Thoughts On A Sunday

BeezleBub returned from the WP In-Laws today, his last day of February vacation. To say he wasn't pleased to be home would be an understatement. It wasn't that he dislikes us or home rather than it meant he couldn't work on his Jeep for another month or so and that has to go back to school. (He likes learning, he just doesn't like his high school and particularly all the adolescent drama that consumes too much of the day.)


One American import British citizens appear to be embracing? Tea Parties.

(H/T Instapundit)


US Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) believes the US economy is heading for a major collapse within the next 5 to 7 years unless some major changes are made in regards to the government's unsustainable spending.

Unfortunately I must wholeheartedly agree with him.

(H/T And Rightly So by way of Pirate's Cove)


Bogie gives us a report on her snowstorm experiences. She also includes some photos, showing the snowfall and the high water aftermath.


Skip Murphy has found that US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has discovered a heretofore unknown Right in the United States Constitution.

It never ceases to amaze me how many unwritten 'rights' our Democrat leaders have found in the Constitution over the years, even those that fly in the face of the actual enumerated Rights found there.


David Starr reminds us that second hand stuff can be pretty good, particularly if the price is right, and that sometimes second hand stuff is better than new stuff.

Call it Yankee frugality.


Al Gore attempts to rehabilitate Anthropogenic Global Warming, trying to ignore or minimize the scientific fraud committed at the CRU.


During my return trip from picking up BeezleBub from the WP In-Laws I noticed quite a few trucks towing bobhouses away from the lake. (A bobhouse is a small shack set up on the ice to provide shelter while ice fishing.) With the weird weather we've been experiencing – snow, rain, high winds, and warm daytime temps – the ice on the lakes has been melting, making it necessary to remove bobhouses before the ice gets too thin to venture out to get them. Such a thing usually occurs in mid to late March.


And that's the (abbreviated) news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the weather is schizophrenic, the ice is getting thinner, and the woodpiles are getting smaller.


Tech Support Tales - A Follow Up

This is a follow up to this post, specifically to the second half of the post.

A recap:

A laser source is received from a customer for repair, wrapped in a note that says “Toggle switch on top panel of unit is broken off. Can't turn on unit power.”

The problem was immediately apparent to our faithful Repair Guy.

The toggle switch was indeed gone...because the unit in question never had one.

The power switch on the unit in question is on the front, a red circle with a vertical line in the center. The user's manual even shows a diagram of where the switch is located and what it looks like.

Today, our Repair Guy received an irate phone call from the same customer, demanding to know why his laser source wasn't repaired.

Our Repair Guy tried to explain to the customer why the unit didn't require repair, but the customer wasn't having it. So he asked the customer if he had the carrying case for the laser. When the customer answered that he did, the Repair Guy asked him to go into the case pocket and remove the piece of paper inside, then read it over the phone.

“The previous model DWLS2, discontinued over 7 years ago, did use a toggle switch on the top panel to turn on the power to the unit and select the laser wavelength.”

“The present DWLS2 does not incorporate a toggle switch. Instead, there is a keypad on the front panel. The round red button on the lower left corner of the keypad is the power switch. Press and hold the button for 2 seconds until the indicator LEDs turn on. Press and hold the button again for 2 seconds to turn the unit off.”

“For further information please Read The Fine Manual, enclosed.”

Then the customer actually pushed the power button, turning on the laser...

...and then hung up his phone.

No “Thank you”. No “Oops.” No nothing, other than the sound of the call being disconnected. Our Repair Guy doesn't know if it was due to anger, embarrassment, or a fit of pique.

This incident proves that our Repair Guy understands our customers quite well and anticipates their needs, hence the piece of paper he included with the laser source when he shipped it back to the customer.


Canadian Health Care - Another Precautionary Tale

Keeping in mind President Obama's latest push for a lamely warmed over Senate health care reform bill, another appropriate preview of what we can expect should health care destruction make it through Congress can be found here.

Remember Danny Williams? He’s the Newfoundland and Labrador Premier who decided that the Canadian socialized health care system just wouldn’t cut it for his health. Why?

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Williams said he went to Miami to have a “minimally invasive” surgery for an ailment first detected nearly a year ago, based on the advice of his doctors.

“This was my heart, my choice and my health,” Williams said late Monday from his condominium in Sarasota, Fla.

What it came down to was that he wanted the best medical care possible, so, rather than deal with what he would get in Canada, he came to America.

Should we go the way of Canada and many other countries with government health care, Canadians will have no place to go for superior health care. The problem is that we Americans will have no place to go either, unless the smarter doctors move their practices out of the country and start a cash only operation.

One upside should this happen? The medical tourism business will boom as those with the means will leave the country to get the medical treatment they need.


Thoughts On A Sunday

Beezlebub is on vacation this week and will be spending it down at the WP In-Laws, helping around their place and getting all the taps, tubing, and buckets set up to collect sap from sugar maples to make maple syrup.


Speaking of sugaring, Bird Dog over at Maggie's Farm has a great post covering all aspects of making maple syrup (called sugaring), as well as the many uses for it other than covering your pancakes, french toast, or waffles. BD also has a number of useful links about sugaring.

In case you're wondering, we here at The Manse consume only the syrup made by the WP In-Laws or from Farmer Andy's operation, usually a dark amber Grade A or Grade B. I find them more flavorful than the light amber one finds in markets and from sugar houses via the Internet. We tend to keep the darker grades for ourselves.

We would rather do without than consume the colored/flavored corn syrup that masquerades as maple syrup that most folks consume.


Deb's '91 Buick made its last journey late Friday afternoon. Despite it's structural shortcomings, it still ran like a top, making its last drive pleasurable while at the same time being bittersweet.

BeezleBub, the WP Dad, and I took the Buick to a salvage operator and got $175 cash for it as is. The fellow who bought it thought it looked pretty darned good for a 19-year old car, but he knew there were structural problems that made it too expensive to fix.

Before it made its last trip, BeezleBub took some pictures of it and took a few souvenirs to remember a car that has been part of his life for such a long time.


As I mentioned last week, we bought a used 2004 Ford F150 4x4 to replace Deb's Buick. The truck was going to be hers and I would continue to drive the Intrepid. However, it didn't work out that way.

Instead, she has claimed the Intrepid as her own and I am now driving the pickup.

I think she planned it that way from the beginning.


I thought I knew a lot about cats. But this was something new: Cats apparently have a gene that lets them love humans.

Cats, at least modern house cats, love their humans. Nothing else explains why cats demand petting, sleep on favored human's beds, sit in laps, and purr when picked up and stroked. They get terribly lonely when left alone. But what is the evolutionary origin of this gene?

The gene also shows they have intelligence, because they knew a good thing when they saw it and let the humans take care of them...just as it should be. I know Bagheera would agree with that.


Are we now seeing deflation in spite of stimulus spending?

(H/T Instapundit)


At least someone within the Federal Reserve gets it and is willing to say what needs to be said.


It looks like the government is looking to do to your 401(k)'s and IRA's what they've done to Social Security.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.


Fellow Granite Stater David Starr has a few ideas about how to cut the $1.6+ trillion deficit in Obama's latest budget.


I must admit to a love/hate relationship with Anne Coulter. But this time around I happen to agree with her, particularly about this.


Jennifer Rubin reminds us that Marco Rubio is not the Republican version of Barack Obama.

You see, they are alike because they are both non-white. Just like one another. Except that one speaks in short, comprehensible declarative statements about the greatness of America, and the other talks in vapid phrases, apologizing for America’s ills. And except that one is a dogged advocate of the free market and a robust response to the war against Islamic fundamentalists, and the other isn’t. And except that one inveighed against an inanely crafted pork-a-thon, and the other is still trying to convince us it saved us from an even worse depression. And then one said he’s not prematurely running for president, and the other unfortunately did.

It appears that Rubio has a better chance of becoming the Republican nominee for US Senate than Florida Governor Charlie Crist and then defeating the Democrat challenger, particularly in light of the voter backlash against Democrats of all stripes.


It's one thing when we slam the media for biased reporting, or worse, no reporting at all. It's another thing when Spain's government blames the “Anglo-Saxon” media as being the primary cause of all their economic woes. But could it be the real reason for Spain's economic pain be their unsustainable social spending and onerous fiscal policies under their socialist government?


Could GE Hitachi have the answer to dealing with high-level long half-life nuclear waste?

Using reactors that make use of nuclear fuels other than U235, like Pu239, could greatly reduce the amount of 'traditional' nuclear waste to a small fraction of what presently exists. That would help, particularly in light of President Obama's abandonment of the Yucca Mountain storage facility.


As happens around here almost every winter, a couple of guys decided that because Lake Winnipesaukee was frozen over where they happened to be (Welch's Island) that it was frozen enough everywhere. They were wrong.

Most of us around here know what areas are generally safe and what areas that need to be avoided at all times. The latter usually have thin ice or open water due to the way water flows in a given area. These two guys drove to an area on the lake where water flow keeps the ice thin or even non-existent.

This isn't the first time a vehicle has gone through the ice there, and I doubt it will be the last.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where a new round of snow is on the way, the local kids are on vacation, and where the ice is still thick enough to drive on...if you know where it's still safe.


Tech Support Tales II

I would have posted this next Tuesday, but it was too good to wait until then. So I bring you two more tales from the files of Tech Support.

The first tale of tech support woe came to my attention earlier today when I received a request to look into a customer complaint about two red laser sources that apparently failed after the customer had used them for about a week. Two laser sources were being returned because there was no visible output even though both of the indicator LEDs were on...one of them being the Low Battery indicator.

This indicator lets the customer know the batteries need to be replaced. If the customer had actually read the instruction manual he would have known that when the Low Battery LED is on, the red laser is disabled. So the customer sent his two red laser sources all the way back to our factory from overseas to have the AA alkaline batteries changed.

The second tale is related to the first.

While talking to our Repair Guy about the first incident, he mentioned that it isn't all that unusual for him to receive units for repair that required only a change of batteries to set them to rights. For certain pieces of equipment about 25% of the returns required only new batteries to 'fix' them. Some of this equipment still had the original batteries shipped with them many years ago.

These two tales prove what we've known for a long time: Customers don't read the user manuals. And as long as this is true we will continue to see 'broken' units that aren't really broken and only need new batteries.


Fixing The Broken - Doing What's Necessary

As the old saying goes, some times you have to break eggs in order to make and omelet. And so it is sometimes when one is trying to fix a broken educational system, clearing away that which does not work and starting fresh.

The Central Falls, Rhode Island school system has been grossly underperforming for years, with 50% of the high school students failing and a graduation rate of under 50%. The school superintendent decided she had to do something about it.

Her plan calls for teachers at a local high school to work 25 minutes longer per day, each lunch with students once in a while, and help with tutoring. The teachers' union has refused to accept these apparently onerous demands.

The teachers at the high school make $70,000-$78,000, as compared to a median income in the town of $22,000.

The school superintendent has responded to the union's stubbornness by firing every teacher and administrator at the school.

When the teachers and administrators refused to be part of the solution, they proved they were part of the problem. It then became necessary to deal with the problem. The superintendent did just that in the most effective and dramatic fashion, sending the message “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Since the union decided to neither lead or follow - to do nothing - which was an unacceptable solution, the superintendent decided they needed to get out of the way.

Sometimes the best way to stir things up is to do the unexpected, in this case getting rid of the obstructionists and starting with a clean slate.

Under threat of losing their jobs if they didn’t go along with extra work for not a lot of extra pay, the Central Falls Teachers’ Union refused Friday morning to accept a reform plan for one of the worst-performing high schools in the state.

After learning of the union’s position, School Supt. Frances Gallo notified the state that she was switching to an alternative she was hoping to avoid: firing the entire staff at Central Falls High School. In total, about 100 teachers, administrators and assistants will lose their jobs.

Like unions across the nation have been finding out, calling a bluff these days has more often than not meant they have found themselves on the unemployment line. And so it was this time too.

Let's hope that the people and the governmental leaders of Central Falls will stand behind the school superintendent's decision and let her rebuild the school system into something that actually serves the children as it should.


Thoughts On A Sunday

An end of an era came upon us yesterday.

I took Deb's trusty 1991 Buick LeSabre to our mechanic for its annual state inspection yesterday morning.

It. Failed. Big. Time.

The list of things needed to allow her car to pass inspection was lengthy and expensive, too expensive, at least for a 19-year old car. It made no sense to spend $3000 or more to keep a car that will require an ever increasing amount of work every year. It was time to put the Buick out to pasture.

So today we went car shopping, or more accurately, truck shopping. We found a 2004 Ford F150 4x4 with only 60,000 miles on it. We managed to negotiate a reasonable price, knocking it down $2500 from the original selling price.

(In case you're wondering, the truck was not my idea. It was Deb's. I thought she'd go for another Buick but after talking things over with her dad, she decided a pickup truck would be a good idea.)

For the time being I'll keep driving the trusty ten-year old Intrepid. I figure I can count on it for the next 5 years at least.


As Coyote Blog reminds us, difficulty in passing legislation is a feature, not a bug

(H/T Viking Pundit)


Some folks are sick, twisted individuals, particularly when it comes to animals.

The person that did this to a poor dog is living proof of that. And if they can be this cruel to helpless animals, what kind of cruelties might they visit upon their fellow human beings?

I find it hard to fathom the thought processes that allow people to be cruel to animals. The thought of someone abusing any of the feline members of our household fills me with disgust and anger. The thought of those kind of people abusing animals and people makes we want to make use of my S&W Model 1076 to punch some non-lethal 10mm holes in their hides.

UPDATE: The perpetrator turned himself into the police. All I can say about this guy: “What an idiot!”


Ah, this explains it! I was wondering why those on the Left were so in the tank for Obama's economic pseudo-policies. Now we know.


BeezleBub and I watched the Daytona 500 this afternoon, the opening race of a new NASCAR season.

With two red flags for track repairs with 78 and 37 laps to go, the race took a long time to reach the end, finishing well after dark.


John Stossel comments on the forced unionization of daycare workers/owners in Michigan, something I covered back in December of last year. (Scroll down towards the bottom of the post.)


The AGW fall from grace just keeps getting better and better, particularly now that one of the major players in ClimateGate, Phil Jones, is admitting to the fraud of cooking the books to 'prove' global warming, and saying that over the past 15 years there has been no statistically significant warming.

Stick a fork in 'em. They're done.


To add insult to injury, you know it's bad when a 15-year old high school girl has a better handle on global warming and the problems with the ground stations used to measure temperatures here in the US than Dr. James Hansen of NASA.

(via Don Surber by way of Pirate's Cove)


I mentioned last week that Bogie had placed her seed order for her garden. This week I can report she's received them, including three free packets of an experimental variety of bean.


This is yet another example of “This is just plain stupid!”


I'm beginning to like Liz Cheney more every time I hear, see, or read her. She's definitely her father's daughter. She was able to let Juan Williams have it with both barrels, after her blasting the Obama Administration for its rank incompetence.

I'm wondering if we could see a Palin/Cheney or Cheney/Palin ticket in 2012?


Speaking of Cheney (in this case Dick Cheney), he's hasn't been shy about slamming the Obama Administration, either. Maureen Dowd gives us an inside (though fictional) view of a meeting between Cheney and Obama before Cheney's weekend appearance on ABC Sunday morning.

Because of Cheney's scheduled appearance this morning on ABC, Obama made Joe Biden available to the other networks to rebut Cheney's opinions or claims about the present administration's policies.


Somehow it seems both contradictory and fitting that an piece about cheating spouses should appear on Valentine's Day.

It appears we Americans have two opposing opinions about cheating, frowning down upon it while tacitly condoning it in their own relationships at the same time.


While out on our truck shopping expedition today, we had occasion to drive by Alton Bay, the southernmost part of Lake Winnipesaukee. Normally, that isn't noteworthy. But today was the annual Alton Bay Winter Carnival. There were hundreds out on the ice in the bay. There were cars, trucks, snowmobiles (including some drag snowmobiles doing speed runs), ATVs and, believe it or not, aircraft out on the ice. (A runway and helicopter landing pad were created on the ice.)


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where winter carnivals have started, new trucks are being purchased, and where snow will return later this week.


"Loser Pays" Is A Much Needed Change

A big problem we have with our legal system, particularly in regards to tort law, is that it is far too easy for those with trivial or questionable cases to go to court in the hopes of a big pay day. They risk little by filing suit, so suits are filed in great numbers, tying up the court system and driving up costs on a host of products and services, including medical care.

It's well past time to change that by making it less attractive for people to file such suits, reducing the case load for courts and ensuring only cases with merit make it to the dockets.

How do we bring about such change?

Make the losing party pay all the legal costs.

Plaintiffs and their attorneys will think long and hard about pursuing a sketchy suit if they know they are likely to lose and will have to pay the defendant's court costs.

Defendants who know they have been negligent will settle quickly since denying liability, delaying action and defending the indefensible will no longer make financial sense. Those with real claims may find justice will be swifter and fairer.

The typical defense against such a system is that poor people will no longer be able to get representation. The truth is, people with spurious cases will be weeded out before suits are filed, and people, rich or poor, with real cases will find swift and affordable justice.

Unfortunately there's little chance such a change could be made here in the US because the Trial Lawyers Association will do everything in its power to prevent it. After all a change like that would deprive them of the opportunity to collect millions, if not billions of dollars through the courts. The TLA is probably one of the more powerful lobbies in Washington DC and will pull every string to prevent Loser Pays laws from being passed. (It doesn't help that many members of Congress are/were trial lawyers.)


Cell Phones Should Be Able To Make Phone Calls, Too

Over the past few years the functionality of cell phones has grown to the point that there are so many functions built in that they rival many home computers in regards to the types and numbers of software applications they can run. They can act as organizers, send and receive e-mail, surf the web, text message, take pictures, record video and audio, play music, play games, give turn by turn directions, and perform a host of other tasks. But one thing they don't always do so well is make phone calls, something customers want them to be able to do.

Over 1,300 survey respondents were asked the open ended question, "What features are desired on your next phone?" The top three responses were better connectivity, better audio and simplicity.

In many cases vendors have been so focused on making complex camera phones, music phones or mobile Internet devices, they have lost sight of the fact that phone functionality is mediocre at best. How often have we seen someone with a finger in one ear and a cellphone pressed to the other ear, desperately trying to hear a conversation? Our survey responses suggest that there is an opportunity for vendors to develop phones with great audio quality, robust connectivity and antenna features that are simply easy to use.

I know there are times when I am not pleased with the quality of the connection and audio on my cell phone. It isn't a problem with drop outs that I find the most vexing, but the poor quality of the transmit and receive audio. It would be nice to have what is called toll-quality audio when I'm using my cell phone rather than the variable and consistently poor quality I deal with now.

Tech Support Tales

After talking to our Repair Guy today, I knew I had to relate these two tales about customers and tech support.

It is tales like these that make me wonder just who the heck is actually running the technical side of our telecommunications companies.

The first tale of woe:

Field Supervisor from one of the major telephone companies, which shall remain nameless: “I need to send the laser source you sold us back for repair. It doesn't work.”

Repair Guy: “What seems to be the problem?”

Field Supervisor: “I turned it on and there's no laser output. The indicator lights come on, telling me the source is on, but there's no output!”

Repair Guy: “Did you measure it with a power meter?”

Field Supervisor: “I didn't need to. I could see it wasn't working!”

Repair Guy: “What do you mean you could see it wasn't working?”

Field Supervisor: “I looked down the barrel of the output connector and I couldn't see any light coming out. It wasn't working.”

Repair Guy: “What model is the unit?”

Field Supervisor: “It's a DWLS-2.” (Model number changed to protect the innocent...and the guilty.)

Repair Guy: “Umm...Sir, that model uses infrared lasers.”

Field Supervisor: “Yeah, so?”

Repair Guy: “Infrared isn't visible to the human eye.”

Field Supervisor: “Oh. Uh...so it's working?”

Repair Guy: “Yes, sir. It is.”

Field Supervisor: “Oh, OK. Thanks.”

One would think that someone in charge of maintaining part of our telecommunications infrastructure would have a basic understanding of the technology he's supporting. Thinking otherwise is too scary.

Our second tale of woe:

A laser source is received from a customer for repair, wrapped in a note that says “Toggle switch on top panel of unit is broken off. Can't turn on unit power.”

The problem was immediately apparent to our faithful Repair Guy.

The toggle switch was indeed gone...because the unit in question never had one.

The power switch on the unit in question is on the front, a red circle with a vertical line in the center. The user's manual even shows a diagram of where the switch is located and what it looks like.

It's no wonder why our Repair Guy either laughs all day or is tearing his hair out.


Thoughts On A Sunday

New England dodged the storm that buried the mid-Atlantic states with over 21/2 feet of snow. All we got was a high, thin cloud layer that barely dimmed the sun. Beezlebub spent the day working at the farm, making use of the good weather.

Today's semi-nice weather (sunny, but cold with a nasty wind chill to deal with) allowed Beezlebub and I to move some more firewood into the garage. This batch has been seasoning for two years so it should burn quite nicely.


“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”

Yup. I'd say that pretty well sums it up.


From a comment made to the post linked above:

Progressives, despite claiming to be the party representing the "working man" have created a virtual social caste system, where if you didn't go to the right schools, or don't live in the right cities, or if religion is more than something you do on holidays, then your opinion can safely be discounted. They might pat you on the head, but ultimately they believe that you should be ruled by your betters. Lest we forget "Joe the Plumber". And Palin is tapping into that. During the Presidential campaign, there were a lot of Teamsters in PA asking why they should vote for two lawyers over the ticket where one of the candidates was married to a "brother member". When people throw out "right wing" and "fundie" they seem to lose sight of the fact that America remains a center right, deeply religious country, and given time to become comfortable with her negatives, a lot of the Democratic base will culturally self identify closer to someone like Palin than Obama. And at a certain point, the insults will make someone say "hey, they're basically talking about me." Especially if the "smart people" continue to demonstrate that even with massive majorities they still can't govern. I honestly don't think the average coastal/college town progressive understands the view on the ground in the hinterland.

To quote...umm... me, “Yup. I'd say that pretty well sums it up.”


I'll bet the Obama Administration didn't do it's math when it came to the “Cash for Clunkers” program. If they had they would have found they spent $8.57 for every dollar 'saved'.

I'd call that a major 'fail', wouldn't you?


Skip at GraniteGrok delves more into Town Meeting and how it is democracy writ small. He also points out where the process can be used to deprive citizens of their property rights in favor of others. What's particularly disturbing is when the petitioner for change is the one that will benefit, while working to put a long standing family-owned family-oriented resort out of business.

This past Wednesday was our Town's Deliberative Session and an example of one of the topics that is most likely able to torque me up - that of using the force of Government for personal benefit used against your fellow neighbors or citizens.

There is a long standing animus between a business entity called the Ames Farm and a lawyer by the name of Stephen Nix here in my hamlet. For years now, the latter has tried to shut down parts of the operation of this 120 year cottage/restaurant/boat launch resort by using a number of legal maneuvers. In essence, he is trying to take away one of our basic Rights, that of Private Property, from this family so as to enhance the value of his property.

We have a term for folks like that borrowed from the South: carpetbaggers. That's even worse than being a flatlander. What makes this issue even more hurtful is that Attorney Nix grew up in our town, and as such, should know better.


Apparently Obama's lack of understanding about economics also extends to Einstein's Theory of Relativity and freedom of speech.

Not only does Obama refuse to read physics textbooks before lecturing us on physics, he also refuses to read Supreme Court decisions before lecturing the Supreme Court on Supreme Court decisions. Justice Samuel Alito correctly mouthed “not true” when Obama made false statements about the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Obama and Tribe’s claims about physics are equally “not true.”

Color me shocked!


Ronald Reagan had the right of it.


Beezlebub and I watched Super Bowl XLIV, rooting for the Saints.

I can safely say I've never seen an onside kick to open a half! The Saints' second-half gamble paid off, turning it into a touchdown and putting them ahead of the Colts for the first time.

In the end the Saints pulled it off, winning 31-17.


Bogie's already getting ready for spring, placing her orders for seeds.

It's hard to believe planting will start in only three months (at least in greenhouses and indoors).


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where winter still holds sway, the firewood pile is getting smaller, and where Daylight Saving Time will return in a month.


Do The January Jobless Numbers Tell The Whole Story?

The January unemployment numbers are out and at first look the fall in the 'official' unemployment rate – 9.7% - appears to be a signal that things may be getting better. But the fly in the ointment is the loss of an additional 20,000 jobs.

So how is it that even though more jobs have been lost, the unemployment rate has fallen? Businesses haven't been hiring, so it isn't that the unemployed have necessarily found new jobs (though 11,000 new jobs were reported). Could some of the reason for the fall in the jobless rate be because a number of unemployed have stopped looking for work that isn't there, dropping off the unemployment rolls? They are no longer counted but they're still unemployed. Others have taken part-time or temporary jobs outside their usual professions, further distorting the numbers.

Some tout the lower unemployment rate as proof the economy is improving, but there are others saying the numbers aren't reflecting the real job situation.

John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo, said the drop in the unemployment rate wasn't a result of a shrinking labor force, which has held the rate down in previous months.

"It simply was, people found jobs," he said. The report is "consistent with continued improvement in the labor market."

But Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, noted that the economy has been growing for six months, yet company payrolls are still shrinking.

"Based on what we've seen so far, we think it is fair to characterize this as another jobless recovery," Ashworth said.

Left behind are people like Aimee Brittain, 31, who said she can't get employers to return her calls. She's hunting for work as a secretary after being laid off from a commercial real estate firm near her home in suburban Atlanta.

"I'm fighting against people with master's degrees for receptionist jobs," Brittain said. "I can't compete."

How many of the 11,000 new jobs were taken by people in the same position as Brittain? How many will be relegated to jobs outside their areas of expertise, with wages well below what they made before? Unless those questions are answered then the state of the economy will not be accurately reflected by the unemployment rate.

Out Of Touch

One doesn't have to look far to find academics with a distorted view of America and its people. A local example: Prof. Leo R. Sandy a professor of Counselor Education and School Psychology at Plymouth State University.

The professor spouts the liberal/socialist line at every opportunity, in a weekly newspaper column and regular letters to the local papers. One of his latest pronouncements came in a letter to the editor (Laconia Daily Sun, Tuesday February 2, 2010), commenting upon Republican reactions to Obama's State of the Union address. (No direct link available.)

The Republicans had an oppositional air to them that causes me to question their commitment to the progress of this country. As regressives, they have been very effective in moving the Democrats so far to the right that nothing can be accomplished.

Excuse me? They've been moving the Democrats to the right? Not from what I and most of the rest of America have seen. With cap-and-trade, health care reform, stimulus, and a $1.6 trillion+ (and growing) budget deficit, I don't see how any of that can be considered moving the leftist Dems to the right.

Professor Sandy has never been shy about his political beliefs, espousing the leftist point of view for some time. Never mind that socialism in all its forms has failed miserably and done nothing but cause misery, poverty, and widespread diminishment or destruction of economic systems, supposedly 'for the good of the people'. He chooses to be blind to the downside of his political beliefs.

But then, he doesn't have to compete in the real world, worrying about meeting a payroll, filling out endless state and federal government reporting forms, ensuring compliance with US and foreign regulations, paying state and federal business taxes, and paying insurance premiums for a host of business policies (workman's comp, health insurance, liability insurance, etc). He doesn't have to worry about being laid off (if he has tenure), or paying for his health insurance (he's a state employee), so he's insulated from the effects of all the socialist policies and laws he supports. Then again, that's true of most academics in the soft sciences and liberal arts. They rarely have to deal with the real world. That's their biggest problem. With little or no connection to the real world, it is easy for them to support socialist ideals and policies abhorrent to average Americans.


It Gets Cold In Minnesota?

It is laudable when individuals or businesses deploy alternative energy generation systems, be they small or large. It's great...as long as they work.

In Minnesota, the Minnesota Municipal Power Authority erected 11 wind turbines in a number of cities around Minneapolis/St. Paul this past fall. The plan was to have all of them up and running by Christmas. The turbines were refurbished units originally used at a California wind farm. After reconditioning they were shipped from California to Minnesota and erected.

In southern California it's warm, even in winter. In Minnesota, it's cold from late fall through spring. In fact it's more than just cold, it's freakin' cold. Apparently the folks in California weren't aware of this fact.

The turbines sit idly in Anoka, North St. Paul, Chaska, Shakopee, Buffalo and six other cities, all members of the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (MMPA). The refurbished, 115-foot towers had operated on a California wind farm, where they didn't have to worry about cold hydraulic fluid turning to gel and oil lubricants getting too sluggish.

Fluids and lubricants that worked well in California didn't work at all in below freezing temperatures, gumming up the works and bringing the turbines to a halt until spring. That turned them into expensive monuments to facts overlooked.