America's Energy Reserves - Fact Versus Presidential Fiction

I don't know about you, but I know I'm tired of hearing the uninformed trying to mislead the rest of us about our energy reserves, energy technologies (particularly proven technologies), and so-called “green” energy, which is anything but. They push untruths in an effort to fundamentally change America even though it is in no one's best interests (except theirs) to do so. Do they really think they're saving anything other than the last vestiges of a morally bankrupt and failed ideology?


Just listen to this and you'll probably get angry at them, and particularly The One.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


Jobs Still Going Unfilled Despite High Unemployment

I had an enjoyable discussion with one of my fellow employees this afternoon. It dealt with working, the differences between small and large companies, the advantages and disadvantages of both, and the recent dearth of qualified candidates for a number open positions within our company.

Without going into a lot of detail to protect the identity of my co-worker (and my job), let's just say we've been running into a couple of problems in regards to some candidates, the two biggest being that too many of them are well credentialed but not necessarily well educated, and lack of experience in the areas we really need. Apparently this is not a problem unique to our company.

While there are plenty of jobs open begging for people to fill them, there aren't enough people applying for them because they feel the jobs are beneath them (“I didn't spend all that money for a degree in Transgendered Native American Studies just to take a job working in a factory!”), or those applying for them have neither the experience or the capability of doing the job.

I caught a piece on Fox News this evening covering this particular issue. (No, I'm not going to link to it because I don't feel the need to do so.) A number of the companies they talked to said pretty much the same thing my co-worker and I had during our discussion. One manufacturer said they'll hire someone qualified even if they don't need them at the time because someone like that has been hard to come by.

As the WP Dad said about that report, “Is this because our incompetent education system hasn't been teaching our children what they need to know to make it in the world? What good is all that self-esteem they've been ramming down their throats the past 20 years if they can't get a job because they have neither the knowledge or ability to do it?”



Thoughts On A Sunday - Post Irene Power Blackout Monday Edition

I have a confession to make: Sometimes I start my TOAS posts on Saturday.

It doesn't happen often, but sometimes I get into that mode and I think of something that might be of interest to my dozen or so readers. (Then again, maybe not.)

As I write this particular part of the post on Saturday afternoon it's still sunny and warm here at Lake Winnipesaukee, but the clouds have slowly been moving in from the south. The projected path of Irene puts her passing right over to the west of the Lakes Region on her way through northern New England, meaning lots of wind, though not as much rain as we had been led to believe.



I mentioned last week the Official Weekend Pundit Main Computer bit it, sort of. I was able to finally get it restarted and it's been running 24/7 since then as I'm not sure I'll be able to get it going again once I shut it down.

I also mentioned the search for a replacement was ongoing and that I had narrowed it down to one of two HP models. The other day I finally made my decision and ordered the new machine. I won't go into any great detail other than to say that while it isn't a leading edge/bleeding edge computer, it is far and above what I have been using for the past 6 years, with a quad-core 64-bit AMD, 8GB of RAM, and a very large hard drive. There's also a new LCD monitor that will replace the now 8-year old 19” CRT that has served so well, but is now showing its age in little ways, including high voltage supply issues.

The old monitor, made by AOC, still has better clarity, brightness, contrast, and viewability than any LCD monitor I've seen (and better than many CRTs, too). The only other technologies I've seen that even come close to it are OLED (Organic LED) and laser projection, and neither are as widely or as cheaply available as LCDs. But as good as it is, it does have one major drawback – I can't always see everything I'd like to at one time. (It's actual viewing area is equivalent to a 17” LCD.)

At work I use a pair of 19” LCD monitors side by side. That isn't an option here as I am limited in desk space. But one larger LCD monitor will allow me to do almost as much as the two smaller monitors do now.


Could it be that Gibson Guitar is not as the Feds have portrayed them: illegally importing rare woods for their guitars? Instead, could it be Gibson is being punished because its CEO is a Republican donor?

The more I read about this story, the more it seems the feds are carrying out a vendetta. After all, Gibson's main competitor, Martin, isn't being bothered at all even though they import the same 'endangered' woods. The difference? Martin donates to Democrats. You can't tell me there may not be a connection.


One direct effect of Irene: BeezleBub didn't have to go to work at the farm this morning. All that rain and wind was going to keep the number of customers (if any) to a minimum. Only the restaurants and markets are still expecting deliveries and that's all that's being tended to today. There is no harvesting to be done, no haying, no tilling.

So BeezleBub will have a chance to watch it rain from the comfort of The Manse.


Other than making sure anything that could be picked up by the wind was stored inside or lashed down, about the only other preparations for Irene that we made here at The Manse was the removal of the air conditioners from the windows. With wind-driven rains expected to last for hours there was no way there wouldn't be water leaking in around the air conditioners, so we pulled them out last evening.

Not that we put them away. They're still sitting just below the windows from which we removed them in expectation that we'll put them back in once Irene passes. We have no idea whether we will need them any time over the next 4 weeks or so, but you can never tell. Frankly, I believe we won;t be using them again until next summer.


Bogie made her own preparations for Irene, though she's going to be dealing with a lot more rain than we will.


Via Facebook I've learned the WP Sister In Law in upstate New York is now living on an island, with flood waters rising. She expects she'll lose phone and Internet connection once the telephone exchange building floods. (posted at 10:45AM)


Eric the Viking links to Mark Steyn's piece on the oh-so-deprived UK youth who looted during the riots, and adds his own commentary about the poor dears.


Skip Murphy shows us some parallels between the Wisconsin Democrat/union stooge recall elections and the efforts by the GOP 'establishment” in the New Hampshire Republican Party to 'recall' the Chairman, Tea Party favorite Jack Kimball.

They didn't like the results and now they're calling for his resignation despite broad support from the GOP base within the state.


It wasn't like we didn't see this coming.

Under the onerous provisions of ObamaCare, businesses will be dropping health insurance for their employees because it will be cheaper for them to pay the 'fines' rather than paying for health insurance and meeting all of the new requirements laid out by it.

Anyone with a lick of sense could see this would happen, so it certainly doesn't fall under the Law of Unintended Consequences. I think Pelosi/Obama/Reid thought no one would actually pull the plug on their employees health insurance and would shoulder the new burdens being placed upon them by the law without complaint. It appears they were wrong.


I've been checking out this blog for a while now and I believe it's time to add And So It Goes In Shreveport to the blogroll. (You'll find it under New Additions.) Swing on by Pat Austin's blog and give her a read!


Not So Breaking News: This post is, obviously, a day late. As I posted this morning, we lost power at The Manse early yesterday afternoon. Power was restored a short while ago.

Rather than blather on about things that were broken and now fixed, I will end this post with this:

And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where Irene has tried to do her worst, failed for the most part, and where we now have our power back on.


Head For The Hills! Irene's Coming!

Unlike so many others, I am not going to dwell long on the impending doom that is Hurricane Irene. All day yesterday we saw people getting ready for the coming deluge, stocking up on all kinds of supplies, from bottled water to cans of Dinty Moore Stew to toilet paper and paper towels. At more than one gas station I saw people filling up multiple gas cans (I must assume for their generators) while I made sure we had gas for the chainsaw (far more important, I believe).

One thing that stood out above all the others: folks pulling their boats out of the water all around Lake Winnipesaukee. The boat ramps and marinas were plenty busy getting them out of the water. I saw quite a few 'lines of water' on the roads surrounding the lake. (These lines are usually water draining from the bilges of boats as they're towed down the road by their owners, assuming they remembered to remove their bilge plugs.) At least that's one thing I didn't have to do as The Boat never made it into the water this year. (The renovations are proceeding and I expect it will be in tip-top shape for next year.)

BeezleBub is helping Farmer Andy get his farm ready for the deluge and winds. Somehow I doubt he'll have to show up for work tomorrow as the farm stand won't likely be open and there's no real place for him to work on the farm machinery where he won't get drenched.

Now I'm going to put aside the keyboard and get back to cleaning up the mess from yesterday's debacle. (See my previous “Head For The Hills!” post.)


Head For The Hills! The Dam Is Bust!

For the most part, things went swimmingly today.

Work went well, with a start on a couple of new projects. BeezleBub and I went to the town of Epsom to pick up his new (at least new to him) truck – a used Dodge Dakota 4X4 with less than 80,000 miles on it. Deb had the day off and was able to spend a small portion of it with a friend from work. (She also took care of the weekly grocery shopping, picking up a few extra items in light of the approach of Hurricane Irene such as a set of batteries for each of our portable radios.)

All in all it had been a pretty good day...right up to the point when the ceiling in the dining room of The Manse collapsed, accompanied by the sound of water and the thundering of 8 sets of feline paws scrambling up the stairs to the second floor and to safety.

Apparently one of Deb's favorite ways to relax – sitting in nice hot water in what we call “the whirly tub” - led to the disaster. Though I have not yet confirmed it, it appears one of the pipes or hoses that circulate water in the tub sprung a leak. This in turn led to water leaking onto the bathroom floor and between the ceiling of the first floor and the subflooring of the second floor. Eventually enough water pooled in one place and it weakened the drywall to the point where it finally gave way.

Mopping up gallons of water and clearing away sodden and broken drywall is not what I had planned to do on this Friday evening. But there it is.

So first thing Saturday morning I will be placing a call to our insurance company to make arrangements for an adjuster to come out to The Manse and assess the damage.

It will be interesting explaining to the insurance company how it is we had flooding in our home a good day and a half before Hurricane Irene even arrived.


I'm So Old

When I read this quote in an article about phone technology, television, and how much the Internet has changed everything, I realized I fell well within the age range of the fellow saying this:

“I'm so old, I can remember when phone calls came on wires and television came over the air.”

And to add to that, phones had dials rather than buttons. (How many kids even know how to use a dial phone these days?)

It used to be pay phones were on just about every street corner, convenience store, restaurant, most gas stations, hospitals, and hotels. Now you see them rarely, if at all, and then mostly in films and television shows set in the 20th century. The cell phone has supplanted them. (That's not necessarily progress when people are oblivious to the annoyance they create when they use their cell phones in inappropriate places, disturbing everyone else around them because they can not put them away and pay attention to their surroundings and the people they're with.)

Not that I am lamenting the fact that all these things have changed. I am not. Instead I am merely engaging in a bit of nostalgia, significant of nothing.

Sort of.


Optical Illusion

This is such a cool thing to see, and certainly fools the eye.

There are a number of follow on videos showing other optical illusions, and a few of them show how it was done.

Very cool, indeed!


It's A Long Overdue Tech Tuesday

It's Tuesday, and I have not one, but two tech items to cover today, therefore it must be Tech Tuesday!

First, let's delve into photography.

Have you ever taken a picture and you think it's going to be a good one only to find out that it isn't focused on what you thought it was? Then maybe it's time to use a camera that can focus the image after it's been taken.

...a startup company named Lytro (Mountain View, CA) is launching a new digital camera technology later this year that could change this reality forever: a camera that lets you adjust the focus after you’ve taken the picture.

Lytro founder and CEO Ren Ng is also the inventor of what he calls the Light-Field Camera. Ng’s 2006 PhD thesis dissertation from Stanford University—which won the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) 2007 Doctoral Dissertation Award—explains how a microlens transforms an ordinary 2D imaging sensor into a 3D world of “living” digital data.1 The user can view a light-field image on a computer screen, click on an object of interest, and watch the image change as that object moves into sharp focus—all without compromising image quality by reducing the aperture size to increase depth of field.

Here's an example of what one might see with this technology. Both images are from the same picture. The only difference is the computer used to view the images changed the focus from the cat in front to the cat in back with a click of a mouse (no pun intended).

If this technology plays out, fuzzy out-of-focus pictures will be a thing of the past.

Second, we must always remember there can be a dark side to technology as well. In this case, technology that gives an owner all kinds of neat function for controlling their car can also allow hackers to take control of your car's electronic systems...by texting.

Computer hackers can force some cars to unlock their doors and start their engines without a key by sending specially crafted messages to a car's anti-theft system. They can also snoop at where you've been by tapping the car's GPS system.

That is possible because car alarms, GPS systems and other devices are increasingly connected to cellular telephone networks and thus can receive commands through text messaging. That capability allows owners to change settings on devices remotely, but it also gives hackers a way in.

Researchers from iSEC Partners recently demonstrated such an attack on a Subaru Outback equipped with a vulnerable alarm system, which wasn't identified. With a laptop perched on the hood, they sent the Subaru's alarm system commands to unlock the doors and start the engine.

Not good. I would think OnStar equipped vehicles would also be vulnerable to such hacking as well. One must think of the downsides to some of this technology before employing it, otherwise they may find their neato wizbang new toy has gone missing because someone with an iPad or smart phone hijacked your car's electronic systems and made off with your ride.


Thoughts On A Sunday

The search for a new Weekend Pundit Official Main Computer continues. I've narrowed it down to a couple of models, both HP. A check with Consumer Reports will help me finalize which one I'll purchase.

While the new machine will be far and above what it's replacing, it will by no means be leading edge technology. With one addition that will be added aftermarket (a second SATA drive with 500GB capacity), it should require no further tweaks. The new machine will come with Windows 7 Professional (required by my employer's IT department if I want to be able to use their VPN). I will also be installing Linux, hence the second hard drive. (I prefer to have each OS on its own drive, making it easier to reconfigure the machine should one of the drives fail.)

I hope to see the new machine by September 1st.


One thing I should mention: I managed to resurrect the present Weekend Pundit Official Main Computer, but it took a lot of work to get it going again. I dare not shut it down for fear that I won't be able to get it going again. I have been making backups of the most recent data stored just to make it easier to move it to the new machine should this one fail again.


As I mentioned in this post, the two unions representing workers in Verizon's landline business union have been on strike for the past two weeks. Apparently they've decided it's time to go back to the bargaining table as their strike was not having the effect they'd expected.

In the past such a strike would have had major repercussions, but because landlines are now a minor operation compared to Verizon's other ventures, the strike didn't have the impact it would have even ten years ago.

People and a number of small businesses have been abandoning their landlines for cell phones due to the lower costs and portability. Even larger businesses have switched from many of the incumbent telephone companies in favor of their competitors, either other telcos or cable providers.

Under those circumstances is it any wonder the strike created barely a blip in the awareness of the public?


Professor Jacobsen offers us a glimpse into the minds of CEO's by way of a survey conducted by ChiefExecutive.net.

The results shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who's been paying attention to the economy or runs a business, with over 66 percent of those surveyed saying “they expect the size of their workforces to either stay the same or decrease over the next year.”

That does not bode well for Obama.

The President has been claiming things are turning around, but the folks he's actually dependent upon to make that happen (whether he realizes it or not) are saying it isn't going to happen unless the President and Congress remove a number of economic disincentives.

Knowing the President's inclinations, the chances of that happening before the 2012 election are somewhere between slim and none.


A member of the Obama Administration further weakens the Constitution by requiring colleges and universities to ignore things like evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, double jeopardy, and the right to confront an accuser when it comes to sexual harassment and sexual assault on campuses.

It is becoming increasingly apparent the Obama Administration really doesn't like the idea of “due process”, “rights of the accused”, and other pesky constitutional protections.

We've heard of more than one case where a college student has been accused of sexual assault, the local police have investigated and found no evidence of such an assault (and in one case, charged an accuser of filing a false report), yet the institution of higher learning still finds the accused guilty, puts them on probation, or worse, expels them.

If such a double standard is not quashed on constitutional grounds. And if you think such actions won't expand outside of college campuses, then you are deluding yourself. “Innocent until proven guilty” will be replaced with “if accused, must be guilty...even if eventually found innocent”.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


Another lesson the Left should learn if they want to keep American companies here in the US: Don't make it so attractive for those companies to leave for greener pastures in the first place.

By this, I don't mean punish them for looking to reduce their tax and regulatory burdens. Instead, stop punishing them for being successful, stop hitting them with higher taxes, more draconian financial regulations, and more business-unfriendly rules and regulations. All of these things are factors that cause companies to expatriate to friendlier climes. If you make it painful enough for them, then they'll leave at their first opportunity, taking their taxes, their capital, and perhaps lots of jobs with them when they go.

The Left doesn't seem to realize that no business is required to go bankrupt or to stiff their investors just because the Left thinks it's the 'right' thing to do. In fact, it's suicidal for any business to do the right thing, as the Left sees it. Not that I expect the Left to realize that any time soon.


It turns out that cats are Republicans and dogs are Democrats.

We've known that here at The Manse for some time, seeing as we have 73/4 cats and they all exhibit libertarian traits. They really aren't into the collective action thing.

(H/T BogieBlog)


President Obama's vacation down on the Vineyard is causing problems for island residents, as it usually does when a president decides to vacation on the island. (Here in New England we refer to Martha's Vineyard as The Vineyard. Pretty much everyone here knows what it means.)

Between restricted airspace all but shutting down the airport, traffic restrictions, certain portions of the island closed off from the public, and even sections of any of the towns where the President happens to be at any particular time restricted, it's making life a bit more difficult for those visiting or living on the Vineyard.

I know my friends on the island dislike it when the bigwigs show up because it means they usually have to change their work schedules or their plans, both on and off-island.

One thing you could say about Dubya was that when he went on vacation he usually went home to Crawford, which inconvenienced very few people and made it easier for all concerned, including the Secret Service.


It's not only Ayn Rand getting lots of quotes during these economically perilous time in which we find ourselves. Robert Heinlein is also worth repeating. Glenn Reynolds has taken to quoting him quite often.

As one PJM reader comments, “Heinlein has the same outlook as Ayn Rand, but writes with a little more fun and fantasy.”

What makes Heinlein so engaging is that much of what he wrote, specificallyly his 'wisdom', holds true as much today as it did 60 years ago. I guess that tells us things really haven't changed all that much.


Sarah Palin may not have announced herself as a candidate for the GOP nomination, but this sure as heck looks like a campaign ad to me.

(H/T And So It Goes In Shreveport by way of Pirate's Cove)


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where a line of thunderstorms have cooled things off, the annual Timberman Triathlon has had another successful weekend, and where my computer is still broken.


Suppose They Held A Strike And Nobody Noticed?

While those of us outside Verizon's landline service area wouldn't notice that both the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) and CWA (Communications Workers of America) are on strike against the telecommunications behemoth, it appears those within its service area really haven't really noticed either.

I can honestly say I am not surprised. After all, the landline portion of Verizon's business operations has been shrinking for well over a decade, with FiOS (their Fiber To The Home service) being the only portion of their landline services having seen any growth at all in that time, and that growth has tapered off as Verizon has scaled back further deployment.

What makes this strike so under-the-radar is that the unions are fighting for higher pay and benefits in an operation that has been breaking even at best, and losing money in less-than-best cases. Is it any wonder Verizon has been shedding itself of its less profitable landline operations over the past few years? Why else would they have sold their more rural (and money losing) operations to HawaiiTel, FairPoint, and Frontier? (Both HawaiiTel and FairPoint went into Chapter 11 a couple of years after buying those assets. Frontier has already had to seriosuly scale back some of the services Verizon used to offer when they owned the assets Frontier bought. That ought to tell you something.)

Yes, Verizon has posted billions in profits. But those profits came from their wireless and business operations (which are not unionized). How is it the CWA and IBEW figure they're due a portion of those profits? They sure as heck didn't help to create them. They're working in a business that is shrinking, both in the number of customers and profit margin. Do they really think Verizon will knuckle under to the unions when they are becoming an ever shrinking portion of their workforce covering a 100+ year old technology that is quickly being supplanted by other more flexible and less costly technologies? Apparently so.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of this contest of wills.

Don't Know Much About History....

Gee, I wish I could be this eloquent!

Allen West's response to CAIR's demands that he cut all ties with such conservative “anti-Muslim” pundits like Pam Gellar was classic, right out of history. Too bad the Think Progress folks (or at least those commenting at their blog), did not understand either the reference or the meaning of his one-word response.

But then the Left's understanding (or even acknowledgment) of history has always been poor, and too much of what they do know is heavily revisionist, so the fact they couldn't figure out West's response wasn't all that surprising.

Reading the comments to Ann Althouse's post about this shows that more people support his response, particularly to the pro-Islamist group that has, on more than one occasion, given tacit support for Muslim charities in the US who have funneled their funds to Islamic terrorist groups.

Says one commenter at Althouse:

This is just another example of the political media game in which a simple declaration of a position is "bizarre". What is expected of the modern politician is an insidious hedging of opinion in a fog of sophistry. One of the ways in which the media thinks it protects Obama is in ignoring his simple declarations while celebrating his opaque meanderings. The latter, while useless in negotiation, leadership, or self-understanding, seem smart to the smart set.

Of course, as the commenters at the Think Progress make clear, those on the left are happy to express blunt opinions. West is a "Scumbag. Ignoramus. Idiot. Fool. Tool. Clown. Psucho. (sic) Nutjob. Whacko." But their mealy-mouthed leaders keep letting them down. How demoralizing!

And here's this West guy, and Perry, and Palin, and Bachmann, who keep saying blunt, disagreeable things.

Oh, the horror!

(H/T Instapundit)


"It's Dead, Jim"

I knew it was coming, but hoped the inevitable would hold off for just a little while longer. Today was the day the inevitable happened.

The Official Weekend Pundit Main Computer bit it.

I got home from work, took care a few things in the kitchen, went into the office and turned on the computer.

Nothing happened.

Press the power button again. Nada.

So I opened the side panel of the machine too see if there was anything obvious, like a loose connector or some other loose thing that shouldn't be. Nothing. I saw the 'Power Good' indicator was on, meaning all the power supplies were operating, but the machine wouldn't start. The fans didn't start. The drives didn't spin up. Nothing.

The computer was dead.

It wasn't a surprise as I'd been having problems with it for months. I did the smart thing and backed up all the data files on to DVDs and a spare hard drive just in case. (Since this failure isn't drive related I should be able to pull everything off the main drive and onto another computer. The back ups I made won't have the most recent data on them.)

I can't really complain as this machine has been in constant use for six years. It had a few minor upgrades along the way (A new video card after the first one died. An additional hard drive and second DVD-RW drive. Additional memory.) All in all it did its job with few hiccups.

But it was getting slow. Keeping it up to snuff was taking more time and effort. Storage capacity on the hard drives was dwindling away and would have required a major upgrade. It was probably going to require a complete re-stage (back up all data and reinstall the OS, run all of the OS updates, then reinstall all of the programs). I wasn't looking forward to that at all. And that was on top of all the problems I'd started seeing some time last winter.

And now it's dead.

So it looks like I'll be shopping for a new machine starting first thing tomorrow.

Posting may be a little spotty until I get the new machine as there will be three of us sharing the same computer for the time being.


The Neverending Campaign

What is it about President Obama that he cannot stop campaigning? You would think that once he won the election in 2008 that he would be able to switch from campaign mode to governing mode, but no, it appears he was never able to make that transition.

Maybe it's because all he's done since he ran for office in Illinois is campaign, starting at the state level and working his way all the to the White House. He's been in the office of the highest elected official in the country, the pinnacle of any political career, and he can't stop campaigning.

From the day of his inauguration all his speeches have sounded more like stump speeches rather than Presidential speeches.

The very first speech he gave as President – his inaugural speech – sounded like a campaign speech, slamming his predecessor for 'everything that had gone wrong'. Never mind that no newly inaugurated president has ever done that before, particularly when his predecessor was standing nearby.

His State of the Union addresses have been anything but, being more about him and what he was going to do rather than being about he state of our nation. (His first SOTU speech used the word “I” 96 times and “me” 8 times. George Bush's last SOTU speech used “I” 39 times and “me” 2 times.) It was yet another campaign speech, meaningless noise quickly forgotten.

Now he's out on the stump again, this time in a $1 million+ tour bus (built in Canada), telling us yet again what he's going to to. Not that he's telling anyone how he'll do what he's promised (he never does), but he'll place the blame on the GOP for his failures, past, present, and future. It's interesting that he blames the GOP for his failures in 2009 ans 2010 even though for both of those years he had a solid Democrat majority in both the House and the Senate. His failures are his and his alone because he's incapable of leading.

He has not shown one iota of leadership, leaving all the heavy lifting to Congress, his czars, and his advisers. He has not presented an acceptable budget since he took office. He let Nancy and Harry put together that odious piece of legislation known derisively as ObamaCare and signed the bill even though it would do nothing more than destroy one of the greatest health care systems in the world, all in the name of “fairness”. (One has to wonder what the word actually means to Obama, because I doubt it means the same thing to him and his progressive cronies as it does to the other 300 million+ Americans.)

And so the Neverending Campaign continues.


Unintended Consequences And Stupidity - California Edition

I guess we can call this yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences, something the Left seems to be very good at overlooking.

We've been reading about the effects of California's so-called “Amazon Tax”, which was supposed to force Amazon to collect California sales tax for all sales made to customers in the state because of its presence by way of its affiliates program. The Golden State expected to collect millions in extra revenues, but no surprise to those of us well versed in unintended consequences, they've collected very little.


Because Amazon shut down its affiliates program in California, denying the state any extra sales tax revenues. But there's a secondary effect the legislators didn't foresee that will further decrease tax revenues: loss of income taxes from the affiliates.

Since the now former affiliates are no longer paid a commission from sales made through their links, they no longer generate the income taxes that would have been paid into the state coffers in Sacramento.

Talk about a twofer: no sales tax revenues and even less income tax revenues.

Maybe the pols in Sacramento were expecting Amazon to go to court to block implementation, but leave its affiliates program intact. Instead, Amazon said “Enough!” and pulled the plug, leaving California even worse off than they were before this idiot tax.

But wait! There's more!

Now California wants to pass a “fitted sheet” law that would make it illegal for hotels to not use fitted sheets on their beds. How effin' dumb is that?

It's no wonder California is doomed. All the really smart people have already left, taking their money and their businesses with them.


Thoughts On A Sunday

It's been another beautiful weekend here at Lake Winnipesaukee, though showers and thundershowers threaten to make their appearance towards the end of the day today.

While nothing fascinating has been going on here at The Manse, there appears to be plenty going on elsewhere in the world. Let's take a look, shall we?


I have to start with this bit of 'wisdom' from that fount of Leftist philosphy, wit, and revisionist history, Noam Chomsky. Only in his twisted mind can the support of Israel by American conservative Christians mean that they want the Jews to be exterminated.

To borrow a phrase from many of my schoolboy friends, “What a putz!”

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


Although Instapundit linked this a couple of days ago, I had to do so here along with my own brief comments.

Big Brother has decided to apply CAFE standards to big rigs (meaning tractor trailers) as if they were just like cars and light trucks. The only problem? Big rigs are nothing like cars and light trucks. The proposed standard as stated my be totally meaningless.

While cars and light trucks can have standards set as straightforward Miles Per Gallon, how does one rate the big rigs? After all, the big rigs haul cargo and the amount of weight they haul can change from trip to trip. Should it be stated as how many tons of weight can be moved a mile using a gallon of fuel, or some other measure? Do they base it on total vehicular weight, with the weight of the tractor and fully loaded trailer being factored in? Or is it by the weight of the tractor alone?

One of the arguments brought up in the comments is that the freight hauling companies, large and small, are always looking for ways to reduce the amount of fuel used to run their trucks. After all, fuel is probably their biggest expenditure and any way they can reduce fuel consumption reduces their costs (and ours). Big rigs have a different use and they can be made only so light before they can no longer do their jobs (meaning they can't haul as much cargo and more trucks will be needed to haul the same amount of cargo) or the maintenance costs start skyrocketing because they aren't as durable.

Even if a manufacturer can figure out a way drastically reduce fuel consumption, will the costs for the new more fuel-efficient tractors price them right out of the market? Who will spend $500,000 for such a tractor when it will be cheaper to buy and maintain a $100,000 tractor and pay for the extra fuel it will use?

No one.


Ann Althouse was attacked by a protester in Madison, Wisconsin. Fortunately the attack was caught by two different cameras, including Ann's.

As one commenter put it, “The left loves political violence when they’re the ones committing it.” Yeah, I've noticed that. And yet they'll complain when someone they've attacked has the audacity to defend themselves.


Ann's experiences also make this more illustrative of the problems of the Leftists, where the Democrats spent tens of millions of dollars on the first round of recall elections in Wisconsin and got nothing in return.

Sure, they picked up two state senate seats, but that wasn't enough to give them a majority. With a second recall election coming up, this time for the so-called “Fleebagger” Democrat senators who, rather than staying to vote on Governor Walker's budget reform bill, fled the state to deny the Senate a quorum, they could easily lose the two seats they gained, and more.

On the national level things like Obamacare handed the US House to the Republicans.

All in all, it looks like the Leftists are running out of places to push their agenda of envy and class warfare.


Glenn Reynolds links to a Jerry Pournelle post about how Republicans can be the ones to fix the problems created in Washington, and adds a couple ideas of his own, including repealing Sarbanes-Oxley.

But what's interesting are some of the e-mail Glenn received about the out-migration from California, and the problems that might come to Texas and Nevada because of it. As one reader e-mailed:

I moved to Nevada 23 years ago, not from California, and we’ve seen a massive influx of former Golden State residents during that time. Californians are infamous for exporting their problems with them.

Far too many California refugees make no connection between the conditions that caused them to leave and the policies that created those conditions. They complain about the high cost of living in their former state then demand the same level of regulatory controls, government “services” and tax burden in their new home.

Nevada has gone from a relative bastion of libertarianism to a state with an increasingly stifling regulatory morass, a glacial bureaucracy and an ever-intrusive nanny state.

We saw a similar problem here in New Hampshire when Massachusetts tax-exiles started moving here back in the 80's and 90's. They thought the low taxes (no state income or sales tax) were great, but they disliked the lack of services they were used to seeing back in Massachusetts. When they managed to get some of those services in their new home towns, they then complained their property taxes went up. They couldn't seem to make the connection between services provided and the cost of providing them. It was then that many of those same people started calling for a statewide income or sales tax to pay for it all, recreating exactly the same conditions from which they'd fled. Fortunately for the rest of us they were ignored and eventually they accepted (for the most part) the fact that if they wanted those services, then they would have to pay for them themselves.


Dan Riehl believes Sarah Palin should run for president.

I like Sarah Palin. I really do. But I wasn't sure she should throw her hat into the ring. After reading Dan's piece, I've changed my mind. In fact, I think a Palin-Bachmann or Bachmann-Palin ticket might be unbeatable, particularly if President Planless continues along being a leader incapable of doing anything more than holding pressers and blaming everybody but himself for his failures.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)


David Starr has a simple explanation of what the Tea Party is for those out there who still think we're a bunch of right wing bible-thumping terrorists.

Now if we can only get John Kerry to read and understand the US Constitution, particularly the First Amendment.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where summer is flying by, the summerfolk are making the best of it, and where most of us have to go back to work tomorrow.


"Obama, Pay Your Bill!"

Since this seems to be “Video Saturday”, I figured I'd add this one by Felonious Monk. Felonious addresses the debt crisis and tells Barack Obama to get off his butt and “pay your f***in' bill!”.

WARNING! Felonious uses rather...umm...colorful language, so if you have any small children around I would suggest asking them to leave or to wait until they've gone off to bed this evening.

The Riots In Britain - Pat Condell's Take

A follow on to yesterday's cartoon rant about the riots in England is this video rant by one of my favorite Brits, Pat Condell. For those of you who have never seen any of his video pieces I must warn you that he does not pull any punches and calls it exactly like he sees it.


It's Not Because Of Social Injustice....

I think this cartoon illustrates the thinking of those rioting in the UK all too well.

For more head to Spider and Scorpion.


A Non-Apology Apology - And A Lesson In Economics

One of the things said about blogging is that bloggers shouldn't apologize for not blogging. Normally I would agree with that, but not this time.

It isn't that I haven't had anything to write about (quite the contrary). It isn't that I've lost interest (I haven't). It's merely that life has intruded, leaving me with far less time to write anything worthwhile.

Over the past couple of weeks or so I have been getting home late, usually from some kind of meeting of a town committee or board, though once because I had to make an unexpected trip to the WP In-Laws to pick up BeezleBub and we didn't get back until 10:30PM. At that point I was just too darned tired to do anything but go to bed.

It's been these little things that have contributed to my lack of posting anything inciteful, witty, or outright offensive (at least offensive to the Left). I've resorted to borrowing heavily from humorous e-mails or Facebook postings to make sure this blog stays active. I'm going to have to do that one more time as I had yet another late evening. But at least this is educational in that it makes our nations' fiscal problem a little easier to understand.

Received via e-mail:

Federal Budget 101

The U.S. Congress sets a federal budget every year in the trillions of dollars. Few people know how much money that is so we created a breakdown of federal spending in simple terms. Let's put the 2011 federal budget into perspective:

U.S. income: $2,170,000,000,000

Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000

New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000

National debt: $14,271,000,000,000

Recent budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000 (about 1 percent of the budget)

It helps to think about these numbers in terms that we can relate to. Let's remove eight zeros from these numbers and pretend this is the household budget for the fictitious Jones family.

Total annual income for the Jones family: $21,700

Amount of money the Jones family spent: $38,200

Amount of new debt added to the credit card: $16,500

Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710

Amount cut from the budget: $385

So in effect last month Congress, or in this example the Jones family, sat down at the kitchen table and agreed to cut $385 from its annual budget. What family would cut $385 of spending in order to solve $16,500 in deficit spending?

It is a start, although hardly a solution.

Now after years of this, the Jones family has $142,710 of debt on its credit card (which is the equivalent of the national debt).

You would think the Jones family would recognize and address this situation, but it does not. Neither does Congress.

The root of the debt problem is that the voters typically do not send people to Congress to save money. They are sent there to bring home the bacon to their own home state.

To effect budget change, we need to change the job description and give Congress new marching orders.

It is awfully hard (but not impossible) to reverse course and tell the government to stop borrowing money from our children and spending it now.

In effect, what we have is a reverse mortgage on the country. The problem is that the voters have become addicted to the money. Moreover, the American voters are still in the denial stage, and do not want to face the possibility of going into rehab.

Yup. I'd say the above pretty much explains it in terms we can all understand.

The irony of this? I received this by way of the very liberal parent of a friend of mine. It's a shame she hasn't been able to integrate this little bit of education into her view.


A Bit Of Humor

This bit of humor came from the comment section of this WSJ opinion piece.

It may not be relevant, but it is funny. At least it is to me.

A Progressive, a radical Muslim, and a Libertarian disturb an old oil lamp and a magnificent genie appears. The genie, thankful for his release, addresses the trio, "Thank you. To show my gratitude, I shall grant each of you a wish.”

The Progressive pushes himself to the front and says, "I would like all of my progressive brothers and sisters to be whisked away from this barbaric county and placed into a beautiful Utopia where the government will cause everyone to live correct and happy lives!"

The genie exclaims, “Shazzam, Socialist Utopia!” and the Progressive disappears.

This excites the radical Muslim who then quickly blurts out his wish. "I would like all my brothers that believe in the one and true God to be whisked away from this barbaric country to a beautiful oasis where Allah and Sharia law will cause everyone to live correct and happy lives!”

The genie exclaims, “Shazzam, Sharia!” and the radical Muslim disappears.

The Libertarian smiles but makes no request.

The genie, having people to see and places to go, queries the Libertarian, "So, what wish may I grant you?"

"You really granted their wishes – all of the Progressives and radical Muslims are gone?" asks the Libertarian.

"Yes." replies the genie.

"Wow," says the Libertarian, "Then I'll just have a Coke."

I might have asked for a diet Dr. Pepper.....

Small Business CEO Rant

This rant by a small business CEO tells it like it is, something the folks inside the Beltway no longer seem to understand. Do they really think “incentives” to hire will induce business to hire anyone? Businesses hire only when they need more people, not because the government provides some kind of lame incentive to do so.

If the government really wants to give businesses an incentive to hire, then maybe it should get the hell out of the way. Maybe government should stop sucking so much money out of the economy that there's less available to invest or to buy goods and services that create the demand for more jobs. Maybe rogue government agencies should be reined in before they do irreparable damage to the businesses that actually create the jobs.


Thoughts On A Sunday

It's been one of those fifty-fifty weekends, with half the weather being nice and the other half not so nice.

We're not complaining.

While the not-so-nice weather can sometimes complicate BeezleBub's job on the farm, it gives Deb and I some respite and allows us to take care of things inside The Manse.


The fallout from the debt ceiling and credit rating debacle is increasing. With Standard & Poor's dropping the US rating from AAA to AA+ and Moody's giving a warning to Washington about its spendthrift ways and failure to deal with overspending problem (though maintaining the AAA rating...for now), what does the White House do? It blames S&P for using poor math.

From what I can see it isn't S&P with the math problem, but the White House and Congressional 'Spend-Every-Dime-We-Have-And-Then-Some' representatives and senators who believe that tripling and quadrupling down on already unsustainable deficits would somehow solve the overspending problem. (Standard & Poor's does not consider Washington's problem to be a revenue problem, but purely a spending problem.)

We've been given the warning. Now it's time to see if our leadership will take the warning to heart and actually stop spending money we don't have and start paying back what money we've already borrowed.

Even more poignant – the Chinese are telling us we've got to cut back on our deficit spending.


Shifting gears, a conversation I had yesterday reminded me of the one seemingly overriding belief that drives far too many of our left-leaning politicians, their supporters, and their actions: feelings.

Never mind that how someone feels about a particular issue is less important that what someone thinks about it. Basing political decisions upon one's feelings is almost always a disaster as far too often the Law of Unintended Consequences takes over and creates far bigger problems than the ones supposedly being fixed by 'feel-good' legislation.

I don't know how many times I've had to tell someone with whom I've been having a (heated) political discussion “I don't care how you feel about XYZ. I want to what you think about it!” On too many occasions their retort was “What's the difference? They're the same thing.”

No, they're not.


Another great Dennis Miller rant.


In line with Dennis Miller's rant, sometimes technology triumphs touchie-feelie environmentalism, in this case with a new process that increases the yield from Canada's oil sands while reducing the pollution generated by 85%.

Of course we can expect the enviro-cultists to decry this advance as yet another way to kill the planet.


Though I've seen this one before, Bogie relates an updated version of the Ant and Grasshopper fable.


I can't seem to get away from this topic today, but I thought it was interesting that David Axelrod laid all the blame for S&P's downgrade of America's credit solely at the feet of the Tea Party. But what do you expect from a Democrat spin doctor? Instead, the downgrade proves the Tea Party was right.


As Cap'n Teach tells us, the “Washington Post is writing about the GOP anti-tax orthodoxy as if it's a bad thing.

If the problem is out of control spending, then raising taxes won't solve the problem. All it will do is delay the inevitable. Maybe.


I wish I could remember where I saw the news report, but one thing a number of stock market traders and brokers said that stood out about the drop in the stock market last week had nothing to do with the debt ceiling crisis and its resolution. What spooked the market was Washington's refusal to deal with the problems facing the economy, such as the huge (and climbing) deficit, the lack of an actual federal budget (over 830 days and counting), and the President's unwillingness to bite the bullet and actually lead. Talking about the problem is not the same as actually doing something about it, something the President has failed to realize.

When asked about the possibility of a double-dip recession, one insightful trader said something along the lines of “We never got out of the last one. This is just the next chapter of the same one.”


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where gas prices are edging up, consumer spending is edging down, and where we're buying next winter's fire wood right now.


Debt Limit Increase Not Having The Desired Effect

After all the dire predictions 'they' made about what would happen if Congress didn't raise the debt limit, it turns out they were wrong.

The President got his debt limit increase, but the stock market and at least one financial institution – Standard & Poor's – apparently didn't see it as a solution, and rightfully so. The stock market headed downwards, wiping out a year's worth of gains. Standard & Poor's is still threatening to drop the government's credit rating from AAA to AA or AA+ because of the government's continuing spendthrift ways.

The increase in the debt limit didn't solve the problem we're facing. It merely delayed the inevitable. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee offered an analogy that illustrated the problem perfectly.

Raising the debt limit solves the government's spending problem like raising the maximum legal blood alcohol content will solve the drunk driving problem.

I'd say he nailed it.


Tea Party - Target Of Hatred

Over the past year and a half I've listened to a large number of people disparaging the Tea party movement. Most of them have been card-carrying Democrats (or at least those with the belief they know how to spend my money better than I do). Others have been RINOs or part of the so-called “Establishment” Republicans.

The Tea party has been excoriated in the press, with the New York Times, the Washington Post, and a number of other media organs of the Left leading the way. Washington politicians and other Beltway insiders have derided the Tea party as “hobbits”, “terrorists”, “Nazis”, “racists”, “jack-booted thugs”, and a whole host of other derogatory labels.

As the volume of hateful rhetoric aimed at the Tea party and its supporters has increased, it has made me and others realize that the groups making these accusations must be really getting nervous. As one commenter to this piece wrote, “If you're getting a lot of [flak], you must be over the target.” And so it must be as the Tea party gains supporters throughout the country at a local, state, and national level because they're tired of being ignored by the Coastal elite and the Beltway intellectuals.

My most memorable run in with an unabashed Tea party hater took place at our business when one of our customers went on a rant about “those goddamn Tea partiers wanting to take everything away from us!” There was no way I could not respond, so I asked her where she'd gotten that idea. Apparently she'd read it in the paper, in this case the Boston Globe. (One must remember, the Globe is owned by the NYT and has the same editorial policies as its parent corporation.) I calmly informed her that if her opinion was based solely on what she'd read in the Globe, then she'd been misinformed and lied to. She saw the Tea party as a bunch of religious fundamentalists bent on depriving the poor, doing away with Social Security and Medicare, and undoing decades of civil rights advances. I had to remind her that many of the civil rights advances came from the GOP, not her sainted Democrats. I reminded her the KKK were primarily Southern Democrats, not Republicans. I reminded her it was the Democrats who started us down this path of unsustainable spending going all the way back to FDR. I reminded her that it was LBJ who decided his Great Society was the answer to all of our society's problems, that it had failed miserably, and that it was funded by stealing from the Social Security trust fund.. I reminder her it was the Democrat majorities in Congress going back to 2007 that multiplied the annual deficits to many times that of all of Dubya's deficits combined.

I gave her the URL for the Contract From America website which explains the Tea party platform, none of which deals with social issues she claims the Tea party is involved with. She wasn't interested. Instead she chose willful ignorance and adherence to libelous propaganda from those who do not have her best interests at heart.

Maybe she will care when the country is unable to pay its bills and all of the government support she is 'owed' ends because there's no money left to pay for it all. Maybe she will care when all “the rich” she's constantly complaining about are either driven into bankruptcy or flee with their wealth to friendly climes and no one is left to pay for everything she is owed.

But I'm not holding my breath.

UPDATE: It appears Senator John Kerry has decided to add fuel to the fire by expressing his opinion that the media should not give equal time to those "absolutely absurd notions" voiced by the Tea Party because their opinions "are not factual."

What a putz.


The Economy Is Not Getting Better

Another sign the economy is still bad and not getting any better?

Casinos have been replacing their 25¢ video slot machines with penny slots.

It's so bad that even the tooth fairy has had to cut back on pay outs.


Randian Prophecy?

It's no secret I'm a fan of Ayn Rand's Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. In both I've seen far too many parallels to what's been happening in our country, particularly since 2007.

The seeds for our self-destruction were laid a long time ago and now, in some places, are bearing fruit. All one needs to do is look at the state of Illinois and the city of Detroit. Both illustrate exactly what Rand wrote about over 50 years ago.

As Dan Mitchell explains, plans for a number of Detroit neighborhoods outlined in a CNBC report sounded familiar.

But there was also something about this story that rang a bell. It took a few minutes, since I’m getting old and decrepit, but then I realized that “blighted areas” was an eerily familiar term. Didn’t Ayn Rand use that term in one of her books?

Indeed, she did. Thanks to the miracle of Google Books, here is one of several passages in Atlas Shrugged that references Detroit—oops, I mean “blighted areas”:

No railroad was mentioned by name in the speeches that preceded the voting. The speeches dealt only with the public welfare. It was said that while the public welfare was threatened by shortages of transportation, railroads were destroying each other through vicious competition, on “the brutal policy of dog-eat-dog.” While there existed blighted areas where rail service had been discontinued, there existed at the same time large regions where two or more railroads were competing for a traffic barely sufficient for one. It was said that there were great opportunities for younger railroads in the blighted areas. While it was true that such areas offered little economic incentive at present, a public-spirited railroad, it was said, would undertake to provide transportation for the struggling inhabitants, since the prime purpose of a railroad was public service, not profit.

Fifty years ago, the book was viewed as a dystopian fantasy. Today, Greece, Illinois, and Detroit are making Ayn Rand seem like a prophet.

When I reread Atlas Shrugged a couple of years ago, the hairs on the back of my neck rose. Everything Rand had created in her novel was happening at that moment. (I have to admit I had little appreciation for the book when I read it the first time over 35 years ago. I guess history gives one a little more perspective.) Many of our present day “betters” are characters right out of the novel. What makes matters worse is that their ignorance of how the economy works is not so much a lack of exposure to it so much as willful ignorance on their part. They don't want to know how things work in the real world because they know better how to remake things into their version of utopia. Too bad they're wrong because their version of utopia is hell on earth for everyone else.

As mentioned earlier, all we have to do is look to Detroit to see how well that's all worked out. There are plenty of other examples of this just in the US alone, like Newark and Jersey City in New Jersey, and Gary, Indiana. If you need larger examples then states like Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and California should suffice. All are suffering under decades of enlightened rule by our betters (though New Jersey has a glimmer of hope in the form of Governor Chris Christie). If that isn't enough for you then look to Greece and Portugal to see how things have worked out there.

We see example after example after example of how our supposed “betters” are no such thing, being no better than what Rand called “looters” in Atlas Shrugged, for that's what they are.