3/31/2014

What Is Resurrection?

Received via e-mail from a former co-worker:

The priest was presenting a children's sermon and asked the children if they knew what the Resurrection was.

Now, asking questions during children's sermons is crucial, but at the same time, asking children questions in front of a congregation can also be very dangerous. In response to the question, a little boy raised his hand.

The priest called on him and the boy said, "I know that if you have a resurrection that lasts more than four hours you are supposed to call the doctor."

It took ten minutes for the congregation to settle down enough for the service to continue.

3/30/2014

Thoughts On A Sunday

The weather has turned, with a considerable amount of rain working to melt/wash away a good portion of the snow cover here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Some bare patches of ground can now be seen here and there, but there's still a lot of snow that needs to melt away before we can say spring has arrived.

The warmer temps were expecting over the next few days will help make a small dent in the snow cover, but I expect much of it will remain well into the middle of April.

Ice Out on Lake Winnipesaukee is expected to be quite late this year, perhaps as late as early May.

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We had to fire up the Official Weekend Pundit Woodstove again because the furnace is still not working properly. (We tend to use the propane furnace on those days where using the woodstove would make The Manse overly warm.) Even though it was repaired, requiring the replacement of a circulator pump, it still isn't functioning properly and isn't providing heat.

A call to our HVAC contractor is in order for Monday morning.

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Is college a waste of time and money?

These days I'd have to say the answer to the question is yes for a lot of students. The idea that the only way to get ahead is to get a college education may have been true decades ago, but these days the courses of study being offered and the costs of doing so are insane. As we have seen over the past decade or so a lot of college grads end up working outside their field of study in jobs that require no college degree. Yet they carry a heavy student loan debt load that will take decades to pay off.

Unless a specific profession actually requires a degree, like medicine, engineering and the like, going to and paying for four years of college makes little sense. More often than not a two-year college or trade school makes much more sense.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)

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This really helps foster trust in the electoral process.

It seems that Covered California, the state ObamaCare exchange, has been mailing pre-marked voter registration forms in letters promoting voter registration.

The party affiliation marked? Democrat, of course.

I'm not sure, but might that be considered voter intimidation or voter fraud, both of which are felonies?

Is there nothing the Obamabots won't do in order to push their agenda? Of course not.

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If we need any more evidence of 'tolerance' by the Left, then all we need to do is look Adam Weinstein who, in his ever benevolent tolerance of those with different viewpoints, firmly believes AGW skeptics should be imprisoned.

Mr. Weinstein should be careful as he's letting his incipient totalitarianism show through. He wants to follow the paths of his predecessors such as Stalin and Hitler in their tolerance of differing points of view.

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It seems that if Bogie didn't have bad luck, she'd have no luck at all.

She's still settling in to her hew home and finds out the company she's been working for is shuttering the facility where she's been employed the past 16 months and she's now out of a job.

When it rains, it pours.

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You know it's getting bad when a state's alcohol enforcement personnel can't tell the difference between bottled water and beer.

The victims of this law enforcement agency's overzealousness, a 20-year old coed and her two roommates, were accosted by plainclothes ABC officers, dragged from their vehicle at gunpoint, and arrested after they bought some victuals – sparkling water, ice cream, and cookie dough - for a sorority benefit fund raiser.

I hate to say it, but this kind of event is starting to become all too commonplace. I hope the coed wins the $40 million lawsuit she and her family have filed against the agency and its officers.

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It looks like California's bullet train boondoggle is only getting worse.

You'd think that by now the Powers-That-Be in the Golden State would have figured out that their project is doomed and would cut their losses. On the other hand, without this doomed project the opportunity for graft disappears.

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Assistant Village Idiot delves into the mechanism where people will double down on stupid, when their mistaken or misguided beliefs are challenged by hard evidence.

That certainly explains a number of things, particularly when it comes to some of the topics I posted about above.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where winter is trying to hold on, spring is trying to move in, and where the snowcover is starting to look pretty ugly.

3/29/2014

Climate Science Refuses To Conform To Warmist Beliefs

The rank ignorance of the Left when it comes to actual science never ceases to amaze me. While the Left decries the Right (more specifically conservatives) as being anti-science, it is more often the Left who will decry science that does not match with their ideological (read that 'political') views. Thank goodness I rarely have to deal with this in my line of work because if I did I would have abandoned it long ago. (There's just no getting around the laws of physics, no matter how many laws, regulations, or 'studies' may try to do so.)

One of the biggest science disciplines where this ignorance becomes evident is climate science. More often than not they'll try to shut down any debate about climate change by the usual appeal to authority or the ever popular “We have top men working on it” defense.

But what happens when one ignores what's happening in the real world while still spouting the 'settled science' of global warming? Will the cognitive dissonance created when observations refuse to match with the almost sacred climate models cause mass hysteria amongst the anointed Left? Or will they try to explain away the mismatch by going so far as to claim the observations must be wrong? (Not that such a thing has actually happened, at least not on the national or international stage. But I have heard more than a few of the local AGW faithful actually say that.)

Now that real world observations have been putting the screws to the various climate models used to predict our doom, the warmists are caught in a conundrum, particularly when even the UN IPCC is starting to to hedge its bets in regards to climate change, and more specifically, the effects of a warmer climate. How do they maintain the high level of alarmism and the push to “Do Something!” when even their biggest pillar of support is now saying, in effect, “Hey now, let's take another look at this because something doesn't add up”?

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will shortly publish the second part of its latest report, on the likely impact of climate change. Government representatives are meeting with scientists in Japan to sex up—sorry, rewrite—a summary of the scientists' accounts of storms, droughts and diseases to come. But the actual report, known as AR5-WGII, is less frightening than its predecessor seven years ago.

The 2007 report was riddled with errors about Himalayan glaciers, the Amazon rain forest, African agriculture, water shortages and other matters, all of which erred in the direction of alarm. This led to a critical appraisal of the report-writing process from a council of national science academies, some of whose recommendations were simply ignored.

Others, however, hit home. According to leaks, this time the full report is much more cautious and vague about worsening cyclones, changes in rainfall, climate-change refugees, and the overall cost of global warming.

The forthcoming report apparently admits that climate change has extinguished no species so far and expresses "very little confidence" that it will do so. There is new emphasis that climate change is not the only environmental problem that matters and on adapting to it rather than preventing it.

First, the warmists/alarmists have always made the claim that a warmer climate is automatically a bad thing, yet they provide no proof. It's just a guess. On the other hand there's plenty of scientific evidence that indicates just the opposite, showing that a warmer climate will be more beneficial, just as it has in the past.

Second, the warmists/alarmists haven't provided a shred of proof of what 'normal' is supposed to be in regards climate. Earth's climate is not static, has never been so, and will never be. It changes constantly. So for them to say “This is normal and anything outside of that is not” is conjecture at best and a canard at worst, one used to convince us that we must “Do Something!”

Third, far too many seem to have no idea how science is supposed to work and believe, incorrectly, that once something is 'settled' nothing more need be done. This belief and lack of understanding is their biggest failing and I believe has led to their unwillingness to look at the blatant disparity between the models and the actual observations.

Overstating the risk may motivate some to make changes, but far too often it has just the opposite effect, particularly when there is more than a little evidence or data that indicates the risks being touted by the “Do Something” crowd is over the top, an absolute worst case scenario that ignores some, if not all the mitigating factors. In the long run it makes people ignore the alarmists, something that can also come back to haunt us. It is something akin to the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” scenario, where when a real risk comes along the alarmists will be ignored the one time they should be taken seriously. But the alarmists have only themselves to blame for this.

Almost every global environmental scare of the past half century proved exaggerated including the population "bomb," pesticides, acid rain, the ozone hole, falling sperm counts, genetically engineered crops and killer bees. In every case, institutional scientists gained a lot of funding from the scare and then quietly converged on the view that the problem was much more moderate than the extreme voices had argued. Global warming is no different.

Part of it can be blamed on media sensationalism. The media loves a good scare story. Goodness knows we see that every winter when a snowstorm is moving in to an area that experiences such storms every year, but the media plays it up like it's the STORM OF DOOM! This certainly doesn't help.

However, I have drifted away from the original subject, that being the rank ignorance about science being displayed by too many people.

It all comes down to these few principles:

If your hypothesis/theory is incapable of being proven wrong (also called being unfalsifiable), then it's not valid, period. (Call it the You-Have-To-Take-It-On-Faith scenario – no proof necessary.)

If your hypothesis/theory doesn't match with observations or experimental results, then it is in error.

If the experiments or observations that led you to generate your hypothesis/theory cannot be recreated by others within a certain margin of error, then your hypothesis/theory is in error.

If the raw data, the data sources, and data analysis methods or algorithms are not made available to others for reanalysis and experimentation, then the hypothesis/theory derived from them are suspect and must be considered in error...or fraudulent.

See? It isn't difficult. But to read the e-mails made public in both ClimateGate 1.0 and 2.0, you have to question the validity of any of the theories about climate change, and particularly Anthropogenic Global Warming. If the various climate models constantly being touted as the End-All-And-Be-All of climate prediction don't even come close to matching the actual observations, then the models are invalid and should either be redone or abandoned. If only a single factor is being focused upon as the cause of all climate change, then any theory being put forth about it is wrong because climate is such a complicated, semi-chaotic system that no one really understands or is capable of taking into account everything that's driving the climate. But the ignorant ideologues cling to the tenets of their faith as if they are the Gospel and any questioning of the Truth So Revealed is blasphemy against the One True Faith. In other words, it's 'science' only when they agree with it or if it meets their needs. Otherwise it isn't, and scientific method be damned.

So in the end, if the Left is ignorant of what is and is not science, it is by choice and not by circumstance, which only makes it worse.

3/28/2014

Since When Is Drinking Tea A Crime?

First, it was the War on Drugs. Then came the War on Terror. And now it's finally come to this – the War on Tea.

Yes. Tea.

In two separate incidents our law enforcement have gone too far, trying to penalize and/or punish citizens who were lawfully indulging in partaking of their favorite beverage.

The first took place in a public parking lot where an otherwise law-abiding citizen was approached by someone he didn't know who demanded he hand over his beverage, in this case a can of Arizona Iced Tea. The citizen refused, figuring the stranger he could go get his own iced tea. It turns out the stranger is a plain-clothes police officer and now the still unidentified officer flings the citizen to the ground, placing him in a choke hold, and then handcuffing and arresting him. It wasn't until then the stranger identified himself as a police officer. The entire incident was caught on video by the citizen's friend.

I don't know about you, but if someone I didn't know walked up to me and demanded I give them something that was mine, I'd likely tell him to piss off, too.

What makes this even more outrageous? The county prosecutor wants the citizen to plead out to the charge of trespassing and resisting arrest. Why plead out when the citizen in question did nothing wrong? To quote the linked article, “THEY WANT A MAN WHO IS GUILTY OF DRINKING ICED TEA AND NOT GOING AWAY AT THE ORDER OF AN (AT THE TIME) UNIDENTIFIED MAN TO TAKE A PLEA BARGAIN.” What the hell?

The second incident took place in a private home when a SWAT team invaded the home of a family after police searched the garbage cans of the Harte family and a known unreliable field test kit indicated that some discarded tea bags were marijuana.

This sounds more like a case of the police needing an excuse to conduct a raid, so they used a field test known to provide false positives to give them probable cause to conduct the raid. To add insult to injury, the Harte family had to spend $25,000 to find out the reason why the SWAT team raided their home and arrested them. Again, what the hell?

So be aware that you can easily be targeted by the police if you happen to like drinking tea in any of its various forms. It may make you the target of overly ambitious police departments looking for any excuse to arrest your ass.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)

3/26/2014

3/25/2014

Science Is Now More About Politics And Not Science

The 'Net has been obsessed with science over the past few years, particularly climate science. One of the things this ongoing online battle has illustrated to many of us more tech/science savvy denizens of the 'Net is that these days science is no longer about science science and more about political science. I'm not talking about the field of Political Science, but actual science that has become so politicized that it is no longer science but another version of Lysenkoism, where ideology trumps scientific method. (Trofim Lysenko's work was used by the Soviet Union in an effort to create the “New Soviet Man”, someone with ideological purity that suborned all personal ambition in order to serve The State, i.e. a drone with no sense of self.)

This trend has been building for some time, and the efforts of the late astronomer Carl Sagan certainly didn't help matters.

When the actual science no longer matters and predetermined outcomes are the only driving force behind 'science', then it isn't science anymore, is it? It's politically correct ideology masquerading as science.

Science has been thoroughly Saganized. The vast majority of research papers are wrong, their results cannot be replicated. The researchers writing them often don't even understand what they're doing wrong and don't care. Research is increasingly indistinguishable from politics. Studies are framed in ways that prove a political premise, whether it's that the world will end without a carbon tax or that racism causes obesity. If they prove the premise, the research is useful to the progressive non-profits and politicians who always claim to have science in their corner. If it doesn't, then it isn't funded.

"Science" has been reduced to an absolute form of authority that is always correct. The Saganists envision science as a battle between superstition and truth, but what distinguished science from superstition was the ability to throw out wrong conclusions based on testing. Without the scientific method, science is just another philosophy where anything can be proven if you manipulate the terminology so that the target is drawn around the arrow. Add statistical games and nothing means anything.

'Science' that is more politics has perverted the science community. Is it any wonder that fewer people trust science these days? If everyone has to take anything coming from the scientific community with a huge grain of salt, then science is no longer trustworthy. Everyone has to wonder what the motivation behind any pronouncement may be or wonder whether it's truthful or propaganda. Pseudo-science, quackery, and political ideology masquerading as science – so-called 'junk science' – has displaced actual science. In the end it will do all of us harm because those actually performing science according to long established scientific method have been marginalized and the propagandists rule. Skeptics are derided as being closed-minded or in the pay of [place convenient bogeyman here] and therefore not credible.

But skeptics are a required part of science because they force those making various claims to back them up with reproducible experiments and raw data. If the experiments or data cannot be reproduced, then the claims are bunk. Like climate science is today, there are a lot of theories about the causes of anthropogenic global warming. However there has not been one theory or experiment that has been reproducible by others. 'Data' received has been so heavily massaged as to be useless. The raw data isn't 'available' or is 'not germane' or has been 'lost'. If a hypothesis cannot be falsified, then the hypothesis is crap. At that point it becomes something that must be taken on faith with no proof required. That's not science. That's religion. Unfortunately that's where we find ourselves today in regards to climate change. All of the science is based on faith and computer climate models so defective that aren't anywhere near the observed climate data. And if the models aren't tracking the data, then the conclusion from the true believers is that the observations must be wrong. It's not just here where we see the decay of science.

Over the past few years how many research papers have we seen published that later had to be withdrawn because of errors in data analysis, or worse, fraudulent experimental results and made up data? How many times have we seen new scientific 'discoveries' turn out to be nothing more than shoddily run studies with questionable methodology?

Science works as a process that utilizes a set of tools. It does not innately confer superiority on anyone. A scientist who does not utilize the scientific method is as much use as a carpenter who cannot make chairs or a plumber who cannot fix toilets. A science that exists as a fixed absolute, whose premises are not to be questioned, whose data is not to be examined and whose conclusions are not to be debated, is a pile of wood or a leaky toilet. Not the conclusion of a process, but its absence.

It's time to reclaim science in the name of science, not political expediency, otherwise we are giving legitimacy to the equivalence of modern day Lysenkoism.

3/23/2014

Thoughts On A Sunday

It seems winter is reluctant to loosen its grip, with below normal temps, a bit more snow, and the possibility of a Nor'easter some time on Wednesday.

Even though I am a hardy northern New Englander, even I'm getting tired of this seemingly endless winter! At this rate Ice Out won't be declared on Lake Winnipesaukee until July 3rd!

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While some folks are worried sick about anthropogenic global warming, there are much bigger things to concern ourselves about. One such thing?

A massive coronal mass ejection in 2012 that, if it had hit Earth, would have shut down and severely damaged electrical and telecommunications systems worldwide.

What's a little warming, natural or man-made, compared to that?

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Eric the Viking has this one right.

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Need a perfect example of how perverse tax incentives can have unintended consequences? Then all one needs to do is look at New York State and the high incidence of cigarette smuggling.

Raise the taxes, and hence the costs, high enough and the black market will find a way to exploit them, in this case by smuggling in less expensive cigarettes, usually from a nearby state with lower taxes but sometimes it will be untaxed cigarettes from somewhere down South.

It's the economic principle of supply and demand.

Looking at the chart in the linked article, it doesn't surprise me to find that New Hampshire has a very high outflow of cigarettes to nearby states. Cigarette taxes here are much lower than other states in the Northeast. If those charts also showed the inflow/outflow of alcohol, you'd see that yet again New Hampshire has a high outflow of booze because of the lower costs. Heck, we even have state liquor stores right on two of the major highways: I-93 and I-95.

As Glenn Reynolds calls the cigarette smuggling, “Irish Democracy.”

(H/T Eric the Viking)

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If you're using Firefox as your browser, you may have noticed that at times it gets slow, and in some cases freezes. Sometimes you have to use the Windows Task Manager to shut it down so you can restart it. I noticed this problem when version 27.0 came out and was installed on the Official Weekend Pundit Main Computer. I thought I was going to be stuck with this problem until the next version was available. (I don't consider V27.0.1 to be a new version...and it doesn't fix the problem.)

Fortunately there's a solution to the problem, courtesy of David Starr.

A side note: The solution to the problem also speeds loading of websites!

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The search for MH370 continues in the India Ocean, about 1500 miles southwest of Australia.

At this point the search for debris is taking a backseat to the search for the aircraft itself. Between the winds, ocean currents, and waves, any debris would be scattered far and wide.

If the black boxes can be located before the batteries in their pingers die, they can be recovered at a later time as conditions and equipment allow. The big problem with the section of ocean being searched is the depth of the water, which at some points is thousands of feet deep. That means either a manned deep submersible or a deep diving ROV will be needed to even attempt retrieval.

Until then, MH370 will be one of the great unsolved mysteries of the century.

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The Democrats keep trying to float the “There is no voter fraud” meme as a means of deflecting any efforts to require voter ID in various states. But as more than a few investigations have shown, that claim is nowhere near true.

One such investigation run by a Florida news station certainly pokes holes in the “no voter fraud” meme.

(H/T Raised on Hoecakes)

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By way of Cap'n Teach comes this John Hawkins piece on how we are creating a generation of wimps.

Americans rode in wagon trains across this country, tossed the Brits’ tea in the Boston Harbor, outfought the superpower of the 18th century to get our freedom, pounded the Indians, Mexicans, and Spanish into the ground to fulfill our Manifest Destiny and then for an encore, we saved the planet in WWI, WWII, and the Cold War. Our pioneer-pilgrim, hard-fighting, gold-mining, wagon-training, gun-fighting ancestors were so hard, Kid Rock’s American Bad Ass should have played when they walked into a room. We conquered a continent, built the Hoover Dam, went to the moon, and not only did our Olympic athletes refuse to dip our flag to Hitler during the 1936 Olympics, we made the most evil man who ever lived kill himself in fear before we could get to him.

That’s the stock that Americans come from, which begs an obvious question: What the hell happened to us?

As the saying goes, Read The Whole Thing.

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Cap'n Teach also delves into the issue of the motivations behind French investors and entrepreneurs fleeing France.

It can be summed up with a single short sentence: Mostly taxes and regulations.

Between overbearing and stifling regulations and a “seemingly endless parade of taxes”, is it any wonder those who want to make a go of it in business are leaving for greener pastures?

If we aren't careful we could end up in the same position as Obama's business hostile taxes, regulations, and rogue government agencies increasingly take a toll on our economy.

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Steve Macdonald delves into the potential evils of Regional Planning Commissions, equating them to the twisted 'health care' system that is ObamaCare. (There are scary parallels, for sure!)

I agree with Steve on some points, the biggest one being RPC's should have absolutely no power over the towns within their area of coverage. But I partially disagree with the idea that they aren't needed. If structured properly (and there's the proverbial fly in the ointment), they can be an asset to towns in a region, making it easier to exchange information and ideas between the towns. They can help towns coordinate efforts to deal with issues negatively affecting their towns. But they should have no regulatory power in any way, shape, or form. They should be an asset, not an overseer, period.

I am speaking from the point of view of someone who is a member of our town's Planning Board and deals with the local Regional Planning Commission from time to time. For the most part I deal with our local RPC on one issue only, that being better broadband coverage for the residents and businesses here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. The group dealing with this issue are trying to find ways to entice ISPs to expand broadband to everyone who wants it. Even if the RPC is just a place for all interested parties to meet, then it is fulfilling it's reason for being.

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A quote Governor Rick Snyder (R – MI) worth remembering in regards to government and jobs:

It's not government...that creates jobs. Small business owners, entrepreneurs and innovators are the engine of job creation. It's up to government to help create the environment where jobs can grow.

This is something President Obama should have tattooed on his forearm.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where sugaring isn't going so well, the winter temps are returning, and where a possible Nor'easter is going to remind us that Old Man Winter isn't quite done with us yet.

3/22/2014

You Know It's Bad When Even The Feds Give Up

You know it's getting bad when even the Feds give up trying to get things done under the weight of burdensome federal regulations.

One example of that that's costing American taxpayers billions of dollars: Getting rid of surplus government buildings.

Government estimates suggest there may be 77,000 empty or underutilized buildings across the country. Taxpayers own them, and even vacant, they’re expensive. The Office of Management and Budget believes these buildings could be costing taxpayers $1.7 billion a year.

...when an agency knows it has a building it would like to sell, bureaucratic hurdles limit it from doing so. No federal agency can sell anything unless it’s uncontaminated, asbestos-free and environmentally safe. Those are expensive fixes.

Then the agency has to make sure another one doesn’t want it. Then state and local governments get a crack at it, then nonprofits — and finally, a 25-year-old law requires the government to see if it could be used as a homeless shelter.

Many agencies just lock the doors and say forget it.

More nations have failed because of bureaucratic inertia and obstructionism than invasion or rebellion. (I include economic collapse as part of the bureaucratic destruction of nations.) When the federal government is hamstrung by its own regulations it's a signal that it's time to go after them with an ax and start repealing them wholesale. Too many of them were put in place to please rent-seeking lobbyists looking to restrict or eliminate competition.

Knowing the nature of the present administration, it is more likely this regulatory stranglehold will become worse and that little effort will be made to rein it in until another occupant sits in the Oval Office, one who is not a Big Government proponent, Democrat or Republican.

One method that might be considered to lessen this perpetual increase in regulatory burden is a sunset provision for each rule and regulation, and a non-governmental sunset commission to review the rules and regulations approaching their sunset date. The commission would be made up of ordinary citizens not beholden to any government representative or influence group. If a rule or regulation no longer makes sense (assuming it ever did), then it ceases to exist. If it is still useful and not overreaching, then it goes to Congress for reauthorization. (Congress being saddled with this duty would mean they have less time to figure new ways to spend money we don't have on things we don't need or want. I'd call that a plus for such a scheme.) Some states have used a version of this process with great success.

My home state of New Hampshire used to have a Sunset Commission that reviewed state laws, regulations and rules, and determined which of those no longer made sense, were no longer needed, or were obstructionist or overly punitive in nature. They submitted a list of laws, rules and regulations they determined be no longer in the best interest of the state and its residents to the governor and the legislature. It was then up to them to either modify or repeal them. If memory serves correctly, most were repealed because they had outlived their usefulness or were contradictory to other laws, rules, or regulations. I wish they would bring it back as it served its purpose and did it well.

3/21/2014

Nine Years After Kelo vs New London - The Aftermath

About nine years ago the US Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Kelo vs New London case, deciding 5-4 that the city of New London, Connecticut had the right to seize pprivate property by eminent domain for the purpose of private development, something the city had hoped would raise much needed tax revenues.

But after the decision that allowed the city to move forward and seize the final few properties that had been part of the kelo suit, things didn't turn out as the city had planned.

In the landmark 5-4 ruling, named for the lead plaintiff, a nurse named Susette Kelo, the Supreme Court upheld a state Supreme Court ruling that the city of 27,000 and a nonprofit entity called the New London Development Corp. were entitled to seize those properties in the name of economic development. Previously, eminent domain had been seen as limited to cases involving projects deemed as benefiting the public, but not a private economic interest.

So how does New London, specifically Fort Trumbull, look now? (Fort Trumbull was the neighborhood affected by the Kelo decision - dce)

“The homeowners were dispossessed for nothing,” wrote The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby. “Fort Trumbull was never redeveloped. Pfizer itself bailed out of New London in 2009. The Kelo decision was a disaster, as even the city’s present political leaders acknowledge.”

Where a neighborhood once filled with residents stood, barren yards filled with nothing but weeds and abandoned utilities along empty streets are all one sees. The hoped for economic development never happened, with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, one of the linchpins of the redevelopment effort, pulling up stakes and leaving, taking 1500 jobs with it when it left. That was after New London had already offered an 80% 10-year tax abatement to the corporation as an enticement to locate a $300 million research facility in the city.

Between its legal costs in fighting the class action suit, the money it spent reimbursing property owners for the loss of their properties under eminent domain, and the never achieved tax revenues it had counted on, the city lost millions of dollars. The city also became a symbol of overreaching government, one used to change eminent domain laws in over 40 states, with some going as far as amending their state constitutions to narrowly limit the scope of eminent domain, preventing a future outcome like that of New London. (My home state of New Hampshire is one of the seven states that amended its constitution to better secure the property rights of its citizens.)

Though Kelo is nine years in the past, it is still having long term effects on the property rights of landowners and limiting the overreach of governments, state and local. If the government is going to use the power of eminent domain, it now has to have a much better justification than “We need the revenue redevelopment by a private entity will generate for the tax coffers.”

3/20/2014

Reusing Land In New York City

When you don't have the land available to build new neighborhoods what do you do?

If you're in New York, you build them on top of existing operations, in this case over the Hudson rail yards.

The phrase "only in New York" is probably overused, but there are times when it still applies. A plan to build an entire 26-acre neighborhood with 17 million square feet of buildings atop two platforms suspended over an active rail yard serving America's busiest train station is one of those times.

The neighborhood will be known as Hudson Yards, and construction officially began today on the first of those platforms — over the eastern part of the rail yard. That platform will ultimately hold two office towers, two residential towers (one of which will have a hotel), a million square feet of retail, and about five acres of open public space. And it will all come together as 30 Long Island Railroad tracks remain in operation to serve commuters through Penn Station.

Turning something that to some is an eyesore and takes up a lot of valuable real estate into new residential, commercial, and office space while maintaining the original function of the existing operations is kinda neat. Let's face it, real estate on Manhattan is expensive and eliminating a viable transportation hub in order to build more living space makes no sense. So why not go over and up?

The photos and illustrations in the linked give us a glimpse of what the completed project will look like. If they can pull it off before Mayor de Blasio turns New York into another Detroit, it should be spectacular.

3/18/2014

It's 1938 All Over Again

Shades of 1938!

For those unfamiliar with the reference, it harks back to the days prior to World War II when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from Germany after conferencing with Chancellor Adolf Hitler. He had negotiated 'peace' between Germany and Great Britain, waving the signed peace accord in front of the cameras and declaring “Peace in our time”. Ten months later war broke out between Nazi Germany and Great Britain and France. The peace accord wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.

And so it seems Putin is trying to pull off the same trick, 'repatriating' ethnic Russians by annexing Crimea. It is an eerie parallel to Germany's annexation of the Sudetenland, supposedly to 'help' ethnic Germans. And so it was during the Anschluss, the merger of Austria and Nazi Germany. And then again with the occupation of Czechoslovakia.

After Crimea, what's next? The rest of Ukraine? Belarus? Georgia, which already has some part of its territory occupied by Russian troops? More than a few have been saying Putin isn't done yet, including a lot of Russian expatriates like Gary Kasperov.

When I tweeted about the possibility of a “Ukrainian Anschluss” on Feb. 20, the Sochi Games were still underway. I noted that Putin’s invasion of Georgia took place during the Beijing Olympiad in 2008 and wondered what would dissuade him from similar action in Ukraine since Russian troops still occupy South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgian territories, with no visible harm to Putin’s international relations. By the way, Russia was never sanctioned by the European or the United States over Georgia, and just a few months after the brief war ended the EU restarted talks with Russia on a formal partnership and cooperation agreement. It was quite high-minded of them, but when dealing with Putin, turning the other cheek just gets you slapped again.

It doesn't help that we have a weak president incapable of leading and a foreign policy that is equally weak, equating to “You guys are on your own!” It shows that no one seems to be in charge in Washington and that decisions weren't made and actions weren't taken that might have headed off this problem before it became one.

In virtually every foreign-affairs crisis we have faced these past five years, there was a point when America had good choices and good options. There was a juncture when America had the potential to influence events. But we failed to act at the propitious point; that moment having passed, we were left without acceptable options. In foreign affairs as in life, there is, as Shakespeare had it, "a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries."

Indeed.

3/16/2014

Thoughts On A Sunday

After rather schizoid March weather left ice and snow here and there, we had a nice sunny day Saturday, giving us an opportunity to scrape off the remaining snow and ice from The Manse's driveway. I had to make sure the driveway was passable for a delivery of propane later this week, one that was delayed because Tuesday's weather covered the driveway with heavy snow. That made the possibility of the delivery truck making its way down (and back up) the 23% grade of the driveway highly problematic.

Between scraping the last of the easily removable ice and snow and the sun's warming rays, almost the entire driveway and parking area is now bare.

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Another thing we had to deal with yesterday was repairs to the furnace.

Friday morning I came down to a living room/dining room/kitchen hovering around 52ºF. The thermostat was set for 64ºF, so something was definitely wrong.

I could hear the furnace start, then it would run for 3 or 4 minutes, then shut down. Very little heat was emanating from the baseboards. Drat.

BeezleBub fired up the Official Weekend Pundit Woodstove, something we had allowed to go out because our wood supply was low. (The same Tuesday weather delayed delivery of our last cord of firewood!)

A call to our local propane supplier that morning to set up an appointment for a service technician was made, and I did stress that we had an alternative means of heat, preventing the need to have the tech make an expensive emergency service call.

The tech arrived Saturday morning, diagnosed the problem as a defective circulator pump, replaced the defective unit, and $400+ later we were back in business.

That was $400 we hadn't planned to spend. Ouch.

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It appears the Left (and particularly Obama) have a very skewed view of the definition of freedom, one that appears nowhere in any dictionary I've read.

But then we always knew that.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)

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The pothole/frost heave situation has been getting worse, with some main roads becoming dangerous to drive at anywhere near their posted limits.

During my trip to the recycling center yesterday afternoon, I had to slow to less than half the posted limit on one stretch of state road because it felt like the trusty F150 was either going to be pounded to pieces or start losing parts of its suspension. One brave (or impatient) driver passed me on that stretch of road and nearly paid the price when he briefly lost control and almost ended up in a ditch. From that point onwards he drove much more slowly.

I guess he wasn't in that much of a hurry after all.

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Now that Putin has his 'referendum' about Crimea rejoining Russia, has had Russian troops 'protecting' the natural gas pipeline, and has had Russian troops massing at the Ukrainian border, I think it's only a matter of time before those troops cross the border and seize the rest of Ukraine, all in the name of protecting ethnic Russians.

The former spy master is working to rebuild the old Soviet Empire one annexation at a time.

I expect that should he pull off annexing Ukraine entirely he will set his sights on Moldova. And should he succeed there it wouldn't surprise me he might try either Belarus or Poland next. Of course if he tries Poland he would have a hell of a fight on his hands as neither the Poles or NATO (Poland is a member of NATO) would idly let that happen, President Obama's ineptitude and impotence notwithstanding.

Frankly Putin wouldn't have tried this when Bush was in office because he knows Bush would have had no problems sending troops, planes, ships, and submarines to prevent such a move... and knows Bush would have had no problem using them if it came to that. But Obama is a weakling, his Smart DiplomacyTM is anything but, reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain's ineffective efforts to forestall war.

That “3 o'clock phone call” has come and Obama is ignoring it, hoping it will all just go away.

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Speaking of Obama, it appears the Democrats are now worrying about the so-called “Obama Factor”, both when it comes to his falling poll numbers dragging down incumbent Democrats at both the state and national level, and his unwillingness to help Dems seeking re-election, particularly when it comes to fund raising.

Obama raises money for Obama. He wasn’t that generous during 2008, 2010, nor 2012 with all that cash. He rarely helps other Democrats monetarily.

Of course he doesn't. After all, it's all about Obama and always has been.

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Talk about low information voters!


This reminds of the folks who signed petitions to ban DHMO (Dihydrogen monoxide, also known as 'water'.)

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Bogie gives us a rundown on town meeting in her town. Or should I say in her new town.

She experienced a number of surprises, comparing town meetings in her new and old towns. Every town does it differently. Sometimes the differences are small. Sometimes they are large (and jarring).

One thing she commented upon was the lack of discussion or debate about big ticket budget warrant articles, but lengthy debate about minor warrant articles. I wish I could say that was unusual, but more than once I've seen the same thing at the town meetings I've attended in the various towns where I've lived (and a few where I owned land, but didn't reside).

Still, it is American democracy writ small.

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AVI delves into the debate about the Libertarian case for government.

That some government is actually better than anarchy is something that even libertarians subscribe to. Rumors to the contrary come mainly from opponents setting up strawmen. One occasionally encounters an anarcho-syndicalist or something, but I don't think they've been elected to any Boards of Selectmen lately.

Indeed.

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The People's Cube may have the answer to stopping Putin's push to 'reacquire' territory lost with the dissolution of the unlamented Soviet Union: change the names of the countries to foster more caring by the West. One such name change – Kazakhstan will now be known as New Illinois. Other former Soviet republics looking at name changes: Latvia (East Chicago), Lithuania (New Hawaii), and Estonia (New Delaware).

Hmm, it just might work.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where winter cold has returned, maple syrup production is threatened, and where the skiers are loving it.

3/15/2014

The Mystery Of MH370

The mystery of Malaysian Air Flight 370 deepens, with further evidence the Boeing 777 may have been in the air for up to 8 hours after it disappeared from air traffic control radar.

Theories abound about the fate of the aircraft, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Was it a hijacking by outside forces? Was it an inside job, meaning one or both of the pilots may have committed this act? Is it actually a kidnapping writ large? Did someone steal the aircraft for later use in some kind of nefarious plot? If so, what about the passengers on board? Are they still alive? Were they killed once they landed? Or were they dead long before that, with someone depressurizing the cabin in order to let hypoxia kill them, leaving only the hijacker(s) alive?

Or is this a scene out of Lost, as more than one commenter to the WSJ article linked above has asked?

This is one of those mysteries that captures everyone's imagination.

3/11/2014

A Teacher's Lament About Common Core

The pushback against Common Core curriculum standards continues, spreading in ways the proponents may not have expected. Call it yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences coming into play.

Parents have certainly been aghast at what Common Core will do to the schools their children attend. But you know it's getting bad when teachers see it for what it is – a path to the destruction of what few good public schools we still have. One such teacher, Gerald J. Conti, saw where it was leading and decided enough was enough, tendering his resignation in frustration after 27 years of teaching at Westhill High School in Syracuse, NY.

Conti explained how he devoted his free time immersed in research, always wanting to be on top of the topics covered in his classroom, but “never feeling satisfied” that he knew enough.

“I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised,” he wrote. “STEM rules the day and ‘data driven’ education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill.”

“After writing all of this I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me,” he wrote.

I've known a lot of teachers like Conti, going the extra mile to make sure his students get the education they deserve. Some teachers were good. Some were great. They were the ones who made learning interesting. But Common Core is stripping that away, trying to remake our public schools into little more than one-size-fits-all education factories, and not very good ones at that.

Will this be one of the last nails in the coffin containing the corpse of our public schools? And if that is the case, why should we be forced to fund something that is nothing more than a system that will create students who are less educated than their predecessors but more indoctrinated to conform with a political ideology that fosters government dependence and narrowness of thought? Better that we burn the public schools to the ground rather than let them be used to destroy our society from within.

The more I read and hear about Common Core, the more I am convinced school vouchers, private schools, and home/online schooling may be the only answer to the push by our 'betters', the only way ensure our kids become well educated and free-thinking members of our society and not drones in a socialist dystopia.

3/09/2014

Thoughts On A Sunday

Did you remember to set your clocks one hour ahead last night? Daylight Savings Time has returned and it's about time.

Frankly, I would have no problem staying on it all year round as I prefer to have daylight available at the end of the day, particularly during the depths of winter.

I don't understand the reasoning behind being on DST for eight months of the year and 'Standard' time for four. Why bother? Or maybe it might behoove us here in New England to change from the Eastern to the Atlantic Time zone. I know there have been suggestions made that Maine do so.

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When are boxes filled with over two million comments from environmentalists not really germane to the debate about the Keystone XL pipeline?

When the boxes are empty. Look at the photo at the bottom of the post.

Better yet checkout the second photo in the post which asks the pertinent question: Why waste all that paper when the comments could have just as easily been put on a USB key?

The answer: USB keys don't provide photo ops for the watermelon environmentalists.

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Why is there so much hatred for conservative blacks? Could it be because they refuse to “stay on the plantation of dependence” run by the Democrats because they are willing to think for themselves and form their own conclusions rather than following their brethren into perpetual bondage to morally bankrupt ideologies?

We've seen it more than once, the latest incident being a shameful display of intolerance by Rutgers University's New Brunswick Faculty Council in regards to the invitation extended to Condoleeza Rice to be the commencement speaker this year.

Rice is smart, disciplined, hard-working and the model of an inspiring modern American. She personifies the American Dream. She is living inspiration for a young person trying to accomplish great work no matter what the barriers. And in Rice’s generation there were some serious barriers starting with her race and gender.

That is why New Jersey Republican State Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini called the Rutgers faculty’s wrongheaded decision "appalling and an embarrassment to our state."

"This is nothing more than a political firestorm fueled by their hatred of an opposing ideology, and President George W. Bush in particular. Dr. Rice and the people of New Jersey deserve better," Angelini said.

It's the usual Leftist double standard, applied to anyone they disagree with and particularly at anyone who dares step outside the stereotype they have defined for various ethnic, racial, and ideological groups.

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This bodes well for Smart DiplomacyTM:

Secretary of State John Kerry wants US envoys to make climate change their priority.

Yeah, that will help win hearts and minds. Considering there are issues of far greater importance to deal with, this sounds like an Incredibly Stupid Idea. But then our foreign policy has been anything but smart since Obama took office, with an almost endless and growing list of diplomatic failures that have alienated allies and encouraged enemies towards ever greater efforts to destroy our nation.

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If we need yet another example of the Obama Administration's abject failure on the domestic side, Cap'n Teach also points us to a looming strike by casino and hotel workers in Las Vegas over the side effects of ObamaCare, that being the potential loss of health care benefits, a 40-hour work week, and pension benefits.

ObamaCare, the 'gift' that keeps on giving.

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The 10 cars with the most obnoxious drivers.

I agree with every single one.

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Tohight signals the start of two new series on television, the respun Cosmos on the Fox networks and Resurrection on ABC.

I remember watching the original Cosmos on PBS, hosted by Carl Sagan. It took what only some of us knew about the universe and made it understandable to everyone. I look forward to watching the new series, hoping it will match the wonder of the original.

I will be recording and watching Resurrection, something that appears to be a version of the original French series Les Revenants, or The Returned. While the producers of Resurrection have stated their show is not a version of The Returned, I will watch it before coming to a conclusion one way or the other.

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Quote of the day courtesy of Skip at GraniteGrok:

“I am a third world guy who has embraced America, and, as I see it, he is an American-born guy who has adopted a third world ideology.” - Dinesh D.Souza on Barack Obama

Indeed.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where sugaring has started, the snow is melting, and our last delivery of firewood takes place on Tuesday.

3/08/2014

Why US Internet Speeds Suck

Following up on an earlier post about slow Internet speeds and high prices, there's a second reason the US finds itself in this position.

Lack of competition.

And what has fostered that lack of competition?

Politics.

(Yes, I know that's exactly what I stated in my first post on the subject, but it's still true.)

Susan Crawford argues that "huge telecommunication companies" such as Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, and AT&T have "divided up markets and put themselves in a position where they're subject to no competition."

How? The 1996 Telecommunications Act — which was meant to foster competition — allowed cable companies and telecoms companies to simply divide markets and merge their way to monopoly, allowing them to charge customers higher and higher prices without the kind of investment in [I]nternet infrastructure, especially in next-generation fiber optic connections, that is ongoing in other countries. Fiber optic connections offer a particularly compelling example. While expensive to build, they offer faster and smoother connections than traditional copper wire connections. But Verizon stopped building out fiber optic infrastructure in 2010 — citing high costs — just as other countries were getting to work.

If a market becomes a monopoly, there's often nothing whatever to force monopolists to invest in infrastructure or improve their service. Of course, in the few places where a new competitor like Google Fiber has appeared, telecoms companies have been spooked and forced to cut prices and improve service in response to the new competition.

As I have written elsewhere, I have seen what competition can do, both in pricing and available data speeds. I have also seen what happens when telcos or cable operators lock out competition: poor service at high prices, or worse, no service at all.

One place where such legal blockades have hurt has been Texas, where municipalities are barred by law from competing against incumbents, even if those incumbents either can't or won't provide the services their customers demand. Under such cases, the law is wrong and is anti-competitive. So why do such laws exist?

Why, politics, of course!

3/07/2014

Harry The Hypocrite Speaks Out

Hypocrite Harry is at it again, or should I say still at it, excoriating the Koch brothers for their political contributions while at the same time ignoring the contributions of the labor unions and multi-billionaire George Soros. What's worse, the Koch's have contributed a small fraction of what the unions or Soros have, yet they are the 'bad guys'. Or is it that the latter have helped enrich Harry Reid while he's been in office, meaning he's been bought and paid for? To listen to him speak on the Senate floor, you'd have to think so.

Mr. Reid was quite agitated on the Senate floor about "unlimited money," by which he must have been referring to the $4.4 billion that unions had spent on politics from 2005 to 2011 alone, according to this newspaper. The Center for Responsive Politics' list of top all-time donors from 1989 to 2014 ranks Koch Industries No. 59. Above Koch were 18 unions, which collectively spent $620,873,623 more than Koch Industries ($18 million). Even factoring in undisclosed personal donations by the Koch brothers, they are a rounding error in union spending.

So the piddling amount the Koch's have given to political causes amounts to “buy elections” and “rigging the system”, yet the hundreds of millions labor unions have spent can be safely ignored? Talk about a double standard, and one that has been eroding our system of government for a long time.

If Reid wants to get Big Money out of politics, maybe he can start by sponsoring legislation that will outlaw unions from making political contributions of any kind. The unions have long been a corrupting influence on the political process. That's not surprising considering many of the larger ones are corrupt, bordering on being criminal organizations. (Some were fronts for organized crime, and many unions leaders went to prison for their criminal activities.) They have influenced far too many elections, and it wouldn't surprise me to find out that some of them helped rigged elections on behalf of the Democrat Party. (How else can you explain Al Franken's election to the Senate?)

Unions, as 501(c)(5) organizations, are technically held to the same standards against coordination with political parties. Yet no Democrat or union official today even troubles to maintain that fiction. Hundreds upon hundreds of the delegates to the 2012 Democratic convention were union members. They were in the same room as party officials, plotting campaign strategies. The question therefore is how much of that $4.4 billion in union spending was at the disposal of the Democratic Party—potentially in violation of a bajillion campaign-finance rules?

One set of rules for the Left and another set for everyone else. Gee, it sounds just like the Old Soviet Union, doesn't it?

Once Harry Reid decides he will work to rein in political spending by all organizations and individuals of means I will believe he really wants to reform campaign spending. Otherwise he's showing himself for the two-faced ideologue he is.

3/05/2014

Is AGW Losing Support?

You know the luster of Anthropogenic Global Warming is wearing off when even the Washington Post is willing to post an opinion piece that questions the more over-the-top predictions and expresses that there's a problem with labeling climate change skeptics as lunatics, mercenaries in the pay of Big Oil, or anti-science know-nothings.

The howls from the AGW faithful in the comments was deafening. From reading many of them it is apparent they are blinded by the dogma of their new religion, like most fanatics. Many excoriated WaPo for even publishing the editorial, as if the debate (and science) about climate change has been settled and no further discussion is required. All that's required is their faith and no amount of facts, data, or failed predictions will sway them from their belief.

I have to agree with the author of the piece, Ed Rogers, that many of the skeptics are anything but, but are what he calls Prudent Rationals.

“The Prudent Rationals” would be comprised of those whose attitudes comport with something like the following: They are generally respectful of the scientific community and are eager to listen to mainstream scientists and researchers. They want to hear from legitimate experts who acknowledge the variables, the uncertainties and, importantly, the mistakes and errors of climate science so far. This group could support a prudent plan to produce measurable benefits, but only if the plan were truly global in scope and the cost seemed to be proportional to the outcome. The “Prudent Rationals” believe it is reasonable to accept that there are consequences for continually pumping gases into the atmosphere. And it seems right that one generation should leave the planet better than they found it for the next generation. But we need to be realistic about technical science and political science. If we can’t act globally to limit these gases, we should be focusing on local pollution, not on plans that unilaterally wreck our economy and impoverish millions – if not billions – for nothing.

While I don't necessarily agree with his entire premise, I do agree that decisions one way or the other should be based upon logic, uncorrupted data, willingness to admit the failure of one's hypothesis, and open access to all data, methods, algorithms, and other analytical programs and mathematics. That's how science is supposed to work. If all of that is 'locked away' because the science is settled, then it isn't science, but politics. With AGW perhaps it's better to label it Climate Lysenkoism.

3/04/2014

Attack Of The Mutant Potholes

One thing I should have added in my previous post about the colder than normal winter but neglected to mention: frost heaves.

One of the major negative side effects of the colder winter has been the severity of the frost heaves that have been propagating throughout the northern climes. The freeze-thaw cycle really tears up the roads, turning otherwise smooth pavement into a sea of bumps, potholes, and gaping breaches in the pavement, even on the better highways and main roads. I can't recall a worse winter for frost heaves, both in the number and the magnitude of their rise (or fall). I think a lot of repair shops will be make maximum use of their alignment equipment come spring because there's no way anyone's steering is going to remain in alignment after the pounding the suspension has been taking.

The trusty F150 has certainly been taking a beating this winter and I have no doubt it will need new shocks and an alignment once we leave winter behind. Making the ride between work and home has become an adventure, dodging the frost heaves and potholes that seem to change location randomly. I have to pay much closer attention to the road and in many cases drop my speed to well below the speed limit in order to keep the F150 on the road. Even the state roads are in rough shape this winter.

I am looking forward to winter coming to an end if for no other reason that if it lasts much longer I/m afraid I'm going to start losing parts off of the truck.

3/02/2014

It Must Be Global Warming

Looking at the weather forecast for the next day or two has me shaking my head.

Overnight we're supposed to be seeing below zero temperatures. I can't recall the last time I've seen below zero temps in March. Even the highs will be well below normal, with temps expected to be in the teens here in central New Hampshire and single digits in the North Country and Great North Woods. Add in the wind chills and it will feel like it's below zero during the day.

This has been one of the coldest winters I've seen in memory, with day after day after day for weeks on end of below normal temperatures.

The calendar shows that Spring is three weeks away. The first day of the major league baseball season is a month away.

It must be global warming.

Thoughts On A Sunday

BeezleBub and Horse Girl made it back from Las Vegas intact after their week-long visit to see relatives.

They did some of the usual tourist things including a visit to the Hoover Dam...but they didn't take the dam tour. (Five points to anyone who recognizes he reference.)

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I have been involved with efforts to expand and/or upgrade broadband access in this part of New Hampshire. While we have reasonable data speeds available through much of the area, it isn't available to everyone. And while many may not make the connection, so to speak, the availability of broadband – or the lack of it – can seriously affect the value of a home.

At least there is someone addressing the problem and trying to make sure broadband availability is universal throughout the area. (Notice, I didn't say 'making sure everyone has broadband', only that it is available wherever anyone lives.)

There's still a long way to go.

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I'll bet the anti-gun and watermelon environmentalists are having a case of the vapors over this one.

An 11-year old Washington girl shot and killed a mountain lion that was about to attack her 13-year old brother.

To read some of the reactions from the bunny-huggers she did the wrong thing and should have allowed the mountain lion kill and eat her brother, or that the mountain lion had every right to be there because humans intruded into its habitat.

I won't bother to address the first point as my response would be obvious, but as to the second, humans have been in that area for a long time. It wasn't like they just moved there and disturbed the mountain lion's habitat. It's likely mountain lions have returned to the area after a long absence. (We've seen evidence of the return of mountain lions to northern New England, mostly photos from game cams and a few videos shot by homeowners. But NH Fish & Game aren't saying 'officially' that the big cats have returned.)

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Two photos seen in the theater district in New York. Compare and contrast.

The question posited in the first one is one every New Yorker should be asking, particularly in light of Mayor de Blasio's wholesale efforts to eliminate charter schools.

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David Starr looks into how Target stores were compromised and millions of credit card and debit card numbers were stolen.

I have to agree with his conclusion that employing Point Of Sale (POS)terminals with easily upgraded software is what made Target vulnerable.

[T]he bad guys infected Target's central computers, the ones in finance and the stockroom that talk to the cash registers and total up dollar volume of sales and keep track of inventory so they can reorder product as it sells out. And somehow the central computers infected the cash registers, by sending new programming out over the wire to the checkout counters. Had Target been more security minded they would not have allowed the central computers to talk to the cash registers. Just listening is enough to make the system work.

Whenever anything can be reprogrammed through a network it makes it vulnerable to being hacked and having malware installed. While flexibility is nice, there are costs equated with doing so, as Target has found out.

For true security of POS terminals any upgrades should require the new software to be loaded by a human being and by using something other than USB key or other portable medium, and that the connection to the terminal require removal of an access plate or cover. While inconvenient and more expensive to to upgrade terminal software, it costs less than a security breach and makes hacking the system less probable.

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Speaking of hacking, one thing many of us overlook when it comes to network vulnerabilities is utilities. I would like to think things like electrical utilities would use a command and control network that has no connections to the outside world. If any part of it is connected through the Internet then the entire command and control network is vulnerable.

Taking a lesson from the first Iraq War, any computer peripherals on the control network should be vetted before being connected. One of the 'Three Letter' agencies uploaded viruses to the Iraqi military's computer systems using malware embedded in HP printers. Once the printers were connected to the network they uploaded their virus payloads. That's one vulnerability that still needs to be addressed.

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Once again it appears the Air Force wants to scrap the A-10 Warthog, an effective ground support and anti-armor aircraft that has a reputation for toughness in combat and replace it with the F-35, a still undeployed fighter that has more than its share of problems, including being grossly over budget and and behind schedule.

This isn't the first time the Air Force has tried to kill the A-10, the last time just prior to the first Gulf War. It planned to repurpose the F-16 into the ground attack role, but after seeing its devastating effect during Desert Storm and its ability to sustain heavy combat damage and still keep flying, the Air Force reversed its decision.

The A-10 again proved its mettle during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

It's an older design, certainly not sexy like the F-16 or F-35, and it doesn't have all of the 21st century whizbang technology of the other aircraft, but it is an effect weapons platform that has no equal, costs far far less than either the F-16 or F-35, and will survive in combat environments that would shred the others.

The argument has been made that drones could easily replace the mission of the A-10, but that is a straw man argument as operators of drones don't/won't have the situational awareness of a human piloting an A-10, the maneuverability of an A-10, nor the weapons payload capability of an A-10. About the only thing a drone has over an A-10 is its loiter time and that isn't enough of a factor that it outweighs those of the A-10 in a combat situation.

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This will earn them some brownie points from the left.

It appears that officials and campus police officers have no understanding of law when it comes to the disabled and their service animals. In this case St. Petersburg (Fla.) College kicked a disabled Green Beret and his service dog off campus in violation of federal law.

To add insult to injury, even after college officials were informed they were in violation of federal law they demanded documentation from the veteran to prove he is disabled and needs a service dog, something that is also in violation of federal law.

I'll bet there are some major lawsuits coming.

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Is there nothing Global Hotcoldwetdry can't do?

In this example it appears AGW has caused the Great Lakes to freeze over. Lake Superior is entirely frozen over and the maximum aggregate ice cover of all the lakes this winter was over 88%, something that hasn't happened in 20 years.

And children will no longer know what snowfall looks like.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the temps are still cold, the snow isn't melting, and where the woodpile has dwindled precipitously.