4/30/2012

More Unintended Consequences Of Ethanol Mandate

I'm not the only one questioning the wisdom of blending ethanol with gasoline. It's not just the net energy gain or lose, the decreased fuel economy compared with unblended gasoline, or the problems ethanol causes in fuel systems. There's also the economic effects, particularly the always ubiquitous unintended consequences ethanol brings to the equation.

...[M]aking ethanol (grain alcohol) from corn…is a fairly straightforward and cheap process, so even without the federal subsidy, so-called “E10” gas (90 percent gasoline, 10 percent ethanol) is cheaper than straight 100 percent stuff. But instead of simply allowing refiners to mix in up to 10 percent ethanol if the market and production environment made it favorable, the law mandated a steep ramp-up to full sales of nothing but E10 in a very short time. On the surface we would move that much closer to energy independence with this law. Well and good.

The not-so-advertised reasons for the law have to do with the strength of the agricultural lobby. The E10 mandate was a tremendous windfall for everybody who grows corn. While some ethanol from corn was being used voluntarily as a fuel additive before 2007, the mandate caused this use to skyrocket. By 2011, according to the Mosbacher Institute report by economist James Griffin, 37 percent of the entire U.S. corn crop went toward ethanol production. And corn prices soared from $2.50 per bushel up to as high as $7.50.

If the only people hurt were U.S. food consumers (not everybody drives a car, but everybody eats), it would be bad enough. But the U.S. grows and sells more corn than any other nation, and much of it is exported to poorer countries, where it is a staple in many diets. While the rise in corn prices was not solely responsible for the worldwide inflation in food costs that led to food riots in many nations in recent years, the timing is suspicious, and there is no question that the EISA law led to hardships for many poor people around the world who were now even less able to afford to eat.

It's not too often those pushing for mandates look at the consequences they may create. As long as those unintended consequences don't affect them, they don't care. Call it yet another proof that crony capitalism (better yet just call it crony economics because it really has nothing to do with capitalism) always causes more harm than good because only a few benefit and everyone else pays the price, with little if any return for what they pay.

4/29/2012

Thoughts On A Sunday

We were on our way back from the WP In-Laws last night when we got the call from BeezleBub: his FIRST robotics team finished 39th out of 400 teams! Finishing in the top 10% during their first appearance at the FIRST World Championships is not bad at all for a team from a small New Hampshire high school.

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A bit of scary news related to BeezleBub:

The tent collapse in St. Louis yesterday was near the hotel where he and his team mates have been staying while at the FIRST competition.

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Mark Steyn says the US is headed for a financial crisis that will make that of Greece look miniscule by comparison. What's worse is that the players in Washington know it, but are choosing to ignore the coming collapse.

“We are headed for the most predictable economic crisis in history,” says Paul Ryan. And he’s right. But precisely because it’s so predictable the political class has already discounted it. Which is why a plan for pie now and spinach later, maybe even two decades later, is the only real menu on the table. There’s a famous exchange in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Someone asks Mike Campbell, “How did you go bankrupt?” “Two ways,” he replies. “Gradually, then suddenly.” We’ve been going through the gradual phase so long, we’re kinda used to it. But it’s coming to an end, and what happens next will be the second way: sudden, and very bad.

Steyn points out the fiscal crisis also has its roots at the state level, with many states and municipalities having problems with debt and underfunded pension plans. This only adds to the severity of the coming collapse.

Public employee pension plans are promising returns of investment that would get anyone in the private financial market thrown into prison for fraud. How can they possibly promise 7, 8, or even 9 percent return on investment? Yet the pension plans depend heavily on returns that high. When they don't come about, the plans go bankrupt. That's something that will happen as more boomers retire and the plans have to start paying out even more money than they do now.

(H/T GraniteGrok)

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Talk about abuse of power: Brooklyn bodega clerk arrested for selling booze to an under-21 customer even though he refused to sell it to the undercover teen.

Fortunately a security camera video may be this clerk's salvation.

(H/T Scary Yankee Chick)

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Have you ever wondered where the money you pay for each gallon of gas or diesel goes? Despite what most people believe, the gas stations themselves get very little, usually between 1 and 4 cents per gallon, depending upon the region of the country and the distributor agreement they have with their supplier.

The biggest portion, up to two-thirds, goes to buying the crude oil used by refineries to create the gas or diesel. The price can vary due to natural disasters or political unrest in oil producing regions.

In case you're wondering, the oil companies aren't making any more profit on a percentage basis than any other business out there, running between 6 and 9 percent. But when you sell hundreds of billions of dollars worth of product every quarter, that 6 to 9 percent adds up.

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I tell you, these guys have got to lay off the hash pipe.

Supposedly, the drop in population growth in California is seen by demographers and urban planners as good news.

Say what? If population growth is falling off that means people no longer see your state as a good place to live and work. People, and their money, leave. Yet you expect this drop off will allow you “time to prepare for bigger population than they did in past years...”

If California, at both the state and municipal level, doesn't get its collective s**t together, it won't matter how much planning you do. No one will want to move to a state that taxes the bejeezus out of its citizens, imposes draconian business and environmental regulations on those creating needed jobs, and makes it impossible to build the needed infrastructure for that still pie-in-the-sky “bigger population.”

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Here's a bit of bad news/good news, at least if you're a fan of Fox network's Fringe.

The bad news – Fringe will be ending next season.

The good news – Fox could have canceled it after this season, but fans managed to convince Fox to let the show producers to close out the story line with 13 episodes next season.

I don't know if any of you out there have watched Fringe, but I've enjoyed it as much as I did X Files. It's certainly different and entertaining.

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And you thought I wasn't going to have any mention of the ongoing AGW battle this time around.

Too bad.

In this case, Dr. Tim Ball reiterates a point made by the late Michael Crichton many years ago – Consensus science isn't science. It's politics.

But then most of us with a modicum of science knowledge know that. But that hasn't stopped the AGW faithful from screaming at the top of their lungs “But we have a consensus! The science is settled!!!” The claim of consensus is the sanctuary of those who know their science won't stand up to scrutiny, as it has always been.

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Thomas Sowell delves into the racism that is the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case. However this time around the racists aren't the usual suspects. This time it's the media, using creative editing and outright falsification to create a racist incident where there was none.

But the purpose of the narrative they tried to create was to “inform the public” about the ongoing problem of racism in the US. Too bad they forgot to mention that it is they who are the racists, or at least they are the one playing the race card.

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Looking at one of the latest Obama campaign ads, it appears that he plans to use the fact that Osama bin Laden was killed on his watch as part of his re-election campaign. That's all well and good.

However, the one thing I don't expect to see in any follow on ads is that while he got bin Laden, he lost the Middle East.

But the killing of one person has been against the backdrop of a complete disaster for the United States throughout the Middle East and Central Asia.

North Africa is or is on the way to domination by radical Islamists. We pushed Mubarak out without any transition, and the Muslim Brotherhood and even more extreme Islamists are nearing control. The same is true in Libya and Tunisia.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban are resurgent, waiting out Obama’s timeline for withdrawal. In Iraq, the Iranians have extended their influence and the nation again is dividing along sectarian lines, with the unifying factor (except among the Kurds) being hostility to the U.S.

In Syria, where for once we could have dealt a crushing blow to Iranian influence, we have helped Bashar Assad hang onto power to the extent that both sides hate us.

Our one true ally in the region, Israel, is in its most precarious position in decades, surrounded by massive Iranian-backed missile bases in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria.

There is almost nowhere in the Middle East that the United State is better off than it was four years ago.

If nothing else this problem has handed the Romney campaign another nail to put into Obama's re-election coffin. All Mitt has to do is ask “Are we better off in the Middle East than we were four years ago?”

Of course he can also ask the same question about the economy under Obamanomics.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where cooler weather will be leaving (again), BeezleBub is home again, and where more yard work awaits.

4/28/2012

Mythbuster - 5 Myths About Conservative Voters

Frank Luntz of the Washington Post has an interesting piece dealing with the 5 Myths About Conservative Voters. Luntz attempts to address those myths that Democrats believe about conservative voters.

For the most part I agree with his points, but at times he gets a little mushy as if he doesn't want to offend the sensibilities of his liberal readers. On his very first “busted” myth he doesn't quite make the connection between what conservatives want in regards to government and what it means.

Conservatives care most about the size of government.

Today, conservatives don’t want a reduced government so much as one that works better and wastes less.

In a poll we completed among self-identified conservatives just before the 2010 elections,“efficient” and “effective” government clearly beat “less” and “smaller” government. For conservatives, this debate is less about size than about results, along with a demand that elected officials demonstrate accountability and respect for the taxpayer, regardless of whether they’re spending $1 million or $1 trillion.

--snip--
It used to be that conservatives supported smaller government on theoretical grounds: The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen; government should only do for people what they truly cannot do for themselves; government isn’t the solution, it is the problem.

I think Luntz missed the point. A government that works better and wastes less will be smaller. There won't need to be nearly as much government (and attendant bureaucrats) in order for government to perform its functions. One begets the other.

We want smaller government because it costs less and is more efficient. If being more efficient and less costly creates a smaller government, so be it. Just so long as they stop wasting taxpayer dollars on things we neither need or want.

4/26/2012

Conversation Is Not Preaching To The Choir

As a follow up to yesterday's post about Janine Turner's advice about how to convert liberals, I've decided to post a comment made to Janine's post.

I respond to that tactic with a statement to the effect that energetic conversation doesn’t have to imply conflict. Further, that an expresser of opinion has a moral obligation to gracefully receive a rebuttal or keep your opinions to yourself.

It never fails me and usually embarrasses the conversation squelcher.

It has always been my belief that conversation does not mean those conversing must agree with each other. On the contrary, some of the best conversations I've ever had have been with people with whom I disagree, whether on a subject trivial or profound. But it seems quite a few on the left believe the only worthwhile conversation is with those with whom they agree. Call it preaching to the choir or speaking in an echo gallery. But if they limit themselves to such conversations, then new and interesting ideas will never be broached and they might as well be talking to themselves.

And yet again I have to bring up that many 'conversations' I've had with true blue liberals follow the same pattern, with references to “everybody knows such-and-such” or “I feel that...”

As to the first, one of my favorite philosophers, Robert Heinlein, opined: “If 'everyone knows' such-and-such, then it ain't so by ten thousand to one.”

As to the second, I have always found those three words to be extremely annoying. I don't care what someone feels about a particular subject. I want to know what they think about it. I've found that opinions based upon feelings and not upon logic and facts are almost always wrong, sometimes disastrously so. The same is also true about decisions based upon feelings. It might make the person making the decision feel better about themselves, but it doesn't help those who will be affected by that decision. In many cases it makes things worse because the person who made the decision ignored the facts and the possible consequences of that decision. As long as they felt good about the decision it was the right one as far as they were concerned. Of course they're the ones who rarely have to suffer the consequences of their decision.

4/25/2012

Brains And Beauty

Imagine my surprise to find out that Janine Turner (yes, that Janine Turner) has joined PJ Media.

Her first foray into the world of PJ Media delves into the daunting topic of How To Convert A Democrat.

One of her first points: Do not remain silent when Democrats start stating outright untruths. Silence is taken as agreement with a position, even if it is blatantly wrong. She also gives us a list of things to remember in our efforts to “convert unyielding and uninformed liberals”. Among them, reason and knowledge.

To enter into this battle, one must be armed, agile, sharp, and resolute.

Here are some tools. When the Democrats start ranting, use the GIRLFRIENDS acronym to forge through the storm.

As the saying goes, Read The Whole Thing, including the comments.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Janine!

4/23/2012

Is Obama A Fascist?

The WP Dad forwarded this to me, an e-mail he wrote to the pastor of our local church. To say my father and the pastor do not see eye to eye politically would not be an untruth by any means. However it is illustrative of the chasm that can exist between friends, at least when it comes to politics.

I cannot say with any certainty how much history the pastor has studied, remembers, or understands. But it appears to me that he does have blind spots when it comes to the actions of those who do not hold freedom dear and would prefer to run things, even if it means killing millions in order to enforce their will.

This e-mail has not been changed other than some formatting and corrections made to some typos.

I apologize for labeling Pres Obama as a Fascist. I should have done that only after presenting arguments that satisfy me that he deserves the label. I have listed below a variety of reasons I have for believing he is a socialist and will become a Fascist.

1. The President's major political asset is his charisma. Polls show that more often than not voters disapprove of his policies, yet he has a high personal approval rating. His accomplishments are meager other than getting elected. Even there his foray into local Chicago politics succeeded because his opponents for the nomination were mistakenly omitted from the ballot.

2. His cabinet appointments have been disappointing. I think that Eric Holder's major accomplishment has been to shield the President. Prior to his appointment his only noted achievement was to obtain a pardon for a major donor who had fled the country after conviction. He slipped the pardon into the list of Pres. Clinton's last day pardons as if it had been vetted and approved in the normal manner by the justice department. His appointee to the Energy Department, as late as two weeks ago was that it was necessary to drive up fossil fuel costs to make green energy more attractive.

3. Assistant Cabinet members require approval from the Senate. Rather than follow the Constitutional requirement, The Pres. appointed numerous Czars who became de facto Assistants without approval. We got ideologues who were avowed communists or revolutionaries.

4. Under Pres. Obama's stewardship, the nation is being reshaped into a secular society. There has been an increasing effort to drive religion from our society. Witness eliminating prayer from our schools, removal of any religious overtones (like the Ten Commandments) from public buildings. Morality is officially suspect, to be replaced by legality and regulation. Each year we add multiple thousands of pages of regulations to control behavior and Congress feels they have accomplished nothing if they haven't passed batches of laws. Is all of this to replace what was once accepted as morals and ethics.

It is documented that those that call themselves liberals do far less charitable work and give far less to charity. I suppose if Government is responsible for the welfare of every individual, then I have met my obligation to my fellow man if I simply pay my taxes That looks to me as an inducement to accept socialism. Socialism always fails because as Margret Thatcher said, "Eventually you run out of other people's money." When Socialism fails the most common result is despotism.

5. Charismatic leaders tend to have cadres of militant supporters. Cuba and Venezuela, Castro and Chavez have co-opted their armies. Mussolini, Hitler and Lenin/Stalin had Brown Shirts, Black Shirts, and Red Shirts. Pres. Obama has Purple Shirted goons. How else would you identify the mobs of union members who descended on Wisconsin in an attempt to over throw the duly elected Governor. They claim that the Tea Party is violent and racist. Not as violent as the Purple Shirts.

6. Pres. Obama and his administration have diligently worked to expand their natural base. We are reaching a point where too great a portion of the voting populace either work for or are married to someone working for a government. Their unions negotiate for improved pay and perks. On the other side of the bargaining table are the unborn generations who will have to pay the wages and perks "someday".

Another huge constituency are the poor. If we are in danger of running out of poor people we simply change the threshold. Of course we have always had a very mobile society. Thomas Sowell had a very revealing essay about mobility. Many of those who are poor were wealthy less than a decade ago. Many recent graduates from high schools and universities are poor until they get work and earn promotions. Many of the wealthy are recipients of one time windfalls and they won't be wealthy ten years from now.

Once you start subsidizing poverty you get more poverty. Much of what we give the poor is not counted as income - food stamps, rent subsidies, unemployment is counted. I've often wondered how many of those who collected unemployment for the full ninety-nine weeks had a working spouse and the unemployment benefit amounts to wages for staying home and being a house husband/wife.

7. The stimulus package was going to 'kick start' projects that were 'shovel ready', but a very large portion of the money went to state and local governments to cover their shortfalls. Instead of shrinking payrolls, these government employees were shielded while productive workers in private employment were laid off or downsized. In particular the stimulus money went to Unions, specifically the teacher's and autoworkers unions. In the case of both Chrysler and GM the bond holders who were legally entitled to protection got cents on the dollar and were not allowed to reorganize the companies. I don't understand why there weren't lawsuits. By the way, it is my contention that the UAW created the Asian and European invasion of our market. Every increase in productivity went to overpaid employees and never to the consumer. Eventually prices for domestic cars were so high that they created a spacious umbrella for competitors to emerge.

There was a time when our technology improvements helped us to protect our markets. The unions couldn't organize the Asian companies, but technology is easily exported. It was thought that the Asian workers were not capable of utilizing our technology, but in reality the 'worker bees' were better educated and better motivated than our domestic scholars.

8. The President has been decrying the Do Nothing Congress, but it is the Democrat controlled Senate that is doing nothing. Pres. Obama is complaining that the days of cooperation and compromise have gone away. In those good old days there was a fair consensus about where the country should go and the compromise was about the best way to get there. Today, there are two opposing ideas about where to go. One side says a democratic capitalist society has served us well and the opposing side says the wave of the future is European style socialism. Compromise is seen by both sides as surrender. Progress will hinge on the will of the people. Even if Pres. Obama is reelected, I'm betting that the Tea party will control both houses.

9. Education has been in decline for decades. The only country that spends more per pupil is Switzerland, but the U.S. has continually slipped in the hard sciences. I believe the Universities have become the home of Lenin's 'useful fools' Government subsidized Universities and tuition increases matched the subsidies. Government began to guarantee student loans and in response to fairness dicta Universities began admitting unqualified student and the dumbing down curricula. Lots of students took gut courses and many flunked out. When these ungraduated student began reneging on the loans, government made student loans ineligible for bankruptcy. One drag on the housing industry has been the large numbers of graduates who owe so much that they are not able to get mortgages. They move in with Mom and Dad, don't get married but they do have children. The government subsidizes unwed mothers.

We castigate greedy Wall Street, but Wall Street can't hold a candle to institutes of higher learning. Too many classes are taught by itinerant instructors that move from campus to campus teaching for meager wages without benefits, while professors retire handsomely. There was a recent article by a retired Sociology professor that recounted his perceptions. There are excessive classrooms and laboratories because neither students nor professors want to start work before 9:00 or work after 3:00, The facilities are less than 50% utilized. Administration used to account for about 20% of payroll and today it is closer to 50%. Part of the reason for this is the excessive regulations impose by government.

Colleges aren't the only culprits. Public schools are also overloaded with administrators. My speculation is that teachers who fail in the class room can't be fired, so to protect the students the under-performing teacher become part of the administration.

In the meantime 'shop' has virtually disappeared from high schools. We now have VoTech. Let me tell you of a recent family experience. One of my grandsons had perception problem that made book learning very difficult, but he was good with mechanical tasks, particularly small engines. He was denied access to a Vocational school because the classes he wanted were over-subscribed by college bound kids that wanted easy courses to improve their GPA. Naturally we now have a shortage of skilled mechanics, carpenters, electricians and plumbers. My son has a neighbor that drives his high school kids around Concord and points out the best houses. He tells them that is where my plumber lives...

Goodness gracious. That certainly enough and I really want to go to bed. I have to add, I am slightly optimistic about the future. Life is going to be difficult for a while but the nation will survive even if Obama is reelected.

Indeed.

4/22/2012

Thoughts On A Sunday

The rain has finally arrived.

It's been very dry here in New England, with little rain or snow and above normal temperatures over the past couple of months. Everything has been tinder dry, creating a huge fire hazard and making headaches for fire departments and forestry services across the region.

We had some light rain over night and expect heavy rains to arrive late tonight or early tomorrow morning which should take care of the dry conditions for now.

Of course this rain does have a downside, that being black flies and mosquitoes will now multiply.

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BeezleBub is getting prepared for his FIRST robotics team's Tuesday departure for St. Louis. His high school's team was one of the three regional winners in the FIRST competition earlier this year, earning them the right to compete in the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis this coming week.

I did my part, making sure all of his clothing (team shirts, etc) are clean and ready to pack. I also lent him what meager expertise I have in packing for a trip, having made more than a few intercontinental trips in the past. Number 1 tip: Pack light. The biggest problem most folks have is that they take too damn much stuff with them. Sometimes this means they have to check their luggage which in turn means baggage fees ($50 for the flights the team is taking to and from St. Louis). For the 5 days/ 4 nights they'll be there he should need no more than 5 shirts (one a little dressier than the rest), two pairs of pants, 4 sets of briefs, and 5 pairs of socks. (You can never have too many socks.)

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Is it just me or has the media frenzy about Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming died down quite a bit? It seemed there were daily stories about how we were all doomed if we didn't go back to pre-Industrial ways of life and/or cut back the world's population by some horrifically huge number.

ClimateGate 1.0 and 2.0 may have something to do with that drop off as the “settled science” turned out not to be settled at all and a number of assumptions made by CAGW proponents came under closer scrutiny. It also doesn't help their cause that studies suggest there have been massive increases in scientific fraud.

Of course I expect there to be another round of media hysteria about CAGW once they get past trying to foment race riots and bring about the lynching of George Zimmerman.

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Bogie gives us a little insight into getting her fork truck license.

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From Blue's Blog by way of Scary Yankee Chick comes a picture of a sign I'd like to see at my place of employment.


Click on image to enlarge


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Also by way of Scary Yankee Chick comes this story about hundreds of thousands of infected computers that will lose their Internet service come this July.

Fortunately the fix is pretty straightforward and instructions for checking your computer are included in the AP article. As the article states, it's mostly home computers that may have been infected by way of an Internet ad scam. (In case you're wondering, I did check the validity of this story and the fix and it is legitimate.)

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The Great California Exodus continues, with more people and businesses fleeing the ever more oppressive Golden State than are moving in. As US demographer Joel Kotkin has reported, over 4 million more people have left California over the past 2 decades than have moved in. Overregulation is but one of the factors that have led people to abandon California for better economic climes.

Part of California's dysfunction, he says, stems from state and local government restrictions on development. These policies have artificially limited housing supply and put a premium on real estate in coastal regions.

"Basically, if you don't own a piece of Facebook or Google and you haven't robbed a bank and don't have rich parents, then your chances of being able to buy a house or raise a family in the Bay Area or in most of coastal California is pretty weak," says Mr. Kotkin.

While many middle-class families have moved inland, those regions don't have the same allure or amenities as the coast. People might as well move to Nevada or Texas, where housing and everything else is cheaper and there's no income tax.

Give people enough incentive to leave, and they will, taking their money (tax revenues) and their jobs (even more tax revenues) with them.

So endith the lesson. The question is, will the Powers That Be in California learn that lesson before it's too late? If we have to go by previous and proposed actions, then the answer is an unequivocal no.

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If California isn't enough of a lesson on the failures of socialism (let's face it, California is a socialist state), then perhaps Venezuela will suffice.

After years of Hugo Chavez's socialism in that once prosperous country, the economy is in a shambles, the electrical infrastructure has been breaking down, their oil infrastructure doing likewise, and now there are food shortages.

It seems that in just about every country dominated by socialist economics food shortages are the norm. The old joke in the now defunct Soviet Union used to run:

“Is this the line for the store that doesn't have shoes?”

“No. This is the line for the store that doesn't have bread.”

It appears that joke is making a comeback in Venezuela.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)

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Here's a lesson in economics President Obama might consider looking at, even briefly, before tearing off on yet another round of “Let's tax the heck out of the rich!” In this case, he should look at the examples of the 50 states, how they handle taxes, and the effects taxes have on their economies.

In California, a union-backed ballot initiative would raise the state's highest tax rate to 13.3%. Union-funded groups in Illinois aren't satisfied with last year's income tax rate hike to 5% from 3%, so they now want to go as high as 11%. That would put them in the big leagues with California and New York. And in Oregon, lawmakers are considering raising the highest rate to 13% from 9.9%. In all of these states, proponents parrot Mr. Obama, insisting that the rich can afford it.

They can, but they can also afford to save hundreds of thousands or more each year by getting out of Dodge. Every time California, Illinois or New York raises taxes on millionaires, Florida, Texas and Tennessee see an influx of rich people who buy homes, start businesses and shop in the local economy.

Republican governors in Florida, Georgia, Idaho, North Dakota, South Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin and even Michigan and New Jersey are cutting taxes to lure new businesses and jobs.

Asked why he wants to reduce the cost of doing business in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker replies: "I've never seen a store get more customers by raising its prices, but I've seen customers knock down the doors when they cut prices."

Georgia, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma are now racing to become America's 10th state without an income tax. All of them want what Texas has (almost half of all net new jobs in America over the last decade, for one thing).

My home state of New Hampshire has neither an income or sales tax. Even during the deepest part of the recession New Hampshire didn't suffer nearly as much unemployment as surrounding states, and actually saw some growth in both population and its economy while other states in the Northeast lost population and jobs.

Though there were a few stumbles by the legislature when there was a Democrat majority in both the House and Senate (they increased spending based upon pie-in-the-sky revenue projections and increased business taxes during the worst part of the recession), in 2010 Republicans routed the Democrats in both chambers, securing a supermajority in the House and one vote shy of a supermajority in the Senate. The legislature reversed the economy-killing measures enacted during the previous legislature. Not surprising to many, economic activity increased and the state saw higher tax revenues. Amazing how that works, isn't it?

(Shamelessly stolen from Tom Bowler)

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As LabRat over at Atomic Nerds reminds us, high school is not real life. It doesn't even come close.

...successfully transcending the social realities of high school isn’t that much of a thing to celebrate so much as getting over with as quickly as possible, just because life immediately ceases to be like school the second you leave it. Lots of people continue going through the motions as though it were, but it’s because the only patterns they know and no one bothered to tell them that contrary to preparing them with rigorous accuracy for adult life, school gave them a highly artificial reality that must be adjusted away from. There should really be some sort of an exit briefing at or after graduation, just so you are warned, whether or not you choose to listen to any of it.

He then goes on to list the 5 important things you have to know to survive in the real world.

The lesson LabRat puts forth reminds me of something the WP Dad told me when I was suffering through the vagaries of life in high school. It is advice that I have since passed on to others, including BeezleBub and various other family members and friends. It all boils down to this:

Nothing that went on in high school will matter worth a damn to anyone 5 seconds after you graduate.

That one thing got me through some tough times in high school.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where badly needed rain has arrived, yard work has stopped (for now), and yet again Monday has arrived all too soon!

4/21/2012

Let Me Get This Straight...

Yeah, this pretty well sums up my thought about this issue:

4/20/2012

LA To Punish Their Citizens...Again?

I've been a bit busy, so blogging has been sporadic. Rather than leaving you with nothing to read, let me point you to a post at GraniteGrok that asks the important question: What could go wrong? In this case it's about LA's proposed move to ban paper or plastic bags in an effort to force people to use reusable cloth bags.

It's obvious they folks in the upper echelons of LA government haven't thought this through and will, in the end, make the people of LA pay for their shortsightedness as they fall sway to the Law of Unintended Consequences. But then California provides uncountable examples of how the Law has been punishing their residents for decades.

4/18/2012

Being Stupid About Smart Grids

We've all been reading about the so-called “Smart Grid”, a system that allows utilities to have better information about and control over their systems. Smart grids are supposed to be more efficient and cost effective because the utilities will be able to tailor system operations to demand on a minute by minute basis. The biggest problem with implementing the communications needed in order to make smart grids possible.

Frankly, I always thought the utilities would use encrypted low power radio links (telemetry only), fiber optic networks, or even power line communications to link the control and telemetry systems back to the operations centers. I also thought they would use closed systems, meaning there would be no direct connection to public data networks (the Internet), keeping them separate for security purposes.

I was wrong.

It appears a number of utilities are looking to use the public cellular networks to provide communications for their smart grid systems.

This is an idea that leaves them open to being compromised by hackers. And while some may claim that encryption will help keep the systems secure, there is no such thing as a “secure” system if there is a publicly accessible portion to the network. Almost any encryption system can be cracked given enough time and effort, either through brute force decryption, the exploitation of overlooked system vulnerabilities, or through critical information obtained from someone inside the utility.

This is a bad idea, one that can lead to compromised electrical, water, and gas utility systems being brought down through cyber attacks by groups unfriendly to the US.

4/17/2012

Proof Of Innocence

A co-worker sent this to me. It has to be one of the more interesting attempts (and a successful one) for beating a traffic ticket. This is something right out of the old TV show Numbers.

I can attest to the fact that math can help you beat a ticket.

On one occasion in the distant past I received a speeding ticket in the town of Braintree, Massachusetts. The police officer who cited me said I was doing 65mph in a 40mph zone. There was only one problem: the car I was driving at the time would have had to been able to accelerate from 0 to 65 mph in under 4 seconds. (I had just pulled out of a side street and onto the road in question a couple of hundred of feet from the officer's cruiser. But since I was driving a 1979 Dodge Omni with a 1.7 liter 4-banger, that feat of acceleration was impossible.

As the officer was writing up the ticket I noticed his radar was still on and more than once in a 1 minute period registered speeds well in excess of 40mph along the road in question. I found that interesting considering there was not one single vehicle on the road when the radar displayed the speeds. Looking closer at where the officer was set up I realized what was happening.

After getting permission to leave my vehicle for a moment, I pulled out my ever present 100' tape measure and started taking some measurements, specifically the distance of his cruiser from the side of the road (he'd flagged me down), the distance from the side of the building he'd used to shield his presence from cars coming down the road, and the distance of that building from the elevated highway behind and to one side of where he'd parked his cruiser. I also asked the officer for the make, model, and serial number of the radar system he was using to measure speeds. (Fortunately he didn't seem to mind. I guess he thought I was just wasting my time.)

To make an already long story short, I decided to fight the ticket.

The day of my court appearance arrived and I showed up with my ammunition: two poster boards- one with a diagram of the 'scene of the crime', showing the distances of all of the pertinent objects including the side street I'd pulled out of, the location of the cruiser, the building he'd been next to, and the distance to the highway; and the other with the same diagrams now overlaid with lines of sight and some equations. I also had a copy of the data sheet for the radar unit the officer used, some other literature from the manufacturer, and a textbook, in this case Skolnick's Radar Systems Handbook.

When my case was called, I made my presentation to the judge after the prosecuting officer made his case. After explaining my diagrams, the measurements I made, and asking the police officer if he thought the diagram was reasonably accurate (he admitted it was), I brought out the second poster board with the second set of diagrams and equations and showed how the officer's radar wasn't measuring speeds along the road I'd been traveling, but the highway behind him. The diagram showed the width of the beam emitted by the radar, how more than half of the radar energy was being reflected back to the elevated highway, and that the speeds the officer was measuring was that of the traffic on the highway.

At this point the judge asked me my profession.

“I'm a radar systems technician for [Really Big Defense Contractor].”

I was found not guilty.

4/15/2012

Thoughts On A Sunday

The warm weather has returned, making it easier to take care of some of the cleanup around the outside of The Manse. Today it was removing the sand left behind on the driveway and pulling brush cut last fall down to the brush pile on the lower 40. Screen doors were also put back in in light of the warmer temps expected this week (it's supposed to be in the mid 80's on Monday!).

With the better weather for the upcoming week I hope to get a lot more done around The Manse after work.

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I'm not the only one who's come to loath Microsoft Word. Glenn Reynolds still prefers Word Perfect and has used Open Office. And you can add the name of Tom Scocca of Slate to the list of those who think Microsoft Word has outlived its usefulness, become bloated, and less user friendly.

Maybe Microsoft should start with a clean sheet of paper.

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Are the Democrats trying to paint Mitt Romney as one of the characters in Mad Men? It would appear so.

President Barack Obama has noted the presumptive GOP nominee uses archaic turns of phrase such as “marvelous” and warned in an email to donors Thursday that his rival would usher in “a social agenda from the 1950's.”

Gee wiz, does that mean that everyone who uses 'archaic turns of phrase' must necessarily be stuck back in the 50's? Personally I think Mitt Romney is kinda neat, and his missus is just swell!

(H/T Maggie's Farm)

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I almost forgot that the Boston Marathon is tomorrow. Normally I wouldn't make such a big deal out of it, but as Bogie reminds us it's going to be very hot for April in Boston, with temps expected to hit the low 90's down there tomorrow. That's a good 20 to 30 degrees warmer than what they usually see for the Marathon, which does not bode well for the competitors.

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Is it possible the so-called Smart Meters used to measure and report your electricity usage may be too smart for their own good?

With some readily available software from the Internet it may be possible to hack into some of these meters and reset them in a fashion that lets the user pay less, or even nothing, for the electricity they use. It's power theft in the 21st Century, eliminating the need to modify existing meters or to steal and reconfigure meters to make the theft possible.

They need to rethink these things.

(H/T Scary Yankee Chick)

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Also by way of SCY comes this second round of Microsoft 'news': Windows XP is finally coming to an end.

Not that this news is by any means surprising. We all knew Microsoft was going to kill it because, after all, it is over 10 years old and outdated.

Microsoft did try to end support two years ago, but business users rebelled, stating that XP's successor, Vista, wasn't ready for prime time because it didn't support many of the programs businesses used for their operations. What good was a new operating system if it didn't support the software businesses depended upon? So Microsoft relented (or caved, depending upon your point of view), and decided to continue support of XP until 2014. Microsoft also continued work on improving Windows, eventually shelving the much derided Vista and releasing Windows 7.

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The racial narrative pushed by the media and the race-baiters in regards to the Trayvon Martin shooting have been falling apart faster than a cheap suitcase in the rain.

It appears the only racists involved in this tragedy are the aforementioned media and the professional race-baiters, like Al Sharpton.

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Pat Austin has a roundup of the devastation caused by the series of tornadoes to hit the Midwest.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the weather has been gorgeous, the trees are sprouting leaves, and where boats have already been put into the water.

4/13/2012

Return Of The DNC Automatons


There were all kinds of things I could have posted about today – Obama, the economy, the GOP campaign, and so on. In fact it is one of those things that caused an incident at our local general store this afternoon. For this, I must take some of the blame, but only part of it.

I had stopped by the store to make my twice weekly purchase of a few lottery tickets. I am by no means obsessed with winning “the big one”, but I will throw a couple of dollars down.

It was after my purchase that I started talking with the clerk, a friend named Sean, about some of the local goings on and, of course, the ongoing political campaign season. It was while we were discussing the recent slam of Ann Romney by Hillary Rosen that we started talking about how family was supposed to be off limits during a campaign, and at one point brought up the travesty of the character assassination of Sarah Palin's kids. It was at this point one of the local unthinking political morons walked in, already looking angry at the world, and then started chiming in that “Palin's kids deserved it because she's an idiot!” He then went on, ranting about how the HBO movie proved she was an idiot, a liar, and mentally ill.

It went down hill from there.

I won't go into too much detail, but as this guy yelled, screamed, and shouted obscenities in front of a couple of the local kids in the store, it became ever more apparent that this guy hadn't had an original thought in years. Everything political comment coming out of his mouth was right off the DNC's talking points memo. It was verbatim, every slur, every slanderous utterance, every libelous thing ever printed about Sarah Palin, the GOP, and how Obama was our savior. As he went on he got angrier and louder. He didn't want to know the facts, couldn't be bothered by evidence, didn't care what was true, he just wanted to tell the world that he and his DNC puppet masters were right and everyone else was wrong.

As he was leaving, he turned in the door and said something along the lines of “You better watch your ass because Romney will lose by 30 points and then we'll see who's controlling things!” At that point he finally left, probably to have his empty cranium refilled with the invective and rage that is mistaken by the Left for 'debate' these days.

As the door swung closed, Sean made a rather astute observation.

“If 'his' party is going to win, then why is he so angry? He was acting more like a sore loser.” (I have to explain that Sean is a Democrat, but as he's said more than once he's thinking about changing that because, to paraphrase Reagan, “I'm not leaving the Democrat Party. It's leaving me.”)

Unfortunately I have come across more than a few Obamabots just like this jerk, all emotion, all pre-programmed 'talking points', and all higher brain functions disabled so they won't have to think for themselves.

4/12/2012

Hansen Slammed By NASA Colleagues

You know it's coming apart for James Hansen when forty-nine of his fellow NASA colleagues questioned the validity of catastrophic climate change predictions based entirely on flawed climate models and not upon objective assessment of all available scientific data on climate change.

After all, isn't (or wasn't) NASA's job to approach science with an open mind, to look at the data retrieved during its research, collected by instruments both earthbound, airborne, and in space? Yet Hansen has turned all of that on its head, using his standing at NASA as a bully pulpit to put forward his views and just enough of the science to make his claims credible. How much has he tarnished NASA's reputation? (Not that it hasn't been tarnished by others, turning away from actual science and towards “Muslim outreach”, something that has absolutely nothing to do with NASA's charter.)

These forty-nine scientists, all of which have credentials that are equal to or better than Hansen's, are saying “Hey, wait a minute! This climate change stuff isn't based on hard science, but conjecture, incomplete data, and faulty computer prognostications! That's not science!”

Maybe this is just the nudge needed to move the debate about climate change to the actual science, the “un-adjusted” raw data, and away from the politically attractive predetermined results bought and paid for by those who see CAGW as a means to an end.

But I'm not holding my breath that it will happen any time soon.

4/08/2012

Thoughts On A Sunday

It's Easter and preparations leading up to it reached a fever pitch here in the Lakes Region. While we here at The Manse didn't have the chance to celebrate it together – Deb had to work, BeezleBub celebrated it with Horse Girl and her family, and I went to the WP Parents – it was still a great day.

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I realized after reading the above that I have been remiss, making mention of Horse Girl but never having 'introduced' her.

Horse Girl is BeezleBub's girlfriend. I assigned her sobriquet not because she has a horse face (she doesn't), but because she rides. She has her own horse. Another reason for her nickname? Because that's how some of BeezleBub's friends referred to her...well not specifically her but aimed at what she is.

“You're dating a horse girl? Oh, great! I'll bet she has horse stuff all over her bedroom!!”

She does, but that doesn't mean she isn't a great girl. Besides the youngest WP sister was a 'horse girl', and a pretty darned good rider at that, and she turned out OK...mostly.

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The Trayvon Martin shooting has stopped being a story about a shooting in Florida and become one about the corruption now endemic in the mainstream media, using old photos and creative editing to change the perception of the victim and the perpetrator. It seems they will bend the facts to meet the narrative in an effort to control the debate and boost ratings. Never mind that the police haven't finished their investigation and that evidence and facts presented so far do not match the media narrative. It's like they're trying to stir up trouble in an effort to create more problems, maybe even the lynching of George Zimmerman. And as I've written before, if that should happen the media will claim “But we didn't know anyone would do this!” even though they would probably have cameras there to record the whole thing in HD.

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It looks like we're headed for a economic downturn two-fer, in this case another wave of mortgage foreclosures and one hell of a tax hike as of January 1, 2013.

In regards to the first:

In 2011, the "robo-signing" scandal, in which foreclosure documents were signed without properly reviewing individual cases, prompted banks to hold back on new foreclosures pending a settlement.

Five major banks eventually struck that settlement with 49 U.S. states in February. Signs are growing the pace of foreclosures is picking up again, something housing experts predict will again weigh on home prices before any sustained recovery can occur.

Some are saying the foreclosure rate in 2012 will be higher than that seen in 2010. That doesn't bode well for the housing market. How many more millions, if not billions of dollars worth of shadow inventory is out there waiting to hit the market?

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The Obama Administration keeps playing the “unemployment rate is falling” card as if that's all that's needed to win re-election. But the electorate isn't being fooled. While the official rate has dropped to 8.2%, the number of jobs created (120,000 in March) is well below what was projected (200,000).

Why the drop in the unemployment rate? Simple – people have stopped looking for work and/or are no longer on the unemployment rolls. The official keeper of the employment figures, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, tracks the numbers of under-employed and those no longer officially on unemployment but still looking for work and reports those numbers as well. When those numbers are added into the official tally, the unemployment rate is closer to 16%.

An recent illustration of the disconnect between the Obama Administration's claims and reality is a job fair held at a local New Hampshire amusement park, hiring for summer workers. Over 1000 people showed up for the 200+ job openings. One thing I noticed about those standing in line for those summer jobs? Most of them were older than one would think would be applying for them.

As one teen standing in line to apply for a job stated:

"It's definitely a lot harder because you have the adults that need to support families, they're first priority right now," [Sidney] Battle said. "So it's hard for a teenager like me to get a job."

Indeed.

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Jeff Soyer clues us in to the fact that the Anthropogenic-Global-Warming-Is-Killing-Polar-Bears narrative is just so much bunk. At least that's what the Nunavut Wildlife Management folks are saying.

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And a second link to Jeff, where he compares the logic of licensing gun owners with that of licensing drivers. As he states, “...it hasn’t saved lives when it comes to death-by-automobiles.”

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Tom Bowler gets into the reasons for rising gas prices and their unintended consequences. The biggest cause? The Obama Administration.

Obama expected millions of so-called green jobs to be created after he put the screws to the traditional energy industries. But what he got instead was bankrupt green energy companies, billions of taxpayer dollars wasted, and higher unemployment because of skyrocketing energy costs he helped to cause.

Unintended consequences indeed.

Another unintended consequence – One and Done.

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Some time ago Remington Arms, located in New York, started making noise about leaving the Empire State because of the increasing costs of doing business there. Between higher taxes, more onerous regulations and laws, and a feeling of being unappreciated by the powers-that-be for the jobs they provide, the motivation to look for a new place to set up business has increased.

I have a suggestion for Remington – move to New Hampshire.

My home state already hosts a number of small arms manufacturers including Sturm Ruger, Thompson Center Arms, and now Sig Sauer. (Sig Sauer just moved their corporate headquarters to Newington, New Hampshire at the Pease Trade Center. There will also be manufacturing operations located there.)

It seems that unlike New York, folks here in New Hampshire actually like guns. Adding yet another manufacturer here helps both us and the manufacturer.

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Is stealing campaign signs off of a blogger's front lawn a sign of desperation from Democrats?

Yup. And the blogger in question, Steve MacDonald of GraniteGrok, says “I’ve got another post coming Monday that will make them bleed out their beady little sign stealing eyes.”

Hmm. Could there possibly be video of the perpetrators committing their crime?

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Detroit is on the brink, and if it can't find a way to avoid financial insolvency by Thursday the State of Michigan will take over.

Fierce opposition from unions -- in a city that remains a bastion of labor power -- has so far stymied efforts to pass a rescue package.

A deal backed by Mayor Dave Bing and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, would grant the city the power to void contracts and slash costs but not provide state funding or loans to bail the city out of its financial problems.

Without city council agreement on that deal, Snyder can by law appoint an "emergency manager" who will assume the powers of the mayor and council to run day-to-day operations. He has until Thursday to take such action.

Apparently the unions don't realize that should that happen, they lose everything. At that point all union contracts are void and the emergency manager will control the purse strings, including the number of those who will remain employed by the city of Detroit.

The unions have dug themselves into a deep hole. Too bad none of the union leadership had the smarts to say “Stop digging!” while there was still time to fix the problem with far less pain than they're going to feel now.

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To close out, let me include this link to a promo piece done by the New Hampshire Film Office to show off the Granite State to filmmakers and television producers. While aimed at that specific audience, this video gives you a taste of where it is I and the others of the WP team live and work.

And in case you're interested, I've been to most of the places shown in the video and I can attest that they are indeed as beautiful as depicted.

Enjoy!

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the waters of the lake are softly calling, the sun has been warming the land, and where there's no better place to live.

4/05/2012

Is It Just Me Or Are Drivers Losing Their Minds?


At first I thought it was just me, being an older and much more experienced driver. Not that I am a curmudgeonly driver who loafs along at 10 to 20 miles per hour under the speed limit just to be safe. On the contrary, I tend to be one of those driving just above the speed limit and often get impatient with drivers who can't make up their minds about what they're going to do.

Lately I've noticed that drivers in general have become more aggressive, less attentive, and prone to doing more stupid things. Like I said, at first I thought it was just me, perhaps lapsing into that aforementioned curmudgeonly behavior. But after a discussion with a number of co-workers at lunch earlier today, I knew others had seen it too.

This was brought home to me after work this afternoon after work as I was making my way to the local BJ's for my usual bi-weekly purchase of bulk items. In the stretch between work and BJ's I came across eight different drivers who were pushing the limits on safe and/or courteous driving.

The worst offender was a young driver, likely in his teens, who had a tough time maintaining lane discipline. In one two mile stretch he crossed over the double yellow line into the oncoming lane a half dozen times and darn near ran off the road and onto the shoulder at least 4 times. I don't know if he was texting or fiddling with his iPod, but something sure as heck was distracting him. Another thing: he couldn't keep his speed where it should have been, varying between 20 miles per hour below the speed limit to 10 above. I finally managed to ditch him at the traffic lights at the junction of one of the state highways. He went straight and I turned right. (It was there that I found out he was a young driver. At first I thought he might have been elderly or drunk and incapable of operating a motor vehicle. But it turned out he was just dumb.)

My second memorable encounter occurred on my way home from BJ's. It was at three different sets of traffic lights between BJ's and a stretch of highway that bypasses downtown Laconia that a driver laid on his horn if the cars in front of him didn't move the microsecond the light changed to green. Mind you, it wasn't that there was a two or three second delay after the light changed before the first couple of cars would start to move, causing this guy to hit the horn. He started on his horn the instant the light changed. Farther up the road he would pass cars in front of him, sometimes forcing them to take evasive action to keep from being run off the road or hitting his car. At the next light the same thing would happen: light changes, horn starts blaring, jerk starts trying to pass traffic as soon as there's even a smidgen of space for him to force his way in.

Ironically, once we got to one of the local malls he pulled into the mall and raced up to the drive-up window lane at the Dunkin' Donuts. Was he really that desperate for a caffeine and donut fix?

About 4 miles from home I came across another driver who seemed to think it was necessary to swing wide in the opposite direction of the turn they wanted to take. It's one thing if they were towing a trailer and needed to make a wider than normal turn to accommodate the additional length of the trailer behind them, but this wasn't the case. They were driving a Jetta.

Three times I saw this driver make the wide swinging turn. (Unfortunately they appear to live somewhere in my neighborhood which is why I saw this action more than once, though I didn't recognize the car.)

I've seen more incidents of incipient road rage, rudeness, impatience, and outright stupidity in the past six months than I usually see in six years. I wonder what's been causing this?

4/03/2012

Sarah Rocks The Today Show

Apparently Sarah Palin did well guest hosting on NBC's Today. Despite a rather chilly reception from Matt Lauer and Ann Curry at the beginning, she seemed to have won over Lauer later.

Far too many in the media still see Palin as a light weight, forgetting that she is a tough Alaskan woman, was once governor of Alaska, and (horrors!) a former TV sports reporter.

As DaTechGuy writes:

Why the hostility? I think the explanation comes from the movie The Natural

Pop Fisher: My gut tells me this and Red agrees, we feel Hobbs can fill your position very neatly…

[A]fter today Mika Brzezinski and every single woman who makes her living in front of a camera on the Today show or MSNBC understands that line above applies to them.

Be afraid, be very afraid!

I think she could indeed do better than many on morning television, and possibly do really well with her own conservative talk show.

4/02/2012

Modified Microbes To Generate Bio-Fuels...From Air?

Renewable fuels have been in the news for years now, with much of the emphasis on ethanol and so-called bio-diesel. Both of these fuels come directly or indirectly from food crops. Some bio-diesel is derived from vegetable oils and some from algae based conversion systems. The one big problem with any of these sources is that all of them take up considerable land to grow and the conversion process is neither cheap or easy.

But that may be changing.

A new process developed by UCLA may take the crops out of bio-fuels and allow for large scale production an alternative fuel called isobutanol, a “higher alcohol” with an energy density approaching that of gasoline. Its feedstock? Carbon dioxide.

Using a modified bacteria for the conversion and electricity as the sole energy source, the system has the potential to be “more efficient than the biological system.”

Photosynthesis is the process of converting light energy to chemical energy and storing it in the bonds of sugar. There are two parts to photosynthesis — a light reaction and a dark reaction. The light reaction converts light energy to chemical energy and must take place in the light. The dark reaction, which converts CO2 to sugar, doesn't directly need light to occur.

--snip--

[James] Liao explained that with biological systems, the plants used require large areas of agricultural land. However, because Liao's method does not require the light and dark reactions to take place together, solar panels, for example, can be built in the desert or on rooftops.

As nice as electric cars may be, their batteries still can't store enough energy or be recharged fast enough to make them practical except for local travel. Liquid fuels have a much higher energy density and it takes little time to refill a fuel tank. If the process created by Liao and his team at UCLA can be scaled up, the need for growing food crops for use as bio-fuel feedstock will disappear. That means agricultural operations can go back to growing crops for food rather than to turn into fuel.

According to Liao this process can also be used to generate a variety of other chemicals as well.

If this pans out, I can see it as a far better and less expensive means of generating bio-fuels than the present system.

4/01/2012

Thoughts On A Sunday

As many of you can see, Brent has picked up the blogging gauntlet again. I guess the bug bit him and he's been typing away, adding his input to this blog.

Welcome back, bud!

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The summer-like weather is gone, replaced with more normal temps. It's been dry, though we've had some snow – a dusting to half an inch – twice over the past week, with more coming overnight tonight.

The cooler, more normal weather hasn't stopped trees from budding and some plants from putting out green shoots. I expect we'll see more this week as temps climb back into the 50's for most of the upcoming week.

I haven't made the mistake of thinking Old Man Winter is done, keeping the Official Weekend Snowblower in the garage and ready to go just in case. Winter has come roaring back on more than one occasion over the years, so I'm not taking any chances.

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The Trayvon Martin issue has taken on a life of its own, with race-baiter Al Sharpton trying to up the ante. (I wonder when the black community will come to realize he's nothing but a charlatan, in it only for the power and the money that comes with it and not for “his people”.) Calls for the arrest of George Zimmerman abound despite the fact that the investigation is ongoing and that the narrative from the media may not reflect the reality of what happened.

If Zimmerman is indeed guilty of shooting the unarmed teen because he was “guilty of being black”, then the full weight of the law should fall upon his shoulders. But if Zimmerman did act in self-defense, an arrest made because the media and the community demand it may add more fuel to the fire and leave Zimmerman even more vulnerable to being lynched.

As Glenn Reynolds mentioned last week, this incident is starting to smack of the Richard Jewell case, where the media indicted him, tried him, and convicted him despite the fact that he was innocent and later fully exonerated.

Should something happen to Zimmerman I have no doubt the media will claim “But we didn't know anyone would do this!” despite all their efforts to make sure just such a thing would occur.

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Jim at Parkway Rest Stop adds his 2¢ worth to the Trayvon Martin incident, wondering why the State of Florida isn't taking action against the New Black Panther Party, who have posted a $10,000 reward for Zimmerman. Then he remembered that the NBPP have a get out of jail free card from USAG Eric Holder.

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To look elsewhere for a different type of insanity, all we have to do is cast our gaze in the direction of Wisconsin.

The public employee unions have lost their minds and are trying anything they can think of to unseat Republican governor Scott Walker. Unfortunately everything they've done to this point has weakened their position and strengthened his. They've also lost support from the private sector labor unions after throwing the unions under the bus, getting their puppets in the state legislature to kill a bill that would have brought 3000+ union jobs and billions in economic activity into the state all in an effort to “get” Scott Walker.

The public employee unions also tried thug tactics, informing business that if they didn't post pro-union fliers or posters in their windows they would be boycotted, something illegal under Wisconsin law. (I don't recall which statute covers this other than it had something to do with racketeering, specifically 'protection'.) The public employees unions had to backpedal and issue apologies to the businesses they tried to strong-arm into compliance.

In the meantime a growing majority of the Wisconsin electorate have been backing Walker and his actions to bring the runaway state spending and taxation under control.

Call it a major FAIL for the Wisconsin chapters of the SEIU and their affiliates.

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Glenn Reynolds has more on the higher education bubble, particularly the Clery Act expansion and the actual causes driving skyrocketing tuition costs.

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The Arkansas Supreme Court struck down a law that made it illegal for teachers to have sex with students who are 18 years old.

Their finding stated that “people 18 or older have a constitutional right to engage in a consensual sexual relationship.”

This doesn't mean that teachers can't be disciplined for such actions, but it does mean they can't be jailed because of it, something that happened to an Arkansas teacher who was sentenced to 30 years for having a 5 month long consensual affair with an 18 year old student at his school. With the law struck down, the imprisoned teacher will have his conviction overturned and will be released from prison.

Does this mean that it's now OK to be hot for teacher?

(H/T Maggie's Farm)

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Bird Dog over at Maggie's Farm tells us how to become one of the 1% “working in your basement in your underwear, in your spare time!”

I like the idea, but I prefer to do it in my sweats rather than my skivvies. They're more comfortable.

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Is Spain the new Greece? Looking at the numbers it appears the answer is 'yes'.

Germany has already stopped accepting bonds issued by Ireland, Greece, and Portugal as collateral for loans, and that may soon be the case with Spanish bonds as well. None of this bodes well for the Eurozone.

As Steven asks:

Oh well, that’s just the European weenie socialists who can’t put their house in order. Can’t happen here, could it? Well, it turns out that last year the Federal Reserve accounted for 61 percent of purchases of U.S. Governemnt debt. In other words, we’re just printing money–lots of it. Hard to see how this doesn’t end badly. And then the big question is: who bails out the United States when it becomes Greece? Anyone? Buehler?

Who, indeed?

(H/T Viking Pundit)

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Only in California... Because of the new minimum wage that took effect in San Francisco this past January, Subway can no longer afford to sell their much touted $5 Footlong subs there any more.

The new minimum wage in the city by the bay is $10.24/hour. That entirely changed the business model for Subway and the $5 Footlong became a money losing proposition for the chain in San Francisco.

Yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences coming into play in California.

Hmm, it seems California itself is one big example of that law, so maybe this problem, like so many others in California, has become a foregone conclusion whenever cities or the state try to 'fix' something by making it more expensive to do business there.

(H/T Scary Yankee Chick)

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The always excellent Bob Parks links us to the PDF of the day. The abstract reads:

In recent years, study after study has found that a college education no longer does what it should do and once did.

This report is concerned with the corruption of the University of California by activist politics, a condition which, as we shall show, sharply lowers the quality of academic teaching, analysis, and research, and results in exactly the troubling deficiencies that are being found in the studies to which we have referred. We shall show that this is an inevitable consequence of any substantial influence of radical politics in academia, because its characteristic interests and modes of thought are the very antithesis of those that should prevail in academic life.

This doesn't just apply to the University of California, but to colleges and universities across America. It just seems there's a lot more of it in California than anywhere else. (UC Berkeley anyone?)

For the most part the serious STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medical) colleges (MIT, Cal Tech, RIT, WPI, Georgia Tech, etc) have managed to avoid much of this, though there are still elements within those halls of academia that would like all STEM studies to be politically correct and fall under the sway of leftist ideology. However STEM studies deal with measurable realities and the Lysenkoism being pushed by the left doesn't fare so well.

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Cap'n Teach tells us why some people believe we're racist if we want cheap energy.

Yup, better to keep African Americans and their African cousins in poverty than to let them have cheap energy. After all, it's for their own good. Or that's what the Left claims. But then the Left wants everyone (but them) to be kept in poverty. It gives them so much more control over everyone else.

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We'll stay with Cap'n Teach to close out this week's TOAS, where the Cap'n's post title says it all - Obama 2012: The Campus Apathy Tour

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where temps are back to normal, the feline members of the household are demanding attention “right now”, and where yard work awaits.