarity (text mining) software followed up by manual review.

These summaries were downloaded from public websites in the U.S. for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Although the researchers could not definitively determine whether the similar grants were true duplicates � this would require access to the full grant files, which were not publicly available � they found strong evidence that tens of millions of dollars may have been spent on grants where at least a portion was already being funded. In the most recent five years (2007-2011), they identified 39 similar grant pairs involving more than $20 million.
$20 Million in fraud and this is just the low-hanging fruit found by two people and a computer. Working on a best estimate they say:
�It is quite possible that our detection software missed many cases of duplication,� Garner said. �If text similarity software misses as many cases of funding duplications as it does plagiarism of scientific papers we�ve studied, then the extent of duplication could be much larger. It could be as much as 2.5 percent of total research funding, equivalent to $5.1 billion since 1985.�
Very seductive -- come up with an interesting research project, get funding, do the project and write the paper and then a year later, change the name to protect the corrupt and submit it to another funding agency. Get the grant, re-hash the old data, write another paper and hang out for another year. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. This comment sums it up:
As our esteemed Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton would say: �WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE!�

Wind turbines in the news

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I had posted earlier today about the wind turbine collapse in England. Ran into this wonderful website detailing all the wind turbine accidents, fires, collapses, etc... Check out WIND TURBINE SAFETY:
While few would contend that turbines are a major threat to public safety (most deaths and injuries are suffered by those transporting, erecting and maintaining turbines), the wind industry is marked by both a reluctance to admit to accidents and a tendency to cover up the failings of the technology.

In the last five years there have been some 1,500 reported accidents/�incidents� in the UK resulting in 4 deaths and a further 300 injuries to workers.

Many accidents are not reported and examples of industry cover-ups abound.

The wind industry always tries to play down the frequency of turbine accidents: for example, in Cornwall in 2006, �Part of a wind turbine blade weighing more than half a ton snapped off and crashed into a field during high winds. Operators Cumbria Windfarms said the site has been running since April 1993 and nothing like this had happened there before.� It had, as several locals pointed out: in 1993, a month after the turbine park opened, they had had a similar accident.

Just recently, we had a spokesperson for Scottish Power quoted as saying of a blade accident at Whitelee, �This is a highly unusual situation. I've not heard of this kind of incident happening in 30 years.�

This may fool some of the public, but, as is evident from this page, blade failures are fairly common and there have been several instances just in the North East and Borders, when very few turbines were operating in the area.

The Danes are rather more honest. The Technical Approval Authority at the Ris� National Laboratory revealed in 2008 that they had recorded just the collapse of a wind turbine on 10 to 15 occasions in the previous three years. There were about 5,000 working turbines at the end of 2008.

A Dutch company whose core business is blade repair admits that, �Rotor blade lightning damage is a common problem.�.
Much more at the site -- it is UK centered but they list a lot of US incidents too. They post this wonderful little slide show (no audio):

Our economy

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From CNBC:
GDP Shows Surprise Drop for US in Fourth Quarter
The U.S. economy posted a stunning drop of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, defying expectations for slow growth and possibly providing incentive for more Federal Reserve stimulus.

The economy shrank from October through December for the first time since the recession ended, hurt by the biggest cut in defense spending in 40 years, fewer exports and sluggish growth in company stockpiles.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the economy contracted at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter. That's a sharp slowdown from the 3.1 percent growth rate in the July-September quarter.
And meanwhile, we are keeping on doing the same thing that put us here. From Reuters:
Fed keeps stimulus in place as economy "paused"
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday left in place its monthly $85 billion bond-buying stimulus plan, saying economic growth had stalled but indicating the pullback was likely temporary.

Describing the nation's job market as continuing its modest pace of improvement, the Fed repeated a pledge to keep purchasing securities until the outlook for employment "improves substantially."
They need to cut regulations and taxes -- get American business moving again. The artificially low interest rates are there to make the service on our national debt cheaper. We are so screwed...
Interesting bit of research. From the Seattle Post Intelligencer:
Scientists figure out what makes beer good for you
Our understanding of how hops becomes the molecules that give beer its flavor and the shape those molecules take has been wrong for 40 years, say scientists from the University of Washington.

Using a century-old technique, they've nailed down the precise structure of those molecules for the first time, overturning the long-standing assumptions. And, while beer brewers the world over are unlikely to change their recipes, the scientists hope to use the discovery to create new medicines.

"Now that we have the right results, what happens to the bitter hops in the beer-brewing process makes a lot more sense," Werner Kaminsky, a UW research associate professor of chemistry, said in a press release.

And, because beer and its bittering acids � in moderation (the school emphasizes) � have beneficial effects on diabetes, some forms of cancer, inflammation and perhaps even weight loss, knowing exactly what they become in beer means they can be used to make new pharmaceuticals.
Very cool. The paper was published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition. One of the more major chemical journals... Title of this post is from that great sage and philosopher H. Simpson (#1 here)

Time to retire from public life

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Waaaaaa... From Boston station WBZ:
Frank Issues Terse Statement On Cowan Senate Appointment
One person disappointed by Gov. Deval Patrick�s decision to name Mo Cowan as interim U.S. Senator is former Congressman Barney Frank.

Earlier this month, Frank openly lobbied for the position, saying �I think I�m better prepared than most people.�

Patrick obviously felt differently and chose Cowan, his former Chief of Staff, who has no previous experience holding elected office.

Frank issued this terse statement Wednesday:
�I know Mr. Cowan is committed to working hard and in socially-fair and economically-efficient manner toward resolving pending budget issues.�

�I now look forward to working for the election of Ed Markey to continue this work, and to providing President Obama the support he deserves in carrying out the mandate he received in November.�
Mandate? Obama squeaked into office last November -- the margin was smaller than in 2008. The voter turnout was smaller than 2008. Frank is out of touch and only craves the power of office. His bills (Dodd-Frank) have been disasters and his treatment of Fannie May directly caused the housing bubble whose collapse put us in our present financial straits. Frank needs to retire.

Israel moves on Syrian weapons

From Sky News:

Israel Strikes Convoy On Syria-Lebanon Border
Israeli jets have attacked a suspected weapons convoy on the border of Syria and Lebanon, according to multiple sources.

Warplanes carried out the strike overnight on the convoy, which was said to be on its way into Syria.

Three waves of four jets carried out three separate strikes against the convoy, hitting it near the Lebanese village of Nabi Chit, about half way up the border with Syria in central Lebanon.

Before our first invasion of Iraq, there was a three-day convoy of trucks from Iraq into Syria -- Saddam's missing WMDs?

Good on Israel -- stay proactive, stay free. My prayers go out to her.

Life in Chicago

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Sad story -- from the Chicago CBS affiliate:
15-Year-Old Girl Shot And Killed In Kenwood Neighborhood Park
A teenage girl�an honor student who had just performed at President Obama�s inaugural�was gunned down Tuesday afternoon in the Kenwood neighborhood, just blocks from the high school she attended.

CBS 2�s Mike Parker reports the victim, 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, was taking shelter from the rain with a group of 10 to 12 teenagers under a canopy in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park on the 4500 block of South Oakenwald Avenue around 2:30 p.m., when someone jumped a fence, ran up to them, and opened fire.

Just days before, Hadiya performed with her high school band at President Obama�s inauguration.

The park is near King College Prep High School � where Pendleton was an honor student, volleyball player, and majorette.
This cannot be fixed with gun laws -- this is a gang problem:
Police said Pendleton had no gang affiliation and likely wasn�t the intended target. Several of the teens with her at the time, however, were believed to be gang members.
Get the gangs broken up and in jail, get the mentally ill people under supervision and these shootings will go away.

Wind turbine downed by... wind

From the UK Telegraph:

Wind turbine collapses in high wind
The £250,000 tower, which stood as tall as a six storey building, was hit by gale force gusts of 50mph.

The structure then collapsed at a farm in Bradworth, Devon, leaving a "mangled wreck".

Margaret Coles, Chairwoman of Bradworthy District Council, said hail storms and strong winds have hit the area and the turbine, installed just three years ago, simply could not withstand the wind.

"The bolts on the base could not withstand the wind and as we are a very windy part of the country they [the energy company] have egg on their face," she said. "There are concerns about safety."

The Bradworthy Parish Council, who opposed the turbine, expressed concern that there was �nothing exceptional� in the speed of the winds.

Installed by renewable energy company Dulas it was supposed to have a life expectancy of 25 years.

50MPH is not that strong -- we routinely get gusts to 60MPH. Major design flaw -- didn't they do a site survey for a year or two before erecting the turbine?

Barack Obama - liar

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From the UK Telegraph:
Barack Obama in the line of fire as sceptics target his shooting claims
Barack Obama has a well-documented history of shooting, but until now his target list has been confined to election night "hoops" with his basketball buddies, the odd frame of eight-ball pool, and a record number of rounds of golf at Andrews Air Force base.

When Mr Obama added clay-pigeon shooting to that list in a bid to reassure American gun owners he would not interfere with their hunting, however, there were those who wondered if the President might be trying just a little too hard.

"Up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time," Mr Obama breezed to The New Republic magazine, adding he had "a profound respect for the traditions of hunting".

Coming from a president who once mocked small town Americans for their attachment to "God and guns", the remarks were met with a mixture of quiet mirth and outright disbelief as the debate continued to rage over new gun controls in the wake of the Dec 14 Sandy Hook school shootings.
A bit more:
The White House press corps were soon firing the same questions at Jay Carney, the Obama administration press secretary. "Are there photographs?" the reporters probed, forcing Mr Carney to admit there were none - visibly scrambling to add: "Because when he goes to Camp David, he goes to spend time with his family and friends and relax, not to produce photographs."

Seasoned correspondents could not help observing that the White House photographer, Pete Souza, has taken pictures of Mr Obama engaged in most other known leisure activities � golfing, basketball, ten-pin bowling in the White House alley, even shooting a water-pistol with his girls at Camp David � but not, it seemed, shooting.
Pants on fire...

Way to go Garrett

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From Surfer Today:
Has Garrett McNamara ridden the 100-foot wave in Nazar�?
Garrett McNamara has surfed a giant wave in Nazar� and may have beaten his previous world record of the biggest wave ever surfed.

The man who tasted the biggest wave in the history of surfing might have improved the Guinness World Record. McNamara returned to Nazar� and on the 28th January a giant swell headed into his life.

The image captured by T� Man�, one of the best surf photographers in Europe, is simply breathtaking. Garrett McNamara is seen riding what seems to be a 100-foot wave.

Although is far from clear, as the shot is taken from an upper angle, the ride is unbelievable. T� Man� freezes the moment when McNamara descends the face of the wave.

Garrett McNamara traveled from Hawaii and hit the water with Kealii Mamala - with whom he surfed waves generated by glacier blocks in Alaska - Kamaki Worthington and Hugo Vau, as their support team on the jet ski.

The conditions in Nazar� were heavenly perfect. Light southern winds and strong swell coming from northwest and hitting the local canyon as it should.

The question is simple. Has Garrett McNamara ridden the 100-foot wave in Nazar�? How big is this wave? Has Nature improved the Guinness World Record in Nazar� set at 78 feet (23,7 meters)?
Very cool! It will take a while for the height to be certified but if they are guessing 100' it is going to be damn close to 100'. Nothing up yet on his personal site: Garrett McNamara

Curious doings in the Government

From Jim Hoft writing at the Gateway Pundit:

Obama Administration Repositioning Homeland Security Ammunition Containers
The containers are usually painted olive drab and are unmarked except for indistinguishable numbers/letters probably for inventory, routing, etc.

Reader Don sent this in recently:
Jim - I passed a convoy of olive drab unmarked 40 foot tractor trailers each with four 10 yard ammo bunker boxes chained to them and unmarked armored Hum-Vee's heading north on I-95 in Brevard County, Florida this past Thursday morning. The 'govt' is positioning these ammo storage boxes, I have been told, in strategic places in population centers around the country. They are usually painted olive drab and are unmarked except for indistinguishable numbers/letters probably for inventory, routing, etc.
Obma's Homeland Security Department has purchased 1.4 billion rounds of ammunition - that is not a typo - during the last six months.

ATK is one company that won a contract with the Department of Homeland Security to provide 450 million rounds of .40 caliber ammunition in 2012.

Previously it was reported that people around the US have begun reporting the site of strange, new, heavily-armed FEMA fighting vehicles this past year.

What are they planning and when will it go down?

Canadian Environmentalist David Suzuki is a royal asshat of epic proportions. He had to step down as head of his own foundation due to financial issues. He also has the habit of lying whenever it is convenient for him. Here is a story about a speech he gave at a small, publicly funded school. From the Canadian Sun:
EXCLUSIVE: Suzuki's latest scandal involves $30,000 and female bodyguards
We all know David Suzuki is a saint. Especially now that he's 76, and refers to himself in the third person, as "an elder." Recently, Suzuki told his fellow CBC employee George Stromboulopoulos, " I feel though, at my age, no one can accuse me of wanting more fame or power or money."

That's what he says. But what does he do? Suzuki's visit to a small junior college in Montreal last October paints a different picture.

To give a one-hour talk, Suzuki billed them $30,000 plus expenses. Add in his airline ticket, his $841 hotel bill, a photographer and other costs, and the total hit for his visit was $41,640. From a small, publicly funded school.

Suzuki also told Stromboulopoulos, "As I get older, my testosterone levels drop, and you know, I'm getting smarter because I'm not thinking about sex all the time."

That's a bit too much information, and there was some uneasy laughter when Suzuki said it. But again, his visit to John Abbott College was instructive. Suzuki had what rock stars call a "rider" - other conditions for having the great man visit.

Here is an exact quote from John Abbott College's Mary Milburn, in an e-mail obtained through access to information: "We have learned, via Dr. Suzuki's assistant, that although the Dr. does not like to have bodyguards per se, he does not mind having a couple of ladies (females) that would act as body guards in order that he may travel from one venue to another without being accosted too many times along the way.

"Why females you ask? Well, he is a male. No seriously, I believe it is his way of being discrete and less intimidating."

At least four other college staff received that e-mail. And none of them said, "that's wrong" or "that's sexist" or even "sorry, our students aren't props." They complied.

They selected ladies - female ladies, as the memo made clear. But Suzuki didn't just want to choose their gender. He wanted to make sure they were pretty.
He needs to go back to his fruit-flies. His degree is in genetics, not environmentalism.


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Looks interesting -- downloading and will give it a try over the next couple days. Website: XBMC About:
XBMC is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub for digital media. XBMC is available for Linux, OSX, and Windows. Created in 2003 by a group of like minded programmers, XBMC is a non-profit project run and developed by volunteers located around the world. More than 50 software developers have contributed to XBMC, and 100-plus translators have worked to expand its reach, making it available in more than 30 languages.
Looks interesting -- more later...

A little security issue

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From Forbes:
More Than A Dozen Brands Of Security Camera Systems Vulnerable To Hacker Hijacking
Digital video recorders have revolutionized home and business security, making it possible to easily store and play back hundreds of hours of surveillance camera footage. But a few design flaws in their software, it seems, can quickly turn the watchers into the watched.

Eighteen brands of security camera digital video recorders (DVRs) are vulnerable to an attack that would allow a hacker to remotely gain control of the devices to watch, copy, delete or alter video streams at will, as well as to use the machines as jumping-off points to access other computers behind a company�s firewall, according to tests by two security researchers. And one of the researchers, security firm Rapid7′s chief security officer H.D. Moore, has discovered that 58,000 of the hackable video boxes, all of which use firmware provided by the Guangdong, China-based firm Ray Sharp, are accessible via the Internet.

�The DVR gives you access to all their video, current and archived,� says Moore. �You could look at videos, pause and play, or just turn off the cameras and rob the store.�

Early last week a security researcher who goes by the name someLuser published a blog post detailing his dissection of a DVR built by the security firm Swann, disassembling the device and running tests on it via its serial port. He found that commands sent to the device via a certain connection, port 9000, were accepted without any authentication. And worse, he was able to use that unprotected connection to retrieve the login credentials for the DVR�s web-based control panel. �Anyone who can connect to port 9000 on the device can send this request and retrieve that information,� said someLuser, who declined to reveal his real name when I reached him by instant message.
I have one of these units for the shop -- it is not connected to the internet so there is no panic at the farm but it is still another example of security biting you in the butt... someLuser's post is here: console cowboys Oopsie...

LinuxFest Northwest

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Three months away -- April 27th and 28th. Been going to this for the last ten years or so. A lot of fun and a great local community. Organised by the Bellingham Linux Users Group

Now this is a movie theater

Wonderfully preserved theater from the late 1920's. Check out The Queens Movie Theater You Will Not Believe About the blogger:
I work as a movie location scout in New York.
My job is to stare at the city.
This is what I see.
The theater closed and was subsequently donated to the Tabernacle of Prayer church which has done a wonderful job of maintaining this architectural treasure. Go to the site and scroll down through the images.

Religion of Peace

From Reuters:
Islamist rebels torch Timbuktu manuscript library: mayor
Islamist fighters fleeing Mali's ancient Saharan city of Timbuktu as French and Malian troops closed in set fire to a South African-funded library there containing thousands of priceless manuscripts, the city's mayor said on Monday.
The Ahmed Baba Institute, one of several libraries and collections in the city containing fragile ancient documents dating back to the 13th century, is named after a Timbuktu-born contemporary of William Shakespeare and houses more than 20,000 scholarly manuscripts. Some were stored in underground vaults.

Fighters from the Islamist alliance in north Mali, which groups AQIM with Malian Islamist group Ansar Dine and AQIM splinter MUJWA, had also destroyed ancient shrines sacred to moderate Sufi Moslems, provoking international outrage.
I have no words for these willful idiots -- the followers of the false prophet, idolaters. They need to be bombed back into the stone age. Oh wait. They are already there. They are contemptible and pathetic -- they have no culture, no love. Only fear and hate.

A Seattle gun show

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Had I not planned to go to the Blacksmith sale, I would have gone down with some friends of mine. Sounded like a great time. From DC Exposed:
Seattle Gun BuyBack Gets JACKED! Turns Into a Damn Gun Show! LOL
Police officers in Seattle, Washington held their first gun buyback program in 20 years this weekend, underneath interstate 5, and soon found that private gun collectors were working the large crowd as little makeshift gun shows began dotting the parking lot and sidewalks. Some even had �cash for guns� signs prominently displayed.

Police stood in awe as gun enthusiasts and collectors waved wads of cash for the guns being held by those standing in line for the buyback program.

People that had arrived to trade in their weapons for $100 or $200 BuyBack gift cards($100 for handguns, shotguns and rifles, and $200 for assault weapons) soon realized that gun collectors were there and paying top dollar for collectible firearms. So, as the line for the chump cards got longer and longer people began to jump ship and head over to the dealers.

John Diaz, Seattle's Police Chief, wasn�t pleased with the turn of events stating �I�d prefer they wouldn�t sell them,� but admitted it�s perfectly legal for private individuals to buy and sell guns, FOR NOW. Mayor Mike McGinn said at a news conference the private transactions are a loophole that needs to be closed. �There�s no background checks, and some (guns) could be exchanged on the streets that shouldn�t be in circulation.�

But Schuyler Taylor, a previous gun retailer attending the event in hopes of buying weapons, asked �Why not offer them cash versus a gift card? I�m still taking the guns off the streets; they�re just going in my safe.�
Heh -- and one of the weapons being sold raised some eyebrows -- from the Seattle CBS affiliate:
Police: Man Buys Missile Launcher From Another During Weapons Buyback Event
Seattle police worked with Army officials Monday to track down the history of a nonfunctional missile launcher that showed up at a weapons buyback program and determine whether it was legal or possibly stolen from the military.

A man standing outside the event Saturday bought the military weapon for $100 from another person there, according to Detective Mark Jamieson.

The single-use device is a launch tube assembly for a Stinger portable surface-to-air missile and already had been used. As a controlled military item, it is not available to civilians through any surplus or disposal program offered by the government, according to Jamieson.
Sounds like a blast!


From the New York Daily Post:

"Wall St." flees NY for tax-free Fla.
The city's hedge-fund executives are flying south -- and it's not for vacation.

An increasing number of financial firms, especially private equity and hedge funds, are fed up with New York's sky-high city and state tax rates and are relocating to the business-friendly climate in Florida's Palm Beach County.

And they're being welcomed with open arms -- officials in Palm Beach recently opened an entire office dedicated to luring finance hot shots down south.

"Florida is a state of choice," said Thalius Hecksher, global development chief for Apex Fund Services, who moved many of his operations to Palm Beach. "It's organically grown. There's no need to drag people down here. It's a zero-income-tax jurisdiction."
And the tax in question?

But there's no state income tax in the Sunshine State. Compare that to New York, where the state and local governments took $14.71 of every $100 earned in 2010, according to state records.
Quite the bite -- commercial office space is a lot cheaper too. No reason that Miami couldn't become the replacement for Wall Street.

An example of media bias

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Suppose that 500,000 people marched in Washington and nobody reported it. That just happened this last weekend and did you hear any news reports? Me neither. From Newsbusters:
ABC and CBS Spike Huge Pro-Life March, Yet Highlight Puny Pro-Gun Control Protest
The annual pro-life march, this year marking the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court�s Roe v Wade decision, drew tens of thousands to Washington, DC on Friday, but didn�t garner a syllable of coverage on Friday�s World News on ABC nor the CBS Evening News. Yet on Saturday night, both newscasts highlighted a pro-gun control protest in DC which CBS anchor Jim Axelrod pegged at drawing �close to a thousand people.�

The NBC Nightly News noted both protests and on Friday night also reported how a federal appeals court unanimously decided that President Obama violated the Constitution when he made recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, a rebuke neither ABC nor CBS found newsworthy.

This 15 seconds from Brian Williams was the totality of broadcast network evening newscast coverage of the pro-life march: �In Washington today, thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators marched to the steps of the Supreme Court, protesting the landmark decision that legalized abortion. Annual �March for Life,� as it�s called, this year coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Roe versus Wade decision.�
Someone is displaying an agenda... More on the event here: March for Life

Big uptick in comment spam

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Usually get a couple per day, last two weeks it has been 20-60/day My script catches them all so the people trying to post these spam comments are abject looooooosers! Still, annoying to have to keep processing new IP addresses to blackhole.

Serious drool factor

From Classic Firearms:
Mosin Nagant Rifle By The Crate
Price = $2400.00 per crate + shipping

Are you a Nagant Lover?

Do you like to Open Sealed Rifle Crates and See What's inside?

Do you like to Stack Em Deep and Sell Em Cheap?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions have we got a deal for you.
I have been rebuilding a 1943 Tula and really happy with it. Kicks like a mule but spot on and fun to shoot. Ammo is cheap even these days (less than 30�/round).

An interesting chart

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From Borepatch:
Global Warming: A picture says a thousand words
Suppose you were to go to the Fed.Gov's website, download the historical temperature for the US lower 48 states dating back to 1895? Suppose you were to plot the monthly average high and low of all of this data covering 118 years? With all of this "Global Warming" that we're hearing about, you'd expect to see this in the plot.
Go and look at the chart -- not what you would expect... :)

CBS - staying classy

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From Breitbart:
CBS Runs Segment Called 'Let's Give Up On The Constitution'
From Georgetown law professor Louis Michael Seidman:

I've got a simple idea: Let's give up on the Constitution. I know, it sounds radical, but it's really not. Constitutional disobedience is as American as apple pie. For example, most of our greatest Presidents -- Jefferson, Lincoln, Wilson, and both Roosevelts -- had doubts about the Constitution, and many of them disobeyed it when it got in their way.

To be clear, I don't think we should give up on everything in the Constitution. The Constitution has many important and inspiring provisions, but we should obey these because they are important and inspiring, not because a bunch of people who are now long-dead favored them two centuries ago. Unfortunately, the Constitution also contains some provisions that are not so inspiring. For example, one allows a presidential candidate who is rejected by a majority of the American people to assume office. Suppose that Barack Obama really wasn't a natural-born citizen. So what? Constitutional obedience has a pernicious impact on our political culture. Take the recent debate about gun control. None of my friends can believe it, but I happen to be skeptical of most forms of gun control. I understand, though, that's not everyone's view, and I'm eager to talk with people who disagree.

But what happens when the issue gets Constitutional-ized? Then we turn the question over to lawyers, and lawyers do with it what lawyers do. So instead of talking about whether gun control makes sense in our country, we talk about what people thought of it two centuries ago. Worse yet, talking about gun control in terms of constitutional obligation needlessly raises the temperature of political discussion. Instead of a question on policy, about which reasonable people can disagree, it becomes a test of one's commitment to our foundational document and, so, to America itself.

This is our country. We live in it, and we have a right to the kind of country we want. We would not allow the French or the United Nations to rule us, and neither should we allow people who died over two centuries ago and knew nothing of our country as it exists today. If we are to take back our own country, we have to start making decisions for ourselves, and stop deferring to an ancient and outdated document.
Words fail -- the 470+ comments are along that vein too... Professor Louis Michael Seidman's university web site is here. The Wikipedia entry states that:
Louis Michael Seidman is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC, a widely read constitutional law scholar and major proponent of the critical legal studies movement. He opposes the United States Constitution.
Seidman also authored this Op-Ed in the New York Times:
Let�s Give Up on the Constitution
As the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.

Consider, for example, the assertion by the Senate minority leader last week that the House could not take up a plan by Senate Democrats to extend tax cuts on households making $250,000 or less because the Constitution requires that revenue measures originate in the lower chamber. Why should anyone care? Why should a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation�s fate?
You do not get to pick and choose your arguments -- if you say that one thing is outmoded, you also need to recognize that it is the Senate's responsibility to pass a budget every two years -- something that is five years overdue. All spending appropriations originate in the House. This is just one example of the system of checks and balances that our Founders so wisely put in place. There are three co-equal branches of the Government with checks and balances on each branch to prevent one from acquiring too much power. Asshats like Seidman want to erode this and allow a free-for-all power grab that will plunge us into the darkest days of Stalinism.
From the Chicago Tribune:
A violent Saturday leaves 7 dead
Four shootings -- two of them double homicides -- and a stabbing left 7 people dead Saturday, authorities said.

In what appeared to be the last homicide of the day, a 32-year-old man was fatally stabbed about 11:50 p.m. in the South Shore neighborhood on the South Side, police said.
Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. How is that working out for them? It also has one of the highest murder rates of any city with District of Columbia coming in a close second.


Have a water board meeting tonight -- offline for an hour or so.

Those pesky assault weapons

From The Blaze:
If �Assault Weapons� Are Bad�Why Does DHS Want to Buy 7,000 of Them for �Personal Defense�?
The Department of Homeland Security is seeking to acquire 7,000 5.56x45mm NATO �personal defense weapons� (PDW) � also known as �assault weapons� when owned by civilians. The solicitation, originally posted on June 7, 2012, comes to light as the Obama administration is calling for a ban on semi-automatic rifles and high capacity magazines.

Citing a General Service Administration (GSA) request for proposal (RFP), Steve McGough of RadioViceOnline.com reports that DHS is asking for the 7,000 �select-fire� firearms because they are �suitable for personal defense use in close quarters.� The term select-fire means the weapon can be both semi-automatic and automatic. Civilians are prohibited from obtaining these kinds of weapons.

The RFP describes the firearm as �Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) � 5.56x45mm NATO, select-fire firearm suitable for personal defense use in close quarters and/or when maximum concealment is required.� Additionally, DHS is asking for 30 round magazines that �have a capacity to hold thirty (30) 5.56x45mm NATO rounds.�
personal defense use in close quarters -- what are they expecting? The zombie apocalypse? These are fully automatic firearms -- the kind that has been forbidden to us citizens since the Gun Control Act of 1968. I guess that they don't want to feel left out -- after all, the Chicago office of the Department of Education recently (2010) purchased 27 shotguns and the IRS got 60 shotguns. Lest we forget, despite Obama's frequent comments that he is in favor of guns and goes shooting all the time, he has consistently voted against them and their manufacturers. Here is the canonical list of 21 with citations from Maggie's Farm. Here are the first five:
FACT: Barack Obama voted to allow reckless lawsuits designed to bankrupt the firearms industry.
FACT: Barack Obama wants to re-impose the failed and discredited Clinton Gun Ban.
FACT: Barack Obama voted to ban almost all rifle ammunition commonly used for hunting and sport shooting.
FACT: Barack Obama has endorsed a complete ban on handgun ownership.
FACT: Barack Obama supports local gun bans in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and other cities.
Sixteen more at the site...

Talking Points on parade

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Here is a perfect example of how the regressive progressive members of our society work to spread their propaganda. First we have Steve Connor's little tirade over at the UK Independent. Now, we have Greg Laden echoing the same drivel, point for point at a US based website:
Dollars for Deniers: Big Oil Funds Climate Science Denialism
It has become increasingly difficult to understand the motivation behind climate science denialism. The Earth�s climate is changing, mainly in the form of increased temperatures of the oceans and the atmosphere, because of the release of copious amounts of previously trapped Carbon through the burning of fossil fuels. There is no longer a question that this is happening, and every year, the various details that one might like to see worked out, regarding the mechanisms or effects of climate change, are increasingly known. To state, with a straight face, that the jury is still out, or that we can�t separate natural variation from human caused changes, or that the earth has stopped warming for the last decade, or any of the other things we constantly hear from climate change denialists is exactly the same thing as standing there with a big sign that reads �I am a moron.� Politicians, who by and large remain ignorant of all sorts of science, have become aware of this over recent years and many now couch their phraseology in cautious terms, if they happen to be running there campaigns, as many are, on the Oil Teat. Even more amazing, principled Libertarians have stopped denying the reality of climate change, taking a different tact to avoid any responsibility or action: Yes, the climate change we�ve been busy denying the reality of for the last 30 years is real, they agree, but it is too late to do anything about it now so let�s just move inland as the sea level rises and buy lighter jackets.
Talk about run-on writing. Mr. Laden seriously needs an editor. OK: It has become increasingly difficult to understand the motivation behind climate science denialism. It is simple really -- people recognize scientific steamrolling when it happens. Computer models being published as fact when there is no corroborating evidence and the models themselves are not made public. Observational data doesn't support the model. The Earth�s climate is changing, mainly in the form of increased temperatures of the oceans and the atmosphere, because of the release of copious amounts of previously trapped Carbon through the burning of fossil fuels. Point one -- the last nineteen years have seen on overall cooling of the earths temperatures. Point two -- yes, the release of CO2 will have a warming effect but it is trivial, less than a degree over the next hundred years. Earth's climate is variable, we are leaving an Ice Age and the fossil record shows that we have been gradually warming for several thousand years. There is no longer a question that this is happening, and every year, the various details that one might like to see worked out, regarding the mechanisms or effects of climate change, are increasingly known. Sorry -- abject bullshit. To state, with a straight face, that the jury is still out, or that we can�t separate natural variation from human caused changes, or that the earth has stopped warming for the last decade, or any of the other things we constantly hear from climate change denialists is exactly the same thing as standing there with a big sign that reads �I am a moron.� #1) - The jury is in -- your side doesn't support the measurable evidence. #2) - Natural variation and anthropogenic variation can be separated out just fine.. #3) - Earth hasn't stopped warming for the last decade, it's nineteen years - almost two decades. #4 - Better to be called a moron by a useful idiot than to have one's head willfully stuck in the sand. Politicians, who by and large remain ignorant of all sorts of science, have become aware of this over recent years and many now couch their phraseology in cautious terms, if they happen to be running there campaigns, as many are, on the Oil Teat. Since when are Politicians the font of wisdom. They are politicians after all -- their job is to toe the line of the majority of their constituents. If the majority of their constituents think that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is a vastly overhyped piece of flaming junk science, it is their job to reflect that belief in their voting record. As for the Oil teat -- where is my check? How much money is given to Republican politicians from oil businesses as opposed to Democratic politicians -- some time spent on Open Secrets would be fun... Even more amazing, principled Libertarians have stopped denying the reality of climate change, taking a different tact to avoid any responsibility or action: Yes, the climate change we�ve been busy denying the reality of for the last 30 years is real, they agree, but it is too late to do anything about it now so let�s just move inland as the sea level rises and buy lighter jackets. First of all, the word is Tack, not Tact. Libertarians are better thinkers -- they might not vote correctly*** but they strongly value independent thought and come to their own conclusions. Looking at the data we have, the earth has been cooling. The climate 'models' do not incorporate the sun as a variable star and the 'models' do not hindcast -- given the last thousand years of climate data, they predict wildly different weather for today than we currently have. If they cannot hindcast worth a damn, why should we believe that they are able to forecast with any level of accuracy. Boots on the ground measurement do not support the Global Warming theory. Period. You can weep, wring your hands and wave them around but that will not change the measured and verified facts. It may not fit your agenda but that is life. Change your agenda. This is what adults do all the time... *** Had all the Libertarians and Ron Paul-ites bit their tongues and voted for Mitt Romney, he would be our President instead of Barry O'Bungler.

An author I will no longer support

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And a pity because he writes well. He also speaks his mind (totally justified) and speaks articulately but he is clueless on what he is talking about. Steven King -- from the UK Guardian:
Stephen King risks wrath of NRA by releasing pro-gun control essay
Stephen King has entranced millions with tales of dread but his latest volume will read like a horror only to the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights advocates. The best-selling author made an unexpected charge into the national debate on gun violence on Friday with a passionate, angry essay pleading for reform.

King, who owns three handguns, aimed the expletive-peppered polemic at fellow gun-owners, calling on them to support a ban on automatic and semi-automatic weapons in the wake of the December shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school which left 20 children and six adults dead.

"Autos and semi-autos are weapons of mass destruction. When lunatics want to make war on the unarmed and unprepared, these are the weapons they use," King wrote.

He said blanket opposition to gun control was less about defending the second amendment of the US constitution than "a stubborn desire to hold onto what they have, and to hell with the collateral damage". He added: "If that's the case, let me suggest that 'fuck you, Jack, I'm okay' is not a tenable position, morally speaking."

King finished the 25-page essay, Guns, last Friday and wanted it published as soon as possible, given the Obama administration's looming battle with the National Rifle Association and its allies. It was published on Friday on Amazon's online Kindle store, price 99 cents.
Hey Stephen -- fuck you right back. Six simple points: #1) -- the National Rifle Association is a pro-firearm organization. They have an arm that promotes some great training programs. Lulu's son and I have taken several of their classes at a local range. It is also has a lobbying arm. I support this too because despite Barry's campaign promise to limit lobbying in D.C., this has not been done so every side needs paid people in the other Washington. I subscribe to it gladly as it has given me some excellent results and it represents my voice when apparently, my own vote does not carry to my representatives in D.C. #2) -- there are an estimated 100 million firearms in the United States. Some people collect firearms but with about 300 million US citizens, it should be safe to say that at least one out of twenty people have a firearm. One out of ten households? Probably too... #3) -- some of the ideas being bandied about are registration, confiscation, limited ordnance (magazine capacity, online ammo purchases), special geekery that 'stamp' a round with an indicia traceable to the owner (obliterated in five minutes with a small file or Dremell tool). additional taxes on the purchase of firearms, mandatory 'registration' at the time of purchase (and just what is an FBI Form 4473 if not a background check?) etc... #4) -- I am pulling a wild-assed guess out of my hat but say that the tax burden of implementing this "gun grabbing" would cost each gun owner $100/year/per gun. Barry is probably looking at building another Federal Agency to handle this with the accompanying bureaucratic overhead and government waste. Let's just say $100/year/per gun from each and every one of us -- gun owner or not. After all, it is for our children's safetey... #5) -- the percentage of sick fucks who get their jollies off by murdering innocent people with firearms is probably 0.01% of legitimate gun owners. This would include gang violence (Chicago with 530 gun deaths in 2012) as well as the people like A*am L*nza and the other copycat morons. (My facebook page is going to be so totally freaking aweeeessomeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111eleventy1111) #6) -- so... Instead of pissing our tax dollars away on this, how about we spend that ($100*$100,000,000 = $100,000,000,000) One (finger to cheek) Billion dollars instituting programs to assess and weed out the profoundly mentally ill people from our society like we used to do before we got 'acceptance' and 'tolerance' for those poor souls who were 'different' from us. We used to do this back before the 1970's but the money ran out for custodial care when L(ying) B(astard) Johnson took the money (and NASA's money) to fund his "Great Society" and the majority of these dear people were simply released with no place to go but the streets. Yes it is custodial care and constant medication and observation but if a person's brain chemistry simply does not work quite rite, that actually is the most compassionate solution. They might not get "their rights" but on the other hand, as demonstrated so well by the L*nza child, they are not engaged human beings after all. And actually, I will totally agree with Stephen on this one:
"Here's how it shakes out," the essay begins, before describing 22 ritual steps in which the US experiences a school massacre. Excoriating the media and television voyeurism, he writes: "Sixteenth, what cable news does best now begins, and will continue for the next seventy-two hours: the slow and luxurious licking of tears from the faces of the bereaved."
This is why that L*nza -- the next 'wanna be me!!!!' sick-fuck will not find support from me by posting his actual name. The media needs to bury acts like this -- a brief mention but no frisson of glory to the perp. They are dead to the world and do not need to be a role model.

Quite the hobby

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Some people collect stamps, Owen Phairis collects planetarium projectors. Check out the Planetarium Projector and Science Museum Some photos of his collection: Picture Scrapbook A road trip to Big Bear Lake, California seems in order...
From Chicago station WGN:
Illinois� credit rating downgraded; state drops to worst in the nation
A warning came Saturday morning from state treasurer Dan Rutherford (R) IL State Treasurer. The Standard and Poor�s downgrade from A to A-minus puts Illinois last on the list� and means a higher cost to borrow money.

On Wednesday, the state will issue $500 million in new bonds to pay for roads and other transportation projects. Rutherford says the credit downgrade will cost taxpayers an additional $95 million in interest.

When compared to a perfect triple-a bond rating enjoyed by other states including neighboring Indiana, Iowa and Missouri.

�Our problem in Illinois is that we have not substantively and fairly addressed the state public pension issue.�
Emphasis mine -- no shit. All of those cushy public-sector union jobs are finally coming home to roost. Back in the 60's, the economy was vibrant, Detroit was an industrial powerhouse so the Unions and politicians thought that they could keep kiting checks and giving away more and more. Guess what, times have changed but they are still on the hook for the pensions and medical benefits. 530+ comments almost universally leaning towards tar and feathers...

Back at the farm

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The sale this morning was a lot of fun. Most of the big-ticket items were redundant to my shop. Lulu's son Curtis is now seriously starting to take up blacksmithing too so all three of us went. Two guys almost came to blows over an anvil. Pretty intense for a while. Recognized a few faces there -- not enough to know their names but I had seen them at some of the local Blacksmithing conferences. Picked up a bunch of bending forks, some monkey wrenches, a rivet heading tool, about 20 metal files (high carbon content -- great for knives), an awesome wizards staff, an old mechanical engineering book, about ten brand-new hickory hammer and ax handles and Lulu got a couple pieces of kitchenware. I feel sad for not having been able to know this man. We shared a lot of similar interests -- there was some printing equipment (I used to own a copy/print business and know how to run an offset press), a full darkroom including the same make and model of Federal enlarger that I had growing up. Some tape recording stuff, lots of still and cine photography equipment, guns and reloading equipment, a couple telescopes, wood working equipment and one bulletin board covered with all of the ribbons and awards that he had won over his life. A life very well lived and a very fun morning -- spent just around $100 so it was a cheap date...

UK economy

Another result from socialist thinking -- from the UK Telegraph:

UK heads for triple dip as GDP contracts 0.3pc
The official figures were the fourth quarter of negative growth in the last five and mean that the UK flatlined for last year as a whole � posting zero growth.

The economy is smaller than it was in September 2011 and still 3.3pc below its pre-crisis peak.


At the start of 2013 one-off factors, such as January's snow, may push the economy into an unprecedented triple-dip recession, with major retailer John Lewis already warning on Friday that snow had hit sales growth.

Sir Mervyn King, the Bank of England Governnor, expects no more than a "gentle recovery" this year, while this week the International Monetary Fund cut its 2013 forecast for British economic growth to 1pc from 1.1pc predicted in October.

However, even such lacklustre growth could be derailed, as some analysts and business groups warn, by a hit to firms' and consumers' confidence from talk of a triple-dip recession.

Those poor sods -- God rest their souls -- will not know what hits them in the next couple of months. We are due for our double-dip in about six to eight months. Time to husband ones resources and develop "trade goods" whose value is not based on fiat currency. We have been flying high on other people's money since the late 1960's and the butcher's bill is coming due.

Back from the movie

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The Hobbit was wonderful -- excellent storytelling and the CGI keeps getting better and better. The Golum was really good in LOTR -- this was the first digital character that I thought actually acted. In the Hobbit, he was amazing. Definitely one for the big screen. Had dinner at a local Asian restaurant. Surf for a bit and then go to sleep -- big day tomorrow with this sale: Huge Estate Sale of Life Long Craftsman

Off to town today

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Hading over to Lulu's house -- getting new tires on the truck so we are doing a dinner and movie. Sheesh - an actual Date! Big sale tomorrow -- looking forward to seeing what is available. I am pretty well set up tool-wise but there are a couple holes that need to be filled (acorn table, some more tongs, etc...)

Bobby Jindal's speech

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Bobby Jindal spoke before the Republican National Committee in Charlotte, N.C. last night. Incredible speech -- here is the transcript:
Full text: Bobby Jindal�s dynamite speech to the Republican National Committee in Charlotte
Let me warn you in advance that I plan to talk big picture here tonight, and I plan to say some things that may challenge your assumptions.

You may not agree with all of it, but that�s ok, ours is a party that can handle real discussions.

And now, after losing two Presidential elections in a row, is certainly the time for some candid discussion.

I. America is not the federal government.
The first concept I want to talk about is simply this � America is not the federal government.

Take a minute to let that thought sink in. America is not the federal government.

In fact, America is not much about government at all. In America, government is one of those things you have to have, but you sure don�t want too much of it�kind of like your in-laws.

This is of course the polar opposite of the political debate in our country today.

At present we have one party that wants to be in charge of the federal government so they can expand it, and one party that wants to be in charge of the federal government so they can get it under control.

It�s a terrible debate, it�s a debate fought entirely on our opponents� terms.

A debate about which party can better manage the federal government is a very small and shortsighted debate.

If our vision is not bigger than that, we do not deserve to win.
Just wow! Reassuring that we have people of that caliber moving up the ranks.

Pssst - Steve Connor wears an AFDB

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Steve Connor writes for the UK Independent:
Exclusive: Billionaires secretly fund attacks on climate science
A secretive funding organisation in the United States that guarantees anonymity for its billionaire donors has emerged as a major operator in the climate "counter movement" to undermine the science of global warming, The Independent has learnt.

The Donors Trust, along with its sister group Donors Capital Fund, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is funnelling millions of dollars into the effort to cast doubt on climate change without revealing the identities of its wealthy backers or that they have links to the fossil fuel industry.

However, an audit trail reveals that Donors is being indirectly supported by the American billionaire Charles Koch who, with his brother David, jointly owns a majority stake in Koch Industries, a large oil, gas and chemicals conglomerate based in Kansas.
AFDB? Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie -- otherwise known as a tinfoil hat. Keeps the voices out 'ya know... I find it amazing that people get so worked up by stuff like this. If we were actually seeing signs of man-made global warming, people like the Koch brothers would be moving heaven and earth to research this and find solutions. Since the Earth's temperature has been declining for the last nineteen years, there is no evidence of any warming. Our sun is a variable star and Earth is emerging from its most recent ice age.
Oops -- that should read Budget Surplus -- amazing what a Conservative Governor can do. From Ann Althouse:
Wisconsin budget surplus projected to grow to $484 million.
One more occasion for us here at Meadhouse to dance to "Stand with Governor Walker."

(Do you have any idea how much this annoys our fellow Madison citizens?)


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From CNN:
Hillary Clinton's campaign debt finally paid off
More than four years after suspending her 2008 presidential bid, now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has finally paid off her campaign debt.

Clinton's presidential organization spent the final day of 2012 paying down the remaining debt, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission late Tuesday.

Clinton's committee spent part of New Year's Eve making three payments totaling $73,000 to the Democratic polling firm of Penn and Schoen. The campaign had once owed the firm $5.4 million, but had brought their account current by the time the clock struck midnight on December 31.

Clinton's debt reached its peak in June 2008 shortly after the former New York senator suspended her campaign. At that point, her presidential committee owed $12 million to almost 500 creditors and $13.2 million to the candidate herself, who dipped into her personal funds to help finance her campaign.
Just before her Benghazi testimony? Backroom deal? Her performance the other day was very highly scripted.
I had written about norovirii a couple weeks ago but then, it was just confined to the UK and some cruise ships. Not any more -- from FOX News:
US hit by new stomach bug spreading around globe
A new strain of stomach bug sweeping the globe is taking over in the U.S., health officials say.

Since September, more than 140 outbreaks in the U.S. have been caused by the new Sydney strain of norovirus. It may not be unusually dangerous; some scientists don't think it is. But it is different, and many people might not be able to fight off its gut-wrenching effects.

Clearly, it's having an impact. The new strain is making people sick in Japan, Western Europe, and other parts of the world. It was first identified last year in Australia and called the Sydney strain.

In the U.S., it is now accounting for about 60 percent of norovirus outbreaks, according to report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Norovirus - once known as Norwalk virus - is highly contagious and often spreads in places like schools, cruise ships and nursing homes, especially during the winter. Last month, 220 people on the Queen Mary II were stricken during a Caribbean cruise.

Sometimes mistakenly called stomach flu, the virus causes bouts of vomiting and diarrhea for a few days.

Every two or three years, a new strain evolves - the last was in 2009. The Sydney strain's appearance has coincided with a spike in influenza, perhaps contributing to the perception that this is a particularly bad flu season in the U.S.
Glad I do not live in a big city.
Spending tomorrow night at the Lake House (Lulu's house) to get a good start on this sale: Huge Estate Sale of Life Long Craftsman

Good news in Australia

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I really need to visit there sometime -- hearing nothing but good stuff. From the UK Telegraph:
Trillions of dollars worth of oil found in Australian outback
The discovery in central Australia was reported by Linc Energy to the stock exchange and was based on two consultants reports, though it is not yet known how commercially viable it will be to access the oil.

The reports estimated the company�s 16 million acres of land in the Arckaringa Basin in South Australia contain between 133 billion and 233 billion barrels of shale oil trapped in the region�s rocks.

It is likely however that just 3.5 billion barrels, worth almost $359 billion (�227 billion) at today�s oil price, will be able to be recovered.

The find was likened to the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale oil projects in the US, which have resulted in massive outflows and have led to predictions that the US could overtake Saudi Arabia as the world�s largest oil producer as soon as this year.
Peak oil? Suck on this for a while...

Windmills - a two-fer

The British are going bonkers for wind power. First - from the Beeb:

Ireland to build 'giant' wind turbines to power UK homes
UK and Irish ministers will today sign an agreement that could see some of the world's largest wind turbines built across the Irish midlands.

Stretching more than 600 feet (180 metres) in the air, the towers are set to generate energy for millions of UK homes from 2017.

The companies involved say the Irish power is a cheaper form of renewable than UK offshore wind.

But environmentalists have described the scheme as "crazy".

They say it risks damaging Ireland's landscape.

Read the whole article -- the location is relatively windless so they are proposing turbines 600 feet tall. Next -- the Met pushes back a bit -- from the London Daily Mail:

Wind farms can interfere with forecasts says Met Office as it lodges complaints against planned sites
The Met Office has objected to the construction of a giant wind farm -- claiming its turbines could affect the accuracy of its weather forecasts.

It says interference from dozens of giant blades would result in "false warnings of severe and hazardous weather being issued", while heavy rainfall and flood alerts could be missed.

The weather agency has written to planning authorities to register its opposition to the site, which would see more than 20 turbines dotted in the Welsh mountains near one of its weather stations.

It is not like they have any great claim to accuracy these days. Looking for an out? They need to pull the plug on their models and their hot supercomputer and get back to traditional methods that work.

Happy 158th Birthday

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From Wikipedia:
John Browning
John Moses Browning (January 23, 1855] � November 26, 1926), born in Ogden, Utah, was an American firearms designer who developed many varieties of military and civilian firearms, cartridges, and gun mechanisms, many of which are still in use around the world. He is arguably the most important figure in the development of modern automatic and semi-automatic firearms and is credited with 128 gun patents. He made his first firearm at age 13 in his father's gun shop, and was awarded his first patent on October 7, 1879 at the age of 24.

Browning influenced nearly all categories of firearms design. He invented or made significant improvements to single-shot, lever-action, and slide-action, rifles and shotguns. His most significant contributions were arguably in the area of autoloading firearms. He developed the first autoloading pistols that were both reliable and compact by inventing the telescoping bolt, integrating the bolt and barrel shroud into what is known as the pistol slide. Browning's telescoping bolt design is now found on nearly every modern semi-automatic pistol, as well as several modern fully automatic weapons. He also developed the first gas-operated machine gun, the Colt-Browning Model 1895�a system that surpassed mechanical recoil operation to become the standard for most high-power self-loading firearm designs worldwide. Browning would also make significant contributions to automatic cannon development.

Browning's most successful designs include the M1911 pistol, the Browning Hi Power pistol, the Browning .50 caliber machine gun, the Browning Automatic Rifle, and the Browning Auto-5, a ground-breaking semi-automatic shotgun. These arms are nearly identical today to those assembled by Browning, with only minor changes in detail and cosmetics. Even today, John Browning's guns are still some of the most copied guns in the world.
I was talking with a friend tonight -- he and I are both Nikola Tesla fanbois and my comment was that John Moses Browning was the Tesla of firearms. His house was on the market for a very reasonable price in 2009 -- still kicking myself a little bit...

Garage sale this weekend

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Planning on checking this sale out this weekend:
Huge Estate Sale of Life Long Craftsman (2727 Utter Street, Bellingham WA)
80 Year Accumulation of a
Master Blacksmith, Metal Worker, and Wood Worker/Carver

10:00AM to 4:00PM

2727 Utter Street ~ Bellingham, WA

Dick lived a wonderfully full life -- it would have been fun to have known him. I am keeping my hopes (and wallet) in check as Mr. Fackler passed last July 2012 so I am guessing that the good stuff has already been picked over by family and friends. Still...
I'll be having dinner in town so nothing today...

Heh - Unions in the news

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Gettin' pretty desperate out there. From The Detroit News:
Union membership falls to 70-year low
The nation's unions lost 400,000 members in 2012 as the percentage of U.S. workers represented by a labor union fell to 11.3 percent, its lowest level since the 1930s - declining by 0.5 percent over the last year.

Michigan accounted for about 10 percent of the nation's loss of unionized workers as the Wolverine State fell to the seventh most-unionized state, from fifth in 2011.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the biggest hit was in public sector unions, where many states and cities have cut back on their unionized workforce.

Among public sector workers, 35.9 percent are in a union - down from 37.0 percent in 2011, as the public sector shed nearly 250,000 union workers.

The public sector union rate is more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers. In the private sector, 6.6 percent are unionized, down from 6.9 percent in 2011.
And this editorial by Diana Furchtgott-Roth at The Washington Examiner:
Furchtgott-Roth: Why the unions are shrinking
On Wednesday, the Labor Department publishes 2012 data showing that during President Obama's first term the unionization rate -- the percentage of American workers belonging to unions -- declined faster than during two terms of President George W. Bush. Who would have guessed?

The total unionization rate declined from 11.8 percent of wage and salary workers in 2011 to 11.3 percent in 2012. Private-sector unionization fell from 6.9 percent to 6.6 percent, and the government unionization rate dropped from 37 percent to 35.9 percent. The total Obama-era decline is 1.1 percentage points, compared with 1.1 percentage points during the eight Bush years.

Although Obama has championed union causes, his tax and regulatory policies have systematically discouraged business investment and job creation in America for all workers -- union and nonunion.

U.S. corporate tax rates remain the highest in the industrialized world. Inefficient regulations add to production costs and make employees into liabilities.

Obama vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, which would have provided thousands of unionized construction jobs. Instead, Canada is planning to ship the oil it produces in its western provinces to China. Too bad for American members of the Laborers' International Union of North America. More jobs for Canadians.

Obama's Environmental Protection Agency regulations have resulted in the closure of more than 100 coal-fired power plants over the past two years, with more scheduled. That's too bad for the United Mine Workers of America and for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

In 2009, Chrysler and GM were given government bailouts, disenfranchising existing creditors and transferring assets to the United Auto Workers. Despite the bailout, if your price can be beat, you can't compete. On Jan. 15, Chrysler announced that it would be expanding Jeep production in Guangzhou, China, rather than in Toledo, Ohio. Too bad for the United Auto Workers.

Under Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, firms with more than 49 workers face a $2,000-per-worker tax if they don't offer the right kind of health insurance. That's fewer full-time jobs, but more part-time jobs, because there's no tax on part-time employees.
Unions were a good thing at one time. They had the moral high-ground. Situations changed and the unions did not. Their leadership became complacent and corrupt and they did not listen to the workers. Time for a change...

NAMM Conference

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The National Association of Music Merchants conference is going on in Austin Texas. This is an annual conference where manufacturers trot out their latest and greatest musical instruments, concept ideas, accessories, etc. The Onion has a nice writeup:
Nation's Sound Engineers Gather To Talk About Their Ponytails
AUSTIN, TX�Sound engineers from around the country converged on the Hilton Garden Inn Saturday for their annual convention in which they discuss their ponytails. "It's always fun to catch up with other sound guys, just so we can swap stories about changing out bad cables, smoke cigarettes together, and see how our ponytails are," said Joe Spencer, a sound engineer from Kansas City, MO whose 11-inch ponytail was poking out the hole of his Zildjian ball cap and obscuring the tour dates on his Megadeth T-shirt. "But despite our cool jobs, it's pretty much like any other convention. We talk about new Mag-Lite innovations, see presentations on ponytail-friendly headphones, and swap tips, like how, in a pinch, you can use a mic clip as a clasp to secure your ponytail." At the close of the weekend-long event, attendees will reportedly observe a moment of silence in honor of the late Ted "Smash" Bailey, a sound engineer who had an impressive 24-incher and told Peter Gabriel to fuck off in 1983.
Another great website is not up to date quite yet. This is Barry Wood's NAMM Oddities It will take him a week or more to get the results from the 2013 conference but he has every NAMM show since 1998 and some of the instruments are a lot of fun.
From Australia where they are being sold on the open market without any government incentives? Not doing too well -- from the Sydney Morning Herald:
Electric car dropped as sales stall
The first mass produced electric car on sale in Australia will be withdrawn from dealerships due to lacklustre sales.

Mitsubishi has vowed to maintain its presence in the small electric car market despite a perceived withdrawal of the i-MiEV - the first mass-produced EV to be sold locally.

The manufacturer confirmed to Drive on Wednesday that importation of the i-MiEV had been slowed down to a "supply and demand" basis because of trickling sales.
And a bit more:
But the biggest sticking point has always been its high price tag.

The Japanese manufacturer has shifted only 227 units in three years, with sales almost exclusively reserved to businesses and governments wanting a green image.
Not a demand for it -- plain and simple. Next?

A simple speech

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Hat tip to Doug Rink at TalkSouthRadio: Some excerpts from the speech:
I appeal to the public to disarm the ambitious. Why are clandestine arms being stored at this very minute? Why are arms being hidden at distinct points of the capital? Why are arms being smuggled at this moment? I tell you that there are members of certain revolutionary organizations who are smuggling and storing arms. All the arms that were found by the rebel army are stored and locked in barracks, where they belong.
We have a free country here. We have no censorship, and the press is free. The people can gather freely if they want to. There is no tormenting of political prisoners, no murders, no terror. When all the rights of the citizens have been restored--and an election for the purpose is going to be held as soon as possible--why do we need arms? Are we going to unseat the President with the arms? Are we going to set up revolutionary organizations? Are we going to have gangsters? Are we going to practice daily shooting on the streets of the capital? Why do we need arms?
The Speaker? Fidel Castro on Jan. 9, 1959 at the beginning of his seizure of power. He didn't want any competition.
We have a free country here. We have no censorship, and the press is free. The people can gather freely if they want to. There is no tormenting of political prisoners, no murders, no terror.
Yeah and I have a slightly used bridge in Brooklyn -- make you a great deal.

Technology wants to be free

Heh -- hat tip to Slashdot for the link -- from The Verge:

As Obama heads back to office, a battle rages over the tech that got him reelected
The tech team behind the 2012 Obama campaign has probably received more attention than any political programmers in history. A so-called "dream team of engineers from Facebook, Google and Twitter [who] built the software that drove Barack Obama's reelection" were extolled in the press for bringing Silicon Valley strategies like Agile development to the normally hidebound process of a political campaign. In the post mortems that followed Obama's victory, many credited the superiority of the Democrats' tech team and its famous Narwhal platform, in contrast to the failure of Mitt Romney's digital efforts, with mobilizing the vote and winning crucial swing states.

But in the aftermath of the election, a stark divide has emerged between political operatives and the techies who worked side-by-side. At issue is the code created during the Obama for America (OFA) 2012 campaign: the digital architecture behind the campaign's website, its system for collecting donations, its email operation, and its mobile app. When the campaign ended, these programmers wanted to put their work back into the coding community for other developers to study and improve upon. Politicians in the Democratic party felt otherwise, arguing that sharing the tech would give away a key advantage to the Republicans. Three months after the election, the data and software is still tightly controlled by the president and his campaign staff, with the fate of the code still largely undecided. It's a choice the OFA developers warn could not only squander the digital advantage the Democrats now hold, but also severely impact their ability to recruit top tech talent in the future.

Geeks, even those who chose to swallow the blue pill, want recognition for their brilliance and have a strict code of moral ethics when it comes to coding -- more:

The historic work the campaign was able to achieve in such a short time was made possible, Ryan and others argue, because the Obama tech team built on top of open source code - code that has been shared publicly and can be "forked," essentially edited, by anyone. "The things we built off of open source should go back to the public," says Manik Rathee, who worked as a user experience engineer with OFA. The team relied on open source frameworks like Rails, Flask, Jekyll and Django. "We wouldn't have been able to accomplish what we did in one year if we hadn't been working off open source projects," says Rathee.

More green jobs

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Fscking idiot -- from The Daily Bail:
Four Years And $50 Billion Later, Obama Pushes More 'Green Jobs'
When Obama pledged $150 billion over ten years, he said it would create 5 million green jobs � in fact, about 30,000 jobs have been created by the Department of Energy�s 4,000 or so green energy projects.

From the stimulus package, we got two big ticket items: One is the subsidy program which helped several now-bankrupt firms (Solyndra being just one of them) remain solvent for a bit longer than they would have otherwise, and which is still propping up others that will go bankrupt soon. We also got a $400 million green-jobs training program which, in the rare cases where it puts participants into new �green jobs,� puts them into jobs with an average annual salary of less than $26,000 per year.
How stupid do they think we are? There is no such thing as viable alternative energy. In more news, Bambi's mom is dead and there are no such things as Unicorns...

Bill Maher - always classy

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There seems to be quite the rash of self-entitled asshats recently -- from Breitbart:
Bill Maher: 'A Lot' Of The Constitution 'Is Bullsh*t'
"I mean, a lot of it is bullsh*t. I mean, the Second Amendment is bullsh*t, the way they interpret the Second Amendment. The left completely forgot how to interpret that. I mean, it really is about militias at a time when, you know, there was a battle between the states and the government. It wasn't really about private citizens owning a handgun."
Actually Bill, you ignorant slut, the Constitution is what allows you to spew your moronic vitriol and also allows me to spew mine. Go and spend five years as a working stiff in North Korea or Mali or Benin or any of the other pestilent worker's paradises and then come back and tell me what life is like here. Thought not. Putz...

As John Muir spins in his grave

A bunch of asshats -- from The Sierra Club:
Friends and Colleagues:
Earlier this week President Barack Obama set the tone for his second term, and what a note he struck! The president vowed to fight climate disruption and make the United States a leader in clean energy. But just as important, he celebrated the value of citizen action, from Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall, and underscored that standing up for what is morally right is a profound act of patriotism. In the president's own words, "You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time, not only with the votes we cast, but the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideas."
Yadda, yadda, yadda, and a bit more:
This peaceful resistance will be the first in the Sierra Club's 120-year history. Specifically, the Board has suspended the Club's policy against civil disobedience to allow, for one time, a select team of Club leaders and prominent Sierra Club supporters to face arrest during a peaceful protest, in partnership with 350.org.
350 is Weepy Bill McKibbin's group -- they see CO2 as a bad thing. Pseudoscience. I wonder if this will affect their 501[c]3 status -- probably not but one can hope...

Beware the far right

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Distressing news from West Point -- from The Washington Times:
West Point center cites dangers of �far right� in U.S.
A West Point think tank has issued a paper warning America about �far right� groups such as the �anti-federalist� movement, which supports �civil activism, individual freedoms and self-government.�

The report issued this week by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., is titled �Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America�s Violent Far-Right.�

The center � part of the institution where men and women are molded into Army officers � posted the report Tuesday. It lumps limited government activists with three movements it identifies as �a racist/white supremacy movement, an anti-federalist movement and a fundamentalist movement.�

The West Point center typically focuses reports on al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists attempting to gain power in Asia, the Middle East and Africa through violence.

But its latest study turns inward and paints a broad brush of people it considers �far right.�

It says anti-federalists �espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals� civil and constitutional rights. Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government. Extremists in the anti-federalist movement direct most their violence against the federal government and its proxies in law enforcement.�
So wrong it's not even right. The people on the right want to return the Federal government to its original design -- a creation of the states, empowered with a strict set of checks and balances against misuse and overreach. I thought Army Enlistees had to take an oath to support and defend the Constitution.
"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).
And, to lump us with those children of pigs and monkeys shows a profound ignorance.

Quote of the year - the Roman Empire

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Hat tip to Maggie's Farm:
Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and given him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the new wonderful good society which shall now be Rome�s, interpreted to mean more money, more ease, more security, and more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.
--Marcus Tullius Cicero

A little bit of pushback

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Two more instances of local pushback to the Federal Government's trampling of the 2nd Amendment. First - St. Louis, MO station KMOX:
Missouri Sheriffs Pledge To Not Enforce Obama�s Gun Control Laws
President Barack Obama continues to push gun control proposals in Washington D.C., Sheriff Charles M. Heiss, R-Johnson County is asking fellow law enforcers to sign and send this letter to the president.

The letter expresses concern with the Obama administration and the president�s gun control laws he laid out before Congress last week.

�It appears to me and many Americans that there is a genuine desire on the part of your administration to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law abiding American citizens in the interest of curbing gun violence in our nation,� Heiss wrote. �Any attempt to restrict these Second Amendment rights through executive order is unconstitutional and tantamount to an all-out assault on the United States Constitution.�

In the letter Heiss tells the president that he has a duty to protect his constituents from incidents of crime, and has the responsibility to protect and preserve their rights and liberties.
Next, from Dallas, TX station KXAS:
Collin County Sheriff Won't Enforce Gun Laws That He Says Violate Constitution
Collin County Sheriff Terry Box says he, nor his deputies, will enforce unconstitutional gun laws put in place by whom he calls misguided politicians.

In the statement, Box said the following:
In light of recent events I feel I need to make a public statement of my views on this subject. As the Sheriff of Collin County, Texas, I have for the past 28 years served to protect and keep safe all citizens of our county, recognizing the trust placed in me with this profoundly important responsibility.

Unfortunately, the recent surge in the numbers of innocent victims who have died at the hands of unstable criminals has prompted politicians in Washington to seek to pass laws that would seriously erode the constitutional rights of innocent and law abiding citizens.

Neither I, nor any of my deputies, will participate in the enforcement of laws that violate our precious constitutional rights, including our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

As long as I remain Sheriff of Collin County, I will not participate in the actions of misguided politicians who seek to impede our citizen�s right to all of the privileges afforded by our Constitution.


Terry G. Box
Sheriff, Collin County Texas
The longtime sheriff posted the statement on his personal Facebook page over the weekend after he said he was asked by hundreds of people urging him to do it.

Box's statement was posted just days after President Barack Obama signed a series of executive orders intended to reduce gun violence.
Nice to see some people standing up to the 10th Amendment. And yes, these wonderful people do have the authority to do this. Printz v. United States
From the UK The Independent:
Davos call for $14trn 'greening' of global economy
An unprecedented $14trn (�8.8trn) greening of the global economy is the only way to ensure long-term sustainable growth, according to a stark warning delivered to political and business leaders as they descended on the World Economic Forum in Davos yesterday.
Hell no. Not one penny of my tax dollars need to go to this stupid grift.

Good call - you first!

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Talk about someone who has overtayed their welcome -- from the UK Telegraph:
David Attenborough - Humans are plague on Earth
The television presenter said that humans are threatening their own existence and that of other species by using up the world�s resources.

He said the only way to save the planet from famine and species extinction is to limit human population growth.

�We are a plague on the Earth. It�s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It�s not just climate change; it�s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now,� he told the Radio Times.
This is just the sort of Malthusian codswallop that has never ever been proven right but has cost the world no end of problems. More:
�We keep putting on programmes about famine in Ethiopia; that�s what�s happening. Too many people there. They can�t support themselves � and it�s not an inhuman thing to say. It�s the case. Until humanity manages to sort itself out and get a coordinated view about the planet it�s going to get worse and worse.�
No you fscking moron -- the Ethiopians could be exporting food if they had the energy to pump water and the sanitation to keep healthy. Any "aid" that goes to them gets siphoned off by the oligarchs in power and nothing goes to the people who need it and yet, we nod our heads and cut their "dear leaders" a bigger check in the sincere hope that the "dear leaders" will not take it all. They do and ask for an even bigger check. As for overpopulation, you could move the entire population of Earth into the state of Texas and have a population density one third that of New York's borough of Manhattan.

Talk about a target-rich environment

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From the Chicago Tribune:
Emanuel closed out Inauguration Day with private party
With Buddy Guy rocking the stage, Absolut vodka flowing and waiters passing out crab cakes and mini-sliders, Rahm Emanuel's late-night party closed out the Inauguration Day festivities.

The blues guitarist cranked out "Sweet Home Chicago" just past 1 a.m. Tuesday in front of a crowded dance floor in a nightclub packed with political operatives, Democratic appointees, lobbyists, journalists and party crashers.

The private party, which began at 11 p.m. Monday at a nightclub near the White House, was billed as "Midnight Underground, a Chicago-style After-Hours."

Seen: Host Emanuel, of course, plus Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, New York Times political reporter Jeff Zeleny; and Donovan Pepper, a Deerfield-based lobbyist for Walgreen Co.
One small Ka-Boom and we would be so much better off... Oh well...
Snore -- from The Daily Beast:
Jill Kelley Says Paula Broadwell Tried to �Blackmail� Her
Jill Kelley was not the first to see the anonymous email that would rupture her comfortable life as a wealthy Tampa socialite who forged friendships with two top American generals.

She learned of the mysterious message from her husband, Scott, who opened the note on his iPhone, under the Yahoo account they share, as he was about to board a plane.

Kelley says she was �terrified� late last summer when he told her about the email. In that note and the barrage that followed, �there was blackmail, extortion, threats,� Kelley told me in her first interview since the David Petraeus scandal erupted, breaking a silence of nearly three months.
Hey Jill -- like the article says, that was three months ago. No need to interject yourself into the social theater any more -- go home and stay there. We are not interested in your life. We already have enough Kardashians. If the threats are actionable, call your lawyer -- don't bother us. Sheesh!

Those evil assault rifles - update

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Yesterday, I had posted this: Those evil assault rifles This was a re-posting from the Gormogons -- there is an update today:
Revealed: Media Lying About Assault Rifle (Maybe Not)
Essential Update at the end
And the update (and the optic is still very confused):
Alert reader Bill Godbold notified us that on Friday, police formally identified the weapons used in the shooting; indeed, there were two handguns (Sig Sauer P226, a Glock 20), a Bushmaster XM15-E2S, and the Saiga Canta-12 shotgun the Czar spotted.

The Czar is curious how two handguns, a shotgun, and an assault rifle were, for weeks, repeatedly identified as four handguns and a Bushmaster. And that the confirmation didn�t happen until a different story leaked out. Not that the Czar is conspiratorial enough to suspect items were intentionally hidden or revealed or somehow invented. This is still a big screw up. And he does not accuse the State of Connecticut or subsequent law enforcement of anything questionable: the Czar still squints at the media.

However, the Czar will concede the media was not wrong about the Bushmaster. It is, however, of great interest why they knew about the rifle before the public received confirmation of it.
If 10% of our tax dollars and the political energy being spent now to grab an eeeeevil and scary defense weapon were spent to really research and treat mental illness, we would be a hella lot better off. The worst pathology being shown here is willful ignorance. The loudest voice do not know what they are talking about.

Doctor Martin Luther King

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Celebrating his day today. Now, it is just a National Holiday for most people. Sad. He was an amazing thinker. A nice collection of seventeen of his quotes can be found here. Do not forget that he was old-school Republican and old-school Conservative back before all political parties got neutered and packaged in the deli case at your local quick-mart. The KKK, the people voting against desegregation, the people voting against black voting rights? Democrat. Look it up -- that is our history.

Minimal posting tonight

Been having some email issues.

Turns out that my IP address is now blocked by spamhaus.org

Going through my Hosting service (Hosting Matters -- excellent service, cannot recommend them enough!) to figure out what is happening.

Fun, fun, fun...

And yes, I run several anti-virus apps and yes, I log outgoing packets -- checked the most recent logs (they recycle after seven days) and there is nothing on my system that is sending (or trying to send) out anything untoward.

Long day today

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The usual Monday buying run for the store. Just got back home. Lulu is fixing our afternoon cocktail and then dinner. Posting will commence in about three hours...
From ConservativeByte:
Jesse Jackson: Assault Rifles Can Shoot Down Airplanes
�Bang! Bang! Bang!�

Hear that? It�s the sound of an assault weapon in the hands of a rogue individual, taking down an airplane flying overhead.

At least, that�s what the Reverend Jesse Jackson thinks assault weapons can do. The Reverend�s misinformed assertion that assault weapons are capable of shooting down airplanes came during a Fox News appearance yesterday.

�These semi-automatic weapons, these assault weapons, can only kill people, and in fact, they are threats to national security � the young man who did the killing in Aurora, Colorado � he could shoot down airplanes, so this is a matter of homeland security as well,� he said while speaking about gun control with anchor Martha MacCallum on �America�s Newsroom.� The debate about gun control has permeated the national dialogue ever since the tragic massacre of 26 innocent victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month involved a gun.
Oops - Pander-Bear alert. And how is Ms. Brawley doing these days Rev? Are you doing anything to help her cause? Thought not...

Winter chores

Lulu and I are both spending a very quiet day of rest at home -- she reading, me surfing.

Gorgeous day out -- heading outside to put hay out for the critters, top off the bird feeders and fill up the porch firewood bin -- it holds enough for three/four days.

Got a pound chubb of ground beef thawing out (bought half a cow last May and still eating on it) and will be making spaghetti for tonights dinner. Back online in a few hours...

Stayin' Classy - Barry and Michelle

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From Military:
Obama to be No-Show at 'Heroes' Ball
For the second time President Barack Obama will not attend an Inaugural event ball held to recognize Medal of Honor recipients.

A spokesman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee confirmed Friday that Obama would attend only the official Inaugural Ball and the Commander-in-Chief�s ball -- the latter of which is just for servicemembers and where MoH recipients are special guests.

Obama was criticized by some four years ago when he became the first President to skip the American Legion�s Salute to Heroes ball since it was first held in 1953.
Come on Barry -- you are the Commander in Chief and these are people who have won the Congressional Medal of Honor. Show some fscking respect. Hat tip to Doug Ross for the link.

Unintended consequences - gun grab

From Sari Horwitz and Peter Finn writing at The Washington Post:
Gun control debate may be driving higher sales
The United States appears to be experiencing a rec�ord run on military-style assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and some kinds of ammunition as buyers deluge stores in search of guns and bullets they fear will be banned by the Obama administration, according to firearms industry executives and market analysts.

Even allowing for spikes in gun sales that follow every mass killing in the United States and attendant political debates about gun control, industry executives said the surge seems unprecedented.

And it has emptied shelves of the kind of semiautomatic rifle that was used to kill 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month, the deaths that sparked President Obama�s proposal for tougher gun laws.
Emphasis mine -- that was debunked in an earlier post. Get your facts right. More:
In some areas, a buyer walking into a gun store now will have to wait up to a year to buy a military-style assault weapon. The prices of available semiautomatics have doubled as buyers bid up the dwindling supply, and stocks of Glock handguns are also low.
�2012 was a year of unparalleled growth and success for the firearms industry and its law-abiding customers,� said Stephen L. Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, headquartered in Newtown.

Sanetti said that more than 73 percent of retailers surveyed by the gun manufacturers� trade group had increased sales over the previous year, and that first-time buyers have increased to more than 25 percent of all customers.
Emphasis mine -- it's not hoarders grabbing more, a full 25% are new buyers. The authors have this confused air of not understanding why this is happening. They do not seem to grasp that their thought process is very much in the minority in this nation and that their laws will not affect a criminal's actions. The 500+ comments are worth a quick glance -- they are about 70% moonbat to 30% voice of reason. Some of them are calling for the abolishment of the NRA. As Robert Anson Heinlein once said:
An armed society is a polite society.

It's all about the Benjamins

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From The Washington Guardian:
Unions, bundlers and special interests fund Obama's second inauguration party
What a difference an election can make. Barack Obama, whose election victory and inuguration four years ago was fueled by the promise of change, transparency and the end of big money politics, ushers in his second inauguration with quite a bit of change. As in money from companies, labor unions and millionaire donors.

Unlike his first inauguration, Obama is allowing $1 million donations to help fund this weekend�s festivities, taking corporate donations that were banned last time around and refusing to provide full information about the donors.

In fact, all his Presidential Inaugural Committee is releasing about the 2013 donors is a name. No employer, city, state or amount given like last time. Americans won't get that information now until 90 days after the big bash is over.
So we wait three months and take notes then. Who is in bed with whom...

Quote of the week

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From Instapundit:
GOOD NEWS: As of today, Barack Obama�s presidency is half over.
--Glenn Reynolds

Failed Predictions - update

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Yesterday, I posted a link to a fun list of failed predictions: We are doomed I tell you! Doomed!!!!!!!! At that time, there were a bit over 150 comments. Now there are over 220 comments -- the discussion threads are a wonderful read.

Hot time in the old town tonight

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Being stupid hurts. From Tulsa, Okla. station KJRH:
Deputy: Man cuts down pole, shocked
Muskogee county officials say a man was shocked after he cut down a utility pole in an attempt to steal copper around 5:30 a.m. Saturday south of Warner.

Deputy Bert Poole said a man who lived in the area noticed his electrical service go out. He heard screaming outside and went with his wife to investigate.

The couple found Russell Barlow, 40, lying next to a utility pole that had been cut down, Poole said.

They loaded him into a truck and took him to a Porum police officer's home, where they called 911. Barlow was transported by helicopter to a Tulsa hospital.

Authorities say the current entered Barlow through the hands and exited through his feet.

There is no word on his condition at this time.
And the joke may well be even worse -- most utilities that I know of use Aluminum for their distribution wiring. A lot lighter and easier to work with and a lot cheaper.

Those evil assault rifles

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As the investigation proceeds and security videos are watched, one fact comes to light. The Czar of Muscovy writing at The Gormogons has the scoop:
Revealed: Media Lying About Assault Rifle
Well, now that Americans have forgotten about Sandy Hook and are all excited excited excited for the President�s inauguration tomorrow (Obama 2.0? More like Obama 1.1), okay, well, now the story is getting out that Adam Lanza did not use an assault rifle during his attack; in fact, it now appears he didn�t have one at all. Four handguns were used.

This is exactly what the Mandarin predicted, by the way, and what a pain that he didn�t post that but mentioned it to us in person about a month ago. Normally, the press is keen to splash pictures of the weapons all over the place to shock people, and their absolute inability to do so was most revealing to him.

As the Czar watches the video (around the :10 second mark), you can see someone clearing rounds out of a long gun with an action not unlike a 12-gauge semiauto shotgun; we cannot tell the weapon make from this distance, but you can see whatever ammunition it has dropping out in to the trunk�you could easily see shotgun shells from such a distance but not .223 bullets. At 0;11 seconds, you can see a barrel on top of a magazine tube.
Some more:
One cannot possibly accept that the media are ignorant on this issue. While that is a probability on most issue, one month has passed in which media types were given every conceivable explanation for the distance between AR-15s and other rifle platforms, why AKs are not ARs, why a .223 is not a monster bullet, the difference between semi-automatic and fully automatic, and so on.

The smallest amount of fact-checking would have cleared this up in no time.

Instead, you have active suppression of evidence followed by an informed distortion of the record. In fact, the Czar would suggest that Bushmaster (terribly libeled and slandered by the media) turn this over to their legal team for a couple million in brand damages.
Indeed -- the number of significant errors in terminology from so-called "respected" media sources is amazing. If they are wrong about such simple things, what else are they getting wrong when they report on other topics...

President Biden

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From Newsbusters:
Biden: 'I'm Proud To Be President'
Joe Biden the gaffe machine was at it again Saturday.

Speaking at the Iowa State Society inauguration ball, the Vice President said, "I'm proud to be President of the United States"
To think that this man is considering a presidential run in 2016.

A new poll

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This poll was conducted by NBC News/Wall Street Journal -- from NBC News:
NBC/WSJ poll: NRA more popular than entertainment industry
As Washington prepares for a political battle over the Obama White House's proposals to curb gun violence after the Newtown, Conn., shootings, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that the National Rifle Association is more popular than the entertainment industry.

Forty-one percent of adults see the NRA -- the nation's top gun lobby -- in a positive light, while 34 percent view it in a negative light.

By comparison, just 24 percent have positive feelings about the entertainment industry, and 39 percent have negative ones.
We the people and all that good stuff...

It is the Sun after all...

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Finally, some sense is starting to creep into NASA -- from NASA Science News:
Solar Variability and Terrestrial Climate
In the galactic scheme of things, the Sun is a remarkably constant star. While some stars exhibit dramatic pulsations, wildly yo-yoing in size and brightness, and sometimes even exploding, the luminosity of our own sun varies a measly 0.1% over the course of the 11-year solar cycle.

There is, however, a dawning realization among researchers that even these apparently tiny variations can have a significant effect on terrestrial climate. A new report issued by the National Research Council (NRC), "The Effects of Solar Variability on Earth's Climate," lays out some of the surprisingly complex ways that solar activity can make itself felt on our planet.

Understanding the sun-climate connection requires a breadth of expertise in fields such as plasma physics, solar activity, atmospheric chemistry and fluid dynamics, energetic particle physics, and even terrestrial history. No single researcher has the full range of knowledge required to solve the problem. To make progress, the NRC had to assemble dozens of experts from many fields at a single workshop. The report summarizes their combined efforts to frame the problem in a truly multi-disciplinary context.

One of the participants, Greg Kopp of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, pointed out that while the variations in luminosity over the 11-year solar cycle amount to only a tenth of a percent of the sun's total output, such a small fraction is still important. "Even typical short term variations of 0.1% in incident irradiance exceed all other energy sources (such as natural radioactivity in Earth's core) combined," he says.

Of particular importance is the sun's extreme ultraviolet (EUV) radiation, which peaks during the years around solar maximum. Within the relatively narrow band of EUV wavelengths, the sun�s output varies not by a minuscule 0.1%, but by whopping factors of 10 or more. This can strongly affect the chemistry and thermal structure of the upper atmosphere.
Emphasis mine -- this is absolutely wrong. Jack Eddy may not have had the all of the fine details figured out but he published a groundbreaking paper in Science that connected the (literal) dots between the observed temperatures during the Maunder Minimum and the sunspot counts during that time -- this was in 1976 -- almost 40 years ago. What makes this interesting is that there is every indication that our Sun may be entering another minima and that instead of preparing for warming, we should instead be preparing for cooling.

Hell no - gun grab

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From Yahoo/Reuters:
Rallies assail Obama's proposed gun curbs
Pro-gun activists who say the right to own firearms is under attack from President Barack Obama's proposals to reduce gun violence held "high noon" rallies across the United States on Saturday in support of gun ownership rights.

The U.S. debate over gun control flared in mid-December when a man armed with an assault rifle killed 20 first-graders and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut - the deadliest of a string of U.S. shooting sprees last year.

"We are law-abiding citizens, business owners, military, and we are not going to be responsible for other people's criminal actions," former Marine Damon Locke said to applause at a Florida rally he had helped organize.

Some in the crowd of about 1,000 in Brooksville, about an hour north of Tampa, hoisted signs that said "Stop the Gun Grabbers" and "Gun control isn't about guns, it's about control."
Emphasis mine -- got that right. Nothing these attempts will do will prevent another mass shooting. It will only impede the vary folks who have a right to self-defense. There was a rally in Washington's state capitol -- from Seattle station KING:
'Guns Across America' rally at State Capitol today
Thousands of gun rights supporters are expected to attend a second amendment �Guns Across America� rally in Olympia.

Organizers say they want to speak out against misinformation and attacks on the character of gun owners.

Rallies at statehouses nationwide were organized by Eric Reed, an airline captain from the Houston area who in November started a group called "More Gun Control (equals) More Crime."

A coalition of guns rights and conservative groups organized a "Gun Appreciation Day" and urged Americans nationwide to show their support for gun ownership by turning out en masse at gun stores, ranges, and shows across the country.
The website for Guns Across America is just stubbed out at present -- no real content. The Facebook page for More Gun Control = More Crime is hopping with over 17K likes and an active forum. The parent website: Gun Control = More Crime is well done but serves more a a jumping-off spot for the Facebook site.

We are doomed - update

One of Anthony's readers pointed me to this article in the Wall Street Journal:

Mark Mills: California Could Be the Next Shale Boom State
Could 2013 find California lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown finally making the connection between fiscal challenges and energy markets? The Golden State is well positioned to become an exporter of hydrocarbons and enjoy a gusher of oil revenues. While many Californians will find that hard to contemplate, ideology bends more easily than the laws of physics and the imperatives of economics.

The $6 billion a year in additional income taxes Gov. Brown convinced Californians to approve in Proposition 30 last November won't begin to solve the state's fiscal problems. Last year's State Budget Crisis Task Force, co-led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, estimated the state's long-term debt at no less than $370 billion.

But California has Saudi Arabia-scale oil resources, notably in its largely untapped Monterey shale field, which stretches northeast for more than 200 miles from Bakersfield in central California. New technologies, especially smart, horizontal drilling and hydrofracturing, aka "fracking," make that oil accessible, and cleanly. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the Monterey shale field alone holds 15.4 billion barrels of oil, rivaling America's total conventional reserves.


Do the math: The overall economic benefits of opening up the Monterey shale field could reach $1 trillion. One can only imagine the impact on California's education system, social programs, infrastructure, and even energy-tech R&D. Moreover, with that kind of revenue, Sacramento tax collections could wipe out debt and deficits.

There is a precedent for this. Technologies of the early 20th century unleashed oil fields from Long Beach to Bakersfield. Beverly Hills sits atop a legacy field still in production, its surface hardware hidden artfully off Pico and Olympic Boulevards in large windowless buildings. Black gold, not the gold rush, funded many California businesses for the first half of the 20th century.

In the heyday of the 1960s, when the state's education system was first in the nation, California's oil production ranked second nationally, at about 400 million barrels annually. Now with production down 50%, California has dropped to No. 4 in oil production, behind Texas, North Dakota and Alaska. North Dakota's embrace of the shale-oil revolution vaulted it to No. 2 and has led to low unemployment, no deficit, and university funding on the rise.

Sounds like a win/win to me -- will the California bureaucrats stand up to the environmentalists and drill or will they cave.

A very fun collection of 'predictions' over at Watts Up With That.
Great moments in failed predictions
While searching for something else, I came across this entertaining collection of grand predictive failures related to resources and climate change, along with some of the biggest predictive failures of Paul Ehrlich. I thought it worth sharing.
A few samples:
  • In 1865, Stanley Jevons (one of the most recognized 19th century economists) predicted that England would run out of coal by 1900, and that England�s factories would grind to a standstill.
  • In 1885, the US Geological Survey announced that there was �little or no chance� of oil being discovered in California.
  • In 1891, it said the same thing about Kansas and Texas. (See Osterfeld, David. Prosperity Versus Planning : How Government Stifles Economic Growth. New York : Oxford University Press, 1992.)
  • In 1939 the US Department of the Interior said that American oil supplies would last only another 13 years.
  • 1944 federal government review predicted that by now the US would have exhausted its reserves of 21 of 41 commodities it examined. Among them were tin, nickel, zinc, lead and manganese.
  • In 1949 the Secretary of the Interior announced that the end of US oil was in sight.
One more:
Claim 1989: �Using computer models, researchers concluded that global warming would raise average annual temperatures nationwide two degrees by 2010.� Associated Press, May 15, 1989.
Data: According to NASA, global temperature has increased by about 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1989. And U.S. temperature has increased even less over the same period.
I have never seen a Malthusian prediction be correct. The Earth is doing just fine folks. Be sure to read the 150+ comments as the readers contribute a lot more of these failed predictions.

Clueless guy gets promoted

Our Federal Government is just the gift that keeps on giving -- from The Hill:
Senior State Dept. climate official heads to DOE
A State Department official who helped lead international climate talks is moving to the Energy Department (DOE) to head that agency�s climate operations.

Jonathan Pershing will begin his new role as DOE deputy assistant secretary for climate change policy and technology on Tuesday, David Sandalow, DOE secretary for policy and international affairs, said in a Friday email to staff.

Pershing will oversee domestic climate and clean-energy initiatives for that office, Sandalow noted. He replaces Rick Duke, who left the agency in September.

At State Department, Pershing served as deputy special envoy for climate change under special envoy Todd Stern. He helped lead the U.S. envoy in United Nations global warming talks for the past four years.
So he is basically moving from a position of extreme impotence to a position where he may be able to do some real damage. At the United Nations, he could write a strongly worded memo but he had no teeth. And why does the State Department need a deputy special envoy for climate change anyway? At the Department of Energy, he is in a position to cut back our conventional fuel use even more, to spike our energy costs and to hand out our tax dollars as cheap loans to fly-by-night alt.energy companies who contribute regularly to the Democratic party. A bit more:
Reuters added that Pershing said extreme weather such as Hurricane Sandy and yearlong drought is �certainly changing the minds of Americans� who are skeptical about climate change.
The causes of Sandy and the drought have been thoroughly debunked many many times -- there is a big difference between climate and weather. At the hight of the heat wave, fully one third of the records being set in the USA were for cold temperatures.

The local crime scene

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Puyallup, WA (pronounced like church pew-allup like gallop with a 'u') is about 120 miles due south of us. From Seattle station KOMO:
Police looking for armed robber in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles PJs
The Puyallup Police Department is looking for the man who allegedly robbed a convenience store while armed with a knife and decked out in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pajama pants.

According to the Tacoma/Pierce County Crime Stoppers, the man entered the 7-Eleven in the 900 block of South Meridian Street shortly before 2 a.m. Jan. 5, jumped onto the counter and demanded cash.

After getting his money, the masked man hightailed it out of there in his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pajama pants, according to the Crime Stoppers.

No word yet if the robbery could be the work of the notorious Foot Clan.
The robbery is bad and I hope the perp gets to spend a lot of time in jail but being out and about at 2AM in pajama pants is nuts...

Job Numbers

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With the economy tanking, companies are looking to cut staff to reduce costs. Here are a few:
Cirque du Soleil to lay off 400 employees(Canada)

United Tech's Pratt arm laying off 350 staffers

Anglo American Platinum to lay off 14,000, unions threaten strikes(Australia)

Air Berlin to cut 900 jobs in savings drive(Germany)

Atmel Corp. lays off 140 more in Colorado Springs

Brookstone lays off 3 percent of workforce

American Express to slash 5,400 jobs

Report: Time to Axe 700 Jobs Next Month, Save $100M

Morgan Stanley Said to Plan 1,600 Investment-Banking Job Cuts
And these are just a handful of the ones I found through Google. We are in the middle of a deep recession and the idiots keep thinking it's turning around, that we have to spend more money and be patient -- Obungler's grand plan is working...
Oh to be a raisin farmer -- from Warren Meyer at Coyote Blog:
Modern Serfdom
The well of government absurdity is simply bottomless
In this case, the USDA imposed on the [raisin farming] Hornes a �marketing order� demanding that they turn over 47% of their crop without compensation. The order�a much-criticized New Deal relic�forces raisin �handlers� to reserve a certain percentage of their crop �for the account� of the government-backed Raisin Administrative Committee, enabling the government to control the supply and price of raisins on the market. The RAC then either sells the raisins or simply gives them away to noncompetitive markets�such as federal agencies, charities, and foreign governments�with the proceeds going toward the RAC�s administration costs.
I have seen estimates that a Medieval serf had to pay between 30 and 70 percent of his crop to his master. The RAC seems to be right in line with these numbers.
Who benefits from this -- at one time it may have helped the raisin farmer by keeping prices high but now? Committees like this need to be defunded and killed. Serves no earthly purpose except to the paid bureaucrats with their high salaries and nice pensions.
From David Spady writing at Breitbart's Big Government:
Government Scientist Fired for Telling the Truth
Something�s amiss at the Department of Interior. Eight government scientists were recently fired or reassigned after voicing concerns to their superiors about faulty environmental science used for policy decisions. Which begs the question, �Are some government agencies manipulating science to advance political agendas?�

Fictional book authors operate in a convenient world, unconstrained by facts and experiences of the real world. The antithesis of works of fiction are scientific findings solely based on provable facts and experience.

For agenda-driven environmental science, facts can sometime prove inconvenient. It�s far easier to advance an agenda with agreeable science, even if that means creating science fiction or fictional science. Fictional science thus becomes the pseudo-reality of environmentalist�s absolutism, and any science that disagrees with their predetermined conclusions of man-made harm to the environment is ignored or distorted.

Now we learn that in some government agencies, scientists who question the veracity and validity of scientific evidence used to formulate environmental regulations and policies are shunned, kept quiet, and purged.
A bit more -- one example:
A case in point is the story of DOI science adviser and scientific integrity officer, Dr. Paul Houser, who found out that simply doing his job can be hazardous to one�s career.

Dr. Houser is an expert in hydrology who was hired by DOI�s Bureau of Reclamation to evaluate scientific data used in the department�s decision making process. He was assigned several Western State projects including a scheme to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in Northern California--the largest dam removal project in U.S. history.

When a summary of science posted on the web to support DOI�s claim for removal of the dams omitted several crucial factors from expert panel reports, Dr. Houser brought his concerns to his superiors. He was repeatedly told to refrain from sharing his concerns through electronic communication, which could be subject to Freedom of Information Act discovery.

Dr. Houser learned firsthand that policy was driving the science, rather than the other way around, when he was told by his superiors at DOI, �Secretary Salazar wants to remove those dams. So your actions here aren�t helpful.�
Here is an earlier article about the Klamath dam removal:
Green vs Green: Environmentalists Win Fed Backing to Shut Down 4 Hydro Power Plants
Environmentalists have persuaded the Department of the Interior to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. These dams not only provide clean, green energy to the Klamath community, they sustain area ranches and farms with continual access to water. An environmentalist�s dream, right?

But the fish! We must always put fish ahead of people!

It seems that once upon a time, salmon would migrate upstream on the Klamath River to spawn, a process that has become interrupted by the dams. For several decades, ranching and farming families have relied upon the steady stream of not only water but also renewable energy provided by the dams. Destroying the dams would destroy these people�s livelihoods.
Rope, tree. Some assembly required.

About that Jobs Council

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One of Obama's efforts to boost employment was his creation of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness early in 2011. There is a slight problem with this -- from Josh Gerstein at Politico:
Obama Jobs Council hits 1 year without official meeting
President Barack Obama's Jobs Council hit a notable milestone on Thursday: one year without an official meeting. The 26-member panel is also set to expire at the end of the month, unless Obama extends its tenure.

The group, formally known as the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, last convened on Jan. 17, 2012 for a White House session where it presented formal recommendations to Obama. It was the panel's fourth official meeting since it was created in early 2011.
Hey Barry -- you have the resources at hand. How about using them. Employment is one of the key problems Americans are facing -- the Gallup Poll I cited two days ago has most people concerned with the economy, the deficit, the government and unemployment. Fix these and you will have a nation of happy people.

PolitiFact - Liar, liar, pants on fire

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From Mark Hemingway writing at The Weekly Standard:
Whoops: PolitiFact's 'Lie of the Year' Turns Out to Be True
Last month, PolitiFact selected its "Lie of the Year." Given PolitiFact's dubious record of singling out Republicans for lying far more often than Democrats, you probably could have guessed the winner of this particular sweepstakes was a Mitt Romney campaign ad:
It was a lie told in the critical state of Ohio in the final days of a close campaign -- that Jeep was moving its U.S. production to China. It originated with a conservative blogger, who twisted an accurate news story into a falsehood. Then it picked up steam when the Drudge Report ran with it. Even though Jeep's parent company gave a quick and clear denial, Mitt Romney repeated it and his campaign turned it into a TV ad.

And they stood by the claim, even as the media and the public expressed collective outrage against something so obviously false.
"Public expressed collective outrage"? That's essentially wishcasting on the part of PolitiFact, nor are they accurately representing what Mitt Romney said in the ad. In fact, here's PolitiFact's original "fact check" on the matter:
[Mitt Romney] Says Barack Obama "sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China" at the cost of American jobs.
Ok. Now here's what the Reuters reported earlier this week:
Fiat (FIA.MI) and its U.S. unit Chrysler expect to roll out at least 100,000 Jeeps in China when production starts in 2014 as they seek to catch up with rivals in the world's biggest car market. ...

"We expect production of around 100,000 Jeeps per year which is expandable to 200,000," [Chrysler CEO Sergio] Marchionne, who is also CEO of Chrysler, said on the sidelines of a conference, adding production could start in 18 months.
Mark goes on for two more pages citing reports and offering links to corroborating sites. And the printed retraction in 10, 9, 8, ...

The new head of ATF

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From Katie Pavlich writing at Townhall:
Fast and Furious: Obama's ATF Director Choice a "Slap in the Face"
Earlier this week as part of his 23 executive actions on gun control, President Obama nominated ATF Acting Director Todd B. Jones for a permanent position as ATF Director. Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa is expressing concerns over Jones' nomination due to his involvement and failure of leadership in the fallout of the Fast and Furious scandal.

"Acting Director Jones was at the helm of ATF as many troubling problems from the fallout of Operation Fast and Furious festered,� said Issa. �His specific decisions on a number of Fast and Furious related issues raise concerns about his judgment and ability to lead the agency. While I continue to believe that ATF needs to have a Senate confirmed Director, President Obama has a responsibility to find a nominee who can win confirmation and is not saddled by a string of bad decisions related to the agency�s greatest recent failure," Issa said in a statement. �Jones was first brought into the job of ATF Acting Director in the middle of the Fast and Furious scandal after Justice Department officials had falsely denied reckless conduct and allegations by his predecessor that there was an effort underway to shield the Department�s senior political appointees from the scandal. Because of the numerous ATF mistakes during his tenure as Acting Director pertaining to Fast and Furious, his nomination is a slap in the face to the family of fallen Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, Mexican citizens whose murder has been linked to Fast and Furious weapons, and ATF whistleblowers whom he failed to support.�
And this little gem:
Jones is notorious within ATF for retaliating against Fast and Furious whistleblowers. In July 2012, Jones warned ATF agents not to "jump their chain of command" and said if they did there would be "consequences." Issa sent Jones a letter the same month, warning about retaliation.
Fortunately, the key whistleblower was exonerated a few days ago. Katie also links to the wonderful Clean Up ATF website.

Holder squirms

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From Matthew Boyle writing at Breitbart:
Holder Begs Court to Stop Document Release on Fast and Furious
Attorney General Eric Holder and his Department of Justice have asked a federal court to indefinitely delay a lawsuit brought by watchdog group Judicial Watch. The lawsuit seeks the enforcement of open records requests relating to Operation Fast and Furious, as required by law.

Judicial Watch had filed, on June 22, 2012, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking all documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious and �specifically [a]ll records subject to the claim of executive privilege invoked by President Barack Obama on or about June 20, 2012.�

The administration has refused to comply with Judicial Watch�s FOIA request, and in mid-September the group filed a lawsuit challenging Holder�s denial. That lawsuit remains ongoing but within the past week President Barack Obama�s administration filed what�s called a �motion to stay� the suit. Such a motion is something that if granted would delay the lawsuit indefinitely.
A bit more:
The reason why Obama�s assertion of that deliberative process privilege over these documents is weak at best is because the Supreme Court has held that such a privilege assertion is invalidated by even the suspicion of government wrongdoing. Obama, Holder, the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and virtually everyone else involved in this scandal have admitted that government wrongdoing actually took place in Operation Fast and Furious.

In Fast and Furious, the ATF �walked� about 2,000 firearms into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels. That means through straw purchasers they allowed sales to happen and didn�t stop the guns from being trafficked even though they had the legal authority to do so and were fully capable of doing so.
Holder needs to go. He is incompetent.

Good news from California

From Yahoo/Reuters:
Parents petition for control of failing Los Angeles school
Parents seeking to take control of a failing Los Angeles elementary school delivered hundreds of petitions to the nation's second-largest school system on Thursday, invoking the California's controversial "parent trigger" law to force change.

Parents representing 68 percent of the school's students signed on to the petition, well over the 50 percent level required to set in motion a process that could ultimately see the 24th Street Elementary School turned into a privately managed charter, organizers of the effort said.

The move represents a repudiation of the largest school district in a state that in 2010 became the first to pass a law that lets parents of students in failing schools band together to force sweeping change: They can fire teachers, oust administrators or turn the school over to private management.
There is hope yet -- the sooner we get the Unions out of the business of Education, the sooner our children will be better served.

The new Canadian $20 bill

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From the CBC:
Canada's new $20 bill at centre of maple leaf flap
Some botanists are shaking their heads at the new polymer bills because they say the money features a maple leaf from Norway, and not Canada, although that's not how the Bank of Canada sees it.

The Norway maple came to North America in the 18th century, imported by a Philadelphia merchant and peddled as a garden adornment. But lately it has been turning up in all kinds of places, including the official logos of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., and the FIFA under-20 World Cup of Soccer.

The Canadian Television Fund and the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada have also made maple leaf errors, according to botanists.

Sean Blaney, senior botanist of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre, said he never expected to see the Norway maple leaf on a $20 bill.

"It's a species that's invasive in Eastern Canada and is displacing some of our native species, and it's probably not an appropriate species to be putting on our native currency," Blaney told CBC News.
DERP! There is quite the difference between the two kinds of leaves. 400 Million notes are already in circulation.

About that global warming

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From the UK Telegraph -- a two-fer: First:
Snow threatens fragile UK economy
The snowstorm, predicted to last 40 hours and produce 12 inches of snow in some areas, will be especially unwelcome for a retail sector reeling from disappointing December sales, as it sees key Saturday trading impacted by extreme weather.

"With the economy in a fragile state, even relatively limited disruption from snow and freezing conditions could very well be enough to tip the balance towards modest GDP contraction rather than modest growth in the first quarter of this year," warned Howard Archer, chief economist at forecasting house IHS Global Insight.
Didn't seem to hurt grocery sales though - second:
UK snow: panic buying hits supermarkets as shelves stripped bare
Frantic scenes were reported across the West Country, Home Counties and south Wales, in what officials described as worse than peak Christmas shopping periods.

With much of Britain expecting to be brought to a standstill today by a 40�hour snowstorm, shelves were left completely empty and basic items disappeared amid fears families would be left snowed in.

Supermarkets reported a "frenzy" as people stampeded along the aisles, filling their trolleys with bread, milk, vegetables and other essentials, leaving stores "virtually empty".
Didn't the Met Office predict the end of snow a few years ago?

Good riddance Mayor Ray Nagin

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From USA Today:
Ex-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin indicted
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been indicted on 21 federal corruption charges including wire fraud, bribery and money laundering.

The charges are the outgrowth of a City Hall corruption investigation that already has resulted in guilty pleas by two former city officials and two businessmen.

The counts include wire fraud, bribery, money laundering, filing false tax returns and conspiracy.
The article talks about his mishandling of Katrina and goes on:
Nagin has largely steered clear of the political arena since he left office. On his Twitter account, he describes his current occupations as author, public speaker and "green energy entrepreneur."
green energy entrepreneur -- yeah... Riiiight...

Look up

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We may be in for some decent aurora tonight courtesy of Sunspot AR1654

Chinese solar panels

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Interesting writeup on China's solar panel business -- from The Weekly Standard:
The Mother of All Solyndras
When solar panel maker Solyndra declared bankruptcy in September 2011, the Obama administration defended its $535 million loan guarantee to the company by touting the need to compete with China. At a congressional hearing, Jonathan Silver, then executive director of the Energy Department�s Loan Programs Office, said, �[In 2010, China] alone provided more than $30 billion in credit to the country�s largest solar manufacturers through the government-controlled China Development Bank. That�s roughly 20 times larger than America�s investment in the same time period.�

Since then, China has shown the world that massive government subsidies are no guarantee of business success. Today, the solar industry worldwide is suffering from oversupply, weak demand, and depressed prices, and many of China�s solar manufacturers are fighting huge financial losses, debt, and bankruptcy. Not surprisingly, the Obama administration, which was eager to follow China down the path of spending big on clean energy, has had little to say about the lessons to be learned from the current disarray of China�s heavily subsidized solar industry.
The crux of the problem:
Bent on promoting China�s leadership in green technology, Beijing has directed a flood of government subsidies, tax breaks, and massive credit lines from state banks into the solar industry, and local governments have offered benefits like cheap land. In the process, China became the largest solar exporter in the world. Its top manufacturers, such as Suntech Power, Trina Solar, Yingli Solar, JA Solar, and LDK Solar, were publicly listed on U.S. stock exchanges. For the year 2012, Solarbuzz, a market research website, estimated that China would account for 76 percent of all solar wafer production in the world.

Yet China has also saturated the solar industry with overcapacity. A recent solar market research report released by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Association reveals that global solar manufacturing capacity stands at 70 gigawatts, even though only an estimated 31 gigawatts are needed. China is responsible for much of the glut, and as another GTM report cited by the New York Times indicates, Chinese companies alone had the ability to manufacture 50 gigawatts of solar panels last year.

Inconveniently for the Obama administration, those market forces that it likes to dismiss affect even companies favored by the state. China�s rush to boost capacity in a hot new industry seemed like a great idea until the market sank. First the 2008 global financial crisis caused a worldwide economic downturn. Then the financial turmoil plaguing Europe since 2010 caused countries like Germany, Italy, and France to reduce government subsidies for solar power significantly. According to the Chinese press, some 70 percent of China�s photovoltaic solar modules are exported to Europe. Thus, Europe�s budget cutbacks have significantly weakened demand for solar imports from China.
Ahhhh -- the joys of central planning versus a hands-off vibrant market economy.

Oh hell no -- H.R. 142

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From Gallup:
Debt, Gov't Dysfunction Rise to Top of Americans' Issue List
Americans' concerns about the federal budget deficit and government dysfunction rose high enough in January to knock unemployment out of the top two slots on Gallup's "most important problem" list for the first time since 2009.
The top seven "issues" that people are concerned with?
Economy in general - 21%
Federal budget deficit - 20%
Dissatisfaction with government - 18%
Unemployment - 16%
Lack of Money - 5%
Taxes - 4%
Guns/Gun control - 4%
And Anthropogenic Global Warming/Climate Change is nowhere on the list.
The new gun grab? DHS is administrating it. From The Weekly Standard:
DHS to 'Expand and Formalize Coordination' on Gun Control Efforts
Janet Napolitano, head of the Department of Homeland Security, released a statement Wednesday saying she is "proud to support" the Obama administration's efforts to "combat gun violence in our country." Here's more from Napolitano's statement:
In the aftermath of the tragic Newtown shooting, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), together with the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the FBI have worked to identify measures that could be taken to reduce the risk of mass casualty shootings. In the coming days, DHS will expand and formalize coordination of ongoing efforts intended to prevent future mass casualty shootings, improve preparedness, and to strengthen security and resilience in schools and other potential targets. DHS will work with partners at all levels of government, to address five critical areas intended to reduce the risk of mass casualty shootings in the United States: Prevention, Protection, Response, Education, and Research/Evaluation. DHS will also work with law enforcement to refresh, expand and prioritize the implementation of nationwide public awareness efforts such as the �If You See Something, Say Something�� campaign. This is a critical issue that requires immediate attention and I look forward to supporting the President and this Administration as we move ahead.
George Orwell was right...

Obamacare - it starts

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From FOX News:
Southwestern Pa. hospital to stop baby deliveries
A southwestern Pennsylvania hospital will stop delivering babies after March 31 because its obstetricians are either leaving or refocusing their practices, and because hospital officials believe they can't afford it based on projected reimbursements under looming federal health care reforms.

The Windber Medical Center, about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, is losing two obstetricians and two others are shifting their focus more to gynecology.

Hospital officials say the population of women of child-bearing age is dropping and that the number of births the hospital would be called upon to perform isn't enough for it to provide the service in the face of lower reimbursements under the federal Affordable Care Act.
The impact will be far-reaching. This needs to be stamped out and defunded as soon as possible.

Ken Salazar is out

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From The Hill:
Interior Secretary Salazar to step down
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who overhauled the federal government�s troubled offshore drilling agency after the BP oil spill and locked horns with Republicans over energy policy, said Wednesday that he plans to step down by the end of March.

Salazar, a former Colorado senator, did not announce his future plans.
Good riddance. Jackson is also leaving -- now we need to get Chu out and get some good realists in...

Talking about unnecessary deaths in America

Everyone is focused on gun deaths these days but few people realize just how dangerous our Federal Government has made our automobiles -- all in the name of burning less gasoline. From US News and World Report:
Carmakers Steering Away From Steel in Order to Meet Fuel Economy Standards
Faced with increasingly stringent benchmarks�the government's new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards require a passenger vehicle fleet that averages 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025�carmakers are taking another approach to achieving better fuel mileage: shaving weight off vehicles by experimenting with lighter materials.

Automobiles have long been made from steel�a very strong, but heavy material. Now manufacturers are experimenting with new materials�ranging from aluminum to carbon fiber composites to metal alloys�to help companies reach the ambitious fuel efficiency standards.

"They don't have to make these changes immediately, but there's much more a sense of urgency now," says Bruce Belzowski, research scientist at University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute. "They've experimented in the past with small applications, [but] now that they have to meet these [CAFE] standards [automakers] are willing to experiment and pay for materials that might be a little more expensive."
Emphasis mine -- no, they will not bear the burden of the increased cost, that increased cost will be passed down to us, the consumer. This is both in the increased cost of the new vehicle and in the greatly increased cost of minor collision repair as entire sections of the body will need to be replaced instead of just being pounded back into shape. And there is another, more dire, cost of this practice: From The National Center for Public Policy Research (July 2006):
CAFE Standards Kill: Congress' Regulatory Solution to Foreign Oil Dependence Comes at a Steep Price
On the heels of the Arab oil embargo, in 1975 Congress enacted Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards as a regulatory solution to reduce the United States' dependence on foreign oil and gasoline consumption. CAFE standards mandate that vehicles sold in the U.S. meet fuel efficiency - or "fuel economy" - standards. Current standards require an average of 27.2 miles per gallon (mpg) for cars and 21.6 mpg for light trucks.
According to a 2003 NHTSA study, when a vehicle is reduced by 100 pounds the estimated fatality rate increases as much as 5.63 percent for light cars weighing less than 2,950 pounds, 4.70 percent for heavier cars weighing over 2,950 pounds and 3.06 percent for light trucks. Between model years 1996 and 1999, these rates translated into additional traffic fatalities of 13,608 for light cars, 10,884 for heavier cars and 14,705 for light trucks.
From a USA Today article: James R. Healey, "Death by the Gallon," USA Today, July 2, 1999 -- mirrored here. (USA Today doesn't have this online any more and they have opted out of the Wayback Machine):
Death by the gallon
James R. Healey. USA TODAY. McLean, Va.: Jul 2, 1999. pg. 01.B
Copyright USA Today Information Network Jul 2, 1999

A USA TODAY analysis of previously unpublished fatality statistics discovers that 46,000 people have died because of a 1970s-era push for greater fuel efficiency that has led to smaller cars.

Californian James Bragg, who helps other people buy cars, knows he'll squirm when his daughter turns 16.

"She's going to want a little Chevy Cavalier or something. I'd rather take the same 10 to 12 thousand bucks and put it into a 3-year-old (full-size Mercury) Grand Marquis, for safety.

"I want to go to her high school graduation, not her funeral."

Hundreds of people are killed in small-car wrecks each year who would survive in just slightly bigger, heavier vehicles, government and insurance industry research shows.

More broadly, in the 24 years since a landmark law to conserve fuel, big cars have shrunk to less-safe sizes and small cars have poured onto roads. As a result, 46,000 people have died in crashes they would have survived in bigger, heavier cars, according to USA TODAY's analysis of crash data since 1975, when the Energy Policy and Conservation Act was passed. The law and the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards it imposed have improved fuel efficiency. The average of passenger vehicles on U.S. roads is 20 miles per gallon vs. 14 mpg in 1975.

But the cost has been roughly 7,700 deaths for every mile per gallon gained, the analysis shows.

Small cars -- those no bigger or heavier than Chevrolet Cavalier or Dodge Neon -- comprise 18% of all vehicles on the road, according to an analysis of R.L. Polk registration data. Yet they accounted for 37% of vehicle deaths in 1997 -- 12,144 people -- according to latest available government figures. That's about twice the death rate in big cars, such as Dodge Intrepid, Chevrolet Impala, Ford Crown Victoria.

"We have a small-car problem. If you want to solve the safety puzzle, get rid of small cars," says Brian O'Neill, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The institute, supported by auto insurers, crash-tests more vehicles, more violently, than all but the federal government.

Little cars have big disadvantages in crashes. They have less space to absorb crash forces. The less the car absorbs, the more the people inside have to.

And small cars don't have the weight to protect themselves in crashes with other vehicles. When a small car and a larger one collide, the bigger car stops abruptly; that's bad enough. But the little one slams to a stop, then instantly and violently accelerates backward as the heavier car's momentum powers into it. People inside the lighter car experience body-smashing levels of force in two directions, first as their car stops moving forward, then as it reverses. In the heavier car, bodies are subjected to less-destructive deceleration and no "bounce-back."

The regulations don't mandate small cars. But small, lightweight vehicles that can perform satisfactorily using low-power, fuel-efficient engines are the only affordable way automakers have found to meet the CAFE (pronounced ka-FE) standards.

Some automakers acknowledge the danger.

"A small car, even with the best engineering available -- physics says a large car will win," says Jack Collins, Nissan's U.S. marketing chief.
And any advances in materials science will not do a damned thing to change this. Automobile manufacturers used to advertise their safety -- Volvo had their famous 'crumple zone'. Now safety is not mentioned. This article from National Review Online concludes:
But rather than leave bad enough alone, Obama and company clamp down, ever harder. Strengthening CAFE standards by 53.5 percent by 2025 likely will yield deadlier cars. Airbags will do only so much while surrounded by materials that recall aluminum siding.

Before Washington sends additional Americans to early graves, Team Obama should step off the gas pedal and ponder the physicist who wrote Traffic Safety. Dr. Leonard Evans was perfectly clear: �CAFE kills, and higher CAFE standards kill even more.�
If we are looking at preventing unnecessary deaths in America, we should look all around us. Hell, swimming pools kill more children each year than guns (link to PDF -- hat tip to Og). Leading cause of death in fact. Ban them -- limit swimming pool 'clips' to 7 gallons or less. Ban assault pools.

Good news for John Dodson

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From FOX News:
Fast and Furious whistleblower cleared by ATF
A key whistleblower in the Operation Fast and Furious scandal -- after being initially sidelined at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives upon coming forward -- has been cleared by his ATF bosses and is now being hailed for the "essential role" he played in exposing the program.

ATF Special Agent John Dodson was cleared of wrongdoing pertaining to two internal investigations, according to a letter from Deputy Director Tom Brandon. Excerpts of that letter were released by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

Brandon, according to the excerpts, praised Dodson for his role in bringing the botched anti-gunrunning operation to the attention of Congress.

"I fully appreciate that you took the courageous step of going to Congress to ensure that the public learned of the flawed tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious," Brandon said, adding that he played an "essential role" in holding others at ATF accountable.

"Although it took some time, the basic truth is now known to all: Throughout Operation Fast and Furious, agents and prosecutors failed to ensure that firearms were interdicted from straw purchasers and traffickers whenever there was a legal basis and opportunity to do so," he wrote.
That Eric Holder is still in a position of power after masterminding this beggars the imagination.

Gun sales - through the roof

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From Boise, ID station KBOI:
Boise gun show sales up
A gun show was held at Expo Idaho Saturday and the organizer says sales are through the roof!

"These guns and ammo are going out the door in arm loads. Some people can hardly walk they've got so much stuff," said organizer Paul Snider.

Snider attributes the gun show's success to the state of politics.

"I don't think they are panicking yet but they are very concerned about what might come down the line," said Snider.
From Rapid City, SD station KOTA:
Gun sales skyrocket
Gun sales have skyrocketed in KOTA Territory and across the country.

Michael Mooney, owner of Southern Hills Tactical in Custer, says the demand for firearms is unprecedented.

He says he sold 85 assault weapons ranging from $650 dollars to $3,000 dollars in just three days.
"Never seen sales like this at all. In the month of December there was nearly 2.8 million sales transfers done though NICS, which is roughly a million more than the previous December," says Mooney.

Mooney says most of his buyers are in their mid 40's or older.
Browsing through the online gun and ammo websites, prices are up about 3X from what they were two months ago. Wonder how long it will take for the prices to go down. Will there be an uptick in sales of revolvers -- no 'clips' there? What will happen when the next mental midget goes out with a stolen gun and slaughters a bunch of people in some "gun free zone" somewhere...

My little PWNIE

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Great prank from James O'Keefe and Project Veritas:
NEW VIDEO: Project Veritas Targets Gun Control Hypocrites
After the high impact Voter Fraud investigation released throughout 2012, Project Veritas, set its sights on top gun control advocates to see how they felt when placed in the same position as our nation's children � within a Gun Free Zone.

Project Veritas' found, James O'Keefe remarked, "Our nation's children spend the majority of their week within schools that are starkly emblazoned with signs that read 'Gun Free Zone.' Project Veritas put that same concept to the test with some of America's most fervent advocates for gun control."

Organizing as Citizens Against Senseless Violence, Project Veritas' citizen journalists went door-to-door in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. to see which outspoken champions for Gun Control would be willing to declare their own home as a "Gun Free Zone" by placing a sign on their lawn.

O'Keefe continued, "It's amazing to see members of our media equivocate and contradict their spoken and written words when faced with the dilemma to declare their own homes as Gun Free. Surprisingly, we found that the homes of the very New York paper that was willing to put the lives and fortunes of gun owners at risk by publishing their names and addresses, were also the most heavily armed and protected. The hypocrisy of New York's Journal News is beyond words."

Project Veritas also paid a visit to Attorney General Eric Holder's home to see if the nation's top enforcer of gun restrictions would be willing to place a sign in front of his home that read, "This home is proudly gun free!"

O'Keefe concluded, "FBI Police confronted our reporters within minutes of their knocking on the Attorney General's home. Eric Holder is safe and sound under armed protection, unlike the nation's children."

To watch the full video, click here.

Dirty Harry - business deal gone wrong

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Three days ago I noticed this: Something brewing in Utah Yahoo/Associated Press has some more:
Reid denies involvement in Utah businessman scheme
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office said Monday he was never involved in a deal to have a Utah businessman pay the senator to make a federal investigation disappear.

St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, who's accused of running a $350 million software scheme, said a top official in the Utah attorney general's office orchestrated an agreement in 2010 to pay $600,000 to someone connected to Reid.

Johnson told The Salt Lake Tribune over the weekend that he believed Reid would intervene in the Federal Trade Commission's investigation into his business.

A spokeswoman for Reid's office, Kristen Orthman, said Monday that the Nevada Democrat "had no knowledge or involvement" in Johnson's case and said the allegations "are nothing more than innuendo and simply not true."
And Mr. Johnson?
Johnson was arrested at a Phoenix airport in 2011, carrying more than $26,000 in cash and a one-way plane ticket to Costa Rica.
Seems like he kept some good records -- discovery will be a bitch
On Saturday, the Tribune reported that Johnson provided the newspaper with emails, financial statements, photos and a transcript of a recorded meeting with John Swallow, then the state's chief deputy attorney general.
Follow the money -- this will be fun to watch...

Done deal - Gun control

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New York State now has the strictest gun control laws in the Nation. From Yahoo/Associated Press:
NY seals 1st state gun laws since Newtown massacre
New York lawmakers agreed to pass the toughest gun control law in the nation and the first since the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, calling for a stricter assault weapons ban and provisions to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill who make threats.

"This is a scourge on society," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday night, six days after making gun control a centerpiece of his agenda in his State of the State address. The bipartisan effort was fueled by the Newtown tragedy that took the lives of 20 first graders and six educators. "At what point do you say, 'No more innocent loss of life'?"
Not just here - Mexico too. From FOX News:
54,000 Mexicans sign petition for US gun control
More than 54,000 Mexicans have signed a petition calling on the United States to take further steps to combat weapons trafficking.

Mexico says the majority of guns used by the country's violent drug cartels are smuggled over the border from the United States.
That would be Eric Holder's Fast and Furious program. (here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here) More:
About 70,000 people have died in Mexico in drug violence since 2006, according to the written copy of a speech presented by Mexico's interior secretary in December.
Serious problem -- the other pathway is that we sell guns to the Mexican Military and the corrupt soldiers resell the guns to the cartels. Meanwhile, Obama goes for Executive Action -- from The Washington Post:
Obama to unveil broad gun plans Wednesday
President Obama will unveil a sweeping set of gun-control proposals at midday Wednesday, including an assault weapons ban, universal background checks and limits on the number of bullets that ammunition clips can hold, according to sources familiar with the plans.

The announcement, which press secretary Jay Carney said is scheduled for about 11:45 a.m. at the White House, is also expected to include a slate of up to 19 executive actions that the Obama administration can take on its own to attempt to limit gun violence.
And he will tug on our heartstrings while doing this -- from The Washington Examiner:
Obama plans to surround himself with children during gun control announcement
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced this afternoon that President Obama will unveil a �concrete package� of gun control proposals including assault weapons bans, high capacity ammunition magazine bans, and closing loopholes on background checks.

Carney said that the president will be joined by Vice President Joe Biden as well as children who wrote to the president after the Newtown shootings.

�They will be joined by children around the country expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety, along with their parents,� Carney confirmed.
And this will do nothing to keep people safe.

Wind power - a bit expensive

From UK Metro:

Wind farm mistakes "will lumber consumers with higher electricity bills for two decades"
Families will be hit with higher electricity bills for the next 20 years because of "shocking" blunders in deals to build offshore wind farms, MPs have warned.

Customers will suffer because 17billion of contracts handed to companies to transmit power to the mainland were "too generous".

The deals guarantee rich pickings for investors because ministers failed to learn the lessons from tangling with big business through private finance initiatives, the public accounts committee warned.

Chairwoman Margaret Hodge said: "The terms of the transmission licences appear to have been designed almost entirely to attract investors at the expense of securing a good deal for consumers."

Ministers hope 15 per cent of Britain's power will come from wind farms by 2020. But that requires 8billion of investment in equipment such as platforms, cables and substations.

Emphasis mine -- it was never about power to the people, it was always about crony capitalism and businesses securing lucrative contracts by making political contributions.

Barry Obungler - gun salesman of the year

The numbers are big. From Jim Hoft at The Gateway Pundit:

Americans Buy Enough Guns in Last Two Months to Outfit the Entire Chinese and Indian Armies
The Obama Administration is the number one threat to the nation's gun rights advocates. In the four years since Barack Obama was first elected president in November 2008, an estimated 67 million firearms have been purchased in the United States. In November a record 2 million guns were sold in America. This was followed up by another record in December. 2.7 million guns were sold in America in the last month of 2012.

To put this in perspective.
Chinese and Indian Standing Army Numbers:
- There are 2.29 million active members in the Chinese Army.

- There are 1.13 million active members in the Indian Army.
There were enough guns sold in the US in November and December to outfit each active member of the Chinese and Indian armies with a brand new gun.

The numbers do not lie.

Some gun fun - buybacks

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A couple of links. From the New Jersey news aggregator NJ.COM:
Editorial: Trenton $100K gun buyback program is money well spent
From USA Today:
Gun buybacks popular but ineffective, experts say
Lots of nice facts -- no 'talking points'. And lastly, from the People's Soviet of New York comes this two-fer: From Campus Reform:
Bloomberg urges Obama to defy Congress, implement gun control by executive action
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday told a group of John Hopkins students that President Obama ought to sidestep the wishes of Congress and order swift new executive gun control measures.

�There are steps that President Obama can take without congressional approval at any time he chooses with just one stroke of the pen,� Bloomberg told the mixed audience of students and scholars, speaking at the �Gun Policy Summit� at John Hopkins University.

Bloomberg�s remarks came hours before President Obama argued in a rare press conference that executive privileges afforded him the power to implement some federal gun control measures without the permission of Congress.
Nice job of protecting the Constitution there Michael. And lastly, from the NYC, NY CBS affiliate:
N.Y. Assembly Speaker Silver: �We Are Going To Ban Assault Weapons�
The New York State Legislature was poised Tuesday to pass the first gun control measure following the Newtown school massacre. This as the vice president was set to unveil federal proposals to end gun violence later in the day.

Albany lawmakers ironed out the kinks Monday, allowing them to propose in writing new gun control measures in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. Assuming the new bill passes � it was approved by the Senate late Monday night and will go before the House on Tuesday � it will turn into the toughest set of gun control laws in the country.
And this new law will:
Limit ammunition clips to seven. It�s now 10
Force gun owners to renew their licenses every five years
Stiffen penalties for using a gun in the commission of a crime
Stiffen penalties for bringing a gun on school property
New restrictions on the assault weapons already owned by New Yorkers
These are not assault weapons. These are defense weapons. And BTW, a clip is a lot different than a magazine -- they both hold the magic booolets but that is it. Anyone making this mistake does not know what the fsck they are talking about, should realize that and gracefully bow out of the conversation.

Local news - fun with meth

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From Seattle station KIRO:
Police: Woman who passed off salt as meth calls 911 when angry customers return
Police in Centralia said a woman called 911 and was desperate for help because people were pounding on her door, angry that she sold them salt but told them it was methamphetamine.

Centralia Officer Corey Butcher said the bright white salt crystals don't really look similar to chunky shards of meth.

�People who use it know exactly what it�s like, and frankly, I�m amazed she would even try that,� said Butcher.

Apparently hoping that a few cents worth of salt in a bag would pass for hundreds of dollars of meth, Melisa Akers wasn�t prepared when her customers returned for a refund and called 911, police said.

When police responded to Akers� call, they found her smoking marijuana with three teenage boys, officers said.

�It�s hard to put into words the level of intelligence that goes along with this,� said Butcher. �No brains at all.�

Akers was arrested on charges of providing marijuana to minors.
Heh... Centralia is South of Tacoma, WA -- about 180 miles from here.

Cool news - Wal-Mart update

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From Gun Blogger Bob Owens:
Rumors that Walmart is stopping ammo purchase/resupply are completely false
I just spoke with a corporate public relations manager with Walmart� Ashley Hardie, I think her name was.

Rumors being floated over the past 24-48 hours that the company is going to sell out their existing stock of ammunition then not purchase any more ammunition are, according to the official corporate voice of the company, completely false. She said that their is no truth to the rumors, and that she�d be issuing a statement to that effect this evening.

Walmart will continue stocking their shelves, selling them out, and reaping profits.
Good to hear -- conservative company and the backbone of a lot of people's purchases. Shop there regularly.

Do you support the Second Amendment?

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Go here: Ruger: Protect your Rights Feed in your zip code and it will email a letter to Barry, Joey Plugs, your Congresscritters and your State Representatives. Nice interface -- very well done. Thank you Ruger -- own one of their revolvers.
From Lisa De Pasquale at Town Hall: I especially liked this one:
11. What would you like tomorrow's headline to say?
Obama: You've Been Punk'd -- I'm Really a Libertarian.

Will have to check tomorrow

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I do a run into Bellingham every Monday and will be seeing what is happening with my local Wally-World. From Investment Watch:
BREAKING & CONFIRMED: Wal Mart Is NOT Going To Order Any More Ammo.
I do not have a link as of yet but here is what I have found out�

Stopped by my local Wal Mart this morning. They are out of almost every kind of ammo. I asked to talk to the person in charge of ordering to see if they had any information on this subject. The manager I talked to said they had not heard anything� BUT. She tried to order some .223 as I was standing there. She said the order was being rejected by the corporate office. Said she had never had that happen.

She called corporate as I was standing there. And was told this. �As of right now Wal Mart is not going to be making any new orders of ammo because of the upcoming decision on the second amendment�. Said, �As of right now we are unsure of what new legislation might be coming, and because of this, we are suspending new orders. We will continue to sell what is already in stock in stores and at our distribution centers, but any new orders will not be shipped until the issue is resolved�.
Went online and they have all sorts of Airsoft, Paintball and Pellet Guns available online but their links to real guns and ammo are noted as being In Store Only. Like I said, I will check tomorrow but it sounds like they are selling off their stock and not reordering.

It is cold outside

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Ground surface temp is 24�F air temp is 14�F and it's only 22:00 Will be interesting to see what is recorded for evening minima -- around 5:00 When the air is below 20�F or so, you get a little 'pucker' in your nostrils when you inhale. Know that feeling well -- have two cords of firewood left and the house is nice and warm. Critters are doing well and Lulu and her son are having a lot of fun. Spending the next couple of days cleaning guns -- her son and I both recently got Mosin-Nagant rifles (under $150 for something in decent shape and surplus ammo is about 30�/round -- high caliber; just under .308 in power) and a bunch of ammo. Planning to spend the next three days cleaning off cosmoline.

Quote of the week

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Wal-Mart has done more for poor people than any ten liberals, at least nine of whom are almost guaranteed to hate Wal-Mart.
-�Thomas Sowell
A wonderful meditation by Willis Eschenbach at Watts Up With That. Not at all climate related -- more an observation of where we are in this world and how US policies impact people we do not even think about:
We have met the 1%, and he is us
In explanation of my title, I fear I�ll have to go on a bit of a digression. Let me tell three stories, about people in three different parts of our amazing planet.

STORY THE FIRST: In my early thirties, through a series of misunderstandings and coincidences I spent some time as the first mate on a sailboat in the Philippines. At one point we spent a couple months anchored up offshore from the Manila Yacht Club while we were getting some boat repairs done. As befits a young man with more testosterone than sagacity, I spent the evenings in the dives and nightclubs in the local red light district. Not paying for the favors of the ladies of the evening, you understand, that always seemed creepy to me. Just drinking and having a good time. One of the bars had a piano.
A wonderful and sobering read. 280+ comments are worth reading too. As one of the commentors said:
That�s one of the most powerful indictments of �expensive energy� I�ve ever seen.
From the Helena, Montana Independent Record:
Storm breaks day's snowfall record for Billings
The promised winter storm blanketed snow across Montana on Friday, breaking Billings� snowfall record for the day.

The National Weather Service reported a record of 6.6 inches at Billings Logan International Airport by 9:30 p.m. The previous daily record for Jan. 11 was 6 inches, set in 1993.

NWS said the all-time record snowfall for a day in Billings was recorded on Jan. 2, 1972, with accumulation of 14 inches.
And from Yahoo News/Associated Press:
Californians deal with freezing temps, snow
Oddly enough, even polar bears at the San Diego Zoo are getting a helping hand with the unseasonable freezing temperatures sweeping across California.

Zookeepers turned up the heat for some animals and offered shelter to polar bears as a cold snap continues through the weekend, promising to bring the coldest overnight temperatures.
In the San Joaquin Valley, the heart of California's citrus production, growers prepared for another round of freezing temperatures early Sunday after seeing little crop damage since Thursday night.

"Last night was not a problem, but tonight and Monday morning could have the potential to be pretty cold," Paul Story, director of grower service at California Citrus Mutual, said Saturday.
Depending on the crop in Florida, we could see a spike in citrus products next spring. A tip of the 'ole Fedora to Denny for the California link.

Bill Clinton's thoughts on Gun Control

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From The Washington Post:
Bill Clinton�s over-the-top �fact� on mass shootings
"Half of all mass killings in the United States have occurred since the assault weapons ban expired in 2005, half of all of them in the history of the country.�
Former president Bill Clinton, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 9, 2013

A colleague spotted this eye-popping statistic by the former president and wondered if it was correct.

President Clinton signed the assault weapons ban into law in 1994, but it expired after 10 years and was not renewed. Even supporters have said it was riddled with loopholes, limiting its effectiveness. But the rash of mass shootings in recent years, including the Newtown tragedy, have provided new impetus for a renewed ban.

So let�s dig into the data and see what we find.
The Times gets the numbers and gives Bill a rating of Three Pinocchios out of Four. Pants on Fire...

Bayou Renaissance Man two-fer

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Peter's site is a daily read for me. First this link to Military Shorthand:
Military shorthand
I was pleased to come across an 'Updated Glossary of Military Speak and Catchy Sayings' over at Sgt. Brandi's place. They're oriented towards the US Marine Corps, but will be familiar to members and former members of many other services and armed forces. Here are a few examples. (Language alert - the author isn't politically, linguistically or politely correct!)
Brain Grenade. Usually a beer, but anything capable of joyfully killing brain cells.
Chow Hall. The Gourmet Kitchen of Marines, serving only the finest of foods, and staffed by world renowned chefs.
Murphy. A being that waits for you to make a mistake, to make things worse. Usually flies on the back of a Great Eagle that s***s on your head.
Pain is Good, Now Feel the Goodness. A favorite saying of Drill Instructors about to make your body, feel the Goodness. You know, like in �drop down and give me a thousand!�
Second -- the Renaissance Man visits a local gun show:
Today's gun show - sheer bloody madness!
We don't have any of the really big gun shows in my home city, ones like the Indy 1500 about which Tam and Roberta have written. Ours tend to be medium-sized affairs by comparison. I've been to many of them. There's usually not much of a queue to get in - the most I've previously encountered is a few dozen people - and a few hundred folks inside, browsing the tables.

Not today.

The queue ran from the ticket stall, back between the first exhibition buildings, down the road past the parking lot, then did a ninety-degree turn around the base of the hill on which the County Fairgrounds have been built, and snaked back for at least another couple of hundred yards. I've no idea what its straight-line length was, but I guarantee it was somewhere between a quarter of a mile and half a mile. I heard some people complaining that it had taken them well over an hour to get from the back to the front of the line. (Since I'm partly disabled, the nice gentleman at the parking entry booth waived my parking fee, and told me to walk to the head of the line and wave my walking stick at the people there. I did, and they very kindly let me in - after asking to see what guns I had for sale!)
And the prices were 2X to 5X what 'normal' prices were six months ago.

Charlie Daniels on Guns

From CNS News:
Precedent Teaches Us The Left Really Wants ALL Our Guns
When the Supreme Court, or any other court for that matter, makes a ruling in a case they first look for precedent, in other words to see if there has been a court decision rendered on the same subject in the past and usually defer to the old decision in ruling on the case.

The greatest teacher in life is experience; it only takes one time of burning your fingers on a hot stove to know that you never want to touch another one.

The next greatest teacher is observation, paying attention to someone else's experiences and profiting from their wins and losses, trials and errors.

In my generation I have seen the rise and fall off fascism, communism, different experiments in socialism and the kind of downright social and fiscal foolishness that leads to what has recently happened in Greece.

There is an old saying that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
And some numbers:
Did you know that one of the major reasons the Japanese did not attempt to land troops on the American coast during World War Two is because they knew that Americans owned guns and would fight tooth and nail for every inch of shore line.

Hitler disarmed Germany, Stalin disarmed Russia, and Mao disarmed China.

The mainstream media is quick to report any kind of gun violence but omit the stories where lives have been saved by legally owned guns in the hands of good citizens and the stories are many and varied all across the country.

Let's look at some precedent:

In 1997, many Aussies were forced to give up their privately owned firearms. Over 630,000 were turned in to be destroyed as part of a "buyback plan" by the Australian government. Total cost of the buyback? $500,000,000.

One year later, here were the results:

Homicides nationwide: Up 6.2%

Assaults nationwide: Up 9.6%

Armed robberies nationwide: Up 44%

In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms went up 300%.

Five years later, a "continued modest decline" in homicides was noted, but what has gone up in the land down under over the past few years is the number of assaults. Overall, assaults are up 40% and sexual assaults are up 20%.

Across the pond, Great Britain passed a handgun ban in 1998. Ten years later, many British "bobbies" are armed for the first time because of the amount of illegal guns in the hands of criminals.
Simple really if one just opens their eyes.

And guns are at the root of this murder too

Oh wait -- maybe not. From the Chicago CBS affiliate:
Joliet Authorities: 4 Young Adults Rob, Murder 2 Friends, Then Continue �Party Atmosphere�
Police say four young adults, one the son of a Joliet police sergeant, lured two friends to a house, robbed and strangled them and then played video games until police arrived.

After attempting to dismember the bodies Thursday afternoon, the suspects �continued the party atmosphere,� Police Chief Mike Trafton said.

�This is one of the most brutal, heinous and upsetting things I�ve ever seen in my 27 years of law enforcement,� Trafton said Friday. �Not only the crime scene, but the disregard for common decency toward human beings.�

Adam M. Landerman, 19; Alisa R. Massaro, 18; Bethany L. McKee, 18; and Joshua F. Miner, 24, were charged about 4 p.m. Friday with six counts of first-degree murder for the Thursday deaths of Eric Glover, 22, and Terrence O. Rankins, 22, at Massaro�s house, 1121 N. Hickory St. All four are being held in lieu of $10 million bail.

Police were notified about 4 p.m. Thursday about two dead bodies at the house, and officers noticed movement inside the house so they went in, Trafton said. He said Landerman, Massaro and Miner were playing video games and were �very much surprised� when police came in. McKee had left before police arrived but was picked up by authorities in Kankakee, police said.
It is not guns, it is the breakdown of the traditional two-parent family and the culture of entitlement. There is where the fault lies but both of these planks have been strong progressive ideals since President L. B. (Lyin' Bastard) Johnson so they will not see the error of their ways.

No joy in mudville today

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The video rental computer for the store crashed and burned a few days ago. We are reverting back to the old paper method (good to have a backup in place) but it is cumbersome to say the least. I got a new machine and took the old one home this morning only to find the old hard drive in perfect condition. It is just missing the entire boot sector -- BOOT.INI, NTLDR and NTDetect.com. Bunch of other stuff there just fine -- I'll reinstall XP and take it from there. The machine is purposefully not connected to the internet so the only real option is that someone deleted the files. Odd to have such a selective little crash...

One in 36

From Bloomberg:

US Airways Spurs Job Rush as 16,500 Vie for 450 Vacancies
US Airways Group Inc, the carrier seeking to merge with AMR Corp's American Airlines, received more than 16,500 applications for 450 flight attendant positions in its biggest hiring push for the job since 2010.

About 700 applicants have advanced to the interview stage and 240 offers have been made, US Airways said yesterday in its weekly employee newsletter. The influx echoes the rush for flight-attendant jobs at Delta Air Lines Inc, which said last month that its 300 openings attracted 22,000 candidates.

And as the article says:

"It's not your dream job but it's a job," Chaison, who is based in Worcester, Massachusetts, said in a telephone interview. "Particularly when there are so many people graduating from colleges who are having difficulty finding jobs, the flight attendants position is suddenly looking very nice. You travel. It's exotic."

So US Airwaws got 16,500 applicants for 450 positions -- thats a ratio of over one in 36. Delta was over one in 73. Times are tough...

Oops - blew right past the mark

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I had noticed a few weeks ago that we were creeping up on the 15,000th post. Just checked and this post will be number 15,036. 1,598 comments since October 27th, 2003. Looking forward to the next ten years/15K posts -- having fun!
From William A. Jacobson writing at Legal Insurrection:
David Gregory and wife knew D.C. Attorney General
District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin Nathan issued a lengthy letter today explaining the decision not to prosecute David Gregory �despite the clarity of the violation of this important law,� despite rejecting NBC�s claims of a subjective misunderstanding of the law, and despite vowing vigorous enforcement of gun laws.

Emily Miller of The Washington Times, who has written extensively about the overly aggressive enforcement of D.C. gun laws, including as to high capacity magazines, reacted as follows:
It is shameful that the politicians running the nation�s capital have sent the clear message that there are two systems of justice in the city: one for the rich and powerful and one for everyone else.
It further undermines public confidence in such decisions to find out that Nathan knew Gregory and his wife, high-powered attorney Beth Wilkinson.

Anne dug up the connection in which in 2011 Nathan and Wilkinson participated together in a charity mock trial for the Washington, D.C. Shakespeare Theatre Company (emphasis in original):
In this town full of lawyers it should be no surprise that this event sold out in 44 seconds�.. The attorneys were Beth Wilkinson a partner at Paul Weiss (and wife of David Gregory, aka the Silver Fox, who was snapping pictures like a proud hubby!) and Irv Nathan, Acting Attorney General for DC. Both were hilarious and Beth looked so great in her black dress and patent leather heels, I was totally motivated to stick to my overly arduous diet.
Whether this connection meant Nathan had to recuse himself is not a conclusion that people need to jump to.

What�s important is that the connection reinforces public perception, as Emily Miller put it, of one law for �the rich and powerful and one for everyone else.�

James Brinkley didn�t participate in mock trials with Irvin Nathan at the Washington, D.C. Shakespeare Theater. He participated in a real trial in court against Nathan�s office, as told by Miller several days ago, If you�re not David Gregory:
Despite the evidence Mr. Brinkley had been legally transporting the gun, his attorney Richard Gardiner said the D.C. Office of the Attorney General �wouldn�t drop it.� �. Mr. Brinkley refused to take a plea bargain and admit guilt, so the matter went to trial Dec. 4. The judge sided with Mr. Brinkley, saying he had met the burden of proof that he was legally transporting.
James Brinkley's case was unreal -- from Emily's story at The Washington Times:
Mr. Brinkley�s story is just one example of at least 105 individuals who, unlike Mr. Gregory, were arrested in 2012 for having a magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds.

On Sept. 8, Mr. Brinkley says he intended to drop his wife and young children at the White House for a tour and then head to a shooting range to practice for the U.S. Marshals Service test. Just like Mr. Gregory, Mr. Brinkley called MPD in advance for guidance on how he could do this legally. Mr. Brinkley was told that the gun had to be unloaded and locked in the trunk, and he couldn�t park the car and walk around.

Unlike Mr. Gregory, Mr. Brinkley followed the police orders by placing his Glock 22 in a box with a big padlock in the trunk of his Dodge Charger. The two ordinary, 15-round magazines were not in the gun, and he did not have any ammunition with him.

As he was dropping off his family at 11 a.m. on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue, Mr. Brinkley stopped to ask a Secret Service officer whether his wife could take the baby�s car seat into the White House. The officer saw Mr. Brinkley had an empty holster, which kicked off a traffic stop that ended in a search of the Charger�s trunk. Mr. Brinkley was booked on two counts of �high capacity� magazine possession (these are ordinary magazines nearly everywhere else in the country) and one count of possessing an unregistered gun.

Despite the evidence Mr. Brinkley had been legally transporting the gun, his attorney Richard Gardiner said the D.C. Office of the Attorney General �wouldn�t drop it.� This is the same office now showing apparent reluctance to charge Mr. Gregory.
Another article from Ms. Miller that goes into better detail is here: MILLER: If you�re not David Gregory ... (extended version) Mr. Brinkley is a U.S. Army veteran and served in Iraq and was headed to the range to practice for his U.S. Marshals Service test. He is someone of value to society whereas Mr. Gregory is just a biased journalist.

Heh - senatorfeinstein.com

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Senator Dianne Feinstein is a rabid hoplophobe. Seems she didn't bother registering senatorfeinstein.com and it is now a delightful pro-gun website...

AR1654 heating up

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From Spaceweather:
Big sunspot AR1654 is growing more active. It is now crackling with M-class solar flares.

AR1654 is getting bigger as it turns toward Earth. Not only is the chance of flares increasing, but also the chance of an Earth-directed eruption.This could be the sunspot that breaks the recent lengthy spell of calm space weather around our planet.
Haven't seen aurora up here for five or six years. Sun has been very quiet.

Something brewing in Utah

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From The Salt Lake Tribune:
Indicted businessman ties Swallow to alleged scheme
Embattled St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson says new Utah Attorney General John Swallow helped broker a deal in 2010 in which Johnson believed he was to pay Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid $600,000 to make a federal investigation into Johnson�s company go away.

But when the federal government filed a lawsuit Johnson thought he had paid to quash, he demanded Swallow return some of the $250,000 initial payment. Then, just days before the Nov. 6 election, Johnson engaged in a frenetic but unsuccessful effort to get Swallow to drop out of the race, saying information about what Johnson called a "bribe" would come out and force the Republican�s resignation if he became attorney general.
Bidness as usual only if we let them get away with it. Vote them out.

A new shortage on the horizon

From FOX News:
Toilet Paper Shortage: Good Raw Material Being Wiped Out
A shortage of high-quality paper for recycling could mean scratchy toilet tissue. To keep consumers happy and avoid any chafed rear ends, companies are now on a quest to find new paper supplies, according to an article in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN).

The problem: Consumers once could fill up large bins with their recycled newspapers, magazines and print paper. But as electronic communication surges, these sources of recycled paper are becoming scarce.
Used to have a copy and print business in Seattle. The good stuff has nice long fibers (makes the finished product soft) and each time the paper is recycled, the fibers get shorter and shorter until it's only good for pulp, cardboard and kraft products (pulp coffee caddies, packaging corners and pads, etc...) Up in this neck of the woods, the Canadians urged farmers to grow poplar but the Canadian market for virgin poplar pulp (not eco-friendly) fell off so you see lots of stands of very spindly trees falling over each other. Crappy firewood but great for paper.

News to me but...

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Nothing came in over the transom and I don't consider the Department of Homeland Security to be at the forefront of internet security but... From Yahoo/Associated Press:
US government tells computer users to disable Java
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is advising people to temporarily disable the Java software on their computers to avoid potential hacking attacks.

The recommendation came in an advisory issued late Thursday, following up on concerns raised by computer security experts.

Experts believe hackers have found a flaw in Java's coding that creates an opening for criminal activity and other high-tech mischief.
Makes me wonder what the back-story is...

The coming Gun grab

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Had the thought that one reason that guns are on everyone's mind these days is that it takes the pressure off the Benghazi scandal. There were thirty people rescued from the Embassy on 9/11. They were flown to a German hospital and they have not been heard from since. Where are they? Where are their stories about what really happened? Here is a two-fer from The Weekly Standard - first:
Biden Hints at Outlawing Unregulated 'Private' Gun Sales
Vice President Joe Biden, in remarks today before a meeting on guns, suggested the Obama administration is seriously considering outlawing unregulated "private" gun sales:
"And so the kinds of things that there's an emerging set of recommendations, not coming from me but coming from the groups we've met with," said Biden today, before a closed door meeting on gun control. "And I'm going to focus on the ones that relate primarily to gun ownership and the type of weapons can be owned. And one is, there is a surprising -- so far -- a surprising recurrence of suggestions that we have universal background checks. Not just close the gun show loophole but total, universal background checks, including private sales."
And of course it was a closed-door meeting -- I would expect nothing else from this administration. And second:
After Meeting, NRA Says White House Has 'Agenda to Attack the Second Amendment'
After meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder at the White House today, the National Rifle Association released a statement saying the White House has an "agenda to attack the Second Amendment."

"The National Rifle Association of America is made up of over 4 million moms and dads, daughters and sons, who are involved in the national conversation about how to prevent a tragedy like Newtown from ever happening again. We attended today's White House meeting to discuss how to keep our children safe and were prepared to have a meaningful conversation about school safety, mental health issues, the marketing of violence to our kids and the collapse of federal prosecutions of violent criminals," reads the NRA statement.

"We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment. While claiming that no policy proposals would be �prejudged,� this Task Force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners - honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans. It is unfortunate that this Administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen. Instead, we will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works - and what does not."
I would trust the NRA's judgment on this a lot more than any career bureaucrat from Washington, D.C.

A modest proposal

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Wyoming is doing it right -- from Casper, WY station KTWO:
Wyoming Lawmakers Propose �Gun Protection� Legislation
Several Wyoming lawmakers are proposing legislation designed to protect gun-owners from any potential federal firearm ban. The �Firearms Protection Act� bill, introduced this week, would make any federal law banning semi-automatic firearms or limiting the size of gun magazines unenforceable within the state�s boundaries.

Anyone trying to enforce a federal gun ban could face felony charges under the proposal. It also includes a provision allowing the Wyoming Attorney General�s office to defend any state resident against any federal firearm ban.
I'll see you a Tenth Amendment and raise you... The bill is only three pages long (PDF) and very suscinct and to the point:
Any official, agent or employee of the United States government who enforces or attempts to enforce any act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation of the United States government upon a personal firearm, a firearm accessory or ammunition that is owned or manufactured commercially or privately in Wyoming and that remains exclusively within the borders of Wyoming shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be subject to imprisonment for not less than one (1) year and one (1) day or more than five (5) years, a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), or both.
What he said...

Jumping the shark

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Stick a fork in it -- it's done. From FOX News:
�Shock and anger� as New York Times eliminates environment desk
The Gray Lady�s readers are seeing red over a decision to shut down the paper�s green desk.

The New York Times plans to shutter its standalone environment �pod� -- a pool of editors and reporters dedicated to green issues and the climate -- and redistribute them to other teams. The paper�s top editors claim the move won�t affect the paper of record�s efforts to cover the climate, however.

"To both me and Jill [Abramson, executive editor], coverage of the environment is what separates the New York Times from other papers. We devote a lot of resources to it, now more than ever,� Dean Baquet, the paper's managing editor for news operations, told InsideClimateNews.com. �We have not lost any desire for environmental coverage. This is purely a structural matter.�

But Margaret Sullivan, the Times' public editor, expressed dismay at the news.

"Symbolically, this is bad news. And symbolism matters � it shows a commitment and an intensity of interest in a crucially important topic," Sullivan wrote.
This reaction shows the difference between the progressive mind and the conservative mind. The bean counters are looking to cut wasted effort and save money while people like Ms. Sullivan are all about the symbolism and consider Climate Change to be a crucially important topic when in fact, it is dead as a dodo.

Back from town

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Picked up a new toy, got my back checked out (another appointment tomorrow) and heading over to turn on the TV to watch the Tesla episode. UPDATE: well crap. The website for my satellite service said 9:30 Pacific. Nope.

Heading into town today (again)

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Got another appointment with the dermatologist -- getting the patches removed and looked at. It will be nice to take a shower again! Nice to figure out what I'm allergic to...

Tesla on the tube

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From Tesla Universe:
Tesla Universe featured on National Geographic's Rocket City Rednecks
******** UPDATE ********
We just learned that National Geographic has made some changes. The episode featuring Tesla Universe is now called �Lightning Gun� and will air at 9:30pm ET/PT on January 10.

Earlier this year I was contacted by the producer of the National Geographic TV series Rocket City Rednecks for assistance with a season 2 episode involving a Tesla coil. I'm not going to give away the details, but Phillip and I did three separate shoots with them for the upcoming �DIY Death Ray� episode which is scheduled to air December 20 at 9:30pm ET/PT.

Here's a description of the episode:
�No gunpowder or bullets... in Alabama?! Travis thinks it's high time that modern weaponry evolved - after all, gunpowder is a thousand-year-old invention. He predicts that beam technology is the wave of the future. But building an actual ray weapon proves to be more challenging than Travis expected. After a failed experiment that destroys Mama Taylor's brand-new microwave, the guys ask a local mad scientist for help with high-voltage technology. Together, they convert a giant Tesla coil into a weapon by attaching a 'gun' made from an old pressure washer hooked up to a can of argon gas. With all this high voltage, can the Rednecks cook up something that kills the bad guys without killing themselves?�
Yeap, you guessed it, I'm the local mad scientist...

Cameron B. Prince
Local mad scientist and Tesla Universe Webmaster
Got my DVR set...

Bidness as usual in Chicago

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Thirty five years have not changed a thing -- Chicago is a corrupt city. Back in 1978, the Chicago Sun-Times purchased The Mirage Tavern, wired it for sound and hidden cameras and proceeded to record all sorts of city employees coming in for their little piece of the pie -- an on-going shakedown with names and photos. They are reprinting this series here: Recently in The Mirage Category Check back as they are showing new stuff daily. From the website:
From the archives: The Mirage Tavern, 35 years later
Even now, 35 years later, it still seems improbable, almost impossible. That a newspaper and a watchdog organization could team up on an undercover operation that was so deep and so thorough is still mind-blowing three-and-a-half decades later. So is the audacity of what was done, a form of undercover reporting that was awarded a Pulitzer and then had that award taken away after colleagues questioned the ethics of such an investigation. But it all happened and what transpired at the Mirage Tavern, a bar that for a short time was used by the Sun-Times and the BGA to out graft and shakedowns by city officials, still resonates to this day.

The actual undercover part of the reporting took place at the Mirage Tavern, 731 N. Wells St. (now Brehon's Pub), during 1977. But it was on January 8, 1978 that the first reports from Pamela Zekman and Zay N. Smith hit the front pages of the Sun-Times: payoffs, shakedowns, kickbacks, and tax fraud galore, all by city officials under the hidden eye of a team of reporters. The corruption that the investigation exposed has become the stuff of legend, both in Chicago and the world of journalism.

So, starting tomorrow and continuing for the next month, we'll repost each original story as it first appeared in the Sun-Times on its corresponding date 35 years ago. Along the way, we'll share other photos, stories and tidbits from the archives of both the Sun-Times and the BGA. Due to time and the quality of microfilm, some of the stories won't be in the best of shape, but they're still readable and worth the effort.
Fun stuff...

Fun fun fun

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Got a call this A.M. that the computer at the store than handles our video rentals wasn't booting up properly. Rats! We have over 3,500 DVDs for rent and generally do 30-50 rentals/day. I have daily backups and they are fine but had to run into Costco and pick up a cheap Dell and will spend tomorrow installing Windows XP, Office 2003 and the rental software. This machine is not connected to the internet so I like to run it old-school. Should be fun to see the performance boost -- the old machine is seven years old -- 2GB single core. The new one is multi-core with 8GB RAM. I'll put a new HD in the old one and install Linux for the ham radio shack.

Gun control by executive order?

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This is being batted about. From The Washington Times:
Biden: Executive orders, action can be taken on guns
Vice President Joseph R. Biden vowed action on gun control from President Obama on Wednesday and floated the idea that Mr. Obama could use executive action to do so.

�The president is going to act,� Mr. Biden said, speaking briefly before a meeting with gun safety and gun victims� groups Wednesday. �There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken. We haven�t decided what that is yet. But we�re compiling it all with the help [of] the attorney general and all the rest of the cabinet members as well as legislative action we believe is required.�
Emphasis mine -- that attorney general would be Eric Holder, the moron who was directly responsible for letting several thousand guns flow into Mexico without interdiction. New York State is going to be gun free and safe. Meanwhile, gun sales are through the roof (here, here and here) Writing my Congresscritters...

Light posting today

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Had to go into town. My skin breaks out from time to time so went into the dermatologist to get a skin patch test. I know I am allergic to two things out of the fifty being tested. About now, I want us to go out to the shop, load some 60 grit into my belt sander and have Lulu spend about fifteen minutes making the itching stop. Ignore the red stuff coming out -- that's just ketchup... The patches come off in two days and I am not supposed to take anything for the symptoms. Got the new Grizzly Tools catalog in the mail today -- 30th anniversary! Spending time salivating over that and taking my mind off the itching...

Our Congressional popularity ratings

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From The Washington Times:
Congress less popular than root canal, cockroaches and lice, poll says
A new poll shows that Congress is less popular than carnies, root canals and colonoscopies, but more popular than the ebola virus, meth labs and gonorrhea.

Those findings are in a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey released Tuesday showed that 9 percent of the respondents held a favorable opinion of Congress, while 85 percent held an unfavorable view.

"We all know Congress is unpopular," said Dean Debnam, PPP president. "But the fact that voters like it even less than cockroaches, lice and Genghis Kahn real shows how far its esteem has fallen with the American public over the last few weeks."

On the bright side, Congress came out of the survey in higher standing than North Korea, the Kardashian family, and actress Lindsay Lohan, as well as Cuba's Fidel Castro and former Sen. John Edwards.

On the not-so-bright side, it lost out in the popularity contest to the rock band Nickelback, real estate magnate Donald Trump, NFL replacement refs and France.
Full poll results here (PDF)

Art and Banking

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An interesting story showing the parallels. From Rachel Cohen writing at The Believer:
Gold, Golden, Gilded, Glittering
In 2007, with financial markets ballooning on every side, the artist Damien Hirst cast a real human skull in platinum, encrusted the cast with 8,601 diamonds that might or might not have come from �conflict-conscious� sources, and called his construction For the Love of God. Images of the macabre object circulated with incredible speed, and there was cheery debate about whether the accomplishment of the work was in the realm of aesthetics or that of the market, whether what mattered were the artist�s choices or the fact that the piece had lived up to its announced intention to be �the most expensive piece of art by a living artist� and had sold for $100 million. Two years later, with financial markets imploding on every side, it was reported that the work had in fact been sold to a holding company that turned out to consist of Hirst�s gallerist, his business manager, his friend the Russian billionaire art collector Viktor Pinchuk, and Hirst himself. There were then those who, staring at their own newly empty stock portfolios, found in the title apt expression of their feelings. The work itself, with its diamond-laden eye sockets and its original inhabitant�s grinning teeth, seems unperturbed by any hollowness of value in the financial or art markets. It does not matter to this cynical epitome of our glittering age whether it was made for the love of anything but more zeroes.
She talks about art prices for prices sake and goes on to this:
Lately, I find that I read the financial news with the constant sense of sleight of hand at work. Since 2008, and the crisis of mismanagement that resulted in the failure of Lehman Brothers and precipitated our current financial woes, it has seemed to me that the business of all the large financial institutions�even the ones that conspicuously did not fail, like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase�has something important in common with the sale of Hirst�s diamond-encrusted skull. All of these institutions have, or had, significant interests in financial products like derivatives and mortgage-backed securities. These products, or �instruments,� or �vehicles,� are anchored not to any concrete goods but only to finance itself. It was in this way that, in 2010, during the midst of the financial crisis, the gross domestic product of the entire world was between $50 and $60 trillion, while the volume of derivatives trading was about twenty times the size of the GDP�$1,200 trillion, or $1.2 quadrillion.
And Hirst himself sums up the problem:
Or, as Hirst himself put it in an interview with the Daily Telegraph last year, �We�re here for a good time, not a long time.�
Excellent read -- Rachel goes into the history of banking and art collection and the close ties between the two. A fun ramble. One point of interest -- she mentioned the "Father of the Fed" Paul Warburg and I was wondering if he was any inspiration for Little Orphan Annie character, Oliver 'Daddy' Warbucks. He was.

Rolling Stone profiles the banksters

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From Matt Taibbi writing at The Rolling Stone:
Secrets and Lies of the Bailout
The federal rescue of Wall Street didn�t fix the economy � it created a permanent bailout state based on a Ponzi-like confidence scheme. And the worst may be yet to come.

It has been four long winters since the federal government, in the hulking, shaven-skulled, Alien Nation-esque form of then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, committed $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue Wall Street from its own chicanery and greed. To listen to the bankers and their allies in Washington tell it, you'd think the bailout was the best thing to hit the American economy since the invention of the assembly line. Not only did it prevent another Great Depression, we've been told, but the money has all been paid back, and the government even made a profit. No harm, no foul � right?


It was all a lie � one of the biggest and most elaborate falsehoods ever sold to the American people. We were told that the taxpayer was stepping in � only temporarily, mind you � to prop up the economy and save the world from financial catastrophe. What we actually ended up doing was the exact opposite: committing American taxpayers to permanent, blind support of an ungovernable, unregulatable, hyperconcentrated new financial system that exacerbates the greed and inequality that caused the crash, and forces Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to increase risk rather than reduce it. The result is one of those deals where one wrong decision early on blossoms into a lush nightmare of unintended consequences. We thought we were just letting a friend crash at the house for a few days; we ended up with a family of hillbillies who moved in forever, sleeping nine to a bed and building a meth lab on the front lawn.
A long read (five pages) but excellent detail presented clearly. If this was a private business and not connected to their government enablers, these asshats would be doing a minimum of 30 years each. Matt closes with this coda:
So what exactly did the bailout accomplish? It built a banking system that discriminates against community banks, makes Too Big to Fail banks even Too Bigger to Failier, increases risk, discourages sound business lending and punishes savings by making it even easier and more profitable to chase high-yield investments than to compete for small depositors. The bailout has also made lying on behalf of our biggest and most corrupt banks the official policy of the United States government. And if any one of those banks fails, it will cause another financial crisis, meaning we're essentially wedded to that policy for the rest of eternity � or at least until the markets call our bluff, which could happen any minute now.

Other than that, the bailout was a smashing success.
Fun times ahead. I am seriously looking at converting some of my money into Canadian currency -- it has been posting a steady climb against the USD as inflation keeps creeping up.

A cautionary tale

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From the Great and Terrible Czar of Muscovy writing at The Gormogons:
One Possible Future
For most of the Americans that re-elected Barack Obama, social media is revealing that somehow they aren�t getting the guy they thought he would be. This seems incredible to those of us who have long-since recognized him as an incompetent partisan hack, but yet it is completely understandable: people are reacting exactly the way they do when giving a loser a second chance and realizing, early on in that second chance, he�s screwing up worse.

That�s the left wing, definitely. But too many on the right wing are coughing up bizarre theories about Marxist takeovers, and so on�none of which is particularly interesting, well thought out, or even useful. Look, if you really wanted someone to install a permanent Marxist r�gime in the United States, Barack Obama�the guy whose staff sent a Hurricane Sandy survivor (who merely asked when the promised help would arrive) a form letter thanking her for her support of the troops�might be doofus you want mis-calling the shots.

America generally avoid extremes: a new normal emerges like a Hegelian synthesis of the two and we live with it. Right-wingers think liberals want to put in a liberal Euro-socialist country of high taxes and diminishing population. Left-wingers think conservatives want a...well, who know what they think we want. It changes so often. Something about corporate welfare, grannies plummeting off cliffs, and a Morlock-based society of the rich feeding off the liberal Eloi or something.

The probability is that neither will occur, but a tempered balance between those extremes. Indeed, America in the future might look something like the following.
Read the whole thing -- the Czar nails it. Knowing what I know now, I would hate to be a grade-school student...

The EPA smacked down for once

From The Daily Caller:
Court: Stormwater runoff not a pollutant, EPA can�t regulate it
A federal judge ruled Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority by trying to regulate water as a pollutant and restricting stormwater flow into a Fairfax County creek.

�Stormwater runoff is not a pollutant, so EPA is not authorized to regulate it,� said federal judge Liam O�Grady, who sided with the county and Virginia in the ruling.
A bit more:
The plaintiffs also argued that the EPA�s plan could cost $500 million dollars, charging that the plan would have required state and local officials to �take people�s houses, evict them, knock the houses down and plant grass.�
And the judges ruling:
�EPA may not regulate something over which it has no statutorily granted power � as a proxy for something over which it is granted power,� O�Grady said. �If the sediment levels in Accotink Creek have become dangerously high, what better way to address the problem than by limiting the amount of sediment permitted in the creek?�

According to the Virginia attorney general�s office, state taxpayers will save more than $300 million in unnecessary costs because of the ruling.
The Washington Post has a nice writeup from the beginning of the suit in July of 2012. Thank you Richard Milhous Nixon. Time to defund these asshats -- we were living in a toxic environment. We fixed it and now most stuff is clean. Time to greatly defund the EPA and change its scope to a monitoring agency instead of a regulatory agency. To quote the last few words of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution:
...nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Prohibiting the use of private lands without just compensation falls afoul of this Fifth of our ten Amendments to the Constitution -- our Bill of Rights.
From the UK Telegraph:
China blazes trail for 'clean' nuclear power from thorium
Princeling Jiang Mianheng, son of former leader Jiang Zemin, is spearheading a project for China's National Academy of Sciences with a start-up budget of $350m.

He has already recruited 140 PhD scientists, working full-time on thorium power at the Shanghai Institute of Nuclear and Applied Physics. He will have 750 staff by 2015.

The aim is to break free of the archaic pressurized-water reactors fueled by uranium -- originally designed for US submarines in the 1950s -- opting instead for new generation of thorium reactors that produce far less toxic waste and cannot blow their top like Fukushima.

"China is the country to watch," said Baroness Bryony Worthington, head of the All-Parliamentary Group on Thorium Energy, who visited the Shanghai operations recently with a team from Britain's National Nuclear Laboratory.

"They are really going for it, and have talented researchers. This could lead to a massive break-through."
The reactors are intrinsically safe and the waste products only need to be sequestered for about 300 years. Under certain operating conditions, these reactors can burn up Uranium reactor waste and recycle the materials into more fuel. A Uranium reactors fuel has to be pulled when it is 5% contaminated as the contaminants "poison" the fission and cause a significant loss of power. Thorium reactors can be run for 70% of fuel contamination before recycling is needed. A bit more:
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee built such a reactor in the 1960s. It was shelved by the Nixon Administration. The Pentagon needed plutonium residue from uranium to build nuclear bombs. The imperatives of the Cold War prevailed.

The thorium blueprints gathered dust in the archives until retrieved and published by former Nasa engineer Kirk Sorensen. The US largely ignored him: China did not.
We had it running and we shelved it because Thorium does not go Ka-Boom and we needed something that went Ka-Boom. And then, there is this:
Mr Jiang estimates that China has enough thorium to power its electricity needs for "20,000 years".
The USA is running about the same number -- thorium is cheap and plentiful in the earths crust. It is the way to go...

Not just NO! - HELL NO!

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From GovTrack.us:
H.J.Res. 15: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President.
Introduced:Jan 04, 2013 (113th Congress, 2013�2015)
Sponsor:Rep. Jos� Serrano [D-NY15]
Hat tip to The Silicon Graybeard for the link. Representative Serrano's House website (with contact information) is here. If I was going to be repealing a Constitutional Amendment, I would start with the Seventeenth followed closely by a strong revision of the Sixteenth. Senators serve a six-year term of office -- let's install term limits there. You get to serve for twelve years max -- that is it. With emphasis on SERVE. You are banned from any lobbying activity for twelve years after that. You are done -- go home and play with your grandchildren... Representatives serve two-year terms -- let's cap that at six terms. Twelve years is enough to do your work, get some pork and make some money the old fashioned way. Grifting it.


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Here is why the media over-hype on the S*ndy H*ok shooting is absolutely wrong. It causes copycats to make plans. From Huntsville, Al station WAFF:
Franklin Co. man threatens to 'make S*ndy H*ok look minor'
Court documents reveal new information about a man charged with making a terrorist threat at Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital in Florence.

Investigators said Rodney Lee Lightfoot said he would "make S*ndy H*ok look minor" if he did not receive care in the hospital emergency room.

According to Florence Police, Lightfoot, of Franklin County, also said he would kill people across North Alabama by using explosives and fire.

Lightfoot reportedly said he had a previous arrest for criminal possession of explosive components and assault in Texas. Florence Police check his criminal history and found an explosives arrest in 2003.

A background check showed no other charges for Lightfoot in Alabama.
Because of all of the hand-wringing over S*ndy H*ok in the media, the media has now given Mr. Lightfoot a metric to strive for. If Mr. Lightfoot wants to go down in notoriety, he has to outdo the work of A*am L*nza (may he rot in Hell). Yes the shooting was a real tragedy and the families and victims are still in our prayers. The reality is that this was the work of a mentally ill man-child who's mother should have been more careful about how she kept her guns. It is not the gun at fault here and if someone at the school had been armed and carrying that day, the story could have had a less tragic outcome. In a sane world, Mr. Lightfoot would be locked away for life.
We already know about these stories: Alaska suffering the coldest winter in three decades Record cold kills more than 100 in India China chills hit 28-year low, trapping ships in ice Here are two more: New storm plunges snow level to 3,500 feet in L.A. area Weather Authority: Record-breaking winter storm slams Borderland From the above link (El Paso, Texas television station KTSM)
11:30 PM, Thursday: A Record setting day in El Paso!
El Paso had a record 2.5" inch snowfall by 5 pm, breaking the old record of 1.2"set back in 1949 on January 3rd, with now 2.9"" for the date by 11 pm. The record will be updated with the National Weather Service Daily Climate report in the morning. El Paso also broke the old record rainfall of .21" set in 1957 with .23" of melted snow in the airport rain gauge for the day!

On our Second Amendment

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Our Bill of Rights is a very powerful and concise set of ten rules that define the role of the Federal Government, the States and the Citizens. They address the limits of power that the Federal Government can have over the States and over the Citizens. Our founders were well aware of how easy it is for a 'good' government to slip into tyranny. There is a discussion over at Oleg Volk's -- here is an excerpt from one of the comments:
The Second Amendment is not a quick word about hunting in between nine other rights that limit government powers. The founders recognized man�s greed for power, and set up balance of power in the Constitution, between the three branches of the federal government, between the federal government and the states, and between government and the people via the Second Amendment. To deter tyranny, people must be able to balance governmental power, and hunting rifles cannot do that. �Assault� is the name of a crime given to inanimate objects by those with an agenda to mislead and bias those who are uneducated about firearms, when they are talking about essentially all semi-automatic firearms, which are 90% of firearms in the United States.
Read the whole thread.

Gun shows

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Now they are coming for our Gun Shows -- from FOX News:
Gun owners, critics face off over recent firearms shows in wake of deadly shootings
A recent spate of planned gun shows has ignited controversy following the deadly mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., last year. A few shows planned in the northeast have been canceled. But in other parts of the country, local officials are considering permanently banning the popular shows, a move that is angering gun owners.

A 1994 law made it illegal to carry guns on any city property in Asheville, N.C. But Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell says a gun show that�s taking place this weekend at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center is proof that the law is not being enforced.

�I have no power at the city level to block all gun shows in the city of Asheville. The only place we regulate is where people can possess weapons,� said Bothwell.
And the show in question?
�This is the first show we've done in 20 years where people are actually waiting in line at 6:30 in the morning even though we didn't open until 9 o'clock,� said Kent. �It's just your local population telling the city of Asheville, �you can't push us around and tell us what to do with our guns.�"
We the People...

Our little snowflakes

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From the London Daily Mail:
How college students think they are more special than EVER: Study reveals rocketing sense of entitlement on U.S. campuses
Books aside, if you asked a college freshman today who the Greatest Generation is, they might respond by pointing in a mirror.

Young people's unprecedented level of self-infatuation was revealed in a new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which has been asking students to rate themselves compared to their peers since 1966.

Roughly 9 million young people have taken the survey over the last 47 years.

Pyschologist Jean Twenge and her colleagues compiled the data and found that over the last four decades there's been a dramatic rise in the number of students who describe themselves as being 'above average' in the areas of academic ability, drive to achieve, mathematical ability, and self-confidence.

But in appraising the traits that are considered less invidualistic - co-operativeness, understanding others, and spirituality - the numbers either stayed at slightly decreased over the same period.

Researchers also found a disconnect between the student's opinions of themselves and actual ability.

While students are much more likely to call themselves gifted in writing abilities, objective test scores actually show that their writing abilities are far less than those of their 1960s counterparts.

Also on the decline is the amount of time spent studying, with little more than a third of students saying they study for six or more hours a week compared to almost half of all students claiming the same in the late 1980s.
One of the comments has this to say:
Not all of this generation are like this, but I would say at least 50% are. In my business it's the 18-20somethings that show up 30 minutes late for an appointment and are shocked and incensed they aren't treated like princesses when they walk through the door and are even argumentative when they realize that they have lost their appointment, but are still being charged for it. I did hire four young women in this age range as assistants and they were awful, they barely lasted a month each. Wonderfully engaging personalities, but never finished a single project, were sloppy and apparently justified it when they stole things. One of them had her father call me and insist that I not file a police report when I fired her for theft. He thought she was wonderful - considering he is probably going to have to support her for the rest of his life, that might be a good thing. The ones who aren't like this are amazing and work their tails off to accomplish their goals.
Classic Dunning�Kruger effect...

I opened the window

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And In-Flew-Enza. (rimshot) Seriously people, there is an epidemic going on -- if you have not gotten a flu shot yet, get one now. From FOX News:
Flu season in full swing, could get worse, experts say
More than half of the states in the U.S. are experiencing high levels of flu-like illness, and flu activity continues to be on the rise, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention�s latest FluView report.

Currently, 29 states and New York City are reporting high levels of influenza-like-illness (ILI), and another nine states are reporting moderate levels of ILI. This season, 18 children have died from flu-associated deaths.

�Reports of influenza-like-illness are nearing what have been peak levels during moderately severe seasons,� said Dr. Joe Bresee, chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention branch.

The CDC said anyone who has not yet received a flu shot, should get one.
The CDC FluView website is excellent -- here is their summary page. Doing the shopping run for the store tomorrow and planning to get a shot at the Costco Pharmacy when I am there.

Running out today - January 6th

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The tax increases for the top two percent? The taxes that are soaking the evil rich? The new tax rates that are raising sixty billion dollars in new revenue? Considering that the Federal Government is currently spending about ten billion dollars each and every day ($10.4B actually), this new revenue will run out today. We have 359 more days of operation to fund...

Some goings on in New York City

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Tomorrow, January 7th marks the 70th anniversary of Nikola Tesla's death. The Tesla Memorial Society of New York is hosting quite the event. More on Tesla here: Tesla Memorial Society of New York


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The overall level of comment spam has been relatively low the past couple of months. Got hit with over a hundred attempts this morning -- in Roubaix, France? You are dead to me. Enjoy your banishment from my little chunk of cyberspace...

In other news - biofuels are a joke

From ClimateSanity:
Nobel Prize winning biochemist says ALL biofuels are �nonsense.�
Hartmut Michel won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on photosynthesis. So, it is fair to say that he knows a thing or two about energy transport and storage in plants. Today he is director of the Molecular Membrane Biology at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysics.

He recently penned an editorial in Angewandte Chemie International Edition in which he hammered the use of biofuels for alternative energy. Note that Angewandte Chemie International Edition has the world�s highest impact factor of all chemistry journals. His simple but pointed criticism condemns all varieties of biofuels and supports my previous posts on this subject.

The problem is the inherent inefficiency of photosynthesis. He points out�
�The photosynthetic pigments of plants can only absorb and use 47%(related to energy) of the light of the sun (�photosynthetic active radiation�). Green light, UV, and IR irradiation are not used�

Photosynthesis is most efficient at low light intensities. It is already saturated at 20% of full sunlight and 80% of the light is not used�In addition, high light intensities lead to photodamage of a central protein subunit of the photosynthetic apparatus�3.5 billion years of evolution have not been long enough to develop a mechanism for preventing the photodamage�

The dark reactions are limited by an insufficient discrimination between CO2 and O2 by the enzyme RuBisCO, which inserts CO2 into ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate. One third of the energy of the absorbed photons is believed to be required to remove the product of the O2 insertion�[and] photosynthesis depends on the availability of sufficient amounts of water, a condition that is not met during much of the day.�
The paper is available here -- The Nonsense of Biofuels, Hartmut Michel, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2012, 51, 2�4 (PDF) The upshot:
For German �biodiesel� which is based on rapeseed, it is less than 0.1%, for bioethanol less than 0.2%, and for biogas around 0.3%.
Rape seed is what us politically correct types call Canola (Canada Oil). Compare this to the average 20% efficiency of a solar installation and you see how silly biofuel is. A true zero-sum game. Nothing more than another opportunity for the politically connected to get even more rich through Federal subsidies (our tax dollars).

Kudos to Mark Lynas

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Brave man -- from Slate:
Leading Environmental Activist�s Blunt Confession: I Was Completely Wrong To Oppose GMOs
If you fear genetically modified food, you may have Mark Lynas to thank. By his own reckoning, British environmentalist helped spur the anti-GMO movement in the mid-�90s, arguing as recently at 2008 that big corporations� selfish greed would threaten the health of both people and the Earth. Thanks to the efforts of Lynas and people like him, governments around the world�especially in Western Europe, Asia, and Africa�have hobbled GM research, and NGOs like Greenpeace have spurned donations of genetically modified foods.

But Lynas has changed his mind�and he�s not being quiet about it. On Thursday at the Oxford Farming Conference, Lynas delivered a blunt address: He got GMOs wrong. According to the version of his remarks posted online (as yet, there�s no video or transcript of the actual delivery), he opened with a bang:
I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.

As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.

So I guess you�ll be wondering�what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.
His honest assessment of his heretofore poor understanding of the issue continues for almost 5,000 words�and it�s a must-read for anyone who has ever hesitated over conventional produce. To vilify GMOs is to be as anti-science as climate-change deniers, he says. To feed a growing world population (with an exploding middle class demanding more and better-quality food), we must take advantage of all the technology available to us, including GMOs. To insist on �natural� agriculture and livestock is to doom people to starvation, and there�s no logical reason to prefer the old ways, either. Moreover, the reason why big companies dominate the industry is that anti-GMO activists and policymakers have made it too difficult for small startups to enter the field.
Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist. It took a lot of courage to say that Mark but welcome to Science. We don't model things, we actually go out and measure them. We keep our data open to anyone who is interested. We do not 'hide the decline' or use 'tricks' when processing our data. We just tells it as we sees it. Ahhhh -- he's just a paid shill for Monsanto. (set SARC=OFF)

Sunspot inflation

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An interesting post at Watts Up With That regarding the "new" way to count sunspots (since around the 1850's). Sunspots are an indication of solar activity and the more sunspots, the more energy the sun is giving off (warming the Earth). From Dr. Leif Svalgaard:
Counting Sunspots and Sunspot Inflation
The official sunspot number is issued by SIDC in Brussels http://sidc.be/sunspot-data/. The [relative] sunspot number was introduced by Rudolf Wolf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Wolf in the middle of the 19th century. He called it the �relative� number because it is rather like an index instead of the actual number of spots on the Sun. Spots occur in groups [which we today call �active regions�] and Wolf realized that the birth of a new group was a much more significant event than the emergence of just a single new spot within a group, so he designed his index, R, [for any given day] to be a weighted sum of the number of spots, S, and the number of groups, G, giving the groups a weight of 10: R = S + 10*G. The number of 10 was chosen because on average a group contains about 10 spots, and also because it is a convenient number to multiply by.
This scale was fudged a bit, first by Wolf to adjust for different sizes of telescopes and then later by Wolf's successor, Alfred Wolfer. Wolfer did his adjustments during the 1870's and the two numbers ran concurrently for twenty years so a good correlation was developed. And now things get interesting:
Applying the same formula to data after 1945 gives us the lower panel. Under the assumption that the Sun did not know about Waldmeier we would expect the same relationship to hold, but in fact there is an abrupt change of the observed vs. the expected sunspot numbers between 1946 and 1947 of [you guessed it] 20%. Several other solar indicators give the same result. So there are several smoking guns.
And more:
A somewhat disturbing [to many people] consequence of the correction of the official sunspot number is that there is now no evidence for a Modern Grand Maximum [�the largest in 8000 years� or some such].
I chopped a lot of stuff out of these excerpts -- what piqued my interest is that there is growing evidence that we may be heading for another Maunder Minimum (proposed name is the Eddy Minimum, more here) - several hundred years of substantially cooler weather. Solar cycle 24 has been stalled for several years and there has been no warming since around 1998. An excellent read if you are into that sort of stuff. The comments are great too...
How do you provide a nutritional label for a pizza when the customer hasn't even ordered it yet? From Reason:
How a Federal Menu-Labeling Law Will Harm American Pizza
This week, as a new Congress was being sworn in, the Food and Drug Administration released two sets of controversial and long-delayed food-safety rules.
One of the 800+ that were delayed until after the election. More:
Another FDA rule that�s been long in the making is the agency�s proposed menu-labeling rule.

The purpose of that rule, first proposed in 2010 as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is to �provid[e] information to assist consumers in maintaining healthy dietary practices.�
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? You know this as Obamacare. More:
In an op-ed published last year in The Hill, the CEO of Domino�s, J. Patrick Doyle, criticized the proposed rule as �a one-size-fits-all set of rules for menu labeling that will result in wide calorie ranges for entire pizzas on menus consumers will not even see, but will cost small business owners thousands of dollars a year.�

Those costs can range upwards of $5,000 per franchise location. The cost to grocers�a cost that, as with pizza, would no doubt be passed on to consumers in the form of higher food costs�would be even greater.

Why so costly?

"With 34 million ways to make a pizza, it makes no common sense to require this industry�which already discloses calories voluntarily, for the most part�to attempt to cram this information on menu boards in small storefronts,� says Lynn Liddle, who chairs the American Pizza Community, a coalition representing much of the American pizza industry, in an email to me.
Ideology instead of simple common sense. It's not as though calorie labels do any damn good -- studies here (No), here (Nope) and here (No either).
Go to the UK Amazon website and read the customer reviews for Veet for Men Hair Removal Gel Creme 200 ml. Half laughing out loud and half cringing in sympathetic pain.
A two-fer. First -- how's that green car company working out for Delaware? From FOX News:
Delaware taxpayers increasingly on the hook as Fisker auto plant idles
Delaware taxpayers appear to be getting soaked twice under a deal in which the Democratic governor loaned $21.5 million to a hybrid electric carmaker to set up shop in the state. The company has yet to produce a car in Delaware, and taxpayers are footing the electric bill for the idle plant.

The deal was enthusiastically announced in 2009 by Gov. Jack Markell and Vice President Biden -- formerly Delaware's senior senator -- as a way to bring as many as 2,500 green jobs to the state. But California-based Fisker Automotive Inc. has since suffered a series of setbacks that have compounded its shaky financial situation.
Second -- Al Gore sells out to big oil -- from Bloomberg:
Al Gore�s Payday From Oil-Rich Qatar �Reeking With Irony�
Al Gore, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his fight against global warming, may gross about $70 million from the sale of his Current TV network to Al Jazeera, the cable channel funded in part by oil-rich Qatar.

Al Jazeera will pay about $500 million for Current TV, including the stake held by Gore, 64, according to two people with knowledge of the deal. The network is one of dozens of investments made by the former vice president since he lost the 2000 presidential race by a slim margin.

�It�s reeking with irony,� said Jeff Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management, who studies corporate governance. �It seems to be at least a paradox in terms of his positions on sustainability and geopolitics.�
These things write themselves...

About that Anthropogenic Global Warming

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Went out for dinner last night and overheard someone talking about the eeeevils of coal. Turns out they were parroting the coal dust talking point but they had never walked along the railroad tracks and observed the abundance of no-coal-dust. They were also going on about how bad Carbon Dioxide was for the environment but they did not know that CO2 is one of the two key elements for photosynthesis and without it, there would be zero plants. Needless to say, I butted into the conversation... We know about Alaska suffering the coldest winter in three decades. How is it around the rest of the world? From USA Today:
Record cold kills more than 100 in India
New Delhi sees coldest temperature since 1969.
More than 100 people have died of exposure as northern India deals with historically cold temperatures.

Police spokesman Surendra Srivastava said Thursday that at least 114 people have died from the recent cold in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Many were poor people whose bodies were found on sidewalks or in parks.
From Reuters:
China chills hit 28-year low, trapping ships in ice
Temperatures in China have plunged to their lowest in almost three decades, cold enough to freeze coastal waters and trap 1,000 ships in ice, official media said at the weekend.

Since late November the country has shivered at an average of minus 3.8 degrees Celsius, 1.3 degrees colder than the previous average, and the chilliest in 28 years, state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday, citing the China Meteorological Administration.

Bitter cold has even frozen the sea in Laizhou Bay on the coast of Shandong province in the east, stranding nearly 1,000 ships, the China Daily newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, the sun's output is still very very low...

A couple of links

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From Yahoo News: Whoops�'Cash for Clunkers' Actually Hurt the Environment From the Boston, Mass FOX affiliate: Mass. can't find thousands of missing welfare recipients From CNS News: Federal Food Stamp Program Spent Record $80.4B in FY 2012 Fraud in the welfare program? I am shocked!!!

Could have fooled me -- we are screwed

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From the London Daily Mail:
Workers making $30,000 will take a bigger hit on their pay than those earning $500,000 under new fiscal deal
Middle-class workers will take a bigger hit to their income proportionately than those earning between $200,000 and $500,000 under the new fiscal cliff deal, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Earners in the latter group will pay an average 1.3 percent more - or an additional $2,711 - in taxes this year, while workers making between $30,000 and $200,000 will see their paychecks shrink by as much as 1.7 percent - or up to $1,784 - the D.C.-based think tank reported.

Overall, nearly 80 percent of households will pay more money to the federal government as a result of the fiscal cliff deal.
Socking it to the rich. Yeah...
From The Weekly Standard:
Barney Begs to Be Senator Frank
Barney Frank admitted this morning on MSNBC that he has asked Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick to pick him to replace John Kerry in the Senate.

"I�ve told the governor I would now like, frankly, to" be the senator, said Frank.

Frank suggested he wants the seat so that he can fight for an increased debt ceiling in the Senate. He had previously said he had no interest in filling the position, but said the next few months will be "important."

The appointment would only be temporary. And he'd step down after a special election to replace Kerry, who has been nominated to be the next secretary of state. Frank says he won't run for the seat.

The special election to fill the Senate seat the old fashioned way will likely be held in several months.
For the idiot who crafted Dodd-Frank to get anywhere near a position of power would be a serious detriment to our Nation. Increasing the debt-ceiling? Excuse me?

Back home again

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It was the water heater. Took the old one out and will get a new one in a few days. Urrggghhhh....

Condo fun

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Readers will know that I have had some flooding problems with my Mom and Dad's old Condo in town. They are both gone but I am keeping the property until the market improves a bit. There are some people finishing off the repairs under the condo (replacing insulation) and they noticed some water dripping down. Heading into town today to check. Anybody wanna buy a nice condo in Bellingham? Cheap?

A couple of links

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From Carbon Finance: US gears up for carbon tax fight
A major battle will erupt in 2013 over whether the US should implement a national carbon tax, observers have warned.

US President Barack Obama and Republican House of Representatives leader John Boehner are at odds over how to resolve the so-called �fiscal cliff� situation, the automatic tax increases and spending cuts that will be triggered in January unless they come to an agreement to prevent them � putting focus on how to raise more cash.
From Stony Brook University: SBU Study Reveals Harmful Effects of CFL Bulbs to Skin
Our study revealed that the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation,� said Professor Rafailovich.
From Alaska Dispatch: Brrrrrrrr! Last year coldest in three decades for Anchorage
With a record snowfall this spring, an unusually chilly summer, rain and windstorms in the fall, and a subtropical cyclone just before the New Year, Anchorage residents knew something was up with the weather last year. On Thursday, the National Weather Service confirmed those suspicions, reporting that 2012 was the coldest in 30 years for Alaska's largest city --and one of the wettest ever.

Downright tropical

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Last night at this time it was quite cold. The sky was completely clear so there was a lot of radiation cooling. Now we have a good layer of cloud cover and ground temp is 21�F, air temp 24�F -- much better!

Something wicked this way comes

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There have been a number of outbreaks of Norovirus recently, in England, on a couple cruise ships and some in the Eastern USA. I do not look forward to it coming up to this neck of the woods but with everyone flying these days, it will happen. Carl Zimmer writes about them at National Geographic:
The Norovirus: A Study in Puked Perfection
Today, The Guardian relayed one of those stunning medical stories that causes me to clean off my glasses and take another look to make sure I�m reading it clearly. They report that an outbreak of norovirus in Britain this winter has struck more than 1.1 million people with vomiting and diarrhea.

That�s right: 1.1 million. In Britain alone.

What is this fearsome bug, you may be asking, and why isn�t it the subject of a Hollywood horror movie?

Noroviruses are one of virology�s great open secrets. In a recent issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Aron Hall of the Centers for Disease Control declared, �Noroviruses are perhaps the perfect human pathogen.�

Here�s what inspires awe in scientists like Hall.

Each norovirus carries just nine protein-coding genes (you have about 20,000). Even with that skimpy genetic toolkit, noroviruses can break the locks on our cells, slip in, and hack our own DNA to make new noroviruses. The details of this invasion are sketchy, alas, because scientists haven�t figured out a good way to rear noroviruses in human cells in their labs. It�s not even clear exactly which type of cell they invade once they reach the gut. Regardless of the type, they clearly know how to exploit their hosts. Noroviruses come roaring out of the infected cells in vast numbers. And then they come roaring out of the body. Within a day of infection, noroviruses have rewired our digestive system so that stuff comes flying out from both ends.
And they change every couple of months so if you get it once, you will be susceptible a few months later. Fun stuff...

Big science just got a bit stranger

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From Yahoo/LiveScience:
Atoms Reach Record Temperature, Colder than Absolute Zero
Absolute zero is often thought to be the coldest temperature possible. But now researchers show they can achieve even lower temperatures for a strange realm of "negative temperatures."

Oddly, another way to look at these negative temperatures is to consider them hotter than infinity, researchers added.

This unusual advance could lead to new engines that could technically be more than 100 percent efficient, and shed light on mysteries such as dark energy, the mysterious substance that is apparently pulling our universe apart.
This will lead to a Nobel and will open up a whole new section of industry. The researchers are going to be very very rich at some point in the future.

Another long day

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Tomorrow should be a lot calmer -- spent the day driving about 300 miles. Got a lot of stuff done but it was a long long day.

It is cold outside

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Just checked the weather station. Ground temp is 14�F and air temp is 21�F Got the kitchen sink tap running -- the pipes can freeze at these temps...
You know, the one who, on December 24th published:
Map: Where are the gun permits in your neighborhood?
The map indicates the addresses of all pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties. Each dot represents an individual permit holder licensed to own a handgun � a pistol or revolver. The data does not include owners of long guns � rifles or shotguns � which can be purchased without a permit. Being included in this map does not mean the individual at a specific location owns a weapon, just that they are licensed to do so.
From Reuters:
NY newspaper hires armed guards after publishing gun permit names
A suburban New York newspaper that ignited a furor by publishing the identities of thousands of residents who hold gun licenses has hired armed security to guard its staff after receiving an intimidating e-mail, a police report said.

Among a "large amount of negative correspondence" that White Plains, New York-based Journal News has received since publishing permit holders' names was one e-mail in which the sender "wondered what would get in her mail next," according to a Clarkstown, New York, police report obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
Heh -- actions have consequences...

Gun sales - up and up and up

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The number of background checks keeps rising -- Barry Obama - gun salesman of the year. From Reuters:
Gun checks soar 39 percent, set new record: FBI
The number of FBI background checks required for Americans buying guns set a record in December, indicating that more people may purchase one after the Connecticut school massacre stirred interest in self-defense and prompted renewed talk of limits on firearms, according to FBI data.

The FBI said it recorded 2.78 million background checks during the month, surpassing the mark set in November of 2.01 million checks - about a 39 percent rise.

The latest monthly figure was up 49 percent over December 2011, when the FBI performed a then-record 1.86 million checks.

Consumer demand for guns appears to have accounted for the uptick in activity. There were no changes in FBI background check procedures that would have affected the December numbers, FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said.

December is typically the busiest month of the year for checks, however, due in part to Christmas gift sales.

The figures do not represent the number of firearms sold, a statistic the government does not track. They also do not reflect activity between private parties, such as family members or collectors, because federal law requires background checks only for sales from commercial vendors with a federal license.
I have never felt safer...

Al Gore - hits bottom, keeps digging

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From the New York Times:
Al Jazeera Seeks a U.S. Voice Where Gore Failed
Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab news giant, has long tried to convince Americans that it is a legitimate news organization, not a parrot of Middle Eastern propaganda or something more sinister.

It just bought itself 40 million more chances to make its case.

Al Jazeera on Wednesday announced a deal to take over Current TV, the low-rated cable channel that was founded by Al Gore, a former vice president, and his business partners seven years ago. Al Jazeera plans to shut Current and start an English-language channel, which will be available in more than 40 million homes, with newscasts emanating from both New York and Doha, Qatar.

For Al Jazeera, which is financed by the government of Qatar, the acquisition is a coming of age moment. A decade ago, Al Jazeera�s flagship Arabic-language channel was reviled by American politicians for showing videotapes from Al Qaeda members and sympathizers. Now the news operation is buying an American channel, having convinced Mr. Gore and the other owners of Current that it has the journalistic muscle and the money to compete head-to-head with CNN and other news channels in the United States.

Al Jazeera did not disclose the purchase price, but people with direct knowledge of the deal pegged it at around $500 million, indicating a $100 million payout for Mr. Gore, who owned 20 percent of Current. Mr. Gore and his partners were eager to complete the deal by Dec. 31, lest it be subject to higher tax rates that took effect on Jan. 1, according to several people who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. But the deal was not signed until Wednesday.
Another failed "media channel" -- it will be for sale again within five years. If there was a real demand, the Arabs would already have their own channel...

Long day - back home again

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Ran a bunch of errands, had dinner on the road, stopped for a couple pints and now back home. Surf for a bit and then to bed.
From Euronews:
Smog hits Athens as cash-strapped residents choose fire over fuel
Bad news for austerity-stricken Greeks is also proving to be bad news for the environment � specifically the air quality in Athens.

Wood has soared in popularity, with many of the city�s residents using it to heat their houses, after an increase in duty has seen the price of heating oil double in two years.

The government says the price hike is to stop motorists putting it in their car, instead of more expensive diesel.
Heh... People are not stupid and if you deny them a preferred source of energy, they will fall back on more traditional sources. Actions have consequences and this is a perfect example of why government masterminds will always fail -- these are not smart people, they are just politically well-connected.

Heading into town today

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Dropping Demeter off at the vets for cremation and running some other errands in town. Minimal posting today.

Unfunded liabilities

With all the 'conversation' about fiscal cliffs, there is one giant turd in the punchbowl that is not being mentioned by either side. Both parties are complicit because nobody wants the real truth of where we are to be brought to light. It is bad, really really bad. Mort Zuckerman at US News and World Report sums it up best:
Mort Zuckerman: Brace For an Avalanche of Unfunded Debt
All eyes have been on the clear and present danger of the fiscal cliff�understandably�but there's a sound in the mountain range that's even scarier than the cliff. It's the sound made by an avalanche, the trillions of dollars of debt that's heading our way, gathering speed and mass. For most people, it's out of earshot now, and that's the way our government prefers to play it in its financial statements. Liabilities are not set out there in accordance with the well-established norms of the private sector, where this overhang of liabilities would set off alarm bells in the markets, with boards of directors in emergency sessions.
Mort sets up the story -- you should read the entire article. Show me the money:
The greatest fiscal challenge to the U.S. government is not just its annual deficit but its total liabilities. Our federal balance sheet does not include the unfunded social insurance obligations of Medicare, Social Security, and the future retirement benefits of federal employees. Only in the small print of the financial statements do you get some idea of the enormous size of the unfunded commitments. Today the estimated unfunded total is more than $87 trillion, or 550 percent of our GDP. And the debt per household is more than 10 times the median family income.

The public doesn't know about these awesome liabilities because the totals appear only in actuarial estimates. As Chris Cox, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Bill Archer, former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, recently noted in the Wall Street Journal, the real annual accrued expense of Medicare and Social Security alone is $7 trillion. The government's balance sheet does not include any of these unfunded obligations but focuses on the current year deficits and the accumulated national debt. Cox and Archer reported that the annual budget deficit is only about one fifth of the more accurate figure.
A bit more:
Let's remember that 100 percent of the payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare are spent in the year that they are collected, leaving no leftovers for the unfunded obligations. And this doesn't take into account other risks, hardly minimal, like the fact that the Federal Housing Authority confronts a $16.3 billion net deficit after its latest audit that may force a taxpayer bailout for the first time in its 78-year history. And just four years from now, in 2016, the Disability Insurance trust fund will be fully depleted.
A lot more at the site -- we do not have a revenue problem, we have a severe spending problem. This needs to be fixed or we are going the way of Greece, Spain, etc... Taxed Enough Already? TEA Party! A tip 'o the hat to CDR Salamander for the link.

Productive day today

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Got a couple loads of firewood in and filled the bin on the porch -- that will last a week with a fire every night. Also got a bunch of hay and mineral blocks out to the critters -- they are weathering the winter just fine. I have two stock tanks (water) near the house with heaters in them and our local farmers co-op is getting some really nice fresh hay so they are fat and happy. Bored stiff since the ground is covered with snow and ice but fat and happy. The straw on the barn floor is going to make incredible compost in 2014. Lulu candled my ears -- first time for me and it was an interesting experience. I have problems with lots of ear wax and the candles removed a lot of it -- I'll be trying this once every other week for a while and see what happens. Wasn't expecting all the sound effects -- popping and roaring. Felt really good. Fixed dinner -- marinated, grilled and sliced chicken breast with Kalamata olive pasta (from here) saut�ed with shallots, garlic, capers, green peas and diced marinated artichoke hearts. We both cleaned our plates. Been shopping for various firearm kibbles and bits and really sickened by the sudden increase in price and decline of availability. Simple parts like a magazine for one of my pistols is Out of Stock from several vendors. Ammo that was $90 last summer is now $170. Investing in precious metals indeed...

At the gun shop

An observation from Bob Owens:
Something funny happened on the way to tyranny
I dropped my car off this morning at my mechanic's, as the clutch appeared to be on its last legs. Being a beautiful morning in the mid-40s, I decided to walk home, and soak in some of the small-town downtown ambiance along the way. The sleepy antique stores were not seeing much business, and I nodded to the painting crew who was outlining the wooden window frames of the bakery in brilliant blue paint as I passed by.

Most of the downtown shops, in fact, weren't doing much business except the two gun stores. I'd been in one several days ago to pick a .22LR for an article I'd be writing for Shooting Illustrated, and decided to stop in at the other to see what the current political environment had left behind.

There were no less than six clerks working feverishly with the dozen or so customers, so I simply stepped to the side and walked the aisles. The cases of ammunition that typically lined the far wall were picked to pieces. There was a 100-round case of .50 BMG, and cases of European shotshells suitable for small game. The .223 Remington, 5.56 NATO, 7.62x39, 7.62 NATO, and 7.62x54R had sold out long ago, along with the bulk 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP.

A few pump shotguns remained along with a smattering of deer rifles, single-shots, and longer double-barreled shotguns suitable only for trap or skeet. Even the semi-automatic .22LR rifles like Ruger 10/22s were gone, along with all but one BX-25 magazine.

The customers in the shop were picking through what remained; lever-action rifles, oddball shotguns, and the smattering of name-brand centerfire pistols. One man was attempting to trade in an antique double-barrel shotgun for something more current.

I did speak to one harried clerk, briefly.

They didn't know when they'd be getting anything back in stock, from magazines to rifles to pistols. Manufacturers were running full-bore, but couldn't come close to keeping up with market demand. It wasn't just the AR-15s, the AK-pattern rifles, the M1As, and the FALs that were sold out. It really hit me when I realized that the World War-era M1 Garands , M1 carbines, and Enfield .303s were gone, along with every last shell. Ubiquitous Mosin-Nagants -- of which every gun store always seems to have 10-20 -- were gone. So was their ammo. Only a dust free space marked their passing. I've never seen anything like it.

Every weapon of military utility designed within the past 100+ years was gone. This isn't a society stocking up on certain guns because they fear they may be banned. This is a society preparing for war.
A tip of the hat to Firehand at Irons in the Fire for the link. Noticing the same thing in Bellingham. I went to my local gun dealership yesterday -- only ordered one rifle instead of the planned two. I got an Izhmash AK-47. The Izhmash factory is where Dr. Kalashnikov still works and has the best workmanship of the available manufacturers. I have a Saiga 12-gauge shotgun from the same factory and love it -- my 'lil Zombie Killah. Was also looking for something AR-15-ish but the available ones were too worn out and overpriced. I was also in Wally-World yesterday and for the hell of it, I checked their gun section. About 70% of their gun display was empty, very little ammo on the shelves and their 22WMR (our family has three guns that use this) was selling for almost $18/50 where last summer, I was buying the same brand (CCI) for under $10/50. Online prices are the same. Fun times ahead for sure...
How quickly things change -- from Thomas Lifson writing at American Thinker:
Progressive Feudalism
The changes wrought on the American political economy by progressives have taken us in the unmistakable direction of feudalism. The morphological resemblance between the progressive version of America and the historic feudal regimes of Western Europe and Japan is obvious if one takes a few moments to consider the changes in the proper context.

Legal Equality
Feudalism assigned people to different classes based on birth and assigned different privileges and obligations to the classes. The noble classes were considered a different order of humanity from the commoners, and the two groups led separate lifestyles. In addition to huge economic disparities, the two groups had very different rights. If one was of noble birth in Japan, for instance, he could carry a sword. For commoners, unlawful possession of a sword was a capital crime.

In progressive America, two groups today have a parallel distinction. Birth, and birth alone, determines whether one is a member of a designated victim class, entitled to preferences in college admissions, scholarships, and employment, factors which have a major formative influence on life prospects. Moreover, the ability to litigate as the victim of discrimination with the possibility of massive financial returns is enhanced. According to the testimony of two Department of Justice lawyers, membership in a designated victim class brings with it immunity from prosecution under Civil Rights statutes.

Personal Autonomy
Under feudalism, the ruling class had few limits on its power and regarded the commoner classes as under their tutelage, hopelessly incompetent to make important decisions on their own. Many spheres of life were devoid of personal autonomy. What one wore and where one worked was closely regulated, and in feudal England or France, one could discern whether a person was a peasant, a blacksmith, a merchant, or a noble instantaneously, merely by dress.

In contrast, the bourgeois revolution, which overthrew the European feudal order, gave birth to the radical Enlightenment notion that each person should be the master of his or her own destiny, fit to make the important decisions in life autonomously. What one wore or ate was up to the individual.

In progressive America, personal decisions such as what to eat are now regarded as the proper concern of our government masters. Foie gras was forbidden by the city of Chicago for two years, and if you want to have your restaurant food cooked in trans fats like butter, you ought to know that New York City has a say in the matter.

Common to the feudal and progressive regimes is a deep and abiding disdain for the classes needing regulation and guidance. It is not so much that they hate or despise the lesser beings over which they rule, as it is a sense of obligation to make the right decisions for them.
Some excellent thoughts and a lot more at the site. Read the whole thing -- that this was written back in 2010 makes Lifson's words all the more chilling as events have followed the path he outlines. Indeed, back in 2004, Dr. Lifson proposed changing the name of the Progressives to the Regressives.

Nationalized health care in England

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60,000 dead each year -- from the London Daily Mail:
60,000 patients put on death pathway without being told but minister still says controversial end-of-life plan is 'fantastic'
Up to 60,000 patients die on the Liverpool Care Pathway each year without giving their consent, shocking figures revealed yesterday.

A third of families are also kept in the dark when doctors withdraw lifesaving treatment from loved ones.

Despite the revelations, Jeremy Hunt last night claimed the pathway was a �fantastic step forward�.

In comments that appeared to prejudge an official inquiry into the LCP, the Health Secretary said �one or two� mistakes should not be allowed to discredit the entire end-of-life system.

But Elspeth Chowdharay-Best of Alert, an anti-euthanasia group, said: �The Pathway is designed to finish people off double quick. It is a lethal pathway.
The pathway involves withdrawal of lifesaving treatment, with the sick sedated and usually denied nutrition and fluids. Death typically takes place within 29 hours.

The 60,000 figure comes from a joint study by the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute in Liverpool and the Royal College of Physicians.

It found many patients were not consulted despite being conscious when doctors decided on their care.

Records from 178 hospitals also show that thousands of people on the pathway are left to die in pain because nurses do not do enough to keep them comfortable while drugs are administered.

An estimated 130,000 patients are put on the pathway each year.
Emphasis mine -- coming soon to an Obamacare(tm) slaughterhouse Medical Facility near you. Hello, we are from the Government and we are here to help you...

Happy happy joy joy - the Fiscal Cliff

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From Paul L. Caron writing at TaxProf Blog:
CBO on Fiscal Cliff Deal: $1 in Spending Cuts ($15 Billion) for Every $41 in Tax Increases ($620 Billion)
The Senate early this morning passed H.R. 8 by a vote of 89-8 to avert the fiscal cliff. Highlights of the bill include:
�Raise the marginal tax rate to 39.6% on income over $450,000 (joint) and $400,000 (single).
�Raise the tax rate on dividends and long term capital gains to 20% on taxpayers with income over $450,000 (joint) and $400,000 (single). The top rate would remain 15% for taxpayers with lower incomes.
�Estate and gift tax: $5 million exemption (inflation-adjusted) and 40% rate.
�Permanent and retroactive patch for the AMT.
�Return of the exemption and itemized deduction phase-outs on taxpayers with income over $300,000 (joint) and $250,000 (single).
�One-year extension of 50% bonus depreciation.
�Extension of various tax extenders.
The Joint Committee on Taxation's revenue estimate scores the bill as a $3.9 billion tax cut compared to existing (January 1, 2013) law.

The White House has released this fact sheet and statement from President Obama.
Of course it was a tax cut -- H.R. 8 was voted in after midnight so that the Bush tax rates had expired and we were using the Clinton tax rates. And all this increased revenue will run the government for about two weeks...

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