October 31, 2011

Fun times ahead

Thanks to morons like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd — from CNN/Money:

Home prices heading for triple-dip
The besieged housing market has even further to fall before home prices really hit rock bottom.

According to Fiserv, a financial analytics company, home values are expected to fall another 3.6% by next June, pushing them to a new low of 35% below the peak reached in early 2006 and marking a triple dip in prices.

The article cites increased foreclosures and sustained high unemployment.
2012 cannot come too soon — socialism does not work and it's time to dump the socialists out of office.

Posted by DaveH at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)

Being judged by the company you keep

An interesting list from Breitbart's Big Government:

The 99%: The Official List of #OccupyWallStreet’s Supporters, Sponsors and Sympathizers
Note: All entries on this list are real and verified. Below each entry you will find a series of source links documenting the support for OWS. We have striven in almost all cases to reference either first-hand statements by the groups or individuals themselves, hosted on their own Web sites; or videos of the people in question voicing their support for OWSat various Occupations; or news reports from reliable mainstream networks; or articles by publications or organizations sympathetic to the Occupy movement; or indisputable evidence, whatever the source. As a result, it cannot be claimed that these statements of support were made up or distorted by detractors of the Occupy movement.

A few examples from the list:

Communist Party USA
American Nazi Party
Ayatollah Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran
Barack Obama
Joe Biden
Hugo Chavez
Black Panthers
Industrial Workers of the World
Nancy Pelosi
Marxist Student Union

Each of these have several links to corroborating sources and this is only about 30% of the entire list.

Posted by DaveH at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2011

About that lock-box?

The funds paid into Social Security were supposed to be kept separate from the General Fund but that proved to be too tempting a cookie-jar to the cash strapped socialists in the Capitol.

Well now, what with spiraling government spending, the obvious outcome has happened.
From The Washington Post:

The debt fallout: How Social Security went ‘cash negative’ earlier than expected
Last year, as a debate over the runaway national debt gathered steam in Washington, Social Security passed a treacherous milestone. It went “cash negative.”

For most of its 75-year history, the program had paid its own way through a dedicated stream of payroll taxes, even generating huge surpluses for the past two decades. But in 2010, under the strain of a recession that caused tax revenue to plummet, the cost of benefits outstripped tax collections for the first time since the early 1980s.

Now, Social Security is sucking money out of the Treasury. This year, it will add a projected $46 billion to the nation’s budget problems, according to projections by system trustees. Replacing cash lost to a one-year payroll tax holiday will require an additional $105 billion. If the payroll tax break is expanded next year, as President Obama has proposed, Social Security will need an extra $267 billion to pay promised benefits.

But while talk about fixing the nation’s finances has grown more urgent, fixing Social Security has largely vanished from the conversation.

I turn 61 in a few days and will probably see most of the money I paid into the system but kids in their 20's and 30's will have a much different retirement scenario.

The current regime is trying to keep the bubble afloat for as long as possible without giving any thought to the debts that will be paid off by future generations.

Posted by DaveH at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)

Just buy them an 8088 with an 8087 math co-processor

There is an engineering term called “scope creep” — when your idea gets bigger and fancier until it is impossible to complete.

We are seeing this with climate models — there is enough chaotic action in our atmosphere that a given model will yield wildly different results each time it is run. What a lot of the 'warmists' do is cherry pick their data and then cherry pick their results. They get more grant money that way.

The British Royal Meteorological Society's director has a begging bowl in his hand — from the Beeb:

Lack of computing power 'hindering weather forecasting'
Prof Paul Hardaker, head of the Royal Meteorological Society, was speaking to the Commons science committee.

He said more supercomputers were needed to carry out complex calculations, but finding the money was “an issue”.

However, the potential economic benefits of more accurate forecasts were “enormous”, the MPs heard.

The science and technology committee is carrying out an inquiry into the use of science by the Met Office and the effectiveness of the body as a whole.

Emphasis mine — given the stunningly poor predictions they have been giving in the last ten years, it's amazing that they have any funding given them at all. If they were working in the real world, they would have gone bankrupt years ago — meanwhile, private for-profit businesses like WeatherBell are thriving.

More:

But Prof Hill, Prof Hardaker and a third witness - Prof Alan Thorpe, the director general of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts - all agreed a lack of supercomputers was a major problem.

“I recognise there's an affordability issue and we have to make priorities, but it is a significant limitation in our capability at the moment,” Prof Hardaker said.

As Steve Martin used to say: Well, excuuuuuuuuse Me!

Looking at the Top 500 list of worldwide supercomputers, the United Kingdom Meteorological Office has two supercomputers rated at #'s 279 and 280 in the list of the worlds most powerful. That is not shabby. The Top 100 systems are either classified, computer manufacturer research systems, nuclear, geophysics (oil) or university systems — the idea that a simple Met office would need its own system of that magnitude is fucking hubris on their part.

Brings to mind the proverb: a bad workman always blames his tools

Posted by DaveH at 04:03 PM | Comments (0)

The irony - it burns

Today, Sunday October 30th, there is scheduled a Climate Justice Day event at the Occupy Wall Street favela in New York City

ows_climate_justice_day

And this is what greeted them (from the National Weather Service climate advisory page):

SXUS71 KOKX 300633 RER

NYC RECORD EVENT REPORT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW YORK NY
0221 AM EDT SUN OCT 30 2011

…RECORD DAILY MAXIMUM SNOWFALL SET AT CENTRAL PARK NY…

A RECORD SNOWFALL OF 2.9 INCHES WAS SET AT CENTRAL PARK NY
YESTERDAY…OCTOBER 29.

THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF TRACE SET IN 2002.

…RECORD OCTOBER SNOWFALL AMOUNT SET FOR CENTRAL PARK NY…

CENTRAL PARK RECORDED 2.9 INCHES OF SNOWFALL ON OCTOBER 29 2011
SINCE SNOWFALL RECORDS BEGAN IN 1869…AN INCH OF SNOWFALL HAS
NEVER BEEN RECORDED IN THE MONTH OF OCTOBER.

THE LAST TWO TIMES THAT MEASURABLE SNOW FELL IN THE MONTH
OF OCTOBER WAS…OCTOBER 21 1952 WITH 0.5 INCHES AND OCTOBER 30 1925
WITH 0.8 INCHES.

THEREFORE…THIS BREAKS THE DAILY RECORD FOR SNOWFALL IN OCTOBER
AND THE MOST SNOWFALL EVER RECORDED IN THE MONTH OF OCTOBER.

Makes you wonder if Al Gore is in NYC today?
Tip 'o the hat to Anthony Watts

Posted by DaveH at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)

A wild ride - Energy Catalyzer

The jury is still out but evidence seems to point to a viable new energy source using Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR otherwise known as Cold Fusion).

Italian scientist Dr. Andrea Rossi has been leading the pack with a simple device that takes in electrical energy for a while, starts and then appears to run at a steady state outputting large amounts of heat and neutrons.

Dr. Rossi maintains a webpage called Journal of Nuclear Physics

Makes for some very interesting reading — currently wading through Introduction to quantum ring theory by Wladimir Guglinski.

Some people are calling hoax but Rossi is not out-and-out panhandling for money. His demonstrations are very open (except for the makeup of his secret catalyst). Interesting times…

Posted by DaveH at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

Herman Cain - not exactly what he said

Cute idea — overdubbing Herman Cain with surreal nonsense:

Swiped from Gerard (who is on the mend Thank God) at American Digest

Posted by DaveH at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

Cold and wet

Got a fire going and curled up finishing off my morning coffee and breakfast.
Grace had a couple of 'accidents' last night but she is starting to signal reliably when she needs to go out — smart puppy. She is curled up a few feet from me snoring and making the cutest little gruntling sounds.

Pouring down rain — glad I got the fence fixed yesterday as more rain is in the forecast and we are staring down the barrel of this:

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
526 AM PDT SUN OCT 30 2011

WAZ513-518-519-310030-
OLYMPICS-WEST SLOPES NORTHERN CASCADES AND PASSES-
WEST SLOPES CENTRAL CASCADES AND PASSES-
526 AM PDT SUN OCT 30 2011

…THE FIRST SIGNIFICANT SNOWFALL OF THE SEASON IS EXPECTED ABOUT
MIDWEEK…

THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF COLD PACIFIC STORMS HAS THE POTENTIAL TO
PRODUCE SIGNIFICANT SNOWFALL IN THE MOUNTAINS LATE WEDNESDAY INTO
THURSDAY. THE SNOW LEVEL IS ANTICIPATED TO PLUMMET TO NEAR 2500
FEET…OR BELOW CASCADE PASS LEVEL…BY EARLY THURSDAY. AT THIS
TIME…IT WAS STILL TOO EARLY TO KNOW EXACTLY HOW MUCH SNOW WILL
FALL.

IF YOU ARE PLANNING ANY OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES OR TRAVEL IN THE
MOUNTAINS THIS WEDNESDAY…PLEASE STAY TUNED TO THE LATEST
FORECASTS FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE.

A lot of the familiar faces are showing up for this year's ski season and the longrange forecasts are looking good for cold and lots of snow.

Time to toss another log on the fire and get back to working on a computer — upgraded it to Win7 and now reloading a lot of the music applications. Was working on it two weeks ago but got sidetracked.

Posted by DaveH at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2011

Nothing much to report

Been fixing some fencing and will be looking at a drop in water pressure — stuff to get done before winter sets in.

Grace, the new puppy, is adorable. Amazingly calm demeanor. She had her first checkup today at the vets and got a clean bill of health albeit with a slight overbite. She and Augie (Lulu's 1-year old Golden Retriever/Standard Poodle cross) are playing hard with Grace giving as good as she gets. Finnegan is OK with both dogs but a bit put out — he is used to being top dog and will need to adjust.

Procrastinating doing the fencing repair — nothing much but needs me to go out and play in the mud for two hours. Thawing out a tri-tip steak for tonight so dinner will be good.

Posted by DaveH at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2011

Eight years ago today

I posted this:

Hello world!
says it all…
Posted by DaveH at October 27, 2003 01:14 PM

13,142 posts and 1,556 comments later, it is still a lot of fun.
A compendium of things I find interesting and a life journal rolled into one…

Posted by DaveH at 02:43 PM | Comments (1)

October 26, 2011

Long day today

Got up at 6AM so that we could drive out to this breeder: Strauss Haus Shepherds and pick out an early birthday present. I don't know how long the info will be on the webpage but Grace is the first pup listed — Orange collar girl.

Lulu is staying at her house tonight (she was really tired with the driving and has night-blindness so doesn't drive in the dark) so she is hosting my other dog and her pup. This will give Grace a leg-up on getting to know the house and me getting to know her schedule for needing to go out.

This particular breed is the result of a forty-year breeding program to restore the German Shepherd Dog back to its original roots. The breed founder (Tina) is a geneticist by training and oversees each of the breedings by the 16 kennels that she licensed.

The result is an incredible dog — smart and zero bone, cardio or hip problems. Grace is sitting quietly in back of my chair munching on a bone she picked up from the other dogs toy pile. She didn't start gnawing on the first thing she found, she found a dog toy and chose that. This is from a four month old puppy that was pulled from its home and siblings and is spending the first night in a strange house.

I have enjoysed the companionship of some wonderful pound puppies and Finnegan, my last, is an incredible dog but he is showing his age and I had always wanted a Shiloh and the time was right.

Photos in the next couple of days…

Posted by DaveH at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2011

Caught out in a lie

An interesting observation by Clarice Feldman at The PJ Tatler:

Is This the Stupidest Lie Ever Told by an Adult?
The report that triggered this characterization by bgates is this one in something called Shine:

Every night before he goes to sleep, the president of the United States reads 10 letters from the pile of 20,000 sent to him by Americans every day. Sometimes, he writes back. He’s even, on occasion, included a check.

“It’s not something I should advertise, but it has happened,” President Barack Obama told reporter Eli Saslow,

bgates, that cynic isn’t buying it:
A check. Not cash. Something with a signature. And then the people who were so desperate for help that they wrote the White House to beg for money, whose financial problems were solved through the personal intervention of the President of the United States – they quietly cashed the checks and went on with their business. Or, maybe they tried to get the story on the local news but the hard-hearted reporter types didn’t see an angle. “What, President saves family farm from bankruptcy? There’s no story there!” Until finally, after years and who knows how many instances of this selflessness, we finally hear about it from none other than Captain Reticent himself.
This is quite possibly the stupidest lie I have ever heard from an adult person.

Should we offer to feature an interview by the the first Obama pen pal recipient to come forward with one of those checks?

Indeed — even if he only did this every other day, that is still several thousand unsolicited letters from the President out to the general public and one of these people should have come forward.

A check would outright guarantee a news story.

Putz…

Posted by DaveH at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

Here we go again

From Business Insider:

Monster Prediction From BofA: Another US Debt Downgrade Is Coming In Just A Few Weeks
In an analyst note, Bofa/ML Ethan S. Harris drops a bit of a bombshell prediction:
We expect a moderate slowdown in the beginning of next year, as two small policy shocks—another debt downgrade and fiscal tightening—hit the economy. The “not-so-super” Deficit Commission is very unlikely to come up with a credible deficit-reduction plan. The committee is more divided than the overall Congress. Since the fall-back plan is sharp cuts in discretionary spending, the whole point of the Committee is to put taxes and entitlements on the table. However, all the Republican members have signed the Norquist “no taxes” pledge and with taxes off the table it is hard to imagine the liberal Democrats on the Committee agreeing to significant entitlement cuts. The credit rating agencies have strongly suggested that further rating cuts are likely if Congress does not come up with a credible long-run plan. Hence, we expect at least one credit downgrade in late November or early December when the super Committee crashes.
This is quite a stunning prediction, mainly because nobody is talking about this. And though the experts were 100% wrong in thinking that a downgrade would increase borrowing costs, it did cause a major market jolt when it happened, leading to a major blow to confidence in August and September.

Another round of that would certainly not be helpful.

Obama's minions could not be crashing the economy more effectively if they tried. People's retirement accounts are going to get hammered; meanwhile the Obama regime funnels money to the Unions and the Unions in turn, funnel part of that back to PACs and contributions.

Posted by DaveH at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

Crap - Mag 7.2 quake in Turkey

USGS website has it at 7.2 Magnitude

Story from Reuters:

Strong earthquake hits Turkey, up to 1,000 feared killed
As many as 1,000 people were feared killed on Sunday when a powerful earthquake hit southeast Turkey, destroying dozens of buildings and trapping some victims alive under rubble.

As night fell, survivors and emergency workers battled to pull people out of the debris in the city of Van and town of Ercis, where a student dormitory collapsed.

Residents in Van joined in a frantic search, using hands and shovels and working under floodlights and flashlights, hearing voices of survivors crying for help under mounds of shattered concrete in pitch darkness and bitter cold.

“We heard cries and groaning from underneath the debris, we are waiting for the rescue teams to arrive,” Halil Celik told Reuters as he stood beside the ruins of building that had collapsed before his eyes.

Sending prayers out to these people.

Posted by DaveH at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2011

Very cool news - Medicine

From Neuroscience News:

Major ALS Breakthrough – Common Cause of All Forms of ALS Discovered
The underlying disease process of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS and Lou Gehrig’s disease), a fatal neurodegenerative disease that paralyzes its victims, has long eluded scientists and prevented development of effective therapies. Scientists weren’t even sure all its forms actually converged into a common disease process.

But a new Northwestern Medicine study for the first time has identified a common cause of all forms of ALS.

The basis of the disorder is a broken down protein recycling system in the neurons of the spinal cord and the brain. Optimal functioning of the neurons relies on efficient recycling of the protein building blocks in the cells. In ALS, that recycling system is broken. The cell can’t repair or maintain itself and becomes severely damaged.

The discovery by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine researchers, published in the journal Nature, provides a common target for drug therapy and shows that all types of ALS are, indeed, tributaries, pouring into a common river of cellular incompetence.

Very cool — a friend of the family had this and died about 40 years ago. Not a good way to go. Stephen Hawking suffers from it — about 350,000 people worldwide with 50% dying in their first three years after diagnosis. Not a cure but a good place to start.

Posted by DaveH at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

Potential trouble - the El Hierro Volcano

Not being reported much in the mainstream media but…
From the London Daily Mail:

Evacuation of smallest Canary Island begins after earthquake 'swarm' sparks fears of volcanic eruption
A holiday island popular with Britons is preparing for a mass evacuation because of a possible volcanic eruption.

Experts have recorded 150 tremors on El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, since yesterday - raising fears of an imminent eruption.

Last night 53 people were ordered out of their homes over fears of landslides and the army has been called in to prepare for a possible evacuation.

The concern:

Some 50,000 years ago, massive landslides triggered by earthquakes caused a large part of the island to crack off and fall into the Atlantic Ocean, according to Irish Weather Online.

That created the El Golfo valley on the island and caused an 300ft-high tsunami that probably reached the American coast.

This feeds into the belief that volcanic activity on La Palma - the most tectonically active of the Canary Islands - could trigger a mega-tsunami.

The theory - which has never been confirmed - claims that a possible fault line through the island would cause a major landslide under certain circumstances.

That landslide would then spark a tsunami that would cause extensive damage all down the Atlantic Coast of the U.S., the Caribbean, Western Europe, West Africa and the east coast of South America.

Up to the minute reporting from Earthquake Report — Part five

Every indication is that the eruption will form new land and be a quiet island building similar to Iceland's Surtsey.

Posted by DaveH at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2011

Quote of the day

Great quote from C.S. Lewis:

“… we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected) he often feels that it would not be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come along - illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation - he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us.”
—C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Hat tip to Maggie's Farm

Posted by DaveH at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2011

Al Gore and Bill Nye (Science Guy) busted for falsifying results for film

Very fun doings from Anthony Watts — impossible to excerpt so just visit the link and spend the 20 minutes to read and watch.

Here is the first paragraph:

Replicating Al Gore’s Climate 101 video experiment shows that his “high school physics” could never work as advertised
Readers may recall my previous essay where I pointed out how Mr. Gore’s Climate 101 Video, used in his “24 hours of climate reality”, had some serious credibility issues with editing things to make it appear as if they had actually performed the experiment, when they clearly did not. It has taken me awhile to replicate the experiment. Delays were a combination of acquisition and shipping problems, combined with my availability since I had to do this on nights and weekends. I worked initially using the original techniques and equipment, and I’ve replicated the Climate 101 experiment in other ways using improved equipment. I’ve compiled several videos. My report follows.

Anthony provides the original video from Al Gore and narrated by the Science Guy Bill Nye and then proceeds to duplicate the experiment down to the exact components and then to dismantle it piece by piece.

He also shows the image of the two thermometers (one in a standard atmosphere and one in a CO2 enhanced atmosphere) showing a few degrees difference. He then shows the two images as run through the Photoshop difference tool which highlights the difference between two images — the only difference here is where the temperature difference was changed. All other aspects of the two thermometers are identical — lighting, reflection on the glass, differences between the two scales and position in the photo frame. Impossible.

Fun stuff — of course, the explanation from Gore and Nye are forthcoming.
Be sure to read the almost 300 comments.

Posted by DaveH at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2011

Long day

Had a Chamber of Commerce meeting to attend tonight.

Of the 57 50 States of the Union, Washington is the only State to have closed its tourism bureau — a loss of about 50 jobs and a tremendous blow to those businesses that depend on people coming to visit and for those businesses seeking to attract other businesses to our natural beauty (film and video).

There is a grass-roots group trying to fill the void but there are also a lot of questions about who to support and how much — interesting things to talk about for such a small town.

Feeling a bit under the weather so checking email, checking the progress of the music computer's upgrade and then off to an early bedtime.

Posted by DaveH at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

What goes around

Offline for one day and I come home to a bunch of comment spam.

This was all promoting various prescription drugs available through links on other people's websites.

Haven't seen spam that stupid in several years — got 18 new IP addresses to ban.

Some moron in his Mom's basement just got a Comcast account…

Posted by DaveH at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2011

Oh teh irony - giving them what they want

Occupy Detroit — the Schadenfreude is dripping
From Henry Payne at National Review:

Occupy Detroit: Why Here?
Detroit would seem an odd place for the Occupy movement. After, all, it has already received everything the 99 Percenters are demanding.

Want redistribution of wealth? For 40-odd years, Detroit has gotten tens of billions of dollars in welfare assistance, from the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson’s administration to Barack Obama’s Strong Cities Initiative.

Want good-paying jobs? Michigan is the notorious home of the Big Three automakers, who paid their workers a best-in-the-U.S. wage of $40 an hour — far above the average U.S. manufacturing wage of $15 an hour, resulting in blue-collar workers who often earned six-figure incomes.

Want socialized medicine? Canada is right across the river from Detroit, offering a single-payer, government-run health system.

And yet on Friday, some 500 demonstrators from across Michigan descended on downtown Detroit to protest conditions here. They gathered at the Spirit of Detroit statue at the base of Woodward Avenue. They marched up Detroit’s main street past the gleaming new corporate headquarters of Quicken Loans and Compuware, past a sea of empty storefronts, past the corporate-sponsored sports complexes, to their destination: Grand Circus Park. They held signs reading “Make capitalism extinct” and “The People are too big to fail” and “Eat the rich” while chanting “Good jobs now!” and “Tax the rich!” and “F— the GOP!”

Unwittingly, however, they were protesting a Democratic-run city that represents the failure of their agenda.

The distribution of wealth? In addition to massive federal welfare payments, Detroit also levies the state’s highest property tax as well as its own income tax. Yet that hasn’t helped the poor. In fact, it has done the opposite — creating a fatherless city that leads the nation in crime, sports a nearly 50 percent adult illiteracy rate, and graduates just 24 percent of its students from high school.

The good-paying jobs? The gravity-defying wages of the UAW crippled GM and Chrysler, forcing them into the very federal bailouts that the Occupy movement decries — $60 billion in federal loans that they, unlike Wall Street banks, have yet to fully pay back.

And the socialized medicine? The waiting lists created by Canada’s single-payer system drive thousands of Canadians across the border to Michigan hospitals every year to get the treatment they are denied at home. There is little traffic the other way. Were it not for the safety valve of America’s superior, more market-oriented system, many more Canadians would, literally, die.

For the next 60 days, Occupy Detroiters will squat in Grand Circus Park. They are in the wrong place. They should be protesting a president in Washington, D.C., who wants to expand the polices that have destroyed Detroit to the rest of the country.

Such a gorgeous little gem of writing that I could not help but swipe it in full.
These people are truly clueless. In any other country, they would be rounded up and 're-educated'. Only in the USA do they have the freedom to spew such drivel — and to retain their freedom after their spew…

Posted by DaveH at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)

Unintended consequences - hedge funds and farming

Now this will be nasty when the bubble bursts — from Crain's Business Magazine:

As hedge fund buys the farms, prices rise — but what happens come the downturn?
When Roger Betz is not helping other farmers in his job as a Michigan State University Extension farm management educator for Southwest Michigan, he tends a few acres of his own in Eaton County near Lansing. Every year, he buys just a little more land, getting ready for when he retires from his day job and spends all his time doing what he loves.

But Betz sees a threat on the horizon to small farmers such as himself: competition from hedge-fund-owned farms that could drive him out of business. Land speculation tends to increase the price of not only the land but also the food it produces.

And when that upward trend reverses itself, Betz fears, deep-pocketed investors can better weather the storm than can small, family-owned Michigan farmers.

According to the annual Michigan Land Value survey conducted in the spring of 2010 by the department of agricultural, food, and resource economics at Michigan State University, farmland values increased 1.4 percent from spring 2009. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago puts the increase at about 10 percent from Oct.1, 2009 to Oct.1, 2010.

Both sources expect the 2011 numbers to reflect further increases.

Nice little boom market there — first some backstory:

Perry Vieth, president of Granger, Ind.-based Ceres Partners, is one of the investors feared by Betz and many of the farmers Betz meets every day. Ceres owns 63 farms in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. About a dozen are in the Great Lakes State, primarily in the southwest Michigan counties of St. Joseph, Cass and Van Buren.

And the concern:

So, fueled by friends, family and a few high-net-worth individuals, Ceres Partners has spent the past five years going on a farmland shopping spree. Right now, Vieth said, Ceres has about $70 million in assets and has a pipeline of an additional $50 million worth of farmland that the investment firm looks to acquire.

Most of the time, Vieth said, Ceres buys land that is already being farmed, but also occasionally from estates or trusts — land that otherwise would sit unused. Ceres buys the land and leases it to the farmer, who continues to work the land. Only now they can do it more efficiently if they don’t own all that real estate.

Vieth compares it to when IBM Corp. sold off a lot of its real estate about a dozen years ago, allowing the technology company to concentrate all its capital on its core business.

“They can get a higher return on their equity by using the capital they do have in production and equipment,” Vieth said. Rather than spend $2 million to buy the land, the farmer can buy $2 million worth of seed or fertilizer.

cough—bullshit—cough That $2M is amortized out over 15-30 years while the $2M of seed is an absurd number. Nowhere is the farmers rent talked about. What are the real numbers if Ceres is making such a good profit for their investors. Some more:

The way that farmer Betz sees it, though, that’s part of the problem. He admits that land is a good, solid long-term investment. Land in general does not suffer from the same kinds of ups and downs that other investments have seen.

But that is not true of food prices — which, while on an upward trend, also tend to be more volatile. Michigan farmers fear that speculation fuels even more volatility in food prices.

Right now, prices are rising and investors speculatively buy more shares, which raises food prices even more. But Betz is convinced that what comes up, must come down. Farmers with long memories recall the early ’80s, when rising land values suddenly crashed, leaving many farmers in the red. Michigan’s farm economy did not recover until 1987.

Conditions are different now, with high commodity prices keeping pace with high land values. If a sudden dip recurs, deep-pocketed investors can weather the downturn. But it would ruin small-farm owners, who have about 70 percent of their savings wrapped up in their land and capital costs.

And that especially would be bad news for farmers in Michigan, a state dominated by small farms owned by private individuals.

And at the end of the day, the small farmer and the food consumer will be the worst hurt by the speculative “investments”. Say hello to higher food prices…

Posted by DaveH at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)

Nothing much today either

Still waiting to hear back from the family friend — I have a local Chamber of Commerce meeting Monday evening so will be attending that. Maybe Tuesday if things work out.

Yesterday's Craft Fair was a lot of fun — a couple of metalworkers exhibited so got some ideas for things to make in my forge. Not copying, just seeing what sells and making similar designs and pricing. Got a very cool old slide rule for calculating series and parallel resistance and capacitance — electronics geek stuff…

Working on setting up the music stuff in a room in the house; moving it out of the DaveCave™. Doing the main computer today. I will be upgrading it to Win7 and will be stripping out all of the unnecessary cruft — this machine will be used for nothing but music recording and production and will not have a connection to the Internet. Install Win7, getting the latest service pack and then running RT Se7en Lite to get it down to the bare bones. Install the MIDI and A/D/A drivers and other software and that will be that for the next couple of years.

There was a very fun Pizza Party at the Cob Oven yesterday — about 30 people showed up and good food (and cheap beer) was had by all.

Heading out to the DaveCave™ after finishing a sandwich.

Posted by DaveH at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2011

Lazy days at the farm

Spent yesterday running errands in town and dropped the dogs off to get groomed.
Thirty pounds of fur later, there emerged two gorgeous critters whose first destination on returning home was a large mud puddle.

A family friend is visiting Seattle so we may be making plans to visit with him Monday or Tuesday.

Spending today at this event: Lynden Craft and Antique Show and then home to make some candle-holders at the forge and put up a section of fencing.

Posted by DaveH at 09:03 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2011

Slow day

Working on some computer stuff, worked outside cleaning up some of the beds and starting to tackle the garage while I am waiting for some software to download.

Not much time to read the internet today.

Posted by DaveH at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2011

Heh - it begins

From FOX News:

Issa Issues Subpoena to Holder in Fast and Furious Investigation
Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a subpoena Wednesday to Attorney General Eric Holder as part of his investigation into the gun trafficking operation known as “Fast and Furious.”

“Top Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Holder, know more about Operation Fast and Furious than they have publicly acknowledged,” the California Republican said in a statement. “The documents this subpoena demands will provide answers to questions that Justice officials have tried to avoid since this investigation began eight months ago. It's time we know the whole truth.”

The subpoena seeks, among other things, all communications regarding the operation from 16 top Justice officials, including Holder, his chief of staff, Gary Grindler, and the head of the department's criminal division, Lanny Breuer, as well as correspondence on specific dates to and from the former head of the ATF's Phoenix field division, William Newell.

I give Holder about six months max before he resigns over family issues or some such weasel-words. The guy was incompetent and should have never held the post.

Posted by DaveH at 01:21 PM | Comments (0)

Nice work if you can get it - Chicago Union pensions

From MS/NBC:

'Insane' even by Illinois standards? Union official to get $500,000 in pensions
A labor leader in Chicago is expected to receive pension payments of nearly $500,000 a year, while another could get about $438,000 a year, according to reports Wednesday.

The Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV, which obtained information about union pension benefits during a joint investigation, said at least eight union officials in Chicago were eligible for what were described as inflated city pensions on top of union pensions for the same period of employment.

A bit more:

Chicago and Illinois are facing financial trouble, in part due to pension shortfalls.
Posted by DaveH at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)

Here is how you do it - Harrisburgh, PA

From Bloomberg's Businessweek:

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Files for Bankruptcy, Lawyer Says
The city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, facing a state takeover of its finances, filed for bankruptcy protection following a vote by City Council, according to a lawyer for the council.

Mark D. Schwartz, a Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania-based lawyer and former head of municipal bonds for Prudential Financial Inc.’s mid-Atlantic region, said he filed the documents by fax to a federal bankruptcy court last night. The filing couldn’t be confirmed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Harrisburg.

The state capital of 49,500 faces a debt burden five times its general-fund budget because of an overhaul and expansion of a trash-to-energy incinerator that doesn’t generate enough revenue.

“This was a last resort,” Schwartz said in an interview after the council voted 4-3 to seek bankruptcy protection. “They’re at their wits end.”

While bankruptcy would mean the loss of state aid under a law passed in June, it’s preferable to a proposed recovery plan, said Councilwoman Susan Brown-Wilson.

“We’re not incompetent,” Brown-Wilson said. “We’re just not going to let you run us over with the train anymore,” she said, referring to state officials.

A bit more:

The bill would let Republican Governor Tom Corbett declare a fiscal emergency in Harrisburg and name a receiver who would develop a recovery plan. The manager would be able to sell assets, hire advisers and suspend the authority of elected officials who interfere. Unlike in Michigan, the receiver wouldn’t be able to change union contracts.

Pity about not being able to renegotiate union contracts as I bet that the pensions and benefits constitute a lot of the city's problems.

Not mentioned in the Businessweek article is that Harrisburgh's waste-to-energy facility is a biggie and is a money sink.
From Power Magazine, December 1, 2009:

Harrisburg Resource Recovery Facility, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
After decades of struggling with serious air contamination issues and large financial losses, this Pennsylvania waste-to-energy facility, which was built in 1972, was in need of an extreme makeover. In the wake of an unsuccessful $84 million retrofit attempt in 2005, the faltering facility’s last hope lay with a Covanta project team that took over its operation in 2007. After almost two years of hard work, the facility is now producing up to 17 MW while achieving its environmental compliance goals and earning substantial revenues.

Anc Covanta's take on this? From Waste360, Jun. 7, 2007:

Covanta Agrees to Operate Harrisburg Authority’s Waste-to-Energy Facility
Covanta Holding, Fairfield, N.J., has announced a 10-year agreement with the Harrisburg Authority to operate its waste-to-energy facility in Harrisburg, Pa. The agreement pays Covanta an annual fee of $10.5 million (subject to annual escalation) to run the 800-ton per day facility, as well as incentives for increased production.

$10.5 Million on up — this is not chump change. But they had plans — big big BIG plans; from Stop the Burn:

Harrisburg: Give us trash
The interstate trash wars just took a pro-trash turn: Harrisburg, Pa., wants New York City's garbage.

Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed has told Borough President Guy V. Molinari his city is “ready, willing and able to enter an agreement to accept municipal solid waste from the city of New York immediately.”

Molinari said the approach by Reed “proves that, all the political rhetoric to the contrary, there are many localities that badly need and want the revenue New York City garbage will bring.”

And that, Molinari said, is good news for on-time landfill closure.

Molinari said he's confident Harrisburg would be able to handle the 1,100 tons of trash Staten Island produces daily, although Reed told the Harrisburg Patriot-News that initially the city would be able to accept only 150 tons a day.

All this has a big if attached to it, though. The waste-to-energy incinerator is an aging facility that must undergo $90 million worth of fixing before the year 2000 or the federal Environmental Protection Agency will reduce the amount of waste it can handle to 500 tons a day, not increase it.

The plant now is licensed to burn 720 tons a day, and is almost at capacity. The retrofit will give the Harrisburg plant a capacity of about 960 tons a day, allowing it to accept at least some of New York's waste, Reed said.

But before doing the required renovations, Harrisburg needs to find a way of paying for it.

It is even used as an example of what NOT to do — from the Maryland Carroll County Times:

Waste-to-energy a positive project
As Frederick and Carroll counties move forward on developing a waste-to-energy facility, it is important to note that the project bears no relationship to the Harrisburg, Pa., facility featured in an Associated Press article printed on April 11, headlined “Incinerator project burns up Pa. capital's cash.” The two facilities could not be more different in terms of technology, finances and management.

All signs pointing to yet another example of an alt.energy pipedream turning into a costly failure…

Posted by DaveH at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

Politics as usual in Indiana - Obama 2008 primary ballot

From the Chicago Tribune:

Ex-Indiana governor: That's not my signature on Obama petition
Former Gov. Joe Kernan says a signature on a petition to place Barack Obama's name on Indiana's 2008 primary ballot isn't his, putting him among dozens of dubious signatures found in a newspaper's investigation.

Kernan, a Democrat who campaigned for Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primary, told the South Bend Tribune that he didn't sign the Obama document.

“No, not at all,” the former South Bend mayor said when asked whether the signature next to his name on the Obama petition looked like his own. “Nor does the printing look like mine.”

The Tribune reported Wednesday that it has talked with more than 40 people who say they didn't sign ballot petitions submitted in St. Joseph County for Obama or Clinton, despite their names appearing on the documents.

No mention of ACORN but not that much of a stretch.
Community Organizing at its finest…

Posted by DaveH at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2011

Unintended consequences - Occupy Wall Street

Wonderful analysis by Tim Stanley at The UK Telegraph:

The 1960s radicalism of Occupy Wall Street will help elect a Republican in 2012
The Occupy Wall Street movement is an exercise in nostalgia. It’s an attempt to recreate the excitement of 1968, when the world’s youth took to the barricades. That cosmic revelation hit me while sitting crossed-legged on a bean bag reading about the earnest search for “the Bob Dylan of our age”. Among the people being touted for that position is Kanye West (worth $70 million). On Monday, he toured the cardboard boxes and rainbow flags of Zuccotti Park, New York. Out of solidarity for the bling-ridden poor, Mr West wore a gold chain. He was accompanied by record producer Russell Simmons (worth $340 million). When I first read that piece of news through the blurred light of a burning joss stick, I thought it said Richard Simmons. The two men are very different people. Russell Simmons ran a pioneering hip hop record label and transformed the US music scene. Richard Simmons is a camp white guy who makes fitness videos. I wish I was right and it was Richard Simmons who had accompanied Kanye to Zuccotti Park. He could have elevated the whole thing with an impromptu rendition of The Age of Aquarius on roller skates.

Of course, wherever there’s dirty people and hemp, you’ll find a hippy environmentalist. Channelling Rachel Carson, activist Bill McKibben told a crowd, “The reason that it’s so great that we’re occupying Wall Street is because Wall Street has been occupying the atmosphere.” He said that the fossil fuel industry “cannot keep using [the sky] as a sewer into which to dump their carbon!” It’s OK to use the streets of New York, though. The Daily Mail reports: “Protesters said the site smells like a sewer and the free condoms have given visions of what the Woodstock festival was like. In one shocking picture, a man can be seen defecating on a police car.”

Photos confirm what I suspected: that most of the protesters are kids looking for their Sixties rush. Naked girls are painted in psychedelic colours. Handsome boys lounge around in cable-knit sweaters. Angry, doomed youth wave signs in the faces of frustrated policemen. Numbers are exchanged; kisses are snatched behind the barricades; disease is spread. This is what every generation of liberal has tried to recreate since 1968, be it the Watergate protests, the Battle of Seattle or the Stop the War Movement. I know this because I, too, once grasped for my 1968 moment. In 2003, I joined the sweaty ranks of the antiwar campaign. I was honestly motivated and intellectually sound, but I can’t deny the heady anticipation that a life of protest would lead inexorably to drugs and girls. I got the drugs but not the girls, and woke up several months later in a squat surrounded by Trotskyite bores who seemed far more intelligent when I was stoned. Zabriskie Point it was not.

Heh - nails it — the 180+ comments are fun to read too.

Posted by DaveH at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

The wheels are coming off

Some interesting things coming to light on the Anthropogenic Global Warming front.
Hat tip to Anthony Watts who has been collecting and posting them.

Clouds - first look, second look

NASA's Dr. James Hansen: Climate skeptics are winning the argument

Europe? How 'bout another Little Ice Age

National Science Foundation corrects a basic error that was on their website for fourteen years (since 1997) with before and after screencaps.

Green Energy power plant blows up.

Much much more at the site — an excellent last couple weeks of reading…

Posted by DaveH at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

A quiet night

Minimal posting last few days and tonight — was in town and then out at the farm working on stuff…

More this evening possibly — posting will resume tomorrow.

Posted by DaveH at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)

Gold prices

Was listening to the radio and noticed that the advertising for the various consumer gold retail stores was getting a very definite shrill note.

Came home and looked at gold spot at Kitco and saw that it was down about $200 from a few months ago — $1.6K instead of $1.8K

No wonder. Also, I am amazed that there are people who would buy gold as an investment from houses that sell it as such — it is a metal, a commodity and your best bet is to purchase it from a reliable spot metal vendor. Kitco is my choice but there are others.

Posted by DaveH at 03:21 PM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2011

Accidents do happen

From Springfield, MA station WWLP:

Firearms instructor shoots self at S&W
A United Nations firearms instructor from France accidentally shot himself during recertification training at Smith & Wesson late Thursday morning.

Springfield Police Sgt. John Delaney said the man, who is not being publicly identified, shot himself in the thigh during the class, which was held at their 299 Page Boulevard Shooting Sports Center at around 11:00 A.M.

The instructor was rushed to a local hospital for treatment and is expected to be okay.

There are a bunch of options for French Firearm jokes here but no. Shit happens and it is good that the guy was not seriously injured…

Posted by DaveH at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2011

Back home again

Wedding was a delight — simple and sweet.

Reception was fun with about 150 people showing up — a local chef made their signature Paella and the rest of the reception food was fantastic — the Groom is another chef and their friends are foodies. Winters are long here so food helps us cope…

Back home, resting before a fire and then to an early bedtime.

Posted by DaveH at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

The 99%-ers - caution, drink alert

From The Gormogons — a meditation on the hippies camping out at Wall Street:

We Are The 99 Percent …
… Of The People In Your Graduating Class You Were Reasonably Certain Were Not Going To Amount To Much Because Of Our Delusional Beliefs.

'Puter moseyed on over to the Occupy Wall Street “We Are the 99 Percent” website today, just to gander at the human flotsam and jetsam. A few observations, then on to the hilarity. First, there's no verification that anything said on this site is in any manner true, no matter how heart-tuggingly sad it may seem. Second, most of these folks seem to not have the first clue what got them in trouble in the first instance, despite it being patently obvious on first glance. Third, what's the proposed solution to your identified issues? 'Puter hasn't seen anything realistic as of yet. That said, let's jump in.

Here's what one fine lass wrote:
Today my sociology professor asked a class of 35-40 hard-working students at a respected, if public, university how many of us expected to get a job after graduation… No one raised their hand. Then she asked how many of us had over $10,000 in student loans… Almost every hand in the classroom, including mine, shot up.
Of course every hand went up. You're sociology students. In 'Puter's day, way back in the late 1980s, nearly every single sociology major at his rich kid Catholic college was either (1) a dumb jock or (2) a dumb, yet hot, girl looking to get her Mrs. degree on with a pre-med or economics/accounting major. 'Puter's guessing that if you asked a room full of, let's say, mechanical engineering freshmen at Michigan State the same question, nearly every single hand would stay down. Your poor life choices do not rise to the level of a problem requiring a national solution. Let 'Puter know when the kids with STEM degrees can't find jobs. Then 'Puter'll start worrying.

'Puter continued reading hard-luck story after hard luck story. 'Puter finally decided to give “The 99 Percent” the following Steve-Jobs-Style-Commencement speech.
You say you are The 99 Percent. You are not. Ninety-nine percent of Americans don't sit around whining about how miserable their lives are to complete strangers. Most Americans slog through the daily shit storm that makes up life in this recession without whining to anyone except their families.

And guess what? It's scary all around. 'Puter's an attorney licensed in three jurisdictions, graduate of a Top 20 Law School, with 15 years' experience in commercial, corporate, bankruptcy, creditors' rights, transactional and real estate law. 'Puter's company had significant issues back in 2008 as a result of the economic collapse, coupled with the regulatory uncertainty ushered in by the Obama Administration's vendetta against the financial industry. It was a near thing for his company. You didn't catch 'Puter whining about it, not even on his blog, and he whines about everything.

Complaining about corporations and conspiracies and foreigners and rules and The Man isn't going to make it any better. Nor is sitting there waiting for the government to come give you a handout. “But 'Puter, I can't even qualify for benefits!” Well, good. That means you're better off than many others in this country, so figure it out. Find a gosh-darned plumber, or electrician and follow them around. Learn a real skill that no one can take away from you.

Hopelessness and anger is a choice. If you're a single hippie barista living in a roach infested tenement and you're scared, move. You've got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Look. Everyone is scared right about now. Take a lesson from the British attitude during the Blitz. Those folks were in danger from falling bombs every night for months on end. They slept in subways like rats. Yet they got up and got about it without whining because it sucked for everyone.

And as to your claims that “it's not fair!1!!1one!!” that the evil corporations got bailed out, look at it this way. If the government had stood idly by and let the banks and large corporations go tits up at the 2008 tipping point, no one would have a job. Would it make you feel better to know that everyone's life sucked equally as bad as yours? Because if it does, you're a demonstrably bad person. And, to be clear (stealing a phrase from The One), if the banks and EVUL CORPORASHUNS!11!!!eLeVENty!! had gone tits up, the people laid off would be where you are now, and you'd be living in the streets fighting with feral hamsters over scraps of year-old Slim Jims behind the 7-11. So stop crying.

You know what grown ups do? Grown ups assess the situation and figure out how to proceed. Sometimes, the answer is that there's nothing to be done. And that sucks ass. But the way to deal with it is to do your best, rather than sitting around in a drum circle and navel gazing with your comrades in arms who seem to have plenty of money for weed and tattoos, not to mention cell phones and sleeping bags.

Whoever told you life was going to be fair did you a grave disservice. And you know what, ingrates? Your life, no matter how bad it may seem now, is better than 100% of those on the other side of the dirt. Including those men and women who have died protecting your right to protest moronically. You know what else? How many Bangladeshis do you think would trade places with you, right now, no questions asked? You'd better hope that's never put to a vote, because although the Bangladeshis would likely have a tough time with the language, at least they wouldn't be whiny little bitches. So look on the bright side. You're not dead, and you're not living in Bangladesh. Things could be far, far worse.

Here's how people like 'Puter see these protests. The participants are either burned-out hippie retreads looking for a new Ken Kesey to follow, or they're college kids who know exactly shit about the real world. The former group abdicated their claim to sanity and sympathy simply by virtue of being hippies. The latter group, for whatever reason, is taken seriously by society despite their absolute lack of knowledge and wisdom. Why do we listen to the political wisdom of a group that's never had a big boy job? What are they going to add to the conversation, aside from their economic horseshit about redistributing the corporate malefactors' ('Puter's looking at you, Krugman) pelf and thereby cratering the economy into a European socialist malaise from which it will never recover.

Go home. Figure it out. Try something new. This will pass. But if you keep up this self-indulgent crap, then by God, 'Puter and his cohort are going to beat you so badly you'll think the Pinkertons had climbed out of history's dustbin and gone all Khmer Rouge on your pampered asses.
So that's 'Puter's hasty, ill-considered, foul-mouthed, ADHD-riddled rant of the day. And 'Puter didn't waste his time rewriting and editing, as he's busy trying to get the economy moving again, rather than sitting in a park in his own filth, stinking of reefer and eating vegan bean pies. If you don't like it, too bad. Get your own damned blog.

So good it defied excerpting — swiped in full…

Posted by DaveH at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

The green -- it burns!!!

So Germany is shutting down its Nuclear Plants.

What are they going to use for energy — Unicorn Farts?

No, Coal. From the German English language news site The Local:

Germany to fund new coal plants with climate change cash
The German government wants to encourage the construction of new coal and gas power plants with millions of euros from a fund for promoting clean energy and combating climate change.

The plan has come under stiff criticism, but the Ministry of Economics and Technology defended the idea. A spokeswoman said it was necessary as the government switches from nuclear to other renewable energy sources and added that the money would promote the most efficient plants possible.

Funding for the initiative is limited to five percent of the energy and climate change fund’s annual expenditure between 2013 and 2016.

Annual funding for the new plants could total more than €160 million per year between 2013 and 2014 alone, the Berliner Zeitung newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Heh — suck it up hippies, there are no good sources of green energy available anywhere. Your best bet is LFTR Nuclear. Wind kills birds, hydro kills fish. Solar is not dense enough — you complain about the tiny amounts of toxic chemicals used to manufacture the chips in your telephones and computers but you turn around and want square yards of the same stuff on your roofs…

Posted by DaveH at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

Say hello to ALMA

Specifically, the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub millimeter Array

Starting to come online — going to be some gorgeous imagery and amazing science in a few years.

If the Atacama Desert seems familiar to you, this is where the 33 Chilean miners were rescued last year.

Posted by DaveH at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

This is how to do it -- schools in post-Katrina New Orleans

Excellent encouraging article from the Wall Street Journal:

The Big Easy's School Revolution
At John McDonough High School in this city's Esplanade Ridge district, the new superintendent points to a broken window boarded up with plastic. Nobody thought to fix it properly. “Why? Because these are the poor kids,” says John White, who arrived in New Orleans this spring. “The message is: 'We don't care.'”

John Mac is one of the worst schools in New Orleans, which makes it one of the worst in America. It scored 30 out of 200 on a statewide performance scale when 75 counts as “failing.” In a school built for 800 students, 340 are enrolled. Virtually all are African-American. A couple years ago, an armed gang burst into the cafeteria and assassinated a student.

Mr. White looks in on classrooms. In one, groups of seniors chat loudly and puzzle over a basic algebra problem. In another the teacher struggles to start a conversation about a USA Today article that few students had read. A girl in the corner sits with a jacket over her head, headphones in both ears.

“Just to put that in context, that's a criminal act against these kids,” says Mr. White, after walking out. “It's unacceptable to not have a well-planned, rigorous lesson. It's fundamentally unacceptable.” He pauses and refers to the algebra class. “I just can't get over that. You have these kids doing sixth-, seventh-grade math in a normal and typical school system [and here] in a 12th-grade year. And not doing it well. Well, we're going to change that.”

And he does — more:

Hurricane Katrina wiped out resistance from politicians and unions and improbably made the Big Easy a national laboratory of educational reform.

Four out of five kids in New Orleans attend independent public charters. The schools under Mr. White's supervision are open to all students no matter where they live. “In other cities, charter schools exist in spite of the system,” Mr. White says. “Here charter schools are the system.”

The results are encouraging. Five years ago, 23% of children scored at or above “basic” on state tests; now 48% do. Before Katrina, 62% attended failing schools; less than a fifth do today. The gap between city kids and the rest of the state is narrowing.

And the teachers are seeing the light:

Five years ago, the district turned the school over to a local charter association founded in a living room. Mary Laurie, the principal at Walker, has worked in New Orleans schools for decades and “walked the union line” in the 1990 teacher strike. “We said we were doing it on behalf of children, but we meant on behalf of adults,” says the African-American educator. “For too long, we did not do a good job and we have to own up to it.”

Ms. Laurie knows what she likes about the new system: “autonomy, autonomy, autonomy.” At Walker, she decided to separate the girls and boys in class the first two years. She pushed dance and the arts. The marching band is now one of the best in the South. She brought back Advanced Placement courses after a 20-year absence and restarted a student newspaper. The school stays open until 7 p.m. and on weekends for students so it can be a “safe place” from the hard streets, she says. Kids wear IDs and uniforms. The halls are spotless and freshly painted. The classes look disciplined but lively.

And of course, the professional grievance mongers are none too happy:

The Southern Poverty Law Center, in a lawsuit against the Recovery District, alleges that special-needs kids are systematically excluded and badly served by charters. Independent schools blanche at the high cost and can't draw on help from a central school system. Mr. White says the district is in talks with the Center, and defends the charters, which he adds have found “innovative” solutions for special-needs students. Walker, for example, specializes in kids with verbal problems. In an all-charter system, no students will be excluded. And before Katrina, 11% of special-needs students tested at grade level, 36% do now.

Screw them — they had their place but have expanded their scope to become yet another example of Pournelle's Iron Law.

Very cool story — lots more at the site.

Posted by DaveH at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

Wedding bells

Heading off in a few hours to a wedding of two good friends.

The knives came out really well — we shaped the handles yesterday and will be doing the final polish and putting the edge on the blades today.

Broadband was down most of yesterday so posting was minimal.

Posted by DaveH at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2011

A curious turn of events - Solyndra Scandal

From Newsmax:

Obama Loan Official Resigns as Solyndra Scandal Widens
The embattled director of the controversial loan program that approved a $535 million taxpayer guarantee to bankrupt solar firm Solyndra is stepping down, the Energy Department confirmed Thursday.

Jonathan Silver, head of the Loan Programs Office, plans to join the organization Third Way as a “distinguished visiting fellow.”

The move comes as GOP Congressional investigators are looking into the department's handling of the Solyndra agreement. Obama officials were warned about potential problems with the company as it sought government help, according to documents that have emerged over the last few weeks.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-MI, and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, R-FL, said the resignation resolves nothing in the widening scandal.

“Mr. Silver’s resignation does not solve the problem,” Upton and Stearns said in a joint statement. “We are in the midst of the Solyndra investigation and just days removed from Mr. Silver’s mad rush to finalize the last $4.7 billion in loans before the statutory deadline.”

“Just this past Monday, the President declared the loan guarantee program sound and said that it was to be expected that one company like Solyndra could fail. But today the President changed his tune, stating, ‘The nature of these programs are going to be ones in which, you know, for every success there may be one that does not work out as well.’”

“Does the Obama Administration now expect that half of these companies will fail? American taxpayers are already on the hook for the half billion dollar Solyndra bust - what other shoes does this Administration expect to drop?”

And these “loans” are coming out of our pockets — the Federal government makes no money on its own, all its money comes from us the taxpayers. Who elected these idiots?

Posted by DaveH at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

Steve Jobs quotes

Wonderful collection of Steve Jobs quotes from Never Yet Melted

A few:

You’ve baked a really lovely cake, but then you’ve used dog sh*t for frosting. (commenting on a NeXT programmer’s poor work)

The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t bring much culture into their products. . . . I have no problem with their success. They’ve earned their success, for the most part. I have a problem with the fact that they just make really third-rate products. (1996)

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. . . . Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. . . . Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. (Stanford U. commencement address, 2005)
Posted by DaveH at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)

Busy weekend

Have a wedding tomorrow and Lulu's son is up for the weekend so we spent yesterday jamming — him on Indian (Tonto not Gandhi) flute and me on keyboards.

Two friends are finally tying the knot after living in sin for the past number of years — lots of good people and they are taking over a local bar for the reception.

Nothing much else to post except for Steve Jobs passing — Pancreatic Cancer is not a good way to go.

Planning to spend the afternoon in the forge working on some knives and teaching Curtis some basic blacksmithing techniques (drawing, fullering, upsetting and twisting — make some hooks and maybe a coathook or something useful).

Posted by DaveH at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2011

A popular uprising

All of those people “mobilizing” at Wall Street to protest Corporations are getting a lot of help. From Labor Unions.

From CNN:

Unions endorse, will join Occupy Wall Street protests
As the Occupy Wall Street protesters rally for a third week, social media sites such as Twitter seem to be spurring similar protests in other cities.

A Twitter account called Occupy Boston mentions a citywide college walkout there Wednesday.

Ooooo — a citywide college walkout — talk about bringing power to the people.

Putzes…

More:

“It's really simple. These young people on Wall Street are giving voice to many of the problems that working people in America have been confronting over the last several years,” said Larry Hanley, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which has 20,000 members in the New York area.

“These young people are speaking for the vast majority of Americans who are frustrated by the bankers and brokers who have profited on the backs of hard-working people,” Hanley added in a statement. “While we battle it out day after day, month after month, the millionaires and billionaires on Wall Street sit by — untouched — and lecture us on the level of our sacrifice.”

Transport Workers Union Local 100 spokesman Jim Gannon said the Occupy Wall Street movement, which denounces social inequities in the financial system and draws inspiration from the Arab Spring revolutions in Africa and the Middle East, has advanced issues that unions typically support.

Social inequities my big fat hairy ass — it is all about working and working hard. I am as much against the style of crony capitalism as is being currently practiced by Obama and General Electric — that seriously sucks and is a drag on the overall health of the world economy.

What these ninnies fail to get is that Mark was wrong — there is not a fixed pool of capital. Capital is fungible; it can be created and destroyed.

All of these uber-rich are the people who run the businesses that hire the working man — you want to shut down the top 100 corporations in America, say hello to 45% unemployment.

Idiots!

Posted by DaveH at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

A hot time in Edinburgh

From the Beeb:

Pair in hospital after Kismot 'killer' curry contest
Two people have been taken to hospital following the “world's hottest chilli” competition at an Edinburgh Indian restaurant.

Emergency services were called to the Kismot restaurant in St Leonards Street on Saturday afternoon after some competitors became “very unwell”.

The competition involves people eating the “Kismot Killer” curry.

Some more:

Curie Kim, 21, an American student on an exchange to Edinburgh University, said she decided to enter the challenge when she saw it advertised in the restaurant.

She told the BBC Scotland's news website: “It was very painful and felt like I was being chainsawed in the stomach with hot sauce on the chainsaw.

“I have learned my lesson and will never do it again and, in fact, I will be cutting down on my spice intake full stop.”

Ms Kim came second in the contest.

“The woman who won ate the last bowl in four seconds and then ran outside to be sick where as I didn't so I've learned I should have had a game plan like that,” she said.

No mention as to the chili in question — the hottest I know of is the Bhut Jolokia

Posted by DaveH at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

Back at the farm again

Been spending Sunday through Tuesday at Lulu's house in Bellingham (the Lake House) and the rest of the week out here. A nice mix of city v/s country but cuts into blogging.

She and her son are coming out around 5PM so I have some time to pay bills, read the internet, etc…

Lots of comment spam but nothing of any import, just script kiddies in their mom's basement.

Posted by DaveH at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2011

Follow the money - Dr. James Hansen

Lots of money to be made with fear-mongering. From Anthony at Watts Up With That:

Hansen rakes it in

Disclosure Obtained by ATI Environmental Law Center Shows the Wealth Keeps Flowing for Dr. James Hansen

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 3, 2011
Contact: Paul Chesser, Executive Director, paul.chesser@atinstitute.org

As it waits for the resolution of its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit ( http://bit.ly/nnKpxS ) against the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which seeks the outside employment permission records of global warming activist Dr. James Hansen, American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center has received the belatedly filed 2010 public financial disclosure of the renowned director of the NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

ATI obtained Dr. Hansen’s Form SF 278, which is required to be filed annually, also under the Freedom of Information Act. The disclosure revealed that Dr. Hansen received between $236,000 and $1,232,500 in outside income in 2010 relating to his taxpayer-funded employment, which included:
• Between $26,008 and $72,500 in honoraria for speeches;
• Between $150,001 and $1.1 million in prizes;
• Just under $60,000 in the form of in-kind income for travel to his many outside-income generating activities
The travel reporting marked the first time Hansen detailed such “in-kind” benefits, which included apparent first-class travel for him and his wife on trips to Australia, Japan, and Norway. The new detail raises the question of whether Dr. Hansen wrongly submitted forms in previous years, which he left blank and attested “none” in the space where he is required to report travel expenses taken as part of his outside employment, all in years in which he was busy with numerous paid outside activities of the same sort as he was in 2010.

“Now that Dr. Hansen’s outside income has come under scrutiny, we see a newfound attention to detail on forms where he reports about these sources,” said Christopher Horner, ATI’s director of litigation. “It also shows that Dr. Hansen continues to enjoy a healthy level of earnings that supplement – and for his curious exploitation of – the taxpayer-funded position he holds.”
Posted by DaveH at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)

An interesting look at events - Operation Fast and Furious

From AWR Hawkins writing at Breitbart's Big Government:

Lies, More Lies, and Worse Lies: Watergate, the Lewisnky Scandal, and Fast and Furious
As a student of history, I’ve always wondered what must have gone through Richard Nixon’s mind when he was ordered to turn over the secret recordings that blew the covers of Watergate in 1974.

What degree of consternation must he have felt when the court order for those tapes sealed his doom?

For that matter, what was going through Bill Clinton’s mind when “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky” no longer sufficed? I’ve wondered what he must have thought when the game was uncovered, and he knew he was going to have to come clean (for a change).

Now, with the rapidity of events surrounding the investigation of “Fast and Furious,” and the extremes to which the current administration seems willing to go in order to cover its tracks, I’m actually wondering what’s going through President Obama’s mind right now?

And what is Eric Holder thinking?

A fun read with lots of links to the facts and events.

Things are so bad that Holder is thinking about dismantling Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms entirely.

Andrew Breitbart is working overtime too — just one post away from the Hawkins post comes a great set of photographs from Selma, Alabama in March 2007 as Senator Obama was campaigning.

Our President has long claimed to have no familiarity with the radical New Black Panthers but these photos and story (again, with links) show this to be a lie.

Posted by DaveH at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2011

Spending the year dead for tax purposes

I know that posting has been very very light these days.

Been busy with a new relationship — her 20 year old son came out this weekend. We spent a wonderful evening playing music — guitar for him and keyboards for me, I helped him forge his first knife blade (he collects swords) and we spent yesterday at the Introductory Pistol training class — lots of fun!

The class was very well taught — I have not had much formal firearms instruction but the people at Next Level Training were 100% professional and the quality of instruction was wonderful. I would not hesitate to recommend them for anyone — Lulu will be taking their Women's Only Pistol Course on the 23rd.

Spending today putting handles on the knives (I made a kitchen utility knife) and we may play a bit more music.

The Cob Oven I mentioned a few days ago was written up in our local newspaper: Foothills Gazette: Maple Falls residents build community cob oven

More posting in a few days…

Posted by DaveH at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)