August 31, 2012

Food prices these days

From the BEEB:

Food prices jump will hit poor, World Bank warns
Global food prices have leapt by 10% in the month of July, raising fears of soaring prices for the planet's poorest, the World Bank has warned.

The bank said that a US heatwave and drought in parts of Eastern Europe were partly to blame for the rising costs.

The price of key grains such as corn, wheat and soybean saw the most dramatic increases, described by the World Bank president as “historic”.

The bank warned countries importing grains will be particularly vulnerable.

From June to July this year, corn and wheat prices each rose by 25% while soybean prices increased by 17%, the World Bank said. Only rice prices decreased - by 4%.

In the United States, the most severe, widespread drought in half a century has wreaked havoc on the corn and soybean crops while in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, wheat crops have been badly damaged.

The World Bank said that the use of corn to produce ethanol biofuel - which represents 40% of US corn production - was also a key factor in the sharp rise in the US maize price.

Yes there is bad weather but we are seeing a combination of other forces. Speculation and arbitrage. Also, we used to stockpile grains for lean times — now we do “just in time” and pay farmers not to grow. The unintended consequences from trying to 'manage' a market instead of letting it run by itself…

Posted by DaveH at 07:20 PM | Comments (0)

Some local excitement

From the Bellingham Herald:

Plane makes emergency landing on I-5 north of Bellingham
Nobody was hurt when a Cessna airplane made an emergency landing on Interstate 5, clipping a blue Sedan on the way down Friday, Aug. 31.

The single-engine aircraft was heading from the Spokane area to Bellingham for its annual maintenance checkup, the pilot, Tony Dulley, said later with a smirk.

Dulley, of Spokane, had pulled around the south side of Mount Baker at a height of 10,000 feet and started his descent about 1:30 p.m.

As he reached about 6,000 feet, he said, moisture in the air “iced” the carburetor and cut off fuel to the engine.

Everything went silent.

It was the first time Shelby Rush — his girlfriend, who later admitted she has a phobia of flying — had flown with Dulley. But she trusted his two decades of experience as a pilot.

Ruh Roh! Kudos to a perfectly executed and controlled landing.

It was pretty humid today.

Posted by DaveH at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

Continuing busy

Did the buying run for the store today, also picked up a bunch of buns for a restaurant nearby (we do this sort of stuff all the time) and then came back home.

Lulu was working in the garden today and came out this morning to discover that the Llamas had been munching our veggies.

I had prepared some very hot pepper water so spent the afternoon spraying the new lettuce (old stuff had bolted so replanted with starts), what was left of the broccoli, sunflowers, horseradish?¿?¿ and chard.

Fortunately, they left the tomato bed alone — if they had not, we would have had Llama Steaks for dinner instead of the last of the spaghetti sauce. Got some heirlooms just starting to get ripe and some cherry 'maters starting to ripen. Good fruit set, just very very late — it was a long cold spring.

Finishing off the transmitter for the car show and gathering the PA stuff — 7:00AM alarm tomorrow morning…

Posted by DaveH at 05:39 PM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2012

Chris Matthews lies

What an odious little man — from NewsBusters:

Chris Matthews Claims to Live in 'Black Majority' DC, Resides in Md. Village Less Than 1% Black
You know how MSNBC's Chris Matthews epitomizes liberal sensitivity to race?

There's a reason for that, aside from Matthews's deeply superficial empathy. It also comes from decades of living in the “black majority” District of Columbia — or so he claims.

Here's Matthews during Tuesday night's MSNBC's coverage of the Republican convention condemning what he considers the racial undercurrent of Romney campaign ads alleging President Obama gutted work requirements in the 1996 welfare reform law —
You know, I think that people that don't recognize the code about welfare and food stamps are really being dishonest and I think if you look at our history, from Ronald Reagan who would talk about the young buck in the line using food stamps to buy T-bone steaks, or certainly Wallace, George Wallace or David Duke. They all talked about welfare. Welfare has been a classic tool to pry apart working-class whites from working-class blacks. It's brilliant because everybody sees it who wants to see it. Certainly blacks can't avoid seeing it 'cause they see the prejudice involved. Whites can deny it because it isn't technically racial or sectarian, but everyone knows what's going on here. Everyone knows this.

Emphasis mine — this has already been debunked. President Reagan was far to classy to use that kind of language. Matthews was talking with Newt Gingrich at the time and also put the words Welfare Queen into Reagan's mouth.

To continue:

But I go back to living in DC all these years. I've lived there 40 years, a black-majority city, and anybody who wants to get up early in Washington and drive down North Capitol (Street) and drive past Florida Avenue, sees nothing but youn-, but black people up at 6:30 in the morning going to work. That's where they're going, to work, and not at big-wage jobs and not to get a welfare check, they're out working hard all day and not coming home with a fantastic paycheck. So this notion of blacks live on welfare and whites live on work is a brilliant political ploy but it's not true, Rachel (Maddow). And you know it, I know it.
Sounds like Matthews spends considerable time thinking about this — while driving. Which makes sense, seeing how he doesn't actually live in the District of Columbia as he boasts.

Media profiles of Matthews (Washington Post, NY Times) and his wife, former TV reporter and Marriott flack Kathleen (Politico) have reported that the Matthews reside in Chevy Chase, an affluent Maryland suburb.

Kathleen Matthews serves on the board of trustees of the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., which lists its trustees and their addresses online. Based on the addresses provided there, one learns that the Matthews live smack-dab in Chevy Chase Village — one of the least diverse locales in the country.

According to census data at Maryland-Demographics.com, 1,953 people lived in Chevy Chase Village as of 2010. Of those nearly 2,000 residents, 10 were black. That's right — ten. As in, one-half of one percent. Ninety-three percent of its residents were white, the remaining percentage other minorities.

Quite a difference between that “black majority” city where Matthews claims he lives and the rarefied swath of suburbia he actually calls home, don't you think?

What's another lie to someone who lies regularly.

Off the air bub — MSNBC may not be the hub of conservative thinking but they should show some standards of journalism…

Posted by DaveH at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

Clint Eastwood's speech

Watched his speech tonight too (and Marco Rubio's — excellent!)
Clint's speech seemed to be a bit less passionate than he could be but Richard Fernandez at The Belmont Club nails it:

The Eastwood Speech
It was an old man’s delivery, but overstatedly so for effect. It was a cutting delivery and for that reason delivered in low key. But for all of Clint Eastwood’s rhetorical cleverness at the Republican Convention, the speech derived its effectiveness precisely because it wasn’t one of those “I take this platform tonight with pen in hand, bearing in mind the immortal words of Clancy M. Duckworth” type orations. It wasn’t the speech of someone who was running for office.

Rather it might have come from Mr. Weller down at the corner office musing on simple things to not very important people. How it wasn’t good form to mess things up continuously. How one might lose faith in a man who made one broken promise too many. How at the end of the day everyone either did the job or quit out of decency. Even presidents.

There was no malice in it. Just a tone of regret. But it was redolent of memory too. Of simple things a world away from the Mountaintop, of sentiments a light-year from dramatic arcs, and of ordinary happiness in a universe apart from grand bargains and high-flown rhetorical visions. They were truths that everyone who has ever worked knows but has somehow forgotten because they were so ordinary.

But they were never known to those who had never worked a real job in their lives. And that is the wonder. That they never knew them. Thus the speech was at once us versus them; it was the check in the mail against the certainties of the heart. Every true challenge is built on the bricks of memory. And there were as many challenges in the Eastwood speech as the stones we stand on. For how did the lines in the movie go, even if they weren’t the real lines?
Do you think this is the end now, Mr. Frodo?

No Sam. It is not the end. We are safe, Sam. For I can remember the taste of strawberries again. The smell of new-mown hay and the beer at the Green Dragon at evening time. Remember, that whatever happens that the shadow is only a passing thing. There is truth and high beauty forever beyond its power to reach.

Out of the park — the liberals are apparently trashing it. That shows he made his mark.

Posted by DaveH at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

Sounds like a fun idea

I would go a few rounds on this — plus some of the usual snide commentary from past-the-prime Dan Savage.
From The Stranger:

Press Release of the Day
This one goes out to everyone who thinks bashing hipsters and their skinny jeans and their ironic facial hair is edgy or brave or interesting…
‘Whac-A-Hipster’ at Bumbershoot with Toyota’s Prius Family Playground
Seattle – August 29, 2012 – Ever felt the urge to ‘Whac-A-Hipster’? This weekend at Bumbershoot the Toyota Prius Family Playground will offer folks a chance to live out their hipster-whacking fantasies. Whether hoping to escape the heat, looking for an off-the-wall challenge, or searching for a place to re-charge your phones, there’s a little something for everyone at the Prius Family Playground.

Check out the game that’s taking the nation by storm, the Prius v Whac-A-Hipster. Take a spin on the Human-Powered Prize Wheel, a giant hamster wheel that makes you work for a prize, or challenge your friends with the Prius Family Challenge. Too much tweeting, texting and instagramming for your cell phone to handle? Hop in the Prius Plug-In and Charge Up Station where up to five people can charge their phones for five minutes. After working up a sweat, cool down with a complimentary Prius-shaped popsicle and cooling Bumbershoot bandana. And for those festival-goers in the market for a new ride, a few of the latest vehicles in the Toyota Prius Family lineup will be on display as well.
Corporate America feels your hipster-induced pain, Can't-Fit-In-Skinny-Jeans America.

Ooooohhh Dan, your quirky irony is so… so… hip…

You do remember jumping the shark ten years ago don't you? Lost your edge?
Fortunately, your audience jumped that same shark so you are all comfy in your widdle bubble.

And I bet that machine has one of the longest lines at Bumbershoot…

Posted by DaveH at 09:21 PM | Comments (0)

Always classy - President Obama

From Gateway Pundit:

Obama Sent Personal Letter of Condolence to Rapper’s Family… Sent Form Letter to Families of Fallen SEALs
Last November Barack Obama sent a personal letter of condolence when rapper Heavy D passed away at 44.

Al Sharpton read the note at the funeral:
“We extend our heartfelt condolences at this difficult time. He will be remembered for his infectious optimism and many contributions to American music. Please know that you and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers.”
But when 17 members of the elite Navy SEALs were killed in the crash in Afghanistan back in August 2011, he sent their parents a form letter.

Signed with an autopen. Classy…

And what were the Seal Team Six members doing on the chopper in the first place and how did the Taliban know they were there — the White House has a habit of leaking sensitive data. This was the single worst loss in the entire Afghanistan theater.

Posted by DaveH at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

Oh Noeeeesssssss!!!11!!!!!

From the Bloomington, IL Pantagraph:

Truck filled with bacon crashes on I-74
A semitrailer truck hauling 40,000 pounds of bacon overturned Wednesday on Interstate 74 near Deer Creek, spilling its load.

The driver, Rodney J. Kalman, 57, of Muskegon, Mich., was taken to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Peoria, with what state police said were minor injuries. He was charged with improper lane usage.

The semi was eastbound about 5 p.m. in the left lane at milepost 109 when the truck drifted left into the center median, police said.

The trailer broke open as the truck rolled on its side, spilling its cargo into the grassy median, police said.

The scene, which still was being cleaned up at 9 p.m., did not block the highway, police said.

The load will be discarded, police said.

The humanity — all that tasty tasty bacon…

Posted by DaveH at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)

Just wow - Mitt Romney

We just watched his speech — talk about blockbuster.

Got my vote.

Posted by DaveH at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

Curious - gold in the news

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Gold Standard Goes Mainstream
An under-reported development of this campaign season is the Republican Party's decision this week to send Gov. Mitt Romney into the presidential race on a platform effectively calling for a new gold commission. The realization that America's system of fiat money is part of its economic problem is moving from the fringes of political discussion to the center.

This is a sharp contrast from the last time a gold commission was convened, in 1981, a decade after President Nixon abandoned the Bretton Woods system and opened the era of a fiat dollar. The 1981 commission recommended against restoring a gold basis to the dollar. But two members—Congressman Ron Paul and businessman-scholar Lewis Lehrman—dissented and outlined the case for gold.

The new platform doesn't use the word “gold,” describing the 1981 United States Gold Commission as looking at a “metallic basis” for the dollar. But the metal was gold, and the new platform calls for a similar commission to investigate ways “to set a fixed value for the dollar.”

What has stayed with me from 1981—I covered the commission as a young editorial writer for this newspaper—is how momentum for a new gold standard faded amid the successes of the supply-side revolution. President Reagan pushed through his tax reductions and Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker maintained tight money. Inflation was defeated. The value of the dollar, which had sunk below 1/800th of an ounce of gold during President Carter's last year in office, soared.

The 1981 commission was also stacked against a gold-backed dollar from the start. The ruling philosophy was monetarism—which, as propounded by Milton Friedman, seeks to keep prices steady by adjusting the money supply. The commission's executive director was Anna Schwartz, co-author of Friedman's “Monetary History of the United States,” and the Democratic-controlled House held firm to monetarist orthodoxy.

Today things have changed. Both Friedman and Schwartz died as heroes of capitalism and freedom, but monetarism lacks the sway it once had. Even Friedman before he died seemed to adjust his thinking on using the quantity of money as a target. Schwartz predicted that monetary instability would be a breeding ground for a restoration for the role of gold.

Only problem is that there is not enough physical gold in the world to equal the number of physical dollars in the world. Something would have to give and give big.

Still, I like the idea of returning to a standards-based currency.

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

Busy couple of days

Things will be pretty busy for the next couple of days.

Lulu is coming out to the farm today — spending today getting ready to do the PA System for the 3rd annual Maple Falls Car Show on Saturday. Been doing this for the last two years and one problem was that people parked far away couldn't hear the audio. Solving it this year by putting together one of these and one of these so we will be on the air on both AM and FM bands. People can listen to the events and awards on their own car radios.

Doing a buying run for the store tomorrow so Friday is spoken for.

Like I said, a busy couple of days.

Posted by DaveH at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2012

Paul Ryan

An amazing speech.

Transcript over at Associated Press

A couple of things that got to me:

I'm the newcomer to the campaign, so let me share a first impression. I have never seen opponents so silent about their record, and so desperate to keep their power.

They've run out of ideas. Their moment came and went. Fear and division are all they've got left.

With all their attack ads, the president is just throwing away money- and he's pretty experienced at that. You see, some people can't be dragged down by the usual cheap tactics, because their ability, character, and plain decency are so obvious- and ladies and gentlemen, that is Mitt Romney.

More:

President Barack Obama came to office during an economic crisis, as he has reminded us a time or two. Those were very tough days, and any fair measure of his record has to take that into account. My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.

A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you. this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That's what he said in 2008.

Well, as it turned out, that plant didn't last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that's how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.

Right now, 23 million men and women are struggling to find work. Twenty-three million people, unemployed or underemployed. Nearly one in six Americans is living in poverty. Millions of young Americans have graduated from college during the Obama presidency, ready to use their gifts and get moving in life. Half of them can't find the work they studied for, or any work at all.

One more:

Obamacare, as much as anything else, explains why a presidency that began with such anticipation now comes to such a disappointing close.

It began with a financial crisis; it ends with a job crisis.

It began with a housing crisis they alone didn't cause; it ends with a housing crisis they didn't correct.

It began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America.

It all started off with stirring speeches, Greek columns, the thrill of something new. Now all that's left is a presidency adrift, surviving on slogans that already seem tired, grasping at a moment that has already passed, like a ship trying to sail on yesterday's wind.

I kinda bit my tongue when I voted for McCain — his record shows him to be a Republican In Name Only (RINO) but I did not want Obama in office as we knew too little about him.

Now we have a crew of people that we can work with. The unintended consequence I am looking for is that the Democratic Party grows a damn pair and shakes off the hard radical progressives that have infiltrated it — nose under the tent was Woodrow Wilson. Carter and Obama are the standard bearers.

Let's get them shut down and bundled off into the historical byways of “WTF were we thinking back then” along side of eight track tapes and mood rings.

And back off — I have work to do!

Posted by DaveH at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

Moving and Shaking in Southern California

Back on Sunday I noticed that there were a lot of shallow earthquakes around three to five magnitude (the scale is logrithmic so a four magnitude is ten times stronger than a three — five is 100X)

It's still going on — check out the Earthquakes in California-Nevada alert at the U.S. Geological Survey. It is slowing down a bit — three today, six yesterday but still…

Posted by DaveH at 09:09 PM | Comments (0)

Light posting tonight

Lulu's back in Bellingham for a few days. I just got back from having a couple pints at my local. Surf for a bit and then to bed.

Great collection of photos from NOLA and Plaquemines Parish — Isaac may only be a tropical storm but it is a huge storm with lots of water. The whole CAT1, CAT2… thing only measures the sustained wind velocity at the ground surface. It doesn't take into account any other factors.

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

August 28, 2012

Always classy -- a two-fer

Classy #1) - from FOX News:

Ellen Barkin Hopes Hurricane Kills 'Every Pro-Life, Xenophobic, Gay-Bashing SOB' At The RNC
On Sunday, Ellen Barkin expressed her hope that Tropical Storm Isaac would smash up the Republican National Convention in Tampa and drown all its delegates.

She retweeted the message of one of her followers that read: “C’mon #Isaac! Wash every pro-life, anti-education, anti-woman, xenophobic, gay-bashing, racist SOB right into the ocean! #RNC ” Barkin did not express any disagreement in her retweet.

Classy #2) - from The Hill:
Samuel L. Jackson asks why GOP 'spared' by tropical storm
Samuel L. Jackson on Monday tweeted it was “unfair” that Tropical Storm Isaac had spared the GOP convention in Tampa and appeared to be heading for New Orleans.

Jackson said in a profanity-filled tweet that he was “not understanding God's plan” given the fact that the storm was not disrupting the Republican gathering.

“Unfair s—-,” the Oscar-nominated actor known for his colorful language said on Twitter.

“GOP spared by Isaac! NOLA prolly f——- again!”

I love Jackson's work so this will not stop me from seeing any new movies of his but these will now be more torrent/rental than cinema views. Barkin jumped the shark years ago — good riddance.

Posted by DaveH at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

Fun fun fun - Gasoline prices

It sure would be nice to be a nation that is energy self-sufficient.

Isaac has shut down Gulf production and the big explosion at Venezuela’s refinery is going to put a big crimp in fuel prices for the next couple of months.

From Bloomberg:

Gasoline Rising to Holiday High as Storm Surge Presses Obama
Hurricane Isaac and a deadly blast at Venezuela’s Amuay refinery pushed gasoline to an almost four- month high and threatened to revive a debate about energy costs in the run-up to the presidential election in November.

Futures jumped yesterday in New York as Isaac forced closures of Gulf Coast refineries and reduced rates at others. That market is also reeling from an Aug. 25 explosion in Venezuela that killed at least 48 people and closed the country’s largest fuel-making plant. Futures are up 23 percent since their 2012 settlement low of $2.5501 a gallon on June 21.

Prices at the pump will be the highest ever for the U.S. Labor Day holiday, AAA said yesterday. The surge reignites an issue that has pitted President Barack Obama, who has called for the elimination of billions of dollars of subsidies enjoyed by the oil and gas industry, against the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. It also spurs speculation that Obama will release supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to ease prices for consumers.

I have a very big nit with this article — the “billions of dollars of subsidies” are not unique to the oil business. They are the same simple corporate deductions enjoyed by every other business in the USA. Buy a capital piece of equipment and you can amortize it over a couple of years. Do something that results in a loss (a bad business decision, drill a dry well) and there are elements of those expenses that you can deduct from your taxes. The Federal Government is not running a bucket brigade of greenbacks into some crony corporate boardroom.

Obama's energy policies are going to directly impact the lower income population — those very people that he claims to support. I live in an area that is economically depressed and a lot of people I know are only able to find work in Bellingham — 30 miles away. How will they be able to drive to work each day when gas is $5.50/gallon and they cannot afford a newer fuel-efficient car?

Instead, billions of our tax dollars are pissed away on Unicorn Farts and other green energy swindles.

Posted by DaveH at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

Media bias - MSNBC

Fscking pitiful — from NewsBusters:

MSNBC Omits All Coverage From Minority Speakers at 'Racist' RNC Convention
A funny thing happened on race-obsessed MSNBC tonight. The liberal network failed to give viewers coverage of the speakers who happen to be member of racial minorities. As Francesca Chambers, Editor of Red Alert Politics, reported on August 28th:
When popular Tea Party candidate Ted Cruz, the GOP nominee for Senate, took the stage, MSNBC cut away from the Republican National Convention and the Hispanic Republican from Texas’ speech.

MSNBC stayed on commercial through former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis’ speech, as well. Davis, who recently became a Republican, is black. Then, when Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuno’s wife Luce’ Vela Fortuño took the stage minutes later, MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews opted to talk over the First Lady’s speech. And Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval? Noticeably missing from MSNBC, too. Mia Love, a black candidate for Congress in Utah, was also ignored by MSNBC.
Why is MSNBC trying to exclude conservative Republicans of color in their coverage? Could it be that they are aghast that they're not on the side of the infallible Barack Obama? Could it be because it cuts against their persistent whine that the GOP is the party of “dog whistle” politics aimed at working-class white voters?

It's ironic since Daily Beast contributor Michael Tomasky friviously labeled this year's RNC convention as racist.

Shall we take bets on when Condi Rice's speech is interrupted by a Michelin tire commercial?

Well… Obama certainly doesn't have any positive record to run on.
His campaign has to resort to smears. Always classy — a civil tone and demeanor.

I would say that this has been an excellent demonstration that socialist politics simply do not work but the problem is that the progressives will counter: “It just hasn't been tried hard enough”

A mental illness if there ever was one…

Posted by DaveH at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

2016 Obama's America

Just got back from the movie. About 50 people in the theatre which was pretty good attendence for a Tuesday night.

Fantastic film — well done and sobering. You need to see this on the big screen.

Dinesh D'Souza's website is here.

D'Souza penned a long article on Forbes back in 2010 that begins his exploration:

How Obama Thinks
Barack Obama is the most antibusiness president in a generation, perhaps in American history. Thanks to him the era of big government is back. Obama runs up taxpayer debt not in the billions but in the trillions. He has expanded the federal government's control over home mortgages, investment banking, health care, autos and energy. The Weekly Standard summarizes Obama's approach as omnipotence at home, impotence abroad.

The President's actions are so bizarre that they mystify his critics and supporters alike. Consider this headline from the Aug. 18, 2009 issue of the Wall Street Journal: “Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling.” Did you read that correctly? You did. The Administration supports offshore drilling—but drilling off the shores of Brazil. With Obama's backing, the U.S. Export-Import Bank offered $2 billion in loans and guarantees to Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras to finance exploration in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro—not so the oil ends up in the U.S. He is funding Brazilian exploration so that the oil can stay in Brazil.

Good stuff…

Posted by DaveH at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

Well crap - Enderes Tools is no more

I was in my local hardware store today — I use a particular brand of punch a lot for blacksmithing and wanted to get some more. I re-grind them to create shapes for blacksmithing — for making faces (eyes, ears, nostrils, etc…) and for general metal forming.

I went to their display only to find — a different display. WTF?

Asked the sales clerk and it turns out that Enderes Tools is no longer in business.
From the Albert Lee, Minnesota Tribune:

Enderes Tool down, not out
Enderes Tool Co., an Albert Lea manufacturer with more than a century of local history, isn’t out of business. It still exists on paper. It still has a website.

But its future hinges on a gauntlet of financial issues.

The IRS has two liens on the company, one for $351,159 and another for $44,758. The company also owes property taxes: $98,147 on the parcel with its manufacturing plant on it and $17,249 on an adjacent bare parcel. The properties are scheduled for a forfeiture auction coming Aug. 9.

The company closed the manufacturing plant at 924 E. 14th St. in the Jobs Industrial Park in Albert Lea on April 27. There were six workers making tools at the time. By all accounts, competition from imported tools harmed the company’s ability to sell its products. Enderes made durable forged tools: chisels, punches, hitch pins, pry bars, wrecking bars, screwdrivers, drill bits, masonry tools and farrier tools.

Steve Overgaard, owner of Albert Lea-based Vasco Inc., said Enderes retains a reputation for quality. He would like to purchase the building and put the workers back to work. He said he has been trying to buy the business for four months. He has been in touch with Enderes CEO Todd Dahl.

Yet another great American company driven out of business by cheap imported crap and by customers who are too stupid to tell the difference.

Their website is still up but no word if they have any backstock to sell.

In addition to the punches, they made a really nice four-way screwdriver. I have a couple of these and will have to make sure they stay safe and don't get lost.

There is one other business in the county that was a stocking vendor of their punches. Heading over there on my way home tomorrow to buy out their remaining stock…

Posted by DaveH at 06:00 PM | Comments (0)

Isaac now a hurricane

Scheduled to hit NOLA this evening.

It is less powerful than Katrina but it is huge and moving slowly. Winds may be less but they will be parked over a spot for several hours. Two feet of rainfall predicted — the Mississippi River is going from drought to flood.

Posted by DaveH at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)

2016 Obama's America

Seeing the movie tonight. Looking forward to it — third biggest movie running this weekend.

Posted by DaveH at 03:10 PM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2012

I love Arizona

They function as a State — an independent entity from the Federal Government.
From the Christian Science Monitor:

New border fence: Arizona plans its own 200-mile fence
Members of the Arizona Legislature's border security advisory committee want the state to begin building a mile of fencing along the border with Mexico even though it has raised only a fraction of the needed money.

The committee has raised just 10 percent of the $2.8 million needed to complete a mile of fencing. The ultimate goal is to build 200 miles of border fencing.

State Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, tells the Arizona Republic he believes more private donations will come in once construction begins.

Construction could begin by the end of the year using private fencing companies, some donated supplies and prison inmate labor, Smith said. The project is meant to complement the federal government's border fencing program.

I love it! The Federales and Big Sis are doing jack s*it so why not? It is their State and they should have the power to determining who enters and who leaves. Tenth Amendment and all that wonderful stuff…

Posted by DaveH at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

Interesting tech

First I ever heard of NCC but if this pans out, it could be really interesting to say the least.
From New Scientist:

Why wood pulp is world's new wonder material
The hottest new material in town is light, strong and conducts electricity. What's more, it's been around a long, long time.

Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), which is produced by processing wood pulp, is being hailed as the latest wonder material. Japan-based Pioneer Electronics is applying it to the next generation of flexible electronic displays. IBM is using it to create components for computers. Even the US army is getting in on the act, using it to make lightweight body armor and ballistic glass.

To ramp up production, the US opened its first NCC factory in Madison, Wisconsin, on 26 July, marking the rise of what the US National Science Foundation predicts will become a $600 billion industry by 2020.

So why all the fuss? Well, not only is NCC transparent but it is made from a tightly packed array of needle-like crystals which have a strength-to-weight ratio that is eight times better than stainless steel. Even better, it's incredibly cheap.

“It is the natural, renewable version of a carbon nanotube at a fraction of the price,” says Jeff Youngblood of Purdue University's NanoForestry Institute in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The $1.7 million factory, which is owned by the US Forest Service, will produce two types of NCC: crystals and fibrils.

Production of NCC starts with “purified” wood, which has had compounds such as lignin and hemicellulose removed. It is then milled into a pulp and hydrolyzed in acid to remove impurities before being separated and concentrated as crystals into a thick paste that can be applied to surfaces as a laminate or processed into strands, forming nanofibrils. These are hard, dense and tough, and can be forced into different shapes and sizes. When freeze-dried, the material is lightweight, absorbent and good at insulating.

“The beauty of this material is that it is so abundant we don't have to make it,” says Youngblood. “We don't even have to use entire trees; nanocellulose is only 200 nanometres long. If we wanted we could use twigs and branches or even sawdust. We are turning waste into gold.”

Very cool — forestry is a major business around here. Tensile strength is a bit low but everything else looks really really good.

Had never heard of this stuff before and the technology is already a couple years old.
Embarrassed I am…

Posted by DaveH at 09:21 PM | Comments (0)

Long day - another buying run into Bellingham

The second week of doing Monday buying runs for the grocery store.
Went well but still draining. It was cool this morning so I overdressed a bit with a sweatshirt. Finished and came home around 5PM with a Costco roti chicken and we did our afternoon cocktail, a bit of a rest and then rotisserie chicken, homemade garlic mashed potatoes and the last of the asparagus grilled with olive oil and kosher salt. Been putting the asparagus into a tupperware container, drizzling some olive oil and a few shakes of salt — put the lid on and shake for 20 seconds or so. Gets them all nicely coated. Lay out on the grill for ten minutes and plate.

Heading into town tomorrow to see the 2016 movie. Night at the lake house and then back to the farm.

Posted by DaveH at 08:46 PM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2012

Another weather blogger

Just ran into Mike Smith's blog: Mike Smith Enterprises Blog

He is also doing a great job of covering the Isaac Tropical Storm.

Another place to check…

Posted by DaveH at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)

The costs of green jobs

People like to tout how many new jobs these days are “green” — isn't that so cool!
Turns out it's not that cool when you look at the big picture.
From the Brookings Institute:

Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment
As a matter of aspiration, no swath of the economy has been more widely celebrated as a source of economic renewal and potential job creation. Yet, the clean economy remains an enigma: hard to assess. Not only do “green” or “clean” activities and jobs related to environmental aims pervade all sectors of the U.S. economy; they also remain tricky to define and isolate—and count.

The clean economy has remained elusive in part because, in the absence of standard definitions and data, strikingly little is known about its nature, size, and growth at the critical regional level.

Seeking to help address these problems, the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings worked with Battelle’s Technology Partnership Practice to develop, analyze, and comment on a detailed database of establishment-level employment statistics pertaining to a sensibly defined assemblage of clean economy industries in the United States and its metropolitan areas.

By the numbers presented in the Report (from 2010):

2.7 Million Green Jobs total of which
20,680 are in BioFuels
29,531 in PhotoVoltaic and Thermal and
24,294 in Wind

The rest of the Green Jobs are in manufacturing, distribution, chemicals, agriculture, etc…

From the U.S. Department of Energy Energy Information Administration

Direct Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy in Fiscal Year 2010
This report responds to a November 2010 request to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) from U.S. Representatives Roscoe G. Bartlett, Marsha Blackburn, and Jason Chaffetz for an update to a 2008 report prepared by EIA that provided a snapshot of direct federal financial interventions and subsidies in energy markets in fiscal year (FY) 2007, focusing on subsidies to electricity production (Appendix A). As requested, this report updates the previous report using FY 2010 data and is limited to subsidies that are provided by the federal government, provide a financial benefit with an identifiable federal budget impact, and are specifically targeted at energy markets. Subsidies to federal electric utilities, in the way of financial support, are also included, as requested. These criteria do exclude some subsidies beneficial to energy sector activities (see “Not All Subsidies Impacting the Energy Sector Are Included in this Report”) and this should be kept in mind when comparing this report to other studies that may use narrower or more expansive inclusion criteria.

Let's look at some numbers:

$6,644,000,000 for BioFuels
$1,134,000,000 for Solar and
$4,986,000,000 for Wind

A little bit of Math (ooooo scary!) yields

$321,277 of our Tax Dollars for every BioFuel's job
$38,400 of our Tax Dollars for every Solar job and
$205,236 of our Tax Dollars for every Wind job.

The numbers are there at the links I provided — look them up yourself if you want.

I have said it before and will say it again. There is no Green Energy. It is a cruel scam, a hoax, a myth right up there with pink unicorns. Yes, you can get energy from the Sun and the Wind but the costs are prohibitive and the manufacturing processes used to make the solar panels result in toxins that need careful disposal. Fine enough in the US but that drives the costs up so our Tax Dollars get shipped over to China where they just dump any and all waste into an open sewer.

The “greens” are such hypocrites — they go on and on about saving the planet but they suffer from a major cognitive dissonance when their beloved solar panels are manufactured in an industrial wasteland in China. They only care about their own backyard — the planet is just a metaphysical rallying point for their religion and not anything to really be concerned about.

Retards… (And I apologize to all the wonderful real retards out there — I do not mean to paint you with the same toxic brush as I am painting the greens.)

Posted by DaveH at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)

Waterboarding

I am the President of our local Water Board and we have monthly meetings as mandated by the State Licensing Board. Met for about 45 minutes, talked about E Coli testing (clean as a whistle), upcoming Nitrate tests and sending our Engineer to a three-day training camp to keep his certification. Discussed our finances (very good).

We then spent the remaining 20 minutes solving the worlds problems, discussing the vagrant that blew through town (he was urged to relocate) and various other 'issues' in the community.

Fun stuff — I love small town living…

Posted by DaveH at 08:06 PM | Comments (0)

Whole lotta shaking goin' on

There are a large number (30+) of shallow earthquakes happening in Southern California.
Here is the current quake site from the U.S. Geological Survey

From the Los Angeles Times:

California earthquake swarm felt in Arizona, Mexico, USGS says
The series of moderate earthquakes — including several magnitude 5.0 and above — were felt as far north as Orange County, east into Arizona and south into Mexico, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS recorded more than two dozen earthquakes in Imperial County, many of them near Brawley. Officials said people reported feeling the quake in Yuma, Ariz., Lake Havasu as well as in Baja California.

The USGS's “Do You Feel It” system shows the quakes were felt as far away as San Diego, Temecula and San Clemente. The 5.4 quake was also felt in Moreno Valley, Indio, National City and Palm Desert.

Good news:

There were no immediate reports of serious damage or injuries from the temblor, though reports were still coming in.

The border region is known for frequent seismic activity, though the size of these quakes is larger than typically seen.
Posted by DaveH at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

Party like it's 2005

Tropical Storm Isaac might hit New Orleans. Brendan Loy is reporting:

Isaac A Major Threat to New Orleans; Is Anyone Paying Attention?
As Tropical Storm Isaac continues to churn–and struggle a bit–in the waters off Cuba, Hurricane Watches are up from southeastern Louisiana to the Big Bend of Florida, and the über-vulnerable city of New Orleans has moved inside the NHC’s cone of uncertainty. Three of the best American forecast models — the GFS, HWRF and GFDL — are in almost lockstep agreement this morning that Tropical Storm Isaac will track toward southeastern Louisiana over the next 60 or so hours. Here is what the GFS expects last Tuesday night — an intensifying, borderline Category 3-4 hurricane coming ashore on a near worst-case track for the Big Easy.

Despite all this, I get the sense that most people aren’t paying attention. Last night I noted that Drudge and NOLA.com still aren’t focusing on the New Orleans threat; well, they still aren’t. Moreover, Twitter searches for “New Orleans evacuation” and “Landrieu evacuation” (Mitch Landrieu is NOLA’s mayor) turn up almost literally no discussion. Not only have evacuations not been ordered yet, it seems nobody is even talking about the possibility. I keep seeing tweets from people who seem genuinely shocked when they learn New Orleans is under threat, like this is something nobody is discussing. Ugh.

Yet 48 hours from now, conditions could be starting to deteriorate in New Orleans. And pre-Katrina studies indicated it takes 48-72 hours to evacuate the city. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!! WAKE UP, MEDIA!! WAKE UP, GOVERNMENT!! This feels like 2005 all over again, in terms of the apathy and inattention at this stage. Isaac might not hit New Orleans — it might very well go elsewhere, I want to emphasize that — and it might very well not be as strong as feared (more on that below). But you don’t make preparations based on wishes and hopes. You make them based on realistic worst-case scenarios. The realistic worst-case scenario for New Orleans right now is really bad. People need to start paying attention to this!! If I lived in New Orleans, I’d already have packed my bags overnight and I’d be getting the Hell out of town this morning, as a precaution. The worst thing that can happen in an unnecessary evacuation is, you get a mini-vacation that proves to have been needless in retrospect because the storm doesn’t intensify much, or goes elsewhere. That’s a lot better than the worst thing that can happen if you stay (or wait too long to decide to leave), and the storm hits. New Orleans, remember, is largely a below-sea-level bowl. If you thought the levees breaking was bad, wait until you see what happens if a storm comes in on a sufficient worst-case track to overtop the levees. The long-studied worst-case scenarios for New Orleans are horrible.

Before I quote the NHC’s 5:00 AM advisory, I want to say a word about the uncertainty of this forecast, regarding the storm’s intensity in particular. Lest anyone believe I treat these computer model intensity projections as gospel, my personal feeling is that I’ll believe the modeled extreme strengthening when I see it actually begin to happen. Isaac has shown a tendency to underperform its intensity models thus far, and the waters in the Gulf aren’t as conducive to insanely rapid deepening as they were in 2005. I’d be pretty surprised if Isaac ever becomes a Cat. 4 or 5, and while I think Cat. 3 is very possible, I think a Cat. 1-2 type situation is also very possible. But again, planners, and folks in harm’s way, must assume the worst! I’m seeing some comments from folks dismissing the threat of a major hurricane as “nonsense,” or hype, given the storm’s current state. That’s ignorant. Don’t mistake your own suspicions and educated guesses for a scientifically unimpeachable forecast that people can rely upon when making life-or-death decisions. Isaac MAY VERY WELL NOT strengthen as much as forecast by the computer models, but that doesn’t mean we can dismiss and ignore those models. We must take them seriously, because what they’re predicting COULD occur. Rapid intensification can and does happen. Isaac wouldn’t be the first storm to look this disorganized, then be a major hurricane two days later. Will it happen? Again, we don’t know for sure, and I’ll fully believe it when I see it. But it’s not some crazy, hype-driven “nonsense” idea. To claim otherwise is not only ignorant but downright dangerous. That sort of false sense of security can literally kill people.

Pragmatic words. I would be getting my bug-out-bag from the garage and putting it into the truck if I lived there. Fortunately, the present governor is a lot better leader than Blanco and will not take three whole days to ask for Federal assistance. I am betting that Jindal has already requested aid.

Posted by DaveH at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)

In the pay of big oil

Anthony Watts has a wonderful pair of emails from the University of Arizona’s climate scientist Dr. Jonathan Overpeck regarding ‘big oil’ and influence in the climate debate. Go and read the entire thing.

Context — a bunch of emails were released on August 21st.
From Christopher Horner at WUWT:

NOAA releases tranche of FOIA documents – 2 years later
Today, NOAA finally delivered thousands of pages (hard copy, oddly, despite our request for electronic copies) of additional records that had been withheld during the deliberations over what to produce for a thorough FOIA seeking records relating to the HS, Mann’s appointment, Menne/surface stations, M&M, Climategate and the like.

This is a request from two years ago that has produced thousands of pages of papers and emails (all of the good stuff among which, in an odd coincidence, having already been produced under Climategate) and was the last in a series of four requests in response to which NOAA claimed ‘no responsive records’, when actually referring to records which they possessed but which Susan Solomon had said were really IPCC records and therefore not agency records. The subsequent IG investigation uncovering this response given to others, which we challenged when given to us, affirmed that this claim was not appropriate.
Posted by DaveH at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

Silly season - just getting started

From ABC News:

Orient Road Jail cleared out to handle RNC arrests
A big factor during the RNC is the potential for a large number of arrests.

In anticipation, in an unprecedented move, Hillsborough County jail officials announced one facility is completely cleared and essentially reconstructed just for the Republican National Convention.

The man in charge, Colonel Jim Previtera, took charge as he walked us through the Orient Road Jail.

The colonel began in the carport, where, he said, “The inmates will be unloaded, they will be searched and walked through a metal detector which has been added for this event.”

The entire facility has been transformed. At around noon Wednesday, the last of the inmates, excluding a dozen or so trustees prepared to handle cooking and cleaning duties, were moved out to nearby Falkenburg Road Jail.

Anyone arrested during the RNC will be brought to Orient Road Jail.

“As you can see, everything here — including the chairs — are color coded to handle this process efficiently and thoroughly,” said Previtera.

Officials have essentially created a temporary booking facility.

They are ready to handle a mass amount of inmates. Previtera said the system can handle 1000 additional arrests.

When you have been getting free stuff for so long and you see the free stuff going away, of course you are going to be upset. Time to batten down the hatches and make a big bowl of popcorn — this is gonna get real interesting real soon. The joke is that the protesters think that they are sticking it to the man when, they in fact are just tools of the man — Useful Idiots.

Posted by DaveH at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2012

More news from the workers paradise of Venezuela

Been surfing a bit more and found two other articles of interest.
First — from the Christian Science Monitor:

Long subsidized, gasoline now rationed in parts of Venezuela
The government is implementing gasoline rationing in Venezuela’s border states.

The way they are doing it is by installing a chip on each vehicle. The idea is to put a maximum weekly limit on the number of liters each car can purchase. The chip is already in place in the border state of Táchira, and is currently being rolled out in Zulia, another border state. Twitter is aflame with rumors it will soon be mandatory nationwide. Andrés Rojas from El Nacional thinks it’s gonna happen.

As with all rationing schemes, this one is bound to have, shall we say, “unintended consequences.” These are ripe for cutting edge economic research. Here are a few that I can think of, off the top of my head:
1. When the black market for gasoline appears (“when,” not “if”), we will learn the actual market price for gas. We can then use that to estimate the exact amount of the gas subsidy. We can also see how the black market varies between, say, Maracaibo (which is far away from non-rationing states) and El Venado (which is right on the edge of a non-rationing state).

Four more unintended consequences at the link.

Defeating the chip will be hard because, like all other RFID chips out there, there is no 'information' on the chip. The gallons of gas is not on the chip, it is stored on a central database. All that the chip has is a GUID — a unique serial number that references that particular vehicle. The gas station sends that back to the government database and the government database tells the gas station how much gas is available to that vehicle for that month.

There is probably some workaround for when the link to the database is down so outside of hacking the database, jamming the link is the only simple option. You could create another RFID chip with a different GUID but you would either be: #1) - not in the system or #2) - stealing someone else's gasoline ration.

Yes, there are a few other options but I am not discussing them on an open forum… PBBBTTT!!!

Second — from The Devil's Excrement

Venezuelan Infrastructure Suffers From Fourteen Years of Chavismo
Caracas has three main highways that take you out to the rest of the country. For a few hours this weekend, only one of them was available, the Autopista Regional del Centro. The other two, the Autopista de Oriente and the Caracas-La Guaira highway were closed for different reasons, making life difficult for those wishing or needing to travel.

The Autopista de Oriente was closed because the bridge at Cupira, about 130 Kms. East of Caracas, collapsed last week, as you can see in the picture above. The School of Engineers of Puerto La Cruz had been warning since 2009 that the bridge was in bad shape, but the warnings, much like those of the viaduct in the Caracas La Guaira highway a few years ago, were ignored by the Chavista Government. On top of that, you can see in the picture the large truck crane sitting in the middle of the bridge. There are reports that this truck crane, leased by the Government, weights almost twice as much as Venezuelan laws allow for a vehicle. Nobody stopped it and it was not complying with the regulations for a large vehicle circulating in a highway. This may have contributed to the collapse of the 40 year old bridge.

The consequences are felt everywhere. This is vacation season and an estimated 30,000 people scheduled to return from Margarita island by Ferry in the next couple of weeks will have troubles doing so, unless they take a 4 to 5 hour detour. Add commerce and supplies to the East and you can see that the picture is not pretty. The first day of the collapse the Government said it would have an alternate route ready in three days, but word now is that it will take around 15 days for the alternate route to be ready.

Some more:

But the more interesting thing is why this distributor is being built. The Distributor leads to Ciudad Caribia, a supposedly “socialist” city invented by Chavez on one of his Alo Presidentes. People are given the apartments, but they don’t own them. But the worst part is that thousands of apartments have been built but transportation to and from that new city is terrible. The plan is to have over 100,000 people live there by the year 2018. The problem is that the Caracas La Guaira highway is already overloaded and there are no plans for an alternate route to the 59 year old highway. (I know exactly how long it has been around, my mother always told us about going to see the highway the day it was opened, despite the fact that she was nine months pregnant and gave birth to my sister the next day)

But this is typical of the improvisation of Chavismo. Ciudad Caribia was rushed, without having proper infrastructure for it. People are very critical of it and construction quality has been bad, with building walls falling down months after the construction has been completed. This is not unique to Ciudad Caribia. All over the country buildings are rising, without any additional infrastructure being built. In order to rush the housing units to completion, all ordinances are bypassed, there is no planning and the result is that the quality of life is simply lowered for everyone. I guess that is what they mean by socialism.

This is where we are heading if we do not restore our Government, our Republic back to its original standards. Our current government is corrupt, traffics with crony capitalists and it stifles the economic engine that made it great.

If our current regime gets its way, there will be no middle class. There will be the institutional poor — a fully subsidized Democrat voting bloc.

There will also be two classes of rich — the rich that play along (GE) and get crony access and cheap tax rates and the rich that do not play along and get stiffed…

Of course, the revenues will dwindle so that will (short-term) be made up with borrowing. Eventually, this house of cards will tumble with a huge butcher's bill and our kids will be the ones to pay it all back. Is that what we want to leave as our legacy?

Posted by DaveH at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)

Curious news from the workers paradise of Venezuela

From My Way/Associated Press:

Refinery blast kills 24 in Venezuela, dozens hurt
A huge explosion rocked Venezuela's biggest oil refinery early Saturday, killing at least 24 people and injuring more than 80 others in the deadliest disaster in memory for the country's key oil industry.

Balls of fire rose over the Amuay refinery, one of the largest in the world, in video posted on the Internet by people who were nearby at the time.

At least 86 people were injured, nine of them seriously, Health Minister Eugenia Sader said at a hospital where the wounded were taken. She said 77 people suffered light injuries and were released from the hospital.

Officials said those killed included a 10-year-old boy, but that most of the victims were National Guard troops stationed at the refinery.

If Chavez is so beloved by his citizens, why does the National Guard need to be stationed at the refinery?

Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said the state oil company should be able to “restart operations in a maximum of two days.”

“We have sufficient supplies… in the entire country, and our production at the maximum to deal with any situation in our domestic market,” Ramirez said. “In that sense, we won't have major effects.”

An official of the state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, said the country also has enough supplies on hand to guarantee its international supply commitments. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Note: Not restart the refinery. Restart operations — i.e. filling tankers with their reserve oil and restarting the pumping of domestic oil through the pipelines.

One last item:

Amuay is part of the Paraguana Refinery Complex, which also includes the adjacent Cardon refinery. Together, the two refineries process about 900,000 barrels of crude per day and 200,000 barrels of gasoline. Venezuela is a major supplier of oil to the U.S. and a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

So they still have refinery capacity. Here is the Wikipedia entry for the refinery complex. I was looking to see the capacity of the Amuay complex v/s the Cardon — haven't found it.

One major problem is that the Venezuelan government heavily subsidizes the price of gasoline — it retails for 12¢ per gallon.

From the Wall Street Journal's Market Watch:

Low gas prices plague Venezuela
As US officials consider tapping the country’s strategic oil reserves to lower gasoline prices, analysts say a price hike is what Venezuela needs to wean itself from a consumer addiction that threatens to bankrupt this oil-driven economy.

“It’s criminal how cheap [gasoline] is,” said Gonzalo Ibarra as a gas station attendant fills up his shiny silver Mercedes Benz for less than a dollar. “I pay more for the tip than the gas.”

The 64-year old lawyer is in no need of a government handout but as a wealthy car owner is one of the biggest beneficiaries of a gasoline subsidy that’s costing the state’s economy at least $1.5 billion in revenue even as it struggles to recover after two consecutive years of loss.

Mr. Ibarra is unusual in that he says he would welcome a price hike but doesn’t believe President Hugo Chavez, who is facing an election next year, could pull off such a feat in a nation where cheap gasoline is considered a birthright. “It’s a very delicate matter.”

Gasoline in Venezuela costs about 12 cents a gallon, well below the $4 a gallon or more paid in most of the industrialized world.

Chavez was no doubt weighing all of these factors when he took to the airwaves recently to lecture the nation over gasoline usage.

“Every time you fill up your gasoline tank, you’re filling it up with the cheapest in the world; and the government is subsidizing over 90 percent of what it really costs,” Chávez said in a television address to the nation. “We must begin to reduce gasoline consumption.”

A perfect example of the unintended consequences of tampering with the free market. When the 'masterminds' fix prices, the market adjusts but frequently in ways they never ever considered. (Paging Jimmy Carter — President Carter to the White Courtesy Phone please).

Carter gave us horrific gas lines by fixing gas prices artificially low.
Chavez is stupidly hurting the people he is trying to help.
Venezuela's main source of income is petroleum sales. Chavez uses this money to provide entitlements for the Venezuelan poor instead of allowing them to start their own businesses. He is siphoning off oil revenues to pay for the gasoline subsidies and therefore, cutting the pool of money available for the entitlements. As very few 'poor' Venezuelans own cars, the benefits of the subsidies are lost to them.

Unintended consequences indeed. As I have said before, I really feel sorry for the people in statist regimes like Venezuela, Cuba, etc… They have such potential and are being kept down by incompetent ideologues.

Posted by DaveH at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

2016 - Obama's America

We are planning to see it Monday — have to run into Bellingham anyway so will see it and then get a bite to eat.

Some interesting news from Deadline Hollywood:

Anti-Obama Movie Stuns Hollywood For #4; Other Newcomers & Holdovers Weak Friday; Only ‘The Expendables 2′ Can Break $10M
SATURDAY AM, 3RD UPDATE: Because of Friday’s very weak box office, there was finally clarity for the Top 10 film rankings this morning. As predicted, Millenium/Lionsgate’s holdover The Expendables 2 finished in first place Friday and this weekend. It’s followed by Universal’s 2-week-old The Bourne Legacy in second place. New movies didn’t perform. But the shocker was Rocky Mountain Pictures’ political documentary 2016 Obama’s America which expanded into theaters across America this weekend after a very limited release and wound up in 4th place. That’s stunning because it’s playing in 2/3 fewer theaters across North American than the other wide release actioners. (See below for more details). Due to its hot pre-sales, the pic is proving frontloaded, and its ranking will fall steeply by end of Sunday. But the doc made its point: its new cume after this weekend should make it the #1 conservative documentary (besting Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’s $7.7M). The pic is based on conservative author and commentator Dinesh D’Souza’s New York Times bestselling 2010 book The Roots Of Obama’s Rage and co-directed by D’Souza and John Sullivan and produced by Academy Award winner Gerald R. Molen (co-producer of Schindler’s List). Its success comes because of savvy marketing on the eve of the Republican National Convention August 27-30. Exhibitors are reporting busloads arriving at theaters around the country in pre-organized trips. It also employed much of the same marketing techniques used to garner attention and support for faith-based films, understandable since the audience is overlapping. Its campaign included advertising nationally over the past two weeks on talk radio and cable news channels including Fox News Channel, A&E, History and MSNBC. ”Yes, I also didn’t believe it when I first saw the film taking off in pre-sales on Tuesday,” an exhibition insider tells me. “Because there’s not a lot of new product that’s taking off.”

There the liberals go again — just being silly.

It is not an anti-Obama film. Instead, it is a film that shows the truth about Obama's childhood and who shaped his world views and his ideology.

The fact that this presents a negative portrait is not anti anyone. It just shows that we have a President whose teachers and mentors had values that were counter to the core values of the United States and that he is not a reasoned thinker, instead he is an ideologue, set in his ways.

Looking forward to Monday.

Posted by DaveH at 08:36 PM | Comments (0)

CRAP - RIP Neal Armstrong

From NBC's Cosmic Log:

Astronaut Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on moon, dies at age 82
First moonwalker Neil Armstrong's death at the age of 82 marks the passing of a “reluctant American hero,” as well as the dimming of the Space Age's brightest moment.

His death followed complications from heart-bypass surgery he underwent this month, Armstrong's family said today in a statement released by NASA. The first public report of Armstrong's death came via NBC News' Cape Canaveral correspondent, Jay Barbree, a longtime friend.

Armstrong has been immortalized in human history as the first human to set foot on a celestial body beyond Earth. “That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” he radioed back to Earth from the moon on July 20, 1969.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said that “as long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them.”

Armstrong's fellow moonwalker on the Apollo 11 mission, Buzz Aldrin, was among the legions mourning his passage. “We are missing a great spokesman and leader in the space program,” Aldrin said in a BBC interview. He said he'd remember Armstrong “as being a very capable commander and leader of an achievement that will be recognized until man sets foot on the planet Mars.”

Michael Collins, the crewmate who circled the moon in the Apollo 11 command module while Armstrong and Aldrin took that first trip to the lunar surface, also paid tribute to his commander in a NASA statement: “He was the best, and I will miss him terribly.”

President Barack Obama said that Armstrong and his crew “carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation,” and that the first steps on the moon “delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten.”

I was nineteen when he stepped down that ladder — working for Fritz Noack — a pipe organ builder in Andover, MA. My Mom and Dad were vacationing that year in Rockport, MA (they alternated every other year there and Estes Park, Colorado). Came to their rental house and watched the landing on the TV.

That was an incredible time of hope — we were on the threshold of space exploration. The technology industry just mushroomed. The Personal Computer happened six years later with the Altair 8080.

As for me, I'm still waiting for my Jet-Pack. I want my Jet-Pack dammit!

Of course, Obama is going to “issue a statement” but considering that Obama is the reason we have to hitch a ride on a Russian spacecraft when we want to go anywhere, screw him. He is why we no longer have the ability to put a man into space. We need more space exploration, not less — it is a minuscule part of our budget (about 3% at its largest) and the benefits from the technology developments more than pay back the costs incurred.

Posted by DaveH at 07:53 PM | Comments (0)

Long day today -- trip to Canada

Went up to Canada to shop at Ikea. Picked up a few things for the kitchen and some bedding for the cot out in the DaveCave™ — or Ex-DaveCave™ now that my computer and music stuff is in the house.

Moving the photography stuff out there and still keeping my electronics bench there. Will be setting up the Ham Radio station out there too. That is a LOT of fun! Glad I took the class and got the license. Studying to upgrade my ticket so I can work the long-distance bands — talking to the world!

Setting the EDC™ up so Lulu's son will be able to stay there when he comes out to visit. The house was set up for a couple and the only guest room now has a bunch of music crap in it.

Took the dogs to be groomed while we were up North — first time with a new groomer but she came highly recommended and OMG — she is fantastic! She has our business from now on.

We had the afternoon Cocktail, a garden salad and some pot stickers for dinner and I am now settling down to surf for a while…

Posted by DaveH at 07:37 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2012

Consequences - Japan, Fukushima and Germany

Excellent post at Maggie's Farm:

Germany: Fool of the decade?
When we last left the exciting Fukushima/earthquake/tsunami story, it had been determined that the Fukushima nuclear power plant suffered almost no ill effects from the largest earthquake in Japan's history and the fifth-largest ever recorded. They had built the reactors deep in solid rock and they withstood the upheaval just fine.

Then the tsunami came along, knocked out the backup generators, and the whole thing went into the toilet.

Then the Japanese government freaked out and shut down all of their nuclear power plants due to 'safety concerns'. The first one finally went back on line a few weeks ago, a year and a half later.

Now, a little panic and overreaction from a government is hardly anything new. We see it here all the time. Some 11-year-old moron puts out an eye with a bottle rocket and immediately all fireworks are banned throughout the county. About the only thing they have in some places these days are sparklers and snakes. Happens all the time.

But then Germany got into the act, likewise shutting down all of its nuke plants over safety concerns, all of which raises one of the greatest questions of all time:

There are tsunamis in Germany?

Earthquakes, sure, but, as Fukushima testified, nuke plants can be built to withstand earthquakes just fine. So what the German high command was really saying to its citizenry was, “We're afraid we're going to get hit by a tsunami any minute now.” That, all by itself, might have earned Germany the coveted title, Fool of the Decade.

But it gets even worse than that.

When they built Fukushima, they constructed a sea wall that would withstand the highest tsunami in Japanese recorded history, back in the 30's. These people obviously aren't fools, and they well knew that (1) the reactors would probably withstand a major quake just fine, but (2) a tsunami breaching the sea wall would do them in. So they obviously put a lot of research into it.

Okay, so why did the tsunami breach the sea wall?

Natural mystery solved: That wasn't a tsunami that devastated Japan in March:
Turns out, that wasn't a tsunami after all that swept into northeastern Japan last March, killing nearly 20,000 people and launching a major nuclear and environmental crisis.

That was two tsunamis that merged far out at sea and rolled swiftly toward shore, more than 135 feet high. That means the speeding wall of water was almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty, torch to toes.

They've been studying data from a trio of satellites that fortuitously happened to be passing over that part of the Pacific Ocean on Friday, March 11, Japan time. And they have now confirmed what until now had only been hypothesized:

That separate massive water movements, ignited by undersea earthquakes miles beneath the ocean surface, can grow and actually merge their massive energy and water volumes to roll across scores of miles of ocean undiminished by distance. They are, it now appears, shaped and steered by the unseen contours — the ridges and mountain ranges — of the ocean bottom beneath.

Until now such twin tidal waves had never been observed, just theorized as possible explanations for such devastation as the 1960 Chilean tsunami that traveled trans-Pacific to kill about 200 in Hawaii and Japan.

“It was a one-in-ten million chance that we were able to observe this double wave with satellites,” said Y. Tony Song of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. “It was like looking for a ghost. A NASA-French Space Agency satellite altimeter happened to be in the right place at the right time to capture the double wave and verify its existence.”
So, to sum up, not only did Germany shut down its entire nuclear power industry because they were afraid of getting hit by a tsunami, but it turns out the tsunami they based this on was such an unlikely event that, until now, it had only been hypothesized.

Germany, take a bow. You win.

Quoted in full as it could not be excerpted. Also, remember that Fukushima was the only reactor that was damaged — there was a sister reactor that came online in 1984 — that was so sturdy that it served as a community rallying point and shelter. Fukushima came online in 1971 — a very early reactor.

Germany is also a fool in that they could spend some money to more closely monitor their existing plants and let them run through end of life. That way, there would be a little extra cost for added infrastructure, they would be able to sell that sweet clean cheap energy for another ten or twenty years and the plants decommissioning would be something that was already budgeted.

Now, they are faced with a hot decommission — something a lot more expensive.

Posted by DaveH at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

Consequences - infrastructure

Fun times in Seattle — from Slashdot:

Seattle Forced to Shut Off City’s Data Center
On Aug. 23, Mayor Mike McGinn of Seattle informed residents that the city would partially shut down its municipal data center for five days including the Labor Day weekend. As a result, city residents will be unable to pay bills, apply for business licenses, or take advantage of other online services.

In a Webcast press conference, McGinn isolated the issue as a failure in one of the electrical “buses” that supplies power to the data center. Because that piece of equipment began overheating, the city had to begin taking servers and applications offline to prevent overloading the system. The maintenance will cost the city $2.1 million of its maintenance budget.

A second power bus will remain operational, supplying enough electricity to power redundant systems for critical life and fire safety systems, including 911 services and fire dispatch. The city’s Web sites should also be up and running in some capacity. A full list of affected services can be found here.

And the fun continues to the South — again from Slashdot:

Washington Looks to Unload Data Center
The state of Washington is hoping that a buyer will step in and lease or buy about 30,000 square feet worth of space in a state-built data center it now has no use for.

The $255 million site sits on Jefferson Street, a few blocks east of the state Capitol in Olympia, Wash., which state officials have promoted as being seismically inactive, and thus an ideal spot for a data center, according to local reports.

The problem? According to The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., a state-funded report by Excipio Consulting LLC (filed more than a year and a half ago) stated that the total of 50,000 square feet of data center space in the Department of Enterprise Services’ complex is perhaps 10 times what the state needed.

The Jefferson St. facility includes four “halls” for data center use. The state plans to use Hall 1, but also built out the related Hall 2, which it wants to lease. The two other halls haven’t been completed. The site, which includes 260,000 sq. ft. of total space, is shared between the state’s Department of Enterprise Services and its sister agency, Consolidated Technology Services.

The state hopes that the Hall 2 tenant will complete its infrastructure, leaving the state off the hook. “The way we’re hoping it would work—the best case scenario for us—is we would not have to make any additional investment in Hall 2,” Rob St. John, the CTS director, told the Tribune. “Actually what the market supports and what we can get in there, time will tell.”

Of course, the requirements of the State will grow but, at the same time, the space required for a given computing and storage power will shrink.

Our tax dollars at work…

Posted by DaveH at 08:10 PM | Comments (0)

Nice interview with Isao Tomita

From Resident Advisor:

Isao Tomita: Moog reverie
You started out as a composer and an arranger of classical music, right?

Isao Tomita: In the 1950s, when I was in college, I arranged orchestrated versions of popular music and children's songs for use in schools, TV commercials and radio shows. During that time, I arrived to the conclusion that everything that could be achieved in orchestration has already been done in Wagner's time and, eventually, I realized that I wanted to make my own music using my own sounds.

I started experimenting with effects units like Vox's Fuzz-Tone. In the '70s, I discovered the Moog synthesizer, and came across Walter Carlos' album Switched-On Bach. Rock bands like Emerson Lake & Palmer, Pink Floyd and Yes would also use Minimoog in their music later on, but while they merely incorporated the Moog sound into their rock music, Walter Carlos built an entire album around the synthesizer. That idea totally blew my mind. But the thing is, Bach's music can be replayed on any instrument as long as it's in tune, and I felt that Switched-On Bach's sound could have been better. If you're gonna use something like a Moog synthesizer, you have to tweak the tone and put out something incredible.

How did you come to buy one?

Isao Tomita: At first, I had no idea where to buy it. Back in 1970, when we didn't even have a fax machine, I used a telex machine to contact people in Hong Kong. I found out that the Moog company was located in Buffalo, New York. I flew over there, and was shocked to see that the main office of a cutting-edge company like Moog was located in a simple, storage-shed-type building, in the middle of nowhere. I said to myself, “They make intricate machinery in a place like this!?”

So you went there and asked to buy the Moog III P directly. How much did it cost?

Isao Tomita: Back then, one dollar was 360 yen, and the Moog synthesizer was considered a luxury item, such as a foreign car, so the tariff rate was over 200%. It cost somewhere around 10 million yen (roughly $125,000) in today's value. Also, in those days we didn't have customs brokers like we do now, and if goods had problems clearing customs, the person importing the goods had to actually be there. So at customs, they asked me what this machine was. I told them that it was an instrument, and they didn't believe me. They said, “Then, play it.” [laughs]

I wish it was that easy, but it takes a while to even generate something that's not just noise, so I couldn't play it in front of them. I pulled out an LP of Switched-On Bach which has a Moog on the cover, and they still didn't buy it. Eventually, I had to ask Moog to send over a photo that shows somebody using a Moog synthesizer on stage, and it took about a month to get my synth finally cleared. And then, even though I'd told them from the beginning that it was just an instrument, they told me I had to pay extra for storage fees. I was tired of dealing with them so I just paid.

Did you master it quickly?

Isao Tomita: It was hell. Prior to purchasing it, I had thought it was like an electric organ, but when it came, I realised it was not that simple. I had to change my perception of what instruments are supposed to be like, because it was something totally different. All it made was noise at first. And the instructions didn't help much since it was only about 15 pages, talking about the functions of the machine, but not shedding light on how to create certain sounds.

A lot more at the site including some nice gear pron. The issue with playing an analog synthesizer is that it is monophonic — you have to lay down each track individually. Also, there are no “standard” patches — it is not an organ or piano. You have to build up each sound from scratch.

Tomita is now 80 — he was a major force of nature. Nice interview.

Posted by DaveH at 07:40 PM | Comments (0)

Feeling much better now

Took a three hour nap, had a Cocktail, hung out for a bit and then had some left-over spaghetti and fresh garlic bread. Did a simple salad with some sliced maters, pickled artichoke hearts (Costco) and the last of a Balsamic Reduction I did yesterday for dinner. Glass of wine and feeling a lot better.

The afternoon Cocktails have become quite the ritual at the house — end of the work day.

Lately I have been putting a sliced fresh peach into the shaker along with a quarter cup of sugar and the juice of one lemon. Use a stick blender to partially emulsify (leave a few chunks) and pop in the freezer for 15 minutes. Add a couple shots of good Vodka (Skye - stored in the freezer), shake and pour. A bruised fresh mint or basil leaf adds a nice note.

You could skip the freezer park and use a couple of ice cubes but it is not quite as good.

Posted by DaveH at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)

Light posting today

Both of us are kicking some low-grade bug — light fever, headache and upset stomach. Nothing to put us into bed but enough that we don't feel like doing much of anything.

Did a big thing of soup and toast for lunch and munching on vitamin C all day…

Was hoping to get to town to see the movie 2016 - Obama's America but will probably catch that in a day or two.

Posted by DaveH at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

Jon Corzine

Wonderful guy. From CNN - December 2011:

Corzine: 'I don't know where the money is'
Jon Corzine, the former chief executive officer of the bankrupt broker MF Global, apologized for his firm's failure Thursday and told a House committee that he doesn't know where its missing customer money went.

“I simply do not know where the money is, or why the accounts have not been reconciled to date,” Corzine said, in prepared testimony to the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday.

He also apologized “to all those affected.”

“Recognizing the enormous impact on many peoples' lives resulting from the events surrounding the MF Global bankruptcy, I appear at today's hearing with great sadness,” he said.

But does that stop him? From Forbes:

Jon Corzine (Yes, That Jon Corzine) May Start A Hedge Fund
Brace yourself, and your wallet. Jon Corzine may open up a hedge fund.

Corzine is the former CEO of MF Global. The commodities brokerage firm went bankrupt in October after making bad bets on Europe. The bets went so bad that the firm apparently used customer money to fund a growing liquidity crisis.

That was over ten months ago. Today MF Global clients are still missing $1.6 billion in assets. Corzine, the former Goldman Sachs CEO and former New Jersey governor, testified before the House Committee on Agriculture last year over the matter saying he has no idea where the money went.

“I simply do not know where the money is or why the accounts haven’t been reconciled,” he said and added that as CEO of MF Global Holdings, he is ultimately responsible.

What prompted this was this photo of Mr. Corzine I found over at Theo's place:

Jon on the beach
“I simply do not know where the money is…
I do not know which accounts are unreconciled
or whether the unreconciled accounts were,
or were not, subject to the segregation rules.”
— Jon Corzine

Posted by DaveH at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2012

Great news - Ben would be gone under Romney

I am loving these guys — from The Wall Street Journal:

Romney Reiterates He Would Replace Bernanke
Mitt Romney said Thursday that he would replace Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, dismissing the advice of a top adviser who suggested this week that the chairman should be considered for a third term.

The presumptive Republican nominee told the Fox Business Network that as president, he would want to install someone new in the Federal Reserve post. Mr. Bernanke’s term ends in January 2014.

Music to my ears! Bernanke is an advocate of Keynesian Economics and the unfortunate truth is that it simply does not work.

The Austrian School works and would have gotten us out of the recession in about two years instead of the malaise we are now drifting around in.

If something does not work, you should look around for an alternative action, not doing the same thing again but harder.

Posted by DaveH at 07:27 PM | Comments (0)

Pot meet Kettle - Gawker

This is rich! From National Review:

Gawker and Bain and the Caymans
Gawker has an interesting headline up: “Inside Mitt Romney’s Tax-Dodging Cayman Schemes.” The gossip site also has released some 950 pages of material related to Mitt Romney’s investments, mostly having to do with Bain Capital. In Gawker’s own words: “Together, they reveal the mind-numbing, maze-like, and deeply opaque complexity with which Romney has handled his $250 million fortune.”

Most respectable publications maintain a fairly strict church/state division between the editorial side and the business side, and Gawker, a not very respectable publication, seems to do the same. Apparently, nobody thought to tell the boys on the Romney beat that Gawker Media is part of a shell company incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Gawker’s money lives in the same neighborhood as Romney’s money. Call it bipartisanship.

As John Cassidy relates in The New Yorker, Gawker’s finances are “organized like an international money-laundering operation.” For example:
Much of its international revenues are directed through Hungary, where [bossman Nick] Denton’s mother hails from, and where some of the firm’s techies are located. But that is only part of it. Recently, [Felix] Salmon reports, the various Gawker operations—Gawker Media LLC, Gawker Entertainment LLC, Gawker Technology LLC, Gawker Sales LLC—have been restructured to bring them under control of a shell company based in the Cayman Islands, Gawker Media Group Inc.

Why would a relatively small media outfit based in Soho choose to incorporate itself in a Caribbean locale long favored by insider dealers, drug cartels, hedge funds, and other entities with lots of cash they don’t want to advertise? The question virtually answers itself, but for those unversed in the intricacies of international tax avoidance Salmon spells it out: “The result is a company where 130 U.S. employees eat up the lion’s share of the the U.S. revenues, resulting in little if any taxable income, while the international income, the franchise value of the brands, and the value of the technology all stays permanently overseas, untouched by the I.R.S.
So we have evil offshoring — exploting those poor marginalized Hungarian nerds — baroque tax-minimizing schemes, assets that will not be repatriated because of U.S. taxes, and that favorite sin of the Left: hypocrisy. In my mind, hypocrisy is a lesser sin than stupidity, and it is sort of stupid to write up a breathless account about Romney’s doing the precise same thing your company does. Incidentally, there is nothing in the Gawker report or the accompanying documents suggesting that Romney or Bain did anything improper. And neither did Gawker, for that matter: U.S. tax practices create very powerful incentives to pursue avoidance strategies. Gawker’s owners apparently know that, even if its writers lack the guts or the intellectual capability to acknowledge as much.

All right for me but not for thee. Let's see their tax returns for the last ten years — did they pay their income taxes? How abuot Nick's personal returns? Hmmm???

The New Yorker article quoted above has this to say:

Gawker Stalker: Nick Denton Spotted in Cayman Islands
Taking a break from the thousands of pages of documents related to the 2008 bank bailout that the Fed released yesterday—more on them later—I indulge my reprehensible weakness for media gossip, perusing a six-thousand-word post by Felix Salmon, the financial blogger, about Gawker Media. In addition to being an excellent advertisement for restricted word counts—and Salmon’s Stakhanovite work ethic—the post contains quite a bit of stuff that was news to me. (And, no, I don’t mean all that guff about Gawker redesigning its home page to feature one lead story. Stop the presses: Nick Denton, a former newspaper man, discovers the front-page splash.)

The Felix Salmon link above shows it being down for maintenence.
Fortunatley, we have the Internet Wayback Machine — from December 1st, 2010:

The new Gawker Media
Gawker Media’s big company-wide redesign, a year in the making, will finally come out of beta on January 3. It will the biggest event in Gawker Media history, for all three arms of the company—editorial, sales, and technology. It’s a concerted attempt for Gawker Media to stop being a blog network and start being something much more ambitious. And while that will be most immediately visible in the way that the blogs look, a massive change is taking place on the sales side, too: Chris Batty, Gawker Media’s semi-legendary head of sales, is leaving the company.

Gawker Media has had more than its fair share of staff turnover, of course. Much of it, especially at the Gawker flagship, has been detailed obsessively in the press. But above the editorial fray, the executive team has been constant all along: Denton, the owner and CEO; Gaby Darbyshire, the general counsel and COO; Tom Plunkett, the CTO; and Batty, the VP of sales and marketing, working alongside the VP of sales, Gabriela Giacoman. Batty’s departure marks the first visible fracture in this team, and is a sign of just how far-reaching Denton’s changes really are.

This is a monster post, so I’ll put the rest below the fold. The stuff about Batty and Gawker Media’s revenues comes near the top, the stuff about corporate structure and valuation is near the bottom.

More:

Gawker Media has been going through a big corporate revamp over the past year or so. The ultimate parent company has never been in the U.S.: it used to be Blogwire in Hungary, but now Blogwire Hungary has become a subsidiary of a Cayman Islands entity called Gawker Media Group Inc, which also owns various U.S. operations like Gawker Media LLC, Gawker Eexploitingaboutntertainment LLC, GawkemaintenanceFortunatelyr Technology LLC, and Gawker Sales LLC. (And what, exactly, is, or was, “Nick Denton Engineering“?) It’s unclear how many Cayman companies there are (I think there’s just the one), how many corporate entities there are in Hungary and the U.S., and whether there also might be companies in other jurisdictions. Only three people know for sure: Nick Denton, Gaby Darbyshire, and John Duncan—a lawyer whose official bio says that he’s an expert in corporate governance and taxation, as well as a graduate in Slavic languages.

What is clear is that most of the value of Gawker Media Group is to be found in the Hungarian subsidiaries—since it’s the Hungarian companies which own Gawker’s technology and its intellectual property. The main company there is Blogwire Hungary Szellemi Alkotást Hasznosító Korlátolt Felelősségű Társaság, which translates as Blogwire Hungary Intellectual Property Exploitation LLC; it came into being on October 1, 2002, and was officially registered on December 10 of that year. Denton has Hungarian citizenship (his mother, Marika, was Hungarian), which helped in terms of setting up the Hungarian company and getting associated tax breaks. I’ve put Blogwire’s most recent reported earnings—for 2007—at the bottom of this post, which were retrieved by the wonderful Sandor Peto in Budapest; they show a net profit of $82,080 on pre-tax earnings of $93,273 and total revenues of $479,480, which include $15,996 in “revenues from financial transactions.”

The Hungarian companies get all of Gawker’s international income, which flows in from 13 different salespeople in ten different countries and which, since it’s international income flowing to a Hungarian company owned by a Cayman Islands parent, is basically pure profit which never comes close to being taxed in the U.S. The result is a company where 130 U.S. employees eat up the lion’s share of the U.S. revenues, resulting in little if any taxable income, while the international income, the franchise value of the brands, and the value of the technology all stays permanently overseas, untouched by the IRS.

Emphasis mine — don't cry about Romney's investments lest they come home to bite you in the butt…

Posted by DaveH at 06:32 PM | Comments (1)

Good news to the North and a crappy company

We are suffering a major drought in the Midwest but our neighbors to the North are enjoying an above average yield.
From the Canadian Broadcast Company:

Bumper grain crop for Canada forecast amid U.S. drought
Canadian farmers are anticipating large increases in the size of their canola, wheat and barley crops this year, setting them up well to benefit from a drought devastating the agricultural sector south of the border.

“From a historical point of view, that size of crop we would see maybe once in a decade or so,” Canadian Wheat board crop expert Bruce Burnett said.

Statistics Canada issued new data Wednesday showing canola is set to hit an all time high this year. Prairie farmers anticipate a record 15.2 million metric tonnes in 2012, besting the record of 14 million set last year. Farmers in all three Prairie provinces anticipate an increase in canola production, with the potential for records in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Other grains are doing well too but a lot of this is because more acres are in production:

Wheat is also forecast to do well, with total production expected to reach 24.8 million tonnes in 2012, up 9.7 per cent from 22.6 million tonnes in 2011. The increase is wheat is largely due to more acres being harvested. The harvested area increased by 11.4 per cent this year to just under 22 million acres, Statistics Canada said. That was enough to offset a decline in output per acre, which has dropped from 42.1 bushels last year to 41.5.

Barley is sharply higher, anticipated to rise 23.8 per cent to nine million tonnes in 2012. That's due to a record 65.1 bushels per acre yield, but also an increase in the number of acres harvested.

Soybean production is anticipated to increase 3.7 per cent to just over 4.4 million tonnes and the production of corn for grain is anticipated to reach just over 11.7 million tonnes, up 9.5 per cent from last year's level.

And the crappy company? From the UK Independent:

We'll make a killing out of food crisis, Glencore trading boss Chris Mahoney boasts
The United Nations, aid agencies and the British Government have lined up to attack the world's largest commodities trading company, Glencore, after it described the current global food crisis and soaring world prices as a “good” business opportunity.

With the US experiencing a rerun of the drought “Dust Bowl” days of the 1930s and Russia suffering a similar food crisis that could see Vladimir Putin's government banning grain exports, the senior economist of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, Concepcion Calpe, told The Independent: “Private companies like Glencore are playing a game that will make them enormous profits.”

Ms Calpe said leading international politicians and banks expecting Glencore to back away from trading in potential starvation and hunger in developing nations for “ethical reasons” would be disappointed.

“This won't happen,” she said. “So now is the time to change the rules and regulations about how Glencore and other multinationals such as ADM and Monsanto operate. They know this and have been lobbying heavily around the world to water down and halt any reform.”

Scum. Archer Daniels Midland is corrupt. Monsanto is just too big for its own good. Nobody will touch them because they spend so much money lobbying the politicians.

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

Temperature History in the Pacific Northwest

From the Western Institute for Study of the Environment:

Pacific Northwest Temperatures Have Been Trending Downward For the Last 25 Years, Despite Predictions of Continued Warming
Reports from Oregon and Washington in recent years have suggested that climate change is resulting in continued temperature increases and pronounced environmental impacts across the Pacific Northwest. These reports also suggest that increases in atmospheric CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels are primarily responsible for these Pacific Northwest temperature increases. The discussion below presents figures and information from the National Climatic Data Center indicating that Pacific Northwest annual temperatures have actually been trending downward at a rate of 0.15°F per decade for the last 25 years and trending downward at a rate of 2.75°F per decade for the last 8 years, even as anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and the concentration of atmospheric CO2 were both increasing.

Links to data at the site.

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

Our intrusive overlords

From Fred Reed:

The Eye of Sauron
The pieces come together. Within the last week I have read:
1) New software, associated with Google, will recognize customers in stores so as to offer them discounts; having your photos uploaded to allow this service will (for now) be voluntary.

2) A new surveillance system in New York will store footage from cameras in, for example, the subway, so that when an unattended package is discovered, the police can look back in time to see who left it.

3) TSA is perfecting a laser that will allow detection on travelers of trace amounts of drugs, explosives, and doubtless a wide variety of other things.

4) The government is moving toward mandating black boxes on cars to record information thought to be useful in ascribing blame in crashes.

5) Various police departments are beginning to use “drone” aircraft to monitor the population.
These are recent pieces of the coming world. They have not yet all been completely deployed and linked. Some are voluntary, for the moment. Others are in development. All are coming.

Add the now-routine tracking of passports, cameras that read every passing license plate and record the time, NSA’s automated monitoring of email, Google’s and therefore the government’s knowledge of your searches, GPS tracking of cell phones, detailed records of bank transactions, and so on. Not all of these are instantly accessible by the police. They can easily be made accessible, and they move in that direction.

In short, the technology exists for a detailed, unblinking, unforgetting watchfulness of the entire population beyond anything imagined, or perhaps imaginable, a few decades ago. This is not Fred-drank-too-much-coffee. It is happening.

The capacity of hard drives is now essentially without limit, the power of computers to sort and search infinite, and the speed of the internet no longer a bound. Almost microscopic cameras, wireless concealable microphones, face recognition, voice recognition, recording GPS: You can buy all of this in consumer stores. The government has far better.

People speak of the onrush of the police state. I think that many do not understand how fast it comes, or how thorough it will be.

Yet another reason to avoid the big cities — Bellingham has everything that I need. I do go to Seattle every couple of months and do not like it. We are heading up to Vancouver this weekend but this is just a quick trip up, go to Ikea, go to Costco and then head home.

Posted by DaveH at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)

Access for all

Seems like the television networks would rather run regular shows than the Republican National Convention.
From The New York Times:

Limited Convention Broadcasts Shut Out Ann Romney
At 10:30 on Monday night, Ann Romney is scheduled to take the stage at the Republican National Convention, in Act 1 of her husband’s four-day introduction to the nation. But tens of millions of people will not be able to watch.

CBS plans instead to show a rerun of “Hawaii Five-O,” its hit police series. Viewers of NBC will see a new episode of “Grimm,” about a homicide detective with the supernatural ability to sense evil. And ABC plans to show “Castle,” a series about a best-selling mystery novelist who helps solve crimes.

The networks, which reap considerable advertising dollars even from summer reruns, have told the Romney campaign that they will broadcast an hour of convention coverage on the final three nights — but no more.

Advisers to Mitt Romney, facing a blackout of the opening-night program they fastidiously scripted to soften perceptions of the candidate, are angry.

“I don’t think it’s the decision that Bill Paley would have made,” said Russ Schriefer, a senior Romney adviser, referring to the executive who ran CBS during the days of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.

The campaign is considering whether to move Mrs. Romney’s speech to another night, though it is proceeding for now with the Monday night plans.

Thank God for cable…

Posted by DaveH at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2012

Let's Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum - update #1

I had written (here) about the fundraising going on to purchase Wardenclyffe — Tesla's last big laboratory. The organizers were running an IndieGoGo website and checking today, they blew past their $850,000 need and are now at $958,257.

Just for the hell of it, I first clicked on it ten minutes ago, noted the amount and just now, refreshed the browser — the funds raised jumped from $958,005 to $958,257 so funds are still trickling in. $252 in ten minutes is not shabby and considering that the fundraising campaign lasts for another 38 days, that is the potential for another $1,378,944 (for a grand total of $2,337,201) if donations continue at the current rate.

Posted by DaveH at 10:10 PM | Comments (0)

Now this is going to turn out well

From The Sacramento Bee:

California poised to grant driver's licenses to young illegal immigrants
California is on the verge of allowing hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants to receive driver's licenses for the first time in nearly two decades.

The key question is how to do it.

The issue of granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants has raged in the Legislature for much of the past decade, without resolution, but fighting is largely moot now due to a new federal policy.

President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals gives a select group of undocumented immigrants the right to live and work in the United States for two years without fear of deportation.

California is laying the groundwork for extending the privilege to driving, too, for an estimated 400,000 immigrants.

400,000 new Democrats signed up for the dole and registered to vote. Voting for free stuff instead of freedom.

An interesting sidenote — from page seven of this 2012 California Department of Motor Vehicles report (PDF): 2012 Annual Report of the California DUI Management Information System

In 2010, Hispanics (43.7%) again represented the largest ethnic group among DUI arrestees, as they have each year since 1992 (with the exception of 1999, when Whites were the largest group at 42.8%). Hispanics continued to be arrested at a rate substantially higher than their estimated 2010 population parity of 33.7%

There is no mention in that report whether these Hispanics are illegal immigrants or not — in fact, the word immigrant does not appear anywhere in the report's 177 pages.

Posted by DaveH at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)

Meet Tropical Storm ISAAC

At the National Weather Service Hurricane Center

Winds are currently at 45MPH putting it squarely in the Tropical Storm category. Hurricane is between 74MPH and 110MPH. Still to far off to be certain but it looks like it's going to hit Tampa right when the Republican National Convention is scheduled.

This could get interesting…

From CBS Tampa/AP:

Mayor: ‘Absolutely Prepared To Call Off’ GOP Convention If Isaac Threatens Tampa
Tampa’s mayor warns that the Republican National Convention could be canceled if Tropical Storm Isaac heads for the city.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn told CNN that he is more concerned about the safety of his people than holding the convention.

“Absolutely we’re prepared to call it off,” Buckhorn explained to CNN. “I mean, human safety and human life trumps politics. I think the RNC recognizes that.”

Buckhorn also added that the city has contingency plans ready in case of an emergency.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a factor in this particular convention,” Buckhorn told CNN. “But we are prepared in the event that it is.”

Isaac could threaten Florida as early as next week.

Calling off the convention if there is the hint of a breeze.
Why yes in fact, he is a Democrat. Why did you ask?

Posted by DaveH at 06:33 PM | Comments (0)

Heh - Switzerland is annoyed at Obama

From Politico:

Switzerland objects to portrayal as a tax haven in Obama ads
The Obama campaign's ads against Mitt Romney's foreign holdings have rubbed the government of Switzerland the wrong way.

The famously neutral country confirmed to POLITICO they have raised the issue with President Obama's Chicago campaign.

Swiss embassy spokeswoman Salome Ramseier says that it “has communicated with the Obama campaign headquarters to object to the ads giving the impression that simply having a Swiss bank account means that the accountholder is trying to hide money from the IRS.

Nothing illegal at all — once you reach a certain wealth, it makes sense to diversify your holdings. The fact that they are in a different nation prompts me to ask why banks in the US don't offer these kinds of accounts. That people have to go abroad to invest speaks to the lack of services in our own system.

Posted by DaveH at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

An interesting metric - the Amazon Election Heat Map

Amazon selected the best selling political books and segregated them by affiliation - progressive v/s conservative.
Conservative books are outselling progressive books by a 56% to 44% ratio. The listing is updated hourly.

The top selling progressive book is: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, Cornel West.

Top selling conservative book is the excellent: The Amateur by Edward Klein.

They break the data out by state - WA State is 54% conservative v/s 46% progressive.

Posted by DaveH at 03:50 PM | Comments (0)

Funny doings at the White House

Someone with way to much influence is Valerie Jarrett. From The Washington Free Beacon:

Jarrett Towers
Senior White House adviser and long-time Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett’s role in a number of controversial Chicago housing developments has garnered her investments worth millions of dollars while highlighting the administration’s extensive business ties to presidential donors.

Before joining the Obama administration in 2009, Jarrett was president and chief executive officer of the Habitat Company, a real estate development firm founded by major Democratic donor Daniel Levin. Before that, she served three years as commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development under Mayor Richard Daley.

Jarrett currently owns an 11-percent equity interest in Kingsbury Plaza, a 46-story luxury apartment complex developed by Habitat between 2005 and 2007 at a cost of more than $100 million.

She valued the investment at between $1 million and $5 million on her 2011 financial disclosure form, up from $250,001 in 2010. A Jarrett spokesman told the Washington Times that the investment was “a direct result of her 13 years working for Habitat.”

Cook County records show the Kingsbury property is worth around $27.2 million, but thanks to a series of legal appeals beginning in 2003, the land and building are assessed at a much lower value for tax purposes. Since 2008, the property has been designated a “special commercial structure” and is taxed at a value of just $6.8 million, or 25 percent of the actual value.

Asked how such a property could enjoy such a low taxable value, an official with the Cook County Assessor’s Office told the Free Beacon that the property’s owners “must have good attorneys.”

Much more at the site — Jarrett's bosses (husband and wife) are major Obama contributors and were awarded a choice ambassadorship.

A bit more including this little gem:

Under Jarrett’s leadership, Habitat oversaw the development of a number of public housing projects, one of which, in the Cabrini Green neighborhood, was dubbed a “national symbol of urban despair.” Others became so run-down the city had to ask the federal government to intervene.

Cabrini Green is a perfect example of a government bureaucracy at work. Here is the Wikipedia entry and here is the project website with news about the buildings, the decay, the demolition and the current uses of the property. This is not something I would want on my resume and how the project leader got tapped to be Presidential Adviser boggles the mind…

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

Don't mess with McDonald's

From Breitbart:

McDonald's Fires Back on Food Police First Lady
Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last week, where she told Leno that after winning her medal, she “splurged on an Egg McMuffin at McDonald’s.” Unfortunately for Douglas, she was sitting on the same set as Food Police Commissar Michelle Obama, who quickly chided her for not eating healthy. “No Gabby,” she tut-tutted, “we don’t … don’t encourage. I’m sure it was on a whole wheat muffin … You’re setting me back, Gabby!”

The implication: McDonald’s is the root of all food evil.

Now McDonald’s is fighting back. McDonald’s had already co-sponsored the Olympic Games to the tune of $100 million, specifically pushing its “Favorites Under 400” dishes, an attempt to get people to eat foods under 400 calories. And the Egg McMuffin clocks in at a robust 300 calories. “We are working hard to continue to provide our valued customers – Olympians and others alike – with great tasting, quality food and beverage options in a variety of portion sizes to fit any dietary needs,” explained McDonald’s director of communications, Dayna Proud. And dietary specialists say that it’s not out of line for Douglas to chow down on the McMuffin – she needs protein, and her calorie intake is higher than that of non-Olympic athletes.

President Obama and his wife have already made clear their distaste for the business community. Attacking one of America’s most beloved institutions by lecturing one of America’s most beloved athletes is – no pun intended – in bad taste.

Heh — nice turnaround. Lots of support for McD's in the 400+ comments…

Posted by DaveH at 02:54 PM | Comments (0)

Debt Bomb

Hat tip to Maggie's Farm for the link.

Posted by DaveH at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

Swordfighting

Fascinating essay from John Clements writing at The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts:

Sword Fighting is Not What You Think…
To borrow a famous line, the problem with most people trying to understanding the true nature of historical sword combat is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.

It's amazing really, how a subject that so permeates our modern pop culture and is so ubiquitous is one which virtually no one any longer has any real world experience in nor pursues for it's original function. The truth is, that most all our conceptions of sword fighting get it wrong. The reality of it is not what you think it is.

Face it, some readers will really get offended if you dare to suggest that they don't have an accurate conception of sword fighting. Fanboys especially will take it as a personal insult to their very identify when you challenge their assumptions. It's pretty silly, since no one of them relies on this skill for self-preservation nor makes it their profession. Plus, nearly everyone gets their information and opinions on it from the same essential sources: TV, movies, fantasy literature, video games, cartoons, comic books, dinner-theaters and renn-fairs fight shows. But where do those sources get their notions?

Almost entirely from experience with sport fencing, Asian martial art styles, and pretentious historical role-playing societies. Yet, all these sources derive their conceptions of it from still earlier ones. And so on and so on. Where then did most of today's ideas on historical sword fighting originate? When we trace it all back, we find romantic beliefs about the nature of swordsmanship among knights and cavaliers almost all started with ignorant Victorian-age prejudices.

Fortunately, during the Medieval and Renaissance eras there were produced hundreds of detailed instructional manuals by expert Masters of Defence. These knights and professional instructors in arms wrote and illustrated immense technical treatises and books on their “science of self-defense.” Intended to preserve their secrets or instruct their students and patrons, these little-known works, some in excess of six hundred pages, represent time-capsules of the actual fighting systems and proven combative disciplines used at the time. Focused mostly on swordsmanship, these handbooks and study guides reveal highly sophisticated combat teachings. Further, their content and presentation is unmatched by any martial arts literature from anywhere in the world. …And we have dozens of them.

Only recently in the last decade or so has this extraordinary and all but forgotten material finally come to be properly examined and studied. Reconstruction of these remarkable teachings offers an unparalleled view into how fighting men prepared and trained themselves for duels, street-fights, and battlefield encounter. Their manner of fighting with swords is not the classical Western style we see today, which is largely a contrived 19th-century gentleman's version of a narrow, aristocratic Baroque style. What the surviving sources show us is wholly different from the familiar pop-culture version as well as being dramatically distinct from what has gone on for years in assorted reenactments and contrived living-history efforts. Rather, Medieval and Renaissance sword fighting was a hell of a lot more violent, brutal, ferocious, and astonishingly effective. The way in which these swords were held, the way they can be maneuvered, and the postures and motions involved, differ substantially from common presumptions and modern-era fencing styles.

Lots more at the website. This is the real deal — not some puffery from Hollywood…

Posted by DaveH at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)

Life at the top

I have always been fascinated by polar regions. Had the great pleasure to spend two months backpacking through Iceland and also visited Antarctica.

Just ran into the website for Jan Mayen Island. From the home page:

Jan Mayen is a volcanic island of Norwegian dominion, located in the north Atlantic ocean, 950km west of Norway, 600 km north of Iceland. Current crew is a total of 18, running the Loran-C navigation station, the meteorological station and maintaining the infrastructure - buildings, roads, airstrip, power station and so on. The view of the island is dominated by the active volcano, Beerenberg (2277m), which had its last eruption in 1985.

They have a blog (the News link at the top right). It is in Norwegian but Google Translate does a decent job. I would love to visit there for a month or two — looks beautiful!
Posted by DaveH at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

Operation Mountain Sweep

This will put a bunch of people's knickers into a twist.
From CNN:

$1 billion in pot destroyed in raids on federal lands
More than $1 billion worth of marijuana has been uprooted from federal lands during a two-month operation targeting illegal pot farms, federal authorities announced Tuesday.

Operation Mountain Sweep has resulted in the destruction of 578,000 marijuana plants, Benjamin B. Wagner, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California, said in a press release.

The operation, involving agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as local agencies, targeted growing sites on public lands in seven Western states – Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

Wagner said 14 individuals in California have been indicted on charges resulting from Operation Mountain Sweep. Authorities have shut down 96 pot farms on public lands in California since the operation began July 1, the federal authorities said. Among those pot farms were sites in national forests and parks, including Death Valley National Park.

Makes you wonder who is getting paid off to keep it illegal. The states could generate a lot of revenue by taxing it.

Posted by DaveH at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2012

Another reason to love Paul Ryan

From Professor S. Fred Singer writing at American Thinker:

Paul Ryan, the Perfect Anti-Gore
Vice-president hopeful Paul D. Ryan is the polar opposite to former VP Al Gore. Instead of promoting fears, the candidate is a pretty solid skeptic when it comes to catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW). Romney is obviously comfortable with that stance and is using Ryan to reposition himself on the issue of global warming and energy.

If Romney-Ryan are elected, the global warming problems may suddenly disappear. As a start, the new Congress will likely pass legislation that specifically instructs the EPA not to control any of the greenhouse gases that have a global distribution — and, like CO2, are certainly not pollution in any normal, ordinary sense.

In an otherwise critical NYT op-ed (Aug 13), Reagan's former WH budget chief David Stockman calls Ryan “the most articulate and intellectually imposing Republican of the moment.” (That was exactly my opinion of the David Stockman I knew some 30 years ago.) It speaks well for Romney that he would select a VP who may overshadow him in many areas. By contrast, Obama's selection of Biden suggests intellectual insecurity.

Paul Ryan's position on climate science
Ryan has accused climate scientists of “intentionally misleading the public on climate change.” (See full article.) This may be true for perhaps a dozen or so — and we know who they are; their names appear prominently in the Climategate e-mails. But many hundreds of others are simply willing to go along and collect research grants from the government, having convinced themselves somehow that their contributions may moderate the climate and “save the Earth.”

Here's what Ryan wrote three years ago in The Journal-Times (Racine, WI):
To the detriment of the American people, environmental issues have fallen victim to the hyper-politicization of science. … [P]ublished e-mail exchanges from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) from leading climatologists make clear efforts to use statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change. The CRU e-mail scandal [“Climategate”] reveals a perversion of the scientific method, where data were manipulated to support a predetermined conclusion. The e-mail scandal has not only forced the resignation of a number of discredited scientists, but it also marks a major step back on the need to preserve the integrity of the scientific community. While interests on both sides of the issue will debate the relevance of the manipulated or otherwise omitted data, these revelations undermine confidence in the scientific data driving the climate change debates.

Professor Singer has the credibility to comment on this subject. From the site:

S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project. His specialty is atmospheric and space physics.
Posted by DaveH at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

Heh - coal in the news

There is a movement in the Pacific Northwest to demonize coal — part of Obama's plan to make Electricity rates skyrocket.

Fortunately there are more pragmatic and intelligent people around the planet. From Bloomberg:

Merkel’s Green Shift Forces Germany to Burn More Coal
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government says RWE AG (RWE)’s new power plant that can supply 3.4 million homes aids her plan to exit nuclear energy and switch to cleaner forms of generation. It’s fired with coal.

The startup of the 2,200-megawatt station near Cologne last week shows how Europe’s largest economy is relying more on the most-polluting fuel. Coal consumption has risen 4.9 percent since Merkel announced a plan to start shutting the country’s atomic reactors after last year’s Fukushima disaster in Japan.

And it's not just Germany:

Germany’s increasing coal consumption is part of a global return to the fossil fuel that’s cheaper than most alternatives. The amount of coal burned worldwide rose 5.4 percent to account for 30 percent of total energy use last year, the highest proportion since 1969, according to BP Plc data.

(insert Thorium Reactor rant here)

Posted by DaveH at 01:44 PM | Comments (0)

Obama's political machinations

From Investors Business Daily:

Crony Socialism Is Still With Us
It didn't take long after President Obama was elected in 2008 for the first signs of crony capitalism to emerge. And as time's gone by, conditions haven't improved. If anything, the problem is growing worse.

This much is clear: Democrats who controlled Congress and the White House used the $700 billion TARP program and the $860 billion stimulus as a giant ATM to pay back favored constituencies, at the expense of the rest of us.

We thought the problem, once observed, would disappear. After all, who would want his or her name associated with something as disreputable as crony capitalism?

And yet, it hasn't gone away. In recent weeks, more revelations show just how corrupt our now-permanent “stimulus” culture is:
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid has fought on behalf of a Chinese-owned energy company, ENN Mojave Energy LLC, to build a billion-dollar solar energy plant in Nevada as part of the Obama White House “green jobs” campaign. Only problem, Reid's son Rory is one of the attorneys representing ENN Mojave.

Joe Hynansky, a friend and contributor to both Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama, won a loan of up to $20 million backed by the U.S. government to build a luxury foreign auto dealership in . . . Ukraine. Stimulus? Hardly. Hynansky's family has donated more than $64,000 to both Obama's and Biden's various political campaigns.

A new book, “Shadowbosses: Government Unions Control America and Rob America Blind,” makes the startling claim that a key aim of ObamaCare is to unionize 21 million health-care workers — giving the dying U.S. labor movement a shot in the arm. Any surprise organized labor has given Obama and other Dems hundreds of millions of dollars in the last decade?
Past examples abound. They range from the corruption surrounding government loans to Solyndra and other politically connected “green energy” firms that squandered billions of dollars of taxpayer money, to the billions of “stimulus” paid out to states to bolster unionized state employees' benefits and pay. That's money spent not to build bridges, roads and ports, or to “stimulate” anything other than bureaucrats.

Time to clean out the Senate and the Whitehouse. Less than 80 days until the election…

Posted by DaveH at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

Abiogenic petroleum origin

There is a very large body of evidence that oil is continuously being produced deep in the Earth and that it percolates up through faults and collects in pools. The idea that oil was produced from 'dead dinosaurs' or plant material is becoming more and more laughable.

Coal is definitely produced from plant material but the chemistry between oil and coal is very different.

This came up on an alt.energy email forum and someone posted the link to this fascinating article in Offshore Magazine:

MIDDLE EAST GEOLOGY Why the Middle East fields may produce oil forever
The topography of the Middle East, as it exists today, is the result of a geodynamic system reflected in the creation of subduction zones in Oman, along the Persian/Arabian Gulf area, along the Syrian-Turkish borders, and along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea.

This system is also reflected in rift creation leading to the opening of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Suez, the Gulf of Aqaba, northward to southern Turkey, and between Syria and Jordan. The subduction and rifting are caused by the counterclockwise movements of the Arabian plate from Miocene to Recent, as evidenced by recent earthquakes.

The location and orientation of hydrocarbon fields appear to be controlled by and related to subduction and rifting activities. The formation of hydrocarbons are due to the chemical processes which take place, even today, within the subduction/rift zones, and deep into the basement.

The carbon and hydrogen, necessary for the formation of hydrocarbons, can originate from organic compounds, located in subducted sedimentary rocks, and from the dissociation of carbonates (CaCO3 ), and the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) and water (H2O) that seeps into subduction zones, or deep into rifts and fractures.

Furthermore, CO2 can be released from cracked olivine and pyroxene in lithospheric and basaltic rocks. The reduction of CO2 to carbon ©, and H20 to hydrogen (H2) is probably catalyzed by oxidizing ferrous iron (Fe+2 ) present in mafic minerals to ferric iron (Fe+3 ). The combination of C and H2, at 300-500°C, has formed paraffinic and naphthenic compounds (both present in the oils of the Middle East).

The continuous formation of hydrocarbons by this process, and the field locations along, near, or above subduction/rift zones, would account for the continuous increase in oil reserves, would explain why hydrocarbons are found close to those zones, and why the reserves are modest in Syria, Turkey, and Oman, relative to the huge oil reserves found in the countries along the Gulf.

Lots of links to source material. This was written in 1995 so it predates a lot of the really deep water finds (Brazil, Indonesia, etc…) Finds that never were exposed to the surface and therefore had no plant formation.

Posted by DaveH at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

Transparency in the White House

From the White House Dossier:

White House Sets Ground Rules for Local Interviews
The White House is doing something with its local TV interviews that it could not easily get away with in encounters with the White House press corps, which President Obama has been studiously ignoring: choosing the topic about which President Obama and the reporter will talk.

In interviews with three local TV stations Monday, two from states critical to Obama’s reelection effort, Obama held forth on the possibility of “sequestration” if he and Congress fail to reach a budget deal, allowing him to make his favorite political point that Republicans are willing to cause grievous harm to the economy and jobs in order to protect the rich from tax increases.

Obama Monday threw the White House press corps a bone by suddenly appearing in the briefing room for 22 minutes and taking questions from a total of four reporters. It was his first press conference at the White House – albeit in miniature – since March, and only his second of the year. Obama before Monday had taken exactly one substantive question from White House reporters since June.

But the three other interviews Obama also held Monday pointed to the advantage he gets by focusing on local press, with whom he has been speaking more regularly.

Obama promised us transparency — what we got was this…

Posted by DaveH at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2012

Nice work if you can get it

Wish I lived there — must be nice to be paid to screw off and collect union wages and benefits.
From the Michigan Mackinac Center for Public Policy:

No Horses, But Detroit Water Department Employs 'Horseshoer'
Despite having no horses, the water and sewerage department for the city of Detroit employs a horseshoer.

Yet even with a department so bloated that it has a horseshoer and no horses, the local union president said it is “not possible” to eliminate positions.

Union rules have turned the department into a government jobs program, some critics say.

The horseshoer’s job description is “to shoe horses and to do general blacksmith work … and to perform related work as required.” The description was last updated in 1967.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) has a large debt, rising water prices and inefficient services — using almost twice the number of employees per gallon as other cities like Chicago.

Sigh — someone out there is getting $30K plus $30K benefits to hang out and pound iron on taxpayer money.
I can see having someone on call for this — full time? No.

Posted by DaveH at 10:35 PM | Comments (0)

Cool discovery

From the newly founded (2009) Schmidt Ocean Institute:

Polar Expedition Vessel S.S. Terra Nova discovered
Last month, during routine functional performance testing of the mutibeam mapping echosounders on the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s flagship R/V Falkor, the team aboard—including researchers from the University of New Hampshire, Ifremer, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution—discovered the S.S. Terra Nova, a whaler, sealer and polar exploration ship that sunk off the southern coast of Greenland in September, 1943, after being damaged by ice.

The performance verification of R/V Falkor’s scientific echo sounders precedes oceanographic research cruises set to begin in 2013. The tests included a shallow water survey off the southern coast of Greenland to assess the Kongsberg EM710 multibeam mapping echo sounder’s performance in complex topography. The testing took place on July 11, 2012, as part of the planned R/V Falkor field trials during the transit of the vessel from Newcastle, UK to Nuuk, Greenland.

Some information on the S.S. Terra Nova from Wrecksite

The significance? From the Beeb:

Scott's wrecked ship Terra Nova found off Greenland
The wreck of the ship that carried Captain Robert Scott on his doomed expedition to the Antarctic a century ago has been discovered off Greenland.

The SS Terra Nova was found by a team from a US research company.

Scott and his party set off from Cardiff aboard the Terra Nova in 1910 with the aim of becoming the first expedition to reach the South Pole.

The ship had a life after the polar trek, sinking off Greenland's south coast in 1943.

It had been on a journey to deliver supplies to base stations in the Arctic when it was damaged by ice. The Terra Nova's crew was saved by the US Coast Guard cutter Southwind.

On arriving at the geographical South Pole in January 1912, Scott and his party discovered they had been beaten to it by a Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen.

The polar team led by Scott died on their return journey from the pole; their bodies were found by a search party eight months later.

Their endeavour became popularly known as the Terra Nova expedition.

Scott and his crew died 100 years ago — starved to death only eleven miles from a food cache. His final words:

“We had fuel to make two cups of tea apiece and bare food for two days on the 20th. Every day we have been ready to start for our depot 11 miles away, but outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not think we can hope for any better things now. We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far.

It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more.

R. SCOTT.

For God's sake look after our people.”

Why are our schools not turning out people like this? Guts. Backbone.

Posted by DaveH at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2012

Stuff...

The brisket was awesome — I loves me my Traeger. Got enough for a bunch of meals so will cryovac half tomorrow.

The sauerkraut is coming along nicely — got some strong signs of fermentation and it smells good and clean — lots of bubbles when I push down on the weight. More than an inch of brine above the plate. I am happy with the crock that I bought in Rapid City but I should have gone bigger.

Early day tomorrow — taking over the Monday shopping runs for the store.

Posted by DaveH at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

Coal Burning Electric cars and the government

Not a good mix — from Zero Hedge:

Total Karma Recall: Fisker Pulls All Cars Due To Fire Risk
Last week we reported on the searing woes plaguing the Karma “supercar” of green automaker Fisker, following the most recent episode of automotive spontaneous self-immolation. In fact, things for the company that has so far received $529 million in federal subsidies are so bad that also last week Fisker announced its third CEO hire in the past year (when in a supremely ironic move it hired the former head of the Chevy Volt program Tony Posawatz). As of last night things just went from bad to even worse, following the inevitable next step: a total recall of all Karmas currently on the road. Oh well: nothing that burning, quite literally, several hundred more million in taxpayer funding won't solve.

We taxpayers have given almost half a billion to a Finish company.

Here's another foreign company/government subsidy failure — from CBS News:

Electric car boom in Ind. city goes bust
Elkhart, Indiana lost jobs faster than any other city in the country in 2009. Both Democrats and Republicans promised to re-energize manufacturing in the city, backing a new electric car plant. But as CBS News investigated, instead of a boom, things went bust.

With unemployment peaking above 20 percent, Elkhart, Indiana was at the white-hot center of the economic meltdown, and a natural launch point for President Obama's electric vehicle initiative.

” So that's why I'm here today,” the president said three years ago. “To announce $2.4 billion in highly competitive grants.”

Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels was also on board in convincing Norwegian company Think Global to open a plant in Elkhart to build Think City electric cars with a sticker price of about $42,000.

But wait — there's more:

But it turns out the company had a checkered track record, including three previous bankruptcies. We recently visited Think City's Indiana plant, and here's what we found: a largely empty warehouse.

Everybody hoped that by this time there would be more than 400 workers inside a bustling plant. Instead, today, there are just two workers at Think City. Rodney and Josh are slowly finishing assembly on a few dozen 2011 models shipped in from Norway.

We were able to drive a Think City car around the empty space where investors once envisioned an assembly line churning out 20,000 vehicles a year.

Now in its fourth bankruptcy, Think Global has been bought by a Russian investor who didn't return our calls.

If the government actually stood back and got out of the way, we would be a lot further down the road to recovery. Instead, our masterminds feel compelled to meddle…

Posted by DaveH at 05:31 PM | Comments (0)

Nice work if you can get it - Poo Power

From Australia — someone has been out in the sun for a little too long:

$45,000 grant to Poo Power!
Poo Power! is one of 63 successful recipients from Inspiring Australia’s ‘Unlocking Australia’s Potential’ program. The $45,000 grant has been awarded to the Yarra Energy Foundation to turn dog poo from parks in the City of Yarra into renewable energy.

There is over 1350 tonnes of dog waste to be disposed of every day in Australia - nearly half a million tonnes per year. Using this un-tapped resource, Poo Power! will engage Australians in its science through utilizing an anaerobic digester to process dog waste into biogas that can serve as a local renewable energy source.

Within the City of Yarra there are approximately 6078 dogs that generate over 750 tonnes of waste every year - around 150 tonnes which ends up in urban parks. This waste can be diverted into a local an anaerobic digester to generate more than 3800 litres of biogas that can be used for heating, lighting or electricity.

Emphasis mine.

$45,000 AUD (about $46,895 USD) for 3,800 liters of methane? That's just under five cubic yards. $335 per cubic foot.

I want to know what they are smoking. So I can stay the hell away from it.

Nice to know that we do not have a monopoly on political stupidity.

Posted by DaveH at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

Meet N165

I had posted about SarcasticRover twice before (here and here)

Well, the Rover (Curiosity) lasered a rock to determine it's chemical composition.
That rock was N165 and it too has a Twitter feed:

My robot friend is still staring, and is making a strange clicking noise now. It's kind of making me nervous. :/

What's that flickering light?

Um, @MarsCuriosity, what are you…. hey! … HEY!

OW OW OW! STOP IT!

I think part of me is missing. :(

I could use a hug. And a bandage. :/

Much more at the site. Funny stuff!

Posted by DaveH at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

A quiet day at home

Went out for coffee and checked in at the Farmer's Market — that puppy is growing. Had another vendor show up and lots of people cruising by.

Also, we had our first “crispy character” come into town. Being at the end of a long road, we usually get one or two people of indeterminate means showing up each summer. They get burned out in Bellingham and just think that the network of social services extends deep into the East County. Hint — it does not. Bob seems harmless enough — he carries on very detailed conversations with anything that catches his eye — a tree, a human, a dog, a rock. No word as to where is has his stuff cached — he didn't have anything with him at the market. I'll give him about a week before he moves on.

Just chopped up two heads of cabbage — making sauerkraut. Got eight pounds of beef brisket in the smoker — pulled brisket for dinner tonight…

Posted by DaveH at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2012

Nothing tonight either

Working…

Posted by DaveH at 10:10 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2012

Happy 50th Birthday -- one year late

The twin-rotor CH-47 Chinook first flew 51 years ago.

Boeing did a nice eight minute video:

Hat tip to Peter at Bayou Renaissance Man.
More links at his website — an amazing machine. They are up to Rev. F and are expecting another 40-50 years service.

Just goes to show that when the engineering is right, the product is right.
Engineers rule!!!

Posted by DaveH at 10:26 PM | Comments (0)

Not much tonight

Was at the Fair again today and had a lot of fun. Feasted on Fair food and stopped off for a few pints on my way home. Busy next couple of days — Llama shearing, pump house rebuilding, getting some radio and PA stuff together for the upcoming car show (two weeks!) as well as spending time on the garden and doing the Farmer's Market in town.

Surf for a bit and up to bed. Lulu's coming out sometime Monday or Tuesday.

Posted by DaveH at 09:47 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2012

The world loses another great inventor

RIP Hans Camenzind - from EDN Magazine:

Hans Camenzind remembered
Hans Camenzind, the Swiss emigre analog guru who invented one of the most successful circuits in electronics history and introduced the concept of phase-locked loop to IC design, passed away in his sleep at the age of 78 on August 15, 2012.

Hans Camenzind was born and raised in Switzerland and moved to the U.S. after college. He received an MSEE from Northeastern University and an MBA from the University of Santa Clara. After several years doing research in the Boston area, he moved to the West Coast to join Signetics (now Philips) and later started his own company, Interdesign.

After heading it for seven years he sold Interdesign to Plessey. Since then he had been an independent design consultant in analog IC design, operating under the name Array Design in San Francisco. During his career at four different companies he designed the first integrated class D amplifier, introduced the phase-locked loop concept to ICs, invented the semi-custom IC and created the 555 timer. He had designed 151 standard and custom ICs.

Class D amplification has revolutionised music amplification. The “gold standard” back in the '70's - '80's was the Crown DC-300 amplifier with 150 watts per channel. It weighed about 45 pounds. A very good amp, solid, very clean and bulletproof. It weighed 45 pounds. Doing several channels of amplification meant a very heavy rack. All of the other roadies would vanish when it came time to do the load-out on the PA system.

Now, thanks to Class-D amplification, I can buy a Crown XTi 2002 amplifier which sources up to 2,000 watts and weighs 18.5 pounds. Adjusted for inflation, the price is about 30% of what the DC-300 cost.

Phase Locked Loops are an incredible tool — I used a lot of them. Some trade-offs but a very powerful tool for signal processing.

The absolute gem in Camenzind's tiara is the 555 Integrated Circuit. It was a very simple circuit designed to do basic timing functions but hackers soon realised that it was actually an eight pin kit of very useful electronics modules. The 555 has been used for thousands of non-timing circuit designs. Here is a site with just a few examples.

His book is available for free PDF download here: Designing Analog Chips

The Electronics (and Hackers) World is lessened by his passing.

Posted by DaveH at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

We have a comment

Last night, I posted about the IndieGoGo fundraiser to purchase Tesla's last lab and restore it into a museum.

Reader Dick P. posted the following comment:

Tesla was a phony. Better look deeper.

OK Dick. Want to back that up with some facts and references?

All that I have seen of him was that he was a genius. A prolific inventor. He carefully documented his work.

Yes, he was about as eccentric as they come and in his later years, his mind was somewhat decoupled from the real world but in his prime, he out-invented anyone else I can think of.

Ball in your court Dick…

Also, was checking the IndieGoGo website — last night when I posted, they had raised $252,446. Tonight it is at $487,255 — over halfway to their goal of $850,000 with 44 days left.

Posted by DaveH at 10:42 PM | Comments (1)

Off to town - NW Washington Fair

Meeting up with Lulu and her son and go look at some critters.

Fair food for dinner.

Back home late…

Posted by DaveH at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2012

Let's Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum

There is a very good fundraiser happening at IndieGoGo:

Let's Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum
Nikola Tesla was the father of the electric age. Despite having drop-kicked humanity into a second industrial revolution, up until recently he's been an unsung hero in history books. If you don't know who Tesla is, go read this.

Tesla's final laboratory is located in the sleepy town of Shoreham, New York. It's known as Wardenclyffe and it's where Tesla attempted to build a tower that would provide free wireless energy to the entire earth. Unfortunately, Tesla lost his funding before the project was completed and in 1917 the Wardenclyffe tower was demolished. Subsequently, the land was sold to a film and paper manufacturer.

However, the land, laboratory, and foundation beneath the tower are still there and very recently went up for sale. And right now a non-profit is trying to buy the property and turn it into a Nikola Tesla Museum. The property is listed at $1.6 million, and this non-profit has received a matching grant from New York State of up to $850k. This means that if we can raise $850k, New York State will match us for that same amount — putting the total raised at $1.7 million.

There is currently another offer on the table from someone who wants to purchase the property potentially tear it down or turn it into a retail establishment. There is no Tesla museum in the United States, despite Tesla's extraordinary accomplishments. If we can outbid this other person and buy the land it will permanently be protected as a historic site and eventually converted into a Nikola Tesla Science Center.

The folks behind this project are a 501c non-profit organization and they've spent the past 15 years trying to find a way to save this property. This IndieGoGo account is linked directly to their bank and all the funds will go directly to them.

Even if we raise the full amount and end up with $1.7 million, this isn't enough to build an actual museum / science center. But it will effectively put the property into the right hands so it can eventually be renovated into something fitting for one of the greatest inventors of our time.

Internet, this is where you come in: HELP ME BUILD A GODDAMN TESLA MUSEUM.

The Wardenclyffe (Long Island, NY) site is exceptional — Tesla selected it for its good ground and the building was designed by Stanford White. It was Tesla's last large lab.

There is an excellent page that covers the highlights of Tesla's inventions at The Oatmeal. His contributions are prevalent everywhere — he invented (and took out patents for) elements of digital switching and digital logic gates.
Here is the website for the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe.

Let's face it folks — this is the man who gave us the system of electrical generation, transformation, distribution and utilization that we still use today. 110/220/440 volts? 60 cycles per second (Hz)? Three phase? All Tesla. Worked then and they are still the optimum numbers to use. Other nations use 100V and 50Hz because they didn't want to pay licensing fees to Tesla. Their grid is not as efficient. Ten Volts or ten Hertz was enough of a distance to satisfy the lawyers…

Edison was a douchebag — he took other people's ideas and marketed them. His name is not respected in the Engineering community. You measure the flow of current in Amperes. You measure the potential in Volts. You measure power in Watts. You measure Magnetic Flux in Teslas. What do you measure in Edisons?



- - - crickets - - -


Tesla was the real deal. It is about time that he gets a fitting memorial and museum in his name…

Posted by DaveH at 10:24 PM | Comments (1)

A new school in town - Washington Engineering Institute

Very high geek factor and very cool. Check out Washington Engineering Institute.

They offer a strong program of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) courses. Started back in November of 2009, they have already had a graduating class for their two year program and are on track for certification for the two and four year programs.

They are a no-frills school (no athletic program, etc…) so this keeps the tuition costs down to an affordable $5,400/year for the four year program and $3,600/year for the two year Career programs.

Classes are from 6PM to 9PM each evening. From their ABOUT page:

COLLEGE MISSION:
“The mission of the Washington Engineering Institute is to provide practical engineering technology curriculum, driven by industry needs, and instructed by engineers, surveyors, and technicians with practical industry experience. The goal is to produce positive and motivated engineering technicians, technologists, and engineers with technical job skills that are highly desirable to engineering and related industries.”

HUMBLE CAMPUS FACILITY . + . SMALL ADMINISTRATION = LOW TUITION
We do our best to keep our private four-year college tuition much lower than other four-year colleges. Funding is efficiently focused on instructors and instruction, not facilities or administration. Our campus facilities are best described as “humble.” In addition, our administrators are busy teaching classes along with faculty. Last, all students are required to have their own laptops for school and ebay acts as our bookstore. These simple sustainable education approaches lead to lower tuition costs for students.

Cool! Class size is fixed at 16 max.

Posted by DaveH at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

More good news from Saskatchewan

I had written earlier about the economic turnaround enjoyed by Saskatchewan residents. The government of Saskatchewan had seriously cut taxes and made substantial investments in infrastructure and are now reaping the rewards. (Posts here and here and their favorable outlook on nukes here)

Today's news from Regina, Saskatchewan's Leader-Post:

Saskatchewan exports predicted to pass B.C.’s
Thanks to strong demand for resources, Saskatchewan’s export sales are expected to pass those of more-populous B.C. this year, the head of the Prairie province’s export agency says.

Lionel LaBelle, president-CEO of the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP) says recently released figures collected by Statistics Canada indicate the province’s farms, mines and industries had sold $16.035 billion of products to foreign buyers by the end of June, compared with B.C.’s $15.6 billion.

The funny thing is that while this is only 2.78% more, B.C. has over four times the population (425.79%) and a bigger landmass (144.92%) with access to water. They need to play a serious game of catch-up.

A perfect side-by-side example of liberal politics and conservative politics.
Because Sask. has a more vibrant economy, there is a lot of money in people's pockets to donate to charities to help those in trouble. When the government gets involved is when these programs totally fail.

Posted by DaveH at 07:58 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the day

“This is an election in which we should be talking about the path ahead, but you don't hear any answers coming from President Obama’s reelection campaign. That’s because he's intellectually exhausted, out of ideas and out of energy. And so his campaign has resorted to diversions and distractions, to demagoguing and defaming others. This is an old game in politics; what’s different this year is that the president is taking things to a new low.”
Mitt Romney
Posted by DaveH at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

Our tax dollars at work - the State Department

From FOX News:

EXCLUSIVE: State Department oversight of climate change spending abroad is a mess, watchdog reports
Inadequate oversight, lax bookkeeping, sloppy paperwork, haphazard performance agreements and missing financial documentation have plagued U.S. State Department spending of tens of millions of dollars to combat climate change, according to a report by State’s internal financial watchdog — and the problem could be much, much bigger than that.

The audit report, issued last month by the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), casts an unflattering spotlight on a relatively obscure branch of the State Department that supervises climate change spending, and depicts it as over-extended in its responsibilities, unstaffed in critical monitoring posts, and more concerned with spending money than in monitoring its effectiveness.

I know I used the 'tip of the iceberg' analogy earlier today but it qualifies here too.
A bit more:

According to a State Department website, the U.S. has contributed some $5.1 billion in climate change funding to developing countries in 2010 and 2011 alone, with additional money still pouring forth in 2012.

Yikes!

A big tip 'o the hat to Anthony at Watts Up With That for the link.

Posted by DaveH at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)

Hope and Change

From The Washington Examiner:

A Romney first: over 40% of youth vote back him
For the first time since he began running for president, Republican Mitt Romney has the support of over 40 percent of America's youth vote, a troubling sign for President Obama who built his 2008 victory with the overwhelming support of younger, idealistic voters.

Pollster John Zogby of JZ Analytics told Secrets Tuesday that Romney received 41 percent in his weekend poll of 1,117 likely voters, for the first time crossing the 40 percent mark. What's more, he said that Romney is the only Republican of those who competed in the primaries to score so high among 18-29 year olds.

“This is the first time I am seeing Romney's numbers this high among 18-29 year olds,” said Zogby. “This could be trouble for Obama who needs every young voter he can get.”

90 more days…

Posted by DaveH at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

Cost of living while subsidizing the rich

From The Washington Examiner:

Examiner Editorial: To protect ethanol, Obama seeks to inflate meat prices
Campaigning in Missouri Valley, Iowa, yesterday, President Obama announced yet another government spending program — this time designed to inflate meat prices in Midwest swing states. “Today the Department of Agriculture announced that it will buy up to $100 million worth of pork products, $50 million worth of chicken, and $20 million worth of lamb and farm-raised catfish,” Obama explained to reporters in front of a drought-stricken cornfield.

“Prices are low, farmers and ranchers need help, so it makes sense,” Obama explained. “It makes sense for farmers who get to sell more of their product, and it makes sense for taxpayers who will save money because we're getting food we would have bought anyway at a better price.”

None of this makes sense. In fact, Obama's move only harms American consumers while protecting a corrupt federal program.

A drought is currently driving down corn production. The shortage of feed is forcing livestock producers to slaughter animals early, putting downward pressure on meat prices in the short run and guaranteeing shortages and higher prices next year. But nature is not the biggest factor in this crisis — the government is. Specifically, the federal government's ethanol mandate, which requires that 13.2 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol be produced in 2012.

Thanks to the ethanol mandate, more than 40 percent of the nation's corn crop now goes into the production of a useless fuel that hardly anyone would buy if the government didn't require it. That's up from just 17 percent in 2005, before the mandate went into effect. Only 36 percent of the corn crop now goes for feed, and 24 percent goes for food.

Obama could solve this problem instantly by suspending the federal ethanol mandate — something his EPA actually can do unilaterally and legally. Instead, Obama will buy up meat — a move that meat producers say won't help them much anyway. “It doesn't solve the problem of having enough affordable corn next summer,” industry analyst Steve Meyer told Reuters. “Without changing the ethanol program, nothing can be done,” he said.

And we are seeing the results right now — from CNS News:

Price of Ground Beef Hits Record High
The average price of ground beef hit a record high in the United States in July, according to data released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS has been tracking the average price of a pound of 100% ground beef since 1984. In July, it cost $3.085, up from $3.007 in June.

Prior to June, the average cost of 100% ground beef in the United States had never topped $3.00.

And this price increase is not tied to inflation — the article mentions that ground beef would be $2.52/pound if it was just inflation controlling the price. Obama is going to find out what Jimmy Carter did with gasoline — if you fuck with the laws of supply and demand, the results will always come back and bite you on the ass. Are we going to have ground beef lines in the future?

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

Lucky Harry

Interesting article from Betsy Woodruff at the National Review:

How Did Harry Reid Get Rich?
Try this thought experiment. Imagine that someone grows up in poverty, works his way through law school by holding the night shift as a Capitol Hill policeman, and spends all but two years of his career as a public servant. Now imagine that this person’s current salary — and he’s at the top of his game — is $193,400. You probably wouldn’t expect him to have millions in stocks, bonds, and real estate.

But, surprise, he does, if he’s our Senate majority leader, whose net worth is between 3 and 10 million dollars, according to OpenSecrets.org. When Harry Reid entered the Nevada legislature in 1982, his net worth was listed as between $1 million and $1.5 million “or more,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. So, since inquiring minds inquire, let’s try to figure out how Reid’s career in public service ended up being so lucrative. He hasn’t released his tax returns, which makes this an imperfect science, but looking at a few of his investments helps to show how he amassed his wealth.

In 2004, the senator made $700,000 off a land deal that was, to say the least, unorthodox. It started in 1998 when he bought a parcel of land with attorney Jay Brown, a close friend whose name has surfaced multiple times in organized-crime investigations and whom one retired FBI agent described as “always a person of interest.” Three years after the purchase, Reid transferred his portion of the property to Patrick Lane LLC, a holding company Brown controlled. But Reid kept putting the property on his financial disclosures, and when the company sold it in 2004, he profited from the deal — a deal on land that he didn’t technically own and that had nearly tripled in value in six years.

Tip of the iceberg — Ms. Woodruff outlines (with links) a lot more. The 300+ comments make for interesting reading.
Maybe the title should be Dirty Harry instead of Lucky Harry…

Posted by DaveH at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2012

Back home again

A wonderful day spent celebrating Lulu's and my first year together.
We are back from town, hung out on the back deck for an hour with a glass of wine. She is on her way upstairs to bed and I am settling in for an hour or two of surfing before I head upstairs myself. Gorgeous evening — overcast but the temperature was perfect.

She is heading back to her house on Thursday and we are planning to rendezvous with her son and see the Northwest Washington Fair.

Posted by DaveH at 09:16 PM | Comments (0)

One year ago today

Readers will know that I have been through a recent divorce. Jen (my ex) filed for divorce in July 2011. We had been married for eight years — the first couple of years were really good. Had some fun times. Our personalities were not that good of a match and after the 'honeymoon' it got to where we were awkward roommates more than man and wife. I moved some computer stuff into the DaveCave™ and would spend my evenings out there waiting for her to go to bed.

I had some chances for affairs — a couple local ones, a few in Bellingham and on the road but, even though I considered the marriage to be broken, I held true to the vows I gave Jen.

Jen filed the legal paperwork for divorce in August and I knew that a process server would be coming out to my farm on Monday, August 15th to deliver the first set of paperwork. I ran into town Sunday, August 14th to shop at Costco for some groceries.

I consider myself to have a very stable mind. Not prone to hearing voices in my head or behaving compulsively.

I was sitting in my truck waiting to make the cross-traffic left turn into the Costco parking lot — lots of oncoming traffic. I felt an urge to head North up to the next traffic light and take the turn there. That road leads past a Micheal's art store. I felt an urge to stop in there. Not that I needed anything, just to stop in there.

There is a type of spiral-bound 3X5 file card that I like and I keep them around me for note taking but I don't usually walk around with one. I had this urge to carry one (with a pen) into Micheal's.

So I am walking into the store and there is this drop-dead gorgeous woman walking down the aisle. We look at each other but nothing else happens. I am thinking: “Damn, that is a good looking woman!”

I pick out a couple of glass tea-light candle holders (I like making sconces for lamps) and am at the checkout line when the same woman comes in behind me. Something in me prompts me to ask how her day is going and we start chatting about art and life.

I check out and am walking out the door and have another urge to write down my phone number on one of the 3X5 cards I have in my pocket. I do that and turn around to find that Lulu is writing down her phone number to give to me.

This happened one year ago today. Lulu is outside watering the garden and we will head into town later to have dinner at the first restaurant we ate at.

I cannot imagine a more perfect match — we are both children of the 60's so have a lot of cultural cognates, both devout but not Church-going Christians. Both politically engaged and conservative. Both serious foodies. It is a delight being with her. We both like a lot of personal space — she is a morning person where I am a night-owl so our schedules overlap very well.

With all the shit that has been going on in my life recently, Lulu is my joy.

Lulu — I love you with all of my heart — here's to the next 30 years!

Posted by DaveH at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2012

A tale of two rallies

From The Daily Caller

Rally #1:

Biden campaigns before a crowd of 660 in North Carolina
Vice President Joe Biden spoke before a crowd of 660 people in Durham, N.C., at the Durham Armory during a campaign stop for President Barack Obama on Monday.

Rally #2:

Over 10K greet Romney and Ryan in High Point, NC
With expectations high, a Sunday afternoon campaign rally in High Point, N.C. appeared to deliver for the newly formed Republican presidential ticket.

Campaign officials for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tell The Daily Caller that well over 10,000 people attended a campaign rally at High Point’s Absolute Style Furniture showroom Sunday. The campaign estimates that 1,200 people were inside the venue while another 10,000 were outside.

Looks good.

Posted by DaveH at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)

The Green Energy Policy

They have one and it is none of the above — including “renewables”
From Investors Business Daily:

Do Greens Have A None-Of-The-Above Energy Policy?
Two environmental groups in April filed suit to block an energy project they said would seriously harm the local ecosystem.

It wasn't a coal plant, or an oil refinery, or a nuclear reactor. It was a wind farm — the very sort of “clean” energy environmentalists champion as an alternative to dirty traditional supplies.

But the Portland Audubon Society and Oregon Natural Desert Association say a wind farm on Oregon's Steens Mountain, along with needed access roads and transmission lines, would threaten eagles, sage grouse and bighorn sheep and call it the “antithesis” of “responsible renewable energy development.”

Also in April, an appeals court took up a lawsuit seeking to stop a 399-megawatt, 3,200-acre solar power plant in Panoche Valley, 130 miles southeast of San Francisco. Environmentalists say it will harm the endangered blunt-nosed lizard and kangaroo rat.

“No one disputes the necessity for solar energy,” the green groups' attorney told the court, but “it is improper on this site.”

Environmentalists are openly hostile to oil, coal and nuclear energy. And while some had backed natural gas as a “bridge fuel,” opposition has soared as a U.S. supply glut makes gas far cheaper.

The article also links to this excellent site sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Project No Project
From the website:

Progress Denied
If our great nation is going to begin creating jobs at a faster rate, we must get back in the business of building things.

Project No Project assesses the broad range of energy projects that are being stalled, stopped, or outright killed nationwide due to “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY) activism, a broken permitting process and a system that allows limitless challenges by opponents of development.

One of the most surprising findings from the catalog of projects is that it is just as difficult to build a wind farm in the U.S. as it is to build a coal-fired power plant. In fact, roughly 45 percent of the challenged projects that were identified are renewable energy projects.

They also did a 98 page study (PDF) showing the job creation and net income of these stalled projects. Very well researched and referenced. From the study's Executive Summary:

Progress Denied: A Study on the Potential Economic Impact of Permitting Challenges Facing Proposed Energy Projects
This study estimates the potential loss in economic value of 351 proposed solar, wind, wave, bio-fuel, coal, gas, nuclear and energy transmission projects that have been delayed or canceled due to significant impediments, such as regulatory barriers, including inefficient review processes and the attendant lawsuits and threats of legal action. These energy projects were reviewed and cataloged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as part of its Project No Project initiative and are available at www.projectnoproject.com. To be clear, we do not believe that all of the subject projects ever would or necessarily should be approved, constructed, or operated. However, the Project No Project initiative and our independent research, which is summarized in this study, demonstrate that impediments such as regulatory barriers to energy projects can substantially reduce and impair private investment and job creation. After a year of research on these projects, the following are the major highlights of our study:
•In aggregate, planning and construction of the subject projects (the “investment phase”) would generate $577 billion in direct investment, calculated in current dollars. The indirect and induced effects (what we term multiplier effects) would generate an approximate $1.1 trillion increase in U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), including $352 billion in employment earnings, based on present discounted value (PDV) over an average construction period of seven years. Furthermore, we estimate that as many as 1.9 million jobs would be required during each year of construction.

•The operation of the subject projects (the “operations phase”) would generate $99 billion in direct annual output, calculated in current dollars, including multiplier effects, this additional annual output would yield $145 billion in increased GDP, $35 billion in employment earnings, based on PDV, and an average 791,200 jobs per year of operation. Assuming twenty years of operations across all subject project types, we estimate the operations phase would yield a potential long term benefit of $2.3 trillion in GDP, including $1.0 trillion in employment earnings, based on PDV.

•Therefore, the total potential economic and employment benefits of the subject projects, if constructed and operated for twenty years, would be approximately $3.4 trillion in GDP, including $1.4 trillion in employment earnings, based on PDV, and an additional one million or more jobs per year.

Some pretty substantial numbers and, as I said, the study has the references to back up their numbers…

Posted by DaveH at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

Heh - Sarcastic Rover

I had posted about the Sarcastic Rover twitter feed before.

It is still going and still sheer genius - ten more tweets from SarcasticRover:

Love my software upgrade! If you're a robot, I highly recommend getting SKYNET. It makes you feel… powerful.

It's cool, Obama. I didn't want to talk to you anyway. I had shit to do. Like look at this rock, and that rock… and this pebble… dick.

So beautiful… should have sent… a poet. LOL Kidding! This place is flipping' ugly.

Not to brag or anything, but my mast is over 40 inches long when fully erect, and also, it has an atomic laser on it… ladies.

Have discovered an exact duplicate of myself! But he's got a GOATEE! Probs not a good sign. EVILROVER LOL.

Getting my software updated today! Not exactly sure what “Windows ME” is - but it'll probs kick ass.

Good news: I figured out my purpose in life! Bad news: my purpose is to slowly die in a pit while nerds steal pics off my flickr.

Who's the genius who put the RADIATION DETECTOR on the ATOMIC ROBOT? All it does is BEEP constantly & I can't shut it off!

Just ordered a PIZZA… this oughta be interesting. LOL Avoid the NOID!!

How the hell does MARS have 4 and 1/2 stars on YELP?! IT'S A BARREN LITTER-BOX! Also the website link is out of date. SEO MATTERS! LOL!
Posted by DaveH at 01:02 PM | Comments (0)

Fast and Furious -- getting serious

From The Washington Times:

GOP sues to force Obama compliance on Fast and Furious
House Republicans on Monday asked the federal courts to intervene and force the Obama administration to turn over documents from the botched Fast and Furious gun-walking operation, escalating what had been a simmering constitutional crisis.

House Speaker John A. Boehner said President Obama and his team were ignoring a congressional subpoena — something the courts have long recognized as valid — and said lawmakers were left with no choice but to ask the third branch to referee.

“By stonewalling Congress and ignoring a contempt order, the Justice Department has left the House no choice but to take legal action so we can get to the bottom of the Fast and Furious operation that cost border agent Brian Terry his life,” Mr. Boehner said.

Good news — how this was able to continue for so long. It was a stupid idea from the outset.

Posted by DaveH at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

Fine for thee but not for me

From NBC News comes this gem about SuperPAC advertising:

White House press secretary changes tune on Super PACs
Deflecting continued questions about a controversial ad from a Democratic-aligned super PAC, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted Friday that a candidates’ campaign is powerless over third-party ads.

But he took the opposite view in May when he urged Mitt Romney’s campaign to renounce a Republican donor who had considered running ads on the president’s ties to the controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright.

Not surprised. Time to clean house.

Posted by DaveH at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

The stupid - it burns!!!!

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on FOX News Sunday

The Bill Burton in question was the Deputy Press Secretary in Obama's White House who left in February of 2011.
From NBC News - Feb 16, 2011:

Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton to leave White House
Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton, who was a finalist for the job vacated by Robert Gibbs last week, has told friends he is leaving the administration to start a new political consulting firm.

In an email, Burton said he is going to partner with another White House aide, Sean Sweeney, to “start a firm focused on political and strategic consulting.”

He said there would more information about the new venture forthcoming, “once we figure out things like name, location and where one buys those comfy ergonomic office chairs.”

His organization of course is Priorities USA — the SuperPAC that authored the debunked Joe Soptic / Wife dies from Cancer advertisement. Burton was asked about that advertisement and had these words.
From Andrea Mitchell at MSNBC — hat tip Real Clear Politics:

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC: What about the fact that Mitt Romney left Bain Capital before this woman ended up being fired? She had other health insurance, there was a gap between when she was fired and when she was diagnosed. There are just so many flaws in the premise of that ad.

BILL BURTON, PRIORITIES USA: No. There's not one fact in that ad that is wrong. I would challenge you to find one. All the facts in that ad are absolutely accurate. When that company went bankrupt, Mitt Romney was the Chairman, CEO, and sole shareholder of Bain. And yeah, I think most Americans would agree that you own the responsibility for what your company is doing if you're the CEO.

Sheesh — when MSNBC calls you out, it has to be a real stinker. Their bias for the left is legendary.

Posted by DaveH at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2012

A shift in the seasons

It is 21:15 hours here and pitch dark — not the case a few weeks ago.

Slow and inexorable is the creep of Fall and Winter, followed by the abundant rebirth of Spring and the next Glorious Summer.

Going to wake Lulu and head outside in an hour or two — Perseids. Optimal time is just before dawn but neither of us are up then.

Posted by DaveH at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)

An interesting memory-hole - a TSA Petition

Transparent Government — yeah riiight…
From the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC):

White House Pulls Down TSA Petition
At approximately 11:30 am EDT, the White House removed a petition about the TSA airport screening procedures from the White House “We the People” website. About 22,500 of the 25,000 signatures necessary for a response from the Administration were obtained when the White House unexpectedly cut short the time period for the petition. The site also went down for “maintenance” following an article in Wired that sought support for the campaign.

Simply vanished off the face of this earth. The Wayback Machine doesn't have anything either which is really strange.

Security expert Bruce Schneier was involved in the initial petition:

August 2, 2012 — Court Orders TSA to Answer EPIC
Year ago, EPIC sued the TSA over full body scanners (I was one of the plantiffs), demanding that they follow their own rules and ask for public comment. The court agreed, and ordered the TSA to do that. In response, the TSA has done nothing. Now, a year later, the court has again ordered the TSA to answer EPIC's position.

This is an excellent time to add your name to the petition the TSA to do what they're supposed to do, and what the court ordered them to do: take public comments on full body scanners. The petition has almost 17,000 signatures. If we get 25,000 by August 9th, the government will respond. I doubt they'll capitulate, but it will be a press event that will put even more pressure on the TSA. So please sign the petition. (Here is my first post about it.)

Why do people expect fairness from this administration? Hope? Change?

It's just more of the same but with a Marxist slant…

Posted by DaveH at 04:40 PM | Comments (0)

Getting it just plain wrong - silly season starts

Matthew O'Brien, writing at The Atlantic, needs to get his facts straight before committing them to the web.
From his article on Paul Ryan:

Mitt Romney Would Pay 0.82 Percent in Taxes Under Paul Ryan's Plan
Under Paul Ryan's plan, Mitt Romney wouldn't pay any taxes for the next ten years — or any of the years after that. Now, do I know that that's true. Yes, I'm certain.

Well, maybe not quite nothing. In 2010 — the only year we have seen a full return from him — Romney would have paid an effective tax rate of around 0.82 percent under the Ryan plan, rather than the 13.9 percent he actually did. How would someone with more than $21 million in taxable income pay so little? Well, the vast majority of Romney's income came from capital gains, interest, and dividends. And Ryan wants to eliminate all taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends.

Unnhhhh — you are overlooking the little item of double-taxation. As Mr. O'Brien noted: “the vast majority of Romney's income came from capital gains, interest, and dividends”.

How do you get this money? You invest money that you have already earned and reap the dividends. The money that you have already earned was taxed at the normal rate set by the IRS — if I were to earn $1 Million this year, I would be required to hand over $334,935.75 of that to the IRS. Let's say that I take the remaining $665,064.25 and invest it and I make some well researched decisions and come out ahead to the tune of $200K profits. Why should I be taxed at the regular 35% on those earnings when I already paid the $334K tax on the original stake.

What's more, by buying the stock I am, by proxy, investing in that company and helping it to grow — this directly leads to that company doing more business, paying more taxes and hiring more people.

If instead, I put my money into municipal bonds, I would be helping some city build a bridge or modernize a water system leading to the better welfare of it's citizens and more construction workers being hired.

The liberal morons like Mr. O'Brien all seem to think that this is a bad idea…

One little bit more:

It might seem impossible to fund the government when the super-rich pay no taxes. That is accurate. Ryan would actually raise taxes on the bottom 30 percent of earners, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center

The bottom 47% of people simply do not pay any taxes at all — funds are deducted from their paycheck but all is returned when they file. The lowest tax rate will only be 10% from zero to $100K for joint filers. Anyone who thinks that this is sticking it to the poor people needs to reflect that under the current (they cite 2009 rates) system, joint filers earning a combined $16,700 to $67,900 would be subject to a rate of 15% — to put this in simple terms, if my household had a combined income of $20K in 2009, my tax would be $3,000. Under Paul Ryan's plan my tax rate would be a thousand dollars less or $2,000.

If you are going to write something, at least have the courtesy to tell the entire story and get your facts correct. Mr. Matthew O'Brien, I am talking directly to you…

Posted by DaveH at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

Lazy day today

We went out to breakfast and coffee in Glacier and then came back and hung out at the Farmer's Market for a while — the market is gaining a lot of traction — new vendors and lots of locals and tourons stopping by to shop.

Making some Hummus and thawing out a couple Hempler's Hot Dogs for dinner. Time for a nap…

Posted by DaveH at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2012

A few bullet points

From Alan Joel:

1200 Days without a Budget
Saturday, August 11, 2012 marks 1200 days without a budget. Here’s some sobering facts to join it:
  • The last time the Senate passed a budget was on April 29, 2009.
  • The Outstanding Public Debt as of 11 Aug 2012 at 12:38:57 AM GMT is: $15,920,131,113,709.46
  • The estimated population of the United States is 313,295,427, so each citizen’s share of this debt is $50,815.08
  • Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget proposal was defeated this year in the House of Representatives by a vote of 414-0.
  • Obama’s FY2012 budget was defeated last year in the Senate, by a vote of 97-0.
  • By 2050, the national debt is set to hit 344 percent of Gross Domestic Product.
  • By around Election Day, the total debt of the United States will be $16,394,000,000,000.00 ($16.394 trillion).
Last time, we marked the 1000 days without a budget. Now it’s 1200 days. Did you know that Obama’s term as President is officially 1461 days? Almost the entirety of his administration has been operating without a budget.
I hope Mitt Romney will hammer this point home today during his VP rollout.
Posted by DaveH at 02:58 PM | Comments (0)

Heh - tweet of the year

From Iowahawk:

Paul Ryan represent Obama's most horrifying nightmare: math.

Nails it!

Posted by DaveH at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)

California dreamin' - two stories

Cities are going bankrupt, the state is building a useless high-speed rail system from nowhere to nowhere, running a deficit of $16 Billion. I could go on but you get the picture…

Story #1 — from The Orange County Register:

Hermosa Beach meter maids making nearly $100K?
When contemplating the many reasons cities in California and elsewhere are venturing closer to bankruptcy, look no further than the relatively lucrative and often-unjustifiable salaries bestowed on municipal employees – and the lofty pension benefits attached to the high pay.

One of the latest examples comes from the California coastal city of Hermosa Beach, where some community service staffers who collect money from parking meters and manage their operations – positions once widely known as “meter maids” – are making nearly $100,000 a year in total compensation, according to city documents.

There are 10 parking enforcement employees for the 1.3-square-mile beach city southwest of downtown Los Angeles, and they pull down some disproportionate compensation, considering their job functions. In fact, the two highest-earning employees for fiscal year 2011-12 are estimated to have made more than $92,000 and $93,000, respectively, according to city documents provided by Patrick “Kit” Bobko, one of five council members and who also serves as mayor pro tem. Those two have supervisory roles. The other eight parking-enforcement employees make from $67,367 to $84,267 in total compensation.

There are four qualifications for being a city “community service officer,” Bobko told me: “You have to be able to drive a standard transmission; you have to able to handle large animals; you have to read and interpret statutes and regulations; and you have a high school diploma or equivalent.”

Highly skilled labor for such a demanding position.

Story #2 — from John Nolte writing at Breitbart:

Near-Bankrupt California Awards Hollywood $100M In Corporate Welfare
Remember folks, trickle-down economics only works in the entertainment business.
Remember folks, tax cuts for the rich are evil, unless they go to rich people in Hollywood.
Remember folks, big business is greedy and corrupt and evil — except for the big business of Hollywood.

In product, spoken word, and political endorsement, Hollywood assails itself without naming itself. Tax cuts for me but not for thee, and now taxpayers in the near-bankrupt state of California are on the hook for a cool $100 million that will feather the nest of movie stars, fat studios, and gajillioniare producers everywhere:
The California state Assembly Appropriations Committee has unanimously approved a bill extending the state’s film and television tax credit program for an additional two years, the LA Times reports. The current extension of the program that allocates $100 million yearly in credits expires next year.
This comes just two days after a left-leaning group in Louisiana complained about how the $1 billion in corporate welfare that state's doled out to Hollywood's 1% has benefited no one but Hollywood's 1%:
The left-leaning Louisiana Budget Project suggests state lawmakers should put tighter limits on the generous film tax break program, lessening the credits offered and capping the amount of money it can cost the state each year.

“Unfortunately, the returns to the state on this investment, like many of the movies made here, have been a flop. While the subsidies have helped create film industry jobs that weren't here before, many of these positions are temporary and have come at a steep cost to taxpayers,” budget analyst Tim Mathis wrote in his report. …

“What has the state received for all this investment? The short answer: Not much,” Mathis wrote.
The idea of reducing taxes on business, especially during a recession, is a good one. The freeing up of capital has worked time and again to help end economic downturns and increase hiring. This philosophy doesn’t work, though, when you have the government cherry-picking specific industries that will benefit and controlling their behavior through the qualifiers that always go with “tax credits.”

This is just the opposite of the government getting out of the way of business and the free market — it's really just another form of government micro-managing, which never works.

But Hollywood's Top 1% is a powerful and attractive lobby, which is why they're able to legally steal from taxpayers.

Nice little business they have for themselves — cranking out crap for the proles on our nickel…

Posted by DaveH at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

The heavy hand of the EPA

From California station KPBS:

Feds Halt New Highways In Imperial County, Citing Air Pollution
In a rare move, the federal government has put a stop to new highway projects in California's Imperial County as punishment for the county’s poor air quality.

Effective Aug. 9, the Federal Highway Administration is withholding federal funding for new highways in the county. The county will also not be allowed to move forward on projects still being designed.

Two years ago the Environmental Protection Agency told Imperial County it had 24 months to adopt new rules to improve air quality. Dust, pesticide use, the burning of agricultural fields and off-road vehicles make the air there among the most polluted in the nation.

But the county — which is bordered by San Diego County on the west, the Arizona state line on the east and the U.S.-Mexico border on the south — has not met the EPA’s demands to address that. That failure triggered funding sanctions, and this week, the Highway Administration said it could not allow highway projects to proceed.

The county had challenged the EPA's demands for new air quality rules in court, and late last month, the feds and the county reached a settlement to establish new rules. But it could be up to six months before the county is in compliance and highway funding can start flowing again.

What connection does air pollution have with highway funding?

Thought so…

In 2011, the EPA had a budget of $8.6 Billion. Time to cut it to $4 Billion for two years and then down to $2 Billion. There is a need for some of what they do but only about 5% or so — the rest is just statist nannying.

Posted by DaveH at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)

A paperwork problem

From Time Magazine:

Guess the VA Does Have a Paperwork Problem…
Veterans routinely complain about how much paperwork they have to generate to apply for VA benefits. They may have a point: the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general reported Thursday that paper had piled so high at the VA’s regional office in Winston-Salem, N.C., that it “appeared to have the potential to compromise the integrity of the building.”

Noted the IG:
The volume of folders and inadequate storage seems to indicate the VARO [VA Regional Office] has exceeded the capacity to store files. This over-storage creates an unsafe environment for the employees, overexposes many claims folders to risk of fire/water damage, inadvertent loss and possible misplacement, as well as impedes VARO productivity by reducing access to many folders in a timely manner. We observed files stored approximately two feet high and two rows deep on top of file cabinets. File cabinets were placed so closely together that file drawers could not be opened completely. We estimated that approximately 37,000 claims folders were stored on top of file cabinets. We also observed files stored on the floor and stacked, as space permitted, in boxes along walls. The attached photos provide illustrations of the excessive and unsafe file storage at this VARO.

The excess weight of the stored files has the potential to compromise the structural integrity of the sixth floor of the facility. We noticed floors bowing under the excess weight to the extent that the tops of file cabinets were noticeably unlevel throughout the storage area. We asked the responsible Property Manager within the General Services Administration (GSA) for a copy of the most recent inspection report and load bearing study of the building. The Property Manager could not locate any evidence of a load bearing study, but thought that such a study was conducted approximately 10 years ago. He said that he would coordinate with GSA’s Civil Engineering office to determine whether a new study might be conducted. Additionally, the Property Manager provided us with a copy of a GSA fire inspection report, dated May 8, 2012. In the report, the Regional Fire Protection Engineer expressed concerns about “floor stack loading” on the sixth floor of the building, stating that it constituted “an extreme fire load and a possible structural overloading concern.”

There is no mention of this in the report (14 page PDF) but I bet that they have probably burned through several billion dollars given to them to “computerize” all of this. Typical government eficiency. They do have a nationwide app called VistA and by all reports, it is quite good. Still, why all the paperwork…

Posted by DaveH at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

Two Paul Ryan videos

Smart as a whip.

I love Obama's facial reactions — a mix of clueless and pissed-off.

His YouTube channel is here: Rep. Paul Ryan
Good stuff…

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

Romney/Ryan 2012

Hell yeah — great choice of VP!
From Mike Flynn writing at Breitbart:

Game On: Ryan Pick Begins Debate for America
America faces an existential crisis. Governments, at all levels, are burdened by unsustainable spending commitments. Our once mighty economic engine is creaking under the weight of onerous regulation and an antiquated tax system. The biggest unkept secret in Washington is that current government policy isn't working and needs an overhaul. Obama and the Democrats have offered meaningless gimmicks and platitudes to address these problems. Romney's bold pick of Rep. Paul Ryan today as his running mate sends a clear message that he and the GOP will offer a serious plan to reverse our country's decline. The debate for America begins today.

Paul Ryan is the only politician who has come forward with a concrete and specific plan to clean up the government's fiscal mess. There may be quibbles with this or that part, but it is a real plan to reform our tax code and rescue our failing entitlements. As thanks, the Democrats and media have vilified and smeared Ryan. While offering no serious proposals of their own, the Democrats hide behind cheap rhetoric, hoping to deceive the voters one election cycle at a time. Romney's pick of Ryan signals that the GOP is ready for a serious discussion with the American people.

The attacks on Ryan will be even more vicious and relentless than we've seen. The folks at BuzzFeed and Politico are already in hyperdrive, looking for angles to embarrass or smear Ryan. It isn't really any particular of his plan that they hate. What they fear is that his entire plan is based on one thing; freedom. Ryan's entire philosophy is built on pulling back the heavy hand of government to empower the American people to rebuild our proud nation.

Great call — I am going to love watching the debates.

Posted by DaveH at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2012

Veery interesting...

From Business Insider:

WIKILEAKS: Surveillance Cameras Around The Country Are Being Used In A Huge Spy Network
The U.S. cable networks won't be covering this one tonight (not accurately, anyway), but Trapwire is making the rounds on social media today—it reportedly became a Trending hashtag on Twitter earlier in the day.

Trapwire is the name of a program revealed in the latest Wikileaks bonanza—it is the mother of all leaks, by the way. Trapwire would make something like disclosure of UFO contact or imminent failure of a major U.S. bank fairly boring news by comparison.

And the ambitious techno-fascists behind Trapwire seem to be quite disappointed that word is getting out so swiftly; the Wikileaks web site is reportedly sustaining 10GB worth of DDoS attacks each second, which is massive.

Anyway, here's what Trapwire is, according to Russian-state owned media network RT (apologies for citing “foreign media”… if we had a free press, I'd be citing something published here by an American media conglomerate): “Former senior intelligence officials have created a detailed surveillance system more accurate than modern facial recognition technology—and have installed it across the U.S. under the radar of most Americans, according to emails hacked by Anonymous.

Every few seconds, data picked up at surveillance points in major cities and landmarks across the United States are recorded digitally on the spot, then encrypted and instantaneously delivered to a fortified central database center at an undisclosed location to be aggregated with other intelligence. It’s part of a program called TrapWire and it's the brainchild of the Abraxas, a Northern Virginia company staffed with elite from America’s intelligence community.

The employee roster at Arbaxas reads like a who’s who of agents once with the Pentagon, CIA and other government entities according to their public LinkedIn profiles, and the corporation's ties are assumed to go deeper than even documented. The details on Abraxas and, to an even greater extent TrapWire, are scarce, however, and not without reason. For a program touted as a tool to thwart terrorism and monitor activity meant to be under wraps, its understandable that Abraxas would want the program’s public presence to be relatively limited. But thanks to last year’s hack of the Strategic Forecasting intelligence agency, or Stratfor, all of that is quickly changing.”

So: those spooky new “circular” dark globe cameras installed in your neighborhood park, town, or city—they aren't just passively monitoring. They're plugged into Trapwire and they are potentially monitoring every single person via facial recognition.

In related news, the Obama administration is fighting in federal court this week for the ability to imprison American citizens under NDAA's indefinite detention provisions—and anyone else—without charge or trial, on suspicion alone.

So we have a widespread network of surveillance cameras across America monitoring us and reporting suspicious activity back to a centralized analysis center, mixed in with the ability to imprison people via military force on the basis of suspicious activity alone. I don't see how that could possibly go wrong. Nope, not at all. We all know the government, and algorithmic computer programs, never make mistakes.

Oh right. Nothing can ever go wrong… ~go wrong… ~o wrong… ~wrong… ~rong… …

We are not at the AFDB stage yet but these days, it is hard to tell.

More here.

From what I understand of the algorithms used, they look for specific metrics — geometry of the face, colors, etc. It would be interesting to see if eyeglasses could be fashioned to distort the facial geometry — a tinted patch that the camera would pick up as an eye pupil spaced close together or far apart. A covering for the bridge of the nose that would hide the profile. Nothing blatant but enough to scramble their ability to recognize a specific face. This is also an excellent option.

Also, something to realize is that 90% of the installed base of security cams and webcams are piss-poor resolution — a couple-hundred lines at best under optimal lighting. Great for seeing crowd dynamics and individual movement but not that good for absolute recognition. If you have a couple hours to play with, here is a good set of instructions for finding unsecured security cameras on the web — there are a ton of them!

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

More faster please

From Energy Efficiency News:

UK government scraps environmental regulations to save £400 million
UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry announced yesterday the scrapping of 86 environmental regulations that will save businesses £400 million over the next 20 years.

The package of reforms, which also includes improvements to a further 48 regulatory regimes, is part of the government’s Red Tape Challenge that aims to remove surplus regulation hindering businesses.

“It is vital that we have a regulatory regime which promotes fairness and consumer and environmental protection, but does not impose unnecessary costs or barriers to generating the necessary investment, innovation and skills we need to build the low carbon economy,” says Hendry.

It would be nice to see some of that over here. CAFE Standards are causing an increase in highway fatalities because cars are being made lighter and lighter. Halfway tempted to buy another low-mileage F-350 and put it up on blocks for when my own truck wears out in 20+ years.

All the cap-and-trade crap can just go away too — these were only a power and money grab by people like Gore. Hey Al baby — how's your Chicago Climate Exchange doing these days?

Posted by DaveH at 06:56 PM | Comments (0)

More on Homeland Security

It seems that they are trying to track down whistleblowers. From J. Christian Adams writing at PJ Media:

Janet Napolitano’s DHS Commences Witch Hunt Against Whistleblowers on Amnesty
A witch hunt to track down whistleblowers has commenced at Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security. Sources tell PJ Media that DHS policy drafts regarding amnesty programs have been pipelining to Republican congressional offices. As a result, political appointees at DHS are feeling the heat and have commenced a witch hunt to track down the sources of the leaks – conducting interviews bordering on interrogations.

One such policy draft sent straight to GOP congressional offices included a memo titled “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” A July draft of the document shows an effort by DHS political appointees to suspend laws against illegal aliens remaining in the United States. Another source tells PJ Media that DHS doesn’t want robust standards to establish the actual identities of the illegal aliens. They have been instructed to overlook inconsistent tax records and other red flags about the actual identity of the aliens.

The DHS amnesty draft also reveals embarrassing errors, such as not labeling Hawaii as part of the United States.

A bit more:

Most importantly, the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” allows illegals who aren’t children to stay in the United States. In a corruption of the English language, so common with this administration, it defines a “childhood arrival” as “Was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012.” A 30-year-old illegal alien, therefore, can enjoy the benefit of being a child in the eyes of the administration, and will get to stay in the United States as long as they meet some other conditions.

Disgusting — time for a sweeping change.

Posted by DaveH at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)

Our tax dollars at work - the USDA

The United States Department of Agriculture has been spending our tax dollars stupidly — from The Washington Examiner:

USDA spends $2M, gets one intern, program fails
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials spent $2 million on an internship program that had one intern, as it failed to use properly $63 million in federal funding provided for USDA to protect itself from hackers.

The USDA inspector general discovered that the Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO) “funded an intern program for a total of $2 million which, while funded as a security enhancement project, only resulted in one intern being hired full-time for ASOC [Agriculture Security Operations Center],” according to a new report.

“While the intern program may be a beneficial step in the long-run, it did little to further the more pressing objective of improving USDA’s IT security,” the inspector general said. The $2 million included $686,000 for “development and implementation of a networking website” in FY 2010 and 2011 and another $192, 500 in housing costs for the intern.

The intern program was an example of the USDA’s broader failure to manage 16 projects designed to protect the department from regular IT security threats. Before 2009, when it requested a $44 million increase to its $18 million security budget, the USDA depended on external organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security to alert it to such threats.

Ye Gods! $686,000 to develop a fscking website?
$192,500 for housing? That is $263/day for housing. $8,175/month — you can rent a really nice apartment in DC for much less.

If they spend our money that stupidly, they shouldn't get any more.

The USDA does have a role in agriculture but it has grown to become yet another Federal Leviathan and needs to have its budget clipped seriously. Their 2011 budget was $132.3 Billion. Let them learn to function with $80 Billion for two years and then shrink that even further to $40 Billion. Nothing more.

Posted by DaveH at 01:09 PM | Comments (0)

Rot at the top

I have zero issue with gay people but they should not bring their sexuality into the workplace and let it affect their co-workers. Same thing with heterosexuals — this is a standard that needs to be applied to everyone.

An interesting suit has been filed — from Debbie Schlussel:

EXCLUSIVE: Top NY Homeland Security Cop Sues Napolitano; Alleges Obama DHS Officials’ Anti-Straight Discrimination, Demands for Oral Sex – “J-No Appointed Lesbian Girlfriend, ICE Chief of Staff Harassed Male Agents”
New York’s top Department of Homeland Security cop is suing Department of Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano in an explosive but heretofore unnoticed federal lawsuit alleging Homeland Security employment discrimination against straight male agents by Napolitano (READ the federal complaint) in favor of her lesbian girlfriend and sexual harassment of male agents by Napolitano’s handpicked Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Chief of Staff, Suzanne Barr. The lawsuit alleges that Barr demanded a male ICE Special Agent engage in oral sex with her and that she relocated three top male ICE agents’ offices to the men’s bathroom at ICE headquarters. All of the alleged misconduct was the behavior of Barack Obama’s hand-picked people running the Department of Homeland Security, who’ve created a hostile work environment for straight male agents, a story I recently broke on this site.

Many of the key allegations are stories I’ve broken on this site over the years, and the federal civil rights lawsuit gives more details. The 21-page federal federal complaint was filed in late May by New York Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) James T. Hayes, New York’s top Homeland Security official. He was previously the ICE Director of Detention and Removal Operations, in charge of the deportation of illegal aliens around the country. It’s not every day that a federal official at that level files a lawsuit against the head of his agency.

The lawsuit further elucidates several stories reported on this site about discrimination against straight male Homeland Security officials in favor gay officials, including Napolitano’s girlfriend, Dora Schriro. As I noted, Schriro had zero experience in law enforcement, and yet, she was appointed ICE Policy Director and set the current Obama immigration enforcement policy of not enforcing immigration laws. (Schriro, who made a mess of Arizona’s prisons and empowered violent prisoners against prison guards, is now making a mess of New York’s prisons, a cushy job Napolitano got her so she could be close to a sick relative in New York.)

The suit also contains confirmation of another story I broke on this site, the sexual harassment of male Homeland Security Agents by ICE Chief of Staff Barr, who is known as “Suzy ‘Stripper Pole’ Barr” because Ms. Barr jokes that a building structural support in her office is a stripper pole, and she constantly harasses male agents in the vicinity of the “stripper pole,” including, sources say, dropping items and demanding the agents bend down to pick them up. Barr was brought to the Department of Homeland Security from Arizona by Napolitano and installed as ICE Chief of Staff. She was previously Napolitano’s Chief of Staff in the Arizona Gubernatorial office and has absolutely no law enforcement experience. Agents say that this bimbo, Barr, is the person really running ICE (the Department of Homeland Security’s largest agency), not Obama appointee John Morton, whom Napolitano didn’t want in charge of ICE. The “Fifty Shades of Grey” books ain’t got nothin’ on this pervert-ette.

There is a lot more at the website — she closes with the following observation:

And this is why so many ICE agents plan to vote for Mitt Romney and cannot wait until the cretinous Obama incompetents running the agency are out. And it’s why, as I’ve repeatedly noted on this site, morale couldn’t get lower at ICE under Obama, and its employees rank it near the bottom of government agencies. The lawsuit’s allegations only confirm that.

Indeed — they are doing such a wonderful job…

Posted by DaveH at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

India's recent power blackout

An interesting post-mortem of India's blackout — from IEEE Spectrum:

A Post-Mortem on India's Blackout
What set the stage for last week’s power outage in India, which left some 650 million people without electricity, was a widening rift between growing peak demand and the amount of generation available to meet that demand. A system had been put in place to ration the amount of power each state could draw from the national grid during peaks, but evidently those limits were simply ignored, IEEE Fellow John McDonald told National Public Radio in an interview with public radio’s much-admired program, “The TakeAway.”

And the root cause — simple me-first and an ostrich-like attitude:

At 1 PM on July 31, on the eve of the blackout, loads exceeded the government-set maximums for electricity to be delivered by 7 to 132 percent in the nine states mainly affected by the outage, said McDonald. In Punjab, the excess electricity draw was 300 MW (7 percent above the maximum) in Uttar Pradesh 1600 MW (64 percent) and in Rajasthan 1100 MW (79 percent). On average, the 9 states were 28 percent above the maximum load they were allowed to draw.

According to R. Nagaraja, managing director at the Power Research & Development Consultants Pvt. Ltd., the grid discipline system depended on states' being charged far higher rates for electricity drawn above their peak load limits. In the past that system had worked rather well, and with improvements in the nation's grid infrastructure, operators had perhaps become somewhat complacent. But with recent shortages of water, reduced power generation, high demand for electricity and a political climate preceding elections, grid players and regulators couldn't resist the temptation to step farther and farther over the line.

Getting back to McDonald's insights, he says that as for the automated systems that ordinarily shed load automatically when power demand surpassed supplies, they were generally “jumpered.” “Standard procedure in advanced industrial countries is to use automatic underfrequency and undervoltage relays with multiple tiers of settings. If the system is still collapsing the SCADA/EMS would automatically (using its prioritized list of breakers) begin shedding load by opening substation circuit breakers until the system stopped collapsing.” That kind of system was supposed to be operational in India too but, presumably for the same reasons peak load limited were exceeded to recklessly, it had been deactivated.

As best one can tell, the basic cause of the Indian outage was an ostrich-like attitude by both the national government and the state governments toward the country’s fundamental electricity dilemmas. To start with McDonald’s main point, India’s peak demand has grown by 4.9 percent a year since 2006-07; with generation failing to keep pace, the peak supply deficit now exceeds 10 percent.

Come on now — it's just one more Megawatt. What will that do.

A sobering observation:

An aggravating factor, mentioned by McDonald and discussed at length in an earlier IEEE Spectrum post, was a shortage of water in India because of weaker-than-usual monsoons. Jigar Shah, CEO of Jigar Shah Consulting, points out in a recent Earth2Tech post that the power sector is India’s greatest single consumer of water—bigger than agriculture—and that within the power sector, almost all the water is consumed by the coal-fired power plants that produce the lion’s share of India’s electricity.

Just wow! It will be interesting to see if India starts building nukes — LFTR would be perfect for them. 600 Million people were without electricity — that is just under double the entire population of the United States.

Posted by DaveH at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2012

Going green

An interesting tale from California - Anthony at Watts Up With That:

Wind power not coming through for California – power alert issued by the CAISO
I called the media support line for this press release issues today, to ask a couple of questions, here are the answers:
1. Q: Besides the heat wave, what other factors are contributing?
A:”A Natural Gas plant of 775 megawatts went offline last night. The San Onofre nuclear plant remains offline with no restart scheduled.”

2. Q: Where is wind power in all of this, is it performing?
A: “Well as you know, wind has to blow for wind power to be effective.”
The graph from CAISO tells the story, wind power has tumbled when it is most needed.

The graph and much more can be found at the CAISO website here.

As of this moment, California is drawing 41K MW (41 Thousand MegaWatts) down from a high of over 45K MW at 5PM.

Renewable energy is providing 3K MW of that demand. Roughly 8.6%
Governor Moonbeam wants to bump that up to 33% by 2020 — that is only eight years away.

Robert Bryce has a good post in the New York Times from June 2011:

The Gas Is Greener
In April, Gov. Jerry Brown made headlines by signing into law an ambitious mandate that requires California to obtain one-third of its electricity from renewable energy sources like sunlight and wind by 2020. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia now have renewable electricity mandates. President Obama and several members of Congress have supported one at the federal level. Polls routinely show strong support among voters for renewable energy projects — as long as they don’t cost too much.

But there’s the rub: while energy sources like sunlight and wind are free and naturally replenished, converting them into large quantities of electricity requires vast amounts of natural resources — most notably, land. Even a cursory look at these costs exposes the deep contradictions in the renewable energy movement.

Consider California’s new mandate. The state’s peak electricity demand is about 52,000 megawatts. Meeting the one-third target will require (if you oversimplify a bit) about 17,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity. Let’s assume that California will get half of that capacity from solar and half from wind. Most of its large-scale solar electricity production will presumably come from projects like the $2 billion Ivanpah solar plant, which is now under construction in the Mojave Desert in southern California. When completed, Ivanpah, which aims to provide 370 megawatts of solar generation capacity, will cover 3,600 acres — about five and a half square miles.

The math is simple: to have 8,500 megawatts of solar capacity, California would need at least 23 projects the size of Ivanpah, covering about 129 square miles, an area more than five times as large as Manhattan. While there’s plenty of land in the Mojave, projects as big as Ivanpah raise environmental concerns. In April, the federal Bureau of Land Management ordered a halt to construction on part of the facility out of concern for the desert tortoise, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Wind energy projects require even more land. The Roscoe wind farm in Texas, which has a capacity of 781.5 megawatts, covers about 154 square miles. Again, the math is straightforward: to have 8,500 megawatts of wind generation capacity, California would likely need to set aside an area equivalent to more than 70 Manhattans. Apart from the impact on the environment itself, few if any people could live on the land because of the noise (and the infrasound, which is inaudible to most humans but potentially harmful) produced by the turbines.

The numbers simply do not pencil out. There is no renewable energy — it is a money-sucking cess-pit that will not return one new watt of energy when the costs and expense of construction are properly calculated.

Coal and Thorium are the ways to go.

Posted by DaveH at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)

Looking forward to next week

The Northwest Washington Fair runs Monday through Saturday.

Haven't been in two years — time to go and take Lulu and her son.

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

Obama's war on energy

First coal is demonised. Now they are going after nuke.
From CNN Money:

Nuclear waste issues freeze permits for U.S. power plants
The U.S. government said it will stop issuing permits for new nuclear power plants and license extensions for existing facilities until it resolves issues around storing radioactive waste.

The government's main watchdog, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, believes that current storage plans are safe and achievable. But a federal court said that the NRC didn't detail what the environmental consequences would be if the agency is wrong.

“We are now considering all available options for resolving the waste issue,” the five-member NRC said in a ruling earlier this week. “But, in recognition of our duties under the law, we will not issue [reactor] licenses until the court's remand is appropriately addressed.”

There are 14 reactors awaiting license renewals at the NRC, and an additional 16 reactors awaiting permits for new construction.

So there goes 18% of our generating capacity. Cheap, clean and accident-free. We have Yucca Mountain. We have breeder reactors that can burn up the waste as fuel. We have Jimmy (spit) Carter to thank for shutting down our reprocessing capability.

There is something not well known with big industrial operations — once they are shut down, it is sometimes impossible to start them back up again. If we lose this, we are in for a real price spike in almost every commodity.

The 2012 election is less than 90 days away — we need to move back from the edge of the abyss and not follow our European friends down the rat-hole.

Posted by DaveH at 07:29 PM | Comments (0)

Quite the rescue story

From CNN:

Rescue plane leaves Antarctica after picking up patient
A patient in need of medical care was en route Thursday from a research station in Antarctica to Christchurch, New Zealand.

The patient “may require immediate corrective surgery best delivered at a more capable facility than is available at McMurdo,” the National Science Foundation, which manages the U.S. Antarctic Program, said in a statement.

“The facility at McMurdo is equivalent to an urgent-care center in the U.S., and is not equipped for the type of procedure being contemplated.”

Being it's the middle of summer here in the North, it's the middle of winter down there:

They got a chilly reception: temperatures Thursday were -13 degrees Fahrenheit (-25 Celsius), according to the U.S. Antarctic Program.

The plane was airborne and en route with the patient back to Christchurch within about 75 minutes, said Debbie Wing, a spokeswoman for the U.S. National Science Foundation, which oversees the facility.

Temperatures like that, you do not shut the engines off — the fuel will jell. Christchurch is 2,415 miles to the North so it is not a trivial trip. They had a lucky window in the weather and took it.

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

Another government program coming home to roost

From the Wall Street Journal:

Postal Service Registers $5.2 Billion Loss
The U.S. Postal Service on Thursday reported a $5.2 billion quarterly loss and said it was nearly out of cash and likely to exhaust its government credit line in coming months.

The agency said the loss was its largest since it began releasing quarterly financials in 2007. But Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said the Postal Service would do whatever it takes to maintain its operations, even if that means defaulting on a second multi-billion-dollar retiree obligation in as many months.

“We will do everything we need to do to make sure the mail is delivered,” he said. “Congress needs to act responsibly and move on this legislation.” Losses and defaults will continue, despite cost cutting efforts, unless Congress passes a postal overhaul bill, Mr. Donahoe said.

The high cost of Union benefits. Negotiated when the economy was good and business was growing — they come home to roost during economic turndowns.

If it wasn't for the Private Express Statutes granting the Postal Service monopoly access to personal mailboxes and the right to deliver letters, they would have had to compete in the free marketplace and we would all benefit.

Posted by DaveH at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

Ethanol

Livestock growers are seeking to get the EPA to cut back on Ethanol production as their feedstock prices go up.
From the Indianapolis Business Journal:

Livestock farmers still seeking pause in ethanol production
Livestock farmers and ranchers seeing their feed costs rise because of the worst drought in a quarter-century are demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency waive production requirements for corn-based ethanol.

The Obama administration sees no need for a waiver, siding with corn growers — many of them in presidential election battleground states Iowa and Ohio — who continue to support the mandate.

“If not now, when?” Randy Spronk, a Minnesota pork farmer, said of the EPA's authority to defer the ethanol production requirement when it threatens to severely harm the economy of a state or region. “Everyone should feel the pain of rationing.”

Spronk, who is president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council, said livestock producers will have to reduce their herds and flocks because feed is becoming scarce and too expensive. Cattlemen and chicken farmers have the same concern.

“We do support the American ethanol industry,” said Kristina Butts, executive director of legislative affairs at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. “All we are asking for is that competition for that bushel of corn be on a level playing field.”

The government, she said, “is picking the ethanol industry to be the winner to get that bushel of corn.”

It's all about crony capitalism. Archer Daniels Midland spent $1,700,000 on lobbying last year.

Posted by DaveH at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)

Consequences of the global slowdown

As the world flirts with socialism and is forced to deal with the consequences, collateral damage happens.
From Bloomberg:

World’s Oldest Shipping Company Closes in Industry Slide
The world’s oldest shipping company sold its last vessel and is going out of business, according to the liquidator.

Stephenson Clarke Shipping Ltd., started in 1730, has been placed into liquidation, according to a statement from accounting firm Tait Walker. The Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England- based shipper, which employed nine people, sold off its final vessel in July, according to the statement.

The Baltic Dry Index, a gauge of rates to transport dry- bulk commodities including grains and coal by sea, is down 55 percent this year and on course for a fourth annual slide in five years, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The current slump is “one of the worst experienced for many years,” the shipping company said in the statement.

“News of the closing of Stephenson Clarke clearly shows how challenging the current economic climate is for shipping,” the U.K. Chamber of Shipping said in an e-mailed statement. “Stephenson Clarke was an historic company and longstanding member until recently and we were very sorry to hear this news.”

Sad. 282 years is a long run. Their website is here: Stephenson Clarke

Posted by DaveH at 02:19 PM | Comments (0)

Excellent rant from John Walker

Check out Enemies:

Opponents or Enemies?
In any conflict, it is a deadly error to mistake or underestimate the adversary's capabilities, will to employ them, or ultimate goals.

Around the globe, what was once confidently deemed “Western civilization” is in an end-stage battle with champions of a collectivist and statist ideology which, over the last century, has enacted programs of redistributive taxation, borrowing, and spending whose unsustainability has now become self-evident and which, unless the present course is altered, will collapse in at most ten years. Further, the second- and higher-order effects of these policies have led to demographic collapse in the societies which have adopted them, crippled capital formation and the creation of productive enterprises, and been used as a justification for mass immigration from regions hostile to the culture and values of the West which have been responsible for its prosperity.

Those who would destroy a society, destroy first its language. As Orwell observed, when the terms of discourse are corrupted, the corruption spreads into every domain the language is used to debate. So deep has this language rot penetrated, that it is difficult to write an essay like this without succumbing to it—that is the intent of those who spread the contagion. The present-day culprits identify themselves as “progressives” or “liberals”. Take a step back and ponder how manipulative this is: if you're a “progressive”, then you must obviously be on the side of progress, even though the outcome of the policies you advocate will ultimately roll back all of the advances in individual liberty and prosperity made since the Enlightenment; if you're a “liberal”, surely you must advocate liberty, notwithstanding that the consequences of your prescriptions will be descent of society into serfdom for the masses, deemed property of the state, ruled by an unelected, unaccountable élite.

These so-called “progressives” or “liberals” are not advocates of progress or liberty: they are enemies of them, and the sooner champions of liberty acknowledge what they are, the better our slim chances for defeating them will be. Libertarians and conservatives are inclined toward civil discourse and respect for the rule of law. They must come to terms with the fact that their enemies —- not opponents -— are implacable, bent on winning whatever the cost may be, willing to use any means whatsoever to prevail and, once triumphant, to deprive their opposition of the means to reverse or even impede the implementation of their agenda.

They are enemies.

What is to be done?
In the middle of World War II, would it have made sense for Roosevelt and Churchill to have arranged a secret meeting with Hirohito and Tojo to try to “work out their differences” and “find a middle ground” where, say, Imperial Japan would be allowed to keep half of its conquests in the Pacific? Of course not: Japan was the enemy, and only its definitive defeat could undo the damage its conquests had wrought.

Enemies of individual liberty control the high ground today in most of the institutions through which they have made their long march in the last half century, and they perceive themselves as winning: with every generation they educate, inform, entertain, and rule, they create more dependent subjects who acquiesce to their rule and groom a new self-perpetuating class of élite. They are not people who have a different vision of how to create a society in which the aspirations of the majority of the people for themselves and their families will be achieved, but rather aspiring rulers of infantilised subjects dependent upon the largesse of their betters.

How does one deal with enemies? To survive and prosper, one does not negotiate with them —- one defeats them. There is no “reasonable, achievable compromise” between liberty and tyranny, freedom and slavery. One must vanquish the tyrants and slaveholders and ensure that their spawn cannot reinfect society.

We will never defeat them as long as we view them as “opponents” who play by the same rules and share the same goals as we. They are enemies, and must be completely defeated and removed from the political stage. That is how they view us—they have no desire to compromise but rather intend to destroy us. Until we take the battle to the enemy with an equal fierceness, we shall have no hope of success. Here are a few things we can do, starting immediately, once we come to terms with the fact we're confronted with an enemy, not a well-meaning opponent.

Reclaim the language from the enemy. We should have a “swear jar” for every time we utter the words “liberal” or “progressive” except in scornful irony. May I suggest “statist”, “collectivist”, “socialist”, or “communist” as alternatives?

Do not trade with the enemy. Do not patronise businesses which support enemy causes; by doing so you support them yourself. While an individual choosing not to be a customer of a mega-corporation has negligible impact, millions of like-minded people deciding to go elsewhere can. On the local scale, telling the owner of the pharmacy who's posted a petition supporting socialised medicine that he's just lost your business and why does have an impact—I did this two weeks ago myself.

Don't be taken in by enemy propaganda. The mainstream media are almost entirely in the hands of the enemy. Help to make them the legacy media by ignoring everything they say, not subscribing to their enemy propaganda. Rely instead on first-hand reporting on the Internet whose veracity you can judge based on a network of trusted sources who comment upon it.

Do not entrust your children to the enemy. So-called “public schools” (the correct term is “government schools”, since in recent decades the public—parents—have lost all control over them) have been entirely captured by the enemy and become institutions of indoctrination and moral corruption which fail at teaching even basic skills. It is parental malfeasance verging on child abuse to send one's offspring to these corrupt, corrupting, and nonperforming schools. If you cannot afford a well-run private or religious school (most have per-pupil costs well below that of government schools, but of course you have to pay that tuition on top of your taxes supporting the failed government schools), consider home-schooling your children, perhaps in conjunction with other like-minded parents. Even if you can afford it, don't assume a private or religious school supports your values; talk to parents of students enrolled there and teachers: if they show signs of being enemies, don't send your kids there.

Do not become indebted to the enemy. Higher education is overwhelmingly in the hands of the enemy. One of the greatest scams in recent decades has been the explosion in tuition and fees, which results in graduates of four-year and postgraduate programs burdened with six-figure debt they're forced to pay off in the key years they should be saving to accumulate capital for starting a family, buying a house, educating their children, and retirement. This is not accidental: by blocking capital formation in people's key earning years, they are rendered dependent upon the state for their retirement and health care in old age, which is precisely the intent.

What élite universities and professional schools provide for the exorbitant fee is a credential which offers entry into the ranks of the enemy, and the “education” they provide is indoctrination in the enemy's belief system. If you need a credential, shop around and get what you require at a price that doesn't sink you into debt throughout your peak earning years. Unless you've bought into the enemy's credential game, where you went to college will be irrelevant after you've had a few years of job experience.

Do not hire the enemy. Are you an employer? Why should you pay those who support the destruction of your livelihood? In our information-intense age, nothing could be easier than determining the political affiliations and contributions of applicants for employment, as well as their sentiments posted on public fora. If they are enemies, don't hire them. You wouldn't hire somebody without a police background check to make sure they weren't a crook, would you? So why should you employ an enemy who will use your paycheck to destroy the values you cherish and spread the enemy's perverted belief system among co-workers?

Roll back the enemy's gains. One of the enemy's key intellectual force multipliers is the concept of the “ratchet”: that any movement in their direction is irreversible and that consequently the debate is only about how rapidly one will arrive at their destination. Those who view the enemy as an “opposition” fall for this completely—in effect, their slogan becomes, “We'll deliver you unto serfdom, but later than the other guys”. This is not how one deals with an enemy: they must be definitively defeated, removed from all positions of influence, and their pathological beliefs cleansed from the society. Any politician who speaks about “reaching across the aisle” or intellectual who grants any legitimacy to the anti-human, liberty-destroying nostrums of the collectivists is a fool at best and a collaborator at worst. Failing to acknowledge that an enemy is an enemy is to preemptively surrender.

We do not compromise with enemy politicians; we defeat them, regardless of the political party from which they hail. If they're enemies of freedom and the other party's candidate is worse, challenge them in the primary.

We do not consent to enemy occupation of the media. These are businesses, and we will withdraw our support from them by letting subscriptions lapse and withdrawing advertising from them. This will provoke a “circulation collapse” death spiral for them. All public funding and subsidies for media must be defeated.

We choose not to fund enemy occupation of our educational institutions. All taxpayer-supported institutions must have their funding made contingent upon abolition of tenure (from kindergarten through university professorships) and retention based upon objective measures of merit by third parties outside the academic system.

In the U.S., many state judges are elected; Federal judges are not, and have lifetime tenure. But their courts are funded by the legislature, which can abolish them with the consent of the executive. Abolish abusive and misbehaving courts, and create new ones, and let that serve as a lesson to those who would legislate from the bench.

Dealing with the enemy

Over the last century, much of the enemy's success has been due to the partisans of individual liberty being unwilling to acknowledge that their opponents are implacable and ready to resort to any tactic that advances their cause. “I won't stoop to their level” is simultaneously staking out the high ground and then preemptively surrendering it to the enemy. Now, I am not suggesting that we do “stoop to their level”, but rather acknowledge that the enemy's tactics have been working, and that they must be countered head-on, not around the margins. We must do this in a manner consistent with our morality and respect for the truth, but keeping in mind that the enemy operates under no such constraints.

With elected politicians, there must be no compromise whatsoever with the enemy, and enemies in elected offices must be forced, through strategic votes, to disclose their true beliefs and agendas, then defeated by candidates who call them out on the pernicious consequences of the enemy policies they advocate. As enemies are removed from elected office, policies can be adopted to identify and replace enemies in the judiciary, state-funded educational institutions, and taxpayer-supported cultural institutions. Complete deregulation of all media will allow the market to sort out the messages people choose to hear.

I am certain this paper will be denounced as “strident” and “divisive”. Bring it on—it is both, and that is precisely my intent! If I had changed the introduction and globally replaced a few words in the body of the document, this screed could seamlessly slot into what passes for polite discourse in the fever swamps of the collectivist slavers. You may find it distasteful to look upon them as “enemies”, but that's how they see you, and they have no difficulty whatsoever talking about silencing you, removing you from positions of influence, and shutting down the means by which you organise.

We believe in a multitude of voices speaking in a free arena, with the best argument winning. The enemy believes in an echo chamber where only their message is heard. This conveys upon them an asymmetric advantage, where we're inclined to let them speak in favour of shutting us up. Fine: we should not sacrifice our principles, but at the same time we must come to terms with the fact that they are the enemy, and must be defeated and dispersed in disarray, not accommodated, lest we forfeit everything in which we believe.

Enemies and allies

In identifying the enemy, it is crucial to distinguish the enemy: the collectivist/statist ruling class and its partisans in the media, academia, and rent-seeking crony capitalist industries and financial institutions, from the electorate who support enemy politicians. We should view those voters not as enemies, but allies we haven't yet recruited. Most voters pay little attention to politics and have little appreciation for the consequences, social and economic, of policy choices. This is not so much due to laziness, but rather rational ignorance: since a single vote has a negligible chance of influencing the outcome of an election, a rational voter will spend a negligible amount of time investigating the candidates and researching the consequences of the policies they advocate.

Consequently, elections often turn on the amount of money candidates can raise, the extent they can attack their opponents with negative advertising, their hair styles, and what party the parents of the voter preferred, as opposed to substantive issues. You may find this dismaying, but there is abundant evidence that this is the fact. In addition, enemy occupation of education and media ensures that the bias of voters who do not choose to independently inform themselves will be toward enemy candidates. This was the premise of an underappreciated 2008 book which breathlessly and approvingly forecast the calamity the recent enemy resurgence has brought upon us.

These uninformed and unengaged voters are not the enemy, but is it their votes which bring the enemy to power. So we must approach them as potential allies, to whom we must explain the ultimate consequences of the policies of the enemy to themselves and their families, and why it is in their own self-interest to defeat the enemy. The present situation is sufficiently dire that one need no longer appeal to long-term arguments such as Hayek's in The Road to Serfdom: the apocalypse so ardently desired by the enemy, as it will present the ultimate crisis to be exploited to secure their power, is now just a few years away, and this is evident to anybody acquainted with the numbers.

Our goal must be to defeat the enemy. In a democratic society, this means apprising those who vote the enemy into power of their true nature, breaking the hold of the enemy media on the populace, and reversing enemy infiltration of education. The enemy strategy depends upon an uninformed, unengaged, and passive electorate. We must turn this around by communicating, by all means possible, the true nature of the enemy and the cataclysmic near-term consequences of their triumph.

Just wow!

John Walker? He is the founder of Autodesk Inc. and co-author of AutoCAD.
He is also the author of the excellent Hackers Diet.
His website is worth the time to browse — a very active mind.

Posted by DaveH at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2012

Happy happy joy joy

Yet another reason to stick to driving. From Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler:

TSA Unionizes
As of Thursday, August 2, 2012, the Transportation Security Administration has agreed to unionize. The agency, best known for groping and offending Americans as we attempt to fly from one part of the country to the other, has agreed to allow the American Federation of Government Employees to unionize its workers.

The AGFE union, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, announced the unionization agreement on its Facebook page.

“For 10 long years AFGE has fought hard so that Transportation Security Officers would have collective bargaining rights. We have often looked back and wondered why it was taking so long,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “Today we begin to look forward.”

When TSA was originally created in the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, President Bush and the Congress agreed that the new agency should never unionize. That agreement lasted until 2011, when President Obama and the Senate Democrats pushed a unionization approval through.

The AGFE announcement means that the AFL-CIO is now inside America’s national security apparatus. It caps a long period in which the union’s boss, Richard Trumka, has been a frequent visitor and caller to the Obama White House, using his influence to push for an increasingly socialist vision in the United States.

According to the AGFE’s announcement, the TSA’s 45,000-strong workforce will vote on the collective bargaining agreement in the next few months.

I would not mind a Union if it meant better service from its workers.

Dream on…

The TSA Management is perpetually engaged in a game of catch-up. It has been eleven years since Richard Reid tried to blow up Flight 63 with a “bomb” in his shoe (and I love it that the passengers pounded the crap out of him!) We still have to take our fscking shoes off every time we board an airplane. We still have penetration by morons. The Israelis do the “unthinkable” and profile — they have had zero penetrations and all they do is ask each passenger a few questions and watch and gage their reactions.

With the exception of trips to Hawai'i and the Caribbean trip after my Mom's passing and a dear friend's memorial service in Connecticut I have not set foot on an airplane in over ten years and I plan to keep it that way. I have done a lot of traveling by road, not by airplane.

A few days of driving (and the joys of road discovery) more than compensates for the hassle-factor of flying. Cost is about the same…

Posted by DaveH at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

DOH! missed it by one day

It happened yesterday, 21 years ago. From Wired Magazine:

Aug. 7, 1991: Ladies and Gentlemen, the World Wide Web
1991: The World Wide Web becomes publicly available on the internet for the first time.

The web has changed a lot since Tim Berners-Lee posted, on this day, the first webpages summarizing his World Wide Web project, a method of storing knowledge using hypertext documents. In the months leading up to his post, Berners-Lee had developed everything necessary to make the web a reality, including the first browser and server.

His historic post appeared on the alt.hypertext newsgroup, ending a journey that began back in 1980, when Berners-Lee was at CERN, an international particle physics lab located near Geneva, Switzerland. There, working with collaborator Robert Cailliau, Berners-Lee began the Enquire project, the forerunner to what would become the web.

The project, which made hypertext a chief communications component for the first time, was intended to facilitate the sharing of information among researchers across the broader internet.

Today’s web is far more powerful and sophisticated than the research tool developed by Berners-Lee and Cailliau but continues operating on basically the same principles they established a quarter of a century ago.

In 1991, I was still living in Seattle, I had opened my first computer store (Mycroft Systems — I was the first person to sell IBM clones on University Avenue. The name was a play on Sherlock Holmes' smarter brother and a certain software company a few miles to the East of me.) and was spending waaay to much time here: Cafe Allegro.

A guy from the UW Physics department came in and dropped a stack of printout on my table and said; this looks interesting, what do you think? Needless to say, I was transfixed. It was Tim's initial paper on Hypertext Markup Language.

It has been a fun ride and it ain't over yet — seriously looking forward to the next thirty!!!

Posted by DaveH at 10:21 PM | Comments (0)

Sheer genius

We all know about Curiosity — the new Martian Rover.

Seems he has a Twitter feed — check out SarcasticRover:

If I get one more “red rover, red rover” joke, I'mma go mass spectrometry on all your asses.

Oh sure, I'd love to drive around for two years and point a laser at the ground until I die… who wouldn't?

Hey guys! I found an alien!… Oh, no, wait… just another stupid ass rock. Awesome.

Great… 100,000,000 miles and I'm stuck in a damn crater. Awesome.

Got a rock in my tread… fantastic. I already hate this place. John Carter can have it.

What they don't show you in that parachute photo is me inside the capsule pissing myself in sheer terror.

I've got a nuclear-powered laser and control of an entire planet… so I'm essentially a Bond villain.

Got a song from Les Misérables stuck in my head and now I know what drove HAL to insanity's warm embrace! ON MY OWN.

Lots more at the site.

And of course, the real Curiosity twitter feed is here: MarsCuriosity

Posted by DaveH at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

Ca$h cow

Was in my favorite chain bookstore today and saw there was a new issue of MAKE Magazine.
I liked a few of the articles so went to buy it — I don't usually.
Was startled to find the price had gone up to $14.95!!!

I don't know if this is still the case but the standard business model for magazines is that the advertising pays for the cost of production (authors fees, printing, shipping). Subscriptions are priced at unit cost plus about 40% (and since unit cost is already paid for, this is a 140% profit). Newsstand prices are wholesaled at 50%.

MAKE is MAKE alright: MAKE MONEY

Needless to say, running a successful magazine is an iffy thing these days. A lot of magazines are failing and once they start sliding down the tubes, there is no real path to recovery as advertisers pull out, the number of pages shrink as the $$$ to pay for good articles dwindles.

Still, there are some trade journals that thrive and are sending copies out for free. I get a few and treasure them.

Posted by DaveH at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)

Busy day today

Worked on the wellhouse and then ran into town.

Lulu's coming out tomorrow so I'll be taking some time off from chores and just hanging out with her.

Posted by DaveH at 08:15 PM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2012

COOL!

When we were on our trip to South Dakota, one of the ancillary things I really enjoyed were the evening thunderstorms.
Grew up in Western Pennsylvania and I loves me a good T-Storm.
Also love the Pacific Northwest but the weather here is wimpy.

Just had a big CRAAAAAKKK! of thunder — heading outside to watch the show.

Posted by DaveH at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

Color me surprised

From The New York Times:

Indigestion for ‘les Riches’ in a Plan for Higher Taxes
The call to Vincent Grandil’s Paris law firm began like many others that have rolled in recently. On the line was the well-paid chief executive of one of France’s most profitable companies, and he was feeling nervous.

President François Hollande is vowing to impose a 75 percent tax on the portion of anyone’s income above a million euros ($1.24 million) a year. “Should I be preparing to leave the country?” the executive asked Mr. Grandil.

The lawyer’s counsel: Wait and see. For now, at least.

“We’re getting a lot of calls from high earners who are asking whether they should get out of France,” said Mr. Grandil, a partner at Altexis, which specializes in tax matters for corporations and the wealthy. “Even young, dynamic people pulling in 200,000 euros are wondering whether to remain in a country where making money is not considered a good thing.”

A chill is wafting over France’s business class as Mr. Hollande, the country’s first Socialist president since François Mitterrand in the 1980s, presses a manifesto of patriotism to “pay extra tax to get the country back on its feet again.” The 75 percent tax proposal, which Parliament plans to take up in September, is ostensibly aimed at bolstering French finances as Europe’s long-running debt crisis intensifies.

But because there are relatively few people in France whose income would incur such a tax — perhaps no more than 30,000 in a country of 65 million — the gains might contribute but a small fraction of the 33 billion euros in new revenue the government wants to raise next year to help balance the budget.

It is the same thing here as it is in France. We do not have a tax revenue problem, we have a spending problem. The tax revenues that can be raised are a fraction of the deficit spending that we (and France) are doing.

A good reality check:

Posted by DaveH at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

Selling out - Joe Soptic

This singularly vituperative advertisement published today by the Obama super-PAC Priorities USA Action.

The Lies:

Joe Soptic was an employee of GST Steel that was shut down by Bain Capital in 2001. He lost healthcare for him and his family. His wife was ill and got sick enough to warrant a trip to the County Hospital. She was diagnosed with stage-four cancer and died 22 days later.

The Truth:

Romney left Bain Capital in 1999 to work on the Salt Lake City Olympics and to enter public service.
The company would have folded earlier — remember, Bain comes in to try to rescue companies that are in trouble.
Joe Soptic said that he lost his health care when he was laid off.
Actually, his wife — Ilyona “Ranae” Soptic — died in 2006, she and the family had health care through her own job.

More (LA Times) here and (CNN) here.

Joe — how does it feel to use your dear dead wife's name for political gain.
What does it feel like to be a fscking tool.

If this is the caliber of Obama's PACs, this speaks volumes on Obama's leadership for the last four years…

Posted by DaveH at 08:52 PM | Comments (0)

Nothing much tonight

Neck deep in rebuilding the pumphouse. Worked, went out for coffee, worked some more and ran into town to get some pipe fittings. Had a bite to eat in town, had two pints at my local and back home and tired.

That's my day… Surf for a bit and a post or two.

Posted by DaveH at 08:36 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2012

Calling his bluff - an Obama classmate at Columbia

From Wayne Allyn Root writing at The Blaze:

Obama’s College Classmate: ‘The Obama Scandal Is at Columbia’
I am President Obama’s classmate at Columbia University, Class of ’83. I am also one of the most accurate Las Vegas oddsmakers and prognosticators. Accurate enough that I was awarded my own star on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars. And I smell something rotten in Denmark. Obama has a big skeleton in his closet. It’s his college records. Call it “gut instinct” but my gut is almost always right. Obama has a secret hidden at Columbia- and it’s a bad one that threatens to bring down his presidency. Gut instinct is how I’ve made my living for 29 years since graduating Columbia.

More:

My answer for Romney? Call Obama’s bluff.

Romney should call a press conference and issue a challenge in front of the nation. He should agree to release more of his tax returns, only if Obama unseals his college records. Simple and straight-forward. Mitt should ask “What could possibly be so embarrassing in your college records from 29 years ago, that you are afraid to let America’s voters see it? If it’s THAT bad, maybe it’s something the voters ought to see.” Suddenly the tables are turned. Now Obama is on the defensive.

Wayne closes with this thesis:

The first question I’d ask is, if you had great grades, why would you seal your records? So let’s assume Obama got poor grades. Why not release the records? He’s President of the free world, for gosh sakes. He’s commander-in-chief of the U.S. military. Who’d care about some poor grades from three decades ago, right? So then what’s the problem? Doesn’t that make the media suspicious? Something doesn’t add up.

Secondly, if he had poor grades at Occidental, how did he get admitted to an Ivy League university in the first place? And if his grades at Columbia were awful, how’d he ever get into Harvard Law School? So again those grades must have been great, right? So why spend millions to keep them sealed?

Third, how did Obama pay for all these fancy schools without coming from a wealthy background? If he had student loans or scholarships, would he not have to maintain good grades?

I can only think of one answer that would explain this mystery.

Here’s my gut belief: Obama got a leg up by being admitted to both Occidental and Columbia as a foreign exchange student. He was raised as a young boy in Indonesia. But did his mother ever change him back to a U.S. citizen? When he returned to live with his grandparents in Hawaii or as he neared college-age preparing to apply to schools, did he ever change his citizenship back? I’m betting not.

If you could unseal Obama’s Columbia University records I believe you’d find that:
A) He rarely ever attended class.

B) His grades were not those typical of what we understand it takes to get into Harvard Law School.

C) He attended Columbia as a foreign exchange student.

D) He paid little for either undergraduate college or Harvard Law School because of foreign aid and scholarships given to a poor foreign students like this kid Barry Soetoro from Indonesia.
If you think I’m “fishing” then prove me wrong. Open up your records Mr. President. What are you afraid of?

If it’s okay for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to go on a fishing expedition about Romney’s taxes (even though he knows absolutely nothing about them nor will release his own), then I think I can do the same thing. But as Obama’s Columbia Class of ’83 classmate, at least I have more standing to make educated guesses.

It’s time for Mitt to go on the attack and call Obama’s bluff.

Makes sense to me. Reminds me of the Holmes quote from The Sign of the Four:

How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

The 300+ comments are a fun read…

Posted by DaveH at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

Here's how you do it - the Cheesecake Hospital

Wonderful long article at the New Yorker regarding some changes being made at Hospitals.
Changes that are very similar to kitchen operations at the Cheesecake Factory.
From Atul Gawande writing at The New Yorker:

Big Med
It was Saturday night, and I was at the local Cheesecake Factory with my two teen-age daughters and three of their friends. You may know the chain: a hundred and sixty restaurants with a catalogue-like menu that, when I did a count, listed three hundred and eight dinner items (including the forty-nine on the “Skinnylicious” menu), plus a hundred and twenty-four choices of beverage. It’s a linen-napkin-and-tablecloth sort of place, but with something for everyone. There’s wine and wasabi-crusted ahi tuna, but there’s also buffalo wings and Bud Light. The kids ordered mostly comfort food—pot stickers, mini crab cakes, teriyaki chicken, Hawaiian pizza, pasta carbonara. I got a beet salad with goat cheese, white-bean hummus and warm flatbread, and the miso salmon.

The place is huge, but it’s invariably packed, and you can see why. The typical entrée is under fifteen dollars. The décor is fancy, in an accessible, Disney-cruise-ship sort of way: faux Egyptian columns, earth-tone murals, vaulted ceilings. The waiters are efficient and friendly. They wear all white (crisp white oxford shirt, pants, apron, sneakers) and try to make you feel as if it were a special night out. As for the food—can I say this without losing forever my chance of getting a reservation at Per Se?—it was delicious.

The chain serves more than eighty million people per year. I pictured semi-frozen bags of beet salad shipped from Mexico, buckets of precooked pasta and production-line hummus, fish from a box. And yet nothing smacked of mass production. My beets were crisp and fresh, the hummus creamy, the salmon like butter in my mouth. No doubt everything we ordered was sweeter, fattier, and bigger than it had to be. But the Cheesecake Factory knows its customers. The whole table was happy (with the possible exception of Ethan, aged sixteen, who picked the onions out of his Hawaiian pizza).

I wondered how they pulled it off. I asked one of the Cheesecake Factory line cooks how much of the food was premade. He told me that everything’s pretty much made from scratch—except the cheesecake, which actually is from a cheesecake factory, in Calabasas, California.

I’d come from the hospital that day. In medicine, too, we are trying to deliver a range of services to millions of people at a reasonable cost and with a consistent level of quality. Unlike the Cheesecake Factory, we haven’t figured out how. Our costs are soaring, the service is typically mediocre, and the quality is unreliable. Every clinician has his or her own way of doing things, and the rates of failure and complication (not to mention the costs) for a given service routinely vary by a factor of two or three, even within the same hospital.

It’s easy to mock places like the Cheesecake Factory—restaurants that have brought chain production to complicated sit-down meals. But the “casual dining sector,” as it is known, plays a central role in the ecosystem of eating, providing three-course, fork-and-knife restaurant meals that most people across the country couldn’t previously find or afford. The ideas start out in élite, upscale restaurants in major cities. You could think of them as research restaurants, akin to research hospitals. Some of their enthusiasms—miso salmon, Chianti-braised short ribs, flourless chocolate espresso cake—spread to other high-end restaurants. Then the casual-dining chains reëngineer them for affordable delivery to millions. Does health care need something like this?

And the answer? YES!

Dr. Gawande (an Md.) goes on to describe several examples of the factory management techniques being implemented in some hospital chains and their results. Yes, every person is different but there is a lot that can be standardized. The documentation shows that the patient experience improved, the cost of medical care decreased and the recovery was faster. A fun read.

Dr. Gawande closes with this observation:

The critical question is how soon that sort of quality and cost control will be available to patients everywhere across the country. We’ve let health-care systems provide us with the equivalent of greasy-spoon fare at four-star prices, and the results have been ruinous. The Cheesecake Factory model represents our best prospect for change. Some will see danger in this. Many will see hope. And that’s probably the way it should be.
Posted by DaveH at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

It's new; It's good for you; Do you smell smoke?

This is going to be some major litigation. From The Vancouver Sun:

‘Unusual’ number of fires, smart meters linked
Smart meter installations are the suspected cause of an “unusual” number of fires similar to a recent electrical fire at a home in Mission, according to a recent investigation by the Ontario fire marshal’s office.

BC Hydro is in the process of a $1-billion installation of the meters, which use wireless technology to transmit information about electricity consumption to power utilities, following the lead of provinces and states including Ontario and California.

There’s no evidence to suggest that the meters themselves are overheating and catching fire, but it appears from an Ontario fire marshal’s report, dated June 15, 2012, that the base plates, or four-pronged sockets that meters plug into, can become compromised and start to burn if they’re old or suffer rough handling during installation.

“It’s like everything else, once it’s installed and intact nothing usually happens,” said Surrey electrical contractor Bill Strain, a former president of the Canadian Home Builders Association.

“A lot of times, when you pull something apart, if it’s been there for 30 years it’s probably going to be rusted in or hard in. So they have to give it a little bit of a jerk or a twist. That jerk or twist may be what sets the whole thing in motion,” Strain said Friday. If there’s a problem, he added, it’s possible that a contractor without formal electrical training may miss it.

A resident of Mission, Trish Regan, recently lost her home in a fire that the district’s fire department said appeared to originate from a broken base plate that became overheated and caught fire a few hours after an employee of Corix, the company contracted by BC Hydro to install the meters, plugged one in at her home.

Not a big fan of smart metering — this is invasive. I can see the need to get a better handle on ones electrical consumption but this should be performed within the house and by the owner. The utility should not be keeping the data. Begnin now but how would you like to see an extra $5 on your monthly bill because you ran the washing machine at Noon instead of at 3:00AM. Invasive.

A commenter brought out some damning information:

Smart meter fire on Darwin Ave., Coquitlam this morning. BC Hydro is blaming the smart meter base again. Problem for them is that this is a brand new subdivision so they can't blame it on a cracked, old crumbling meter base.

Lots of other great comments and links — this is not a small story. Like I said, the litigation will be interesting…

Posted by DaveH at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)

Congratulations Curiosity

Launched back in November 2011, the Mars Rover Curiosity landed successfully early this morning.

Project Website here: Mars Science Laboratory

Very cool!

Posted by DaveH at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

A chemical spill - Di-Hydrogen Monoxide

We are inundated with the stuff. Yaay!

It was the breaker plus the pressure switch — the pressure switch wasn't cutting out once the pump had filled the pressure tank so the relief valve tripped and sprayed over the insides of the pump house.

The pressure switch was only six months old — I am hoping that this is just a glitch and not an indication of ProPlumber's quality control. Zero mention of warranty on the printed literature or on the website. I'm going to go to a commercial plumbing supply in Bellingham and get a better replacement switch just for piece of mind.

Still have to rebuild the interior of the wellhouse and fix the roof — the panel is just scabbed in and I need to reconnect the baseboard heater and the utility outlet — just running the pump and the room light.

Posted by DaveH at 03:18 PM | Comments (0)

Art Laffer on our Stimulus

Laffer was the architect of Regan's economic miracle and is the name behind the Laffer Curve.

He comments on the Stimulus in today's Wall Street Journal:

Arthur Laffer: The Real 'Stimulus' Record
Policy makers in Washington and other capitals around the world are debating whether to implement another round of stimulus spending to combat high unemployment and sputtering growth rates. But before they leap, they should take a good hard look at how that worked the first time around.

It worked miserably, as indicated by the table nearby, which shows increases in government spending from 2007 to 2009 and subsequent changes in GDP growth rates. Of the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations, those with the largest spending spurts from 2007 to 2009 saw the least growth in GDP rates before and after the stimulus.

The four nations—Estonia, Ireland, the Slovak Republic and Finland—with the biggest stimulus programs had the steepest declines in growth. The United States was no different, with greater spending (up 7.3%) followed by far lower growth rates (down 8.4%).

Much more at the site — numbers and everything. It just does not work.
The comments are fun — a lot of people simply do not get it and continue on with the 'talking points' and other people take the time to point out their fallacies.

Posted by DaveH at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2012

A squeaky clean Harry Reid

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Costs, conflicts arise in Reid push for green power
Say this about U.S. Sen. Harry Reid: He really believes in renewable energy.

Reid has beat up NV Energy pretty good in recent years. In the closing days of the George W. Bush administration, Reid blocked plans to build coal-fired power plants in Nevada. He said in April on the “Nevada Newsmakers” show, “I don't think NV Energy has done enough to allow renewable energy to thrive.”

But that same month, NV Energy reported it had exceeded its state-imposed green-energy requirement of 15 percent by purchasing 16.7 percent of its power from renewable sources. And that was in spite of the Public Utilities Commission rejecting a handful of renewable contracts in July 2011, saying the company hadn't justified the purchases were necessary to meet its quota.

Now Reid is pushing for a Chinese company he played a key role in recruiting to Nevada, ENN Mojave Energy LLC. The company plans a billion-dollar solar energy manufacturing and generating plant near Laughlin, but an ambitious development schedule is being threatened by a lack of green power customers.

Steve Tetreault quoted Reid in Tuesday's Review-Journal saying the project “would start tomorrow if NV Energy would purchase the power,” but the company “has not been willing to work on this and that's such a shame.”

Reid added: “NV Energy is a regulated monopoly. They control 95 percent of all the electricity that is produced in Nevada and they should go along with this.”

They're not, at least not yet.

Emphasis mine — outsourcing jobs?

But wait, there's more:

There's another factor, however, one more personal to Reid: His son, Rory Reid, is one of the attorneys for the ENN Mojave Energy project. A Reid spokeswoman said the senator did not suggest Reid's firm - Lionel, Sawyer & Collins - to ENN, nor has the elder Reid spoken to this son about the deal. (Reid imposed a strict ban on family members lobbying his office in 2003 after the Los Angeles Times asked him about lobbying by three of his four sons.)

The rot is at the top — time to clean Senate (and House)…

Posted by DaveH at 09:19 PM | Comments (0)

An Adam Smith two-fer

Not that Adam Smith — this is the guy who used to be the CFO for medical supply company Vante.

He got on board with the Chick-fil-A 'protests', videoed himself cussing out Rachel (the Chick-fil-A employee who handed him his free glass of water), the video went viral, his identity was discovered and he was fired. He recorded an apology — note, he is still a jerk.

Part one:

From the above website:

UPDATE: On Thursday I got a takedown notice from YouTube Support for “violating privacy.” Which I absolutely did not. I've never published any of this guy's personal information, just the YouTube handle he used to post this. It's not my fault he recorded his own face and put it up on YouTube. HE did that.

I was given 48 hours to “take action.” In other words, to take down this video. Hey, if they want to take it down, they can take it down. It's their site. So if it disappears sometime Saturday, they can try to explain why.

Anyway. How about that Rachel, huh? I hope Chick-fil-A gives her a big raise and a promotion. What a terrific lady.

Here is the Apology

Hat tip to Wizbang for the link.

And it is fun how things cascade — one of the commentors at Wizbang called this behaviour a Preference Cascade. I went to Google it and it is very relevant.

From Glenn Harlan Reynolds writing at Tech Central Station back in 2002:

Patriotism and Preferences
Everyone seems to be amazed that the flags are still up, six months after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. Have Americans suddenly become more patriotic?

Probably not. More likely, they always have been - they just didn't realize that it was okay to show it.

The muting of open patriotism after the Vietnam era may have been a case of what social scientists call “preference falsification”: One in which social pressures cause people to express sentiments that differ from those they really feel. As social scientist Timur Kuran noted in his 1995 book Private Truths, Public Lies, there are all sorts of reasons, good and bad, that lead people not to show how they truly feel. People tend to read social signals about what is approved and what is disapproved behavior and, in general, to modify their conduct accordingly. Others then rely on this behavior to draw wrong conclusions about what people think, and allow those conclusions to shape their own actions.

Oh, not always - and there are always rebels (though often social “rebels” are really just conforming to a different standard). But when patriotism began to be treated as uncool, people who wanted to be cool, or at least to seem cool, stopped demonstrating patriotism, even if they felt it.

When this happened, other people were influenced by the example. In what's known as a “preference cascade,” the vanishing of flags and other signs of patriotism from the homes, cars and businesses of the style-setters caused a lot of other people to go along with the trend, perhaps without even fully realizing it, a trend that only strengthened with the politicization of flag displays in several 1980s political campaigns.

The result was a situation in which a lot of people's behavior didn't really match their beliefs, but merely their beliefs about what was considered acceptable. Such situations are unstable, since a variety of shocks can cause people to realize the difference and to suddenly feel comfortable about closing the gap.

All well and good but the idea of the Preference (and Availability) Cascade was initially published (Kuran, Timur and Sunstein, Cass R. , “Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation,” Stanford Law Review, 51 (April 1999): 683–768) in 1999 — the co-Author was Cass Sunstein.

This is the same Cass Sunstein that is being thrown under the bus by the Obama regime.
From Breitbart:

Radical Obama Regulatory Chief Cass Sunstein Resigns
Cass Sunstein administered the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Referred to as OIRA (Oh-eye-rah) in wonky academic circles, it is one of the most powerful behind-the-scenes jobs a person can have because it reviews nearly every regulation for an administrative state that continues to expand.

And on Friday, Sunstein resigned from this post and said he would go back to Harvard, signifying another moment in which a key Obama ally decided it was better to jump ship.

Sunstein once argued in a speech at Harvard that the government could be used to eliminate “practices such as … meat eating,” argued hunting should be banned (“We ought to ban hunting … that should be against the law … it’s time now,” he said), and wrote in a 2004 book that animals should be able to sue in a court of law and have humans represents them as clients.

Few represented President Barack Obama’s academic aloofness and air of intellectual superiority more than Sunstein and Obama essentially asked the radical professor what job he would want in his administration.

That would explain why he was given enormous power to review the language of Obamacare. Sunstein also reviewed Dodd-Frank, which is destroying small banks, environmental regulations, new food rules — such as changing the food pyramid to a plate — and a variety of fuel efficiency standards. He was also in charge of E.P.A. regulations that created new standards for carbon emissions from various-sized plants, which burdened businesses and created more economic uncertainty for those trying to start businesses or build manufacturing plants at home.

In truth, Sunstein — and OIRA — reviewed nearly everything in the vast administrative state. His power is more significant in dealing with under-the-radar rules and regulations that often go unnoticed.

The New York Times aptly described Sunstein as someone who “came to Washington to test his theories of human behavior and economic efficiency in the laboratory of the federal government.”

The sooner we get people of Mr. Sunstein's ilk safely back in their academic playpens, the better. Time for some adult supervision in D.C.

Posted by DaveH at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

Here's how you do it

Texas v/s California — Bill Whittle

Posted by DaveH at 07:19 PM | Comments (0)

Relativity

It was 105° in Rapid City, standing on freshly laid tarmac with a dozen forges spewing out hot gas and coal smoke and I was in seventh heaven.

It is now 89° in Bellingham and I am sitting here sweating like a pig.

Posted by DaveH at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)

Off to town now

Pulled a bunch of wood paneling from around the breaker box — the insulation behind was pretty damp so it looks like I need to completely rebuild the pumphouse.

A fun project especially since the house is on a neighbors property with no road access (there is a legal easement so everybody is cool). I can get to it off the main county road with my tractor so it makes shuttling stuff back and forth a lot of fun…

Heading into town to get some plywood and a new breaker box.

Mostly Cajun posted a comment about scrubbing the panel with Scotchbrite and giving it a thin coat of grease. This puppy is really far gone — it may be restorable but I would not trust it — spending $30 on a new Square-D load panel is a no-brainer for me. I already have some new breakers.

Spending the night at Lulu's house — fixing spaghetti with ground beef from our half-cow.

Posted by DaveH at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2012

Breaker breaker

Turns out to be the panel. It is a thing that is not thought about very much but is still a very nice design feature.

Circuit Breakers are designed to fail conservatively. If a 20 Amp breaker starts to fail, it will trip at a lower value and not stay energized when a higher current than 20 Amps starts to flow through it. It's inherent design will always protect the device under load.

By the same token, instead of doing a dead short across the output, it will fail open. This is what happened here — I have both legs (220 Volts) going into the breaker but nothing coming out. I pulled the breaker, replaced it with a new one and voilà — 220 Volts output. This is as far as I am going to go tonight. Like I said, the panel is corroded so I'll head into town tomorrow and pick up a replacement and start with all new wiring. Still do not know what was spraying so I got those gubbins today.

We will be heading out to The Puget Sound Antique Tractor & Machinery Association tomorrow morning for the final day of their annual antique engine and steam show. Always a lot of fun!

UPDATE: Well crap — forgot that this doesn't run on Sunday. Today is their last day so we will miss it this year…

Posted by DaveH at 04:39 PM | Comments (1)

Working with leather

This came up in a conversation and these people were mentioned.
Check out Campbell-Randall

The original company* was started in 1858

*JD Randall Machine Co founded in Cincinnati Ohio. Manufacturer of machines for leather harness, horse collars, and allied trades.

Posted by DaveH at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)

Rats in the grain - Sibelius software

I realize that it all boils down to making a profit but this is downright stupid.

I have been playing keyboards since I was nine or ten and I am now 61. Although I don't write my work down (notate it - I am not doing orchestra scores or anything where I need the actual sheet music - MIDI files on the hard drive are perfect for me), I realize that there is a huge need for this and right now, the hands-down best application is a program called Sibelius.

What is happening is that a company called Avid, purchased Sibelius and shut down its primary development site including the two brothers who initially wrote it. They are going to outsource development to the lowest bidder.

From the Sibelius Users website:

Sibelius is in crisis!
The world's leading music scoring software, Sibelius®, winner of the Queen's Innovation Award and OBE's for its creators the Finn brothers, is in crisis: this will be of real concern to all Sibelius users. This site aims to do something about it.

On July 2nd Sibelius' parent company, Avid Technology announced the closure of Sibelius UK, the Finsbury Park home of the Sibelius development team. Avid claims this will make no difference either to Sibelius or to its technical support.

As with ProTools, Avid's strategy is to send the coding and maintenance work offshore.

Based on its latest published figures Avid is in financial trouble. Right after the most recent stockholders meeting, all the Avid board of directors sold significant shares of stock, clearly a co-ordinated sale. Simultaneously, several key executives resigned, including Vice President, CFO and CTO. Avid is short of cash and desperately trying to shore up its liquidity with reckless cost cutting.

Sibelius is viable as a standalone company, but without sustained pressure from its users, Avid will try to run it offshore, most likely in the Ukraine. This short-term thinking is solely to ease Avid through its present cash crisis, not in any way for the benefit of Sibelius users. In fact it will effectively destroy Sibelius.

Do you agree that Avid's decision is reckless and places the future of Sibelius innovation, maintenance and support at risk?

If so, please join us in convincing Avid that it is in everyone’s best interests for them to sell Sibelius. This will still ease its cash crisis, but will ensure Sibelius lives on in safe hands.

Some people were mentioning that there is a strong competitor in an application called Finale by Make Music. Bzzzzztttt!!!

Make Music is in the middle of being bought out at yard-sale prices to an “Equity Partner” who will no doubt do the same thing — run with the current version as long as possible while disbanding the original development team. Stretch those dollars with zero intent of any long-term profitability.

Makes me glad that I stuck with Cakewalk Sonar for my studio. I recently did a big upgrade and was toying with going over whole-hog to Avid ProTools but did not. Yaaay!

Putzes — not willing to think long term. What would be awesome is if they hung onto the software for another year and then open sourced it. Let them get their last bit of money and then do the right thing — I would give into a Kickstarter program to fund development.

I am still fuming about Apple's purchase of Emagic and its dropping Sound Diver. That was one of the best MIDI and Instrument editors bar none and when Apple discontinued the Windows development and brought out the 'beta' OS X version, I was close to buying a MAC just to run it. They then dropped the product.

And yes, there is Midi Quest and I use it but its interface is very busy where Sound Diver was very clean. I have to use a very large window to see my setup where Sound Diver didn't require all the screen real-estate for splash graphics and pretty knobs and meters, etc…

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

Pump woes

Something had been leaking for a long time — unfortunately spraying the breaker panel in the wellhouse. Lots of corrosion and I do not trust it under load.

I have a bunch of new breakers but will need to get a replacement panel. And I still haven't found the problem yet. Really hope it is not the pump.

Posted by DaveH at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2012

A chilling parallel

A chilling parallel from Stormbringer:

A BOOK ABOUT MY STRUGGLES

I was born in one country, raised in another.

My father was born in another country.

I was not his only child.

He fathered several children with numerous women.

I became very close to my mother, as my father showed no interest in me.

My mother died at an early age from cancer.

Although my father deserted me and my mother raised me, I later wrote a book idolizing my father, not my mother.

Later in life, questions arose over my real name.

My birth records were sketchy.

No one was able to produce a legitimate, reliable birth certificate.

I grew up practicing one faith but converted to Christianity, as it was widely accepted in my new country, but I practiced non-traditional beliefs and didn't follow Christianity, except in the public eye under scrutiny.

I worked and lived among lower-class people as a young adult, disguising myself as someone who really cared about them.

That was before I decided it was time to get serious about my life and embarked on a new career.

I wrote a book about my struggles growing up.

It was clear to those who read my memoirs, that I had difficulties accepting that my father abandoned me as a child.

I became active in local politics in my 30s. Then, with help behind the scenes, I literally burst onto the scene as a candidate for national office in my 40s.

They said I had a golden tongue and could talk anyone into anything.

I had a virtually non-existent resume, little work history and no experience in leading a single organization.

Yet I was a powerful speaker, and citizens were drawn to me as though I were a magnet and they were small roofing tacks.

I drew incredibly large crowds during my public appearances.

This bolstered my ego.

At first, my political campaign focused on my country's foreign policy . . .

I was very critical of my country in the last war and seized every opportunity to bash my country.

But what launched my rise to national prominence were my views on the country's economy.

I pretended to have a really good plan on how we could do better, and every poor person would be fed and housed for free.

I knew which group was responsible for getting us into this mess.

It was the free market, banks and corporations.

I decided to start making citizens hate them; and, if they became envious of others who did well, the plan was clinched tight.

I called mine “A People's Campaign.”

That sounded good to all people.

I was the surprise candidate because I emerged from outside the traditional path of politics and was able to gain widespread popular support.

I knew that if I merely offered the people 'hope', together we could change our country and the world.

So, I started to make my speeches sound like they were on behalf of the downtrodden, poor, ignorant to include “persecuted minorities.”

My true views were not widely known, and I kept them unknown until after I became my nation's leader.

I had to carefully guard reality, as anybody could have easily found out what I really believed if they had simply read my writings and examined those people I associated with. I'm glad they didn't.

Then I became the most powerful man in the world.

And then the world learned the truth.

Who am I?

The answer of course is Adolph Hitler — who were you thinking of?

Posted by DaveH at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)

35 years ago today

The trash-80 was announced. From the trs-80.com website:

Before The Birth
Remember the CB craze? From nothing in 1970 to over 20% of the corporate business in the early 70's, CB radios not only contributed to Tandy's profits, but brought an entire new group of customers into Radio Shack stores. Indeed, things were so good in electronics that Tandy Corp. sold off all its other subsidiaries including the original, Tandy Leather, in 1975. But the abrupt collapse of the CB craze in 1977 left the company in disarray.

Enter Don French and John Roach. Roach had joined Tandy in 1967 as a data processing manager and, by 1976 had been promoted to vice president of manufacturing. Don French was on the West Coast in the heart of Silicon Valley and had been trying to get Radio Shack involved in computers, even though his boss, Bernie Appel (recently promoted to president) was opposed. In mid-76, Roach and French were traveling together on the West Coast and stopped in to see National Semiconductor's new SC/MP microprocessor. While there, they met Steve Leininger who briefed them on the hardware and software. Roach and French were impressed with Leininger and wanted to hire him to do some consulting. However, the National Semi marketing people refused to part with Leininger's address or phone. Next stop on the itinerary of Roach and French was Paul Terrell's Byte Shop on El Camino Real. What a surprise when they found Leininger moonlighting there as the night sales clerk. They asked him about consulting, but four weeks later asked him to come down to Ft. Worth to see the facilities.

At the end of the day, Roach offered him a job on the spot. Leininger accepted but found that Tandy wasn't really committed to a computer just yet. For six months he, in his words, “played around with a couple of things—an audio pre-amp, a computer kit, and some other minor projects.” But as CB turned more and more sour, there was a growing cry at Tandy for something new. They finally moved Leininger off into a room of his own with instructions to build a computer. Leininger remembers it well, “It was there that I wire-wrapped the predecessor of the Model 1. I even put Tiny Basic with the graphics extensions in a 2K ROM.” (Tiny Basic was written by Dr. Wang at Stanford and placed in the public domain. Leininger had helped implement it for People's Computer Company.

The Birth
The first 'Tandy' computer was the Radio Shack (TRS - Tandy Radio Shack) TRS-80. Called just the TRS-80, it later became known as the “Model I” when the TRS-80 Model II was announced in the summer of 1979.

The Model I was invented by Don French (A buyer for Tandy) & Steve Leininger (The head of the Homebrew Computer Association) and first announced on Wednesday, August 3, 1977, in Radio Shack Press Release 7741-A, at a press conference at the Warwick Hotel in New York City.

Radio Shack said they anticipated deliveries to start in two weeks, but was quite unsure of the product, thinking that they might sell 600 to 1000 the first year. It was also the most expensive single item Radio Shack had ever carried to that date. They required a $100 deposit to place the computer on order. In actuality 10,000 units were sold in the first month! Radio Shack was swamped with orders, and delivery times quickly fell to months after order. By early November of 1977, Radio Shack was delivering 16K RAM units with 5 digit serial numbers that had been ordered in early September. At that time, there were separate serial number sequences for 4K and 16K machines.

Heh — I was involved with the 6502 (MOS Technologies KIM-1 and Ohio Scientific) and then the 6800 (SWTP) — did get the first IBM system that came out and also had a large S-100 Compupro system with dual procs — it ran the Z-80 as well as the 8080.

It has been a fun time to be alive — still is for that matter!

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

Make my day

From Yahoo News/Associated Press:

Clint Eastwood endorsing Romney's presidential bid
Clint Eastwood just made Mitt Romney's day.

The Oscar-winning director and longtime movie star says he's endorsing the Republican presidential candidate.

Eastwood tells The Associated Press that he's backing Romney because, in Eastwood's words, “I think the country needs a boost.”

Eastwood was among those attending a Romney fundraiser Friday night in Sun Valley, Idaho.

In February, Eastwood told Fox News that he wasn't supporting any politician at that time. Some saw the “halftime in America” ad he made for the Super Bowl as a nod toward President Barack Obama. Eastwood responded then by saying he was not “politically affiliated” with the president.

Eastwood won Academy Awards for directing and producing “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby” and starred in those films as well as the Dirty Harry movies.

Always liked his work — nice to see that he is his own man and not a useful idiot.

Posted by DaveH at 07:49 PM | Comments (0)

Quite the deal on eBay

Been a fan of Survival Research Labs for a long long time.

Here is a short video of a performance in 2006 at San Jose, California:

Well, it seems they have turned to eBay for booking performances — Buy It Now for only US $149,000.00.

Sure would be fun to bring them to Bellingham — wish I had that kind of money…

Posted by DaveH at 07:08 PM | Comments (0)

Heading off to town for the day

Got a lead on the well problems so heading into town to get the parts.
Spending the night at Lulu's house and back Saturday to do the repairs.

Joys of country living — the garden really needs to be watered…

Posted by DaveH at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

Off to town

Not a clue as to what is bad with the well pump. Heading into town to buy a couple key items and then will return what I do not use.

Going to be an expensive day…

Posted by DaveH at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2012

The Bat

Fun article and video clip at Wired:

Modded Weed Whacker Makes Dark Knight Rises’ Bat Sound Badass
The dark, ominous sounds of The Dark Knight Rises were crafted with the help of lawn equipment and a 40-year-old modular synth, according to a new video that documents the behind-the-scenes process of creating audio for the movie.

One of the unlikely sound sources was a weed whacker that was modded by “taking the end off and putting different things on the end” and then processing the sounds, says Richard King, the movie’s lead sound designer. “That became a big element of The Bat.”

In another highlight from the Soundworks Collection video, the movie’s composer, Hans Zimmer, shows off his massive Moog modular synthesizer, which practically takes up an entire room.

“Analog, there’s something fabulous about it,” says Zimmer in the video. “So what I did is, I dragged out all the best modules I had on my 40-year-old Moog modular. I had a chap in Berlin build basically digital controllers for this thing. And that thing sitting over there is what became the sound. You know, there is something when you plug in all those Moog oscillators. Something really cool happens.”

Hans' synthesizer is an epic force of nature - early photo (1980's) here and contemporary photos here and here.

Posted by DaveH at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

Well, well, well

The inside of the wellhouse was very wet so something must have burst. I'll be checking it out tomorrow, heading into town to get replacement parts and spending the night at Lulu's house. I really hope it is not the pump itself — these are about $500 a pop.

The roof on the pumphouse needs some major work anyway (cedar shake roof with some saplings growing through it) — was planning to do it this summer so I'll get everything upgraded and up to snuff. I have some metal roofing left over from doing the house's roof so it should be fairly cheap.

Good that it happened now instead of when I was away — the person watering the plants would not have been able to do this.

A bluegrass band was playing at one of my favorite locals so went there for a few pints…

Posted by DaveH at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

Fnu at the farm

Woke up this morning, went to run the shower and was met by a gurgling sound and no water. Went out for some coffee and now heading out to the well house to see what the @#$% is happening…

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

August 01, 2012

Tired

Ran into town for a few things, back home and settling in for the night.
The slugs have resumed their nightly munching so I'm headed out to the garden with a salt shaker.
Slept over twelve hours last night - traveling is hard work!
Winnowed the emails down to only 2318 in my inbox — processed about 1K this morning.

Spending tomorrow at the forge working on some stuff and I'll be ordering some 52100 steel tomorrow — same stuff as is used for Ball Bearings but excellent for knifemaking and can be heat-treated to an amazing state of durability. Ed Fowler did a demonstration where he treated a knife and then proceeded to bend it 90° back and forth a few times with zero edge damage.

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

re-entering the 'real world'

Heading out for coffee and the PO Box

Time to get back to work…

Posted by DaveH at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)