Just When I Thought They Couldn't Sink Any Lower

The New york Times again proves that it is the newspaper of record. Unfortunately, it's a record of half-truths, distortions, fabrications, and outright lies. Need proof?

Then check this out:

Here's a shocker! Someone writing for the New York Times has proven herself to be not all that accurate or factual.

I know. Say it isn't so.

The NYT blogger in question did a hatchet job on Fred Thompson, reporting events that did not happen during his visit to office of the New Hampshire Secretary of State to register for the New Hampshire primary. She made it sound as if he snubbed his supporters in New Hampshire. From the post linked above, you'll see that her report was in no way accurate. The post also includes video of the events, making the NYT report even less credible.


Thoughts On A Sunday

The Red Sox won Game 3 of the World Series last night, 10-5, putting them up 3-0 over the Colorado Rockies. Could the Sox sweep the Series, just as they did in 2004?


It was a long day for BeezleBub, Submarine Tim, and me yesterday.

First, it must be understood that Tim's deuce-and-a-half is slow, geared more for hauling than for speed. Second, although he's done a wonderful job restoring it, there are a few more details he's still working on, specifically the gaskets that seal the windscreens when they're closed. Third, it was raining yesterday. I mean it was raining yesterday. Now take in the prior two factors and you'll understand that ride down to and back from the WP In-Laws was slow, noisy, and wet. I'm talking about so noisy that conversation was very difficult. I'm talking about so wet because rain was leaking in around the edges of the windscreens and being blown into our faces, so much so that my glasses were constantly beaded with water as we drove down the highway.

And then we got to the In-Laws.

It didn't take us all that long to load the deuce-and-a-half, fitting just under 3 cords of wood into the cargo bed. That's a little over 4 tons of firewood we moved in a little over an hour, with two people moving the wood from the woodpile and two people stacking it neatly into the back of the truck. This brought the truck frame down to the point where the helper springs just made contact with the rear axles.

As slow as the trip down to the In-Laws was, the trip back was even slower. There were more than a few steep hills that we had to climb and the loaded deuce-and-a-half did so at a stately 15 miles per hour, tops.

But finally we made it back to The Manse, parked the truck, and then took Submarine Tim home.

All that BeezleBub and I have to do is unload and stack the firewood and then get the truck back to Tim.

So far we've managed to unload about a third of the load and we expect to get the rest of it done by Tuesday evening.

Though we didn't get all the firewood we'd hoped in this one trip, we might have enough to make it through the winter. It isn't impossible that we may have to do this one more time before the end of the heating season, but I hope not.


Speaking of heating season, how many of you out there are taking steps to offset the higher costs of heating fuel? I know that we're going to be spending a little more time and money to seal off most of the windows here at The Manse to minimize cold air infiltration. (We don't want to stop it entirely because we do need fresh air in order to maintain healthy air quality inside our home.)

While The Manse was built with a heating system that uses propane for fuel, we plan to do most of our heating with wood, as I mentioned in this post.


The New England Patriots take on the Washington Redskins at Foxboro today.

If Bill Belichick stays true to form, he won't be letting the Pats get cocky, making sure that they focus on this game and forget the ones they've already played.

Is it possible the Patriots could go undefeated for the season? Of course. Will they actually go undefeated for the season? I'm not holding my breath.

But it would be great if they did.


I almost forgot: today is BeezleBub's last day working on the farm. Unless the owner needs him in the greenhouses over the winter, BeezleBub won't be working on the farm again until next year.

I'm pleased as punch that he's such an industrious kid. He loves working, saves his money (I think he spent all of $50 of the more than $2000 he made over the summer), and looks forward to working there next year.

On the other hand I'm glad he's done for now, meaning that I won't be getting up at 6AM on the weekends to get him to work. Until mid-spring next year I'll be able to sleep in until 6:15, or maybe even 6:30AM if I'm really feeling lazy.


While I am usually loath to see yet even more laws added to the rolls, there is one I can honestly get behind: banning texting while driving.

More than a few people, mostly teens, have caused automobile accidents because they were texting rather than paying attention to the road. In far too many of those accidents they did not survive. Teens aren't the only offenders. Too many adults try to use their laptops or Blackberry's while driving, which is no different from what I can see. Driving while yakking on a cell phone glued to your ear isn't much better.

When you're behind the wheel you're supposed to be paying attention to driving.

Will such laws be effective? I don't know. Certainly a number of teen drivers don't think so.


It was interesting watching the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants play in Wembley Stadium in London, England.

From my many visits to the UK I know there are a lot of NFL fans there, usually watching the games in the US on the telly. Sometimes the time difference means that they're watching the games into the wee hours of the morning.

My ex-fiancee's father was a big New England Patriots fan. We spent many a phone call talking about the Pats, in some cases while the Patriots were playing. (I must explain that many years ago I was engaged to a lovely woman from England.) I once had a lengthy discussion with a London cabbie about whether the Patriots would win the SuperBowl that year. I told him he should put a bunch of cash on it. He did...and the Pats won their first SuperBowl that year.


Diversity in the workplace is all well and good, but how the heck anyone expect to force diversity?

How is it determined that you have sufficient diversity unless an employer asks questions of employees that they aren't allowed to ask under anti-discrimination laws?

Talk about a Catch-22!

(H/T Instapundit)


At least one Democratic member of Congress has the stones to tell the Dutch to “piss off” in regards to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

The Dutch are threatening to remove their 1,600 troops from Afghanistan to protest Gitmo. Dutch politicians face growing problems with Islamic youths and likely fear a L'Intifada like France suffered in 2005.

Peters said: "We have to close Guantanamo because it symbolizes for me everything that is wrong with this war on terror."

To which [Democratic Congressman Tom] Lantos apparently replied: "Europe was not as outraged by Auschwitz as by Guantanamo Bay"


After yesterday's rain and wind, a good portion of the fall foliage has dropped from the trees here in central New Hampshire. It wasn't until I was taking Submarine Tim home late yesterday that we noticed the roads covered with a blanket of fallen leaves.

If you've never driven on a road covered with wet, fallen leaves, those leaves can make the road as slippery as if it were covered with ice. One driver behind us on one of the twisty winding road found out the hard way when he/she almost went off the road on one of the sharper turns.

For all intents and purposes, fall foliage season has ended of 2007 here in the Lakes Region.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where fall weather has arrived, the leaves have left, and where we still have 2 cords of wood to offload and stack.


Tax Reform?

When this man talks about “tax reform” be afraid, be very afraid.

Keep The Internet Tax Free

Though the US Senate has passed an extension of the Internet Tax Moratorium and sent the bill to the House, the battle is nowhere near over.

As I wrote a week ago, the moratorium should be made permanent. Apparently my one of my US Senators, John Sununu (R - NH), agrees and is working hard to make it happen.

On November 1st 2007- only six days from today- the ban on Internet taxes will expire. Democrats in the Senate are fighting to ensure that options remain on the table and that no permanent ban is ever passed.

My Senator, John Sununu has been on the leading edge of the fight to make the Internet tax ban permanent.

Earlier this month Senator Sununu re-introduced the “Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act of 2007″ under rule 14 of the Senate which allows the bill to become eligible for a vote immediately.

Democrats are fighting hard to keep Internet taxes alive, supporting vague and temporary measures that could leave open taxes on Internet access, e-mails and Internet purchases.

If you're of a like mind, I strongly suggest that you go to this website set up by the NH GOP and sign the petition to let Senator Sununu know that you support his efforts to keep the Internet tax free.


Don't Bring A Golfball To A Gun Fight

While I have rarely stated my beliefs when it comes to the Second Amendment, I think that most of you out there that read my meager offerings to the blogosphere have probably figured that I firmly support the right of our law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. The only kind of gun control I advocate is the kind that means being able to hit your target.

That being said, I am also a firm believer that there are Laws and then there are Rules. Rachel Lucas gives us a recent example of telling the difference between Laws and Rules, and one young man that either forgot or was never taught the difference. That oversight got him killed.

I saw a post about guns on HuffPo so of course I had to read it, and it’s about some 17-year-old kid in Albuquerque who got shot and died. Which is sad and bad; let’s get that out of the way. But check it out. The HuffPo piece explains that Ryan Vigil (the kid) was a member of an anti-gun-violence group (making the whole story ever so ironic) and was just a special, awesome, super, perfect, spectacular human being, basically.

It also explains that Vigil was driving around in a car with some friends throwing golfballs at people. One of these golfball targets was a meth user who went back to his house, got a gun, found the kids driving around again later, and shot Vigil in the head.

Rachel goes on to explain that it was obvious the Huffpo writer really didn't understand that the kid, pulling what was described by the writer as “an ill-advised schoolboy prank”, was really committing acts of assault, criminal acts by anyone's definition. It's too bad this kid forgot that some of the people he was assaulting just might be armed. He forgot the Rule that states: Don't throw golfballs at gun-toting meth heads. The price for that error was a bullet through the head.

It's a shame that an otherwise good kid died because he got a terminal case of the stupids. He didn't live long enough to learn from his mistake.

Of course you know someone somewhere will use Ryan Vigil's death to call for tougher gun control laws. Never mind the meth head was probably carrying his firearm illegally (assuming the meth head has committed crimes in the past, convicted felons aren't supposed to possess firearms), gun control laws wouldn't have prevented him from carrying a gun. Criminals usually don't pay attention to those laws, so more such laws would have no effect on the criminals already illegally carrying guns.

In any case, the kid did something stupid. The consequences of his criminally stupid acts was death. He and his friends found out the hard way that there consequences for one's acts. As one commenter to Rachel's post wrote:

I am sorry for the loss of a child. However, having said that, when are people going to realize that when they do stupid shit someone may have an issue with it? Why is it so hard for people to understand that when you make a conscious decision to do something stupid, you may have to pay a price for your stupid decision? Whatever happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Am I fighting a losing battle against the world at large when I constantly remind my three daughters that their decisions have consequences, good and bad? People need to quit making excuses for bad choices and bad behavior. ‘Nuff said.


(H/T No Looking Backwards)


A Fred Thompson Night

The Red Sox are playing in Game 1 of the World Series tonight, so this is going to be a short post I put together between innings. Nothing profound will be written tonight.

But tonight will be a Fred Thompson night.

First, Fred picked up an important supporter in New Hampshire: Charlie Arlinghaus. Granite Grok has the scoop on Fred's latest addition to his campaign.

Next, Real Clear Politics lets us see how Fred's non-traditional campaign has been pissing off and puzzling the media pundits and Beltway insiders at the same time.

And finally, NRO reports that Fred has an excellent understanding of the illegal immigration problem and has specific ideas of how to deal with it.


The Debate Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

Again and again we here that the debate about global warming is over, that it's been proven that It's-All-The-Fault-Of-The-Evil-Humans®. But nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, the debate has been stifled because it pays more to agree that it is true in order to gain research funding and lobbying money. Anyone saying different is branded a sellout in an effort to marginalize them.

But that doesn't mean they aren't telling the truth.

(H/T The Jawa Report)


Thoughts On A Sunday

It was a late night for yours truly, staying up to watch the Red Sox pound the Cleveland Indians in Game 6 of the ALCS, 12-2.

The Sox had pretty much won the game in the first inning, scoring 4 runs on a grand slam. The Sox never looked back.

All of the Red Sox Nation is hoping that their team will pull off a win in Game 7 tonight, leading the Sox to the World Series against the Colorado Rockies.


It was also a sad day for the Weekend Pundit household.

Today was the last cruise of the season out on Lake Winnipesaukee on the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout. It is scheduled to be taken out of the water on Monday, winterized, and stored away for the winter.

BeezleBub and I had some last minute maintenance to perform before handing it over to the crew at the marina, including changing the oil and filter, topping off the fuel tank, cleaning the interior of the boat, and removing all of the equipment and unmounted seat cushions and storing them away in the basement of The Manse.

I can't wait for May, when The Boat will once again ply the waters of the lake.....


While BeezleBub and I were doing some of the pre-storage maintenance on The Boat we were listening to the beginning of the New England Patriots-Miami Dolphins game.

I cannot believe how it turned out during the first quarter and first 15 seconds of the second quarter. The Pats were on fire!

The Pats won 49-21.


I'm not the only one questioning the wisdom of the sale of Verizon's wireline assets in northern New England to FairPoint Communications.

At least the editorial is dispassionate, saying that there are too many unanswered questions that require scrutiny.

[H]ow is the average man or woman on the street expected to come to an informed decision? Listen to union activists who have only their own interests to serve? Take the uninformed advice of "Stop the Sale" signs popping up across the region? Take on faith the doom-and-gloom letters to the editor?

None of these. This is a very complex financial issue that does not readily explain itself. It is one where the public interests must be represented by each state's Public Utilities Commission and departments such as that of the Maine state advocate — those with the resources and manpower to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

This is exactly what's needed to figure out if the deal is good or bad for the consumers in northern New England. We should not be forced into “buying a pig in a poke”, to use an old saying.


I have to admit that I am quickly becoming disenchanted with Microsoft, McAfee, and Dell.

Deb's computer had a problem with McAfee at one point, necessitating an uninstall and reinstall. I used the back up disk that came with the Dell and everything installed just fine. Then, during the registration process, a pop up informs me that the Dell Service Tag number is missing, therefore, the registration aborted. It also meant that after 30 days I would no longer be able to update the virus definitions are scan engine. A quick e-mail to Dell and I found out how to set the Dell Service Tag number in the BIOS. No problem, right?


The McAfee registration server still couldn't see it or believed that it was the wrong one, so the registration aborted.

Another 'chat' with Dell, and they sent me a link to a download that would fix the problem. Files downloaded, installed, and then a try at McAfee registration. Registration fails.

This time a phone call to Dell and I was told that there was an update to the BIOS for Deb's machine available and that I should download it and flash the BIOS. I did that, the new BIOS looked fine, and then I booted the machine and tried to register McAfee again. Registration aborted again. I'd now spent three hours trying to cure the problem, I had other things to do, so I let it go for the day.

It's now Sunday morning. I start Deb's machine, it gets to the main screen where a user can boot their configuration...and the machine powers down and restarts. And then does it again. And again. And again, ad infinitum.

To make a long story short, it turns out that the culprit was one of the files I downloaded from Dell called Autopowr.exe. It was meant to be used on older systems with older versions of Windows. With XP it is triggered every time it reaches the main post-boot screen and the computer would restart.

Once the problem program was deleted, the problem went away.

But I still can't register McAfee and McAfee keeps telling me it's Dell's problem. But Dell Tech Support can see the Dell Service Tag number, so I have to believe it's a problem at McAfee's end. If this doesn't get solved soon, I'm going to demand my money back. After all, what good is a three year subscription if I have no way of updating the McAfee files because McAfee won't recognize the machine?


Game 7 of the ALCS started off well, with the Red Sox getting on the scoreboard first.


Jon Henke from the Fred Thompson campaign was liveblogging the GOP debate tonight.

I, on the other hand, was paying closer attention to the Red Sox.


Chris Muir's Day By Day is back!


Raven has some pictures to disprove the theory that global warming has dulled the fall foliage colors. That certainly hasn't been the case around here.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the leaves are in full color, the weather is still warm, and where, all too soon, the boating season is done.


Opposition To Verizon Asset Sale To FairPoint Is Rising

As decision time approaches for the Verizon/Fairpoint deal, opposition to the sale is getting stronger. While FairPoint promises to bring broadband to a majority of the customers in northern New England (assuming the sale goes through), many of Verizon's present customers are waking up to the fact that the sale may not be all it's cracked up to be. Verizon has very little, if any broadband coverage in Coos County in northernmost New Hampshire and residents there would welcome anyone that brings Coos into the broadband age. But what may be a salve to some is seen as a symptom of worse things to come by others.

Peter Riviere, executive director of Coos Regional Development Corp. but who spoke in his individual capacity, said, "Service under Verizon has been intolerable." Dan Cherry, who lives in Newport, said, "We know what it's like not to have technology resources." "Fiber is opportunity; DSL is really old technology, even if people don't have that technology," Cherry said.

"There's a real great opportunity for us to be penny-wise and pound foolish here," Cherry said. "In the long-term if they're not improving the infrastructure in the entire state, if they're not concerned about economic development, growth and education, and the role that a major company like Verizon can play, versus a very small and rural-oriented company, then we could be really be damaging ourselves into the future."

One of the reasons that Verizon hasn't been doing much to expand DSL is because the costs of expanding, operating, and maintaining DSL is far higher than building a high-speed fiber optics network. This is something that is not in FairPoint's favor. They'll be building an expensive network (in relation to fiber) that will have severely limited potential for future bandwidth upgrades, while fiber has a virtually unlimited bandwidth. It's one of the main reasons I oppose the sale of Verizon's wireline assets: I don't want to be stuck in the broadband wilderness, a place that will quickly fall behind other parts of the nation as they upgrade to fiber.

This is a deal that should die on the vine.


The Most Powerful Man In America

Who is the most powerful man in America?

Some might say it's George W. Bush. Others, Dick Cheney. Some might point to financial mavens like Warren Buffett, Donald Trump, or Rupert Murdoch. Yet others to those like Bill Gates.

But who is really the most powerful man in America? Would you believe New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner?

Bill who?

That's the reaction of many people outside of New Hampshire when they hear his name.

But what is it that makes Bill Gardner such a powerful person once every four years? It's quite simple, really: he sets the date for the New Hampshire Primary.

He's the seemingly always blushing guy who sits in a tiny, paper-messy, barren-walled office in a small corner of the State House. He's a wide-eyed, aw-shucks guy who loves raising chickens and, at 58, playing basketball with his brothers and watching the Patriots and Red Sox. At first, he comes across as a grown up Opie Taylor -- "never a tough guy," according to his thumbnail in the 1966 Bishop Bradley High School yearbook.

Well, he may not look tough. But when it comes to the New Hampshire primary, America, don't mess with Bill.

Gardner has those who would be President, their high-paid consultants, network executives and nationally-known political writers and pundits hanging on his every utterance, as rambling and imprecise as they sometimes can be.


But Gardner says nothing he does is more important than protecting the "tradition" of the state's first-in-the-nation presidential primary. As Secretary of State since 1976, he has stared down powerful political party leaders and legislatures and governors in other states who have been determined to end the first-by-a-week tradition and grab the national spotlight for themselves.

Does he bask in the limelight he finds himself in every four years? Not from what we've seen up here. And that makes him very different from many public servants.


The Internet Tax Moratorium Should Be Made Permanent

It looks like Congress is going to wait until the last minute to extend or make permanent the Internet Tax Moratorium.

What is the Internet Tax Moratorium, you ask?

Basically it prevented the federal, state, and local governments from taxing the use of the Internet to conduct business, whether buying, selling, or bartering goods or services. The reasoning behind the moratorium was that with all of the potentially thousands of taxes that would have to be paid for every transaction and every use of the Internet would make it too expensive to administer because every level of government would want their cut. The moratorium would help promote the use of the Internet to expand the economy.

Some think that the Internet Tax Moratorium has outlived its usefulness, mostly those licking their chops at the potential tax revenues to be gained. Never mind that those revenues might be short lived. The burden of administering and collecting those taxes could cause a lot of the business that generated all the revenue to go away because doing business on the 'net would no longer be cost effective. The taxes would, in effect, kill the goose that laid the golden egg. But taxers never really concern themselves with that, do they?

The argument will be made that only the big Internet businesses like Amazon reap the benefits of online sales and that those sales hurt the mom and pop businesses. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Other opponents to extending the moratorium maintain that it puts offline retailers at a disadvantage--the old unlevel playing field argument. I (wrongly) made this same point in a column seven years ago: Why should an Amazon.com, with a market cap that dwarfs most of its offline rivals, receive a government subsidy to compete with them?

Why? Because the distinction between online and offline retailer (or any other business, for that matter) gets smaller all the time. As the Cato Institute points out, small Main Street shops are experiencing an "economic renaissance" in part because their Web storefronts and commerce capabilities are bringing in more customers online and offline. "Subjecting small Internet businesses to the tender mercies of more than 6,500 (and potentially over 30,000) state and local taxing jurisdictions wouldn't level the playing field--it would put the mom-and-pops out of business," Cato analyst Aaron Lukas argues.

As for the revenue ramifications of extending the moratorium, don't ignore the property, sales, income, and other taxes that expanding Internet-dependent businesses and their employees pay. The moratorium doesn't stop governments from collecting those taxes, so if we undercut businesses with more onerous Internet taxes, watch as overall tax revenue takes a hit.

The costs to access the Internet would increase tremendously, pricing some folks off of the 'net. There would be no more free WiFi at coffee shops, schools , and a number of other places. In fact, it might go away all together because those that offer it as an amenity could no longer justify spending that kind of money. Access to the Internet could end up contracting just as it is expanding everywhere else in the world.

But again, that doesn't bother the taxers. They just want what they see as their money that we've been unfairly keeping them from collecting.

If we want the American economy to keep growing, we should take actions that will help ensure that it does. Otherwise we will see the economic gains of the past 10 years go away. A good example of where we might be headed is to look at our cell phone bills and see how the taxes we pay start adding up.

As Presidential hopeful Fred Thompson states:

The decision to keep the Internet tax free would seem to have been a good one. High speed broadband connections - the type that have allowed people to watch videos online or to quickly download music or games or to make inexpensive Voice over Internet Protocol calls - are now available in some form to just about everyone in the United States, whether at home, work, school or wireless hot spots in coffee shops and popular public shopping areas.

On a month to month basis, perhaps we're not talking about what would seem to be a lot of money. But like every other tax or fee imposed by government, it all adds up. Good examples of what might lie ahead for consumers can be found on our wireless phone bills. Recently, economists Thomas M. Lenard and Brent D. Mast released a report through the libertarian Progress and Freedom Foundation that showed most cell phone users' paid out about $7 a month in federal, state and local taxes.

That's more than people pay in cigarette or liquor taxes, and I don't think we need to be taxing broadband like it was a sin or a luxury. Congress should make permanent the tax moratorium on the Internet, or, at a minimum, extend it.

You'll get no argument from me on that.


A Look At Missus Thompson - Future First Lady

While the focus is on the Presidential candidates, it's not too often that we hear all that much about the candidates spouses. A few stand out, like Elizabeth Edwards, battling cancer. Or Bill Clinton, former President and potential First Fellah.

One that has received attention as well, mostly on the negative side in an effort to smear her husband, had been Jeri Thompson, wife of Republican candidate Fred Thompson.

The press hasn't always been kind to her, trying to paint her as a gold digger who broke up Fred's first marriage (untrue). She's a self-made woman, successful in her own right.

And now there's a blog that covers her and her activities, both on the campaign trail and at home, titled appropriately JeriGirls. It's banner line says it all:

Defending a woman's right to be smart, beautiful, and Republican.

I plan to check in quite often.


Thoughts On A Sunday

First thing this morning Deb, BeezleBub, and I headed down to the WP In-Laws to return the “country cousins”, Suzy Q and Buster, to their home.

We were cat sitting for the WP In-Laws while they were visiting friends and family in Florida.

While the rest of the feline occupants of The Manse got along well with the country cousins, Bagheera, being his curmudgeonly self, grumbled and hissed his way through the past week and a half.

I expect he's happy that the latest interlopers have left.


It was a matchup of the two NFL teams with the best record this season.

The New England Patriots (5-0) and the Dallas Cowboys (5-0) met in Dallas in what has to be the best game of the season to date.

The Patriots managed to keep their record of scoring during their first possession intact, scoring a touchdown after shutting down Dallas's first drive with a three-and-out.

Dallas didn't let that get to them, forcing a fumble by Brady that resulted in a touchdown during the second quarter.

But in the end the Patriots offense won the day, beating Dallas 48-27.


The four main sections of the Virginia-Class nuclear attack submarine USS New Hampshire were been delivered to the Groton, Connecticut shipyards of the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics and the interior work is under way.

The last ship to bear the name USS New Hampshire was a battleship built in 1908. There was a WW II Iowa Class battleship planned that was to bear that name, but the war ended before the keel was laid and construction was canceled.

The new sub is schedule to be commissioned some time next year.


The housing market continues to soften, and with it, foreclosures are going up.

One of the things driving the collapse and financial burden upon many American families is that the motivation for buying a home was different during this last real estate boom.

Now a home is more — or less — than a place to live. It is an investment — a way to make money and finance a lifestyle, says Robert Manning, an expert in consumer credit and debt at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

The housing and lending industries encouraged that transformation, promoting not just subprime loans but mortgages requiring little or no documentation of income, no money down, and interest-only payments.

When easy borrowing combined with a run-up in prices, speculators joined the fray. In Arizona and other Sun Belt states where foreclosures are rising fast, homes not occupied by their owners account for an outsized portion of foreclosures, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

But the ones feeling the pressure the most are those living in the homes they own and the ones shouldering the biggest burden.


Is it winter yet?

I hope not.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the leaves have still not reached peak color, our boat is still in the water, and where it's still not winter.


A Night Of Politics

It seems that tonight mus be a “politics” night.

While I could easily make all the points I'm going to touch upon separate posts, I'm too lazy to do that tonight. Well, not that so much as too busy. And rather than do a slapdash post on each subject, I'm going to do an even lamer combined post.

How's that grab you?


First, the Republican debate.

I didn't watch it live but I did get a chance to catch it online. Not bad. Not bad at all.

I have to say that Fred did moderately well. FactCheck.org said that he was far more accurate in his facts than Rudy.

But Roger Simon didn't think that Fred was all that good.

Considering it was his first debate, I'm willing to cut him a little slack. But only a little.


Second, Hillary's vote on Iran's Revolutionary Guard being declared a terrorist organization.

Frankly, it surprised me that she went against the rest of the Democrats in Congress, something she's been roundly criticized for by her fellow Dems. But she probably has a better insight about the Iranians than many other Senators due to her tenure as First Lady.

Maybe Glenn Reynolds is right – Hillary Clinton, the best wartime President in American history.


How is it that Al Gore received a Nobel Prize? While the selection committed cited his work on global warming, I am disappointed that he received the Nobel and an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth. The 'documentary' did a good job on selling a bunch of climate science half-truths and falsehoods as The Truth.

Al Gore may be concerned with the environment, but he uses a con man's tactics to incite panic, which in turn will cause many of us to take the exactly wrong actions to alleviate a problem that has been grossly overstated.

In other words, he's a politician.


A Better Way To Generate Hydrogen?

While Congress has been running around trying to find new ways to kill the American auto industry with a greatly increased CAFE standard while at the same time making sure that they can't meet it, someone else has been working on a way to wean us off of petroleum as a motor fuel.

There's been lots of talk about ethanol as a fuel, but I think we'll find that it really won't be viable due to almost all of the ethanol being made for fuel uses corn as a feed stock. Let's face it, corn is one of the worst sources for ethanol. For all of the energy put into ethanol production, we only get a little bit above that amount back in useful fuel.

Ethanol from cellulose-based feed stocks is a great idea, except that no one has figured out how to do that on a large scale. It's still in the lab and not likely to be out there any time soon. But once it is, ethanol will be cheap to make and the amount of fuel gained from the process will be many times the amount of energy put into the process. But like I said, it ain't there yet.

A number of the automakers have been working on fuel-cell powered vehicles. They don't pollute, they're quiet, and extremely efficient. One of the biggest problems with using fuel cells is the fuel - hydrogen.

Producing hydrogen in large amounts is feasible, but not cheap or easy. One of the most common feed stocks for hydrogen production is natural gas. It kind of defeats the purpose of trying to go green if our green fuel uses hydrocarbons pumped out of the ground as a source.

But what if there was a cheaper way of making hydrogen using one of our most abundant resources instead of one that will, at some point, become less plentiful and more expensive? What if all it took was water and sunlight to generate hydrogen?

The Materials Research Institute at Penn State University has been working on a means of using sunlight to separate the hydrogen and oxygen in water.

Most current methods of hydrogen production split hydrogen from natural gas in a process that produces climate changing greenhouse gas while consuming a nonrenewable resource. A more environmentally friendly approach would produce hydrogen from water using the renewable energy of sunlight.

In a paper published online in Nano Letters on July 3, 2007, lead author Gopal K. Mor, along with Haripriya E. Prakasam, Oomman K. Varghese, Kathik Shankar, and Grimes, describe the fabrication of thin films made of self-aligned, vertically oriented titanium iron oxide (Ti-Fe-O) nanotube arrays that demonstrate the ability to split water under natural sunlight.

Previously, the Penn State scientists had reported the development of titania nanotube arrays with a photoconversion efficiency of 16.5% under ultraviolet light. Titanium oxide (TiO2), which is commonly used in white paints and sunscreens, has excellent charge-transfer properties and corrosion stability, making it a likely candidate for cheap and long lasting solar cells. However, as ultraviolet light contains only about 5% of the solar spectrum energy, the researchers needed to finds a means to move the materials band gap into the visible spectrum.

Being able to generate hydrogen by doing nothing more than filling a tank with water and sticking it out on the sun would certainly make the problem of how to provide fuel cells with hydrogen a lot less daunting.

While there are still still details to work out, Penn State scientists believe that they can solve the problem of making the photoelectrolysis process more efficient. Something like this can make the replacement of the petroleum economy with the hydrogen economy far more likely. Using petroleum for fuel seems so wasteful when there are better uses for it, like plastics, lubricants, and other materials.

It can't happen soon enough for me.


Prepare For The Upcoming Electronic Apocalypse

Once or twice before I've written brief posts about something called RoHS, or Restriction of Hazardous Substances, a directive from the European Union to severely restrict six toxic substances used in consumer electronics (lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chrome, PBB, and PBDE – the last two being fire retardants used in plastics). This directive was enacted to reduce the amount of these toxic substances entering the waste stream. The concern of the EU was that with the increasing number of electronic devices being used by the average person, the number of these devices entering the waste stream would be increasing at a like rate as such devices reached the end of their useful service life. A mandatory recycling system was also set up to help keep the amount of electronic and electrical waste going to the landfills to a minimum.

The original target of the directive was items like cell phones, PDA's, computers, MP3 players, and related types of electronics, devices with an expected service life of 2 to 3 years. Then more and more electronic and electrical equipment was added to the list until contained just about every one you can think of. It certainly seemed like a good idea...at the time. But there was a major problem with RoHS directive: the ban on lead.

Lead has been used in electronic solders for as long as there's been electronics. Solder is an alloy made up of tin and lead, the most common type with a ratio of 63% tin and 37% lead. This particular mixture has exceptional electrical and physical properties that make it perfect for use in electronics. Yet due to the EU RoHS directive, it is now banned. The problem?

There isn't an acceptable substitute that has the same properties as tin/lead (SnPb) solder.

But that didn't stop the EU from banning it anyways. And now we'll all pay the price.

Replacing tin-lead with pure tin is turning out to have been a huge mistake. There are two significant differences between lead-free assembly and lead-based assembly.

(1) Lead-free assembly is not better for the environment, it is worse. The additional tin mining required to produce high-purity tin alloys, plus the mining of other precious metals required to alloy with tin in substitution for lead is a poor trade for the use of existing lead, much of which comes from recycled products. This information comes from a study conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The study undercuts the primary basis for ROHS.

(2) Lead-free assembly is less reliable than lead-based assembly. The E.U. environmental commission admits this point. That's why they grant exceptions for military and high-reliability applications that still use SnPb solder.

One of the big problems with the lead-free solders being used is that they can promote the growth of tiny tin whiskers, thinner than a human hair. In and of itself, this might not be a problem. But what happens if one of those whiskers growing on a component lead causes a short to another component?

The device in which the components are located fails.

If the time it took for something like this was measured in decades, then there really wouldn't be a problem. But what if it only took 2 to 3 years?

Now you're getting it.

If the electronic device is a cell phone, it probably won't matter. But what if it's your relatively new 52” LCD HDTV? Three years after you took it home it suddenly stops working. It's now out of warranty and you'll have to pay for the cost of diagnostics and repair. And then another two or three years down the road it fails again for the same reason. How would you feel? I know I'd be pissed off.

But now let's look at something even more daunting.

What happens if a RoHS-compliant lead-free circuit board ends up in a nuclear power plant and tin whisker growth causes a short circuit, which in turn causes a false alarm that causes the plant to shut down its reactor?

Think it won't happen? Think again.

How about a worse scenario?

That same circuit card has a short caused by a tin whisker that prevents a detected fault that should shut down the reactor is never sent. The reactor that should have been shut down because of a system failure instead stays on line and causes a much bigger problem.

Mind you, consumer electronics and those used to monitor and control nuclear power plants are different, but they could suffer from the same problem.

The lead-free solder problem could also affect transportation. What of the computers that control the power train in your car or truck? Would you like to pay to have them replaced every few years because tin whiskers caused a malfunction? I know I wouldn't. (Thank goodness aviation electronics are exempt, allowing the use of leaded solder.)

Think about all of the appliances in your home requiring replacement of electronics every few years because short sighted bureaucrats and know-nothing politicians decided that they had to save us from ourselves. RoHS has spread to other countries as well, making it mandatory that manufactures build products that meet those requirements if they want to stay in business.

The irony of the whole thing? Lead, as it is used in electronics, has never been a problem in regards to causing toxic pollution in land fills. Because it is alloyed with tin, it doesn't leach into the ground like lead in paints or old car batteries have been known to do. How do I know this?

Because the EPA says so.

Feeling nervous yet?


More Questions About The Verizon/FairPoint Deal

Maybe it's serendipity. Maybe it's straight coincidence. Or maybe someone somewhere else has been reading some of my posts and thought it was an issue they should cover.

I any case, my post on Saturday voiced my doubts about the impending buyout of Verizon's wireline business and customers by FairPoint Communications. There's too much I don't know. There's too much that Verizon or FairPoint haven't talked about publicly that makes me wonder if there's something that FairPoint or the state PUC's (Public Utility Commission, or the equivalent thereof) have missed or are deliberately overlooking.

It's no surprise that the two unions representing Verizon employees, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), are against the deal. While a number of mergers over the years have not been a problem for either union (New England Telephone became NYNEX when they merged with New York Telephone, then Bell Atlantic when NYNEX merged with Atlantic Bell, then Verizon when Bell Atlantic merged with GTE), this one is different because it's not a merger but a split. They will end up part of a much smaller company, which they see as limiting their options.

FairPoint's promise to expand broadband coverage is being met with skepticism, if not outright scorn. The biggest problem is that they're expanding DSL, or Digital Subscriber Line technology, an older technology that is quickly being supplanted by fiber optics. DSL has a limited bandwidth capability, some of which is determined by how far a customer is from the local central office or outlying DSL concentrator. At the extreme range of DSL a customer might be lucky to have 768kbs (kilobits per second). Fiber, on the other hand, can provide 1 or 2 Gbs (gigabits per second, or billions of bits per second) regardless of the distance from the central office. It has potentially unlimited bandwidth. DSL does not.

Many of those without any kind of broadband connectivity would probably welcome something as slow as 768kbs, which is 14 times faster than dialup access, but that would still leave them unable to do many of the things that those of us fortunate enough to have high enough data rates can do without thinking. I believe that many would consider it a beginning, not an end.

In the mean time other technologies are making inroads in providing high-speed broadband services in rural areas. While still not having the bandwidth capabilities of fiber optics, they can provide data speeds above that of DSL. One of those technologies is satellite.

For many rural customers satellite is the only means of receiving television service. CATV systems either don't serve the area or bypass some sections in rural towns because the customer density is too low to justify building out their network. Satellite doesn't have that problem. The same is true for Internet connectivity, too. While there has been some data services via satellite for some time, it's only been recently that the cost has come down to the point where the average consumer can also take advantage without bankrupting themselves. While still not as cheap as DSL, cable, or Fiber-to-the-Home, it's still reasonable enough for those desiring a fast connection but having no other means of obtaining it. As the cost of satellite service has been dropping, the available connection speeds have been climbing as the providers have been adding newer satellites with more bandwidth.

Another possible path to higher Internet connectivity is fixed-point wireless, something that at this point exists in very few markets. Fixed-point wireless should not be confused with WiFi or WiMax, systems that allow connectivity for portable devices like laptops, PDAs, and smart phones.

The advantage of fixed-point wireless is that, like satellite, there's little infrastructure that requires building out, like there is for cable, DSL or fiber optics. This makes it a more attractive alternative for some rural areas. But like satellite, the costs may be higher than a traditional connection.

Should FairPoint become the de facto telco for northern New England, they had best believe that many of its customers will be watching and waiting to see if they will keep their promises of expanded broadband coverage. They will also be watching to see if this deal will end up leaving northern New England in the broadband hinterlands as high speed technology advances while FairPoint continues to deploy an already outdated technology.


Thoughts On A Sunday

What a difference a day makes.

Yesterday it was sunny, in the 80's, another summer day.

Today, it's cloudy, raining, and in the 60's in the morning.

It isn't a boating day by any means, at least not until after noon. And then, it was time to watch the Pats and the Red Sox, leaving no time for boating.



As I write this, both the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians are one win away from winning their division titles. Both teams are 2-0 against their opponents, the Angels and the Yankees, respectively.

If it comes down to a Boston-Cleveland playoff, I couldn't be much happier. While I am a staunch Red Sox fan, I could get behind the Indians for a World Series run should they be the American League champs.

But that's not going to happen, of course.

Go Sox!

UPDATE:The Sox swept the Angels, beating them 9-1! Now it's a matter of waiting for the outcome of the Indians/Yankees game.

Go Tribe!


And speaking of Cleveland, the New England Patriots are playing the Cleveland Browns today in Foxboro.

There's been a family connection to the Browns through one of my late aunts, so they've been a favorite of our family for years.

However, that doesn't extend to supporting them over the Patriots. I've been a Pat's fan since the days of Jim Plunkett and Mini-Mack Herron. (Yeah, I know I'm dating myself here. So what?)

UPDATE: The Patriots beat the Browns, 34-17!


It was Fall Cleaning Day here at The Manse. Floors were scrubbed, baseboards cleaned, baseboard radiators cleaned out, everything dusted, vacuumed, or wiped down. This went beyond the usual weekly cleaning, all in preparation for the upcoming winter. Once everything is cleaned, we'll be installing some more insulation in the basement (rim joists), preparing some of the windows on all three levels for sealing, and taking care of some gaps in one of the basement doors. The glass that replaces the screens in the storm doors will be cleaned, though not installed – we will probably see more than a few more windows-and-doors-open days before the weather really cools off – and the plastic shrink cover for the basement slider will be pulled out of one of the storage containers and placed nearby for use when we seal it off.

There's still 4+ cords of firewood to move up from the WP In-Laws and get stacked for use. Some will end up in the basement, some in the garage, and the rest stacked outside between the garage and the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout Trailer.


Speaking of firewood, we're hoping that we'll be able to use nothing but the woodstove to heat The Manse for the entire heating season. That will keep our use of propane to the bare minimum, mainly to heat water and to run the clothes dryer.

Last heating season we managed to make it to the beginning of March before we had to stop using the woodstove because the chimney became clogged. At that point we should have called a chimney sweep, but we figured we were close enough to the end. We were wrong. This year we'll have the sweep come sometime in February to ensure we'll be able to use the woodstove until April or May.

If we can pull that off we'll have kept our use of propane under 300 gallons for the entire year. At $2.50/gallon (or more) that will suit me just fine.


Rachel Lucas points us to a piece by a liberal academic who admits that the Second Amendment is indeed an individual right, not a collective one.

He'd better keep this to himself or he might be drummed out of academia!


This doesn't sound good.

(H/T Instapundit)


Tom Bowler covers the ongoing information war between the Iranian backed insurgency in Iraq and the Coalition forces/Iraqi government. It's interesting to see the difference in how a counterinsurgency strike against Iranian Quds force commandos operating in Iraq is reported by various new agencies.

Need I say that a majority of the US media is not on our side?


Isn't it interesting how the Dems have been bashing President Bush and crying crocodile tears because he vetoed the deceptive SCHIP bill? They didn't waste much time trying to paint Bush as the villain even though he warned them that he would veto the Democrats attempt to expand coverage and bring in socialized medical care by the back door.

It didn't help that the Baltimore Sun didn't perform any fact checking before they swallowed the Dems spoon-fed propaganda.

But then the Dems don't want to confuse the issue with facts.


Oh, now I see how it works!

Bad news from Iraq must be reported and hyped immediately. But good news should be buried in case the numbers are 'tricky'.

Yeah. Right.

Thank God that these jerks weren't around during WWII otherwise that war might have dragged on another couple of years. But back then the media was on America's side.


Tomorrow is Columbus Day, the day when we celebrate the Western Civilization's exploitation of the Americas, including the genocide of the peaceful indigenous peoples and rape of the land. (See how silly such a contention is? Mind you, we aren't innocent, but then neither is any other civilization. Many existing civilizations are far worse than we are or have ever been. But that doesn't matter to the PC progressives, does it?)


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the weather is still variable, the leaves are changing to their fiery fall colors, and where I have the day off tomorrow.


Verizon's Selloff Not A Good Idea

As the end of the year comes closer, the number of TV ads touting the sale of Verizon's wireline network and customers in northern New England to FairPoint Communications have become ubiquitous. The ads keep telling us that nothing will change once the sale goes through except for the names on the trucks and buildings presently owned by Verizon.

I hope that's not true.

First, Verizon's technological advances here in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont have crawled to a stop. While TV, radio, and print ads have been trying to sell Verizon's FiOS Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) service to its customers, very little of that is available in northern New England except for a few of the more thickly settled areas.

Second, maintaining the status quo, whether or not the sale goes through, is not an attractive option. FairPoint keeps telling us that they will be bringing broadband access to even the more rural areas of each state. But the technology that they'll be using, DSL, is already on what is called “the backside of the power curve”, meaning that it has already become obsolete technology, incapable of providing some of the broadband services more consumers are demanding. While better than what many people in rural areas have available to them, it's still old technology.

At first I was a supporter of this sale. But as time has passed I have become more and more skeptical that FairPoint will have the means to keep its promises.

It's not as if Verizon will step up and deploy FTTH should the sale fail. The profit margin for deploying fiber in rural areas isn't big enough for them. That's not to say that the margin will be too small for someone else.

As the time of the sale has grown closer, many of the opponents to it have become more visible, both with signs along the roads as well as one of the online forums that has explored the deal and found it wanting. So far it seems that a majority of the people attending the public meetings in all three states have opposed the sale. The question I have to ask about that 'fact' is whether those people are regular customers or present workers/union members employed by Verizon?

This is going to get interesting for no other fact that the wrong choice, regardless of what it is, could cause northern New England to become a broadband hinterland, left behind by the rest of the country.

I can't honestly say whether the sale is a good or bad deal. I don't know enough to make that call. Because of that I have to fall back on an old truism usually applied to votes at town meetings:

If you don't understand something the safe thing to do is to vote against it. Either the proponents are as much in the dark as you are, they haven't thought through all of the consequences, or they're trying to pull the wool over your eyes. In any case voting for it is exactly the wrong thing to do.



The GOP Blew The Chance To Save The Economy From The Democrats

While there are only a few things about which I agree with Mitt Romney, the one that he and I have no difference of opinion about is that the GOP somehow mutated into a pale shadow of the tax-and-spend Democrats. Though perhaps we should remove the “tax-and” part. But maybe not.

During the GOP's tenure as the majority party in Congress, spending rose an incredible amount, and I'm not talking about spending for the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It looked like the Republicans never saw a spending program they didn't like. As such, the people remember the profligate spending of the record tax revenues (after the Bush tax cuts). It's not likely that they'll forget about it. And after such spending, it's not likely that the taxpayers will believe the GOP about more tax cuts.

A few weeks ago Republican leaders gathered on Capitol Hill to hear from their top pollsters and pundits about how they can win back the votes of independent voters. Some of the attendees are still in a state of cardiac arrest over what they learned.

America's swing voters, especially the suburban "security moms," who abandoned the GOP in droves in 2006 still hold Republicans in very low regard. What has party tacticians especially spooked is that these independents are apparently not much attracted to what the Republicans are saying about taxes. That's a bitter pill for party leaders to swallow, because for 25 years the anti-tax banner has been a political trump card for conservative candidates. A top strategist at the Republican National Committee who attended the meeting told me: "Our tax message has worn thin."

Well, that's not exactly true. It is true that the GOP message on taxes needs a makeover, perhaps a radical one--and the party's congressional leaders had better figure this out soon: The big tax fight starts as early as next week when House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangle unveils his multibillion dollar soak-the-rich tax hike plan to pay for middle-class Alternative Minimum Tax relief. So let's review some of the key attitudinal shifts of voters on taxes as revealed in recent polls and focus-group findings.

I think we'll all be in for a bumpy ride. Should the Dems hold on to their majority in the House and take a solid majority in the Senate, I think that it will be safe to say that we should all hold on to our wallets. You know that the Democrats will suck so much money out of the economy in an effort to “soak the rich” that they'll help bring on a recession that they'll find some way of blaming on the Republicans. The sad thing is that they'll be right, but only to the point that the GOP had the chance to stop this years ago but decided that it wasn't worth the effort.

I'd say that makes it the Republican's fault.


NH Motorists To Pay For Legislative Thefts

It looks more likely that the state will be raising highway tolls in order to meet the funding requirements of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. This is something that will be setting a bad precedent, letting the Democrat dominated legislature see that the can get away with stealing money away from the DOT and then forcing the taxpayers to make up the difference. What kinds of taxes or fees will be raised next in order to feed the coffers the Dems will be working so hard to empty?

Of course, if the legislature actually followed the state constitution, the DOT wouldn't be short of funds. You see, under New Hampshire's constitution, all fuel taxes, tolls, registration and drivers license fees are supposed to go to the DOT exclusively. But the state legislators have been diverting those funds for anything but maintaining and building our state's highways.

I would think that rather than raising tolls, the legislators should return the constitutionally mandated funds where they belong. Then there's be no need to raise the tolls.

Also, as mentioned by our friends over at GraniteGrok, the DOT could also use some judicious cost cutting, looking at ways to save money and stretch the tax dollars the do receive a little farther. Raising tolls and, at some point, gas taxes, should be the last resort, not the first.

Calling The Phony Soldiers What They Were

Isn't it interesting that the Democrats swift moves to condemn Rush Limbaugh for calling out the “phony soldiers” like Jessie MacBeth for their anti-war sentiments while at the same time they had to be goaded into condemning MoveOn.org's smear of General Mark Petraeus.

It suited the Dems to misquote Limbaugh in order to make it seem that he was calling any soldiers that expressed anti-war sentiments as phony soldiers when in reality he was calling truly phony soldiers/war vets what they were: phonies. Either they had never served or they had claimed to have been in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan when they had, in fact, never been in either country. That's what any reasonable person would call a phony.

Smash outed more than one phony vet at one of the antiwar protests when he “infiltrated” one of the marches and, with a little conversation with the alleged vets, found that they were not what they claimed. They too were phonies, paraded about in an effort to give the antiwar groups the illusion of legitimacy.

It is the Dems who should be condemned for their actions in deliberately misquoting Rush in order to gain some “street cred” with the nutroots folks.


Fred Speaks Softly

How is it that while running a low key campaign that Fred Thompson seems to be gaining ever more support? He certainly isn't out there making the usual campaign stump speeches like many of the other candidates. If anything, he tends to be low key, simply stating his beliefs and ideas.

He doesn't speak like a preacher, slowly building up the excitement of his followers and working them into a frenzy. He just talks plainly about what he believes needs to be done in this country to keep America on the right track.

He's certainly not trying to be all things to all voters, something that far too many candidates past and present from both parties have been striving to do.

Maybe that's why more people are starting to pay attention to him. He's not laying on the b******t like so many of others. It's certainly a refreshing approach to getting the message across. It's also one reason that I've been a Fred Head for some time.

That's not to say that one of the other Republican candidates wouldn't make a good President. I can think of two that would likely do quite well. But I still believe that Fred Thompson would make the best President of all of the candidates, Republican or Democrat. Apparently I'm not the only one.

Conventional wisdom is hardening around the proposition that Fred Dalton Thompson is too lazy, ill-prepared, tired, old, lackluster, inexperienced, inconsistent and bald to make a successful run for President.

Of course, conventional wisdom rarely gets anything right. When it does, it's only by accident.

In this case conventional wisdom is not just wrong but comically so. Thompson will win the Republican nomination for two reasons. First, he's a very impressive candidate. Second, there's no realistic alternative. He will win the general election for the same two reasons.

While I am not as optimistic as J. Peter Mulhern above, I think that Fred has got a pretty good chance. All we can do is wait and see what the outcome will be.