2/06/2016

Democracy In Small Town America - 2016 Edition

Call it a twofer for American democracy, one for Small Town USA and the other for the entire nation.

Earlier this week our little town held it's school district and town meetings, the first steps in a two-step process that decides what our town will spend during the upcoming fiscal year. Each meeting of the town's residents deliberated school and town budgets and warrant articles that covered everything from zoning amendments to changes in how town government will run to funding outside agencies. One article even dealt with changing the classification of a dirt road from a town maintained road to an unmaintained road.

Some amendments to budgetary items and a few town warrant articles were made, those being the most debated issues addressed during the meetings. But for the most part both meetings were low energy with little real drama. Frankly, that's a bit unusual considering some of the school district and town meetings in the not-so-recent past.

It's amazing to see folks not blink twice when some spending articles total in the millions of dollars, with little discussion or debate, but lengthy and sometimes passionate debates over a spending article asking to spend a few hundred dollars. One would think it would be the other way around.

The outcome of these two meetings won't be known until we move on to the second step in the process next month, when the people in our town will vote to accept or reject all of the warrant articles as well as elect some town officials.

Early next week, specifically Tuesday, voters will head to the voting booths to vote during the New Hampshire primaries, helping to select the candidates from each party who are vying to be their party presidential nominees come this fall. Once done, the echoes of the candidates' speeches and campaign ads will rapidly fade away and be nothing but a memory by Wednesday evening, leaving us to recuperate in peace for the next few months until Election Day 2016 approaches.

And so it goes in small town America.

2/04/2016

Faster Internet Speed Arrives In Town

I got a pleasant surprise today, that being the download speed from my ISP, the local cable company, has been bumped up to 40Mbs at no additional cost. The upload speed, however, is still where it was before at 4Mbs.

That will certainly help the cable company keep its present Internet customers, and maybe entice some of those still using DSL to make the switch.

Of course this speed increase could have been driven by the prospect of a new player entering the market. Ain't competition, even of it hasn't arrived yet, a wonderful thing?

1/31/2016

Thoughts On A Sunday

The winter weather has fled for the time being, with warmer than normal temperatures that have kept m any of the lakes from freezing over. This has led to the delay of the annual Ice Fishing Derby, put off for two weeks to (hopefully) allow more ice to form on the various lakes where the derby will take place. This has also led to a delay in at least one sled dog race, maybe two as the snow cover is spotty at best and the thin ice on the lakes have created big gaps in the race route.

Some of the less informed folks are blaming global warming, but the rest of us know it's the side effect of El Niño as we've seen this more than once during El Niño years. Some of those same folks who blame global warming have chosen to ignore the previous two winters which saw well below normal temperatures and heavy snowfall...unless they're going to pin the blame on that weather on global warming as well, which the will.

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How many times have we heard people claiming the moon landings were faked, that 9/11 was an inside job, or a litany of world events were the product of widespread conspiracies?

I've been hearing them for decades.

My one gripe about them all is that with the large number of people who would need to be involved there would be no way it would remain a secret, and particularly for decades. The larger number of people involved in such conspiracies, the larger the chance that someone would spill the beans in increasingly short periods of time.

Now there's a mathematical equation that shows large-scale conspiracies would quickly reveal themselves.

Things like faking the moon landings would take hundreds, if not thousands of people to pull it off. There's no way anyone would be able to keep that quiet for 45+ years.

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There are none so blind as those who will not see, particularly if such sight would shatter the delusions of the multi-culti politically correct European leaders.

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Neo-neocon writes about Trump and asks “Who are Trump's supporters and what do they want?”

I know of very few of my acquaintances who are supporting him, but almost everyone agrees he's been bringing up many important topics the GOP establishment has been ignoring for years. If nothing else he's forcing the other GOP candidates to address those issues, something the GOPe hasn't liked.

Will I vote for Trump during the New Hampshire Primary? No effin' way. Will I vote for him in November if he ends up being the GOP nominee? Yes, but I'll be holding my nose as I do so.

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I wouldn't think this is the best way to garner supporters.

It appears Bernie Sanders is a full-blown 'believer' in AGW, shutting down a girl who had the audacity to question him on the subject.

Then again, Bernie doesn't need proof because he just knows it's true...even if there is no solid evidence, the claims of a 'consensus' not withstanding.

Then again, he says he has plans to “bring climate deniers to justice.” As if that doesn't carry the stink of the old Soviet Union.

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“Standing Room Only”. Yeah. Right.

Then again, what do you expect from all of the media water-carriers for Hillary? The truth?

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This is a lesson any mature business has to relearn again and again if it wants to stay in business.

This is what happens when McDonald's listens to its customers - success.

Some corporations get so big that they believe they can dictate to their customers what to buy. But examples abound that disprove that notion, some of which meant the bankruptcy and dissolution of many companies who ignored the old axiom “The customer's always right.”

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Is California becoming a modern day feudal state?

Yes. Next question?

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According to Bloomberg, we could see sub-$1.50/gallon gasoline this year.

I filled up for $1.629/gallon a week and a half ago and I've seen prices just above $1.50 just south of here. I figure it's only a matter of time unless there's a huge disruption in oil production somewhere (the Middle East, maybe).

I have been enjoying the lower gas prices, but it hasn't affected my driving habits in the least as I still drive the same number of miles as when gas was at $4/gallon.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the ice is either missing or too thin, the temps will be near 50ºF this week, and where I am not complaining about not having to make use of a snowblower.

1/29/2016

Is Polywell Fusion Close To A Breakthrough?

As the 'race' to achieve fusion continues, one firm, EMC2, has filed a patent for their technology – polywell fusion.

I've covered this approach to fusion before, one first proposed by the late physicist Robert Bussard and patented by him in 1985. (The new patent improves upon Bussard's original patent.) Unlike the two main types of fusion reactors, tokamak (toroidal magnetic 'bottle') and inertial confinement (lasers), polywell takes a different approach, using electrostatic fusion in a reactor that has been dubbed “Wiffle Ball” since the magnet loops make the reactor resemble a great big wiffle ball.

Will this approach lead to a breakthrough and bring fusion onto the playing field for power generation? Once can only hope. It has shown considerable promise while costing a fraction of either the ITER (tokamak) or NIF (laser) programs. Until recently it even received funding from the US Navy, one of the biggest users of nuclear power. Funding ceased due to budget cutbacks but the Navy is still interested in polywell fusion.

Should it come to fruition, fusion power can quickly overtake fission nuclear power, particularly since the cost to build a polywell reactor will be a fraction of the cost of even the newer Generation III and IV fission reactors.

I have no doubt the usual suspects will find some reason to be against polywell fusion even though it could well be the answer to all of our energy needs while eliminating the problems of high level long-lived spent nuclear fuel at the same time. I expect someone will decry how it will greatly deplete the supply of deuterium (we'll only have a few million years supply) and boron, the fuels used in the polywell reactors.

1/28/2016

Bernie's Campaign Slogan

When one thinks about it, Bernie Sanders' campaign boils down to one single phrase:


What's worse is that it's not even an original idea, and one that's been long discredited.

Unanticipated Blog Changes

I case you haven't noticed, the blog URL is pointing to my backup site. A problem with the DNS used by the company that's been hosting Weekend Pundit forced me to forward to the backup site.

While a bit bare bones, it serves it's purpose and will be updated to include links to Ye Olde Blogroll and other interesting sites. Please bear with me as I make the appropriate changes to the blog template.

1/24/2016

Thoughts On A Sunday

While the Mid-Atlantic states are recovering from Snowzilla, we're enjoying a sunny day. Thought the temps won't be above freezing today, the sunshine is helping to melt what little ice and snow remain on our driveway.

Even with the nice weather we're limiting our outdoors time as there are a ton of things we need to get done before the start of the workweek. That's the way it goes sometimes.

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I like the sound of this proposed bill.

In Tennessee, a bill sponsored by state senator Delores Gresham puts the burden of protecting people in gun-free zones on the owners of the properties declared gun-free. This allows legal gun permit holders to sue the property owners if injury or death occurs in those gun-free zones because the permit holders were not allowed to carry their firearms as a means of protection.

This is something long overdue as too many of these property owners have banned guns while doing little to ensure the safety of the people on those properties.

All one has to do is look at some of the mass shootings that have taken place and you'll see most of them took place on properties that were gun-free zones. Some mass shooters indicated they chose those locations because they knew no one would have guns, giving them a free-fire zone to exploit.

If you're going to declare your commercial property a gun-free zone then you must also be obliged to provide adequate security to protect the now-unarmed patrons. If you don't, that shows depraved indifference and that should be a punishable action, either civil or criminal.

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I think the prospect of Michael Bloomberg entering the race for president will do for Hillary or Bernie what Ross Perot did for Bob Dole.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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The New England Patriots hopes of going to the SuperBowl were dashed when they lost to Denver, 20-18. Seeing just how good the Carolina Panthers are this season, I'm almost glad they didn't make it. Frankly, I doubt Denver is good enough to beat them.

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Who didn't see this coming?

Muslim group says Germany must ban alcohol otherwise sex attacks will continue.

The problem with this argument is that alcohol has been in Germany for a long, long time, and there was never a mass of rapes and sex assaults as there was in Cologne and other German cities on New Year’s Eve. The cause of the rapes and sex assaults was the Islamic attitude toward Infidel women — that they can be taken and used sexually (cf. Qur’an 4:3, 4:24, 23:1-6, 33:50, 70:30). But no one, least of all the German authorities, wants to face that fact.
That won't last long. I find it interesting that Muslims like this are outright admitting that their fellow Muslims are so weak willed that they are incapable of resisting temptation. Or could it be that their cultural prohibitions are so antiquated that savagery is tolerated all in the name of Allah. They they think Germany will bow to their demands shows just how foolish they are. It is more likely Germany will ban them and deport them wholesale...with prejudice.

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Skip Murphy points us to this little truth:

Marxism is intellectualism for stupid people. - Moe Lane

Heh.

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This is just stupid.

But we know the warmists will find some way to justify it even though everyone knows it will be a lie.

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This is yet another example of why the Department of Education should be abolished and the staffers at its Office of Civil Rights should be prosecuted for civil rights violations:

Student cleared of rape charge by his college and by a jury in court still not welcome at his college.

So even though he's been found not guilty after a trial and cleared by a college tribunal, he's still guilty as far as some of his fellow students are concerned.

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I've known this for a long time, but no one listened to me because I am a white conservative male Christian.

Christians, Conservatives, Men, and White People are not responsible for your problems.

I guess it's easier for some people to blame others for their own failings and poor decisions.

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I have to admit I am becoming more entranced with Ted Cruz as we fast approach the New Hampshire Primary. I wouldn't mind seeing a Cruz/Fiorina or a Cruz/Christie ticket.

I don't care for Trump even though he is bringing up truths that the GOP establishment and the Democrats have been trying to ignore for some time. I think that explains why he's been attracting a lot of people, They're tired of being ignored by both parties.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the political rhetoric has been dialed up to '11', the number of campaign flyers in our mailboxes has tripled, and where we can't wait for the first round of the political silly season to be over.

1/23/2016

Watching Snowzilla

I have to admit to a little bit of “Let's see how you like it!” thinking in regards to the blizzard pelting the Mid-Atlantic states.

Being a hardy Yankee in northern New England gives me just a little gravitas since we see snowfalls like the one places like Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and a host of other cities are experiencing at the moment, but we see them just about every winter, and in some cases more than once in any given winter.

Then again, we're used to them and are well prepared to deal with them. With few exceptions, we rarely see folks clearing store shelves in anticipation of what to us is a not unusual storm. However, we do still have to put up with the ubiquitous Storm Center TV news and the overblown drama and dire “We're all gonna DIE!” level warnings about not going out into the storm unless it's absolutely necessary. Well, duh.

I don 't know about you, but I'm not one to go out in a storm just because I can. I never have been. If I'm out in one it's because there's a pretty darned good reason, one that makes it necessary even though I don't really want to be out there. The most common reason – snowblowing the driveway in order to stay ahead of the anticipated snowfall totals. Sometimes it's easier to go out and snowblow once or twice during the storm than it is to clear all of the snow after it's all over, particularly if snowfall is expected to be above two feet.

So far our winter up here in New Hampshire has been rather benign. We haven't had the days and weeks of below zero temperatures or storm after storm after storm. We figure we're due a respite after the past two winters of heavy snowfall and below normal temperatures. A little breather now and then is a good thing and we're hoping to make the most of it. In the meantime we're more than happy to watch others struggle with winter weather we consider normal up here.

1/17/2016

Thoughts On A Sunday

It is actually looking like winter around the Lakes Region, with actual snow on the ground that isn't melting away and disappearing later in the day. I figure we'll be seeing these small hit-or-miss storms throughout the winter as the first few storms tend to set the pattern for those that follow.

Frankly, I won't be disappointed were that to be the case this winter as we could use a break after last winter which saw weeks of below zero temperatures and one snowfall after another only days apart, with some topping 18 inches. The snow didn't melt away and some road surfaces weren't cleared until March.

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Spoken like a true socialist.

Bernie Sanders has been making all kinds of promises about what his administration will do for the people, but like most progressives, he won't tell anyone how he'll pay for everything for everyone. I guess he'll use the usual “magical thinking” to make all of the funds appear from nowhere, or he'll pull something from the pages of the Marxist Economics Handbook, or worse, use Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged as a guidebook.

Heaven help us all.

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The New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs at Foxborough last night, 27-20. They'll play either the Denver Broncos or the Pittsburgh Steelers next week.

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There is one area where I actually agree with Bernie Sanders, as does David Starr: Reinstate Glass-Steagall and break up the large banks into separate operations, meaning commercial banks and investment banks. That the two were allowed to merge after Glass-Steagall was repealed during the Clinton Administration was one of the things that lead to the housing meltdown.

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Have you noticed that all of the Democrat debates so far have been scheduled for a time when it was unlikely anyone would be watching? If it wasn't taking place during a hotly contested NFL game it was during one of the college Division I football games.

Tonight's debate starts at 9PM, a night when not nearly as many people will be watching TV. I expect Madam Secretary and The Good Wife will see more viewers than the debate.

One has to ask, was this done on purpose? In my mind, I'd have to say yes because if the Democrat debates had as many viewers as the Republican debates almost everyone would see the Democrat candidates are weak, particularly Hillary.

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I've been wondering the same thing.

Neoneocon asks why hasn't Carly Fiorina caught on? She offers a few answers:

I think it was a combination of things. She is one of three people in the race who haven’t got experience in political office, and she was the least well-known of the three prior to running. Therefore, because people didn’t have a backlog of impressions about her, smear campaigns have had greater force because they fill in the blanks. When she began to rise, for instance, and people were just getting to know her, I noticed a veritable flood of commenters arriving on blog after blog after blog spouting the same talking points over and over. It was clearly some sort of organized effort, although by exactly whom I don’t know.

Read the whole thing.

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“There is no pause – the satellites are lying!”

Yeah, I'm sure the Warmists will be touting this as a reason to ignore the hiatus in warming. But if one looks at the data from pristine weather stations (stations located in areas that have not changed over the past 100 years plus) in the US and balloon data from all over the world, it matches what the satellites have been reporting since 1979.

So it all comes down to the Warmist version of “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

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Glenn Reynolds states “I'm so old, I remember when low oil prices were good news.”

That it's “starving a rogues’ gallery of countries that hate us” is an added benefit even if it's burning some oil investors.

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Techie alert!

Comcast is bad enough when it comes to customer service (there are a number of forums online that can attest to that), particularly when dealing with Internet service. Now they're nagging their customers while they're web browsing to upgrade their modems.

I can see if someone wants to up their connection speed but they're using an older DOCSIS 2.0 or 1.1 modem. Then it makes sense. But what if they're perfectly satisfied with the speeds they have? Do they really need to switch to a faster (or much faster) modem than the one they have now?

Is Comcast pushing for everyone to upgrade to one of the new DOCSIS 3.1 modems even if they presently have a DOCSIS 3.0 modem? (DOCSIS 3.0 is capable of speeds up to 300Mbs. DOCSIS 3.1 can handle 1Gbs or more.) Just how fast is fast enough?

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My post yesterday addressed the unintended consequences of raising the minimum wage, particularly when it is raised beyond all reason.

As a follow-up there comes the news that Walmart has reconsidered building new stores in poor Washington DC neighborhoods, seeing it as a money losing proposition in light of the District's minimum wage rising to $11.50 and proposed new minimum of $15 an hour. District leaders are angry that “Walmart has gone back on its promise”, but when the economic conditions changed that made the proposed new stores unprofitable right from the get go, why would Walmart build them? They aren't in business to lose money.

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Perhaps this is a good time to mention yet another example of the unintended consequences of artificially raising the cost of doing business.

In this case Connecticut has raised taxes to the point that it's been driving both businesses and wealthy residents to relocate out of state. The latest corporation to pull the plug in the Nutmeg State: General Electric.

If GE leaves how long will it be before a number of other deep pocket corporations will head for lower cost states?

From the Connecticut governor’s office on down, Democratic officials argue that the GE move to Boston had nothing to do with taxes. Instead they say it was an effort to merge with Boston’s high-tech culture.

When you tax something more you get less of it. Art Laffer’s famous curve has kicked in with a vengeance in Connecticut, where higher tax rates are producing lower-than-expected tax revenues and killing jobs and growth.

It’s no coincidence that well-to-do residents are moving to zero-income-tax Florida, and major corporations like GE are seeking greener pastures. It’s also no surprise that GE boss Jeff Immelt began talking publically (sic) about a corporate relocation right after Connecticut passed its gigantic tax hike last summer.

You know it's really bad in Connecticut when neighboring Massachusetts is seen as a more tax-friendly state even though it's often derided as 'Taxachusetts'.

They'll be more than welcome to take a look at New Hampshire as well as it has no state income tax or sales tax.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee where the lake is still mostly open water, the snowfalls have been minor, and where we've only had to fire up the snowblowers twice so far.

1/16/2016

A Perfect Example Of Unintended Consequences - Minimum Wage Edition

During the campaigns of both Hillary and Bernie we keep hearing promises to raise the minimum wage, pretending that somehow doing so will end poverty. The big problem with that promise is that it will have just the opposite effect, putting more people into the poorhouse when they lose the jobs they have that aren't worth the $15 an hour some have proposed as the new minimum wage. It proves to anyone with even a smattering of economic knowledge that neither Hillary or Bernie have any understanding of the bad effects such a wage increase.

There are already examples of what such wage increases will do. A number of cities have already increased their minimum wages well above the federal minimum and the effects have not been what was promised. One of the biggest is that hiring has faded away, particularly in the hospitality industry (hotels and restaurants), one group that was supposed to benefit from the wage increases.

U.S cities that implemented big minimum-wage hikes to $10 an hour or more in 2015 have seen a strikingly similar aftermath: Job gains have fallen to multiyear lows at restaurants, hotels and other leisure and hospitality venues.

The data aren't, for the most part, stark and reliable enough to amount to smoking-gun proof.

But Chicago, Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. — all on the leading edge of the push for big minimum wage hikes — all show worrisome job trends.

Do that nationwide and watch what happens to hiring then. One thing I can promise: teen unemployment will skyrocket because no one wants to hire anyone with no job experience at what are really skilled or semi-skilled labor wages. Some won't be able to afford hiring anyone at that pay rate.

If yet another example is needed, one that includes only a modest pay increase above minimum wage, then take a look at one of the biggest retail operations in the world, Walmart.

After they raised wages, many worker's hours were cut and now Walmart is closing a number of stores that are no longer profitable. One has to wonder what the progressives who pushed so hard for the wage increase will think about the unintended consequences of their demands.

Then again I expect they're start blaming corporate greed as the only factor that prompted the closings. But what so many of them forget is that any business, including Walmart, has to make a profit or go out of business. Like many other businesses out there, Walmart's profit margin is not large, sitting somewhere around 7%. Only the fact that they have such a huge market share generates the large monetary gains. Start eating into that profit to meet the demands of the progressive economic 'experts' and the profits will turn to losses and the business will spiral into eventual bankruptcy, yet it will somehow still be the fault of the “greedy” business owners.

1/15/2016

A Change In Tone

As the campaigning here in New Hampshire has ramped up, the tone of what advertising has been aired has changed as well.

Until recently, much of the campaign ads have touted how this GOP candidate or the other are not Hillary or painted Hillary as just an extension of Obama. But now that ads, at least on the GOP side, have turned away from painting their candidate in a favorable light to tearing down one of more of their fellow candidates. The tone has gone from one of friendly rivalry to full on mud slinging and denigration of character. This hasn't been a gradual change, but one that took place overnight, with no attack ads one day and slews of them the next day.

Two things are driving this, in my opinion: the large number of GOP candidates and the fast approaching Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary.

I can't wait for February 9th to get here so we can get past this and get a few months respite before both the convention and the general campaign leading up to November.