8/31/2014

Thoughts On A Sunday

Here it is, Labor Day Weekend, the official “end” of summer. More than a few people I've talked to over the weekend have wondered where the summer's gone. It seems like Memorial Day was just a couple of weeks ago and Fourth of July was just last week. I know I haven't done nearly as much as I had hoped to do when summer started, and here we are at the end of summer.

While summer doesn't end until the autumnal equinox in about three weeks, for all intents and purposes it's over. Schools are open or will be reopening this coming week. Vacations have ended and summer tourist attractions are closing their doors.

While I expect we'll still see quite a few weekenders still making the trip up here for some last-of-summer weather, including boating and swimming, for the most part it's over. The only thing we have coming up will be the fall foliage season which will see its peak here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire some time around the first week of October.

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Keith Koffler asks the very important question: “Do you want to know why there is no ISIS strategy?”

Could it be our President has none because he's in over his head? He thought his job was done when he pulled our troops out of Iraq and that everyone would play nice from that time forward. Unfortunately Reality WorldTM had different ideas and is showing our erstwhile Commander-In-Chief that there are truly effin' evil people out there who have no problem slaughtering people they don't like, including American journalists, in an effort to create yet another Evil Empire.

As Edmund Burke stated, “All that's required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Somehow I doubt making statements that “he's looking into the situation” means Obama is actually doing something about anything.

I figure one of two things will have to happen before TOTUS does anything beyond dropping some bombs: either an ISIS massacre of Americans over there or another 9/11 strike by them here. Even then I doubt he'll do much other than wanting to reason with people that cannot reason, only kill.

Despite what the MSM has decided, the is not ”cool and calm in a crisis. It merely means he really has no idea how bad it is.

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Mike at Cold Fury dives into the EU's vacuum cleaner kerfuffle where the “we're much smarter than you are and you need us to tell you how to live your lives” EU bureaucracy is pushing for almost draconian home appliance efficiency standards that will make most of them perform poorly (if at all) but at a much higher cost. How is this supposed to help anyone?

It seems this cancer may also make its ways to these shores as Obama, not wanting to be outdone, wants to make us suffer under the same stupid and ineffective mandates.

This is as bad as the low-flush toilets that we're forced to buy. The idea sounds great but they don't really save any water because in many cases it takes more than one flush to evacuate the bowl of the effluvia. The end result is that they end up using more water than the old 'inefficient' toilets. I find this to be particularly galling in a part of the country that has no issues with water supply, nor has it for hundreds of years.

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It doesn't take much research to see that there are two possible outcomes to cities under blue rule: Deline and decay of the cities such as seen in Detroit; or rising housing prices and decreasing supply that drive out both the middle class and the poor such as is seen in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. Some may be blamed on draconian housing regulations, but most of the blame must be laid at the feet of the leftists running the cities.

Of the second type, many of those blue cities are becoming bastions of the wealthy socialists who are becoming increasingly disconnected from the rest of America and more divorced from the realities the rest of us must face every day.

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Call this another example of Leftist projection, in this case committed by Obama:

The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all, and that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President of the United States of America...

Projection indeed. Then again, from what I've observed over the past 5 years, Obama doesn't believe the rules, the law, or the Constitution apply to him.

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This is something I've known for years from direct observation both here and south of the border in the People's Republic: Massachusetts has the worst drivers.

More often than not I find Massachusetts drivers tend to act as if driving were some kind of a contest or form of combat, particularly when they're up here on vacation. It's even worse once you cross the border and approach the environs of Boston.

Whenever you see a vehicle with Massachusetts plates up here it's a good idea to give it a wide berth and to anticipate the driver will do something annoying, unexpected, and stupid.

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Note to terrorists: This might not be such a good idea.

Judicial Watch is saying a terrorist attack is imminent somewhere along the Mexico/Texas border.

Considering how many people are armed in Texas, that might be a much shorter – and suicidal – mission than they may have planned for. To paraphrase a line from one of my favorite original Star Trek episodes, A Piece Of The Action, “You try to hit here and you'll be opened up on from every window on the street.”

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The idea of yet another war in Europe isn't as unthinkable as it once was, particularly in light of what Russia has done to Georgia and now Ukraine as well as Obama's show of weakness in the face of conflict.

As Glenn Reynolds writes, “ If I were the Poles I’d be arming up bigtime. And if I were the Baltics, I’d be doing my best to become indigestible. I think I’d try to develop a special-forces capability to wreck Russia’s oil pipelines and other facilities; that seems like the cheapest way to make a Putin invasion expensive.”

Indeed. Goodness knows they won't be able to count on us for because our TOTUS has all but gone ROAD (Retired On Active Duty) on America. Then again Obama has shown nothing but contempt for our allies and has sucked up top our enemies. If war comes, it ain't gonna be pretty and may well be worse than what Europe suffered in World War II.

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When our roof leaked this past July after a heavy thunderstorm with lots of wind and rain – it was patched temporarily - we hemmed and hawed about having our roof replaced. My biggest concern was finding someone who would do a great job, not doing a crappy one that would only have to be done again in a few years because both the work and materials were deficient.

This past Wednesday we finally signed a contract to have the roof on the main part of the house replaced, including replacing some damaged sheathing. While the roof on the breezeway and garage are not in the greatest condition, it isn't in nearly as bad shape as the main house and could probably go few more years before it becomes necessary to replace them.

The work starts towards the end of September, just in time for us to get the rest of The Manse and its grounds to be prepped for the upcoming winter.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where we have one more day summer, the summer weather is hanging around for at least another week, and where many a summer vacation has ended and will exist only in our memories.

8/29/2014

Our Welfare State Is Failing

As the national debt keeps growing because our government can't seem to spend within its means, one has to ask how much longer our once free enterprise state turned welfare state can support the increasing number of recipients with a shrinking number of taxpayers? Not much longer, if Michael Tanner is right.

According to calculations by Harvard’s Greg Mankiw, based on data from the Office of Management and Budget, roughly 60 percent of Americans receive more in government benefits than they pay in federal taxes. A Tax Foundation study suggests that as many as 70 percent of Americans are net recipients of government largesse. Those numbers will only grow worse in the future.

These numbers should scare us for two reasons. A healthy economy cannot realistically depend on an ever-shrinking number of people to produce the wealth that will be distributed to the larger population. As Margaret Thatcher reputedly said about the problem facing modern welfare states, eventually they “always run out of other people’s money.”

When government funded entitlements take up a bigger piece of the budget every year, the point will be reached when the government itself won't have the funds it needs in order to perform even its constitutionally mandated functions. Almost every penny collected in taxes or borrowed from others will go to paying the entitlements – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, Veteran's benefits, government pensions, food stamps, subsidized housing, and hundreds of other 'benefits' the government provides – leaving very little left over to perform the duties the government should be performing. Think it won't happen? Recent history proves otherwise. All one has to do is look at the recent examples of Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain. All of those countries were forced into taking severe austerity measures because they “ran out of other people's money.” Greece was the most hard hit, with many government-paid entitlements cut back or eliminated entirely. Thousands of government employees lost their jobs because there was no money to pay them. The Greek economy, already on shaky ground, collapsed. Only bailouts by the EU helped them survive. Unlike Greece, we have no one to bail us out.

Some may think all we have to do is increase taxes, but when we've already reached the point of diminishing returns where raising taxes will actually decrease the amount of revenue collected and have a negative effect on the economy. That will push some in government to raise taxes again which will do nothing but fuel the vicious death spiral that ends up with a bankrupt government and an all but moribund economy.

A perfect example of one of the long standing benefits that will have to be curtailed is Social Security. If the taxes collected from workers had been invested in simple interest bearing accounts or mutual funds rather than spent as fast as they came in, Social Security would be solvent and almost every retiree would have a sizable stipend to support them in old age. Because they weren't the money needed to pay benefits in the not too distant future won't be there. I doubt I'll see a penny of the money I've paid into the system since I was 15 years old.

Only a major upheaval in our system will force Congress to make the needed changes to prevent our growing welfare system from collapsing and taking our economy with it. Without those changes a repeat of the situation in Greece will be the best case scenario and Atlas Shrugged will be the worst case. Neither is an attractive outcome.

8/27/2014

Yet Another Clueless Obamabot Chimes In

Once again all I need to do to find posting fodder is turn to one of our local newspaper's Letters section and one or two will present themselves that deserve a response...usually ridicule pointing out the author's ignorance – willful or not – about the realities behind their accusations.

The latest perpetrator, one Paul, writes:

I know a little bit about the time of the $787 billion stimulus plan.

At that time banks, the insurance companies behind the banks and the U.S. automobile industry were all in trouble. The stock market was below 7,000 and we were losing jobs at an alarming rate.

Today our financial institution are stable, the stock market is flirting with 17,000 and the private sector has been growing jobs every month since the middle of 2009. The U.S. automobile industry is alive and kicking.

As for the so called "Disastrous Obamacare" please look at the numbers. Thousands and thousands of people without insurance now have insurance. They have a chance at better health care and now have a better chance at early detection of serious illness. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) saves lives.

As to Paul's first point, almost everyone, including a lot of Democrats, know the $787 billion was wasted taxpayer money. Of that total, only $55 billion had any direct effect on the economy as it went towards actual work, in this case the repair and maintenance of existing infrastructure and the creation of new infrastructure. It was a drop in the bucket. The rest? Payoffs to Obama supporters, crony capitalists, and grifters who took hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars and pissed them away, creating no new jobs, no new economic activity, but a boatload of new debt our children and grandchildren will have to pay off. The recovery of the stock market happened in spite of the stimulus, not because of it.

Of the two auto companies that went into bankruptcy, one of them – GM – was bailed out illegally by the President, who unconstitutionally interfered with the normal bankruptcy proceedings as a payoff to Big Labor. Chrysler survived because it was bought by Fiat. Ford was smart and didn't go bankrupt or require a government bailout. Kudos to them.

And as far as the stock market recovery, all it signifies at this point is the recovery in the value of assets and nothing more. That the Dow Jones is around 17,000 points is not an indicator of the health of the economy. It does not signify the jobless rate (the U6 unemployment rate, not the oft touted and totally bogus U3 rate), nor actual economic activity.

Next, his crowing about how Obamacare his provided insurance to “thousands and thousands” ignores the “millions and millions” who lost their health insurance because of Obamacare and now have to pay much higher premiums for 'new' policies that provide less coverage, won't let them keep their doctor or use the local hospital. As an added insult, access to health insurance does not automatically equate to access to health care. A lot of medical practices aren't taking new patients, with or without health insurance. Others that are may be an hour or two drive away. So it helped “thousands and thousands” at the cost of hurting “millions and millions”. Yeah, that was a great tradeoff, and we still haven't seen all the effects as some mandates have been postponed – again unconstitutionally by Obama – and others due to go into effect at the first of the year will knock a lot of employers and their workers for a loop as new taxes, fees, and other requirements kick in.

Before praising the success of the stimulus and Obamacare, maybe Paul should have looked into all the effects rather than just the positive ones. I think he would have found the negative far outweighed the positive.

8/26/2014

Emily Does Freddie Proud

BeezleBub and I just finished watching the first semifinal round of America's Got Talent, something we watch every season.

Not once have I ever commented on any of the acts I've seen on the show or on any of the other competitions shows because, quite frankly, it has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. But after tonight's performance on AGT by Emily West I feel I must say something.

At this point I must state that I have been a fan of Queen since I first heard Killer Queen on the radio in the 70's. One of my all time favorites songs by them is Forever from the soundtrack of The Highlander. In all the years I've listened to that song I've always thought no one but the late great Freddie Mercury could sing that song and do it justice. I've heard dozens of covers by a wide range of singers, one or two who sounded something like Freddie but didn't have the range he did, and none of them pulled it off.

That is no longer true.

Emily West's performance was impeccable. She made the song hers rather than just another poor cover of Freddie's performance.

Once the video of tonight's performance is available I will update this post.

8/24/2014

Thoughts On A Sunday

It was a wonderful weekend here in our home town, with Old Home Day taking place Saturday and great summer weather on Sunday. Not that the weather Saturday wasn't good, being in the upper 70's, but there was some cloudiness that made it feel a little cool during mid afternoon. If that's the worst I can say about the weekend, then you know it was a good one.

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Stacy McCain posts about the Madness of “Gender Theory”, its roots in fascism (which he describing even if he doesn't realize it), and the thorough brain-washing of radical feminists. All one has to do is read their screeds and you will come away with the same conclusion as Stacy:

No normal person talks this way. People must be taught to babble this ideological nonsense, which always reminds me of George Orwell's aphorism: “One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that; no ordinary man could be such a fool.”

Then again many of the self-anointed intellectuals are so disconnected from the rest of the population they have no understanding that it is they who are the fools. Then again, being an intellectual does not imply they have intelligence.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)

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Eric the Viking has this one right.

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Kevin Williamson asks “Who lost the cities?”

The answer can be found in places like Detroit, San Francisco, Chicago, Newark, Patterson, Camden, and an increasingly long list of cities. The common denominator has been decades of institutionalized racism perpetrated by one Democrat administration after another, making promises and buying votes with money they had to take from the productive citizens and businesses, driving them out and drying up the supply of other people's money. The race-baiters and hucksters have made sure they get their cut even as they betray the very people they supposedly represent. If the people they want to help actually managed to make it out of the perpetual cycle of poverty, these same folks would lose their constituency and their income, so it's in their best interest to keep the downtrodden in that state, their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

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AVI delves into the issue of the differences between liberals and conservatives and how the respective groups spread their beliefs to others (socially versus intellectual argument and reasoning) . While I don't agree with everything he posits, I have to say that for the most part he's dead on target.

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I agree with Bird Dog 100% on this matter in regards to ordering at Dunkin Donuts...or anywhere else, for that matter.

Don't wait until you're at the cashier to make up your mind what it is you want to order and, if there's a long line behind you, think twice about 'custom' orders that take a lot of time to order and make, okay?

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It's only bad when the GOP does this to Liberals. If it's the other way around it's perfectly OK, right?

Unsealed documents are revealing the political corruption in Wisconsin behind the “John Doe” investigations into supporters of Republican Governor Scott Walker.

Did they really think they were going to get away with it? Of course they did, just as it's been going in in neighboring Illinois for decades. But Wisconsin isn't Illinois and the Democrats got caught pushing malicious investigations with the sole purpose of suppressing any support for GOP candidates and office holders.

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And that's the (abbreviated) news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the last full weekend of summer is fading away, the kids are returning to school this week, and where summer weather is expected to hang on for at least a few more days.

8/23/2014

No One Really Knows What Happened...Yet

Now that the narrative on the shooting of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri is starting to unravel, one has to wonder if when the entire truth is revealed whether it will quell the unrest seen there or spur on even more violence.

It has already been seen that the so-called “Gentle Giant”, Michael Brown, wasn't as gentle as some believe, having been an active participant of a strong-arm robbery of a convenience store with his friend, the same friend who was with him when Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson confronted the pair as they were walking down the middle of a street, asking them to get out off the street and onto the sidewalk.

Allegations have been made that the shooting of Brown by Wilson was unprovoked and racially motivated, but now it appears that Wilson may have been beaten by Brown, evidenced by the broken bones in his face.

Somehow I doubt that even if there was video of the altercation from multiple viewing angles with the video showed Brown attacking Officer Wilson in his vehicle and Wilson responding with deadly force that the calls for Wilson's death would lessen, particularly with the media egging on the residents and protesters in Ferguson. It doesn't fit the “America is the most racist country in the world” narrative.

Frankly, I will wait until all the investigations have been finished and the conclusions made public. Until then no one really knows what happened that fateful night in Ferguson.

8/22/2014

A Question No One In The Media Is Asking

Received via e-mail:


Click on Image to enlarge

8/20/2014

Cable Companies Reach A Tipping Point

As the costs of video programming has been climbing, the number of subscribers to that programming on cable and satellite systems has been dropping. That's no secret, nor has it been unexpected. A side effect has been the number of subscribers to broadband has been climbing as more consumers drop their video services and use video streaming services like, Netflix, Hulu+, Amazon Prime, iTunes, and others instead.

As this change has been happening it's been inevitable that at some point the number of video subscribers would drop below the number of broadband subscribers. That point has been reached.

Leichtman Research Group (LRG) says the largest U.S. cable TV operators now have more high speed access customers than they do video customers, according to  Bruce Leichtman, LRG president and principal analyst.

Not only are the largest telcos and cable companies dramatically changing their revenue sources, but the basic “product” has become a bundle of services, anchored by broadband services of two types: high speed Internet access and video entertainment.

The “video entertainment” is the aforementioned streaming video and its share has been growing at a rate far above that of regular video subscription falloff.

It would not surprise me if at some point cable operators stop carrying traditional video programming altogether and switch all of their operations over to broadband.

8/19/2014

The Next Step In Space Flight

This is how rockets are supposed to come back to Earth...sort of.


This was the first stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9R after launching the ORBCOMM satellite, re-entering the atmosphere, and soft-landing on the ocean.

Future launches will attempt a soft-landing on the ground, something that, if successful, can further decrease the cost of launching payloads into orbit. There will be no need to use a new first stage booster for every launch, something that can dramatically reduce the costs and turnaround times associated with space flight.

(H/T NextBigFuture)

8/17/2014

Thoughts On A Sunday

It's been a fifty-fifty weekend here in the Lakes Region, at least in regards to the weather.

Nice, though a bit cool for August on Saturday and cloudy/sunny/showery today, again with temps below normal. Usually we see temperatures in the upper 80's and occasionally the 90's in the first half of August with 70's and 80's for the second half. But instead both the 80's and 90's have been replaced by the 60's and 70's, with August feeling more like mid-September. Then again, it has been a cooler than normal summer with only a few days hitting the 90's.

It has been quite humid through the summer which has meant air conditioning has been used to dry out the air rather than cooling it, and even then we used the A/C here at The Manse sparingly.

I'm hoping the cooler than normal summer isn't a harbinger of a colder than normal winter.

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You know people aren't buying the indictment of Governor Rick Perry when even Democrats are saying it's bogus and politically motivated.

I would expect the governor of my home state, Maggie Hassan, to do exactly the same thing as Rick Perry under the same circumstances and I would not consider those actions to be criminal. Perry was doing his job within the scope of his duties and everyone except the dipshit special prosecutor in Travis County, Texas knows it.

As Jonathan Adler calls it, it's “the criminalization of politics.”

It's time to disbar some of these overly ambitious and politically motivated prosecutors.

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As a follow-on to my post yesterday, there's this from Commentary showing us that the Presidency has broken Obama even as he's broken the nation. All he wants to be now is an ex-president. His timing certainly sucks considering he's been backing away from his duties just when he needs to be at the top of his game. The world is descending into chaos and all he wants to do is take his ball and go home.

He apparently likes the perks and the trappings of the office but not the duties, finding them boring or beyond his abilities. But then aren't all narcissists like that?

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I must admit I have conflicting feelings over this story.

Verizon has been accused of allowing its legacy copper telephone network decay in order to force customers over to FiOS, its fiber optic network.

There are a number of advantages to the the POTS (Plain Old Telephone System), the primary one being that it will still function when many others won't because it supplies its own power, unlike the FiOS system where a backup battery at each customer's home will run the equipment for only a few hours if power fails. After that battery is discharged there's no phone. In many cases that's more than sufficient, but what of the power is out for a day, a week, two weeks, or more? POTS will still work and FiOS and cell phones will be nothing but decorations.

On the other hand I can see why Verizon would be pushing to move customers off of their copper network: it's expensive to maintain and becoming more so as the numbers of people with regular landlines has been falling, and doing so for years. Up to 40% of households no longer have landlines and are using cell phones exclusively. (Mine is one of them, having dropped our landline over 4 years ago. It made no sense to pay for a rarely used landline and our cell phones, so we got rid of it.) As soon as the last of the POTS customers are switched over to fiber, Verizon can decommission their old switching systems which means they'll have that much less in the way of legacy equipment to maintain. It also means they can sell off their copper network, either to a competitor or for recycling. (The copper is worth a lot of money on the scrap metal market.)

I'm sure there were plenty of people who didn't like the change over from manually switched systems (operators) to automatically switched systems (dial phone), or from dial phone systems to Touch Tone phone systems. There are always those who are comfortable with “the way it's always been.” But some of that might be habit or nostalgia, and not an deeply ingrained refusal to embrace change. I know when we started discussing dropping our landline that I was reluctant, but I came to realize it was more habit and familiarity rather than an actual need to keep it, so out it went.

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I have to agree with Glenn Reynolds on his take on casinos. They do end up having a negative effect on the local economy as well as a rise in crime.

A number of Democrats here in New Hampshire have been pushing for casino gambling for years but have been held off, with a number of bills either being defeated in the legislature or vetoed by the governor. All they see is the revenues to be generated for the state but conveniently ignore or dismiss the negative effects that more often than not outweigh any economic gains.

Our present governor is all for casino gambling, having gone so far as to use projected revenues from casino licensing and parimutuel taxes as part of her budgeting process for the present biennial budget, but the legislature slapped her down, with the state senate killing casino gambling yet again.

Frankly, I don't want to see casinos in New Hampshire. I don't want it to become yet another “Me, too!” state, falling down the rat hole so many others have and finding out that gambling isn't such a great moneymaker once all of the costs are factored in.

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Meet the new “gringos.”

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Mike over at Cold Fury delves into how Progressives have been shredding the US Constitution since 1913.

It is the actions started by Woodrow Wilson that have led our self-proclaimed 'betters' to push the idea that the Constitution is a “living document”, meaning they believe it can be reinterpreted at will and that the amendment process is unnecessary and too slow. That also means that the Constitution means nothing and that the rule of law instead becomes rule by decree, something that always backfires and crushes freedom, even for those who think it's a great idea.

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Matt Walsh crushes a self-centered entitled jerk who believes that Walmart somehow owes him a lot more money for a job he admits he puts in very little effort.

Yeah, like that will happen.

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Star Parker reminds us that Obama is one of those people who still believes wealth is a zero-sum game. That merely shows he isn't the “most intelligent man in the room.” Then again, he never was. But that never stopped him from believing it.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where summer continues, the start of school is less than two weeks away, and where plans for the upcoming winter are already being made.

8/16/2014

Phoning It In

As the clock on the Obama Administration winds down (not fast enough for me...and about 300 million other Americans), it's easy to look back to 2009 and discern the patterns and style of governing by the present occupant of the White House. I think I can describe it in two words:

Slacker chic.

The Won made all kinds of noise about remaking America, put forth all kinds of plans, threw trillions of dollars at the 'problems' he believed were plaguing this nation...and nothing happened. He was the “Idea Guy”, not the “Get It Done Guy”. He must have figured that as long as he had the vision that others would make the vision come to fruition. The problem is that these 'others' were no more capable of making any of it happen then he since most of them, like him, had little or no real world experience in actually doing things that mattered. That's what happens when you fill your cabinet, advisory positions, and 'czar' offices with academics rather than with people who have experience in getting things done, particularly in the private sector.

With one failure to execute after another, Obama looked increasingly like he was just phoning it in, not much different from a bunch of stoners phoning in a pizza order after doing ounce after ounce of choom and trying to quench their monster munchies.

The Won is a slacker, and he always has been. He just hid it long enough to get elected into one office after another. Once he actually had do something, he was lost. Not surprising, is it? After all he's never had to do anything his entire life, so he wasn't prepared to execute the duties of the highest office in the land. As he approaches the middle of his second (and last) term, he isn't even trying anymore, just going through the motions and making appearances at fund-raisers and on the links.

January 2017 can't come soon enough.

8/15/2014

Comcast Should Not Be Allowed To Merge With TWC Until It Gets Its House In Order

The possible merger between Comcast and Time-Warner is still looking like a possibility and I, for one, think it shouldn't happen. The last thing any of us need is and even bigger Comcast, particularly in light of their continued contempt for their customers.

How is it I can make the claim they have contempt for their customers? It's simple, really, as there are numerous examples of how poorly their customer service performs. One of the most recent was the poor guy who was put on hold for over three hours until the Comcast office closed. His crime? He wanted to cancel his subscription.

That's Aaron Spain of Chicago (holla!), who waited on hold with Comcast about as long as it takes some people to run a marathon, three and a half hours. Upon notifying Comcast that he was trying to cancel his service, he was in fact put on hold long enough that the Comcast offices had closed while the elevator music continued to play. Aaron confirmed this by calling back into Comcast with a different phone and getting the automated message that all the people tasked with helping him cancel his service had gone home for the day.

Now, you might be wondering why someone would wait on hold for three and a half hours with Comcast to begin with. I like to think that Aaron saw this as some kind of completely idiotic test of wills between a megalithic corporation and himself, and he'd be damned if he wasn't going to win. Call it the Chicago spirit. Call it boredom. Call it the opportunity for a great YouTube video.

Whatever you call it, don't call Comcast about it, because they'll put you on hold until they leave for the day.

He isn't the only one who has suffered at the hands of Comcast customer service while trying to cancel some or all of their services. While it is understood that any cable company will try to convince a customer canceling their service will try to convince them to remain as a customer, it appears Comcast takes this retention effort a little too far, with one customer service representative having gone so far as to insult and become belligerent with one customer trying to cancel his service. Even customers who are canceling due to a move out of a Comcast service area have a tough time of it, with Comcast charging them “Unreturned Equipment fees” for equipment they had already returned. More than a few commenters on the equipment fees have suggested a number of strategies to prevent this kind of abuse, running from making a video recording of the equipment being returned (including a return receipt from the customer service rep), demanding a “Retrieval Kit” (basically a pre-paid box for shipping your set-top box/cable modem back to them), or demanding that they send a tech out to retrieve the equipment since a tech had delivered and installed the equipment in the first place. (They hate the last one because a truck roll is always expensive and the equipment is probably worth less than the cost of a tech going out to retrieve it.)

Comcast has to get its house into order. If not, there's no way their merger with Time-Warner Cable should be allowed.

8/13/2014

This Certainly Explains It

Now we know the origin of the term “Feminazi”.

Click on image to enbiggen


(Found in the comments to one of Stacy McCain's posts)

8/11/2014

The Future Arrived While We Weren't Looking

While we've been waiting for the future to arrive, it snuck up on us without us realizing it. Need proof? Then peruse these 22 pictures that show it is indeed here.

Robin Williams

ABC News has just reported that Academy Award winning actor/comedian Robin Williams has died.

8/10/2014

Thoughts On A Sunday

The summer has been flying by, with the annual Bike Week seeming like it was just the week before last (it was in mid-June) and the Fourth of July a couple of days ago. But school starts here in the Lakes Region in a little over two weeks, the last of the summer events are approaching, and all too soon the summer greenery will be replaced by the fall foliage colors.

Such is the nature of summer, where as kids we felt like it lasted forever and as adults it flies by far too quickly. I know for me it's as if I've barely settled into summer routine and come to feel like it's actually summer when it comes to an end and preparations for fall and winter need to be made.

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The ongoing battle between regional supermarket chain Market Basket employees and the upper management continues. Both employees and customers of the chain have been protesting for the return of ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, fired when his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, convinced the board of directors to fire him and replace him with two co-CEO's and to name him as president.

To all intents and purposes the supermarkets have been closed down, with few deliveries being made to the stores due to a work stoppage by warehousing and distribution workers and lengthy protests by employees outside the supermarkets. Many customers also joined in the protests, both picketing outside the stores or boycotting the stores altogether.

The higher-ups have certainly screwed this up, losing the PR war as not one of the members of the board of directors, neither one of the co-CEO's, or Arthur S. Demoulas have appeared before the cameras. All they've offered is press releases. The employees and middle managers have all be quite vocal, speaking out at every opportunity, slamming the actions of the board, and taking control of the debate. Even if Arthur T. Demoulas was fired for cause it won't matter because the perception is that he was ousted due to an ongoing squabble between two branches of the Demoulas family, and that the side that got him fired did so only to start stripping as much cash out of the business as possible and distributing it to family members. It doesn't matter if that perception may not be true, that's what it is and as everyone knows, perception is reality.

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This is certainly an indication that corruption in Washington has reached a level not seen since the beginning fo the 20th century.

The Obama Administration has actively been blocking investigations by inspectors general whose job it is to seek and rout out waste, fraud, and corruption within the federal government. So one has to ask, what is it the administration is trying to cover up?

For being one of the “most transparent administrations ever”, the Obama Administration has been more secretive, underhanded, and corrupt than the any preceding it in the past 60 years or so. As the saying goes, don't pay attention to what they say, pay attention to what they do. Doing so, one has to wonder whether the Obama Administration is really a criminal organization. They certainly have no regard for the law.

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Moonbattery gets into the cost of trying to 'halt' global warming versus adapting to it, illustrating that 'halting' it will cost 50 times what adaptation would cost, with no guarantee efforts to stop it will have any effect at all.

Of course, the idea of halting it is based upon the still unproven hypothesis that climate change is All-The-Fault-Of-The-Evil-HumansTM. While there has been tenuous correlation between human activity and climate change, one must remember that correlation does not imply causality. There has been even stronger evidence that warming temperatures are indeed due to human activity...such as siting weather stations near parking lots, airport runways, in the midst of urban heat islands, or near HVAC exhausts rather than in pristine locations without those influences. It doesn't matter to those all for bankrupting the world in order to combat global warming that satellite measurements going back to 1979 do not show the warming the ill-sited weather stations have been reporting.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)

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I doubt anyone who subscribes to cable or satellite TV has a clue that over $6 of your cable bill goes to pay just for ESPN, whether you watch it or not.

Six dollars is a lot of money for one network. The next closest is TNT, and that's $1.48 for each subscriber., with TBS at the bottom at 72¢ a month and FOX Sports 1 at 68¢ a month.

I know I've been seeing our satellite bill creeping up, with our latest bill going up $3 compared to last month's bill. Both Deb and I have been talking about dialing back on our satellite packages once our 2-year commitment expires (we upgraded to HD in January of 2013), or dropping it all together, cutting the cord.

I am increasingly in favor of pushing for legislation to permit á là carte programming. With the average American home receiving 179 channels, but watching only 17 channels, the present model has got to be ended as we are all paying for things we don't use and don't want. If any other business tried to pull this they'd be indicted for fraud, theft, racketeering, or all three. That the content providers are able to dictate to the cable/satellite customers what they will pay for whether they watch it or not is not good business in the long run. Is it any wonder people are dumping cable?

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One thing I noticed just last night was the sound of crickets chirping. Normally they start their nocturnal song around August 1st but this year they're a week and a half late. Last year they were a little early. I think the cooler than average summer this year had something to do with their tardiness. I've noticed this late start before, the year we had a very cool, wet summer.

But now they are making their presence known and we can count on hearing them from now until some time in mid to late September, though their numbers fall off rapidly once the cold evenings arrive.

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If you need more evidence of one of Obama's major mistakes, in this case withdrawing our troops from Iraq prematurely, there's this: Islamic State Killed 500 Yazidis, Buried Some Victims Alive.

If we still had a major military presence there, ISIS would have been wiped out before gaining any ground and the thousands of Iraqis and Kurds would still be alive.

Call it yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences poking the Obama Administration in the eye. The problems is that Obama won't learn an effin' thing from this lesson. Then again, he's all but gone ROAD (Retired On Active Duty) on us. It didn't take long for him to find out that winning the Presidency is not the same thing as actually being President.

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Are we already seeing a pro-active response to the rise in minimum wage in several states? If one looks ate McDonald's, I have to say the answer is yes.

In Illinois, McDonald's is looking at replacing their cashiers with machines after employees picketed for “a better living wage”. Frankly, I don't blame them. I expect McDonald's and other chain restaurants in the greater Seattle area will do something like this considering the minimum wage is expected to rise to $15/hour.

McDonald's already has experience with ordering kiosks, having deployed thousands of them in Europe, with a large number of them in France, for the same reason it is considering the same thing here: high wages for what are really entry level jobs. It might also have something to do with the labor laws there which make it difficult to lay off or fire workers, even for cause.

As I've stated more than once, better a job at $7.25/hour than no job at $15/hour.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where summer's still here for a couple of more weeks, parents are looking forward to their kids going back to school, and where my summer to-do list is way behind schedule.

8/08/2014

The Wages Of Obama's Sins In Iraq - Genocide

Hubris is always a bitch, something President Obama is finding out the hard way.

Considering the situation in Iraq today, one must look back to when Obama took office in January 2009 to see the Iraq he inherited versus the one that exists now. The contrast is startling.

A fair-minded reading of the facts, I think, shows that when Mr. Obama was sworn in, the Iraq war had more or less been won. Things were fragile to be sure. But the errors that were made during the occupation of Iraq following the fall of Saddam, which were extremely costly, were corrected in 2007. That was when President Bush made what is in my estimation his most impressive decision. In the face of enormous political opposition, with the nation weary of the war, Mr. Bush implemented a new counterinsurgency strategy, dubbed the “surge” and led by the estimable General David Petraeus. It resulted in startling gains.

By the time the surge ended in 2008, violence in Iraq had dropped to the lowest level since the first year of the war. Sectarian killings had dropped by 95 percent. By 2009, U.S. combat deaths were extremely rare. (In December of that year there were no American combat deaths in Iraq.) Iraq was on the mend. Even Barack Obama, who opposed the surge every step of the way, conceded in September 2008 that it had succeeded in reducing violence “beyond our wildest dreams.”

Look at it 6 years later and it is unrecognizable, and not in a good way. ISIS is undoing years of work, slaughtering Iraqis and Kurds with impunity, working hard to turn Iraq and Syria into some kind of Islamist hellhole that would have made Hitler's SS flinch in horror.

Obama's neglect and all-but-abandonment of Iraq and all of the gains made post-Saddam will be one of his most damning legacies. His lukewarm response to the genocide taking place in Kurdish territories has to make one wonder if this is what he wanted all along, proving to the world that America no longer stands up for the downtrodden and terrorized allies. His excuse that he's authorizing air strikes to protect American while stating outright that he will not order boots on the ground to drive out ISIS lives rings hollow. As all powerful as ISIS is portrayed, a couple of Marine or Airborne divisions would end that perceived invulnerability in short order. What's he's really doing is going through the motions. Ask any of our troops whether they would go back to deal with these murderous assholes and I'll bet almost every single one of them would ask when they could ship out, even the ones who served numerous tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What a pathetic figure The Won has become, turning a blind eye to genocide and religious mass murder that would not have happened if he hadn't abandoned the Iraqis and Kurds. What little respect I may have had left for the man is gone. It's no wonder no one on this world has any respect for the man or America. I don't blame them.

8/06/2014

Hamas Smoke And Mirrors Suck In The Gullible

An Indian TV crew surreptitiously recorded the assembly and firing of a Hamas rocket from a residential neighborhood in Gaza, showing Hamas has no regard for residents there, willing to put their lives at risk in an effort to show how indiscriminate Israel is in taking out launch sites.


And if Israel does launch a counterstrike, Hamas will use any civilian deaths to its advantage, showing just how heartless Israel is. If no one dies in such a strike, no problem. Hamas will make sure there are dead there when the TV crews arrive.

Just remember this the next time some idiot in the US tells us just how bad Israel is and how all Hamas wants is peace.

8/05/2014

Do It Yourself Fix To Government Caused Problem

I'd like to see Obama tell this guy “You didn't build that.”

Sixty-two year old Mike Watts got fed up with the traffic problems and disruption a 14-mile detour caused by the closure of a section of the A431 highway in the UK so he took it upon himself to fix the problem by building a toll road to bypass the closure.

A grandfather sick of roadworks near his home defied his council and built his own toll road allowing people to circumvent the disrupted section.

[He] hired a crew of workmen and ploughed £150,000 ($252,000) of his own cash into building a 365m (about a quarter mile) long bypass road in a field next to the closed A431. He reckons it will cost another £150,000 ($252,000) in upkeep costs and to pay for two 24 hour a day toll booth operators.

The government wasn't willing to do anything about it so he did it himself, solving a problem that was seriously affecting the daily lives of the people near the highway closure. That he was also making some money off of it is icing on the cake.

8/03/2014

Thoughts On A Sunday

It's been a relatively quiet and uneventful weekend here in the Lakes Region, with no major events taking place along with iffy weather. A weekend like that every now and then is just what we all need, giving us a chance to recuperate a bit before the next 'big' weekend arrives.

This weekend also gave Deb and I chance to stroll around the neighborhood, the first time we've had the chance to due to our respective work schedules. It was nice being able to take walk with the missus and not have to worry about tripping over broken pieces of pavement while doing so, the road having been repaved earlier this summer. Since then such walks are a joy and not a constant worry about twisting one's ankle.

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I have to agree with Glenn Reynolds' take on this issue: We've been dumbing down our school curricula for over a century now and we're paying the price.

I noticed many of the same things Glenn did, having been able to peruse a number of textbooks from the 50's, 60's, and 70's and comparing them to the equivalent texts my son BeezleBub was using in middle and high school.

Is it any wonder why a large percentage of homeschooled and privately schooled kids are so much ahead of their peers in public schools? One of BeezleBub's friends, Hobbit, was homeschooled and she 'graduated' from high school at 16. Her parents would have let her do so earlier, but that meant she would have been thrust into college life before she was emotionally mature enough. (Frankly I thought she fas far more mature than her peers and those a few years older than her.)

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It seems the Democrats have a talking points memo about climate change to be used during campaigns and it's filled with disproven 'facts', conjecture not backed by evidence, and outright prevarications about the 'consequences' of climate change.

Of course that won't stop them from using the “Big Lie” in efforts to smear opponents and sell the low-information voter on the idea that the only way to save ourselves and “Heal the Planet” is elect/re-elect them and give them even more power over our lives.

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Call it yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences coming in to play in regards to ObamaCare: Employers Already Dumping Coverage Thanks To Obamacare.

It's only going to get worse once the employer mandate kicks in...assuming of course that The Won doesn't issue another unconstitutional Royal Decree delaying it yet again until after the 2016 elections.

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News Junkie delves into the war between Hamas and Israel and I must agree with the title of his post: Give War A Chance.

The only way to stop Hamas from making war again is to defeat it utterly. No cease fire. Ignore the use of human shields or the use of schools, hospitals, or UN sites or offices for their headquarters. As nasty as it sounds, once they know that such ploy will no longer prevent the IDF from going after them they'll stop doing it. Yes, they will use the deaths of civilians to push their 'cause', but it must be hammered home that it is Hamas who put them in that position and that Israel warned them they would no longer restrain themselves. Keep at them until they are all dead or have surrendered. It is apparent to me that is the only message they understand. History also shows this to be the case with Arab cultures.

What's worse is that too many of our 'betters' here in the US buy the Hamas PR, ignoring the fact that Hamas doesn't give a crap about the people under their control. The only thing they care about is how their deaths, deaths Hamas caused, will serve Hamas.

No amount of negotiations between Hamas and Israel will solve the problem.

It's time for the our elitist sheep to wake up and see what is really going on.

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It's interesting that our law enforcement officials have a great deal of concern with the Sovereign Citizen movement. I can see why, considering what they really are is an anarchist wolf in sheep's clothing.

They aren't strict Constitutionalists. They only believe in natural law and not in the laws of men.

One of BeezleBub's friends has been drawn towards this movement, but I set him right with one simple admonition: “If you do become a sovereign citizen I will do you the kindness of killing you on sight because I know you will have no respect for my rights or the rights of anyone else.” I think he thought I was kidding, at least at first. And then he knew I wasn't.

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Launched in 1977, the Voyager 1 space probe is at the edge of our solar system, entering interstellar space. Considering its design life was only 5 years, that it is still operational and sending observational data after 37 years is amazing. NASA really knew how to design and build spacecraft back then.

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Neo is pissed off at Obama about Iraq and his throwing away all we gained and paid for in “blood and treasure”, and rightfully so. As she writes, it's a harmonic echo of the abandonment of Vietnam. The same is true in Afghanistan, where all of the good will we spent years building is being pissed away.

She's not the only one wh's pissed off. More than a few veterans and present military personnel are angry, seeing everything they worked so hard to do being thrown away by a narcissistic and incompetent Commander in Chief.

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Skip over at Granite Grok wonders if Obama considers the state of Arizona and its governor, Jan Brewer, enemies of the United States.

Certainly from his actions, or in this case inactions, he must. With a border with Mexico as porous as can be, no help forthcoming from Washington to close the border, and the Department of Justice prohibiting Arizona from acting in its own defense against illegal immigrants and vicious drug cartels, there can be no other explanation.

How long is it going to take for the rest of the US to realize the President has a deep-seated hatred of America, its laws, its traditions, and more specifically, the people who will not bow down to his will.

Who will rid us of this meddlesome megalomaniac?

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AVI delves into climate science, adding more than his two cents worth to the debate.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where summer activities are speeding up, back to school flyers and ads are popping up everywhere, and where the weather is still a bit schizophrenic.

8/02/2014

Employees Go On Strike To Get 'Their' CEO Back

Other than a few blurbs in the Washington Post, I doubt this news has made it out of New England.

One of the regional supermarket chains, Market Basket, had a change of CEO after the board of directors fired long time CEO Arthur T. DeMoulas. One wouldn't think such a thing would be making any kind of news as companies hire and fire CEO's all the time, right? So what made this one different?

Thousands of Market Basket employees protested, with many going on strike in an effort to bring back someone they considered to be 'their' CEO.

There had been a battle brewing between the two branches of the family that owns the supermarket chain, and the branch that felt they either weren't making enough money or weren't being respected finally wrested control away from the other branch and fired the CEO who had been running the company for a couple of decades.

The argument can be made that it doesn't really matter who runs the company as long as it makes a profit. But what if the reason the company has been making a profit and growing while many of its competitors were either stagnant or, in some cases, were closing some stores because they weren't making a profit, was because of that CEO? The fellow in question, the aforementioned Arthur T. Demoulas had built a corporate culture that saw loyal employees, loyal customers, low prices, better pay and benefits than their competitors, and rising profits. The average tenure for its employees was 17 years. The average tenure for a store manager is over 30 years. How many supermarket chains have that kind of employee retention? Starting pay for grocery clerks is $12/hr and full-time cashiers can make $40,000 a year. No other supermarket chains have that kind of pay scale, profit sharing, or benefits of Market basket. The prices for the products they sell are regularly 10% to 20% below those of their competitors, but the company still pulls in between $400 and $700 million in profits each year.

The new co-CEO's have fired a number of protesting employees, some whom are suing the company because they have not received wages or other benefits owed. The Attorney General Offices of both New Hampshire and Massachussets have warned the board and CEO's of Market Basket that they must abide by employment laws and that they are monitoring the situation to ensure compliance with the law.

The shift in loyalties by the board of directors is seen as but the first step many, including knowledgeable business analysts, say is a shift towards pushing profits at all costs at the expense of its employees and the long held values of the company.

While some may say this change is nothing more than smart business and that the board has every right to do what it has done, it has remained cloistered away and no spokesmen have appeared before the cameras, instead using press releases as if that's all that were required to address the concerns of the employees.

Regardless, more than a few analysts have stated they believe that if the board of directors for Market Basket does not reverse its direction and allows fired CEO and President Arther T. Demoulas to return, irreparable harm will be done to both the company's reputation and its bottom line. It seems it may be bound for decline, and in the end, failure, all in the name of more profit. Too bad it will see less, and then none, if it keeps to its course.