Correlation Versus Causality

I saw this neat graph by way of Instapundit. It shows “correlation versus causation” in a way that words might fail, proving with statistics that Microsoft's Internet Explorer was the cause of so many murders.

After all, the number of murders fall in proportion to IE's market share, implying that IE drives people to murder. Therefore, in order to reduce murders even more everyone should abandon using IE.

Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?


Thoughts On A Sunday

I want someone who still believes AGW is real to explain to me how global warming caused it to snow here in New Hampshire last night. That's right, SNOW!

BeezleBub informed me that while on his way home from Horse Girl's last night it started to snow. Snow on May 24th, the latest I've ever seen it here. It also snowed in Vermont.

The only explanation is global Hotcoldwetdry.

Yeah. Right.


Today was the WP Dad's 80th birthday and the WP clan gathered at my dear brother's abode to celebrate. It was a low key affair as Dad has never been one for showy celebrations.


The push for more draconian gun controls flies in the face of reality, particularly in light of this incident in Oregon where a woman called 911 because her ex-boyfriend was trying to break into her place. The dispatcher told her there were no police to send because of budget cuts.

If this woman had had a gun there would have been no need for police to save her from being beaten and raped by her ex, only for follow up by detectives and removal of his body by the coroner.

(H/T Instapundit)


Unfortunately some of our more deluded and stupid fellows upon this earth live just long enough to reproduce...and then let their children die of malnutrition because of their stupidity.


Apparently there's been some verbal sparring between Tesla Motors and Chrysler in regards to paying off federal loans.


If we need yet another indication that our educational system is broken then we need look no further that this: Schools will require doctor's notes to allow kids to use sunscreen.

Just when I thought they couldn't get any stupider.


The negative effects of the War on Men is also being felt across the pond in the UK. Much of the anti-male legislation and societal pressure are having a negative effect and men are 'dropping out' in increasing numbers as marriage and/or having kids is net negative for them.

“Welcome to the party, pal.”


Walter Russell Mead proves to us that college isn't for everyone, nor should it be.

I had the opportunity to discuss this particular topic with one of the WP nieces today at the family gathering. She was truly amazed to see so many fellow students pursuing courses of study that won't help them get jobs once they graduate. She agrees that majors that end in the word “studies” are the worst offenders. (She's a chemical engineering student.)


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where winter weather made a brief return, it's been too cold to enjoy the usual outdoor activities, and the summerfolk have been staying away in droves.


A Wasted Opportunity And Wasted Money

I caught a news report on this morning's Good Morning America about the poor shape of many of our highways and bridges. This was following the bridge collapse on I-5 in Washington the other day. The poor condition of thousands of bridges across the US is not really news as it's been known for a long time that many of them require repair or replacement.

What gets me about the report is that none of it was necessary. If Obama, in his questionable wisdom, had committed the entire $878 billion of stimulus spending towards our infrastructure rather than the paltry $55 billion that was actually spent on it, it's likely all of those deficient bridges would have been repaired, replaced, or in the process of being so. It also would have been much more of a stimulus for economic recovery because the money would have been spent on tangibles that add value to the economy rather than the payoffs and 'rewards' for those who supported his election campaign.

It's possible Obama could have come out smelling right a rose if he'd done the stimulus right. Instead he ended up stinking like the corrupt Chicago politician he is.


The War On Men - Domestic Violence

This is a follow up on one of my earlier posts about the ongoing War on Men.

I went back to one of the linked posts penned by Dr. Helen to read some of the comments made some time after I had posted my own thoughts on the matter. One of the most disturbing comments came from PJMedia member Steve S63 who overheard the soul-baring tales of four young men as they were traveling together. (The below is edited for brevity and formatting.)

This pertains to an experience I had recently while travelling (sic) on a Public Transit bus in Fall of 2012.

Four male student's were standing just beside me in the isle. These young fellows obviously knew each other and were friends as part of their discussion was related to adventures between the previous year and the current one. Of course for me sitting there, it was hard not to overhear because they were right there and carrying on their conversation quite openly, so I listened a bit because honestly I was pretty well bored.

They started talking about their girlfriends and some general adventures, just the usual surface type of chat but that quickly changed. One of these fellows (Friend A) had a bruise on his face and he said to the others that his girlfriend had done that to him because he did something she didn't like. As this fellow related his tale and expanded on similar such occurrences, being hit with objects, punched and even kicked, another of his friends said, “Yeah my girlfriend is even worse than that, she has yours beat by a mile”.

Friend B started to relate a story of how he and his girlfriend went shopping and that on arrival at home he was going upstairs with the groceries and she was angry over not having picked up something or other at the store and blaming him for not thinking of it. He then related how after he put the groceries down at the top of the stairs and was about to go back down to get the last bags, she kicked him in the back and he went down the stairs hard which resulted in him breaking his leg and having to get a cast which ruined his summer. His friends asked him what he did about it and he related that the doctor at the hospital asked him how it happened and he told the Doctor he had a bicycling accident. His Friend C asked him why he said that to the Doctor and he replied with, if I told him what happened, he wouldn’t have believed me and likely I would have gotten into some kind of trouble. I looked up at this moment only to see all 4 nodding in agreement and a couple of them saying “yeah, that was smart thing to do”. I was to say the least “shocked” but not surprised given the issues I have been through personally.

So far two instances of domestic abuse perpetrated by the women in the relationship and these guys don't dare report it? Is this yet another example of how society has now been programmed to automatically assume something that isn't true because the victim happens to be male?

Friend C then related that a couple of years previously he was injured by his no[w] EX Girlfriend for not being on time for something or other and how she hit him with an object that had cut his arm open, requiring stitches at the hospital. He said that he went to the hospital and not thinking, he told them that his Girlfriend had done this to him because she was mad at him. [T]he hospital called the Police and the Police...questioned him and almost mocked him and told him that they thought she was defending herself from him and they wanted her phone number to talk to her, so he gave them the number. [W]hen one of the officer's went off to call, the other officer who stayed behind asked him very accusatory questions and...the hospital staff seemed to be hostile towards him while treating him... When the first officer returned he told him that he was lucky he wasn't pressing charges because his girlfriend confirmed what Friend C had told them. When he asked the police officer if they would charge her, they both laughed at him and said “Not likely” and they laughingly told the hospital staff, “This guy's ok, just stupid”. Again all 4 friends nodding even more vigorously in agreement.. and the others saying, yeah, don't ever do that again bud. None of them were laughing or obviously thinking it was funny. All the while Friend D was quiet but nodding in agreement and looking a bit disturbed by the conversation as it was proceeding.

The [three] friends looked at the [four]th friend, Friend D, and asked him why he was so quiet. He answered with, “Well, I wish I had been smarter and knew better, if only I had known.” Well with their curiosity peaked (sic)...they pressed him to tell. Very uncomfortably he said that he's been charged and is facing court soon because his girlfriend went into some rage over him seeing another girl somewhere, but that she didn't know this girl was his cousin. Friend D said that when he went home she was in a rage and started throwing things at him and kicked & punched him and that he just tried to defend himself while attempting to explain that it was his cousin. She eventually hit him a pot or pan (I didn't quite catch it) which knocked him out. He then related how he hadn't hit her or anything and just put his hands and arms in the way of her blows and he showed his friends some bruises and cuts on his arms by pulling up his sleeves. But that after she knocked him out and he regained consciousness the Police had arrived on the scene because a neighbour (sic) had reported Domestic Violence going on. The Police, while arresting him, were talking to his girlfriend and she was telling them that “He didn't hit me or anything” and the officer said that he had to charge him anyways under the law and that she could not do anything about it because they were called to the scene.

Again, an assumption is made that it was the male who committed the acts of domestic violence even though the woman didn't have a mark on her, the man was beaten and lying unconscious, and the woman stated he hadn't done anything to her. They arrested him “because it is the law.” If that were indeed the case, with the law stating only the man must be arrested, then that law is unconstitutional. (Somehow I doubt that's the case. Rather it was the prejudice by the arresting officers assuming he was the violent one even though there was plenty of prima facia evidence that she was the perpetrator.)

But wait, it gets worse!

Friend D said that he's toast, [that his] lawyer said that he will be convicted no matter what at this point and that even with his girlfriend signing a statement that he never touched her and it was all a misunderstanding, he almost broke down... he said, “I'm not even going to be able to finish my career now because if I have a criminal conviction I won't be able to finish and get a job in what I want to do... It's all over because of that stupid B and now she's off doing whatever to some other poor Effer.” The 3 friends were consoling him as the bus arrived at their stop and the[y] debarked.

So it seems there's a presumption of guilt. If “Friend D” was indeed being truthful about what he experienced, then there's something seriously broken in our legal system. After decades of lobbying and pushing through legislation like The Violence Against Women Act that seriously skews the perceptions of domestic violence – that the man is always the perpetrator – the unintended consequences are now being felt by those who are on the receiving end of such violence.

How many men will put up with that kind of physical abuse because the legal deck is stacked against them? How many will remain silent because they know it's likely they will be punished for the acts of violence committed against them? How many will remain silent because they don't want to suffer the stigma of being abused, or worse, having members of society believing they're getting what they deserve merely because they have a 'Y' chromosome?

Is this problem widespread? No one really knows. It could be another one of those silent epidemics that won't come to light until someone goes too far and sheds light on the problem of domestic violence committed by women against men.

The pendulum has swung too far to one side, leaving almost half of the population under constant suspicion and presumption of guilt due entirely to their gender. Much of this was driven by the more radical feminists and the fascist PC movement. This insanity must be addressed soon or all we'll see is even more men dropping out, picking up their ball and leaving the field of play because the game of life (at least in this society) is rigged against them. And who can blame them?


Another Microsoft Mistake - Windows 8

I think we've all seen the TV ads for Windows 8 touting how great it is. All I have to say about it is that, quite frankly, the user interface stinks. Mind you, that's just my personal opinion. But it turns out that I'm not the only one who thinks so.

For one thing, it is a major change from how previous versions of Windows has worked. It looks more like a tablet user interface (or UI), something that's OK if you're using a tablet or a laptop with a touchscreen. But for desktops and traditional laptops it isn't very friendly or useful.

I've had more than a little experience with Windows 8 with my first exposure coming when I helped configure Horse Girl's father's's new laptop. It took me quite some time to figure out how to make the desktop look more like the 'old' UI. Like me, he was used to the Windows XP and Windows 7 interface. It was easy to figure out where everything can be found. That's not so of the Windows 8 desktop.

I believe I've written about user interfaces before, particularly dealing with Microsoft Office. When Microsoft changed the user interface for the various Office apps, they got away from the familiar one everyone was used to and changed over to 'ribbons'. That it took experienced users a long time to figure out where all of the familiar toolbars and functions were now residing proved to me that the new design was a failure. It's one thing if the redesign made things easier, but it didn't. In fact, it made it more difficult to do some things, yet another indication that the new user interface was a failure.

The new Windows 8 interface suffers from the same problem. Supposedly Microsoft is working on Windows 8.1 to address these issues, but it brings to mind that Microsoft is trying to force people into using an interface they don't like. As one user commented about the new interface:

People just don't get it. They don't know what's good for them. They're dumb. And they just want to complain. That sums up most of what Windows 8 advocates and even Microsoft says about people who simply don't WANT to use this OS. Look, this is really very simple. If you make a car no one wants to drive you had better go back and make something else if you want to stay in the car business. You don't complain that no one wants to buy your car and you don't blame them for poor design. The market is going to buy what it wants. You can make that and profit or make what you want and shoot for a niche.

I know when it comes time to replace my wife's computer I'm going to do my best to make sure it has Windows 7 installed. The last thing I want to do is spend a boatload of time trying to help her figure out the Windows 8 interface. Both she and I have better things to do with our time.

Maybe it's time for Microsoft to get a clue.


Tea Party Protests The IRS Across The Nation

Today's protests outside IRS offices across the nation showed our anger at the misuse of government resources used to silence the President's political opponents.

Reading a number of comments in a related WSJ opinion piece, some on the Left were gleeful that the turnout wasn't anywhere near what they thought it would be...until others reminded them that many of the Tea Party members actually had jobs, something that prevented them from being able to join the protests. Mention was made of Occupy Wall Street and how their numbers had been larger in its day, but again others reminded them of the fact that a lot of the OWS crowd were not employed, were college students being supported by their parents, or people collecting welfare benefits. They could spend as much time as they wanted protesting whatever it was they were protesting. But the folks actually paying their taxes and supporting a large number of the OWS 'useful idiots' had to spend their time earning a living.

Of course I expect a heck of a lot of spin from the media on this (I can almost hear the whirring sound now), but not as much as might have happened in the past.


Thoughts On A Sunday

It's been a 50-50 weekend here at The Manse, weather-wise. Saturday was sunny and warm while Sunday was cloudy, with breaks of sun and showers later in the day. That didn't lend itself to too much in the way of finishing the yard work.


Bogie marvels at the determination of the squirrels around her home to get at the seeds in her bird feeder. It seems that no matter how hard we humans try, squirrels find a way to get to the seed meant for the birds.


Eric the Viking gives us three links showing how the White House and the Democrats are trying to spin the IRS, Benghazi, and AP scandals.

I don't think their efforts are going to work.


Apparently it hasn't been just Tea Party and other conservative political groups that have been targeted by the IRS. A number of religious groups have been undergoing heavier than usual scrutiny and lengthy delays in processing their tax exempt applications as well.


I have to agree with Sabra on this one.

What's the problem with kids today?
Adults today. How many times have we seen adults screw it up for kids because they think kids will cheat, be scared, or somehow be offended by something no one in their right mind would be? That's why lots of things we used to enjoy as kids are no longer allowed, particularly in school.

Scary Yankee Chick has her take on the matter, in this case from personal experience. (Fortunately for me I didn't have the same problem because my teachers knew I read well above grade level and a lot faster than they did.)


You that many of the gun control efforts by some states (and the federal government) are in trouble when law enforcement officials file lawsuits against them.

In this case fifty four Colorado sheriffs filed suit against two anti-gun laws passed by state lawmakers in March, stating the laws violate the Second and Fourteenth Amendments and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Speaking of gun control legislation, there has been an ongoing effort by out-of-state gun control advocates to paint Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) as being against background checks because she voted against the Manchin-Toomey bill that would have broadened the scope of an already defective background check system. Even gun control advocates have stated they know the defeated bill would not have prevented the shootings in Newtown or Aurora, so why push so hard for something that was nothing more than feel-good legislation?

Ayotte has stated more than once she believes the existing system needs to be fixed, part of that fix being better mental health laws that would go hand-in-hand with the background checks. Without the first, the second part wouldn't prevent those who are dangerously mentally ill from procuring guns.

It might help if those who are lambasting Ayotte for her vote against Manchin-Toomey had actually read the proposed bill.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where summerfolk have been here in droves, summer camps and cottages are now open, and where the local police have their hands full with the increased traffic.


The White House Is Feeling Increasing Pressure About Scandals

Peggy Noonan, once an ardent Obama fan, has seen the light in regards to The One, only now coming to realize that he's an empty suit, incapable of leadership, being a creature of the Chicago Political Machine. As more of the IRS, Benghazi, and AP scandals are exposed, it appears the Obama Administration may be part of the “worst Washington scandal since Watergate.”

The reputation of the Obama White House has, among conservatives, gone from sketchy to sinister, and, among liberals, from unsatisfying to dangerous. No one likes what they're seeing. The Justice Department assault on the Associated Press and the ugly politicization of the Internal Revenue Service have left the administration's credibility deeply, probably irretrievably damaged. They don't look jerky now, they look dirty. The patina of high-mindedness the president enjoyed is gone.

As always it comes down to trust. Do you trust the president's answers when he's pressed on an uncomfortable story? Do you trust his people to be sober and fair-minded as they go about their work? Do you trust the IRS and the Justice Department? You do not.

Obama has been arrogant his entire career and that arrogance carried forward into the White House. Like all arrogant men, their arrogance often leads to a downfall. In this case it has fed the prejudices of Obama's underlings and set the tone for his administration. To them they thought nothing was forbidden to them and they worked to destroy anyone foolish enough to question The One. Now that work is coming back to haunt them and their Dear Leader, and rightfully so.

Reading the comments to Noonan's piece it appears the Left is working hard to deflect any criticism of Obama by building every straw man argument they can think of, in most cases trying to paint a picture that shows Nixon was far worse than Obama. But Nixon's downfall wasn't the actual break-in at the Watergate, it was his efforts to cover it up. Obama's downfall may well be that he was either directly or indirectly involved in the actions that created the scandals now plaguing him. That's a big difference from what Nixon did. For one thing it has made everyone on both sides of the political aisle question the integrity of the government. Once people of all political stripes stop trusting the government the government is in trouble. And so it is with Obama.

Another thing so different from the Nixon era? The 24/7 news cycle.

Between the news channels and the citizen journalist – aka the blogosphere – there's little that escapes scrutiny. Fact checking is so much easier due to the Internet. The ability to claim “I didn't say that!” or “I was misquoted” has almost disappeared, particularly with help from websites like YouTube. While Nixon was skewered by the press, the press is the least of Obama's worries.

Congressional Democrats are distancing themselves in greater numbers, not wanting to be associated with the debacle that is the IRS, Benghazi, and the AP. They are less likely to put themselves on the line to pass legislation Obama needs “right away” or to push unpopular programs no one wants just because he does. When he's lost members of his own party you know he's in trouble.

Obama's only four months into his second term and he may already be a lame duck president.

How fitting.


Another Higher Education FAIL

As the effects of the higher education bubble are increasingly being made themselves felt, it seems those who managed to get expensive yet useless degrees are finding the real world doesn't really care that they put themselves into hock to gain those worthless sheepskins. This was recently illustrated by a comment to a WSJ piece that covered the goings on at Swarthmore College. It aptly illustrates one of the biggest problems with overpriced educations: the students don't really learn anything of value.

Recently a loud protest was underway in NY City on 3rd Ave and 32nd St. What was it about? Who was protesting?

The delivery crew from a Dominos Pizza site was on the warpath about its wages, protesting as loudly as possible. There were a few dozen and they were given space near the sidewalk to march with their signs and chant about the evils of corporate operations, though this time it was more about olive oil rather than crude oil.

Several policemen were assigned to the protest to ensure order, though, due to the noise, the stretch of sidewalk was largely avoided by pedestrians. The protestors remained in the area delineated by the blue saw-horses that had been delivered earlier by the police department.

A couple of protestors carried signs that said, "I didn't spend so much on tuition as Swarthmore so I could be paid so little at Dominos."

They went to an expensive liberal arts college and got a degree in order to get jobs at a pizza joint? What is wrong with this picture? They could have gotten the same job at Domino's while still in high school and saved $200,000 by not going to college. A follow on comment asked “I wonder what degrees they earned? Maybe something that ended in 'Studies'?”

Probably. Heaven forbid they actually get degrees in something useful that would have helped them get jobs that paid more than minimum wage...plus tips.


Scandal Surrounds The White House

It appears the nearly impenetrable walls that have surrounded the Obama Administration have started to crack and crumble.

The IRS scandal – targeting conservative groups seeking tax exempt status for 'special' scrutiny – has put the White House on the defensive. Unlike the previous four years, the media are not cutting the president any slack. Many of the MSM are asking questions of the type we haven't heard since the Nixon administration: “What did the president know and when did he know it?”

While in the past the president made jokes about having the IRS audit his political adversaries, it appears someone in the upper echelons of the IRS took him at his word and started targeting numerous conservative groups and individuals who had the audacity to question the level of government spending and taxation.

Where will all of this lead? No one really knows, but if I had to guess I'd say it will lead to an even weaker presidency as congressional Democrats distance themselves from the White House in an effort to not be dragged down.

And then there are the questions about Benghazi.

From what's been revealed so far there's more than enough blame to go around for that tragedy. As Harry S Truman stated more than once during his time in office, “The buck stops here”, meaning the Oval Office. I doubt there's any way the Obama administration is going to be able to sugar coat that royal screw up. As e-mails released under the Freedom of Information Act show, there was a concerted effort to try to downplay the attack on our embassy, trying to spin it as a 'spontaneous' reprisal to an obscure YouTube video when in fact it was a full out attack by an Al Qaeda splinter group. No amount of PR or spin is going to be able to change that or the fact that the State Department abandoned our ambassador in Libya, leaving him to die at the hands of our enemies.

It's going to be an interesting time in Washington as the full breadth of these and other scandals come to light. Here it is we were thinking that Obama was another Jimmy Carter when it turns out he was also channeling Richard Nixon at his worst.


A Space Oddity

Here's a new take on a classic tune:

Somehow I doubt David Bowie could have made a better video.


Thoughts On A Sunday

I didn't get as much work done around The Manse as I had hoped, but got most of the brush moved off of the hillside and to the brush piles at the rear of the grounds.

Rainy weather precluded some of the other outdoor work I'd hoped to complete, but it will wait a few more days until I can get to it after work.


BeezleBub has finished his classes for the year and is back at work full time at the farm. Horse Girl still has a few weeks of classes to attend before she's out for the summer and starts working full time at her job. It will be a time of adjustment for both of them to make the transition from school to ful time work schedules.


Bogie has an interesting take on farm tractors versus cars.

At least BeezleBub can use this to attract chicks if he and Horse Girl don't work out...but maybe that's what attracted her to him to begin with! (Only kidding, B!)


The expanding IRS scandal is showing how a supposedly apolitical government agency was set upon conservatives in an effort to silence them. Even the Washington Post sees this as a gross misuse of government powers.

Back in the days of the Cold War it was understood that the KGB and GRU didn't fear the CIA or FBI nearly as much as they feared the IRS, knowing it didn't have to 'follow the rules' in regards to American law.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)


The IRS scandal reminds me of the Congressional hearings chaired by former Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) that looked into IRS abuses of its power. The hearings highlighted decades of institutional abuse of taxpayers by overzealous revenue agents and regional IRS offices ignoring the agency's own rules and regulations.

A new series of hearings should be held to determine just how far the rot has set in. It's obvious the reforms enacted after the Thompson hearings have fallen by the wayside and the IRS has now become nothing more than a government arm of the DNC.

One way to solve the problem? Eliminate the income tax and go to a national sales tax, which in turn would make the IRS as it exists now an agency without a purpose. It could be restructured because it wouldn't require the thousands upon thousands of employees it now has in order to make sure the proper sales taxes were collected and remitted. The tax code could be reduced from the 70,000 plus pages it is now to one not much more than 5 or 6 pages.


If we need even more evidence of Leftist douchebaggery there's this little bit showing New Jersey Democrats forgetting the one rule that everyone in a public forum should remember: Never assume the microphone is off.

In this case a number of New Jersey state senators were caught talking about how what their state needs now is a bill to “confiscate, confiscate, confiscate” all guns. Part of this drive may be explained by the mistaken belief that gun crime is up. But the government's own figures show that all violent crime is at the lowest level in decades and still falling, so it isn't the only reason the gun-grabbers want to take away our guns.

Don't try to tell me the Leftists don't want to disarm all law abiding citizens. After all it means the populace will no longer be able to resist any of the follow on legislation that will further strip us of our rights.


It used to be only media like Fox News and many of the more conservative media covered the debacle that was Benghazi. But now the rest of the media, including some of the Big Three networks and the more liberal leaning print media are starting to question the actions – or should we say inaction - by the government in regards to guarding our embassy.

I have to wonder if there is an ulterior motive for the non-conservative MSM to begin covering Benghazi. If there is I think I can state it in two words: Hillary Clinton. Why? Someone on the left doesn't want her to become the Democrat nominee for president in 2016.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where weekend weather hasn't cooperated, outdoor chores have gone unfinished, and where Monday has yet again returned too soon.


Sad Cat Diary

It seems I can't get away from feline themed subjects. This latest video strikes close to home, considering The Manse houses 7 and three-quarters cats.

WARNING!: Do not drink any beverages while viewing this video. Ignoring this warning may lead to said beverage being spewed upon your monitor and keyboard.


Another AGW Prediction Failure To Add To The List

It seems that one dire prediction after another about the bad effects of AGW are being debunked, not by skeptics, but by Mother Nature. The Warmists scramble to explain away each failure of their models to predict what has actually happened.

The rapid rise in sea level that is supposed to inundate coastal cities by 2100 (or sooner) hasn't been happening. The rate of increasing sea levels hasn't changed a bit, meaning our coastal cities are safe for at least another thousand years.

The more numerous bigger, more powerful hurricanes that were supposed to devastate our coasts haven't been happening. In fact we've reached a stretch where the number and strength of damaging hurricanes has decreased. (Sandy was a weak Category 1/strong tropical storm when it hit the northeastern US last year.)

The unprecedented droughts that were supposed to wipe out farming haven't happened, though there have been droughts. However none of them were outside what we've seen over the past couple of hundred years. (I haven't seen a return of the Dust Bowl. Have you?)

Forest and brush fires were supposed to become more common, more widespread, and more damaging. But that isn't what has happened, media reports about the annual battle against such fires to the contrary. The actual number of such fires has been decreasing. That most of them still occur in arid areas isn't surprising. It's to be expected. But the ecosystems survive because they require such fires in order to regenerate. That human beings live in those areas makes them vulnerable to those fires.

Another dire prediction has been that the number of tornadoes will increase, but in general that hasn't been the case. The number of tornadoes seen over the past 12 months has fallen to the lowest level in 60 years. If this trend continues I thing we can put a stake through the heart of this prediction.

I must state that I am not denying that climate change is happening. I doubt anyone can really deny that for the simple reason is that it changes all the time. It's never static. What I am questioning is the many predictions made about how bad things would get because of warmer temps. How did the “We're all gonna DIE!” CAGW folks make those predictions? Did they make their predictions by assuming only one factor in our semi-chaotic atmospheric system would change and project the consequences from there? Or did they pull out a climate dart board and throw darts to generate their predictions?

One last dig: I still see a lot of the AGW faithful sticking by their guns that things are getting warmer even though global temperatures haven't risen for the past 15 years. The actual temperatures have flattened, fallen out of the 'envelope' of the myriad climate models. Many expect the temperatures to start falling, particularly in light of the very weak sunspot Cycle 24. (The sun's 11-year cycle has some effect on climate, both here on Earth and the other planets in the solar system. Weak sunspot cycles, called minimums, seem to coincide with cooler temperatures. Some solar physicists believe we're entering a lengthy period of lower sunspot activity which mighty mean cooler temps here for a few decades.)

How many other dire predictions will fall by the wayside over the coming years?


Quotes Of The Day

Here are two great quotes from the Web, both of which are fitting considering the state of our nation these days.

The first comes by way of Samizdata and reveals a truth too many without understanding of economics might find enlightening:

If prices are information, then subsidies are censorship.” - Russ Nelson

Anyone with a modicum of economics knowledge knows that prices are a means of feedback in a market economy. Subsidies distort feedback and skew prices, causing them to rise or fall from their normal level depending upon what is being subsidized and why. In the end it causes a distortion in the marketplace which will hurt some other part of the market.

The second quote is a takeoff from a phrase coined by Hillary Clinton many years ago, in this case describing our present president's effect on us:

It takes a community organizer to raze a village (and a country).

There's little I can add to that.


Baby Kittehs!

For a change of pace, baby kittehs being born and raised (a silent film in black and white).


A Tale Of Two Oil States

There has been many comparisons made between two of our largest states in the continental US – California and Texas – with economics being in the forefront, particularly in relation to oil production.

California's economy has been weakened after decades of poor decisions made at both the state and local level and at the moment has the highest unemployment rate and tax burden in the country. Texas, on the other hand, has seen its economy rebound as it has become far more business friendly. The resurgence of oil and natural gas production has only added to its economic rebound.

So what the heck is going on in California that makes it the economic basket case it has become?

First, it doesn't help that the state government, which is totally in thrall to the environmental lobbies, has made it almost impossible for the state top make use of its vast energy resources (read that to mean oil and natural gas) by all but banning drilling. That's stupid considering it may have untapped resources to rival those of the Bakken field, and that's not even counting the offshore resources. But California won't let anyone drill for it anywhere.

Second, the public unions are draining the state and municipal coffers dry.

Third, the almost pathological NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) and BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) attitude that permeates the thinking of too many of those in power.

I could go on and on, but I would merely be reiterating things I and others have written about the once great Golden State and its decline.

What was interesting about the WSJ opinion piece linked above were the comments by California residents, some of whom knew their state was dysfunctional but planned to stay and fight, others who knew their state was dysfunctional and were packing up and leaving, and yet others who appear to have been hitting the hash pipe a little too hard. This last has been evidenced by their continuing trash talking of Texas and quoting long discredited or obsolete stats they claim show California is better. A couple of the last group kept making claims that the per capita income and life expectancy stats were all that anyone needed to look at to see that California had it all over Texas. Of course they ignored California's high cost of living, which if they had taken into account, gives Texas the edge. The claim was also made again and again that Texas had a much higher poverty rate than Texas, but recent stats from the Census Bureau gives lie to that, showing that California's poverty rate was on the order of 23% while Texas has a poverty rate of 16%...and falling.

A number of companies have been relocating from California to Texas, including defense contractor Raytheon, which plans to move its space systems business unit HQ to Texas.

All the indicators show that California is headed for a crash unless the state government can get its collective head out of its rear end and starts to address both economic and environmental realities. And should the crash come I think you'll see a lot of states balking at bailing it out. Why should the fiscally responsible states be forced to pay for the profligate and irresponsible spending by a state incapable of understanding that they've run out of other people's money?

In the mean time Texas sees its economy booming and its popularity as a business destination growing by the day. Too bad if California can't see its problems are of its own making.


Thoughts On A Sunday

The warm, dry weather continues here in New England, making the hazard of brush fires very high. That has limited some of the activities planned for the lower 40 here at The Manse. We had hoped to clear more brush from the property, but with the very dry conditions the last thing we want is to chance sparking a fire while using the chain saw. So for some of our work we've been using a pair of loppers which are sufficient for some of the work, but not all.


Do you want to try to make the case for AGW keeping this in mind?

Probably not...unless you're one of those that believes that AGW causes everything.


An Internet sales tax bill is wending its way through the Senate that will require online retailers to collect sales taxes from customers in states with sales taxes.

You would think that large retailers like Amazon would be against it, but they aren't. Instead Amazon is supporting it, not because they think its right but that it will make it more expensive for smaller competitors to do business online. Call me cynical, but isn't something like that really rent-seeking by the Internet giant? After all, they have the infrastructure and the capital to deal with sales taxes from 45 different states. Most smaller businesses don't which puts them at a major disadvantage.

While there is a $1 million exemption for small businesses, that doesn't help the states without sales taxes like Delaware, New Hampshire, Montana, and Oregon. None of those states has an infrastructure for collecting sales taxes and implementing one for the benefit of other states seems like a loser.

While there was a proposed amendment that would have exempted states without sales taxes from having to collect them for other states, it was killed. (Of course that might have been a big boon for those four states if it had been included because it would have enticed online retailers to relocate to those states to avoid having to collect sales taxes.)

I can see a lawsuit coming on this one.

Looking at the ongoing battle between two states, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the courts have consistently ruled that New Hampshire (no sales tax) does not have to collect sales tax from residents of Massachusetts (sales tax) who buy merchandise in New Hampshire. There is even a state law in New Hampshire making it illegal for New Hampshire business from being forced by other states to do so. (This was done to preclude Maine, Massachusetts, or Vermont from trying to force New Hampshire to collect their sales taxes.) If the new bill passes, then New Hampshire will have to spend its tax dollars to set up the infrastructure to collect sales taxes for other states. How is that fair?


Are the big newpapers, like the New York Times and the Washington Post doomed to die a slow, lingering death. If the latest report from the Washington Post Co. are correct, I'd have to say they are.

WaPo's parent company has reported an 85% earnings drop. That is not the sign of a healthy publication.


By way of Glenn Reynolds comes this Quote of the Day from Samizdata:

If you want to introduce someone to libertarian thinking, encourage them to try this experiment. Spend a few days reading nothing but technology news. Then spend a few days reading nothing but political news. For the first few days they’ll see an exciting world of innovation and creativity where everything is getting better all the time. In the second period they’ll see a miserable world of cynicism and treachery where everything is falling apart. Then ask them to explain the difference.

Call it another case of willful cognitive dissonance if they still believe both at the same time.

Having a foot in both worlds, I have a bit more faith in the technology as it is based upon proven science and math (mixed with innovation) and no amount of political demagogy will change either... but don't tell that to the AGW folks.


If you want to find out about what the Fair Tax really is, then Tim Condon points us to the Understanding the Fair Tax webinar coming up on May 23rd. You can register here.

While I know something about the Fair Tax, I still plan to log in for the webinar because you never know if you'll learn something new.


BeezleBub started cleaning up the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout – aka The Boat – attacking the mildew that seems to make itself at home every winter. I still have to get and install two new batteries and get The Boat down to the local marine repair shop to get a tune-up, but I expect it will be ready to ply the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee by Memorial Day weekend.

Unlike previous years, we will not be renting a slip this year. Instead we'll be trailering it to the lake. While I like being out on the lake as much as is possible, we had the choice between putting some much needed work into The Boat to ensure it would be shipshape for the next few seasons or take our chances and spend the money on a slip we might not be able to use because The Boat wasn't running right.

While I may not be able to get out on to the lake as often as I would like this coming boating season, at least we'll be able to get out there, and that's the important thing.


I saw my purported Representative to the House, Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01), on the TV this morning and frankly I didn't hear anything new from her. Then again, I doubt she's really had an original thought or idea since she's been in office. During her first term in Congress she was basically a mouthpiece for Nancy Pelosi and voted the way Nancy told her to vote. It's one reason she got kicked out during the 2010 mid-term election.

Now that she's back in office by once again pulling the wool over just enough of the voter's eyes in 2012, she has even less to say than during her first time in office. Basically she has no opinion about anything.

But she is still a leftist hack who believes that only the Democrats (and maybe some Independents) in her congressional district are her constituents. New Hampshire Republicans in her district need not contact her office because she doesn't represent them.


This just goes to show you how well supplies will be preserved in your bomb shelter if you pack them correctly. In this case they have survived over 50 years and look as good as they day they were stored.


I must admit that I've had exactly the same thought.

Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because they lie to us. Yes, they do. For that reason alone, I will not trust them. Period.”

If those who disagree with you will tell any lie to get their way, then there's no way you can trust anything they say nor believe any promise they make. Such a tactic makes it impossible to debate anything. This doesn't apply just to guns, but to other issues such as AGW, taxes and spending, or our constitutional rights.

And people wonder why there's such a divide in this country.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where boats are appearing back on the lake, summerfolk have been working on their cottages and camps, and where an endless supply of yardwork awaits.


Gun Control Morons Don't Get It...And They Don't Want To

I find the demonization of Senator Kelly Ayotte's (R-NH) vote against the Manchin-Toomey bill to be based upon willful ignorance or blind obedience to the Progressive narrative that anyone who is not for gun control is automatically all for killing children and arming mentally ill killers.

Reading the piece linked above and the comments shows the complete lack of understanding of the content of the bill. All the Ayotte-haters know is that she voted against a piece of legislation that President Obama was for. They didn't care that the bill wouldn't do anything to prevent another Newtown or Aurora or that it wouldn't prevent someone who is truly mentally ill and a danger to themselves or others from being able to purchase a firearm. The present background check law does nothing to prevent it either, but it's not the fault of the law itself. Rather it's far more difficult to have someone declared mentally unfit and/or a danger to themselves of others. Without that ability the background check, both present and proposed, have no teeth and are unenforceable. There have been a number of cases where a doctor makes a declaration that someone is unfit, but without the evidence or examination to prove their case, meaning that particular provision has been abused and someone who was perfectly fit to own and use guns was prevented from doing so.

The claim has been made the 90% of Americans agree that background checks should be made and support the expansion of background checks. The polls this 'fact' is pulled from asked the question in such a way that it was vague, too general, and mentioned nothing about the actual provisions of the Manchin-Toomey bill. If it had, there's no way the poll would have shown that 90% figure. Because the question was too general, the results were meaningless.

That Ayotte voted against something that was really nothing more than a feel-good “Do Something!” piece of legislation shows that she understood the issue perfectly and wasn't willing to vote for it knowing it would accomplish little good and do a lot of harm. For that she deserves praise, not condemnation.